October 30, 2013

Rodents and a snake purchased from a pet store were cooked and eaten; a red-eared slider turtle survived.     Photo: Jim, the Photographer/Flickr

Small Pets Found Cooked in Campfire in Denali

Rangers and Petco investigating

An employee of Alaska's Denali National Park was on his way to the landslide on Park Road when he took a detour to investigate a pile of trash at about mile 7.

He discovered the site of a modern Neanderthalian feast: the charred remains of a partially-eaten rodent, a crushed mouse, the head of a baby python, and a turtle nearly frozen to death—along with receipts from a Petco in Fairbanks, Alaska.

"That's when things took a turn for us to be realizing that someone had gone on a pet-shopping spree at a box store and came to the park and started to consume them," geologist Denny Capps told Anchorage Daily News.

“There was evidence that a visitor had a small campfire,” said park spokeswoman Maureen Gualtieri. “[Park rangers] found a few boxes from Petco and found that multiple small pets had been cooked in that campfire.”

The National Park Service is working with Petco to identify the person who bought the pets, but Gualtieri says they have yet to pick up a lead.

As for the turtle, a red-eared slider, park rangers were able to warm it up, and it now lives with a family in Healy, Alaska, who named it Lucky.

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Ryder Hesjedal in the 2012 Olympic time trial.     Photo: Mostly Dans

Cyclist Ryder Hesjedal Admits to Doping

Will not be banned from cycling

Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, the 2012 winner of the Giro d'Italia, has admitted to doping ten years ago under the direction of discredited former yellow jersey wearer Michael Rasmussen.

Hesjedal came clean a year ago to USADA CEO Travis Tygart and the Canadian Center for Ethics in Sports about his history, VeloNews reports, but remained mum in public. His announcement on Wednesday came following the release of Rasmussen's new book, Yellow Fever.

In the book, Rasmussen writes that he helped Hesjedal and two of his Canadian mountain bike teammates learn how to properly use EPO before the 2003 world mountain bike championship, in which Hesjedal placed second.

Hesjedal will not be facing a sanction or dismissal from Garmin-Sharp as the WADA statute of limitations is limited to eight years. His admission and the lack of punishment will likely reignite the debate surrounding the handling of Lance Armstrong's case. While the Texan has been banned from the sport for life, many of his teammates who doped but went on to testify against him have retired quietly from the sport.

In a statement, Hesjedal wrote:

I have loved and lived this sport but more than a decade ago, I chose the wrong path. And even though those mistakes happened more than 10 years ago, and they were short-lived, it does not change the fact that I made them and I have lived with that and been sorry for it ever since.

Team Garmin-Sharp also released a statement in support of Hesjedal:

As we have said from the beginning, Slipstream Sports was created because we wanted to build a team where cyclists could compete 100% clean,” the squad said in a statement. “And, as we have previously stated, our expectation is that anyone in our organization contacted by any anti-doping authority must be open and honest with that authority. Ryder is no exception and a year ago when he was contacted he cooperated fully and truthfully testified to USADA and CCES. For this reason and because of our desire for 100% truth and reconciliation in the sport of cycling, we support him.

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A Mexican gray wolf.     Photo: Jim Clark/Flickr

Do 'Kid Cages' Stop Wolf Attacks?

Many question their effectiveness

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to extend Endangered Species Act protection to the estimated 75 Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest, and that's causing many to question the effectiveness of the "kid cages" that dot New Mexico—wood and mesh shelters installed a decade ago to protect school children from wolf attacks.

According to Fox News, New Mexico residents say the shelters could save the life of a child waiting for the school bus before dawn, and even if wolves aren't a problem, many New Mexico residents like the shelters because they provide cover from storms. However, critics say the cages are part of tactics to demonize the animal, citing the fact that there has never been a documented wolf attack in New Mexico or Arizona.

"I think the 'kid cages' are a publicity stunt designed to stoke opposition to Mexican wolf recovery in general and to the federal government in particular," Daniel MacNutty, wildlife-ecology professor at Utah State University, told National Geographic. "I have not seen the cages. But wolves are not sharks. Cages are unnecessary becasue wolves aren't going to be attacking children at the bus stop."

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A Chinese helicoptor pilot attempts to open a bottle of beer using a bottle opener attached to the skid at the Chinese tournament.     Photo: World Wide Videos

Watch: Chopper Opens Beer Bottle

China concludes helicopter tournament

At the conclusion of a grueling three-day Chinese helicopter tournament this week, pilots cracked open a bottle of beer, with their choppers.

This annual competition tests pilots' skills in six different events and concludes with what is perhaps the coolest party trick ever. Pilots open a sequence of five bottles within eight minutes with a bottle opener tied to the end of the skid.

Some pilots managed to open four, but not five. One pilot made it look easy, but was ultimately disqualified for breaking the glass mouth.

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The washout on the beach at Gateway National Recreation Area; Queens and Manhattan in the far distance; November 2012.     Photo: SandyResponseNPS / Flickr

Sandy's Positive Impacts Begin to Appear

Beaches, wetlands, and bays benefit.

Scientists studying the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy say that for all its destruction, the superstorm actually brought about many positive environmental changes.

National Geographic reports that the landscape transformations, including better bird beaches, were a good thing. When Sandy plowed through New York’s Gateway National Recreation Area, it ripped out 59 acres of beach grass, which had previously encroached on shorebirds’ nesting grounds. The result: an almost 100 percent increase in nesting habitat.

"Not only that, the storm scoured the sand and bared seashell deposits, which the birds prefer for nesting," says Hanem Grace Abouelezz, a biologist for the National Park Service, who notes that shells help camouflage nests.

Wetlands, such as the 8,400-acre Meadowland also benefited. "The storm actually moved a lot of debris out of the marshes that had been lodged there a long time," said Captain Bill Sheehan of Hackensack Riverkeeper. Everything from trees to trash was washed out, and was replaced with sediment, which provides a good foundation for mash grasses.

One Fire Island breach wasn’t filled in after the storm and has since increased in size, becoming a haven for seals, small sharks, fluke, striped bass, bluefish, and—of course—fishermen. 

"You can see the bottom of the bay. It's clear," says marine scientist Charles Flagg, who has been monitoring the area for almost a decade. "That hasn't happened here in years.

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