Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Coffee and Provocation

Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains

This Land Is Your Land: One of the most important things the U.S. can do to avoid becoming a nation of canned hunts and pay-to-shoot sportsmen is to protect wild public lands so that they remain there for all Americans to enjoy in the future. Towards that end, Congress is poised to add as much as 3 million undeveloped acres to its wilderness roles. In my home state of Virginia, Republican Sen. John Warner and Democratic Sen. Jim Webb are pushing the Virginia Ridge and Valley Act which would protect as wilderness nearly 43,000 acres of forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Republican Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho, has introduced a bill that would classify 517,000 acres of wilderness in his home state, while 107,000 acres of wilderness in the Cascade Mountains and another 128,000 acres of wilderness around Mount Hood and in the nearby Columbia River Gorge is likely to be protected. For a very nice piece about what lasts (and what doesn't) see America's Wilderness Cathedrals from The Guardian (if you are a Republican you can skip the first few paragraphs).

Fox in Tasmania: The island of Tasmania remains an Eden for various small marsupials of the type pushed to the danger point in Australia due to the introduction of the red fox in 1845. Now it appears that some small-brain vandal has introduced red fox to Tasmania, and a 9-1-1 call has gone out to find and extirpate these environmentally destructive pests off the island.

Is Pet Overpopulation a Myth?: I rarely mention a book until I have read it, but Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America looks to be a very interesting read. I came across this book due to an interview with its author in the The Dallas Morning News, and then I went to the web site and the blog. Winograd used to run the San Francisco SPCA and says one of the reasons so many pets are put down in animal shelters is that most animal shelters do a crummy job of outreach. He has put together a serious indictment of PETA and the Humane Society of the U.S., and he is opposed to mandatory spay-neuter laws even as he celebrates voluntary spay-neuter. Oh, and did I mention that it has a Jack Russell on the cover? This is the book that PETA and HSUS do not want you to read, which means you really want to read it. No guarantees you or I will agree with everything, but surely it will make us think. My copy is on order.

DNA and Cocker Rage: Science magazine reports that "Dogs are helping to hunt down more than foxes and lions: Researchers are increasingly relying on them to track down genes and pathways involved in canine and human diseases." Specifically, the gene-trackers are looking to see if they can locate the gene that makes dogs "point" birds (a trait found in about 40 breeds) and (on the downside) that lead to "Cocker Rage" -- a brain disorder in some Cocker and Springer Spaniels in which the dogs become psychotically violent. The initiative is being driven by a $16 million award to more than 20 European researchers from a pending European Union award for about $16 million. A hat tip to Prairie Mary for this one! The article is pay-per-view, but if you are interested, see >> here.

Grizzly Found in Idaho after 61-year Absence: A Tennessee man hunting black bears in the North Fork of the Clearwater River shot and killed a grizzly Sept. 3. It was the first confirmed grizzly bear in Idaho since 1946. Back in Jan. of 2001, I ghosted a piece that appeared in Endangered Species Update (published by the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources) in which I noted that the roadless areas of Idaho remained perfect areas for Grizzly and that protecting areas like the Cleareater and the Nolo were vital to ensuring that the grizzly expanded its territory and numbers in the United States.


BorderWars said...

I linked to Winograd a few days ago when I came across the same book you did. Haven't gotten it yet, but from reading his writings on the net, he's an interesting individual.

It's likely he's related (son, perhaps) to one of my favorite professors at Stanford, Terry Winograd, who lectured on human-computer-interaction. Fascinating stuff.

Anyway, one of the topics he's passionate about is feral cats. Who knew there were feral cat advocates?!?!

My gut reaction was that unless they were beneficial for pest control, feral cats are probably a nuisance and should be dealt with as such.

But Winograd mentions a huge feral cat population exists at Stanford, fed by professors and students. I can't say that in my 4+ years there I noticed this elusive mob, nor any deleterious effects from their presence.

I can honestly say that I saw more bizarre black tufted squirrels than I saw cats, and there was a notable lack of vermin given that I lived on the "Row" for three years which consisted of a series of 30-50 person student run houses and frats with their own ground level kitchens, grease disposal, and questionable weekend hygiene practices. I was on staff one year and cleaned the kitchen more than any college student should, and I can only recall finding nay sort of droppings once. And those were rabbit droppings from a pet!

It goes to show that when someone says something outrageous, often enough they might be right.

Anonymous said...

The book is incredible. I'm traveling (typing from an airport), and it has had me pulling out the post-its to mark passages.

I'll be interested in your thoughts on it.

Steve Bodio said...

Hi all-- posting this for Prairie Mary who can't get on-- Steve.

"'ve been trying to send the below stuff to terrierman, but it all
bounces, so I'll sent it to you guys.

1. I wanted to say that on my blog, prairiemary.blogspot.com I put
up a set of photos of a pet fox we kept in the Sixties. It was rather
prompted by Patrick pulling a fox from a hole. Our fox was more like a
cat than a dog, and all very fine until it matured -- then trouble. I
don't object to hunting them, esp. when they are destroying ecologies
and species. I'm not sure I think much of a fox fur farm, but the fur
is really lovely. I have one hide that was a road kill that I picked
up and tanned. When PETA finally wears itself out, I'll make a hat.
Few more years oughta do it.

2. I'm not sure you want to know these things, but bloggers need
fodder: today the GF Tribune had a story about a dog training to find
weeds. This one looks for Dyer's Woad, which must be found and
eliminated ENTIRELY, every last plant. This dog smells it out, plunges
his nose into it, and does a little prancing dance around it. Then the
weed lady comes, exterminates the woad, and pauses for a nice game of
ball toss with the dog, which is healthier than food treats. The dog
loves it and is really quite thorough.

3. Back a while there was a story about a frustrated dog-sled runner
who wanted to take one dog along on a trail. This guy invented a whole
new sport by rigging a line and harness so that the dog was pulling
him! I don't know what catchy little name they will hang on this, but
the dog was used to pulling. Not a good idea to use more than one dog
or the runner might find himself a real drag -- on his nose."