Man Charged For Feeding Bears

Do not feed wildlife!

This black bear wants his food food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)
This black bear wants his food food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)

How hard is that to understand?

In an earlier article I reported on an incident involving the feeding of people-food to a black bear 3. 4 miles outside the north gate to Banff National Park.

In a national park in Canada, feeding wildlife carries a maximum fine of $25,000. Officers in provincial parks and recreation areas can also charge people up to $250 for the act. But there are no provincial laws that would allow Fish and Wildlife officers to issue a fine in this incident.

Such is NOT the case in Vermont where a Montgomery (Vermont) man was charged by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department for intentionally feeding bears.

Jeffrey Messier, 54, was charged with feeding bears after Game Warden Sgt. Carl Wedin received a report of a bear being killed in self-defense at a neighboring residence on June 22, according to an agency report.

Sgt. Wedin responded and recovered the bear. Its stomach contained a large number of sunflower seeds.

The investigating warden went to Jeffrey Messier’s residence where he discovered evidence of bear feeding and encountered a bear walking around the residence. The bear showed no sign of being afraid of people and walked right up to the warden.

Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)

The bear then approached a picnic table where sunflower seeds were placed. It was obvious to the warden that this bear had been intentionally fed on several occasions and had lost its fear of humans, according to a Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department news release.

Further investigation by Sgt. Wedin revealed that several other bears also came to the residence often enough to be named and that many of them in recent years may have been killed or injured in incidents with other landowners.

According to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, black bears are found in most forested portions of Vermont where they rely on wild foods such as berries, cherries, beechnuts, apples, and acorns to survive. But the department also points out that bears can easily become attracted to other foods such as birdseed, garbage, and pet food.

“Bears are normally shy and not aggressive toward humans,” says bear biologist Forrest Hammond.

“However, a bear that has been fed by humans soon loses its shyness and can become dangerous, especially to the landowner feeding the bears and to their neighbors. Often, as in this case, fed bears will seek similar foods elsewhere, and in the process cause property damage and scare people not expecting to find bears on their porches and in their back yards.”

“At this time we are responding to reports throughout the state of bears causing damage while attempting to get at chicken feed, bird seed, stored garbage, and food kept in screened porches. In most cases this does not end well for the bears.”

“People such as Mr. Messier that feed bears often think they are helping them,” said Hammond. “But in reality such behavior causes problems for other landowners and often ends with the death of the bears being fed. When we start receiving multiple reports of bears causing problems in an area we most often find that someone is intentionally feeding them.”

The intentional feeding of bears is illegal in Vermont. If convicted Messier faces a fine of up to $1,000 and a one-year revocation of his hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses.

A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear

bear-blog-deadbearDon’t be a contributor to food-conditioning.

Once a bear is food-trained, it is often impossible to un-train them. That is why wildlife experts often say a fed bear is a dead bear. Having a bear wreck your campsite is not only bad for you, but potentially deadly for the bear.

Bears that scavenge for food begin to associate food with humans, and become food-conditioned. Food-conditioned bears lose their natural fear of humans and become a threat to campers as they roam through the area in search of an easy meal.

There is little or no chance of correcting a food-conditioned bear; Park Rangers are forced to destroy them when they become aggressive towards humans.

Worth Pondering…

Life is hard; it’s harder if you’re stupid.

―John Wayne

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Canadian Rockies: Jasper National Park

Picture yourself in a mountain getaway surrounded by towering peaks, untouched wilderness, and turquoise lakes tucked into alpine valleys.

Jasper National Park combines some of the most spectacular scenery in the Canadian Rockies with ease of access
Jasper National Park combines some of the most spectacular scenery in the Canadian Rockies with ease of access and less crowded conditions than Banff © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The town of Jasper, nestled amid the serene mountain setting of Jasper National Park, offers first-class accommodations, dining, recreational activities, festivals, and other fun and convenient services.

Jasper National Park combines some of the most spectacular scenery in the Canadian Rockies with ease of access and less crowded conditions than Banff, its sister park to the south.

Wildlife is abundant, even right in town. Where else will you find a herd of elk grazing on the lawn?

The Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) joins the two parks of Jasper and Banff in one of the most breathtaking, beautiful drives that anyone can travel in the world. A series of massive glaciers line the entire length of the Icefield Parkway, with the Columbia Icefield lying along the parkway at the southern end of Jasper National Park.

Massive ice explorers, specially designed for glacial travel, take passengers on a remarkable excursion onto the surface of the Athabasca Glacier where passengers can safely step out onto the glacier and stand on this powerful ancient ice. The newly opened Glacial Skywalk over the Athabasca Glacier lets you experience waterfalls, wildlife, fossils, and more on an exciting cliff-edge walkway that leads to a platform where glass is all that separates you from a 918-foot drop.

Wildlife is abundant, even right in town. Where else will you find a herd of wapati (elk) grazing on the lawn?
Wildlife is abundant, even right in town. Where else will you find a herd of wapati (elk) grazing on the lawn? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Jasper SkyTram whisks you up Whistler’s Mountain to an elevation of 7,472 feet for stunning vistas over mountain ranges stretching up to 50 miles away. Interpretive exhibits explain the high alpine environment. Explore unlimited hiking and backcountry terrain in the high alpine country including a trail to the summit of the mountain.

Witness the towering waterfalls at Maligne Canyon. The whirling and tumultuous water has worn the canyon, only six feet wide in some places to a depth of over 165 feet.

Enjoy the natural beauty along the self-guided interpretive trail along the canyon. There are signs that describe the geological history of the region. Four bridges spanning the gorge and each offer a particular view. A short loop achieves the upstream edge of the canyon, and a longer trail follows the gorge to finish fifth and sixth bridges downstream.

The Athabasca Falls are among the most powerful and breathtaking falls in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The Upper Athabasca River thunders through a narrow gorge where the walls have been smoothed and potholed by the sheer force of the rushing water carrying sand and rock.

A picturesque waterfall, Athabasca Falls is not known so much for the height of the falls (75 feet), as it is known for its force due to the large quantity of water falling into the gorge.

A winding road leads to Patricia and Pyramid lakes where fishing, picnicking, boating, and hiking are  popular.
A winding road leads to Patricia and Pyramid lakes where fishing, picnicking, boating, and hiking are popular. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The falls can be safely viewed and photographed from various viewing platforms and walking trails around the falls.

Maligne Lake is famed for the color of its water, the surrounding peaks, the three glaciers visible from the lake and Spirit Island, one of the most photographed locations in the world.

Few summits in the park can match Mt. Edith Cavell’s craggy beauty. A small, powder blue Angel Glacier are easily reached by a short self-guiding trail that winds its way along the shores of the lake.

Don’t miss a visit to Miette Hot Springs, the hottest mineral springs in the Canadian Rockies. These natural springs are cooled from 129ºF to a soothing 102ºF. Located in the scenic Fiddle Valley, the facility includes two hot pools (one pool is wheelchair accessible), a cool pool, and poolside cafe. There’s also fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities and great mountain views.

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep lamb.
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep lamb. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Jasper Park Lodge, one of Canada’s luxury railway hotels, is a 700 acre year-round luxury mountain resort which wraps around the shores of Lac Beauvert and Canada’s #1 Resort Golf Course. The resort’s village of cedar chalets and luxury cabins, all connected by picturesque paths, offer guests unique access to explore the natural environment surrounding the resort.

Enjoy a variety of outdoor recreational activities including golf, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, and mountain biking in the summer and ice skating, snowshoeing, and skiing in the winter.

A winding road leads to Patricia and Pyramid lakes where fishing, picnicking, boating, and hiking are  popular. Rental facilities include horse-back riding, boating, canoeing, windsurfing, and sailing.

Worth Pondering…

Think I’ll go out to Alberta

Weather’s good there in the fall

Got some friends there I can go to.

—sung by Ian Tyson

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Venomous Snakes Bite 2 Campers + Safety Tips

A recent story in Vogel Talks RVing identified the various species of venomous snakes found in the United States and Canada and the appropriate first aide treatment.

The #1 key to identifying the venomous vipers among us, and being able to tell them apart from native harmless snakes, is by the shape of the head.  Moccasins, Copperheads and Rattlesnakes all have large venom glands in their cheeks which makes their heads distinctively wider than their necks. (Courtesy: swfieldherp.com)
The #1 key to identifying the venomous vipers among us, and being able to tell them apart from native harmless snakes, is by the shape of the head. Moccasins, Copperheads and Rattlesnakes all have large venom glands in their cheeks which makes their heads distinctively wider than their necks. (Courtesy: swfieldherp.com)

Since posting this article two campers were bitten by a venomous snake in separate incidents.

Idaho: Rattlesnake Bite

An Idaho woman is recovering after a rattlesnake bite sent her to the hospital. It happened near the Willowcreek campground east of Boise, where Olga Cortez of Caldwell was staying with her family. She had planned to spend the weekend camping, but instead, she spent three days in the ICU at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Meridian, reports KTVB-TV.

Cortez says she was walking on a trail with her husband when the snake struck. The rattlesnake had sunk its teeth into her foot as she walked near her campsite along the Boise River.

“I felt something bit me but I didn’t see it, and then all of a sudden I looked down, and there it was,” said Cortez.

“I started getting really hot, and numbness, and a really burning sensation and numbness, and by the time we got to the campsite I couldn’t walk,” said Cortez.

Venomous vipers have wider heads than their harmless relatives, a characteristic which can be easily recognized. Compare width of head of this harmless gopherxnake with earlier image of a rattlesnake. (Courtesy:  swfieldherp.com)
Venomous vipers have wider heads than their harmless relatives, a characteristic which can be easily recognized. Compare width of head of this harmless gopherxnake with earlier image of a rattlesnake. (Courtesy: swfieldherp.com)

It took Cortez an hour and a half to get to the hospital, then she spent three days in the ICU with a swollen foot and leg. She’s grateful only one of the snake’s fangs hit her foot. The other went through her sandal.

According to wildlife expert Frank Lundberg, a gopher snake looks similar to a rattlesnake, but is harmless. He says the best thing to do if you see any of Idaho’s 12 species is to remember that they don’t want to be bothered. He suggests wearing heavy shoes and keeping your dog close by if you’re hiking this time of year.

