Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Howling Wolves - Yellowstone National Park

Sometimes I get lucky. I found this pack of wolves howling very close to the road in Yellowstone's Hayden Valley. They were howling at two other packs that I could hear in the distance as they answered this pack. There were 9 wolves in this pack and hearing 9 wolves howl at close range is something I will never forget. I removed the ugly radio collars from two of these wolves using Photoshop Elements.
National Geographic Magazine asked for a copy of this photo(with radio collars) for possible publication, and then didn't use it in their last month's Wolf Wars story. Maybe they don't like radio collars either.
I have a lot of wolf photos. I will try to post one every Wednesday on this blog. Wolf Wednesday for those who like wolves.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pronghorn Buck - Yellowstone National Park

I have been taking photos of pronghorns in Yellowstone for over 20 years. The bucks have been getting larger horns the past few years. I suspect it is because the wolves have reduced the number of elk in the park, who have overgrazed the vegetation for many years. With the grazing getting better, the pronghorns are healthier. This buck has just smelled something interesting and is curling his lip.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sandhill Crane- Yellowstone National Park

Sandhill Cranes arrive in early spring to stake out territories and to wait for higher meadows to emerge from winter. This crane was preening while waiting for his snow-bound meadow to melt. The glacier-dropped boulder made for a snow-free place to freshen up.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Trumpeter Swan-Yellowstone Lake

Swans use Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park as a stopover as they fly south in the fall. The lake is frozen for several months in the winter and is unusable for them at that time. Swans use their powerful legs and feet to assist in taking off from the lake's surface.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Battered Bighorn-Alberta Canada

The drive to reproduce and to engage in mating dominance battles is very strong in Bighorn rams. This Bighorn ram lost one of his horns a few years before in a battle with another ram. He is still battling with one horn and it looks like he got hurt again when butting heads while handicapped by his loss.
His eye has been injured and he has a wound on his face. I suspect that one of the other ram's horns got caught inside of this rams remaining horn, producing the injury.
There are no referees in these battles and rams get their horns broken off when they get struck from the side by a third ram when they clash head on with their first opponent.
It is not uncommon to see three or four rams trying to butt heads at the same time. I have watched three rams gang up and really batter one other ram.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wolves Fighting - Yellowstone National Park

These two wolves are having a disagreement over the remains or a bison they killed ten days previous. While this encounter ended without either wolf being hurt, wolves from different packs often kill each other over territorial disputes.
A wolf is more likely to die from an encounter with another wolf than for any other reason during the course of its life. This constant strife acts as a self regulator of wolf populations.
Re-introduced wolves have filled all of the available habitat in Idaho and Yellowstone. They will control their own numbers as they defend a space large enough to sustain their own pack from intrusion by other wolves.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Flying Coyote - Yellowstone National Park

Coyotes hunt mice and voles by jumping on the sound of the rodents scurrying through the grass. By anticipating the action, I was able to capture this coyote in mid-air.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Starfish and Anemones -Olympic National Park, Washington

I like the oceans, especially the wildlife found there. I found these interesting animals during low tide in Olympic National Park.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wolves Playing - Yellowstone National Park

Wolves exist in families called packs and can often be seen playing together. I was fortunate enough to find these wolves playing in Yellowstone and get their photo. This is one of my favorite photographs.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Radio-Collared WolF Doing "Raised Leg Urination"- Yellowstone National Park

Wolf researchers in Yellowstone National Park justify putting radio collars on the wolves so they can easily locate them to record behavior that anyone who has watched dogs for any length of time already knows.

This radio-collared Yellowstone wolf is peeing to mark its territory and to relieve itself. Wolf researchers try to make it sound exotic by calling it a "Raised Leg Urination" so they can make us believe they are recording important events. Researchers have been abusing wolves with helicopter chases and collaring in Yellowstone for 15 years to record common canine behavior like this and have plans for continuing this as long as they can. It is past time to stop this insanity. I found this wolf the old-fashioned way by simply taking the time to look for him.
Call Jon Jarvis (U.S. National Parks Director)and tell him what is going on.(202-208-3818)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bighorn Ram With Radio- Collar-Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park was established to preserve a place where animals could exist wild and free and "Unencumbered by Man". The basic premise of a place wild and free and "Unencumbered By Man", has been hijacked by a horde of researchers who put their desire for advanced degrees above the welfare of the animals living in Yellowstone and other National Parks.
If you drive out early in the morning in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone, you will see numerous "research" people aiming antennas at radio-collared bison, cougars, elk, wolves, wolverines,coyotes, foxes, pronghorns and yes- bighorns.
Yellowstone animals are subject to helicopter chases, leg-hold traps, pursuit by hounds, snared with cables, and being darted with dangerous immobilizing drugs to place these intrusive radio-collars on them.
These studies are repetitious and as soon as one set of researchers have finished their pet project, another one is approved by Yellowstone Park Officials.
Jon Jarvis are you listening? Cal Jon (202-208-3818)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wolves Return To Bison Kill-Yellowstone National Park

