New Apple Store Kills Birds

 

New Apple store to dim lights at night after group says birds are flying into its glass

Blair Kamin

Blair KaminContact ReporterChicago Tribune  10.30.17 (I like  Blair Kamin and his work on buildings and related matters in the  Trib. He’s written several books, a couple related to Chicago.  RJN)  See note below.

Facing criticism from wildlife groups who say its glassy new Chicago store is causing deadly bird strikes, Apple plans to dim the store’s lights Friday night, a company spokesman said, and will continue to do so during the fall migration season.

Members of Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, a volunteer group that rescues migrating birds that collide with buildings, have said they’ve found dead birds at the Apple store since it opened Oct. 20. The group blames the store’s exterior glass walls and night lighting. At night, according to experts, birds often become disoriented by city lights, then crash into buildings and fall to the ground.

(See also article on bird workers with 2 video links in this blog.)

In response to the criticism, Nick Leahy, a spokesman for the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer-maker, said Friday: “Starting tonight, at least until we can get through the migratory season, we will get the lights down as much as can overnight.”

Located at 401 N. Michigan Ave., the store is on the north bank of the Chicago River and not far from the lakefront, a major bird migratory route.

The store’s manager, Leahy said, “acknowledged that there had been bird strikes, but it wasn’t a larger number.”

The city of Chicago has a “Lights Out” program that encourages the owners and managers of high-rises to turn off or dim decorative lights. The Apple store is two stories tall.

A city website describing the “Lights Out” program says: “Thousands of migratory birds are settling to rest in the early morning hours, seeking shelter and food after their long migratory journey. They can collide with lighted glass as they try to enter the space behind it. Research has shown that birds do not see glass.”

London-based Foster + Partners designed the $27 million store, whose facade consists of huge sheets of floor-to-ceiling glass. The firm’s chief designer on the project, Stefan Behling, said the architects had studied the possibility of bird strikes and had concluded that it would not be a problem.

_______________________________

Blair Kamin is the Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic of the Chicago Tribune. A graduate of Amherst College and the Yale School of Architecture, he holds honorary degrees from Monmouth University and North Central College, where he serves as an adjunct professor of art. Kamin has lectured widely and has discussed architecture on numerous programs, from ABC’s “Nightline” to NPR’s “All Things Considered.” He is the winner of more than 40 awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, the George Polk Award for Criticism and the American Institute of Architects’ Institute Honor for Collaborative Achievement. He has twice been a Pulitzer Prize juror. Kamin lives in the Chicago suburb of Wilmette with his wife, Chicago Tribune writer Barbara Mahany. They have two sons, Will and Teddy.   Amazon.com 

bkamin@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @BlairKamin

Exotic Hunting in Texas

When  I said that I’d seen giraffe run along the fence line as I’d made my nearly weekly Harley run from Austin to San Antonio, I wasn’t exaggerating.   Jpnugent
Photo

A giraffe named Buttercup moved closer to Buck Watson, a hunting guide, as he looks on from a vehicle at the Ox Ranch in Uvalde, Tex. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

UVALDE, Tex. — On a ranch at the southwestern edge of the Texas Hill Country, a hunting guide spotted her cooling off in the shade: an African reticulated giraffe. Such is the curious state of modern Texas ranching, that a giraffe among the oak and the mesquite is an everyday sort of thing.

“That’s Buttercup,” said the guide, Buck Watson, 54.

In a place of rare creatures, Buttercup is among the rarest; she is off limits to hunters at the Ox Ranch. Not so the African bongo antelope, one of the world’s heaviest and most striking spiral-horned antelopes, which roams the same countryside as Buttercup. The price to kill a bongo at the Ox Ranch is $35,000.

 

Photo

Water buffaloes walked across a dam at the Ox Ranch. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Himalayan tahrs, wild goats with a bushy lion-style mane, are far cheaper. The trophy fee, or kill fee, to shoot one is $7,500. An Arabian oryx is $9,500; a sitatunga antelope, $12,000; and a black wildebeest, $15,000.

“We don’t hunt giraffes,” Mr. Watson said. “Buttercup will live out her days here, letting people take pictures of her. She can walk around and graze off the trees as if she was in Africa.”

The Ox Ranch near Uvalde, Tex., is not quite a zoo, and not quite an animal shooting range, but something in between.