Tennessee: Venomous Snake Bite

A 53-year-old man was bitten by a venomous snake while camping at the Cades Cove Campground. The victim, identified as John Spencer was in a restroom on the group site of the campground when he was bitten by the snake.

It was not known what breed of snake bit Spencer, but it could be determined by the bite that it was poisonous, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Spokeswoman Molly Schroer told The Daily Times.

Park rangers took Spencer in the care of the Townsend Fire Department emergency personnel via Rural/Metro Ambulance Service. Townsend Fire set up a landing zone on Highway 73 near Sundown Resort, where Spencer was later flown via LifeStar to the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

In the case of the Rattlesnake of course, the distinctive rattle on the end of the tail is a sure give-away to the identification of the serpent, but given the fact that young Rattlesnakes do not have a functioning rattle, or a Rattlesnake may lose a rattle to a predator or to an accident, head shape recognition becomes your best indicator.(Courtesy: swfieldherp.com)
In the case of the Rattlesnake of course, the distinctive rattle on the end of the tail is a sure give-away to the identification of the serpent, but given the fact that young Rattlesnakes do not have a functioning rattle, or a Rattlesnake may lose a rattle to a predator or to an accident, head shape recognition becomes your best indicator.(Courtesy: swfieldherp.com)

He was reported to be in fair condition, according to the nursing supervisor’s office.

What To Do If You Encounter a Venomous Snake

If you spend much time out of doors in parks and other natural areas, chances are that someday you will encounter a potentially dangerous snake. The most important thing for you to do in such an encounter is to stay calm and not panic. The snake WILL NOT ATTACK YOU.

IF YOU SEE THE SNAKE – Stay calm, move slowly away from it, and keep your distance. The snake will not attack you.

IF YOU HEAR THE SNAKE BEFORE YOU SEE IT – DO NOT MOVE until you see the snake or know exactly where it is. Move slowly away from it, and keep your distance. Again, the snake will not attack you.

What To Do In The Event of a Venomous Snake Bite

There are two types of Coral Snakes in the U.S., the Eastern Coral Snake, and the Western Coral Snake. Of the two types, the Eastern Coral Snake is the largest and has the largest distribution. It is found in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. (Courtesy: swfieldherp.com)
There are two types of Coral Snakes in the U.S., the Eastern Coral Snake, and the Western Coral Snake. Of the two types, the Eastern Coral Snake is the largest and has the largest distribution. It is found in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. (Courtesy: swfieldherp.com)

Call 911 for medical assistance, or get the victim to a hospital.

Remove rings, watches, and anything else in the area of the wound that may restrict blood flow.

Slow down the swelling of the bitten limb by wrapping it with an elastic bandage (Ace bandage) tight enough to create some constriction, but not tight enough to restrict blood flow.

Use a splint to restrict movement of the bitten limb.

Prepare a cold washcloth or an icepack to apply to the victims forehead to help reduce nausea.

The absolute best course of action is to get the victim to a hospital or get medical assistance to the victim ASAP.

A working cell phone and a GPS make up the best “snake bite kit” you can carry with you.

DO NOT apply a tourniquet or attempt to restrict blood flow.

DO NOT expose the area of the bite to cold or apply an ice pack to it.

DO NOT drink caffeinated beverages or alcohol as a painkiller, or take aspirin or ibuprofen.

The only treatment for an envenomation is the use of antivenin which must be administered by medical professionals.

Note: The above information is courtesy Southwestern Field Herping Associates.

Worth Pondering…

A rattlesnake loose in the living room tends to end all discussion of animal rights.

—Lance Morrow

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Venomous Snakebites & First Aide Treatment

Venomous snakebites, although uncommon, are a potentially deadly emergency in the United States and to a lesser extent in Canada.

Western diamondback rattlesnake (Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Western diamondback rattlesnake (Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

The United States has about 20 species of venomous snakes which include 16 species of rattlesnakes, two species of coral snakes, one species of cottonmouth/water moccasin, and one species of copperhead.

Venomous snakes are distributed unevenly throughout the United States — the vast majority of snake bites occur in southern states. Florida and Texas have a wide variety and large population of venomous snakes.

At least one species of venomous snake is found in every state except Alaska and Hawaii.

The chances of dying from a venomous snakebite in the United States and Canada is nearly zero due to the availability of high-quality medical care.

Fewer than one in 37,500 people receive venomous bites in the U.S. each year (7,000 to 8,000 bites per year), and only one in 50 million people will die from snakebite (five to six fatalities per year). In fact, you are nine times more likely to die from being struck by lightning than to die of venomous snakebite.

Eastern diamondback rattlesnake (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Eastern diamondback rattlesnake (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Because of their widespread distribution and relatively potent venom, rattlesnakes are responsible for the majority of fatalities from snakebites; western and eastern species of diamondback rattlesnakes and prairie rattlesnakes account for almost 95 percent of these deaths.  Generally not aggressive, rattlesnakes strike when threatened or deliberately provoked, but given room they will retreat.

Copperhead snakes, which are common in the eastern United States, account for more cases of venomous snake bite than any other North American species; however, their venom is the least toxic so their bite is rarely fatal.

Canada has four species of venomous snakes.

