Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bull Moose Tangled in Swing Set Shows Consequences of Attracting Wildlife

Disturbing video of a bull moose with its antlers caught on a backyard swing is a prime example of the hazards of attracting wildlife to a residential area, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials explained.

Recorded at the home of a Summit County resident who admitted to using salt to attract the animal, the footage shows the angry bull moose struggling with the swing's rope wrapped around its antlers while wildlife officers attempt to free it. After several difficult hours in its predicament, CPW officers were able to subdue the moose long enough to cut the rope. Appearing relatively unharmed although significantly stressed from its ordeal, the moose first charged its rescuers before running off.



Wildlife officials say human-provided food and other attractants are a leading cause of conflicts and incidents like this in which humans are injured, pets are attacked or wildlife is killed.

"These homeowners told me that they enjoy watching wildlife so they put the salt lick out to attract moose and other animals," said District Wildlife Manager Tom Davies of Silverthorne. "The fact that they caused the moose to suffer like it did and putting the officers in such a dangerous situation is a clear example of how irresponsible attracting wildlife to your home or neighborhood can be."

To reduce the possibility of it dying during the rescue, wildlife officers used a taser to subdue the moose. Although still being evaluated for this type of use by CPW, the non-lethal device, used by many police and sheriff's departments, has also proven effective for managing a variety of larger wildlife. Using an electrical current, the taser temporarily immobilizes an animal allowing officers to safely approach and free wildlife tangled in swings, hammocks, fences and other obstacles. In some cases, the device can also be useful in hazing an animal away from human populated areas.

“It was a difficult and dangerous situation but the taser worked exactly as we had hoped," said Davies. "Tranquilization drugs were an option but considering how stressed the moose became during this precarious situation, it would have likely killed the animal. The taser is proving to be very useful for a situation like this."

Davies said that the residents did not receive a citation in this case, but did receive a stern warning in addition to the significant shame they experienced by putting the moose and wildlife officers in danger.

"If they put out any food or salt licks again to attract wildlife, they will be fined," said Davies. "And that goes for anyone else who does something like this."

In addition to being illegal, placing food, salt or other attractants out for wildlife is unethical and has many serious consequences. It habituates wild animals to humans and can lead to severe digestive problems and possibly death in ungulates. Illegal feeding may also change wildlife migration and behavior patterns, encouraging elk and deer to remain in residential areas year-round, consequently attracting lions to the neighborhood. It can also increase wildlife mortality due to vehicle collisions. Leaving garbage unsecured can attract bears resulting in the death of the bear and posing a danger to humans as well.

"People feeding foxes and coyotes, which is a major problem in this area and across the state, can make them lose their fear of humans and this is when they can get dangerous," says Davies. "If a person is bitten, we have to remove the offending animal to prevent future injuries and also collect a sample to test for disease. In many cases, it becomes necessary to remove multiple animals to ensure a conflict fox or coyote is removed."

In addition to the dangers of feeding and attracting predators, wildlife officers say that encouraging a large, powerful moose to a residential area is a bad idea for multiple reasons.

"The video clearly shows how powerful and aggressive a moose can get when it feels threatened," said Davies. "Although predators in a residential area are a significant concern, little compares to the danger of having a moose near your home."

For more information about living responsibly with wildlife, visit http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/LivingwithWildlife.aspx



Jeff
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Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Top 5 Reasons to Visit Grand Teton National Park

Rising more than 7000 feet above Jackson Hole, the high peaks of Grand Teton National Park provide one of the most dramatic landscapes in the world. Although many people seem to treat it as an afterthought, only visiting the park as a side trip while visiting its more famous neighbor to the north, more time and focus should be given to this stunning landscape. Within its 310,000 acres the majestic mountains of the Teton Range are home to a wide variety of wildlife, eight peaks that top out above 12,000 feet, more than 100 alpine and backcountry lakes, and more than 200 miles of trails that provide intimate access to all of this incredibly beautiful scenery.

Cascade Canyon
The Cascade Canyon Trail is widely touted as one of the best hikes in the entire National Park System. In addition to the stunning views of 12,928-foot Mt. Owen, the trail visits Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. The route is also known for the wide variety of wildlife that is frequently seen, especially bears and moose.


