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$67 million plan to widen Banff highway bad news for wildlife

WILDLIFE — Critters in one of Canada's signature national parks already face hazards from zooming traffic.  And now…

Canada's plan to spend $67M to widen highway in Banff park questioned
Several members of an advisory group charged with making Banff National Park safer for wildlife said they were stunned to learn that the Canadian government planned to spend $67 million to widen the Bow Valley Parkway that passes through the Alberta park. The decision they said will lead to increased speeds on the parkway, putting wildlife at higher risk.
—Calgary Herald

Tale of 2 photos: Whitetails young and old in growth stages

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Deer are growing like crazy this month, young and old alike.

Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson gives us a snapshot of the stage deer are in after capturing both of these photos in a single day.

One photo shows a whitetail fawn playing and showing the size and strength it's developed less than two months after it was born.

The other photo features a mature whitetail buck with still-forming antlers in velvet that began sprouting from its bare skull this spring.  In August this fast-growing tissue will harden like bone and he'll begin rubbing off the fuzzy velvet to become a specimen that will catch the eye of more than one type of creature this fall.

Photo: Gulls put up fight, but lose to bald eagle

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Two against one and the bald eagle still came out on top, according to photographer Davide Canales, who snapped this once-in-a-lifetime photo from his kayak on Prince William Sound in Alaska while on an 11-day expedition from Valdez to Whittier.

He said the gull on top finally gave up and the eagle sealed the deal on a meal.

El Niño 2015 on record-setting trend; will drought turn to snow?

WEATHER — The present El Niño event, on the cusp of attaining “strong” intensity, has a chance to overtake the record 1997 event, reports Jason Samenow, Washington Post weather writer.

The 2015 El Niño — defined by the expanding, deepening pool of warmer-than-normal ocean water in the tropical Pacific — has steadily grown stronger since the spring.

The presence of a strong El Niño almost ensures that 2015 will become the warmest on record for Earth and will have ripple effects on weather patterns all over the world, Samenow writes.

I'm not a weather expert, but I do remember that the winters of 1997 and 1998 were great for skiing but devastating to winter wildlife. Those were big set-back years for big-game herds, especially in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

Stay tuned.

Not again! Yellowstone bison nails woman posing for selfie

WILDLIFE WATCHING —  A bison flipped a woman into the air as she posed for a selfie with the massive beast today, prompting Yellowstone National Park officials to step up warnings for tourists to keep their distance.

The dangerous encounter was the fifth run-in between park-goers and bison this year.

Park officials told the Associated Press that the 43-year-old Mississippi woman turned her back on the animal to get a photo with it near the Fairy Falls trailhead just outside Old Faithful.

Someone nearby saw the woman and her daughter about 6 yards from the animal and warned they were too close just before it came at them.

They tried to run, but the bison caught the woman and tossed her with its head.

The woman’s family drove her to a nearby clinic where she was treated for minor injuries.

“The (woman) said they knew they were doing something wrong but thought it was OK because other people were nearby,” park spokeswoman Amy Bartlett said. “People are getting way too close.”

In separate incidents earlier this year, bison gored a 68-year-old woman and a 16-year-old girl and tossed an off-trail teenager and an Australian tourist into the air.

Five bison encounters resulting in injuries is unusual during a tourist season, Bartlett said.

“We typically have one or two per year,” she said.

One factor that could be contributing to added encounters is increased attendance at the park this year, Bartlett said.

The park had more than 780,000 recreational visits in June, a 17 percent increase over June 2014 and 12 percent more than the previous record set in June 2010. July and August are the busiest months of the year for tourists.

Yellowstone prohibits people from getting within 25 yards of bison and within 100 yards of bears and wolves.

Montana governor, federal agency sign sage grouse deal

THREATENED SPECIES — Gov. Steve Bullock signed an agreement today with the U.S. Department of Agriculture pledging cooperation on efforts to protect declining populations of greater sage grouse — and, in turn, avoid the economic and political turmoil should the grouse be listed for protections under the Endangered Species Act.