Anti-wolf proponents would have you believe that Wolves are rampant killers who take a couple of bites from a kill and rush off to kill again. The Wolves I have observed, don't fit this distorted picture. These Wolves have returned to a Bison they killed ten days before and are cleaning up everything, including the bones and skin.
I got this photo because I know that wolves return again and again to old kills. I saw this pack of Wolves earlier in the day and set up my tripod and camera about 100 yards from the old bison kill. Sure enough the Wolves showed up to scavenge on the kill, unaware that I was hidden in the trees on a nearby hill.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Red Fox Kits Playing- Donnelly, Idaho

I live in an area where foxes are protected from hunting and trapping by a county ordinance. Our foxes become quite tame and are unfazed by people watching them. I check out the young foxes each spring and got this photo a year ago in Donnelly, Idaho.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wolves Chasing Elk-Lamar River,Yellowstone National Park

Here is another photo of the Druid Pack of Yellowstone Wolves as they try to catch a cow elk in the Lamar River last fall. The elk eventually escaped. These wolves are infested with Mange, (a parasitic mite that causes their hair to fall out) which decimated this pack. All of the wolves in this photo died this past winter. The park wolf biologists helped destroy this pack by radio-collaring 7 of the 14 adults. They chase the wolves down with a helicopter and then dart them with paralyzing drugs to put the collars on. Then they refuse to treat the wolves for Mange because it is "Not Natural".
Jon Jarvis (Director of the U.S. National Park Service), are you paying attention? Fire these biologists and their boss-the Yellowstone Park Superintendent. Call Jon (202-208-3818)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Collared Canada Goose - Boise, Idaho

It seems that everytime I look at wildlife I find one of them with an ugly intrusive collar. What ever happened to biologists that sit and observe wildlife without capturing them? This poor goose was in Boise, Idaho.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spotted Towhee -Colorado River, Moab ,Utah

This bird was near my camp every day, while I was taking photos of Desert Bighorns. He finally landed long enough for me to get this photo.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Killdeer Baby-Idaho

Spring is coming and with it will come lots of baby birds. I have enjoyed baby killdeers since I was very young and used to see them on our farm east of Rigby, Idaho.
I took this photo of a baby killdeer cooling off in the spray from a lawn sprinkler, as I passed through Kuna, Idaho two years ago, on my way to look for burrowing owls in the Birds of Prey Area south of there. This little guy was rubbing off excess water with its' foot.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cougar - Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona

Cougars provide an important function in keeping deer and elk herds from overpopulating and damaging the environment. They are very territorial and protect their territory against intrusion by other cougars. In other words, they self-limit their own population. Anti-predator campaigns by fish and game departments and hunters disrupt the territorial distribution of cougars and cause more harm than good. Researchers can disrupt the natural behavior of cougars as well.
A few years ago, a University of Idaho researcher strapped radio-collars on EVERY cougar in the northern part of Yellowstone National Park. She did it by chasing them down with hounds and then darting them with immobilizing drugs. That is right, she used HOUNDS in Yellowstone National Park to capture wild cougars who are supposed to be wild and free.
I took this photo of a cougar at the Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona. I prefer to see animals in the wild and I am not a great fan of Zoos, but the Desert Museum does as good a job of taking care of their confined animals as any I have visited. I posterized this photo to give it a little more saturation and dramatic effect.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chipmunk - Yellowstone National Park

I like chipmunks. They always seem so independent and unconcerned with the rest of the world as they go about finding food. I photographed this chipmunk in the Slough Creek Campground in Yellowstone.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Abused Desert Bighorns - Moab, Utah

These Desert Bighorn Sheep have been captured and outfitted with large radio collars by a Brigham Young University graduate student working on his master's degree. This intrusive research is common anywhere there is a animal to study. Bighorn ram necks swell during the rut and his collar is far too tight for comfort. The ram appeared to be having difficulty in swallowing.
These bighorns were easy for me to find every day by using my binoculars. The radio collar choking the ram is simply a convenience for the lazy inconsiderate researcher.
The large collars attract the interest of predators, who have evolved to attack animals that look different from the rest of the herd. Putting a collar on a prey animal is like putting a "Kill Me" sign on them. When a cougar kills one of these handicapped bighorn, Bighorn sheep hunters and the fish and game department will clamor for reducing the cougar population. What they should do is stop this intrusive type of research.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Monster Bighorn Rams - Alberta, Canada

Here are two huge Rocky Mountain Bighorn Rams. To get this large, these rams have evaded trophy hunters who would pay up to $200,000 to shoot one of these rams. This insanity of placing such high prices on these sheep encourages poaching and needs to stop. I prefer to see bighorn rams like this out in the wild rather than seeing their heads hanging on some hunters wall.