Found in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, the prairie rattlesnake prefer short-grass prairie and dry, open scrubland. If disturbed, they will defend themselves by coiling, vibrating their rattle, and striking.

The northern pacific rattlesnake is found in short-grass prairie and arid interior British Columbia.

Primarily limited to the Georgian Bay area of Ontario, Massasaugas are commonly found near water. Not an aggressive snake by nature, they will often remain motionless if someone walks by. However, they will coil and can strike if they feel threatened.

Limited to a small portion of southern British Columbia, the desert night snake like hot, dry areas and, as their name suggests, are active mainly at night and are therefore seldom seen. Their saliva is slightly toxic.

Prairie rattlesnake (Credit: NPS/Peaco)
Prairie rattlesnake (Credit: NPS/Peaco)

What to do in the event of a snake bite

All venomous snake bites require medical attention.

In recent years, first aid measures for snakebites have been revised to exclude methods that were found to worsen a patient’s condition, such as tight (arterial) tourniquets, aggressive wound incisions, and ice.

The first thing to do if bitten is to stay calm and avoid excessive activity. Immobilize affected area keeping the bite area below the heart. Wash the bite area gently with soap and water and remove watches, rings, etc, which may constrict swelling.

Call 911. If Emergency Medical Personnel are not readily available, transport the victim to the nearest medical facility as soon as possible, but stay calm. Frantic, high-speed driving places the victim at greater risk of an accident and increased heart rate.

DO NOT use ice to cool the bite.

DO NOT cut open the wound and try to suck out the venom.

DO NOT use a tourniquet on the victim.

Worth Pondering…

A rattlesnake loose in the living room tends to end all discussion of animal rights.

—Lance Morrow

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RV Travel in Canada

RVing in Canada is gaining in popularity as an affordable vacation.

Jasper National Park is  a mountain getaway surrounded by towering peaks, untouched wilderness and turquoise lakes tucked into alpine valleys. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Jasper National Park is a mountain getaway surrounded by towering peaks, untouched wilderness and turquoise lakes tucked into alpine valleys. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The scale and grandeur of this incredible country has to be seen to be appreciated. Canada is a country that once visited, creates memories that last a lifetime.

Canada is a major RV travel destination renowned for its vast natural landscapes and stunning scenery. America’s northern neighbor offers visitors a truly unique vacation experience with a exceptional diversity of natural attractions. Whatever adventure you may seek, Canada has a destination.

From the rugged Pacific coastline and ancient rain forests of British Columbia, across the majestic Rockies and the rolling wheat field plains of the prairie provinces, past the great waterways of the east and on to historic sites and small fishing villages along the Atlantic coast…Canada has it all!

Some of the finest National Parks anywhere in the world are found in Canada. The peaceful serenity of the parks, the unique wildlife, and the jaw-dropping scenery create magical RVing memories.

The Canadian Rockies are stunningly beautiful and immense, with spellbinding views of snowcapped peaks, glacial lakes, fast-flowing rivers, and endless forests. Within the Canadian Rockies is some of the most beautiful, serene and, at the same time, breathtaking scenery on the earth’s surface.

You will never tire of RVing in Canada because over the next horizon there is something amazing to see and experience.

Located in southern British Columbia, the Okanagan Valley is one of the warmest regions in all of Canada. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Located in southern British Columbia, the Okanagan Valley is one of the warmest regions in all of Canada. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Canada is a vast country and RVing in Canada is an ideal way to experience its true magnificence.

So… having chosen Canada as your RVing destination, the challenge is deciding where to go and what to see and do when you get there.

Canada is a great place to create RVing memories for you and your family.

Metric System

Canada uses the metric system. American visitors may find the following conversions helpful.

Fuel in Canada is measured in liters. One U.S. gallon equals 3.785 liters.

Temperature in Canada is measured in degrees Celsius (°C). To convert a Celsius temperature to Fahrenheit: Degrees Celsius = Degrees Fahrenheit x 1.8 + 32 (e.g. 20°C = 20 x 1.8 + 32 = 68°F)

Distance in Canada is measured in meters (m) and kilometers (km). One yard equals 0.9 m; one mile equals 1.6 km.

Speed in Canada is measured in kilometers per hour (km/h).

RVing to Canada Border Requirements

To ease your border crossing the following regulations and suggestions are offered.

Canadian law requires that all persons entering Canada carry both proof of citizenship and proof of identity. A valid U.S. passport, passport card, or NEXUS card satisfies these requirements for U.S. citizens. Children under 16 need only present proof of U.S. citizenship.

Originally founded in 1906 as a wildlife refuge for preservation of the elk herds in the area, Elk Island National Park (Alberta) has grown to be a wildlife sanctuary for bison, moose, elk, white tail and mule deer, beaver, porcupine, Canadian lynx, and other small animals. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Originally founded in 1906 as a wildlife refuge for preservation of the elk herds in the area, Elk Island National Park (Alberta) has grown to be a wildlife sanctuary for bison, moose, elk, white tail and mule deer, beaver, porcupine, Canadian lynx, and other small animals. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Have proof of where you call home, especially if your driver’s license and vehicle tags list different states.

You must have proof of ownership and insurance for all vehicles. If towing a second vehicle be prepared to show the agent the registration for both vehicles.

If your RV is a diesel pusher DO NOT set air brakes when stopping at the booth.

Remove your sunglasses so the border agent can see your eyes. It allows them to read your expressions and shows you aren’t hiding anything,

Answer only questions asked and NEVER volunteer additional information.

Do NOT relay to an agent that you are a fulltime RVer. Officials feel that if you have no home you may have no reason to return to your home country.

Due to new diseases that surface from time to time, the rules of what food—especially meat—that you can have on board may differ from day to day. As a result it’s best to travel north OR south across the border with minimal food.

Every traveler entering Canada must declare all food, plants, animals and related products.

Worth Pondering…

Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder.”
―John F. Kennedy

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How Stupid Can You Be?

How stupid can you be?

A photo showing people in a vehicle feeding a bear on Highway 11 near the north gate to Banff National Park on May 19. (Jeff Bingham/Facebook)
A photo showing people in a vehicle feeding a bear on Highway 11 near the north gate to Banff National Park on May 19. (Jeff Bingham/Facebook)

How can anyone be stupid enough to feed wieners, pepperoni sticks, and bread to a black bear?

That’s the question wildlife officials are asking following an incident on the David Thompson Highway (Highway 11) near the north gate to Banff National Park on May 19.

Jeff Bingham, a wildlife photographer witnessed the event as it unfolded.

“Confronting people is not the answer,” he wrote on Facebook, where he posted a photo that shows the license plate on the vehicle.

“So I found a Parks Canada person, and reported it.”

Parks Canada investigated the incident and determined it took place about 5.5 kilometres (3.4 miles) outside the north gate to Banff National Park, the Calgary Herald reports.

In a national park, feeding wildlife carries a maximum fine of $25,000. Officers in provincial parks and recreation areas can also charge people up to $250 for the act.

But there are no provincial laws that would allow Fish and Wildlife officers to issue a fine in this incident.

“It is certainly not something our officers condone,” Brendan Cox, spokesman for Alberta Justice and Solicitor General, told the Herald.

This black bear wants his food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)
This black bear wants his food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)

“Outside of a park, there is no specific violation that refers to feeding wildlife in this way.

“Officers will try to discern the license plate and the owners of the vehicle so that the people involved in this case can be educated about how irresponsible it is to feed bears, or any wildlife for that matter.”

The discrepancy concerns those who work to reduce conflicts between people and wildlife.

“That worries me, because now people will think they can get away with that,” said Kim Titchener, director of Bow Valley Wildsmart.

“We don’t want people feeding wildlife…they might think it’s fun and it’s cute and they get this great picture, but they’ve killed that animal. They are responsible for that animal’s death now.”

Provincial officials said they will keep an eye on the bear to determine whether it has become habituated.

“If it learns to associate people with food, then it’s possible it could be approaching people for food in the future,” Cox explained to the Herald.

“Officers will monitor the situation and reassess it if there’s any future incidents.”

Should the bear get into trouble again, it could be captured and either euthanized or relocated.

Although incidents of feeding wildlife are happening less frequently, there have been a few high-profile cases in recent years, both within and outside of the protected areas.

“I don’t know where people are missing that message,” said Titchener.

“This is a long-standing message since the ’70s.

“Don’t feed the wildlife.”

An expert with Parks Canada told the Herald it could be a bear that officials have handled in Banff National Park.

Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)

“In the photo, they are saying there was a green ear tag,” said Brianna Burley, human/wildlife conflict specialist with Lake Louise, Yoho, and Kootenay national parks.

“That does fit with a bear that we did tag around Saskatchewan Crossing last summer and it wouldn’t be unheard of at all for a bear to wander.”

She was concerned about the bear’s welfare if it was fed along the road.

“They start becoming food conditioned,” explained Burley.

“That association between people and food leads to aggressive behavior from bears, which ultimately can lead to injury to people.

“It leaves us for very little room for any management decision and can very often lead to the destruction of those animals.”

Burley said they are noticing more incidents of people feeding wildlife within the park.

“When this came across my desk and we were trying to figure out where it happened, I wasn’t surprised by it,” she said. “Over the past few years, we’ve had more and more reports of this and I am not sure why that’s happening.”

Burley also reminded people to report any bear sightings within the park to Banff dispatch rather than just post it on social media sites.

The Banff dispatch number is 403-762-1470.

Worth Pondering…

Life is hard; it’s harder if you’re stupid.

―John Wayne

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State Parks Impact Alabama’s Economy

An earlier story detailed the economic benefits for communities located near national parks and other recreation and scenic hot spots.

Relax and enjoy the beauty of Gulf State Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Relax and enjoy the beauty of Gulf State Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The National Park Service concluded that, nationwide, the country’s parks contributed more than $14.7 billion to gateway communities in 2012.

A recent study conducted in Alabama concluded the State Park System also makes significant contributions to local economies.

From the beaches of the Gulf Coast to the Appalachian foothills, Alabama’s 22 state parks offer a wide variety of outdoor recreation opportunities that include hiking, biking, swimming, camping, boating, fishing, horseback riding, lodging options, museums, cave tours, golf, dining, and relaxation.

With an economic impact of $375.2 million, Alabama’s state parks contribute far more than simply locations for outdoor recreation and family vacations.

