July 1, 2011

Grizzly bear and cubs in Yellowstone     Photo: xinem/flickr

Bears Block Traffic in Grand Teton

Bear family has set up camp by the road

A family of grizzly bears is holding up traffic in Grand Teton National Park, creating traffic jams that Park officials haven't seen in 20 years. The bears—two mothers and five cubs—may be staying close to the road to avoid male bears, which sometimes eat cubs. Earlier this week, a crowd of park visitors accumulated to watch the family feed on an elk carcass. Mother bears are famously and extremely dangerous when their cubs are around, and the park is urging photographers and observers to remain at least 300 feet away. Grizzly populations are on the upswing in Grand Teton and Yellowstone after recent conservation efforts have boosted the population above 1,000. But bears and humans don't always get along: in 2007, one of the now-road-friendly mother bears bit a hiker. And last year, a hunter cleaning a deer carcass shot and killed a bear that he says approached to within 40 feet.

Read more at the Associated Press

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Wildebeest migration     Photo: malczyk/Flickr

Tanzania To Put Highway Through Park

Road would bisect wildebeest migration

The Tanzanian government has revised plans to build a highway in Serengeti National Park, one of the largest game reserves in Africa and considered one of the most important natural parks in the world. According to Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Ezekiel Maige, 30 miles of the planned 300-mile route would bisect the park but would remain unpaved. The decision is a nod to pressure from conservation groups and international donors, who have urged the government to reroute the highway around the park. The highway would run from Arusha, the Tanzanian capital 300 miles north along the Kenyan border to Musoma, a city on Lake Victoria. Conservationists have raised concerns that the road would risrupt the migratory patterns the the nearly one million wildebeast that travel north in search of food each spring, and put a variety of animals at risk to illegal poaching and traffic accidents. But the Tanzanian government says the road is badly needed by Serengeti residents, who lack access to basic services and medical care. The argument reflects a long-standing tension among conservationist and governments. “[Y]ou guys always talk about animals, but we need to think about people,” Tanzanian official Salvator Rweyemamu said in October. The Tanzanian parliament is still considering whether to approve financing for the highway.

Read more at Reuters

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Climbers on Denali     Photo: Andre Charland/Flickr

Solo Climber Missing on Denali

Austrian guide last seen Monday

Park service teams are combing Denali this week after an Austrian mountaineer disappeared on Monday. Juergen Kanzian, a 41-year-old mountain guide from Austria, was last seen alone, skinning up to Denali Pass at 18,000 feet. When Kanzian hadn't returned by Tuesday night, a guided team called rangers. On Wednesday, the NPS and the Bureau of Land Management sent aircraft to search the peak for the climber, but found nothing. Kanzian is said to have told other climbers that he planned to make a ski descent of Denali's West Buttress route. This year has been an unusually dangerous one for Denali climbers, with five deaths recorded already. The most recent occurred on June 10, when Alaskan climber Brian Young died of a heart attack.

Read more at the Anchorage Daily News

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    Photo: Brian Bielmann/solent

Jet Ski Rides Wave—And Crashes

Ski destroyed, pictures awesome

A 20-foot wave folded over a jet ski pilot, destroying the ski and $15,000 in camera equipment but leaving onlookers with a series of spectacular pictures. Former world champion surfer Tom Carroll was towing surfer Ross Clarke-Jones into a 20-footer when he missed the wave's exit channel and was forced to ride the wave. The pair were filming a sequence for the upcoming movie Storm Surfers 3D. Carroll, 49, escaped without serious injury. “The waves were so wild and unpredictable that it was hard to tell what was happening," he told Perth Now, an Australian newspaper. Clarke-Jones saw nothing of the crash and rode the wave out unharmed, echoing a similar incident in which surfer Raimana van Bastolaer'swas almost hit by his tow ski. Carroll escaped with just a bruised shin, but the wave destroyed the ski and shattered a $15,000 carbon-fiber 3D camera rig. “I saw Ross down there and knew we were in serious trouble. I tried to manhandle the ski but the wave just took me where it wanted," Carroll said. The wipeout was captured on the 3D cameras, and the footage will be used in the movie. 

Read more at Perth Now

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Climbing complaint     Photo: Bitmask/Flickr

Climbing Coach Arrested for Sex Assault

Man reportedly confesses to contact with teen

A prominent Maryland coach who headed up USA Climbing's youth team has reportedly confessed to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl at the climbing gym where he worked. Mike Lyons, 31, was arrested on Monday afternoon at Earth Treks location in Columbia, Maryland, where the assaults allegedly took place. According to a criminal complaint, Lyon's engaged in sex acts with the girl, a competitive climber on the Earth Treks team, between April and June of this year, with the most recent incident occurring two weeks ago during a team sleepover. Besides working with USA Climbing, Lyons had been in charge of Earth Treks' climbing programs for children ages 6-18; the gym has since fired him. "Clearly too much trust was placed in the hands of one person, who manipulated systems and people with great cunning," Earth Treks' founder Chris Warner wrote on the gym's website.
Read more at Climbing Narc

A prominent Maryland climbing coach who headed up USA Climbing's youth team has reportedly confessed to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl. Mike Lyons, 31, was arrested Monday afternoon at Earth Treks gym in Timonium, Maryland, where he worked as an instructor. The assaults allegedly took place at another Earth Treks in the nearby town of Columbia. According to a criminal complaint, Lyons engaged in sex acts with the girl, a competitive climber on the Earth Treks team, between April and June of this year, most recently two weeks ago during a team sleepover. Besides working with USA Climbing, Lyons had been in charge of Earth Treks' climbing programs for children ages 6-18; the gym has since fired him. "Clearly too much trust was placed in the hands of one person, who manipulated systems and people with great cunning," Earth Treks' founder Chris Warner wrote on the gym's website.

Read more at Climbing Narc

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