Recent comments

  • Board Finds Canaveral National Seashore Managers Wrongly Punished Biologist For Whistleblowing   1 week 4 days ago

    I think he is saying it is typical punishment for malfeasence. Hopefully we don't have 15k-20k guilty of malfeasence.

  • Musings From A Very Busy Zion National Park   1 week 4 days ago

    Thanks, Bart. Just about every time there's a discussion of fees on Traveler, there are calls to charge non-Americans higher fees because they are not tax-payers. So for now, the annual pass is the same price for everyone, but that gives some folks heartburn. My feeling is that our parks are one of the best ambassadors our country has and we need to do all we can to make people from other countries feel welcome. What they tell their neighbors when they go home can have a very big impact on how we are viewed around the world.

    Right now, we need all the friends we can get.

  • Board Finds Canaveral National Seashore Managers Wrongly Punished Biologist For Whistleblowing   1 week 4 days ago

    It's only "typical" if you can document a good number of such incidents and punishments. A handful in an agency of 15K-20K would not necessarily be typical.

  • Board Finds Canaveral National Seashore Managers Wrongly Punished Biologist For Whistleblowing   1 week 4 days ago

    Suspended 30 days and then transferred, typical.

  • Board Finds Canaveral National Seashore Managers Wrongly Punished Biologist For Whistleblowing   1 week 4 days ago

    Another Case: In Memoriam:

    Steve Robinson, an excellent naturalist, and trusted friend, who

    shared a deep respect for Nature and was passionate in communicating

    its Mysterious Beauty to both Crater Lake and Everglades NP Visitors.