The agreement signed at the Capitol in Helena calls for state, federal and local officials to meet annually to discuss sage grouse conservation. It includes no new spending or regulations, the Associated Press reports.

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Jason Weller said the agreement should help streamline and coordinate sage grouse conservation efforts on private land in the state. Seventy percent of sage grouse habitat in Montana is on private or state lands.

“It sets up the structure for really accelerating action on the ground,” Weller said of measures to help farmers and ranchers in the state voluntarily protect sage grouse habitat while maintaining grazing lands.

Sage grouse numbers fell dramatically across the western U.S. during the past several decades because of oil and gas drilling, residential and agricultural development and disease.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service faces a Sept. 30 deadline to decide if the chicken-sized grouse needs federal protections, although Congress has blocked additional spending by the agency to put those protections in place.

Montana and other states want to demonstrate that sweeping federal protections aren’t needed.

Montana is the first state to sign such an agreement with the USDA regarding sage grouse. In addition to Bullock, the agreement was signed by representatives of the Agriculture Department and Montana’s Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

“Our economy, and our Montana way of life depends on all of us working together to ensure a bright future for the grouse and a continued thriving economy,” Bullock said. “The best possible outcome: the management of the bird is to stay within the state of Montana.”

Since 2010, the Natural Resources Conservation Service through a sage grouse program has invested nearly $300 million to conserve more than 4.4 million acres of sage grouse habitat in 11 western states in which sage grouse are found.

Weller said Monday that the conservation service plans to spend another $200 million throughout the 11 states, which was announced earlier this year. He did not say how much would go toward efforts in Montana, but he said officials are currently finalizing an investment strategy.

Bullock last year ordered restrictions on future oil drilling and other activities blamed for driving down sage grouse numbers, aligning Montana with other states rushing to head off federal intervention for the ground-dwelling bird. He also created a sage grouse oversight team in addition to the Montana Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program.

The legislature earlier this year passed the governor’s bill to establish a fund that in part will be used by the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to hire at least five new employees to manage the program.

Condoms for humans could mean salvation for critters

ENDANGERED SPECIES — An environmental group is handing out free condoms in Washington to save endangered species.

No, these are not special condoms for northern pike in an attempt to ward off a threat to struggling salmon stocks.

The condoms are ordinary "rubbers" in packaging that stresses the impact human population growth has in crowding species off the planet.

On Saturday, as part of World Population Day, the Center for Biological Diversity says it distributed 10,000 free Endangered Species Condom in 27 states where the group says species featured on the condom packages are most endangered.

I've personally made a more permanent commitment in this regard, but I welcome the effort to highlight the pressure human population growth puts on local wildlife.

Volunteers in Washington distributed packages featuring the sea otter.

It also could have featured, say, the woodland caribou or pygmy rabbit.

“Sea otters along the Washington coast, once nearly wiped out by the fur trade, today face threats from fishing gear, oil spills and a changing climate,” said Leigh Moyer, the Center’s population organizer. “The fate of these charismatic animals is linked to our growing human population and demand for resources.”

The Endangered Species Condoms are wrapped in colorful packages featuring six different endangered species and information to help volunteers start the conversation about the impact of runaway human population growth on polar bears, monarch butterflies and other imperiled wildlife. The Center says it has given away 600,000 free Endangered Species Condoms since 2009.

 “Human population growth and increased consumption are driving extinction rates 1,000 times higher than the normal background rate,” said Moyer. “These condoms are a great way to get the conversation started about a serious issue.

"When we have dedicated volunteers distribute condoms in their neighborhoods and explain that extinction isn’t just a problem somewhere else but a problem everywhere, including in our own backyards, individuals can make better decisions for their families and for all wildlife, including local species.”

Scientists say Earth is undergoing its sixth mass wildlife extinction. While previous extinction periods were driven by geological or cosmic factors, the current crisis is caused by human activities.

World Population Day was designated by the United Nations in 1989 to raise awareness about global population issues. More than 7 billion people inhabit the planet, with the United States ranked as the third-most populous country in the world.