 

Photo

Mr. Watson points out a Roan on the Ox Ranch. Roan, originally from Africa, never shed their horns, making them attractive trophies for hunters any time of year. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

The ranch’s hunting guides and managers walk a thin, controversial line between caring for thousands of rare, threatened and endangered animals and helping to execute them. Some see the ranch as a place for sport and conservation. Some see it as a place for slaughter and hypocrisy.

 

The Ox Ranch provides a glimpse into the future of the mythic Texas range — equal parts exotic game-hunting retreat, upscale outdoor adventure, and breeding and killing ground for exotic species.

Ranchers in the nation’s top cattle-raising state have been transforming pasture land into something out of an African safari, largely to lure trophy hunters who pay top-dollar kill fees to hunt exotics. Zebra mares forage here near African impala antelopes, and it is easy to forget that downtown San Antonio is only two hours to the east.

 

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A worker replaces a light bulb at the Ox Ranch. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

The ranch has about 30 bongo, the African antelopes with a trophy fee of $35,000. Last fall, a hunter shot one. “Taking one paid their feed bill for the entire year, for the rest of them,” said Jason Molitor, the chief executive of the Ox Ranch.

To many animal-protection groups, such management of rare and endangered species — breeding some, preventing some from being hunted, while allowing the killing of others — is not only repulsive, but puts hunting ranches in a legal and ethical gray area.

“Depending on what facility it is, there’s concern when animals are raised solely for profit purposes,” said Anna Frostic, a senior attorney with the Humane Society of the United States.

 

Photo

Mr. Watson inspects an Axis buck shot the day before by an 8-year-old boy. Trophy carcasses are hung in a cooler room before being transported from the ranch. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Hunting advocates disagree and say the breeding and hunting of exotic animals helps ensure species’ survival. Exotic-game ranches see themselves not as an enemy of wildlife conservation but as an ally, arguing that they contribute a percentage of their profits to conservation efforts.

“We love the animals, and that’s why we hunt them,” Mr. Molitor said. “Most hunters in general are more in line with conservation than the public believes that they are.”

Beyond the financial contributions, hunting ranches and their supporters say the blending of commerce and conservation helps save species from extinction.

 

Photo

Various bovine species, including Watusi cattle and buffalo, eat from a hay drop at the Ox Ranch.CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Wildlife experts said there are more blackbuck antelope in Texas than there are in their native India because of the hunting ranches. In addition, Texas ranchers have in the past sent exotic animals, including scimitar-horned oryx, back to their home countries to build up wild populations there.

“Ranchers can sell these hunts and enjoy the income, while doing good for the species,” said John M. Tomecek, a wildlife specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

Animal-rights activists are outraged by these ranches. They call what goes on there “canned hunting” or “captive hunting.’’

 

Photo

To ensure a healthy herd, the Ox Ranch introduces fresh blood lines using animals bred on other ranches. April Molitor watches with her father, Jason Molitor, the chief executive of the Ox Ranch, as newly arrived blackbuck antelope are released from a trailer. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

“Hunting has absolutely nothing to do with conservation,” said Ashley Byrne, the associate director of campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “What they’re doing is trying to put a better spin on a business that they know the average person finds despicable.”

A 2007 report from Texas A&M University called the exotic wildlife industry in America a billion-dollar industry.

At the Ox Ranch, it shows. The ranch has luxury log cabins, a runway for private planes and a 6,000-square-foot lodge with stone fireplaces and vaulted ceilings. More animals roam its 18,000 acres than roam the Houston Zoo, on a tract of land bigger than the island of Manhattan. The ranch is named for its owner, Brent C. Oxley, 34, the founder of HostGator.com, a web hosting provider that was sold in 2012 for more than $200 million.

 

Photo

Three kangaroos that live in front of the Ox Ranch lodge are mainly for attraction purposes and are not hunted. They greet arriving guests and are often fed corn by the newcomers and by guides.CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

“The owner hopes in a few years that we can break even,” Mr. Molitor said.

Because the industry is largely unregulated, there is no official census of exotic animals in Texas. But ranchers and wildlife experts said that Texas has more exotics than any other state. A survey by the state Parks and Wildlife Department in 1994 put the exotic population at more than 195,000 animals from 87 species, but the industry has grown explosively since then; one estimate by John T. Baccus, a retired Texas State University biologist, puts the current total at roughly 1.3 million.