Many Bighorn Sheep in western states die when they catch pneumonia from domestic sheep. Over 400 bighorns have died this year from pneumonia.
I am on the Idaho Bighorn/Domestic Sheep Working Group which tries to resolve differences between the use of public lands by Bighorns and domestic sheep and attended their meeting on Tuesday.
I am not sure we accomplish much as the bighorns keep dying.
I think that domestic sheep grazing on public lands inhabited by bighorns should not be allowed.

More Big Bighorns

Monster Bighorn Rams - Alberta.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Abused Desert Bighorn Ewe - Moab,Utah

A wildlife researcher has captured this wild bighorn ewe and put a radio collar on it so that he can find it easily. I was able to find this animal and the rest of the herd every day for two weeks without the use of the radio collar.
The study is more about getting a graduate degree from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah than it is to help the bighorns.
The use of this high-tech intrusive research has become an epidemic around the world. Jaguars are killed by researchers in Arizona and Tigers in India are killed by researchers using drugs to capture them for collaring . Wolves and other wildlife are collared in Yellowstone National Park and often die from capture stress and infection. It is time to demand that wildlife is allowed to stay wild without being subject to this abuse.
The bighorn ewe in this picture suffered from being struck in the chin by the large metal box, surrounding the radio components, each time she lowered her head to eat or drink.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Parking Lot "Wolf Research"- Yellowstone National Park

How many "researchers" does it take to record one wolf doing a "Raised Leg Urination"? Looks like at least eight.
This group of people were with the illegally parked vehicle in the previous post. Recognize anyone?
This is recreational wolf viewing disguised as "research" so that these folk can deduct their wolf viewing vacation expenses from their income tax.
The man sitting on the chair is allowed by Yellowstone Park Officials to use a radio receiver, tuned to the radio-collar frequencies of the wolves, so that he can guide these people and others to the wolves.

Yellowstone Wolf Watchers Illegally Parked on The Grass

I first met the owners of this vehicle several years ago in Yellowstone, when I stopped to ask them what they were watching through their spotting scope. After being told rudely to be quiet, that I would scare the wolves they were watching, I spotted the wolves over a mile away. I could have jumped up and down yelled at the top of my lungs and wouldn't have disturbed the wolves.

These folks are members of a group of people that claim to be "researchers" and that turn in anyone to the rangers, that might get within half a mile of a Yellowstone wolf. They save parking spots for each other and if there isn't room to all of them to park in the turnouts, they illegally park on the grass as my photo shows them doing last fall in Yellowstone.
The man sitting in the chair in the photo above this one, is a part-time Yellowstone National Park employee and should be monitoring the people he guides around watching wolves.

Wolves Pursuing Elk-Lamar River Yellowstone National Park

The Druid Pack of Wolves try to run down an elk in the Lamar River in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. I watched and photographed this event for about four hours last fall. The Elk eventually wore the Wolves out and escaped. She kept dodging and returning to the deeper parts of the river where she could out-maneuver the wolves.

If you look closely(click on the image to enlarge), you can see that the wolves have very little hair on their tails. They are suffering from a parasitic mite disease called mange which makes their hair fall out. Suffering from mange and handicapped by radio collars, this ENTIRE PACK of wolves died of cold and starvation this winter. Some of the loss of life is due to constant harassment by so-called researchers who follow the wolves everyday.
Yellowstone Wolf Biologists seem to be able to chase them down with helicopters and put radio collars on them, but they claim treating them for mange is "Not Natural".
The Yellowstone Wolf population has plummeted from 174 wolves a few years ago to less than 100 this spring. The Druid Pack had as many as 28 wolves a few years ago, 14 adults last year, and now there are none. Of the 14 wolves in the pack last year, Yellowstone Wolf Biologists had chased down and put radio collars on 7 of them. This is a classic case of "Studying Wildlife To Death".
Someone should fire Jon Jarvis, U.S. National Parks Director. Call Jon 202-208-3818.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Brown Pelican - California

Male Brown Pelicans become very colorful for the spring breeding season. Brown Pelicans on the Pacific coast are more colorful than their Atlantic cousins. I took this photo north of San Diego, California.