Lake Views
Lying along the eastern base of the Teton Range is a series of glacially-carved lakes. Rising sharply above their western shores, the views of the rugged mountains are stunning and dramatic. From the shores of Jackson, Leigh, Jenny, Phelps, Bradley and Taggart Lakes, hikers will enjoy some of the most striking views in the park.


Wildlife
Although Yellowstone rightfully receives a lot of attention for its wildlife viewing opportunities, the Grand Tetons are also known for its diversity of wildlife. The rugged mountains provide habitat to a wide variety of wildlife, including black bears, grizzly bears, elk, bison, bighorn sheep, moose, pronghorn, wolves, fox, lynx, bobcats and mountain lions. There are also more than 300 species of birds, including trumpeter swans, ospreys and bald eagles. A drive along Moose-Wilson Road is a popular way of spotting mega fauna such as bears and moose. However, hikes such as Amphitheater Lake, Hermitage Point, Moose Ponds and the Emma Matilda Lake Loop are all great choices for possibly seeing wildlife in the backcountry.


Photography
The abrupt rise of the Tetons from the valley floor arguably makes them one of the most photogenic mountain ranges in the world. As a result, professional and amateur photographers alike will enjoy a multitude of photo opportunities around the park. Some of the best spots for getting that perfect shot include Mormon Row, Oxbow Bend, Schwabacher’s Landing, as well as the Snake River Overlook, which was made famous by Ansel Adams' 1942 photograph. Of course all of the backcountry locations mentioned above will also provide outstanding photo opportunities.


Snake River Float Trip
The Snake River meanders along the sage brush flats below the Teton Range, and provides park visitors with the unique opportunity of enjoying the majestic mountain scenery from a raft. Although outfitters offer trips throughout the day, I highly recommend the morning trips, as the mountains typically look their finest when bathed in the glow of early morning sunshine. Morning is also the best time to view wildlife along the river banks, including bald eagles.





Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
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Thursday, January 28, 2016

America’s National Parks Report Record Number of Visitors in 2015

More than 305 million people visited national parks in 2015, eclipsing the all-time visitation record that the National Park Service saw in the previous year. The unofficial visitation numbers for 2015 were announced by National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, as the National Park Service (NPS) is celebrating its centennial year.

"The increasing popularity of our national parks comes as we are actively reaching out to new audiences and inviting them to explore the depth and breadth of the national park system," Jarvis said. "The 409 parks we care for preserve natural, cultural and historic landscapes across 84 million acres in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories, and they tell stories that reflect the great diversity of our nation."

Record visitation tests the capacity of the park system and challenges parks to continue to provide great experiences for all visitors. Jarvis said park managers are adjusting to make sure they have sufficient staff to provide interpretive programs, answer visitor questions, respond to emergencies and to keep restrooms, campgrounds and other facilities clean.

Park visitors can plan their trips to avoid peak crowds by visiting the most popular parks in spring and fall and by visiting early in the morning or later in the day. Visitors can also take advantage of shuttles and walking trails at some parks, including the Great Smoky Mountains, Glacier, Rocky Mountain and Grand Teton national parks.

"Even with record breaking visitation, visitors can still find quiet places in the parks for those willing to seek them out," Jarvis said. "I can take you to Yosemite Valley on the Fourth of July and within five minutes get you to a place where you are all alone."

Much of the increase in national park visitation is the result of the National Park Foundation's "Find Your Park" media campaign. The campaign has sparked interest from travelers and also from communities near national parks, state tourism agencies and Congress. In late December 2015, Congress approved a nine percent funding increase for the National Park Service, which will help the agency continue to provide excellent visitor services as visitation increases.

"The increase in Congressional appropriations comes at a critical time for the National Park Service and will help us to serve the growing number of visitors,"Jarvis said. "We look forward to continuing to work with Congress as it considers additional legislation in support of the National Park Service Centennial, which would further improve the national parks by encouraging philanthropy and volunteerism, while also allowing us to improve visitor services and connect with a new generation of national park visitors."

By the Numbers: Unofficially, the NPS recorded more than 305 million visits during 2015. That is an increase of more than 12 million visits, and more than four percent, over the 2014 figure of 292.8 million visits. About 365 of 409 parks in the national park system record visitation numbers. The NPS has recorded more than 13 billion visits to parks since park managers began counting visitors in 1904, some 12 years before the NPS was created. Official statistics including the most-visited parks of the national park system and the most-visited national parks will be released in late February.



Jeff
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Never Underestimate the Smokies - Appalachian Trail Thru Hike 2015

Thru-hiker and videographer, Gator Miller, does an excellent job of showing what life is like as a thru-hiker on the Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As the name of his video implies, "Never Underestimate the Smokies," the park can present a variety of challenges - from deep snow, fog and rain, to periods of boredom (his encounter with a deer). When the weather's good, however, the 71-mile section of the Appalachian Trail in the Smokies is quite spectacular.



With more than 800 miles of trails meandering throughout the park, hiking is the absolute best way to see the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In addition to the Appalachian Trail, the park offers many other outstanding hikes. If you do plan to visit the Smokies this year, please note that our hiking website also offers a wide variety of accommodation listings to help with all your vacation planning.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

RMNP Programs Highlight Wilderness And What Wild Places Mean To You

On August 25, 1916, the National Park Service was established to protect America's national heritage sites. To celebrate the National Park Service Centennial, Rocky Mountain National Park will be offering a series of truly unique Saturday evening programs held at 7 p.m. at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center throughout the winter.

This Saturday, January 30th, the ranger-led program will be about wilderness and what wild places mean in today's ever changing world. A short program will be followed by the opportunity for participants to share their own views on the value of wild places and take part in a facilitated discussion aimed to explore and share thoughts on the future of our wild lands.

Upcoming programs:

Saturday, February 13 - National Park Service Mission
Saturday, February 27 - Wildlife
Saturday, March 12 - Research

Please join the park for these special programs and be part of the National Park Service Centennial. For further information about Rocky Mountain National Park please call the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206.



Jeff
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Friday, January 22, 2016

Body Of Missing Man Recovered Near Peacock Pool In Rocky Mountain National Park

Today, during ground and aerial search efforts, Ronald Webber's body was located at the base of a broken cliff band at Peacock Pool. This is roughly 1/2 mile east of Chasm Lake. Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue team members were flown to an area near Peacock Pool where they could more safely access his body. His body was flown from the scene to a landing spot at Upper Beaver Meadows and transferred to the Boulder County Coroner. It appears that he had an approximate 200 foot fall. The exact cause of death will be determined by the Boulder County Coroner's office.

Ronald Webber, 58 of Maitland, Florida, was reported overdue yesterday afternoon, January 21, from a reported mountaineering trek to Rocky Mountain National Park and was believed to be in the Longs Peak area. He left the trailhead on Tuesday morning, January 19. His vehicle was found at the trailhead. It was unclear where he was intending to go.

Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue team members searched a small segment of this large search area yesterday afternoon, January 21, including the Roaring Fork drainage and the east cirque of Longs Peak in the Chasm Lake area. Aerial search efforts also took place. Today, teams were continuing search efforts in this area when his body was found.



Jeff
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Search Underway In Longs Peak Area

Yesterday afternoon, January 21, park rangers were notified that Ronald Webber, 58, of Maitland, Florida was overdue from a reported mountaineering trek to Rocky Mountain National Park and was believed to be in the Longs Peak area. His car was located in the parking lot at the Longs Peak Trailhead. He reportedly left Tuesday morning, January 19, from the trailhead. It is unclear where he was intending to go. He was not prepared to spend the night. Mr. Webber has been to the Long Peak area before, but not in the winter.

Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue team members searched a small segment of the area yesterday, including the Roaring Fork drainage and the east cirque of Longs Peak in the Chasm Lake area. Today, teams will continue to search in this area as well as the Keyhole Route and along the Longs Peak Trail.

Weather since Tuesday has consisted of high winds and cold temperatures. Aerial search efforts took place today and if weather and conditions permit, will also occur tomorrow.

Park rangers would like to hear from anyone who was in the Longs Peak area on Tuesday, January 19 or Wednesday, January 20. Please call (970) 586-1204.



Jeff
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
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