Stories tagged wildlife

Sounding more like something out of a Monty Python movie, this story actually is true. A Belarus man trying to take a picture of a beaver in the wild was attacked and killed by the watery rodent.

Fewer moose on the loose: Climate change is taking a toll on Minnesota's moose population, putting them in line to be added to the state's species with special concerns list.
Fewer moose on the loose: Climate change is taking a toll on Minnesota's moose population, putting them in line to be added to the state's species with special concerns list.Courtesy USDA Forest Service
While it's been a pretty good 16 years for Minnesota wolves and bald eagles, that's not been the case for moose. The behemoths will likely be moving on to the state's list of species with special concerns, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. In total, 67 animals and 114 plants are being proposed to be added to the lists while 15 plants and 14 animals – including wolves and bald eagles – have rebounded in numbers to be removed from the designations. Climate change is being credited as the big threat to Minnesota's moose population.

I've read about this connected to other earthquakes–that animals sense something's gonna happen before it does–and that was observed again at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., just instants before the Great Summer Earthquake of 2011. Read all about it here.

Animal deaths map: Google Maps keep track of worldwide mass animal deaths.
Animal deaths map: Google Maps keep track of worldwide mass animal deaths.Courtesy Google maps
The mass deaths of birds in Arkansas last week (see post below) has opened up the larger question of how rare or unusual these occurrences are. Here's a link to a worldwide map that shows a round up of where mass animal deaths have happened recently. Click and draw your own conclusions.

The mystery of why thousands of dead blackbirds were found in a small town in Arkansas on New Year's Eve has been solved. Loud sounds, possibly fireworks, scared the birds from their roosts, sending them into a panic that led them flying into house and in some cases, directly into the ground. Here's the initial video report of the event:

And here's the latest news story.

Another sad day for wildlife lovers as yet another one of the world’s beautiful creatures is declared extinct. The Alaotra grebe from Madagascar was added to a growing list of modern day extinctions of bird species, nearly 190 total out of the 10,000 bird species remaining in the world. I shudder to think how the threatened and endangered list will change with this terrible oil spill in the gulf.

There was an interesting package of stories in Sunday's Star-Tribune about Isle Royale and the troubling circumstances of wolf and moose populations falling out of balance at the island national park in Lake Superior. For years, researchers have used the island as a case study of predator/prey interactions in an area untainted by human development. With moose numbers dropping and threatening the survival of wolves, what should they do? Let nature run its course or intervene to keep this lab vital? The link above will take you to stories, photos and videos of the situation. What do you think should be done?

May
08
2009

nature in our own backyard
nature in our own backyardCourtesy DigNature
The other day I was invited to take a canoe trip down the Mississippi River, where I saw all kinds of wildlife, including a prehistoric-looking heron, and lots of other birds. I also saw really cool bridges from the underside, and got an up-close look at a gigantic river barge.

The best part about it? I didn't even need to leave the city, I just rode my bike to a park in St.Paul and a few minutes later I was out on the water.

This trip was part of a new program that Wilderness Inquiry and the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area are sponsoring to get city folks like me (and you?) out on the river. It's called the Urban Wilderness Canoe Area or UWCA, and the group organizing these trips hope to take 10,000 middle and high-school students on river trips. Some will even include overnight camping in St.Paul.

Besides being a really fun trip, I was able to see (and put my hands into) the place where my drinking water comes from, and where the run-off from my city street goes to.

While the water did look and smell better than I would have imagined, I did see all kinds of disgusting trash, some of which had made its way into the branches of nearby trees and bushes. I saw fast food containers, plastic toys, grocery bags and lots of cigarette butts. It's easy to forget that this stuff all ends up somewhere, and often times in waterways like the Mississippi, which eventually end up in our oceans. Even my short river trip was a great reminder of this.

Have any Buzz readers been canoeing or hiking along the Mississippi, or camping near the city? What did you see?

We post plenty of stories here on the Buzz telling the sad stories of impending, or completed, animal extinctions. Here's a great story on how over the past 50 years, Minnesota's surplus bear population has helped bring back Arkansas's nearly extinct bear population back from the brink. No word on what, if any, role Bill Clinton played in this effort.