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Believe It: Albino Redwoods

Henry Cowell State Park holds an intriguing botanical oddity: albino redwood trees

Nature generally has no trouble inspiring sci-fi or horror movies (Jaws, anyone?), but inspiration from the plant kingdom usually falls short; last time I checked, Swamp Thing and Little Shop of Horrors surely didn't improve with age.

The latest isn't scary, but it could inspire a sort of lyrical, moody film like Solaris. Henry Cowell State Park in California hosts the extremely rare albino redwood (perhaps as few as 28 specimens), and while they don't grow to great white hulks in the forest, they do spring ghost-like out of burls and nurse logs. Check it: Read Full Story...
Monday, February 28, 2011 in: Nature and Wildlife, Weird and Funny
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The Science of Bear Hibernation

Scientists monitor hibernating black bears to look for solutions that could benefit humans

It's no secret that bears hibernate in winter—so it's a little surprising how little we know about it. A new study by Øivind Tøien of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks sheds a little light on bear dens in winter, and it turns out what's going on with a bear's body is way more complex than just passing out. The results could even lead to innovations in medical treatment.

Tøien and his team took five Alaskan problem black bears and provided them with artificial dens far into the woods—so far Tøien had to ski out to collect the data. The bears were fitted with sensors to capture temperature and heart rate, and researchers outfitted dens with infrared cameras and other sensors to monitor the bears' movement, oxygen consumption, and even their snoring. (Watch it here.) Read Full Story...
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 in: News and Events, Nature and Wildlife
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Spray A Captive Bear, Go To Jail

Jackson Hole judge sentences guide to two days in jail, a fine, and community service for pepper-spraying a captive black bear

Animal lovers, get ready for your blood to boil: Back in October, 27-year-old Jackson Hole hunting, fishing, and float trip guide Tyler Steele emptied a can of pepper spray on a 177-lb. male black bear caught in a culvert trap. Grand Teton NP officials placed the trap to capture the bear after it had been investigating nearby cabins and a lodge.

But his crime didn't go unpunished: Federal Magistrate Jim Lubing accepted Steele’s guilty plea to animal cruelty and sentenced him to two days in jail, two years of unsupervised probation, 40 hours of animal-related community service and a $750 fine, and $250 in restitution to the Grand Teton National Park Wildlife Fund.
Read Full Story...
Monday, February 14, 2011 in: News and Events, Nature and Wildlife
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Dam Release Threatens Grand Canyon Chub

A dam release meant to protect the Grand Canyon's endangered humpback chub has an unintended consequence: releasing more chub-eating rainbow trout

In a move that drew deep on its inner Homer Simpson, the Bureau of Federal Reclamation caused an artificial flood in 2008 by releasing water from the Glen Canyon Dam with the purpose of restoring habitat for the imperiled humpback chub, a minnow-like fish endemic to the Colorado river. But the flood also increased the rainbow trout population by 800 percent. The bad news? Rainbow trout eat humpback chub.

Cue the forehead-slap. Read Full Story...
Thursday, February 10, 2011 in: News and Events, Nature and Wildlife
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Bear Scared By Country Music

Colorado wildlife officials shoo a napping black bear out from under a hospital with blaring music--country music, obviously.

Bears: All that fur, teeth, and claws, and all it takes to scare one away is a little blaring country music. Colorado Division of Wildlife specialists chose to use this method to spook a bear who'd taken up residence beneath housing on Boulder Community Hospital property. 

They discovered the bear when a plumber checking pipes underneath the residence heard a growl and shined his light on a waking bruin. Read Full Story...
Tuesday, February 08, 2011 in: News and Events, Nature and Wildlife, Weird and Funny
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North Cascades' Disappearing Grizzlies

Wildlife biologists argue for reintroduction to augment Washington's dwindling grizzly bear population

Bet you didn't know this: Washington has grizzlies. It just doesn't have many—the last time anyone spotted a genuine griz in the North Cascades was 15 years ago. While wildlife biologists think the population still exists, the members number probably less than 20. Surprising news, given that the area is remote enough to support astonishing recoveries for wolves, lynxes, and wolverines.

This is especially disheartening since the North Cascades represents some of the best grizzly habitat in the Lower 48; wildlife biologists think the region could support as many as 200-400 individuals. But they won't be able to make it on their own: The nearest breeding population is a similarly embattled group on the Canadian side of the border, and it's unlikely the current residents have the genetic strength to make it on their own. Read Full Story...
Monday, February 07, 2011 in: Nature and Wildlife
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Midwest Winter Report: Thundersnow!

Live from the snowed-in Midwest, Map Editor Andrew Matranga reports on a bizarre winter-weather phenomenon: thundersnow.

I am currently traveling in the Midwest, trying to get some work done in between shovelfuls of heavy, lake effect snows in Chicago. Hundreds are still stuck on Lake Shore Drive downtown, and the region's highways are closed and snowed under.

But last night's snowstorm that whacked the Chicagoland area and is still gripping most of the nation brought out an interesting weather phenomenon known as a Thundershower -- when lightning and snow fall at the same time. Read Full Story...
Thursday, February 03, 2011 in: News and Events, Nature and Wildlife
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Ask A Bear: What Color Are Your Eyes At Night?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Q: At night, with an LED flashlight, what color are your eyes, Mr. Brown Bear? How about your cousin Mr. Black?—Rick Guidos, via email

A: Was that you shining a flashlight into my eyes the other night? If so, you're in big trouble, Mister. Read Full Story...
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 in: Ask a Bear, Nature and Wildlife
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Ask A Bear: Are You A Picky Eater? (VIDEO)

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Q: In September, a 400-or-so pound black bear came into my backyard and sat by the huge pile of shelled corn I'd put out for the deer. He sat there for a good half hour, sitting in the sun, posing for pictures on the stealth cam, and basking in his own beauty, but he didn't eat a single kernel (see above).

In December, however, he came back and bent steel to get at the itty-bitty little thistle seed in my feeder. I don't understand how those tiny seeds can be so filling, while he snubbed his nose at the trough of sumptuous corn. Can you explain why the black bears don't seem the least bit interested in corn piles, but can't seem to get enough of millet? —Jenny Mount, Oxford, NJ

A:  First of all Jenny, let's take a look at my cousin raiding your feeder on video: Read Full Story...
Wednesday, December 08, 2010 in: Ask a Bear, Nature and Wildlife
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Ask A Bear: Bear Canisters in Winter?

Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Q: I'm planning on doing some winter camping this year, and I wanted to know if it's still necessary to use a bear canister during colder months. I've heard that bears are not true hibernators, and I didn't know if one may wake up if they could smell the food. I live in Pennsylvania if that makes a difference.—Michael Daubert, via email.

A: As in so many things regarding me ad my furry kin, the answer is "that depends." While it's correct that I'm not a true hibernator, my actual behavior changes greatly depending on my species and where I live. Read Full Story...
Wednesday, December 01, 2010 in: Ask A Bear, Nature and Wildlife
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