Part of the neighborhood wildlife…

This guy stopped off in my back yard in the Boise foothills this morning to take a rest under a tree as a light rain fell; he’s among numerous deer that have become a common sight strolling through the area. A half-hour later, he was joined by a larger pal, who munched on our apple tree before ambling along.

“The fact is, we have pretty inviting habitat in and around Boise, and as a result, deer and other big game species are likely to find that to be inviting,” said Mike Keckler, spokesman for the Idaho Department of Fish & Game. “The river is a natural corridor for wildlife, and they tend to follow their way in.”

He added, “We have had several mild winters, pretty much statewide for the last three or four years, and as a result deer populations are up, in some areas quite considerably. And that might have something to do with the fact that you’re seeing more in your neighborhood, because … there are more deer out there right now. But the fact is we have had deer in town for, well, ever since we’ve had town.”

We’ve seen groups of six or eight on occasion, does, fawns and bucks. 

Yellowstone bison teaching lessons to tourists

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Bison gored a woman and tossed a teenager into the air in Yellowstone National Park last week, the latest run-ins with the massive animals during tourist season in the popular landmark.  
The National Park Service says a bison gored a 68-year-old woman Wednesday on a trail near Yellowstone Lake. She was taken to a hospital, but her condition wasn’t immediately known.  
On June 23, a bison tossed a 19-year-old off-duty park concession employee who was off trail. She was treated and released from a hospital for minor injuries.  
In other encounters, the animals have gored a 16-year-old girl and tossed an Australian tourist in the air. Both suffered serious injuries.  
Yellowstone prohibits people from getting within 25 yards of bison or other large animals and within 100 yards of bears and wolves.

Elk calves born to be prey

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Here's the latest poop on predators in the Inland Northwest:

They appear to be well-fed.

During one day of hiking north of Lake Pend Oreille, I came across two scats within five miles containing calf elk hooves. One was the scat of a black bear, the other the scat of a wolf.

This is the way it works out there.

Moose gets workout at North Central HS track

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A yearling moose apparently was trying out as a walk-on for the North Central High School track team this morning.

A moose would be be hard to beat in the hurdles.

The moose was tranquilized and transported out of Spokane for release by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife staff.

Man shoots cougar attacking goat on porch

PREDATORS — A young female cougar was shot and killed as it attacked a goat on the porch of a home near Elk, Washington last week.

The cougar, a kitten of the year still showing spots, was able to kill the goat shortly after midnight on Wednesday morning before the homeowner got a firearm and shot it.  The homeowner reported the incident and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officer Severin Erickson responded.

While a cougar videoed trotting through a North Spokane parking lot last week was described as "rare" by  Fish and Wildlife officials, Erickson said several cougars a year in Pend Oreille County find their way into residents' yards.

"A lot of times nothing happens, but I get reports of them chasing a dog through the yard, or being up on a porch or lying in the grass of the yard," he said.

"In this case it was a very young cat, very thin, just 30-40 pounds, and in poor condition.  Other litter mates may have been in the area."

Montana wildlife group seeks to stop sheep grazing

WILDLIFE — A wildlife group is asking a federal judge to stop domestic sheep grazing that it says is a threat to wildlife on U.S. National Forest land in the Gravelly Mountains of southwest Montana.

The Gallatin Wildlife Association claims the government’s authorization for the Helle family of Dillon to graze almost 8,000 sheep in the area is harming endangered grizzly bears and wild bighorn sheep, the Associated Press reports.

Several Montana bighorn herds have been plagued or decimated by disease in recent years. The diseases often are associated with transfer from domestic animals.

Attorney John Meyer said the Bozeman-based group planned to file an injunction request in U.S. District Court Monday seeking to halt grazing this summer on two of the Helle’s seven grazing allotments.

A lawsuit challenging the approval of the allotments was filed last week.

Helena lawyer Jim Brown, who represents the Helles, says the family has cooperated with wildlife officials on bighorn sheep conservation efforts.

