December 5, 2012

    Photo: Scott_Calleja/Flickr

Officials Look to Open Grizzly Hunt

Considering Yellowstone and Glacier

With grizzly populations on the rebound in Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, federal officials are considering lifting protections on the threatened species. As early as 2014, officials are considering transferring authority over the estimated 1,600 bears in Glacier and Yellowstone to individual states, who have expressed interest in opening a hunt to reduce the rising incidence of bear-human encounters. But officials insist that the hunt would not be as aggressive as the controversial wolf hunts that were recently introduced to the area.

“The wolf hunt is really targeted at reducing the number of wolves,” said Chris Servheen, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grizzly bear recovery coordinator. “We’re not trying to reduce the bear population anywhere. ... It would be a very careful, limited hunt.”

The Greater Yellowstone Coalition opposes opening the hunt while the number of bears killed annually remains high; 51 bears have been killed so far this year, mostly as a result of habituation to humans or run-ins with hunters.

Via Washington Post


Pro Cyclists

Pro Cyclists     Photo: Timothy J./Flickr

Young NZ Cyclist Dies Suddenly in Race

Patrick Avery was 21

Patrick Avery, one of New Zealand's most promising young cyclists, died suddenly in the middle of a race on Tuesday. The President of Cycling Rotura posted on the club's Facebook page that Avery fell off his bike toward the end of the 15-minute Cycling Rotura criterium and that emergency services were unable to restart his heart: "If you have not heard Patrick fell off his bike towards the end of the Crit, there is a possibility he had a heart attack but we do not know the cause." Avery was 21.

Via CyclingNews


    Photo: Courtesy of Russian Emergencies Ministry

Lost Fishermen May Have Eaten Friend

Pair marooned in Siberian taiga

Two fishermen who were rescued in Siberia after spending three months stranded in the taiga are suspected to have killed and eaten one of their companions. Alexei Gradulenko, 35, and Alexander Abdullaev, 37, were picked up by helicopter months after getting lost on the remote Sutam River in temperatures that dipped below -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Police in Neryungri in northern Russia's Sakha Republic say they've launched a murder investigation after finding a wooden stake and a bloodstained jacket, along with tissue and skull fragments, near where rescue crews picked up Abdullaev and Gradulenko. "When I saw them, I was startled at their slim, swollen, dark faces," said Abdullaev's mother, Lidiya. The pair say they split up with now-missing friends Viktor Komarov and Andrei Kurochkin after the latter hurt his leg. Police have yet to identify the remains, and neither Abdullaev nor Gradulenko has been charged.

Via Daily Mail


    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Coastal Fog Now Carrying Mercury

Believed to be from the ocean

New research presented at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco has determined that mercury from the ocean is most likely seeping into cloudbanks that roll in from the coast. Though mercury had previously been detected in California fog, its source was a mystery.

Though the concentration of mercury isn’t high enough to harm anyone walking through it, its presence suggests that the element is beginning to accumulate in the coast’s water cycle. Mercury also accumulates in plants and animals and could pose a threat to the ecosystem over time.

Peter Weiss-Penzias, an atmospheric chemist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, measured seawater at depths of up to 3,300 feet, finding the highest concentrations of mercury at around 660 feet, close to the surface. Further study of the air directly above the ocean is needed to conclusively determine that the mercury is seeping into the fog. "It is a bit of a mystery where [the mercury's] coming from,” says Weiss-Penzias. “But I think what we're seeing is a large-scale phenomenon that has to do with upwelling of deep ocean water along the coast."

Via National Geographic


    Photo: JRWhitaker1/Flickr

Development Threatens African Lions

Savannah diminished by 75 percent

A new study warns that populations of African lions are in danger of becoming extinct due to human development. Satellite data, studied by researchers at Duke University, show that about 75 percent of Africa’s open savannah has disappeared in the last 50 years, given over to farming or settlement. Over that same period, lion populations have dropped by two-thirds to as few as 32,000. According to the study, African lions are now divided up into 67 different areas, only 10 of which are well-protected. The researchers say that somewhere around 6,000 lions are currently living in populations at high risk of extinction. (Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service announced that it is considering adding lions to the endangered species list.) The problem is most acute in western Africa, where the human population has doubled or tripled over the past few decades, and the lion population has dropped to below 500.

Via The Guardian