threatened species

Should We Intervene to Save Isle Royale National Park Wolves?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | May 12th, 2014 | 2 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: biodiversity, Canada, climate change, Eco Travel, endangered-species, environment, global-warming, Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior, moose, nature, Ontario, rising temperatures, species, threatened species, travel, U.S. National Park Service, wildlife, wolf, wolves, Yellowstone National Park

Wolf in Yellowstone National Park

On a wild, remote island in Lake Superior called Isle Royale, gray wolves have lived and thrived for more than 60 years. In the forests on this island — which encompasses the majority of Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park — a wolf population that grew to almost 50 individuals once contributed to a biodiverse, healthy ecosystem.

In recent years, however, the number of wolves on Isle Royale has plummeted. In 2009, scientists from the Wolves and Moose of Isle Royale project — begun in 1958 and now the longest continuous study of a predator-prey system in the world — documented only 24 wolves living on the island. As of February 2014, that number had dwindled to nine — the second lowest total for the island ever recorded.

Some blame climate change for the decrease. Others say it is just the natural order of things for species to come and go in a particular area. But whatever the cause, the question for the future health of the island and the park is: should we intervene to save Isle Royale’s wolves?

Eating Whale Blubber in Greenland: Politely Partake or Politically Pass Up?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | October 25th, 2013 | 5 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: adventure, alaska, diet, eating locally, Eco Travel, environment, extinction, food, Green Living, Greenland, healthy-eating, International Whaling Commission, Inuit, natural-habitat-adventures, nature, nutrition, Siberia, subsistence hunting, threatened species, travel, whales, whaling, wildlife

Greenland

Throughout human history, the sharing and exchange of local food between people of different cultures has cemented social bonds and sealed agreements. Feasts often brought people from far-off places and varying ways of life together.

Today, whether you’re in a friend’s home or visiting a foreign land, partaking of your host’s served meal is considered polite — or, at least, that’s what I have been taught. So, when I recently traveled to Greenland and visited an Inuit community, I happily agreed to taste the traditional foods offered, including raw whale blubber, dried cod and simmered seal stew.

Wanting to share my adventure with friends, I posted a photo of myself eating the uncooked blubber on a social media site. To my surprise, I was met with strong disapproval by an acquaintance who works at an environmental organization.

When traveling, should you indulge in the traditional foods offered, even though eating them may not be “politically correct” in your own country?

Should U.S. Military Ranges Double as Wildlife Refuges?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | September 27th, 2013 | 4 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: Army’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord, California, desert tortoises, endangered-species, environment, extinction, forests, Fort Irwin, island night lizard, killer whale, marine mammals, military, military ranges, National Marine Fisheries Service, national park, nature, NatureServe, navy sonar, orca, Oregon, Pentagon, prairies, Puerto Rico, San Clemente Island, San Clemente Island lizard, San Clemente Island loggerhead shrike, threatened species, travel, U.S. Defense Department, U.S. Forest Service, Vieques, Washington State, western snowy plovers, wetland restoration, wildlife, wildlife refuges

Orca in Washington State

When you think of endangered species in this country, struggling to survive in their native habitats, you probably picture them on national park or U.S. Forest Service lands. But according to NatureServe, a nonprofit conservation organization that tracks wildlife, U.S. Defense Department properties have the highest density of threatened and endangered species of any federal land management agency. The Pentagon states that on average, military lands boast 15 threatened and endangered species per acre — nearly seven times more per acre than on U.S. Forest Service tracts.

Our nation’s military lands, however, are first and foremost dedicated to preparing for armed readiness, meaning that military exercises, such as target practice, are routine. Is this the kind of environment in which we want threatened species to play out their last-ditch efforts for survival?

Zoos: Saviors of Threatened Species or Creators of Unnatural Ones?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | December 17th, 2012 | 6 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: africa, biodiversity, cheetahs, China, conservation, Eco Travel, elephants, endangered speices, environment, Ethiopia, extinction, genetic diversity, genetics, giant pandas, Green Living, lions, natural habitats, nature, North African Barbary lions, Smithsonian National Zoo, South African Cape lions, species extinction, Tasmanian tiger, threatened species, travel, wild animals, zoos

Lion Under Tree

A new species of lion has recently been discovered, announced the National Geographic Society a few weeks ago. Were the animals caught by camera trap or spotted by a tracker in the remote regions of Africa? No. They were found — in all places — in an Ethiopian zoo. It’s questionable whether any other representatives of this species are alive in the wild today.

All over the world, the struggle to keep endangered species from going extinct is often played out in zoos or in captive breeding centers. The last known Tasmanian tiger lived out its life in a zoo before it died in 1936, giant pandas are being bred in Chinese reserves and whooping cranes are being raised at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland.

Living in zoos or in other places of captivity, however, changes wild animals — sometimes to the point where behaviorally they little resemble their wild counterparts. But is keeping an altered, threatened wild species from going extinct better than losing it altogether?

Are the Dubai Penguins Ambassadors of the Wild, or Agents of Profit?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | June 18th, 2012 | 2 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: animal ambassadors, animals, Antarctica, big cats, birds, captive, captive wildlife, captivity, conservation, Dubai, Eco Travel, ecosystems, environment, Middle East, natural habitats, nature, penguins, pets, photography, threatened, threatened species, Tigers, travel, wild, wildlife

Penguin in Antarctica

In the hot, desert climate of Dubai on the Arabian Peninsula, 20 penguins are living in comfort, say the managers of Ski Dubai, the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East. The birds reside in a climate-controlled environment, receive the best veterinary care, and never have to worry about lurking predators.

When you visit Ski Dubai, you can pay to have a “penguin encounter,” where you’ll be able to play with and touch the penguins. Representatives of the resort say that these animals are “ambassadors,” teaching patrons about their wild counterparts and the need to conserve their threatened natural habitat, Antarctica.

But can animals that have been born and raised in captivity and habituated to humans in unnatural ways ever be true ambassadors for the natural world? Can they teach us anything about the wild or move us to care for the environments from which they are so distantly removed?

Would You Live Next Door to a (Non-Human) Predator?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | September 16th, 2011 | 54 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: alaska, animals, bear attacks, biodiversity, bison, bison attack, coast, coastal habitats, Eco Travel, ecosystems, elk, encroach, encroachment, endangered-species, environment, food chain, forests, grizzly bears, habitat destruction, humans, Montana, mountains, National Science Foundation, nature, Nebraska, Northwoods, population, predators, sea otters, sea urchins, sharks, shellfish, terriroty, threatened species, travel, trophic cascade, wild, wild animals, wilderness, wildlife, wildlife corridors, wolf, wolf attack, wolves, Yellowstone National Park

Grizzly Bears

This summer — like almost every summer for the past decade or so — was rife with headlines about people being assaulted by wild animals. “Seven teens attacked by grizzly in Alaska’s Talkeetna Mountains,” read a headline in the Anchorage Daily News on July 25, 2011. And, “Two teenagers have life-threatening injuries after being mauled by a grizzly bear while on a survival skills course in the Alaskan wilderness,” the first line of a Guardian feature informed us.

The italics on the words “mountains” and “wilderness” above, however, are mine. I think it noteworthy where these events took place. Against our ever-increasing penchant for developing remote areas and fragmenting wildlife corridors, the world’s largest predators have been squeezed onto smaller and smaller pockets, with nowhere to go but the mountains and the wilderness. Today, grizzlies, wolves, tigers and lions are having trouble finding room to be grizzlies, wolves, tigers and lions. And, without them, our planet is in big trouble.