    U.S. Office of Special CounselFor Immediate Release - 5/12/99Contact: Jane McFarland(202) 653-7984The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today announced the favorable settlement of two complaints filed with it by Mr. Stephen Robinson and his wife, Amelia Bruno, longtime seasonal employees of the National Park Service (NPS), against NPS. Mr. Robinson made protected disclosures concerning tour boat safety at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. Mr. Robinson complained to OSC that the NPS had violated the Whistleblower Protection Act when it failed to rehire him for seasonal summer work at Crater Lake. His wife complained that she had also been denied employment as a direct result of her husband’s disclosures.Under the terms of the settlement, Mr. Robinson and Ms. Bruno will receive full corrective action, including backpay, and the NPS will suspend their former supervisor for thirty days. Prior to the settlement, during OSC’s investigation into their allegations, the NPS reassigned their former supervisor, the Park Superintendent, out of Crater Lake Park.Beginning in the summer of 1992 and continuing through the summer of 1996, Mr. Robinson and Ms. Bruno held seasonal appointments at Crater Lake, Oregon. In the summer of 1996, Mr. Robinson made protected disclosures when he notified park officials and his Senator about safety issues associated with Crater Lake’s tour boat operation. Mr. Robinson’s concerns included insufficient training and lack of certification for boat U.S. Office of Special CounselFor Immediate Release - 5/12/99Contact: Jane McFarland(202) 653-7984The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today announced the favorable settlement of two complaints filed with it by Mr. Stephen Robinson and his wife, Amelia Bruno, longtime seasonal employees of the National Park Service (NPS), against NPS. Mr. Robinson made protected disclosures concerning tour boat safety at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. Mr. Robinson complained to OSC that the NPS had violated the Whistleblower Protection Act when it failed to rehire him for seasonal summer work at Crater Lake. His wife complained that she had also been denied employment as a direct result of her husband’s disclosures.Under the terms of the settlement, Mr. Robinson and Ms. Bruno will receive full corrective action, including backpay, and the NPS will suspend their former supervisor for thirty days. Prior to the settlement, during OSC’s investigation into their allegations, the NPS reassigned their former supervisor, the Park Superintendent, out of Crater Lake Park.Beginning in the summer of 1992 and continuing through the summer of 1996, Mr. Robinson and Ms. Bruno held seasonal appointments at Crater Lake, Oregon. In the summer of 1996, Mr. Robinson made protected disclosures when he notified park officials and his Senator about safety issues associated with Crater Lake’s tour boat operation. Mr. Robinson’s concerns included insufficient training and lack of certification for boat U.S. Office of Special CounselFor Immediate Release - 5/12/99Contact: Jane McFarland(202) 653-7984The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today announced the favorable settlement of two complaints filed with it by Mr. Stephen Robinson and his wife, Amelia Bruno, longtime seasonal employees of the National Park Service (NPS), against NPS. Mr. Robinson made protected disclosures concerning tour boat safety at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. Mr. Robinson complained to OSC that the NPS had violated the Whistleblower Protection Act when it failed to rehire him for seasonal summer work at Crater Lake. His wife complained that she had also been denied employment as a direct result of her husband’s disclosures.Under the terms of the settlement, Mr. Robinson and Ms. Bruno will receive full corrective action, including backpay, and the NPS will suspend their former supervisor for thirty days. Prior to the settlement, during OSC’s investigation into their allegations, the NPS reassigned their former supervisor, the Park Superintendent, out of Crater Lake Park.Beginning in the summer of 1992 and continuing through the summer of 1996, Mr. Robinson and Ms. Bruno held seasonal appointments at Crater Lake, Oregon. In the summer of 1996, Mr. Robinson made protected disclosures when he notified park officials and his Senator about safety issues associated with Crater Lake’s tour boat operation. Mr. Robinson’s concerns included insufficient training and lack of certification for boat operators, lack of safety equipment, unreliability of boat engines and improper operation of boats in inclement weather. When Mr. Robinson and Ms. Bruno attempted to return to Crater Lake for the 1997 season, they were unable to obtain employment at the park. They were again denied employment at Crater Lake for the 1998 season.Mr. Robinson and Ms. Bruno first contacted OSC in April 1997, alleging that because of Mr. Robinson’s protected whistleblower disclosures, Crater Lake Park officials blacklisted them and denied them employment and housing for the 1997 season. When OSC’s investigation revealed strong evidence that Mr. Robinson and Ms. Bruno were denied employment in retaliation for Mr. Robinson’s disclosures concerning the safety of the tourist boats, the NPS fully cooperated with OSC in obtaining corrective relief for them and the disciplinary action against their former supervisor.Special Counsel Elaine Kaplan said that she was pleased by both the corrective and disciplinary remedies agreed to by the Park Service. “The Park Service’s decision,” she said, “should send a clear message to its employees that there’s a price to be paid for retaliating against whistleblowers.” Kaplan said that “the offending supervisor not only got transferred out of the park, but he will also serve a suspension without pay.” Kaplan said she appreciated “the cooperation of the Park Service in resolving this matter based upon OSC’s investigative findings.”
  • Board Finds Canaveral National Seashore Managers Wrongly Punished Biologist For Whistleblowing   1 week 4 days ago

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  • Groups File Intent To Sue Over Grizzly Bear Deaths In Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem   1 week 4 days ago

    The only "Healthy Whitebark Pines" are those with some level of genetic resistance

    to the dreaded exotic Asian Blister Rust. Warming winter seasons with an absence

    of very cold period temperatures (-40) have increased native mountain pine

    beetle populations which in turn have brought about increased mortality within

    whitebark pine woodlands:

    also affected are limber pines (similar to whitebark but found at lower elevations)

    and the more obvious mortality within the widespread lodgepole pine forests.

    Glacier NP has already lost over 90 percent of their indigenous whitebark pines.

    VISIT: whitebarkfound.org to learn about the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation

  • Groups File Intent To Sue Over Grizzly Bear Deaths In Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem   1 week 4 days ago

    For the grizzly bear, at least, the basic issue is still loss of habitat due to the proliferation of human beings. If you want to add global warming to the mix, fine. The point is: Why should anyone have to? The California grizzly became extinct in 1895, again, due to hunting and settlement pressures. No one talked about global warming then. Same for the passenger pigeon, and nearly the bison. And dare we add the American Indian? I am by no means "politically correct," but yes, the "one size fits all" global warming argument bothers the hell out of me, too.