According to the study in 2011 the statewide network of parks and nature preserves supported 5,340 jobs totaling $140.2 million in earnings adding an estimated visitor spending of $152.4 million.

From 2007 to 2011, the parks had $170.3 million in receipts; $127.5 million was collected at the parks. Expenditures totaled $167.8 million and generated statewide economic and fiscal impacts of $336.1 million in gross business sales, $203.4 million contribution to GDP, $125.6 million in earnings to Alabama households for 4,784 direct and indirect jobs, and $9.5 million in income and sales taxes ($4.7 million state income tax, $2.1 million state sales tax, and $2.7 million local sales tax).

Talmadge Butler Boardwalk Trail, DeSoto State Park
Talmadge Butler Boardwalk Trail, DeSoto State Park

Economists Samuel Addy and Ahmad Ijaz with the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce conducted the analysis.

The study confirms what anyone working in the system already knows: “State parks are valuable tools to promote the state’s economy,” stated Greg Lein, Alabama State Parks Director.

“But the study gave us real numbers for state parks’ overall economic impact and the many public and private jobs that depend on them.”

According to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which commissioned the study, the state parks division recorded more than 4.6 million visits in 2012.

Clearly, the study concludes, state funding for Alabama State Parks is an attractive investment as the parks system generates more in tax revenues, promotes tourism, attracts both in-state and out-of-state visitors, creates jobs, and provides numerous educational, recreational, and environmental benefits that are difficult to quantify.

And in 2014 the Alabama State Park System celebrates a milestone—its 75th anniversary.

Throughout the year, Alabama’s 22 state parks will host a variety of hikes, nature walks and programs, dining and camping specials, and various other events highlighting 75 years of service.

Alabama’s park system began in the 1920s with Cheaha State Park being the longest continually operating facility. There were 11 state parks in Alabama by 1933 including Bromley, Cheaha, Fort Toulouse, Geneva, Little River, Panther Creek, St. Stephens, Sumter, Talladega County, The Lagoons, and Weogufka.

Alabama State Parks
Alabama State Parks

So whether it is hiking or biking (roads or trails); camping (RV or tent); fishing (bank, pier, or in a boat); golfing (six courses across the state); horseback riding (available at several parks); swimming, water skiing, canoeing, or boating; lodging options; museums; cave tours; family friendly activities; restaurants (with fine dining at resort parks); wildlife and nature watching; or simply relaxing; Alabama State Parks have it all. State parks also provide numerous educational, recreational, and environmental benefits that are difficult to quantify.

Details

Alabama State Parks

The Alabama State Parks Division operates and maintains 22 state parks encompassing approximately 48,000 acres of land and water.

These Parks rely on visitor fees and the support of other Partners like local communities to fund the majority of their operations. Partners Pay the Way.

Visit the website for information about the Alabama State Parks 75th Anniversary Celebration and for lodging, camping, and dining specials and event announcements.

Phone: (800) ALAPARK (252-7275)

Website: alapark.com

Worth Pondering…

Sweet home Alabama
Where the skies are so blue
Sweet home Alabama
Lord, I’m coming home to you
Here I come, Alabama

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Bear Sightings in Arizona Prompt Bear Awareness Tips

The Arizona Game and Fish Department said campers, hikers, and outdoor people need to be aware that bears may already be emerging from hibernation after two recent sightings were reported.

Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)

The Arizona Game and Fish Department wants the community to be “black bear aware” following the first sightings of the season near the Peppersauce Campground and on Ft. Huachuca.

“A black bear was sighted within 100 feet of the campground approximately 7 p.m. Sunday, February 16,” said Mart Hart in an Arizona Game and Fish news release.

“The campers abandoned the camp and reported the sighting.”

In addition, a hunter reported sighting a female bear and cub on Ft. Huachuca in January, Hart added.

Bears have been observed sporadically during the winter months in southeastern Arizona, suggesting that warmer weather may have shortened annual hibernations, from which black bears typically emerge in March, usually males before females.

Additionally, consecutive dry winters and intermittent seasonal rains, coupled with lingering environmental impacts from the Monument and Horseshoe Two fires, suggest that there may be more cases of bears visiting residential areas this year, according to Hart.

“Bears in search of food are often attracted to homes and into proximity with people. This close contact puts both humans and bears at risk. Most conflicts are the result of people unintentionally feeding bears, most often by allowing them access to household garbage, bird feeders, garden areas, or trees bearing fruit,” said Raul Vega Regional Supervisor of Game and Fish in Tucson.

bearsign03a“Fed bears can lose their fear of humans and begin to associate humans with food, sometimes causing property damage and even injuring people. But conflicts between humans and bears are preventable.”

Campers should never take food into a tent, use deodorizing sprays if storing food in cars when a bear-proof box is not available on-site, and clean themselves off thoroughly after cooking as well as change clothes afterward that may have lingering odors.

Recognizing the potential risk to both humans and bears, the Arizona Game and Fish Department spends considerable time and money each year relocating bears.

Unfortunately, this effort does little for the bears. Some bears must be destroyed because they are considered too dangerous, have lost their fear of humans, or continue to get into conflicts with people.

