Friday, April 17, 2009

Endangered again......

Grizzlies hunted in record numbers
Lack of food pushes habitat away from park

Associated Press
BOZEMAN - Hunters are killing grizzly bears in record numbers around Yellowstone National Park, threatening to curb the species' decadeslong recovery just two years after the bear was removed from the endangered-species list.

Driving the high death rate, researchers say, is the bears' continued expansion across the 15,000-square-mile Yellowstone region of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

Bears are being seen - and killed - in places where they were absent for decades. And with climate change suspected in the devastation of one of the bear's food sources, there is worry the trend will continue as the animals roam farther afield in search of food.

"Last year may have been one those fluke years," said Chuck Schwartz, a bear biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. "Last year could be the beginning of a trend."
Yellowstone's 600 grizzlies were removed from the endangered-species list in 2007 following a recovery program that cost more than $20 million. If the death rate stays high for a second consecutive year, that would trigger a review of the bear's endangered status.

Federal officials say there were 48 bears killed by humans last year, out of 71 total deaths. At least 20 of the bruins died at the hands of hunters who shot bears in self-defense or after mistaking them for other animals.

"It's kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing. All you see is a big bear coming at you full speed," said Ron Leming, a Wyoming elk hunter who survived an attack from a 500-pound male grizzly after his father shot it dead with an arrow.

"If you play dead he might sit there and eat you," Leming said.

Schwartz and other biologists who study grizzlies insist that the population remains strong for now, growing on average 4 percent to 5 percent a year. Yet they acknowledge that climate change could prove the wild card that puts that growth in check.

An epidemic of beetles in Yellowstone's high country has laid waste to tens of thousands of acres of whitebark pine trees, which have seeds that some grizzlies rely on as a dietary staple.

Beetle epidemics are cyclical in the Northern Rockies. The latest one has been prolonged by several consecutive winters in which subfreezing temperatures did not last long enough to knock back the infestation.

If a warming world leads to less whitebark pine, environmentalists fear grizzlies will become more aggressive in challenging hunters - contests that bears usually lose.

"The prospect is that every year is going to be a bad food year because of what's happening to whitebark," said Doug Honnold, an attorney for the group Earthjustice.

Citing dying pine forests as a major threat, Honnold's group sued the federal government in an attempt to get Yellowstone grizzlies back on the endangered species list.

Christopher Servheen, bear recovery coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said his agency is closely monitoring the population and already crafting a plan to stem the death rate.

Promoting hunters' use of bear spray - a macelike substance that deters charging bears - tops the list of non-lethal strategies for handling bears.

But some hunters including Leming, who narrowly escaped his bear run-in near Cody, Wyo. last fall, say they would rather rely on a gun. Bear spray, Leming said, is great to have on hand when he's sleeping in his tent. In the woods, he'd rather have a handgun at his side.

Gregg Losinski, an education specialist with Idaho Fish and Game, said promoting the possibility of future grizzly bear hunts might convince more people to buy into bear conservation.

Hunts currently are not allowed, but Losinski said the mere possibility could give hunters a sense that they will get a "payback" for conservation.

Other measures being considered to curb bear deaths are stepped-up public education efforts and restrictions on livestock grazing, to prevent bear attacks on sheep and cattle.

Even with those measures, researchers say bear deaths are inevitable as the animals returns to a different landscape than that occupied by their ancestors.

Before early European settlers drove bears to near extinction, there were an estimated 50,000 grizzlies in the western half of the United States.

Yellowstone's bears are among about 1,500 that have since repopulated the Northern Rockies. They must compete for space with several million tourists, and property owners.

"Some people say, 'This is terrible, there's more bears killed now than in many years,' " Servheen said. "Well, there's more bears now."

Published on Friday, April 17, 2009.
Last modified on 4/17/2009 at 12:33 am

Copyright © The Billings Gazette, a division of Lee Enterprises.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dit vertelt Wikipedia over de caracal (zie het vorige plaatje):De caracal (Caracal caracal, syn. Felis caracal, Profelis caracal) is een middelgrote katachtige uit Afrika en Zuidwest-Azië. Hij wordt soms ook woestijnlynx genoemd, vanwege de pluimpjes aan de oren. De caracal is waarschijnlijk echter meer verwant aan de Afrikaanse goudkat en (in mindere mate) de serval, dan aan de lynxen.