Scientists would rather have fire than weeds

PUBLIC LANDS — As I watch the landscape turn brown during this drought, I can't help but notice the knapweed and skeleton weed look green and unscathed.  Too bad elk and deer don't thrive on noxious weeds because…

Noxious weeds gaining ground on federal lands in the Western U.S.
Federal lands agencies say 17 million acres of lands in the western United States have been taken over by noxious weeds. A regional manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game said that noxious invaders are more of a threat to wildlife than fires because fires provide some benefit to habitat while weeds just destroy the habitat.
—Idaho Statesman

Shorebird migration has begun, birder says

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Birding enthusiasts who keep a watch along the muddy edges of the region's waters are perking up this week.

Local birder Jon Isacoff said his observations yesterday at Slavin Conservation Area south of Spokane indicate the "southbound migration is underway!"

Here his list of shorebirds observed.

  • 35 Killdeer (many could be local)
  • 4 Spotted Sandpiper (probably locals)
  • 6 Greater Yellowlegs
  • 1 Lesser Yellowlegs

Grizzly bear researchers working near Sullivan Lake

WILDLIFE — Federal grizzly bear researchers are working near the Salmo-Priest Wilderness to trap and fit GPS collars on grizzly bears.

The researchers also are trying to get DNA samples from other bears to help determine the number of grizzlies in the Idaho-Washington Selkirk Mountains.

"No captures and no mortality to report as yet this season," said Wayne Kasworm, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service research leader based in Libby.

"The trap crew is working around Sullivan Lake area and we have several people out setting up corrals with trail cameras to try to snag hair and get pictures of bears throughout the recovery area. 

"The trap crew will probably move into the Priest Lake basin during June."

Last summer, the crew caught and collared one adult male grizzly bear.  

The trap team also captured 10 black bears (7 males and 3 females) that were ear tagged and released at the site of capture.

The study has collared 6 grizzly bears (1 male and 5 females), although one female's collar detached for recovery last fall. That collar had been on the bear since 2012. 

The collars are programmed to detach as they reach the limits of their batteries. Researchers can then restore an expensive collar and reuse it rather than have it uselessly dangling around a bear's neck.

The research is a joint effort with British Columbia, in cooperation with the states of Washington and Idaho.  Canada researchers worked in the Selkirks north of Highway 3 last year and collared 9 grizzly bears (7 males and 2 females).

Kasworm is monitoring those bears, too, as part of this project to peg grizzly population trends.

Wildlife lovers should refrain from robbing the cradle

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The annual pleas are coming from Idaho, Washington and Montana fish and wildlife agencies as birds and big-game animals are bringing off this year's crop of offspring.

"IF YOU CARE, LEAVE THEM THERE," says the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department for the umteenth time.

 

Every spring Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks issues a message to Montanans to leave new born fawns, birds, and other infant wildlife where people find them.

"If you care, leave them there," said Ron Aasheim, spokesman for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in Helena.

Aasheim said that most birds, for instance, learn to fly from the ground up, and not from the nest.

"Whether you find a fawn or fledgling bird under a tree in a neighbor's yard or bunny under a bush it's important to know that wild animals commonly cache their young for periods of time to protect them from predators while the adults are feeding."

Montana law prohibits the capture, feeding, possession and harassment of wildlife—both game and nongame species. These laws also protect Montana’s wild animals from becoming "pets."

To learn more about living with Montana’s wildlife, visit the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov then Living With Wildlife .

Draft plan released for Swanson Lakes, Revere, Reardan wildlife areas

WILDLIFE — ,A draft management plan for the Swanson Lakes, Revere and Reardan Audubon Lake wildlife areas in Lincoln and Whitman counties was released Monday for a 30-day public review on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

A public meeting is set for 6 p.m. May 19 at the agency’s regional office, 2315 N. Discovery Pl., Spokane Valley.

The public can comment on the draft plans here.

The Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area includes 21,000 shrub-steppe acres purchased in 1993 primarily to protect threatened sharp-tailed and sage grouse and other species. The property is adjacent to U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands and was purchased with Bonneville Power Administration funds set aside to mitigate for wildlife losses from construction of Grand Coulee Dam. Swanson Lakes is in Lincoln County, about 10 miles south of the town of Creston.

The Revere Wildlife Area includes 2,291 acres of Palouse grassland and shrub-steppe.  It was acquired in 1992 with Lower Snake River dam construction habitat mitigation funds from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Revere supports mule deer, upland game birds, raptors and other wildlife.

The Reardan Audubon Lake Unit, managed as a separate unit of the Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area, includes 277 acres of wetlands, grasslands and a lake that support over 200 bird species.  Unlike Swanson Lakes and Revere, this small wildlife unit is not open to hunting. The popular bird-watching site, which is immediately north of US 2 at Reardan, is listed on Audubon Washington's Great Washington State Birding Trail and the Ice Age Floods Institute National Geologic Trail.  The site was acquired in 2006 with a state grant and help from the Spokane Audubon Society and the Inland Northwest Land Trust, which just recently added another section to the area.

 

Birding programs explore loons, nests of feathered architects

BIRDING — Audubon Society chapters in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene have interesting programs on loons and bird nests open to the public this week:

Tuesday, May 12 — MasterBirder Idie Ulsh will explore the nests of birds ranging from hummingbirds to eagles in a free program, 7 p.m., at Lutheran Church of the Master, 4800 N. Ramsey Rd., sponsored by the Coeur d'Alene Audubon Society.

Ulsh has completed an three-years study of bird nests, including their construction and placement and will use photos to discuss the nurseries of more than 30 species. Ulsh is a past president of Seattle Audubon, founder of the Washington Butterfly  Association a nature photographer and an independent college counselor.

Wednesday, May 13 — Daniel Poleschook and Ginger Gumm, experts in loons and bird photography, will present an update on loons in Washington, 7:30 p.m. at Riverview Community Building, 2117 E. North Crescent Ave. in Spokane.

The couple has been involved in banding and lab sampling of nesting loons and chicks as well as record keeping for the United States Forest Service, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and BioDiversity Research Institute since 1996.

Video: People crazy about getting bear photos

WILDLIFE WATCHING — I'll refrain from commenting on this widely seen recent video of tourists crowding around a Yellowstone Park black bear sow and her three cubs.  Until park staff ordered the visitors to their vehicles, the bear had a hard time finding an escape route. No one was hurt in this case, but….

OK, I'll say one thing:  This is more evidence that humans continue to be stupid about wildlife.

Outdoor writer Brett French of the Billings Gazette reports:

Tourists near Gardiner got an up-close reminder about why it's best to keep your distance from wildlife.

Bob Gibson, who works for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, shot a photo in Yellowstone National Park on Wednesday evening, May 6, of a sow black bear and her three cubs caught on a bridge over the Yellowstone River, between Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming, and Cooke City.

Gibson was with videographer Winston Greely, who shot video of the encounter.

As FWP wrote, "Luckily, no one was hurt and these bears made it safely back to the forest."

Clark Fork Delta replanting volunteers needed

HABITAT —   April 21-23, May 6, 7, 13, 14, 19, 27, 28, June 1, 2, 2015: Volunteers have been chipping in on shoring up the Clark Fork River Delta to massive erosion that's been wiping out habitat by the acre. 

You can help by being part of "Delta Force" - the superhero-style volunteer crew that's taking on one of the largest environmental restoration projects in our region.

One hundred thousand native plants need to be planted in the delta this spring.

  • No experience needed.
  • Boat ride aboard the “Delta Queen” to work site provided.

Upcoming volunteer events are set for May 13, 14, 19, 27, 28, June 1, 2.

Sign up to help at www.clarkforkdelta.org.

Contact: Nancy Dooley at the Idaho Conservation League in Sandpoint, ndooley@idahoconservation.org, (208) 265-9565

Second black bear in a week removed from Five Mile area

WILDLIFE — A young black bear was captured in the Five Mile Area of Spokane Saturday, less than a week after a nuisance bear was killed by wildlife officials to protect the neighborhood.