 

Photo

A hunting blind stands among trees near a game feeder at the Ox Ranch. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

The Ox Ranch needs no local, state or federal permit for most of their exotic animals.

State hunting regulations do not apply to exotics, which can be hunted year-round. The Fish and Wildlife Service allows ranches to hunt and kill certain animals that are federally designated as threatened or endangered species, if the ranches take certain steps, including donating 10 percent of their hunting proceeds to conservation programs. The ranches are issued permits to conduct activities that would otherwise be prohibited under the Endangered Species Act if those activities enhance the survival of the species in the wild. Those federal permits make it legal to hunt Eld’s deerand other threatened or endangered species at the Ox Ranch.

 

Photo

Mr. Watson petted Buttercup the giraffe. Hunters are not allowed to shoot the ranch’s giraffes.CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Mr. Molitor said more government oversight was unnecessary and would drive ranchers out of the business. “I ask people, who do you think is going to manage it better, private organizations or the government?” Mr. Molitor said.

Lawyers for conservation and animal-protection groups say that allowing endangered animals to be hunted undermines the Endangered Species Act, and that the ranches’ financial contributions fail to benefit wildlife conservation.

“We ended up with this sort of pay-to-play idea,” said Tanya Sanerib, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It is absolutely absurd that you can go to a canned-hunt facility and kill an endangered or threatened species.”

 

Photo

Wildebeest run free on the Ox Ranch’s rangeland. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

The creatures are not the only things at the ranch that are exotic. The tanks are, too.

The ranch offers its guests the opportunity to drive and shoot World War II-era tanks. People fire at bullet-ridden cars from atop an American M4 Sherman tank at a shooting range built to resemble a Nazi-occupied French town.

“We knew the gun people would come out,” said Todd DeGidio, the chief executive of DriveTanks.com, which runs the tank operation. “What surprised us was the demographic of people who’ve never shot guns before.”

 

Photo

A World War II-era M4 Sherman tank. The ranch also has a shooting range built to resemble a Nazi-occupied French town. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Late one evening, two hunters, Joan Schaan and her 15-year-old son, Daniel, rushed to get ready for a nighttime hunt, adjusting the SWAT-style night-vision goggles on their heads.

Ms. Schaan is the executive director of a private foundation in Houston. Daniel is a sophomore at St. John’s School, a prestigious private school. They were there not for the exotics, but basically for the pests: feral hogs, which cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage annually in Texas.

“We are here because we both like to hunt, and we like hunting hogs,” Ms. Schaan said. “And we love the meat and the sausage from the hogs we harvest.”

 

Photo

Joan Schaan takes a photo of her son Daniel Schaan, 15, as he prepares for a night boar hunt.CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Pursuing the hogs, Ms. Schaan and her son go off-roading through the brush in near-total darkness, with a hunting guide behind the wheel. Aided by their night-vision goggles, they passed by the giraffes before rattling up and down the hilly terrain.

Daniel fired at hogs from the passenger seat with a SIG Sauer 516 rifle, his spent shell casings flying into the back seat. Their guide, Larry Hromadka, told Daniel when he could and could not take a shot.

No one is allowed to hunt at the ranch without a guide. The guides make sure no one shoots an exotic animal accidentally with a stray bullet, and that no one takes aim at an off-limits creature.

One of the hogs Daniel shot twitched and appeared to still be alive, until Mr. Hromadka approached with his light and his gun.

 

Photo

Larry Hromadka, a hunting guide, fires his pistol to end the suffering of a feral hog shot and wounded during a night boar hunt. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Hundreds of animals shot at the ranch have ended up in the cluttered workrooms and showrooms at Graves Taxidermy in Uvalde.

Part of the allure of exotic game-hunting is the so-called trophy at the end — the mounted and lifelike head of the animal that the hunter put down. The Ox Ranch is Graves Taxidermy’s biggest customer.

“My main business, of course, is white-tailed deer, but the exotics have kind of taken over,” said Browder Graves, the owner.