De caracal wordt 62 tot 91 cm lang. Het staartje is 18 tot 34 cm lang. Mannetjes zijn over het algemeen groter dan vrouwtjes. Vrouwtjes worden 8 tot 13 kg zwaar, mannetjes 12 tot 19 kg. Het is een slanke katachtige met een kort staartje. De achterpoten zijn langer dan zijn voorpoten en zeer gespierd, een aanpassing aan het jagen met sprongen. De brede, ronde kop heeft een korte snuit, grote ogen en driehoekige oren met lange zwarte haarpluimpjes op de toppen. Deze pluimpjes dienen waarschijnlijk om het gehoor te versterken, maar zouden ook kunnen dienen voor communicatie met andere caracals. De achterzijde van de oren zijn zwart, de binnenzijde wit met een zwarte rand. De caracal heeft over het algemeen een gelig roodbruine vacht, alhoewel er ook donkerdere tot zelfs bijna zwarte dieren bestaan. De borst, buik en binnenzijde van de poten zijn wit.

Hij komt voor van Afrika en Arabië tot Pakistan en Noordwest-India, in alle drogere bossen, savannes, steppen en halfwoestijnen. De caracal heeft een voorkeur voor drogere vlakten en rotsachtige heuvels met kort gras en voldoende schuilplaatsen, als kopjes en struikgewas. Hij ontbreekt in hete woestijnen als de Sahara en de Arabische woestijn, evenals in de regenwoudgordel van Afrika, maar komt algemeen voor in drogere gebieden als de Sahel, de Kalahari en de Hoorn van Afrika. Hij komt ook ten noorden van de Sahara voor, in Noord-Marokko en -Algerije, Tunesië en Noord-Libië en -Egypte.

De caracal is voornamelijk 's nachts actief. Overdag schuilt hij meestal tussen rotsen, in een holle boom, een grot of het verlaten hol van een aardvarken. Hij leeft voornamelijk solitair in een territorium van enkele km²s. Enkel in de paartijd leeft hij in een paartje. Tijdens de paartijd laat hij een kenmerkende kuchende roep horen.

De caracal krijgt tot vier jongen per worp na een draagtijd van 62 tot 81 dagen. Deze jongen worden geboren in een hol, struikgewas of een grot. Na negen dagen gaan de ogen open. Het eerste vlees wordt gegeten als de jongen een maand oud zijn, en na vier maanden worden de jongen gespeend. Na een jaar zijn ze zelfstandig.

De caracal is een snel roofdier. Middelgrote zoogdieren vormen zijn voornaamste prooi. Belangrijke prooidieren zijn onder andere hazen, kleinere apen, knaagdieren als ratten, kleine antilopen als gazellen, en klipdassen. Ook vogels, van duiven en patrijzen tot zelfs arenden en struisvogels, worden gegrepen. Hij bespringt zijn prooi met een snelle, krachtige sprong. Met deze sprong kan hij enkele meters hoog komen en vogels uit de lucht slaan. Ook vruchten en reptielen worden soms gegeten. De caracal vangt soms ook geiten, schapen en pluimvee, waardoor hij in conflict kan komen met veehouders.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The sudden meeting and interaction between humans and predators certainly is a fascinating subject.There are some exciting examples mentioned in the book "Monster of God" by David Quammen, 2003

Read also about it here:Mountain Lion! Stand or Run? (Taken from
A new UC Davis study of 110 years of mountain-lion attacks on people suggests the conventional wisdom of standing your ground may not always be the right course.
"Even though we found evidence that pumas will indeed chase, and capture, people who run, we also found that people who stand still are possibly more endangered," said the study's lead author, psychology professor Richard Coss, an expert on the evolution of predator-prey relationships.
"Immobility may be interpreted by the mountain lion as a sign that you are vulnerable prey, either because you are unaware of its presence, or because you are disabled and not capable of escaping."
Thus, running might be the smartest move, Coss concluded, if you are in a situation that allows you to run in a surefooted fashion with even strides -- for instance, on dry, flat ground rather than uneven, rocky terrain or deep snow.
Most state and federal wildlife agencies advise against running. The California Department of Fish and Game says on its Web site, in part: "Do not run from a lion. Running may stimulate a mountain lion's instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal."
Coss said the new study reviewed personal accounts, news reports and wildlife agency reports of attacks by pumas on 185 people in the U.S. and Canada from 1890 to 2000. His goal was to identify what kinds of activities people were doing during a mountain-lion attack and determine whether these activities predicted the severity of their injuries.
"An understanding of how large cats select humans as prey and the situations that promote the greatest likelihood of attack is an important component of wildlife management," he wrote.
Coss' co-authors are E. Lee Fitzhugh, a University of California Cooperative Extension specialist; Sabine Schmid-Holmes, a UC Davis postdoctoral researcher; Marc Kenyon, a UC Davis undergraduate researcher; and Kathy Etling, a wildlife specialist and author of the 2004 book "Cougar Attacks: Encounters of the Worst Kind."
The study, "The Effects of Human Age, Group Composition, and Behavior on the Likelihood of Being Injured by Attacking Pumas," is published in the current issue (volume 22, issue 1) of the quarterly journal Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of the Interactions of People & Animals.
Media contact(s):
Richard Coss, Psychology, (530) 752-1626,
Sylvia Wright, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-7704,
Claudia Morain, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-9841,