After receiving complaints for homeowners, the second black bear was removed from the same area over the weekend and relocated to southern Pend Oreille County, said Madonna Luers, department spokeswoman.

Officer Mike Sprecher received a call about the second bear on Friday, May 1, and set a live barrel trap in the Lloyd Charles neighborhood on Saturday. By  about 8:15 p.m. Saturday that bear, estimated to be about the same age but slightly smaller than the first bear, was in the trap and on its way to a remote release site, Luers said. 

On April 27, a particularly troublesome bear was shot and killed in the Five Mile-Waikiki area by wildlife officers after more than two weeks of attempts to live-trap or tree the animal with with hounds so it could be tranquilized and relocated.

The second bear's willingness to be trapped gives it a second chance at being wild.

Two questions:

  • Has the bear been habituated to human food to the point that it will become a problem to someone else?
  • Is somebody in the Five Mile area continuing in to feed wildlife or leave out garbage in a way that's attracting bears?

Maybe that leads to a third question:

  • Is it time to ding the bell of people clueless about living with wildlife and saddle them with the cost of tranquilizing and relocating bears that become a problem because of human negligence?

‘Family Birding’ class offered in Sandpoint on Saturday

WILDLIFE WATCHING —It’s not too late to sign up for North Idaho College at Sandpoint’s “Family Birding Outing” class taught by ornithologist and author Brian Baxter on Saturday, May 2.

The class, which starts at 9 a.m. at the NIC at Sandpoint parking lot, involves a road tour and short hike with instruction on spotting birds of prey, waterfowl, swans, ducks, eagles, hawks, herons, woodpeckers and shorebirds.

Baxter will offer tips on habitat, nesting birds, mating behavior, and predator/prey relationships along with a visit to two of the top birding sites in North Idaho. 

Come prepared for a fun day of birding with lunch, binoculars, spotting scopes and cameras.

Baxter has degrees in both forestry and wildlife biology, and has been teaching outdoor education programs for more than 20 years.

To register, contact the NI C Workforce Training Center at (208) 769-3333 or request more information at workforcetraining@nic.edu or visit www.nic.edu/wtc.

Starvation among woes of British Columbia moose

BIG GAME — Moose studies launched in the last year or two are beginning to turn out some data, although it's preliminary and conclusions can't be drawn, yet.

Studies are underway in Minnesota, Montana and Wyoming, as well as in Washington and in North Dakota.

Here's an update on a study in British Columbia that will be raising the startling question:

Why are moose starving?

Biologists share what they've learned so far in B.C. moose study
A five-year study of moose in the interior of British Columbia launched in 2013 hopes to figure out why the number of moose is on the decline. Last weekend at the B.C. Wildlife Federation’s convention, Gerry Kuzyk, an ungulate specialist with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, said that, of the 19 radio-collared moose that have died so far during the study period, nine were killed by wolves, three by unregulated hunting, three due to starvation, one by a vehicle collision and three due to unknown causes.

Nuisance black bear killed in Spokane’s Five Mile area

WILDLIFE — A black bear that has been causing problems from patios and garbage bins to chicken coops in the Five Mile Area was killed by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officers today, April 27.

The young bear was killed with the help of houndsmen in a six-hour mission — the third attempt in a week.

"It had been causing a lot of problems for quite a while and we've been trying to catch it since about April 10," said  Capt. Dan Rahn, the department's head enforcement official in Spokane.

The bear had evaded traps and would not go up a tree when tracked by hounds, making it a difficult task to capture the animal and reducing the options officials had for dealing with the nuisance bear, he said.

Safety to the public is a key factor in when, where and how wildlife officers ultimately deal with a large potentially dangerous problem animal, whether it's a bear or a moose.

"We had an opportunity to euthanize it today, so we took it," Rahn said.

