I don’t ordinarily post about news — there is enough out there without me duplicating stuff. But this morning it seems, by coincidence, there are an unusual number of wildlife-conservation events to think there may be a worthwhile message here.

Firstly, today is the 100th anniversary of the death at the Cincinnati Zoo of Martha (named after Martha Washington), the last passenger pigeon. During the Civil War there were evidently billions of the birds but zero as of September 1, 1914. The annihilation of this whole species along with other abuses eventually provided an incentive for a conservation movement at the end of the 19th century, and, ultimately, for the establishment of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Hooray for that! (Interesting additional opinion piece.)

Secondly, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed closing the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to brown bear hunting until May 31, 2015, because of an 18% decline in population due to hunting. But they’re getting push-back from local people. The director of wildlife conservation for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said (source):

The refuge is more on management philosophy and ethics than resource conservation. No definition of natural diversity is offered. I don’t believe the intention of Congress was to allow the federal government to hold such power over fish and wildlife that have been recognized as a state resource.

Hmm, that rhetoric sounds familiar. And I would guess the “philosophy” referred to would be: Animals First. But the spokesman for the Friends of Alaska Wildlife Refuges said:

When taking brown bears over bait was first legalized last spring, 40 of the 52 killed (were) at bait stations…With this potential overharvest, action is needed to provide adequate protection. It is clear the wisest regulation should be based on science and not anecdotal unscientific speculations.

FOR members, take note!

Lastly, the population of Orcas in Puget Sound is declining and their social behavior is changing. The problem seems to be that Orcas just love the Chinook salmon that swim through the San Juans. Efforts to increase the Chinook population evidently aren’t working, and the scarcity of favorite fish is disrupting the social life of the Orcas that live around the area.

All this wildlife news on one day is probably a coincidence, but it signifies to me that the effort to preserve wildlife and habitat needs to be steadfast, and the work we volunteers for national refuges do will benecessary indefinitely.

Oh, and it might be controversial.






  1. Thanks for your blog and great article in the volunteer newsletter. These sorts of things give me the energy I need to so @##@#@ many meetings. You remind me that our work is outdoors connecting people with nature and that the meeting times are the price someone must pay to facilitate that. Berk

    1. Yes, Berk, when I look back over this past summer I realize that quite a few times I’ve been to the refuge and not walked around at all. The work of the meetings is important, but I keep in mind that I volunteered to get outdoors, not sit on my butt. I did that way too much before I retired.

  2. Amen, David. I had read about the Orcas … and, sadly, it is an inevitable result of the “trail of tears” of the salmon. With over-fishing having gone on for so long and the increasing dilution of wild stocks with hatchery bred fish – all predators of salmon will suffer .. human and cetacean alike.

    Now, about the Kenai NWR and the brown bears … I’ve been listening to the audio book version of “The Quiet World – Saving Alaska’s Wilderness Kingdom 1879-1960” by Douglas Brinkley. It is amazing that anything at all remains in Alaska, given how the locals (non-natives and natives alike) have wanted to exploit ALL the resources there. Without the efforts of John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt, Guiford Pinchot, and many others – it would already be a wasteland. And, as your note makes clear, the attitudes of the locals have not changed one bit.

    So it is up to we environmental educators to continue the tireless efforts to teach children and adults of the importance of wild life and wild places to humans.

    Many thanks to you for doing this blog, mon ami .. it is yet another way to get the message across (though I often think that I am teaching to the already converted most of the time :-)) … so it is the captive children in school programs who are most critical for us to help understand the value of animals, plants and the forest and wetlands that support them).

    Happy trails .. ~roland

    p.s. Saw a pair of deer just a little while ago, on my neighborhood hike through local streets and city natural areas .. just goes to show the value or protecting habitat.

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