Does Whitebark Pine Decline = Increased Grizzly Attacks?


The grizzly bear committee report mainly just takes on a strawman claim that whitebark pine decline=grizzly decline. That’s not what the Times said. The agency’s report really doesn’t refute the real claim, whitebark pine decline=grizzly conflict increase. It just says it’s not the biggest factor.

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Wolves Out West Get Back Endangered Species Protection

An ID judge relisted the gray wolf as an endangered species, saying the USFWS can’t keep them endangered only in WY just because that state is crazy.

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Yellowstone Pronghorn, Found in the Park’s North, Watch You Back

Pronghorn jumps

Pronghorn passes us on Specimen Ridge

You can only see pronghorn antelope in the northern part of Yellowstone National Park. That seems to be true with a lot of animals in the park, but it’s officially true with the pronghorn. In my trip I didn’t see any big herds, but got to meet a few charismatic individuals and see some small family groups once we were near Roosevelt.

What was striking about the animals was that they watched us with their huge dark eyes and even approached us. (A sign somebody may have fed them, perhaps?) We ran into one on Specimen Ridge. She kept walking down the trail towards us, eyes making contact all  the time. We chatted to her. She eventually veered to the side, but was comfortable close by. All the pronghorns we saw were engaged in the encounter, but not overly scared.

Friendly Pronghorn

Both sexes have horns, but only the boys’ horns sprout prongs or points. They’re native and endemic to the west (they’re from here and only here). They’re the only animal in the world to shed their horns each year, the National Parks Service says.

The most unfortunate thing about the pronghorn antelope another opportunity to tell you that you’ve gotten an animal’s name wrong. Just like the American buffalo isn’t really a buffalo, the pronghorn isn’t really an antelope under the current taxonomic regime, which requires antelopes have antlers that don’t shed.

The more serious problem is that the

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Otters in Yellowstone and Grand Teton

Otter Boys Play

River otters are one of those animals that you can do all the right things–stake out the lakes they’re known to visit, drag yourself out of bed at 5 am–and still not get to see. You have to get lucky.

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Yellowstone Bear Attack Investigation Halts Trapping, Starts Disagreements


“Erv never would’ve walked up on a bear that he saw. This was an accidental encounter at close range,” says bear expert and Evert’s friend Chuck Neal . “He wasn’t a moron. He was a brilliant man.”

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Who is to Blame for Fatal Yellowstone Area Grizzly Attack?


The other question is when the bear researchers left the area and if they left a sizable carcass behind. The Chicago Tribune says the researchers lured the bare to the trap with a carcass. Since grizzlies are known to protect carcasses, how did they dispose of it? The area was posted for bears. So is most of Yellowstone. The problem may be too many bear signs instead of not enough. I was there last week and nearly everywhere there was some sort of bear sign. I saw at least two grades–bear activity and area closed. But the area closed signs near Elephant Back trail were ambiguous; the trail was still open and a ranger lead a hike there. Maybe Yellowstone is becoming the park that cried bear?

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A Guide To Yellowstone Guides

To animal tourists, Yellowstone National Park is Mecca, with a Broadway show that also somehow includes the the U.S. Capitol. You have to go once; it’s spectacular, important, historical. But most Americans don’t ever get to go. If you do go, chances are you can’t stay as long as you’d like. So, even though it’s a wildlife wonderland, you may want to hire a guide so you don’t miss out.

Normally focuses on seeing animals close to where people live in cities and suburbs. Anybody can tell you there are a lot of bears in Alaska or Wyoming. (And too many guide books give that kind of impractical and expensive advice.) But since my husband and I are planning a trip to Yellowstone, I’m checking out all the options there and assembling a guide to the guides.

These guides are expensive. But these are the people that know Yellowstone wildlife intimately, professionally and may be able to save you from an afternoon hoping for a bear jam. If you’re only traveling with a couple people, the science centers seem ideal. The private tours are generally priced for groups of four to six, making them two to three times more expensive for couples.  I’m sure this chart will grow and I’d like to focus on each in depth.

Check out the chart of Yellowstone Guides

To see more animals go to

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Antlering: Hunters and Wildlife Watchers Both Love Collecting Antlers

You can congratulate me now: I just received an antlering permit from Utah after passing the 2010 Antler Gathering Ethics Course. I only got 95%, but they let me redo the question I missed. As gathering antlers shed in the winter by moose, elk and deer gets more popular among both hunters and wildife watchers, states are regulating the hobby so we don’t stress out the ungulates when they’re practically starving. It’s gotten so bad, even libertarian Wyoming has rules this year.

Utah’s online “class” is really to teach you not to follow or harass the animals. They don’t want people stalking  deer and elk in the winter and spring, when they could be stressed and starving. Even in a good year 40% of yearling deer and 20% of adults die, I learned. The stress of winter–low food, temperatures and light–can kill them off even into the spring. Expending energy to run away from somebody looking for antlers is the last thing they need. In a podcast, Anis Aoude, Utah’s Big Game Coordinator, says he’s caught people chasing animals around, waiting for their antlers.

The various species can loose antlers November through March. Aoude says shedding the antlers every year might help the animals survive because predators know that males are weak after the rut. The Utah rules say you have to have a permit to hunt for antlers in the spring; Wyoming, home of the National Elk Refuge, just bans horn hunters from December through April.

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Wyoming’s Wonderful ASCII Wildlife Maps

Wyoming has done something very cool for wildlife lovers. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department took advantage of their state’s rectangular shape and created ASCII wildlife maps for a report, Atlas of Birds, Mammals, Amphibians, and Reptiles in Wyoming.

Wyomingcame up with these elegant and useful maps by dividing the perfectly rectangular state into latilongs–rectangles that cover an area of one degree of latitude by one degree of longitude. Wyoming has exactly 28 latilongs–seven across and four down.

So if you want to find out if badgers live in your area–or if badgers are very prevalent in Wyoming just look at the handy grid for your section. Laramie, you’re 27. Casper, 19 is your number. And Yellowstone, you are number 1.

Where to See Wildlife Out West

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Is Freedom Free? Calico Wild Horse Roundup Concludes

Early on in the controversial round up of wild horses in the Calico range north of Reno, NV, a black stallion earned the nickname Freedom when he jumped a fence and escaped. It’s unclear if the Bureau of Land Management caught him, but if he made it so far, he’s all set. The Bureau of Land Management says they’re stopping the roundup at 1,922 mustangs instead of the 2,500 they set out to catch. In the process 30 have died.

It’s not because they’ve had a change of heart. They fought a lawsuit to stop the roundup. They’ve fought activists who want to document the gather. It’s just that the horses have moved off the range–as if they’d caught onto what’s going on.

Craig Downer and Elyse Gardner reported on Freedom’s escape on January 2 in Action for Wild Horses: “the captured band stallion, “Freedom,” valiantly fought for and regained his liberty although he had to leave his family of 8 adult mares and 2 colts. Jumping a 6-foot fence and immediately thereafter breaking through a barbed wire fence and injuring himself, this was an awe-inspiring, do-or-die effort demonstrating the loathing of captivity to a wild horse and his need for freedom.”

When I talked with some horse activists at a Madeleine Pickens event last month, they said they’d heard Freedom had been captured but everyone was appealing to set him free again. I haven’t found anyone who knows for sure. I would like to think he made it and somehow

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