Following removal or relocation, campers may experience more problems from a different bear if the identified attractant is not eliminated.

Relocating a bear is also traumatic for the animal and does not guarantee it will live. Some are killed by larger, older bears that have established territory in an area.

If a bear is in your campground and refuses to leave, immediately contact the Game and Fish office at 520-628-5376 or at 1-800-352-0700 evenings, weekend, and holidays.

Depending on what the bear is doing, department personnel may respond if it remains in the area.

If you see a bear in the distance, alter your route to avoid it. On the rare occasion that a bear approaches you, discourage it by:

  • Making yourself as large and imposing as possible. Stand upright and wave your arms, jacket or other items, and make loud noises
  • Do not run and never play dead
  • Give the bear a chance to leave the area
  • If the bear does not leave, stay calm, continue facing it, and slowly back away

The black bear is the only bear species found in Arizona. Although fur color varies and includes brown, cinnamon, and blond, they are all considered black bears. It is the smallest and most widely distributed North American bear.

Black bears:

  • Weigh 125-400 pounds with males being larger than females
  • Are three- to three-and-a-half feet tall when on all four feet
  • Eat primarily acorns, berries, insects, and cactus fruits
  • Live in most forest, woodland, and chaparral habitats, and desert riparian areas
  • Roam an area of 7 to 15 square miles
  • Produce two to three cubs born in January or February
  • Live up to 25 years in the wild
  • Most active between dawn and dusk
This black bear wants his food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)
This black bear wants his food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/travelooce.com)

Bears are classified as big game animals in Arizona and are protected by state law. It is unlawful to feed wildlife, including bears, in Pima and Cochise counties. Violations can result in a fines ranging from $300 in Pima County to $2,500 in Cochise of up to $300.

For additional bear awareness tips and stories, click here.

Worth Pondering…

When a pine needle falls in the forest, the eagle sees it; the deer hears it, and the bear smells it.
—old Native American saying

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Bighorn Sheep Return to Catalina State Park

One of southern Arizona’s numerous “sky islands”, the Santa Catalina Mountains dominate Tucson’s northern skyline.

The Catalinas with a rare dusting of snow in late afternoon glow. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Catalinas with a rare dusting of snow in late afternoon glow. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

These sky islands are small mountain ranges that rise steeply from the desert floor and often feature a cool and relatively moist climate at their highest reaches. Their wooded slopes offer desert dwellers a respite from the summer heat. Conversely, the adjacent desert canyons and foothills offer spectacular scenery and excellent recreation during the cooler months of the year.

Catalina State Park protects a choice section of desert on the western base of the Santa Catalinas.

This scenic park is located on Oracle Road which becomes State Route 77, just minutes from the bustling city of Tucson. Watch for the signed entrance to Catalina State Park at Milepost 81.

The environment at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains offers great camping, hiking, picnicking, and bird watching—more than 150 species of birds call the park home.

If you’re lucky, you will soon be able to see not just birds, snakes, lizards, coyote, javelina, and deer but also bighorn sheep when you visit Catalina State Park.

If this happens, it will be due not so much to luck of course as to the hard work and dedication of many people including the folks at the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society and the Arizona Game and Fish Department. They are working together on a multi-year project to reintroduce bighorn sheep into the Santa Catalina Mountains.

The goal of the current project is to have a population of 110 bighorn sheep in these mountains at the end of a three-year period.

Catalina State Park is a hot spot for birders. Pictured above is a Western scrub-jay. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Catalina State Park is a hot spot for birders. Pictured above is a Western scrub-jay. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Although bighorn sheep have historically been a part of the Santa Catalina ecosystem, it’s been almost 20 years since they were last seen in the area. Their population died out slowly because of expanding urbanization, increased recreational use of the area by hikers and others, and changes in the environment due to wildfire suppression.

For a number of reasons, experts now think this is a good time to reintroduce bighorn sheep to the Santa Catalina Mountains.

They have been encouraged by plans to construct wildlife crossings across Oracle Road linking the Catalina and Tortolita Mountains.

Another important factor is the requirement at Catalina State Park and other recreational areas that dogs be leashed at all times. This is important because bighorn sheep view dogs as predators.

This is just one of many interesting things you can learn about bighorn sheep if you attend Arizona State Parks volunteer Richard Boyer’s “Bighorn Basics” talk at the Park. “Park visitors love Richard’s talk.

There is a lot of interest in bighorn sheep—and in this project in particular,” says Park Manager Steve Haas.

“It’s very exciting to think that we might soon see bighorn sheep at Catalina State Park.”

Richard Boyer Presents Bighorn Basics November 24: Meet Richard Boyer at the Trailhead at 4:00 p.m. as he presents “Bighorn Basics” at the Kannally Ranch House for a 35 minute talk to learn more about bighorn sheep—including reintroduction efforts and updates on a proposed wildlife corridor to cross Highway 77 near Catalina.

What are they? Where have they been? Where are they now?

Many of the tools we use can be compared to the tools the Bighorn Sheep use to survive in mountainous areas of Arizona.