    Here in Seattle, our City Council is being asked today to limit lot line to lot line development. We plead how "green" we are as a city and don't insist that developers leave a blade of grass. Where does the water go; what absorbs the CO2? Nothing. The entire lot is asphalt. But, oh, sea levels are rising when they work for the developers, i.e., when the sea wall needs to be rebuilt.

    The grizzly bear is in a pickle because his habitat has been subdivided and subdivided again. That had nothing to do with global warming but rather good old American knowhow. We know how to turn anything into a slum and point the finger at someone else.

  • Musings From A Very Busy Zion National Park   1 week 4 days ago

    Understood, Lee. BTW, I visit the parks very frequently and have never heard of a higher fee for non-Americans. The fee is generally $15 or $20 per vehicle, regardless of who's in that vehicle. And the America the Beautiful annual pass is available everyone at the same price, whether or not they are American citizens.

  • Groups File Intent To Sue Over Grizzly Bear Deaths In Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem   1 week 4 days ago

    Did I miss something? Did an entire landmass break away, and the ocean is now beachfront property to Yellowstone National park? I thought the Greater Yellowstone was in the interior west of the Rockies? Doesn't a sturdy snowpack affect white bark pine forests in these higher elevation alpine zones? Hmmm... I can remember a time back in September of 2010 being up in a campground along Paintbrush divide in early september, and a couple spotted a mom and her cubs feasting on pine cones from healthy whitebarks that the park service tagged with pheromone patches... Most of the others around the area were dead... But, hey... beach would know a lot more about this subject..

  • Groups File Intent To Sue Over Grizzly Bear Deaths In Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem   1 week 4 days ago
    Fraud Or Incompetence : You DecidePosted on January 14, 2015by

    Study: Sea level rise accelerating more than once thought

    By SETH BORENSTEIN

    WASHINGTON — The world’s oceans are now rising far faster than they did in the past, a new study says.

    The study found that for much of the 20th century — until about 1990 — sea level was about 30 percent less than earlier research had figured. But that’s not good news, scientists say, because about 25 years ago the seas started rising faster and the acceleration in 1990 turns out to be more dramatic than previously calculated.

    The current sea level rise rate — which started in 1990 — is 2.5 times faster than it was from 1900 to 1990, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. Scientists say that faster pace of sea level rise is from melting ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica and shrinking glaciers, triggered by man-made global warming.

    We’re seeing a significant acceleration in the past few decades,” said study lead author Carling Hay, a geophysical researcher at Harvard University. “It’s concerning for cities along the U.S. East Coast” where water levels are rising even faster than the world average.

    “It’s definitely something that can’t be ignored,” Hay said.

    Study: Sea level rise accelerating more than once thought

    This is utter nonsense. Tide gauges along the East Coast (or anywhere else) don’t show an uptick 25 years ago. In fact, they show the fastest rise before 1950.

    ScreenHunter_738 Jan. 14 17.22ScreenHunter_737 Jan. 14 17.21ScreenHunter_736 Jan. 14 17.21ScreenHunter_735 Jan. 14 17.20ScreenHunter_734 Jan. 14 17.20

    Tide gauges on the west coast don’t show any sea level rise over the past 25 years

    ScreenHunter_740 Jan. 14 17.44

    What changed is that they added satellite data to the mix in 1992, which shows big bulges in the middle of the ocean in regions where the error is almost as large as the trend. A signal/noise ratio of 0.

    ScreenHunter_739 Jan. 14 17.27

    Global mean sea level results

    A recent study of tide gauges showed a slight decrease in sea level rise rates since 1970

    The new reconstruction suggests a linear trend of 1.9 ± 0.3 mm·yr−1 during the 20th century, with 1.8 ± 0.5 mm·yr−1 since 1970.

    http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/504181/1/1-s2.0-S0921818113002750-main.pdf

    The claims of an acceleration in sea level rise are mindless nonsense. It is equivalent to switching to an uncalibrated scale, and claiming that you lost weight as soon as you switched scales.

    I am sorry that it is so easy to debunk the continual left wing extremist climate change crap, but the truth is out there for those that WANT to find it.

