Happy New Year – 2011 Highlights

Quite a year for me! I’ve gone from working with fish for the Division of Wildlife in Colorado to working with birds at the Bird Treatment & Learning Center, a wild bird rehab and education center in Alaska.

As for wildlife watching and photography, I’ve had many “firsts” this year, including…
– photographed Burrowing Owl

– photographed Dall Sheep

– photographed Bobcat (at quite a distance, but still a first for me)

– photographed Orca and Humpback Whale

– watched a Black Bear hunt Dall Sheep on steep cliffs (no photo of the chase, but really cool to see)

– photographed Arctic Tern and other birds of Alaska

– watched & photographed a Wolf feeding on a Caribou carcass (at quite a distance as well, but still a first for me)

– had a close encounter alone with a Grizzly Bear (again, no photo of the action, happened too fast)

– “howled in” a Wolf

Happy New Year!

Be Bear Aware When Camping

courtesy of the Colorado Division of Wildlife

Memorial Day Weekend marks the traditional start to the camping season, and the Colorado Division of Wildlife reminds campers to be “bear aware” when enjoying the outdoors.

The most important tip for all campers is to keep a clean campsite to avoid attracting bears or other wildlife.

Bears go into campgrounds because food is often available around tents, camp trailers and dumpsters. The potential for conflicts increases when food brings bears and humans into close contact.

“Bears are built to eat and their sense of smell is incredible,” explained Ron Dobson, a district wildlife manager in the Salida area. “They can smell food from miles away, they’ll travel to find it and that’s when they get into trouble.”

In a natural setting, bears would just as soon avoid people, but bears that learn to associate humans with food begin to lose their natural fear of people. “Food conditioned” bears can become aggressive and often end up being euthanized.

Dobson says black bears are not naturally aggressive toward humans, but are actually very shy creatures.

“However, bears are on a mission to find food,” he explained. “Campers need to take precautions to avoid problems for themselves, for nearby campers and the next people who use the same camp site.”

He suggests campers never leave food or garbage behind and always pack out their trash.

Here are a few other tips for campers in bear country:
* Keep a clean site and clean up thoroughly after every meal;
* After grilling, allow the fire to completely burn food scraps and grease off the grill.
* Do not eat in your tent or keep food or items that smell of food in your tent;
* Store unused food and garbage in secure containers out of the reach of bears and away from your sleeping area;
* Secure pet food as you would human food.
* Don’t leave food that would attract birds or any wildlife in campgrounds. If you see others in the campground feeding wildlife, contact the campground host.
* If you see a bear in a campground, report it to the local DOW office as soon as possible.
* If you come in close contact with a bear, talk to it firmly and make yourself look as large as possible. Back away slowly, but do not run.
* Teach children and others who might be unfamiliar with bears about bear safety.

For more information about camping in bear country, go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/LivingWithWildlife/Mammals/HikeCampBearCountry.htm.
Additional information about coexisting with bears can be found at http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/LivingWithWildlife/.

Mountain Lion Charges Girls in Wheat Ridge, Colorado

courtesy of the Denver Post

A mountain lion charged two young girls and their dog as they walked West 44th Avenue and Robb Street near Prospect Park this morning, Wheat Ridge police said.

The girls were in a wooded area near the park, and there were no injuries, but authorities are telling residents to stay out of the park until further notice.

Wheat Ridge police and community services officers, as well as Division of Wildlife officers, tried unsuccessfully today to track down the animal.

Small children, dogs and cats in the area should be kept indoors, Wheat Ridge said in a media release.

Police advised anyone who encounters a mountain lion not to approach it, make a lot of noise but stay calm, and back away slowly.