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Dispatches : Nature

Deer Stands Gone Wild

Deer_stand_largeThis illegal deer stand is bigger than most Manhattan studios. Photo: St. Louis County Land and Minerals Dept.

Deer hunters wait. They find a good spot in the forest, and they wait. To get a better vantage, they might climb into a tree or build a stand by attaching a small platform to a tree. But some deer hunters are taking serious liberties with their deer stands.

"What we're into here is the tree house mentality, that we all carry from our youth," says Robert Krepps, the land commissioner of St. Louis County, Minnesota. He's referring to hunters building structures that well exceed the size and scope of traditional deer stands. County officials are finding what are essentially cabins, complete with windows, insulation, and heaters, built into trees on public lands.

"This is a group that is, more and more, going toward comfort rather than what others endure [while hunting]," Krepps says. A commenter on an Associated Press story on the trend toward ever-larger and comfortable deer stands registered his opinion quite succinctly, suggesting that if they wanted to be indoors, "These hunters should get an Xbox."

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The Best Teen Wilderness Adventures

ClifTelluride Mountain School students explore the Needle Mountains. Photo: Jamie Salem

By Emily Brendler Shoff

The older kids get, the easier it is to take them into the backcountry. This is even true for teenagers, who, despite getting a bad rap for being addicted to all things electronic, can be some of the best adventure companions. Removed from digital distractions, teens often share new sides of themselves in the wilderness. They connect more to each other in the backcountry, and to you. And they gain the practical, outdoor skills to eventually head out on adventures of their own.

No wonder, then, that teen outdoor programs are growing in popularity, ranging from short multi-day trips to summer adventures and semester-long leadership expeditions in almost every adventure discipline: sailing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, backpacking, climbing. There are large organizations like the National Outdoor Leadership School and Outward Bound, with programs across the country and world, as well as smaller, niche groups, like The Ocean Classroom, in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, and Island Wood, outside of Seattle.

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E.O. Wilson's 5 Principles of Advice to Young Scientists

World-renowned scientist E.O. Wilson did not take up calculus until he was 32 years old. When he did finally tackle the subject, he sat next to undergraduate students taking his introductory biology class. He uses this anecdote as a way into his five principles of advice to young scientists, the first of which includes some encouragement to students intimidated by math.

I'll now proceed quickly, and before else, to a subject that is both a vital asset and a potential barrier to a scientific career. If you are a bit short in mathematical skills, don't worry. Many of the most successful scientists at work today are mathematically semi-literate....

Some may have considered me foolhardy, but it's been my habit to brush aside the fear of mathematics when talking to candidate scientists. During 41 years of teaching biology at Harvard, I watched sadly as bright students turned away from the possibility of a scientific career or even from taking non-required courses in science because they were afraid of failure. These math-phobes deprive science and medicine of immeasurable amounts of badly needed talent.

Here's how to relax your anxieties, if you have them: Understand that mathematics is a language ruled like other verbal languages, or like verbal language generally, by its own grammar and system of logic. Any person with average quantitative intelligence who learns to read and write mathematics at an elementary level will, as in verbal language, have little difficulty picking up most of the fundamentals if they choose to master the mathspeak of most disciplines of science.

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Are Wolf Traps Inhumane?

Wolf_flickr_fremlinPhoto: Fremlin/CC 2.0/Flickr

Going into 2012 Montana's wolf population exceeded 600. Looking for more ways to keep the population in check, the state's Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) Commission passed new rules on Thursday, July 12, that will allow wolves to be trapped. This is despite vehement protests; the commission received more than 7,000 comments opposing the use of trapping as a wolf management tactic.

Trapping is allowed for other species in Montana and is allowed for hunting wolves in neighboring Idaho. A trap is used to capture an animal, generally by a limb, and hold it in place until a hunter can reach it and kill it. To state the very obvious, trapping has long been viewed as inhumane by animal rights advocates. But many hunters also oppose the practice.

This spring, images of a man smiling and posing in front of a trapped wolf that was bleeding and struggling (along with more photos of the hunter and the wolf carcass) were discovered on a pro-trapping website called and then shared widely online, leading to an outcry. This undoubtedly stoked the thousands of comments received by the commission urging it to not allow wolf trapping.

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Flying Pigs and Penguins at 51 Degrees South

To get things between the 740 islands of the Falklands, a lot of flying is needed. Much of it is done by one of the four pilots in the Falkland Islands Government Air Service. Pilot Troyd Bowles delivers everything from tourists to remote lodges to farm animals to remote pastures to penguins to the vet—and sometimes all of those things somewhere at the same time. Such a delivery might require him to cover up a penguin's bottom with a bag to help prevent any stench from bothering tourists during a long flight.

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