  • Groups File Intent To Sue Over Grizzly Bear Deaths In Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem   1 week 4 days ago

    I'm not interested in a debate on the merits of global warming or climate change but using it as a tool to further your cause de joure only serves to make more skeptics and distract from the real issues. I have reached the point that when I read an article raising concerns over a particular issue I stop reading as soon as I get to the part about it being caused by climate change or global warming. I also find it odd that I never read about how global warming has helped this habitat or is saving money somewhere. It is always causing the extinction of something or costing us bazillions. It's unfortunate to me that it has become so overused.

  • Groups File Intent To Sue Over Grizzly Bear Deaths In Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem   1 week 4 days ago

    Nice strawman, TA.

  • Groups File Intent To Sue Over Grizzly Bear Deaths In Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem   1 week 4 days ago

    Don't worry, we keep messing things up as we are, there won't be any humans. This will be a much healthier earth then.

  • Groups File Intent To Sue Over Grizzly Bear Deaths In Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem   1 week 4 days ago

    Yep Gary, if only we could have those beautiful sand dunes that became the Coconino Sandstone some 300 + million years ago (Geologic Time. Those Right Wing Extremists sure have done a job. If only you had had been around to bring attention to the impending doom:).

  • Groups File Intent To Sue Over Grizzly Bear Deaths In Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem   1 week 4 days ago

    If Earth's climate within a thin atmosphere is Not Warming, why have Global oceans been rising ?

    http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-30816143 Rate of sea-level rise 'steeper'

    IS an Earth with 7.5 Billion Humans (an exponentially growing Human Population) burning fossil fuels the SAME as an Earth without Humans ?

  • Groups File Intent To Sue Over Grizzly Bear Deaths In Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem   1 week 4 days ago

    Sure beach whatever you think. I'm sure your scientific studies on the Yellowstone ecosystem is very vast and goes far beyond extremist right wing hate blogs that only the American taliban would buy into.. Since your knowledge is quite vast on this subject, can you point me to the large groves of healthy whitebark pine forests in the region? I'd like to see them for myself.

  • Groups File Intent To Sue Over Grizzly Bear Deaths In Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem   1 week 4 days ago

    More policies based on junk science, to suggest that the loss food sources from a "warming climate" when in reality the climate is not warming.

  • Groups File Intent To Sue Over Grizzly Bear Deaths In Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem   1 week 4 days ago

    http://newwest.net/topic/article/why_state_fish_and_game_

    agencies_cant_manage_predators/C564/L564/

    Without exception, state game and fish agencies do not treat predators like other wildlife. Even though state agencies are no longer engaged in outright extermination of predators, persecution and limited acceptance of the ecological role of predators is still the dominant attitude. State wildlife agencies only tolerate predators as long as they are not permitted to play a meaningful ecological role.Why State Fish and Game Agencies Can’t Manage Predators

    Posted by: George Wuerthner April 17, 2009 in Boise, Community Blogs, George Wuerthner's "On the Range"0 Comments

    In the past month or so, helicopters with gunners skimmed over the Alaskan tundra and forests shooting wolves to “protect” caribou herds. In Nevada, the state Fish and Game agency wants to kill more mountain lions to increase mule deer numbers. In Idaho, the Idaho Game and Fish wants to kill more than a hundred wolves in the Lolo Pass area to benefit elk. In Maine, the state agency encourages hunters to shoot coyotes to reduce predation on deer.

    Without exception, state game and fish agencies do not treat predators like other wildlife. Even though state agencies are no longer engaged in outright extermination of predators, persecution and limited acceptance of the ecological role of predators is still the dominant attitude. State wildlife agencies only tolerate predators as long as they are not permitted to play a meaningful ecological role.

    In general, they seek to hold predator populations at low numbers by providing hunters and trappers with generous “bag” limits and long hunting/trapping seasons. For some predators, like coyotes, there are often no limits on the number of animals that can be killed or trapped. The attitude of many hunters towards predators is not appreciably different than what one heard a hundred years ago, despite a huge leap in our ecological understanding of the role top predators play in the ecosystem.

