The annual report that quantifies the number of wild animals that are slaughtered by tax-payer funded programs has been released. It really is time for everyone that is concerned about the nation’s non-human animals to make their voice heard. We can examine our own behavior first…are we doing everything we can not to attract wildlife into residential or agricultural environments? Are we paying attention to the latest non-lethal methods of conflict prevention? Are we doing our part so WildlifeServices don’t have to do what they do? This is such an alarmingly huge issue we cannot leave it to one agency to make all the decisions. There needs to be greater over-sight of the autonomous power of a single entity that chooses to kill so often and in such unbelievable numbers. The reason this happens is because ‘they can’, we need to tell them ‘no more’.
Former New Mexico Representative Nathan P. Cote has written an impactful opinion in the Silver City Sun regarding wildlife killing contests. In it, he details the importance of predators to maintaining ecosystem integrity, and all the benefits to humans that come from keeping predators on the landscape.
What really caught our attention was Cote calling these killing contests, “a violation of a key tenet of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation adhered to by ethical hunters, which states that wildlife should only be killed for a legitimate purpose.”
We agree with Mr. Cote – wildlife killing contests are unethical and have no place in our modern society.
What to do about dangerous, wildlife “unfriendly” fencing.
Spring is the time of year that people typically associate with “home improvement,” whether it be cleaning out their house, sprucing up their yards, or working on various other construction projects. This also makes it a good time of year to assess your property, and identify potential hazards and risks for wildlife. Fences are just one such hazard, but they can be a significant one if not maintained or properly built in the first place. This week, we’re taking a look at wildlife friendly fencing, and how and why you should build your fence with animals big and small in mind.
What to do if your neighbor is feeding wildlife.
They say everyone likes a little drama. While we at The Cougar Fund typically prefer to get straight to “the facts,” we have decided to delve deeper into one of the more controversial issues when it comes to wildlife. Feeding wildlife – such as putting out salt licks for ungulates or grains to attract small mammals (bird feeders aren’t a problem, so long as you hang them properly and at the right time of year) – is one such issue, and a perfect topic to discuss in our What To Do Wednesday series.
What to do to keep bears out of your yard.
By this point, most people will be well aware that bears are out and about again. As we highlighted in an earlier post, living with bears (and all carnivores) requires that we make a number of changes to our lifestyle and behavior in order to safely coexist. It was recently brought to our attention, however, that there is an often overlooked bear-human safety issue: lawns & gardens. Things like bird feeders, carrying bear spray when recreating, and proper trash and food storage get a lot of attention (rightly so), but it may not be particularly obvious that something as subtle as your lawn can be a major bear attractant. Hence, we believe it is worth discussing how to keep bears out of your yard.
Farming at an elevation of 8000 feet is challenging in itself. Farming while paying attention to the greater picture of environmental integrity is the vision of Zach and Jasmine Cecelic of the Wildhood Farm in Truchas New Mexico. A vision which is encapsulated in this line from Zach’s web-bio, “Today, he makes his personal philosophy a practice by creating room and habitat for all of his human and non-human friends.”
Jasmine talked freely and happily about her dedication to being a producer and honoring the natural world. Read more
What to do to keep you and your pets safe from traps on public lands.
Here in Jackson Hole, and in many other places throughout the West, the thaw has begun! By now, many of us are itching to get outside and use our feet as our primary mode of transportation (as opposed to skis, snowshoes, and other over-snow tools). Hiking brings with it a whole slew of safety considerations (bears, sudden changes in weather, dehydration, exposure, etc), but this week we’ve decided to take a look at traps on public lands, and how you can keep yourself and your pets safe while recreating.
Trapping is an issue that hits close to home for The Cougar Fund. Sydney, the yellow lab pictured above, was caught in a small animal trap near Moran, Wyoming. She lost eight teeth (all her canines), and had an injury to her foot. There are countless other stories like this (and many that end a lot worse), and it raises the importance of better understanding trapping and how to stay safe while recreating.
What to do if you see a cougar near your home.
Following the recent news that a cougar was killed by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks for getting too comfortable around a Helena home, it seems appropriate to discuss the nuances of safely coexisting with these felids. Because cougars are wild animals, their behavior can be unpredictable – but not as unpredictable as you might think. As a result, learning a little bit about these cats can go a long way in helping you understand when they are or aren’t a threat, and how you can prevent conflict. So, if you see a cougar near your home, consider these points:
What to do when bears start emerging from hibernation.
Incredibly, March is already here and we’re slowly but surely crawling towards spring. Spring brings many welcome changes: the thaw, wildflowers, longer days, and warmer temperatures. It also brings a few challenges for residents and recreational users throughout the west, none more significant than the emergence of bears from hibernation. When bears exit their dens is highly variable and dependent primarily on environmental conditions. In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, for example, grizzly bears can emerge anytime from the first week of February to the last week of May, with males typically leaving earlier then females (Haroldson et al., 2002). Thus, we can reasonably expect for bears to be active very soon, if not already!
Of course, living and playing in bear country comes with a number of responsibilities. However, a few simple lifestyle changes can go a great way in helping people and bears stay safe. Here are a few reminders and tips to help you prepare for life (again) with Ursus arctos horribilis and Ursus americanus: