Tag Archives: wildlife

Into the Desert: Borax Lake and the Fish That Live There

Two BLM intenrns and an ODFW biologist prepare traps to rescue Alvord Lake Chub from a shrinking pond in the Alvord Basin.

The two BLM interns from The Chicago Botanical Garden both had the look of someone who has been in the desert one day too long.

Their bloodshot eyes surveyed the bleak landscape in the way you’d expect someone who had seen the same featureless view every day for months and months.

I rode in the government truck with them down to a spot in the lower Alvord Basin just a few miles from the Nevada border. We stopped and opened a gate in a fence and drove off into the sage brush for a long distance, before a small, dark tree began to take shape in the distance.

Continue reading Into the Desert: Borax Lake and the Fish That Live There

The Theory of the Wolf

The wolf is an extraordinary creature.

At once man’s oldest accomplice and his oldest nemesis.

There is some evidence that ancient man used ancient carnivores, some distant relative of the wolf, to help him corner large and unruly sources of food, like woolly mammoths, the protein from which, in turn, increased the size of our brains, which led to more improved hunting techniques and eventually the idea to domesticate wolves into more predictable hunting partners.

As species, we traveled two very distinct pathways through history. Continue reading The Theory of the Wolf

Is the west still wild?

Birds take flight at Malheur Lake.
Birds take flight at Malheur Lake.

If you were to judge Oregon based on the fact that a bunch of angry militants took over a wildlife refuge demanding the government return the land to the people, well, I wouldn’t blame you.

Of course I’ve been following this.

Over the last six months, I’ve become incredibly fascinated with Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the ill-fated scene of the hostile (silly) takeover.

Why?

It was the first waterfowl sanctuary created west of the Mississippi. It was created, in the most simplified way I know how to explain this, when one William L Finley took photographs of the birds there and traveled to Washington D.C., where he showed them to Theodore Roosevelt, who said, and I’m paraphrasing, “Well, bully, let’s create a bird sanctuary for the protection of native birds.” Or something similar.

What you might not know is that there was a chicken egg shortage on the west coast in those days, and people, desperate for their eggs, as we tend to get, were raiding the nests of wild birds and wiping out native populations all over the countryside.

Continue reading Is the west still wild?

Bears smell like cinnamon

800px-Grand_Tetons_black_bear

The department of fish, wildlife and parks biologist parked his rig up along a small ridge in a remote part of northwest Montana and got out to address the reporter and photographer waiting for him.

“What we’re going to do today is try to relocate a small, 2.5 year-old male black bear to a prepared habitat where he will hopefully hibernate the rest of winter away and awake in the spring with no memories of the human food he was consuming,” the biologist said.

Continue reading Bears smell like cinnamon