    Beyond the general hostility towards predators that many hunters hold, state wildlife agencies are not the objective, scientific, wildlife managers that they claim to be. Wolves, mountain lions, bears, and other predators are a direct threat to state wildlife budgets because top predators eat the very animals that hunters want to kill. Because state wildlife agencies rely upon license sales to fund their operations, maintaining huntable numbers of elk, deer, moose, and caribou is in the agencies’ self interest.

    Before anyone accuses me of being anti hunter, I want to make it clear that I hunt, and most of my close friends hunt. We value the wildlife success stories created by past and present wildlife agencies actions. And to give credit where credit is due, hunters and anglers have been responsible for many successful wildlife recovery efforts, and through their lobbying efforts, sweat, and money, they have protected a considerable amount of wildlife habitat across the Nation for many wildlife species, not just the ones hunted. Well known early conservationists and wilderness advocates like Theodore Roosevelt, George Bird Grinnell, Charles Sheldon and Olaus Murie were all hunters. But that doesn’t mean hunters are beyond criticism when it comes to wildlife management policies, particularly when it comes to predator policy.

    TOP PREDATORS ARE NOT JUST LIKE OTHER WILDLIFE

    With the delisting of wolves by the Secretary of the Interior Salazar, several states are poised to begin managing wolves. Proponents of wolf control suggest that Americans should let state wildlife agencies manage predators “just like other wildlife.”

    The problem is that top predators are not “just like other wildlife.” Indeed, they play a crucial ecological role in maintaining ecosystem stability and integrity. In addition, predators, more than most other species, have well developed social structures that demand a much more nuanced approach to human/wildlife relationships than most wildlife agencies are prepared to deal with, much less even acknowledge.

    ECOLOGICAL VALUE OF PREDATORS

    Much recent research has demonstrated many ecological values to predators. As top-down regulators of ecosystems, predators like wolves, mountain lion, and bears help to reduce herbivore numbers to slow or reduce over-browsing or overgrazing of plant communities.

    Perhaps more importantly, predator shift how prey animals use their habitat. For instance, it is well documented that the presence of wolves in Yellowstone has changed how elk use the landscape, with less browsing on riparian vegetation as one consequence.

    But wolf-induced habitat shifts by elk has had other benefits as well. Since the road system in Yellowstone tends to follow the river valleys, movement of elk away from streams to adjacent uplands increases the likelihood that a certain percentage of the animals will die further from a road. This has important consequences for grizzly bears that have been shown to avoid feeding on carcasses located close to roads. Finding even one more elk carcass in the spring in a place that is “safe” for feeding is like winning the lottery for, say, a mother grizzly with several cubs to feed.

    Some scientists have even postulated that wolves may ameliorate the effects of climate change on scavenger species by providing carrion throughout the year.

    Predators can also limit the effects of disease, like chronic wasting disease found in elk, deer, and moose since infected animals are more vulnerable to predators.

    The presence of a large predator has a cascading effect on all other predators as well. For instance, the present of wolves results in fewer coyotes. Since coyotes are among the major predators on pronghorn fawns, presence of wolves, has led to higher pronghorn fawn survival.

    And because of the single-minded bias of state wildlife agencies for maintaining large numbers of huntable species, they fail to even ask whether predation might have a positive influence on ecosystem sustainability.

    For instance, in certain circumstances, top predators like wolves, bears, and mountain lions will hold prey populations low for an extended period of time, especially if habitat quality is marginal for the herbivores. These “predator sinks” provide the long term “rest” from herbivory pressure that plant communities may require on occasion to reestablish or recover from past herbivory pressure. Almost universally when predators begin to “hold down” prey populations, state agencies want to kill them so the targeted populations of moose, caribou, elk, deer, or whatever it might be can “recover.” That is the justification, for instance, for the proposed slaughter of approximately 100 wolves near Lolo Pass by the Idaho Fish and Game.

    Unfortunately for predators if their numbers are sufficiently high for them to have these ecological effects on other wildlife as well as the plant communities, state wildlife agencies tend to view them as too high for their “management objectives.”

