Tag Archives: Conservation Issues

Topics with specific conservation interest

Garden in the Woods – NEWFS

Garden in the Woods, at Framingham, Massachusetts, is a remarkable piece of woodland that has been developed and nurtured over many decades with the primary aim of encouraging the use of NE USA native plant and flower species in people’s gardens, and the protection of endangered species.

One of the ponds at Garden In The Woods, Framingham, MA.
One of the ponds at Garden In The Woods (cellphone photo)

It  is  the headquarters of the  New England Wild Flower Society [NEWFS]   and   –   especially in May – is a delight to visit and see so many flower species in bloom.

A Trillium (I believe 'grandiflora', but I need to check that.)
A Trillium (I believe ‘grandiflora’, but I need to check that.)

My own first visit to G.I.T.W. was a couple of years ago and I will always remember it for two reasons.  The first of these was that I had never encountered such a delightful setting for so many species of wild flowers.  The second, however, was for one of the worst-possible reasons, and that came in the form of a telephone call from my wife, telling me that evil, homicidal morons had just set off a bomb at the Boston Marathon, only a few miles to the east.  Enough said.

Not exactly a native species, but azaleas are an obvious, spring high-point in virtually any garden.
Not exactly a native species, but azaleas are an obvious, spring high-point in virtually any garden.

Since then, I have been back three further times, including my most recent visit, to which this post refers.

I have to confess, though, that I have yet to time a May visit to perfection – in other words to be there when the spring ephemeral flowers are at the height   of   their   glory.  This time I was just a few days too late.

A small but very eye-catching mint or deadnettle species that I need to check more thoroughly.
A small but very eye-catching mint or deadnettle species that I need to check more thoroughly.

 

Star Flowers
Star Flowers

Bad timing aside, this visit did bring me into contact with some extremely pleasant people, the first of whom – Dave T. – is a volunteer at Garden in the Woods.  Dave, I enjoyed our conversation greatly and a large part of that enjoyment came from your knowledge and great enthusiasm for this remarkable place.

As a Twitter acquaintance wrote, that's me "getting down and dirty!"  Yes... Can't deny it. But I like to think it was in a good cause! {:-)
As a Twitter acquaintance wrote, that’s me “getting down and dirty!” Yes… Can’t deny it. But I like to think it was in a good cause! {:-)

And then there was an immensely pleasant couple who were sufficiently amused to find me laying flat on my face across a path, in order to take a photo of starflowers, that the gentleman in question photographed me doing so, and one of his shots is shown above!  (Please know that my daughter in England saw your photo on Twitter and made me laugh when she commented:  “My Dad is so normal. I know who to blame now!”  {:-)

The pendulous flower of a Purple Pitcher Plant
The pendulous flower of a Purple Pitcher Plant

Oh, and for those of you with children or grand children to entertain, I was really pleased to see that a very imaginative and very natural play area has been installed that is clearly on a woodland theme and will undoubtedly be a great and rather crucial way to introduce youngsters to the natural world that is nowadays increasingly ignored in favour of computer games and other, related distractions.

I intend to add more to this post in a few days’ time, after my wife and I get home from a few days vacation in New England (some of which will be the subject of additional wildlife photography posts in this blog).

I can't close without showing you a lovely little 'Skipper' species of butterfly on Eastern Bluestar
I can’t close without showing you a lovely little ‘Skipper’ species of butterfly on Eastern Bluestar

Until then, I hope that at least you can enjoy the photos I have posted here.

Stay well!

Eddie

The Financial Link between Hunting & Fishing and Sustainable Wildlife Populations in the U.S. National Wildlife Refuge System

The case for this apparently very successful approach is outlined in a press release dated March 5, 2014, as follows:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe today announced the agency will expand hunting and fishing opportunities throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System, opening up new hunting programs on six refuges and expanding existing hunting and fishing programs on another 20 refuges. The rule also modifies existing refuge-specific regulations for more than 75 additional refuges and wetland management districts.

The Service manages its hunting and fishing programs on refuges to ensure sustainable wildlife populations, while offering traditional wildlife-dependent recreation on public lands.

“For more than a century, hunters and anglers have been the backbone of conservation in this country and a driving force behind the expansion of the National Wildlife Refuge System,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “By providing more hunting and fishing opportunities on refuges, we are supporting a great recreational heritage passed down from generation to generation, creating economic growth in local communities and helping to ensure that conservation stays strong in America.”

Under the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the Service can permit hunting and fishing where they are compatible with the refuge’s purpose and mission. Hunting, within specified limits, is permitted on more than 335 wildlife refuges. Fishing is permitted on more than 271 wildlife refuges.