Olympics Enchanted Valley closed to camping as hiker trash lures bears

CAMPING — Sloppy campers have trashed the opportunity for hikers to tent overnight in the popular Enchanted Valley of Olympic National Park, at least for the next 30 days.

Backpackers reported cleaning up pasta and trash left behind by hikers ahead of them earlier this month, the Washington Trails Association reports.

Black bears were lured in by the food and were reported to be unafraid of people.

"Park staff closed the popular valley to overnight camping for 30 days," WTA reports. "During the closure, rangers and wildlife biologists will monitor the situation."

 

"Bears that eat human food come to consider people as a food source, and are extremely dangerous," said Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. "Sadly, bears have gotten into and consumed human food this spring in Enchanted Valley and we have closed the area to camping effective immediately."

 

Pack it in, pack it out is the standard rule in national parks and national forests, including camping areas in the Colville and Idaho Panhandle national forests.  Wildlife that becomes conditioned to eating human food become a risk of injury or disease.  Usually, it's the critters that lose.

Pledge to keep trails clean

Biologists present clinic on living with moose

WILDLIFE – Moose have found their way into Spokane-area neighborhoods in a big way in recent years.

This is good, until it goes bad with an 800-pound critter stomping through playgrounds, breaking down fences, chasing dogs, bolting across heavily-traveled roads and defending their calves.

Tips on living peacefully and safely with moose will be shared with the public by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife staff:

  • Tuesday, April 28, 6:30 p.m., South Hill Library, 3324 S. Perry St.
  • May 11, 6:30 p.m., North Spokane Library, 44 E. Hawthorne Rd.
  • May 20, 6 p.m., Fish and Wildlife Department Eastern Regional Office, 2315 N. Discovery Place, Spokane Valley.

Wildlife biologists, conflict specialists, and enforcement officers will present information about moose biology, including habitat use and
movements, how to safely handle situations when moose wander into urban areas and when and where to call for assistance.

Reader photo: Ospreys put on fishing clinic at Fernan Lake

OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY — If you haven't been checking out The Spokesman-Review's Outdoor Reader Photo Gallery,  you don't know what you're missing.

Tim Colquhoun, for example, just posted a dramatic photo series of an osprey diving into Fernan lake to snatch a big fish. Awesome.

Check out the gallery to be inspired about what's going outdoors in the region.

And don't hesitate to upload your best shot.

Bighorns killed on Bison Range to curb disease

WILDLIFE — More bad news for bighorn sheep.

Six young bighorns that escaped the fence around the 19,000-acre National Bison Range near Ravalli, Mont., were shot last week in a measure to confront disease that's been killing the wild sheep on several fronts.

Sport hunting for bighorns in that portion of the Cabinet Mountains will be closed this fall.

Bighorn die-off prompts Montana to close hunting district near Plains
An aerial survey in early April of Hunting District 122 in Western Montana found just 18 bighorn sheep, the lowest number since the herd was reintroduced into the area in 1979. State wildlife officials said the deaths of 90 sheep in the area over the past two years was likely due to pneumonia picked up from domestic herds that wintered in the area in 2012 and 2013.

Due to the die-off, the state closed the hunting district for this year.
—Missoulian

 

Aldo Leopold film screens Tuesday, free

ENVIRONMENT — Green Fire, the first full-length, high-definition documentary film about legendary conservationist Aldo Leopold, will be screened at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 21, at the Community Building Lobby. Admission is free.

The film showing sold out when it debuted in 2013 at the Riverfront IMAX Theater.

The late Leopold, known as the father of modern wildlife management, shares highlights from his extraordinary career, explaining how he shaped conservation and the modern environmental movement.

Leopold is the author of A Sand County Almanac, which should be required reading for everyone who steps foot outdoors.

This showing of Green Fire is courtesy of the Aldo Leopold Foundation and facilitated by the Inland Northwest Land Trust.

After the screening Kirk and Madeline David will lead a facilitated discussion about Aldo Leopold and his conservation ethic.

RSVP not required, but helpful. (509) 328-2939 or email Vicki at vegesdal@inlandnwlandtrust.org.