    SOCIAL INTERACTIONS

    I won’t dwell on it here, but top predators have sophisticated social interactions that state wildlife agencies completely ignore in their management. For the most part, state agencies’ management of predators is based on numbers. If there are enough wolves or mountain lions to maintain a population, and they are not in any danger of extinction, than management is considered to be adequate.

    The problem is that top predators have many social interactions that complicate such crude management by the numbers.

    Many social animals pass on “cultural” knowledge to their young about where to forage or hunt. Researcher Gordon Haber has found that some wolf packs in Denali National Park have been passing on their prime hunting territory from generation to generation for decades. Loss of this knowledge and/or territory because too many animals are killed can stress the remaining animals, making them more likely to travel further where they are vulnerable to conflicts with humans.

    For instance, predator control can shift the age structure of predator populations to younger animals. Since younger animals are less experienced hunters, they are more likely to attack livestock than older, mature predators. (Young animals are more likely in rare instances, to even attack people. Nearly all mountain lion attacks are by immature animals.)

    Furthermore, predator populations that are held at less than capacity by management (i.e. killing them) also tend to breed earlier, and produce more young, increasing the demand for biomass (i.e. food). Both of these factors can indirectly increase conflicts between livestock producers and predators.

    Wolves, mountain lions, bears, coyotes, and other predators all possess such intricate social relationships. Yet I have never seen a single state wildlife agency even acknowledged these social interactions; much less alter their management in light of this knowledge.

    WHY HUNTERS ARE NOT A SUBSITUTE FOR WILD PREDATORS

    Despite the self serving propaganda coming hunting groups that hunters are an adequate “tool” to control herbivore populations, research has demonstrated sufficient differences in the animals selected by predators compared to human hunters. In general, hunters take animals in the prime of life, while predators disproportionally take out the older, younger or less fit individuals. As poet Robinson Jeffers has noted, it is the fang that has created the fleet foot of the antelope.

    Human hunting has other long term genetic consequences as well. As was recently reported in PNAS, sustained human hunting has led to universally smaller animals, as well as other suspected genetic impacts that may affect their long-term viability.

    REASONS FOR STATE WILDLIFE AGENCIES’ FAILURE

    Despite the long history of hunter conservationists, when it comes to predators there are two major reasons for the failure of state wildlife agencies to adopt objective and biologically sound predator policies. The first is that most hunters are ecologically illiterate. Though there are some sub-groups within the hunting community who put ecological health of the land first and foremost, the average hunter cares more about “putting a trophy on the wall or meat in the freezer” than whether the land’s ecological integrity is maintained. The focus is on sustaining hunting success, not ultimately on the quality of the hunting experience, much less sustaining ecosystems as the prime objective. Such hunters are the ones using ORVs for hunting, use radio collared dogs to “track” predators, object to road closures that limit hunter access by other than foot, employ more and more sophisticated technology to replace human skill, and not coincidently they tend to be the hunters most likely to be demanding predator control.

    On the whole, I have found most state wildlife biologists to be far more ecologically literate than the hunters and anglers they serve. In other words, if left to the biologists, I suspect we would find that agencies would manage wildlife with a greater attention to ecological integrity.

    However, curbing such impulses by wildlife professionals are the politically appointed wildlife commissions. While criteria for appointments vary from state to state, in general, commissioners are selected to represent primarily rural residents, timber companies and agricultural interests—all of whom are generally hostile to predators and/or see it as almost a God-given requirement that humans manage the Earth to “improve” it and fix the lousy job that God did by creating wolves and mountain lions.

    The other reason state agencies tend to be less enthusiastic supporters of predators has to do with funding. State wildlife agencies “dance with the one that brung ya.” Most non-hunters do not realize that state wildlife agencies are largely funded by hunter license fees as well as taxes on hunting equipment, rather than general taxpayer support. This creates a direct conflict of interest for state wildlife agencies when it comes to managing for species that eat the animals hunters want to kill. Agency personnel know that the more deer, elk, and other huntable species that exist, the more tags and licenses they can sell. So what bureaucracy is going to voluntarily give up its funding opportunities for “ecological integrity?”