“Hunting and fishing are time-honored ways to enjoy the outdoors and teach people to value nature,” said Director Ashe. “Our National Wildlife Refuge System has millions of acres of public land and water to provide quality hunting and fishing experiences. We hope these expanded hunting and fishing programs will allow more Americans to experience this connection with nature.”

Hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities on national wildlife refuges help stimulate the economy and generate funding for wildlife conservation. Banking on Nature, a Service report released in November, showed refuges pumped $2.4 billion into the economy. Across the country, refuges returned an average $4.87 in total economic output for every $1 appropriated in Fiscal Year 2011.

Other wildlife-dependent recreation on national wildlife refuges includes wildlife photography, environmental education, wildlife observation and interpretation.

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The press release also contains a list of the refuges affected by the above policy change, one of which — Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge — is here in New York.

Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Survey – Your Help is Requested

Scott Kruitbosch, the Conservation & Outreach Coordinator at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History in Jamestown, NY, is asking for help monitoring Rusty Blackbirds during the Spring Migration.

Learn more in this blog entry:    http://rtpi.org/rusty-blackbird-spring-migration-blitz/

Soott asks:  “Please help find Rusty Blackbirds — one of the fastest declining species on the continent — wherever you are during the blitz.    Feel free to email me if you have any other questions and good luck finding them.”

His e-mail address is: skruitbosch@rtpi.org

You might also like to visit the website of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History.

America’s Bats in Danger from a Disease that First Occurred here in Upstate New York

It is quite possible that you have already heard about the White-nose Syndrome that is doing terrible damage to cave-dwelling bats in the USA, but what exactly is it!

According to the USGS, “White-nose syndrome (WNS) is an emergent disease of hibernating bats that has spread from the northeastern to the central United States at an alarming rate. Since the winter of 2007-2008, millions of insect-eating bats in 22 states and five Canadian provinces have died from this devastating disease. The disease is named for the white fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, that infects skin of the muzzle, ears, and wings of hibernating bats.”

White-nose  syndrome was first discovered in North America in upstate New York in February 2006,  in  a cave adjoining a commercial cave visited by 200,000 people per year.  The fungus appears to have been introduced to North America  from Europe. It has  been found on cave bats in 12 countries in Europe, where bats appear to be adapted to,  and unaffected by, the fungus.  Because bats do not travel between the  continents, this strongly suggests the fungus was newly introduced to North  America by people — likely cave visitors who transported it on  their gear or clothing.

An estimated 6.7 million bats have died since 2006 because of an outbreak of white-nose syndrome.  It has  wiped out entire colonies and left caves littered with the bones of dead bats.  The epidemic is considered the worst wildlife disease outbreak in North American  history and shows no signs of slowing down. It threatens to drive some bats  extinct and could do real harm to the pest-killing services that bats provide,  worth billions of dollars each year, in the United States. [Source: Center for Biological Diversity]

View photos here.

The latest news articles on this disease are available from White-noseSyndrome.org, here, and this includes the fact that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is awarding $1.4 million in grants for work on the deadly bat disease, with a further $2 million available in a second round of grants.

What can you do to help?

The key things are:

Avoid possible spread of WNS by humans

    • Stay out of caves and mines where bats are known – or suspected – to hibernate (hibernacula) in all states.

Honor cave closures and gated caves.

 Avoid disturbing bats

  • Stay out of all hibernacula when bats are hibernating (winter).

 Be observant

  • Report unusual bat behavior to your state natural resource agency, including bats flying during the day when they should be hibernating (December through March) and bats roosting in sunlight on the outside of structures. More difficult to discern is unusual behavior when bats are not hibernating (April through September); however, bats roosting in the sunlight or flying in the middle of the day would be unusual. Bats unable to fly or struggling to get off the ground would also be unusual.

Click here for further advice.

(Compiled by Eddie Wren, from relevant websites)

The excellent wildlife photography book, ‘BEAR’, by Paul Nicklen (Tuesday evening’s speaker at Kleinhans, in Buffalo)

One of my recent posts was about Paul Nicklen’s National Geographic presentation on Tuesday, March 4th, at Kleinhans, in Buffalo.

