Archive for February, 2018

Brown Bear Subspecies Listed!

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

Brown bears are fascinating animals and one of my favorite big game species. There are currently eight different subspecies of brown bear that are recognized by Safari Club International. They can be found in the most remote parts of North AmericaEastern EuropeAsia and Russia.  Four different subspecies occur in Russia alone: Amur Brown Bear, Siberian Brown Bear, Kamchatka Brown Bear, and the Eurasian Brown Bear.

  1. Siberian Brown Bears range right between the Eurasian and Kamchatka Brown Bear in size. They have larger skulls and are more bold around people than some of the other brown bear varieties.
  2. Eurasian Brown Bears have a wide range of coloration from brown to blonde to reddish brown and even almost black. There have also been reported cases of albinism . They have round heads, small ears and wide skulls.
  3. Amur Brown Bears, also known as Ussuri Brown Bears, are hard to tell apart from the Kamchatka  Brown Bear. They can be identified by their elongated skull, smaller forehead,  and much darker color. Some call them the black grizzly.
  4. Kamchatka Brown Bears are the largest bears in Eurasia. With a much wider skull than the Alaska Peninsula Brown Bears, they can can grow nearly as large, from 7 feet- 9 feet in length.
  5. North American Brown Bear are also known as the grizzly bear. There are about 25,000 across Canada and the Northwest Territories; 30,000 in Alaska and about 1,500 in the lower 48.
  6. Kodiak Brown Bear is considered by many to be the largest subspecies of Brown Bear, They inhabit the islands of the Kodiak Archipelago. They are most active during the day and tend to go into hibernation in late October and leave their dens in early April.
  7. Alaska Peninsula Brown Bear are some of the biggest bears in the world. They can range from 750-1250 lbs and can reach over 10 ft. They rival even the Kodiak Brown Bear. They’ve reached weights up to 1,500 lbs.
  8. Sitka Brown Bear can be found in Southeast Alaska and Admiralty Island, Baranof Island and Chichagof Island (ABC Islands). They look a lot like the Alaskan Grizzly bear with a humped back and a nasty reputation.

Each of these subspecies is unique in its own way. They are one of the most interesting, powerful, awe inspiring animals on earth. The more I learn about them the more fascinated I am by them.

The Man Who Traps Grizzly Bears

Saturday, February 24th, 2018

If you imagine someone who traps grizzly bears for a living you’d imagine someone like Chad Dickinson. Large, bearded, deep-voiced. The kind of guy who would much rather be deep in the woods than in an office talking to a newspaper reporter.

His love of being out there is part of the reason Dickinson is slated for his 24th consecutive summer of trapping grizzlies.

“I still love to catch bears,” Dickinson said earlier this month. “For me personally, it’s just seeing them and being up close and getting your hands on them, and treating them the proper way.”

Dickinson’s official title is biological service technician, but he serves as the leader of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team’s field crew. The crew, an arm of the U.S. Geological Survey, goes out each summer and sets culvert traps for grizzlies around the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Once a bear is trapped, Dickinson and his team gather data that inform studies and fuel arguments about the management of the animals — like whether they should be protected under the Endangered Species Act or not.

Endangered Species Act protections were removed from the bears in 2017. Multiple lawsuits have challenged the decision, but delisting critics and supporters alike turn to data that begins with biologists setting a bear trap.

“Other scientists have disagreed with some of the findings, but in general we’re very supportive of (IGBST’s) work,” said Zack Strong, of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Debate is a good thing, and the more information we have to use in our debates the better.”

Delisting has ceded management responsibility to the states, but the IGBST is still largely responsible for monitoring and studying the population, meaning Dickinson still needs to go out and trap bears.

That’s all right with him. He has always liked bears. He grew up on a dairy in Ohio and hunted and trapped as a kid. Moving west was always something he wanted to do, so that’s where he looked when it came time to look for colleges.

“I kind of looked at the areas that had grizzly bears, basically,” he said.

After two years at a community college in Ohio, he landed at Montana State University. Shortly after graduation, he took a seasonal trapping job with the study team, beginning in 1994. He became a permanent employee in the early 2000s, which means his winters consist of data entry and that he oversees two other trappers each summer.

By now, he’s used to the hitch schedule (10 days on, four off), knows all the trap site safety protocols (truck always pointed toward the way out, the doors always wide open in case you need a quick getaway), and can stand the smell of bear bait (mostly roadkill). He’s used to horseback rides into Yellowstone’s backcountry, long drives up rough forest roads and bear encounters don’t scare him as much as the average person — he called it a “controlled fear.”

Usually, they set four or five traps in the same area. Once a telemetry device tells him and the other crew members when one of the trap’s doors has dropped, they head to the site as soon as possible.

If it’s a black bear, they let it go. If it’s a grizzly, the work has only just begun. They tranquilize it and lay it on a tarp. They check the pulse, temperature and respiration. If it’s a new bear, they pull a tooth, tattoo its lip and attach an ear tag.

Ear tags are often how they know they’ve caught a bear for the second time, Dickinson said. It happens once in a while, so there are a few bears he knows well, including one that was euthanized last fall that had been with him from the start.

“He was probably the second or third bear I captured, or helped capture, in 1994,” Dickinson said.

The first capture was in the western part of Yellowstone National Park. About a decade later, the bear turned up in the Gardiner area, on the north side of the park.

Then, this past fall, the bear was caught breaking into buildings and pilfering food in the West Yellowstone area. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks caught it and killed it, deciding its habit of breaking into buildings was too dangerous. It was 27 years old.