Future Dates include:

  • December 29
  • January 26
  • February 23
  • March 16
  • April 27
Each year the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society builds or redevelops five or six water holes under the direction of the state and federal agencies responsible for the management of desert bighorn sheep habitat. (Source: adbss.org)
Each year the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society builds or redevelops five or six water holes under the direction of the state and federal agencies responsible for the management of desert bighorn sheep habitat. (Source: adbss.org)

Miles of equestrian, birding, and hiking trails wind through the park and the adjoining Coronado National Forest, as well as an interpretive trail to a prehistoric village.

The locale was first inhabited by the Hohokam people, Native American agriculturists who disappeared mysteriously around AD 1450. Remains of their village site are still evident in the park. In the late 1800s, prospectors worked claims along the banks of a wash called Canada del Oro, translated from the Spanish into “wash of gold”.

Cattle ranching also became prominent around 1850 and continued until the early 1980s when the park was established.

Worth Pondering…

When I walk in the desert the birds sing very beautifully When I walk in the desert the trees wave their branches in the breeze When I walk in the desert the tall saguaro wave their arms way up high When I walk in the desert the animals stop to look at me as if they were saying “Welcome to our home.”

—Jeanette Chico, in When It Rains

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Southeastern Arizona Birding Jewel Saved

In mid-September (2013) I reported on the fund-raising effort that had been launched to purchase a landmark birding property located in bird-rich Southeastern Arizona.

Paton's Birder Haven
Paton’s Birder Haven

Anyone who has spent time carrying binoculars, camera, and a birding field guide though the mountains, canyons, and deserts of Southeastern Arizona knows the region as a premiere birding hotspots and a favorite for outdoor recreation and RVing.

The community of Patagonia (population 913), in particular, is home to many talented artists, artisans, and writers. Here you’ll find potters, weavers, jewelry makers, painters, folk and avant garde artists, as well as many known and not so well-known writers.

The elevation (4,050 feet) makes for milder summer temperatures than much of Arizona, plus there are a number of cooling lakes within the general area, but yet in winter the occasional dusting of snow usually melts by noon except in the shady crevices of the surrounding mountains.

Patagonia is located in a lush riparian habitat where Sonoita Creek meanders year-round between the Patagonia and Santa Rita mountains. The diversity of vegetation (riparian, desert, and mountain) provides sustenance for more than 300 bird species—including Mexican and Central American species that reach the extreme northern limit of their range here.

The Nature Conservancy’s Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve and Patagonia Lake State Park are renowned for the 300 species of birds that migrate through or nest along their creeks and waterways.

For many years, birders who traveled to Patagonia often visited the home of Wally and Marion Paton.

Paton's Birder Haven backyard with hummingbird feeders; Wally and Marion Paton
Paton’s Birder Haven backyard with hummingbird feeders; Wally and Marion Paton

Paton’s Birder Haven had its start in 1974, when Wally and Marion—life-long bird-lovers—began to plant flowers and install water features on their property. They put up hummingbird feeders and had great success, attracting Violet-crowned Hummingbirds along with even rarer species like the Cinnamon Hummingbird and Plain-Capped Starthroat.

When the couple realized birders were crowding outside their fence to get a better view, the Patons opened the gate and welcomed them inside.

Over time the Patons provided a tent for visiting birders, installed benches, and provided bird guides. They placed a chalkboard in the yard so daily sightings could be noted. On the gate, they installed a tin can called the “sugar fund” for donations to help defray the cost feeding their beloved hummers.

In recent years, Wally and Marion both died, and the surviving family members opted to liquidate the property.

That’s when American Bird Conservancy, Tucson Audubon, and Victor Emanuel Nature Tours stepped in to join forces in an effort to purchase the Paton property and together contributed about a third of the purchase amount and entered into a contract with the Paton family.

The remainder of the purchase price—around $200,000—was the goal of the fund-raising effort, which successfully ended October 15. Thanks to many hundreds of generous birders, the Paton property will now be maintained in perpetuity for birders and birds—in keeping the tradition Wally and Marion Paton began.

Additional funds will continue to be accepted by Tucson Audubon for repairs to the building (including reroofing and rewiring) and the associated property (including much-needed landscaping with native vegetation).

To make a contribution for this additional work, click here.

The associated groups are scheduled to close on the property in early 2014. Once the sale is complete, Tucson Audubon will assume ownership and management responsibilities of the Paton property, and maintain an office there.

In addition to some of the Paton’s favorite hummingbird species like the Violet-crowned and Broad-tailed, along with the rarer Cinnamon hummingbird and Plain-Capped Starthroat, the Patagonia region hosts thick-billed kingbirds, zone-tailed hawks, green kingfishers, black-bellied whistling ducks, northern beardless-tyrannulets, black-capped gnatcatchers, and rose-throated becards.

header_MOQUAnd of course, there’s the exclamation point on every Southern Arizona birding visitor’s list, the elegant trogon.

And thanks to generous birders, the Paton legacy will continue far into the future.

Details

American Bird Conservancy

Website: abcbirds.org

Tucson Audubon Society

Website: tucsonaudubon.org

Victor Emanuel Nature Tours

Website: ventbird.com

Worth Pondering…

Have you ever observed a hummingbird moving about in an aerial dance among the flowers—a living prismatic gem…. it is a creature of such fairy-like loveliness as to mock all description.

—W.H. Hudson, Green Mansion

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