Today (March 2), I’ve spent quite some time looking at his excellent wildlife photography book:  ‘BEAR — The Spirit of the Wild’

The cover of Paul Nicklen's book, 'BEAR'
The cover of Paul Nicklen’s book, ‘BEAR’

The introductory description of the book, inside the dust jacket, reads:  “…a powerful visual journey that reveals the private world of the great denizens of the wild north. National Geographic photographer and biologist Paul Nicklen takes readers on a special journey to some of his favorite corners of the planet’s northern latitudes, providing rare and intimate glimpses of bears and portraying them as noble ambassadors of the wild.  Through his unforgettable images and personal narrative, Nicklen strives to show us a different side of bears…” Initially, when I first opened to the book to flick through the photographs, I was a little cautious because some of the first half-dozen images have been pushed to the very limit in terms of printing very small sections of the original file and/or filling a double-page spread, but despite some visible ‘noise’ on those images as a result of this, it cannot be denied that they are still very powerful.  And the good news is that such issues are confined to those initial images; from that point on the quality gets higher and effectively stays there.  Indeed, many of the subsequent images are nothing short of jaw-dropping. Introductory small images of Mr. Nicklen himself, on pages 20-23, show just how close he is prepared to work  to bears and — quite literally — the validity of his approach is put into words by the start of his introduction, on page 19, where he writes: “If you have picked up this book hoping to read about a near-death experience with a bear, you will be deeply dissappointed.  As you will witness through the images and the stories from these great authors, none of us has a terrifying story to tell.  Instead, we have all been greatly inspired by the last true nomads of North America…”

My own favourite images?  Well, I’m going to list the page numbers but there’s a very high chance that your favourites would be different to mine, as they undeniably should be, because we all have different likes.

  • Polar bears: 34-35, 36-37, 40-41, 48, 54-55, 198
  • Grizzlies: 86-87, 88-89, 104-5,  112-13
  • Black bears: 152-3
  • Spirit bears (i.e. white-coloured black bears but they’re not albinos): 166-67, 168-69, 172-73 (same as cover), 178-79

There are some excellent none-bear photographs, too, including several environmental shots — mostly from planes — as well as:

  • narwhals at a large breathing hole, with polar bears watching
  • an outrageously good shot of a ringed seal surfacing
  •  caribou migrating
  •  salmon migrating

Whether or not you are going to Paul Nicklen’s talk in two days’ time — which is not all about bears — you might want to check this book out.  (Barnes & Noble on Niagara Falls Boulevard has a copy in the ‘Nature’ section, by the bow window.)  It is $35.00 but for any keen wildlife watcher or nature photographer it would be a fine addition to one’s library.

The other book by Paul that I know of is called ‘Polar Obsession’, which clearly will be more closely related to his imminent talk (click for further details).

Eddie Wren

How the Reintroduction of Wolves Helped Save Yellowstone National Park

This is one of a series of four-minute video gems from the BBC, under the heading of ‘The Power of Nature’

“Wolves had been absent from Yellowstone National Park for more than 70 years when they were reintroduced in the 1990s – and their return had some surprising benefits….”

Read more and view: How Wolves Saved Yellowstone National Park (sponsored by Nikon cameras)

Major NAT. GEO. Wildlife Photography Presentation by Paul Nicklen – Buffalo, March 4, 2014

Western New York debut of National Geographic’s “POLAR OBSESSION: PHOTOGRAPHY FROM THE ENDS OF THE EARTH”

Tickets are $25,  although a VIP package is available for $75 per person and includes a one-hour meet-and-greet with Mr. Nicklen, refreshments, polar-themed gifts and preferred seating.

For details of the speaker and/or to buy tickets, go to http://www.paulnicklen.com/speaking-engagements and scroll down.

Tickets are also obtainable at: https://tickets.bpo.org/public/show.asp

Excerpts from comments about Paul’s photography:

“In each generation of wildlife photographers, a handful emerge as the standard bearers. They show us the natural world in a way we have never seen it before.  Paul Nicklen is just such a photographer.  His images have presented the mysterious underwater world of the frozen deep not as an icy silent landscape but as a rambunctious, lively street scene–think of him as the first underwater ‘street’ photographer.  His photography has brought us right up close to shy albatrosses, swimming polar bears, propelling penguins, massive manatees, and the elusive spirit bear–to name just a few of his subjects.  Paul’s training as a biologist, his  exciting presentation style and his eye-popping photos make every lecture not just an educational evening but an inspirational event for the entire audience.” – M. Mulvihill

“Had a great time. Really enjoyed the presentation! As an avid amateur photographer, Paul’s talk cured me of any desire I ever had to Shoot for National Geographic. The lengths Paul goes to to get his amazing shots are just incredible. Paul dedication to his craft, his passion for the environment and his presentation style made for an evening we will not forget for a long time.…”

In a susequent addition to this topic, on March 2, I have added details of Paul Nicklen’s book ‘BEAR — The Spirit of the Wild’ (click to go to that page) .