Dickinson, now 46, said it was interesting how the bear had reappeared throughout his career.

“We caught him as a sub-adult. He was probably a 2- or 3-year-old. And then to live that long on the landscape, making a living,” he said. “It was interesting to see him kind of move back where he came from.”

A Cure For The Winter “Blahs!”

Friday, February 16th, 2018

Like I said in a previous post this is the time of year (for a hunter) when there isn’t a lot of action in the woods!  I’ve come to find out that it is not a totally true statement as rabbit and squirrel season is in full force.

Small game hunting is just a little different than chasing deer, bear, and turkeys around the woodlots.  You don’t use a blind or a tree stand to chase rabbits and squirrels, but it sure doesn’t hurt to have a good rabbit dog.

That thought takes me back to my uncle Louie Marshall who owned several beagles that were “crazy” good at running a rabbit by you!  Along with my cousin Jerry, my dad, and brothers we would descend on a woodlot knowing those dogs were going to do their thing and put some rabbits in our game pouch! What fond memories!  I can hear those dogs “howling” as they were “hot” on a bunny that would eventually get pushed by one of us, who mere on stand!

Uncle Louie went to the “happy hunting grounds” years ago and his beloved beagles took the trip long before him.  I sure hope the book titled “All Dogs Go to Heaven” is true, as he was sure fond of those best friends!

Been many moons since Me or any of my brothers have hunted rabbits with dogs.  When we do get out for a winter hunt it’s usually more after squirrels than rabbits.  Squirrels do not take a whole lot of walking.  Being stationary and quiet in a squirrel woods is the formula for success.  Of course your 22 rifle better have a good scope and be sighted in properly. A squirrel 20-50 foot up a tree is not an easy target as all squirrel hunters know.  It is even much harder to take one with a bow!

My brother Darryl recently took his grandson Tanner out for a day of “popping” some Fox squirrels and they did quite well.  I have not been out lately but was able to nail two with my bow and one with my crossbow during deer season.  There is not a lot of meat on a squirrel, so many hunters ignore pursuing this tasty winter treat.  It may take awhile to prepare but it’s worth the effort.  We pan sear ours first then put them in a crock pot for several hours.  You can season with your favorite seasonings, soups, or even barbecue sauce.  There are some good recipes online!

So get out of your recliner and take a walk in the woods.  Even if you aren’t hunting the fresh air, sights and sound of nature will bless you immensely!

Mike

The Wild Boar Problem Extends From Texas To Hong Kong

Monday, February 12th, 2018

Giant pig caught on camera ravaging dumpster near school goes viral

 The moment a gigantic boar stands on his hind legs to chow down on garbage has been caught on camera — but it’s where the animal is doing it that’s causing concern.

Shocked parents taking their kids to school in Hong Kong spotted the huge animal standing on the tips of his hooves to get his head in the dumpster, while two piglets stand next to him.

The terrifying video, posted to Facebook by Tu Dong, has since gone viral.

It’s already been shared more than 4,600 times and has racked up 300,000 views.

More than 2,500 social media users also commented on the video, many of which expressed concern about how close the wild pigs were to the school.

Misaki Ceci wrote: “The wild pig is in front of the left school. I’m careful with Hyung-Hyung’s primary school, and I’ve got a wild boar.”

The footage shows the boar trying to pull a black garbage bag out of the can while his piglets stand guard.

In Australia, feral pigs were declared pest animals in 2013, meaning they can be legally killed by farm owners.

In July 2013, a 10-year-old boy was gored in the neck by a wild boar at an Australian beach. He had been riding his bike when the pig charged at him and stabbed him in the neck with his tusk.

Feral pigs are also known to cause significant economic losses to agriculture by damaging crops, water holes and fencing.

There are strict laws in place to deter people from transporting and releasing live feral pigs, with fines starting at $2,200 for possessing a wild animal.

Fines climb to $22,000 for transporting live feral pigs.

This particular hog is huge.  I have seen quite a few and I estimate this wild pig to be in the 500 pound range.  These animals are all muscle, are fast, and have razor sharp tusk which can be lethal for anything in their way!  Certainly need to eradicate the ones around this school before a disaster happens!

 

A Recliner, Fireplace, and a Snowstorm!

Friday, February 9th, 2018

Definitely a lull in the action right now especially if your “not” a skier or snowmobiller!  You can only rabbit or squirrel hunt so much in the wind and blowing snow.  I guess that’s why ancient man invented the “fireplace!”  So glad modern man invented the LaZboy!  During a time such as this the cozy warm hearth of a crackling fire are comforting for the soul.  It harkens to so many campfires and bonfires, from years past, and the pleasantness that goes with the glowing embers and the smell of seasoned pine or oak!  We are in the midst of a Michigan snow storm right now, and kicking back in my recliner while the logs snap, crackle, and pop is a pleasant way to enjoy the afternoon.

If you want to ratchet up the excitement level some you can put some bird seed on the back porch and watch the hungry visitors “chow” down!  Actually we have not seen hide nor hair (feather) of any birds for many weeks.  We were beginning to believe they all went South for the winter.  We checked the bird feeder and found it was froze up.  My wife then put two old shoe boxes on the back deck and filled them with bird seed.  Within a matter of minutes our deck was filled with happy/quarreling birds!  We were able to identify junko’s, nuthatches, canary’s, cardinal’s, and morning doves.  They seemed to be quite overjoyed at this relief in the middle of a winter storm!  I know I have enjoyed their antics as they joust for each valuable seed!

Please more tea and crumpets dear!

Mike