Een nieuwe Disneyfilm:

'Earth': It's where the wild things are

Ben Osborne / BBC Worldwide
A film crew records a group of carnivorous big cats dining on prey in the wild.
The nature documentary 'Earth' captures the lives of three species in exceptionally vivid digital detail.
By John Clark April 12, 2009
Most Disney fans associate the circle of life with the lessons young Simba learns in "The Lion King," usually as a celestial chorus swells in the background. It's all very dignified and respectful.However, in the new Disney documentary "Earth," ratty-looking lions are shown attacking an elephant, ready to make a meal out of him. There's nothing orderly or life-affirming about it."We're going to be very real," says Disney Chairman Dick Cook. "Nature is going to write the story. What we find, what we get, that's what we'll use."

This is not to say that "Earth," which will be released in theaters on Earth Day (April 22) and is the first entry by the new Disneynature production and distribution arm, is all tooth and claw. In fact, the film does not depend on TV-nature-show-style bloodletting to grip viewers. Instead, it brings the venerable Disney nature documentary into the digital age. Elephants on the Kalahari Desert are viewed from high in fanatical detail. A great white shark sucking down a seal is aestheticized by extreme slow motion.These cinematic feats are made possible by high-definition cameras, which produce startlingly clear images at a variety of speeds, and a new stabilization system called the Cineflex, which allows wildlife scenes to be shot from great distances. And while these images are amazing, they aren't simply the documentary equivalent of a car chase. There's a point to them."If you want to understand the problem that a polar bear has, you have to see that in spite of the fact that it's the world's largest carnivore, it's a tiny white dot in a big Arctic Ocean," says "Earth" co-director Alastair Fothergill.Also, these visuals fit within the narrative framework of the film, which follows the migratory patterns of three animals: the polar bear, the African elephant and the humpback whale. Each stage of their respective journeys illustrates the hazards presented by nature and man, though the filmmakers were careful not to push the environmental message too hard. James Earl Jones narrates, but they let the footage do much of the talking. (Disney marketing had no such qualms -- the company said it will plant a tree for every moviegoer who sees the film opening week.)"There's a real danger in beating people up," says co-director Mark Linfield. "If you tell them too often that we're going to be living in a frying pan in 20 years, it's actually a good excuse for them to give up and not bother: 'I may as well go buy my four-wheel drive.' But what 'Earth' shows is that there's still plenty left worth caring about."This makes "Earth" a convenient introduction to the rest of the series, which is a reboot of True-Life Adventures, Disney's classic nature documentaries of the '40s and '50s. Cook says that Disneynature has been brewing for a while, inspired by technological advances, a renewed cultural interest in the environment, the success of such docs as "March of the Penguins," as well as the company's own DNA.Each upcoming entry will investigate a specific species or ecosystem. Among those on the horizon are "Oceans," "Big Cats," "Chimpanzees" and "Naked Beauty." (Cook says that last title, which refers to pollinators, may be changed because it "sounds like a porn film.") These films will be in the $5-million to $15-million range and be repurposed across the Disney ecosystem, including the Disney Channel and theme parks.While most of these documentaries will be original productions, some will have had previous lives or parents. "Earth" evolved from the Emmy-Award-winning "Planet Earth" series that was co-produced by the BBC and aired on the Discovery Channel. However, the film is not merely a distillation or a big-screen bookend. About 30% of the footage is new, and the narration was rewritten. In fact, there are even several versions of "Earth" itself. The iteration Americans will see differs from the British in all-too-familiar ways, starting with the decision to replace Patrick Stewart's reserved narration with a warmer one by Jones."The one big change they asked for is they wanted the happy ending," says Fothergill, who is quick to say that he had a "fantastic experience" working with Disney and that the changes were appropriate. "Disney felt that it wasn't quite uplifting enough for their audience. So they added a curtain call with a nice big score and some wonderful images from the movie."