    Adding to this entire funding nightmare for agencies is the decline in hunter participation. There are fewer and fewer hunters these days. Many reasons have been proposed for this—a decrease in access to private lands for hunting, decrease in outdoor activities among young people, and fewer young hunters being recruited into the hunting population, a shift in population from rural to urban areas, and a general shift in social values where hunters are held in less esteem by the general public. Whatever the factors, state wildlife agencies are facing a financial crisis. Their chief funding source—hunter license tags sales are declining, while their costs of operations are increasing.

    This creates a huge incentive for state wildlife agencies to limit predators. Most agencies are beyond wanting to exterminate predators, and some even grudgingly admit there is some ecological and aesthetic value in maintaining some populations of predators, but few are willing to promote predators or consider the important ecological value of predators in the ecosystem.

    Yet these inherent conflicts of interest are never openly conceded by the agencies themselves or for that matter few others. It is the elephant in the room.

    DO WE NEED TO “MANAGE’ PREDATORS?

    With the exception of killing predators in the few instances where human safety is jeopardized as with human habituated animals, or to protect a small population of some endangered species, I find little good scientific support for any predator management. Predator populations will not grow indefinitely. They are ultimately limited by their prey. Leaving predators to self-regulate seems to be the best management option available.

    In general, predators will have minimum effects on hunting. Even now in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, most elk populations are at or above “management objectives.” Climatic conditions and habitat quality typically have a far greater impact on long-term viability of huntable species than predators.

    Arguments that people will “starve” if they can’t hunt are bogus. Alternative foods are usually far less expensive and more easily acquired than a moose or elk. Furthermore, in our society where food stamps and other social security nets are available, no one will starve for want of an elk dinner or caribou steak.

    In my view, we need to restore not only token populations of wolves to a few wilderness and park sanctuaries, we ought to be striving to restore the ecological role of top predators to as much as of the landscape as reasonably possible. While we may never tolerate or want mountain lions in Boise city limits, grizzly bears strolling downtown Bozeman or wolves roaming the streets of Denver, there is no reason we can’t have far larger and more widely distributed predator populations across the entire West, as well as the rest of the nation. But this will never happen as long as state wildlife agencies see their primary role to satisfy hunter expectations for maximized hunting opportunities for ungulates like deer and elk rather than managing wildlife for the benefit of all citizens and ecosystem integrity.

  • 132-Year-Old Winchester Rifle Found At Great Basin National Park   1 week 4 days ago

    Visit URL to see full photos showing rifle leaning in treeThe mystery of the 132-year-old Winchester rifle found propped against a national park treehttp://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/01/14/the-mystery-of-the-132-year-old-winchester-rifle-found-propped-against-a-national-park-tree/ By Elahe Izadi January 14 at 6:59 PM The Winchester rifle was spotted leaning against a tree in Great Basin National Park. (Courtesy of National Park Service)

    Archaeologists conducting surveys in Nevada’s Grand Basin National Park came upon a gun frozen in time: a .44-40 Winchester rifle manufactured in 1882. It was propped up against a juniper tree.

    “They just happened to notice the rifle under the tree,” said Nichole Andler, Basin National Park’s chief of interpretation. The public will get a chance to view the rifle over the weekend.

    Although staff have no idea how the rifle ended up there, “it looked like someone propped it up there, sat down to have their lunch and got up to walk off without it,” Andler said.

    It’s remarkable that anyone was able to spot the gun back in November, as it had blended in so well with its surroundings. The unloaded gun appears to have been left undisturbed for more than 100 years; its wooden base had turned gray and was partially buried, and the barrel had rusted.

    Courtesy of National Park Service

    Though not in very good shape, the rifle is certainly salvageable, Andler said, and it will be preserved so it remains in its current state.

    While the rifle’s back story remains a mystery, the history of the place offers some clues: Great Basin was primarily a mining site at the time, but could have also been home to grazing cattle and sheep. The gun may have also been the relic of game hunting in the area.