More Pelican photos here

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sage Grouse -Indicator Species

You can tell how healthy an ecosystem is by the presence of certain plants and animals. Sage Grouse are one of those species. Sage Grouse have steadily declined in number over the past century. The main culprits in this decline are humans and their activities and their livestock.

They require large tracts of healthy sage brush in order to flourish. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has steadily sprayed and plowed sage brush for the benefit of the livestock industry for the past 50 years. With the decision to not list the Sage Grouse as endangered today, the Secretary of The Department of Interior, Ken Salazar, has just told them to keep plowing and spraying.

The Sage Grouse in this Photo is strutting on a former domestic sheep bedding ground. The bedding ground is infested with weeds from over-grazing by the domestic sheep, which hinders the strutting activity of the Sage Grouse.

More photos here

Sage Grouse Courting Display-Idaho

Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior Salazar refused to put the Sage Grouse on the endangered species list today. He said the listing was warranted, but that other concerns had greater priority. In other words, he favored corporate oil and gas development and continued over-grazing of public lands by the livestock industry, over protecting Sage Grouse habitat. President Obama promised change when he was elected, but we seem to have the same type of Interior Department Secretary that Bush had when he was president.
This male Sage Grouse is caught by the early morning sun on a frost covered strutting lek on public lands in Idaho last spring. The lek is covered with non-native dead weeds introduced by the over-grazing of domestic sheep.
I hope that my grandson and his children will get to see Sage Grouse strutting during their life-times. I fear that corporate interests have too much say in governing our land and that many species of wildlife will be endangered in the future.

More photos here

Canon 40d, 500 mm lens

Kissed by Bull Elk Number 6-Yellowstone National Park

Bull Elk#6 was a celebrity in the Mammoth area of Yellowstone. (He has an orange tag in his left ear with the #6 on it) During the rut he spent his time herding his harem of cows around the Mammoth Hot Springs townsite, challenging other bulls and any humans who dared venture nearby. He was famous for charging automobiles and goring holes in them. In the fall of 2008, the unofficial count was 54 cars and pickups gored by #6.

Over the years, Yellowstone Park Staff tried many ways to keep #6 and the vehicles apart. They even sawed his antlers off a couple of times. They eventually settled on using rangers and volunteers to patrol the area and to keep the cars moving anytime #6 was nearby.

A year ago, #6 caught his front feet while jumping a fence in Gardiner, Montana, just outside of the park, and flipped onto his back between some big rocks and was unable to get himself free. I will miss him.

I had a kissing encounter with #6 a few years ago, when I stopped my pickup to let a herd of cow elk cross the road in Mammoth. I didn't see #6 coming along behind the cows until it was too late to start my truck and back up. He rushed to my open window and stuck his cold, wet nose and lips against my cheek. He couldn't get his horns into the window where he could damage me or my truck because of my camper over-hanging the pickup cab. He jumped back when I used my starter motor to start my truck and I got away from him. I had a wet spot on my cheek as I drove away.
I am sure that I am the only person ever to be kissed by #6 and survive. I smile everytime I think about it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Abused Yellowstone Wolf

The biologists in Yellowstone National Park chase wolves with helicopters each winter and put radio collars on them in an ongoing study that is in its' 15th year. The population of Yellowstone wolves has fallen from a high of 174 wolves a couple of years ago to less than 100 today. Some of this decline is due to the constant stress of being equipped with radio collars and buzzed with aircraft and followed by researchers on the ground every day of the year.

I photographed this black wolf one year ago wearing a GPS collar, which allows biologists to sit in an office and monitor the wolf's travels on a computer screen. The wolf looks miserable with its tail down and dejected manner. Yellowstone is supposed to be a place where animals live wild and free and un-encumbered by man.

More Wolf photos

Fox of a Different Color-Idaho

Red Foxes come in a variety of colors. This young fox has a lot of black fur and will grow up to be a cross-fox, with a mix of red and black hair . I live in an area with several fox dens and make it a practice each spring to check on each den to see what the latest crop of baby foxes looks like.

Fox Photos

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Great Horned Owl At Sunset-Arizona

This Great Horned Owl is perched above a kestrel nest box as it surveys the nearby fields for a possible meal.

Owl Photos

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sandhill Crane With Ice on Legs-Bosque del Apache, New Mexico

Sandhill Cranes roost in standing water. This crane was roosting in very cold water which froze a layer of ice on it during the night. The crane lifted its legs out of the ice and took flight. There is a ring of ice still attached to each of its' legs.

More Sandhills