    This particular model of Winchester rifle was quite popular at the time, so it wasn’t necessarily a rare and precious item for a person to leave behind. The year this particular rifle was made, 25,000 others were also manufactured. In fact, the prevalence of the gun may have contributed to a massive price drop, from costing $50 in 1873 to $25 in 1882. Here is a close-up of the rifle:

    Courtesy of National Park Service

    “It was one of those things, sort of the everyman’s rifle,” Andler said. The gun is often referred to “as the gun that won the West,” she added.

    Park staff are now combing through old newspaper articles and records to try and unearth any information as to how the rifle ended up against that tree.

    “It probably has a very good and interesting story,” Andler said, “but it probably is a story that could have happened to almost anyone living this sort of extraordinary existence out here in the Great Basin Desert.”

  • Minnesota Climber Summits Mount McKinley -- In January And By Himself!   1 week 4 days ago

    I do believe the Alaska Air National Guard pararescue helicopters have some experience on the mountain.

    Edited to add - There is an update with a bit of info on current conditions here.

  • Historic Paintings Donated To Glacier National Park By Concessionaire   1 week 4 days ago
    sar·casmˈsärˌkazəm/nounnoun: sarcasm; plural noun: sarcasmsthe use of irony to mock or convey contempt."his voice, hardened by sarcasm, could not hide his resentment"synonyms:derision, mockery, ridicule, scorn, sneering, scoffing;
  • Musings From A Very Busy Zion National Park   1 week 4 days ago

    Bart, there was no intent of that whatsoever. I was trying to portray the extreme crowding that existed that day in Zion. The problem with the bus was not that it carried Asians -- it would have been the same story if it had been loaded with senior citizens from Pittsburgh. There was simply no room for that bus to maneuver. I still wonder how in the world it managed to get out of the parking lot at Gateway to the Narrows where it would have had to negotiate an extremely tight turn that was clogged with improperly parked vehicles of all kinds. What disturbed me was that many of the park's visitors that day (and probably that week) had come from halfway around the world to see something they had probably heard of and dreamed of visiting many times. Given the crowding, was their experience as good as it should have been? They were as trapped by the congestion as I was.

    The bus driver, by the way, was an older American man.

    Actually, it was fun watching and listening to the people who had encountered the bighorns above the tunnel. Even though I couldn't understand their language, there was no misunderstanding the excitement they were enjoying.

    I've taken some heat here on Traveler for my opposition to charging non-Americans higher fees for park admission. I really enjoy meeting people from all around the world and trying to help them enjoy our parks in any way I can. I was just surprised by the number of Asians in the two parks I visited. Usually, when I do most of my park travel, it's Europeans I encounter. I was trying to remark on the different demographic I was seeing.

    So if my article came across as xenophobic or something, I apologize. It certainly was not my intent.

  • Historic Paintings Donated To Glacier National Park By Concessionaire   1 week 4 days ago

    Probably in the round file. But there I go getting cynical again, when in truth I am celebrating these wonderful paintings. Years ago, I worked with the Great Northern Railway's successor, Burlington Northern Inc. (now BNSF), on the Mount Saint Helens donation project. It meant immersing myself in all of this wonderful art, much of which, at the time, was in BN's headquarters in downtown Seattle. Most of those great paintings are now in Fort Worth. BN had a full-time curator to manage and care for them all. It was great fun working with the remnants of the original concessionaires. The railroads brought to the parks a sense of class and elegance, and again, showed it in this wonderful art.

    Then the railroads, too, started going "crazy" and forgot the public interest along the way. When Mount Saint Helens blew its top, it reminded BN at least: Yes, Mother Nature is still in charge. Of course, BN got some wonderful timber in exchange for the mountain, but hey, I never said that the railroads weren't capitalists. They just knew when and where to draw the line. And so those wonderful paintings that hung in Glacier got passed down to the public. Again, something for all of us to celebrate.

  • Permission Sought To Buttress Highway 12 From Ocean At Cape Hatteras National Seashore   1 week 4 days ago

    This should be a no brainier and frankly the EIS is just wasteful red tape.. The lives and livihoods of the people that live within Park depend on the road. Lets hope the NPS does the right thing and expedites the request for permission. But I have zero faith in the NPS at this time to do the right thing.