Photo

Many trophy carcasses from the Ox Ranch are taken to Graves Taxidermy in Uvalde for mounting. Meg Rowland, a newly hired assistant, works on a customer order in the workshop.CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

He said the animal mounts he makes for people were not so much a trophy on a wall as a symbol of the hunter’s memories of the entire experience. He has a mount of a Himalayan tahr he shot in New Zealand that he said he cannot look at without thinking of the time he spent with his son hunting up in the mountains.

“It’s God’s creature,” he said. “I’m trying to make it look as good as it can.”

 

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White stags and white elk graze on the ranch at sunset. CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Small herds passed by the Jeep being driven by Mr. Watson, the hunting guide. There were white elk and eland, impala and Arabian oryx.

Then the tour came to an unexpected stop. An Asiatic water buffalo blocked the road, unimpressed by the Jeep. The animal was caked with dried mud, an aging male that lived away from the herd.

“The Africans call them dugaboys,” Mr. Watson said. “They’re old lone bulls. They’re so big that they don’t care.”

The buffalo took his time moving. For a moment, at least, he had all the power.

 

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An ostrich and grazing fallow deer are illuminated by the headlights of a ranch vehicle.CreditDaniel Berehulak for The New York Times
Correction: October 19, 2017 
A photo caption with an earlier version of this article misidentified the animals walking across a dam at the Ox Ranch. They are water buffaloes, not zebus.

 

 

Mercy for Chickens at Perdue Farms

 

Perdue announces improvements to animal welfare policy

Animal protection organization urges poultry producers to reduce suffering
July 21, 2017  source

Perdue Farms, the nation’s fourth-largest poultry producer, has promised critical improvements to reduce suffering for chickens raised and slaughtered in its supply chain, including the following:

  • Providing chickens more floor space with plans to further reduce stocking density
  • Providing chickens six hours of darkness at night and increased light levels during the day, including natural light
  • Third-party monitoring of all processing facilities
  • Conducting more research into breeds with measurably improved welfare.

Perdue’s announcement comes just weeks after a national survey found four out of five Americans want restaurants and grocers to implement policies that eliminate the worst forms of cruelty to chickens in their supply chains.

Perdue also promised to meet the current and future demands of food companies that have committed to using only chickens raised according to Global Animal Partnership standards and slaughtered using controlled-atmosphere stunning. This is a first-of-its-kind pledge among large poultry producers.

Dozens of food companies have already made such commitments, including Burger King, Subway, Chipotle and Panera Bread, in response to consumer outcry about the cruelty inherent in factory farms and slaughterhouses that raise and kill chickens for meat.

A Mercy For Animals undercover investigation revealed workers stomping and kicking chickens to death in a Perdue facility in 2015. As a result of the investigation and discussions with Mercy For Animals, The Humane Society of the United States, and Compassion In World Farming, Perdue took its first steps toward improved chicken welfare with the release of a policy in 2016.

“Perdue’s animal welfare improvements and its promise to meet the demands of companies with progressive animal welfare policies puts other poultry producers on notice,” said Brent Cox, vice president of corporate outreach at Mercy For Animals. “It’s time for Tyson Foods, Foster Farms, and others to catch up with business trends, consumer expectations, and the latest in animal welfare science by committing to GAP standards and eliminating the worst forms of animal abuse in their supply chains.”

For more information, go to www.MercyForAnimals.org.

The best way for individual consumers to protect chickens and other farmed animals from cruelty is simply to leave them off their plates.

Dolphins to the rescue!

LISTEN:  source

  Down to less than 30 individuals in the entire world, the adorable Vaquita porpoises in the Gulf of California are being rounded up and put in protective areas. Mexican conservationist, Lorenzo Rochas Bracho says that to find the elusive porpoises they need the help of US Navy-trained dolphins

 

Duration:

2 minutes

High-Rise Honey Bees

Hives downtown help environment and attract tenants

Michael Thompson of Chicago Honey Co-op installs beehives on the roof of 540 West Madison, a downtown office building. Tenants get to enjoy the honey the bees produce. (Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune )

BY ALLY MAROTTI  CHICAGO TRIBUNE  5.21.17

Bill Whitney rolled up to the loading dock of a Near West Side high-rise with about 9,000 honeybees riding shotgun in his Chevy.

The pickup truck, sporting license plates that read “B SAVER,” was overflowing with the parts needed to construct three hives for all those bees on top of the 29th-floor roof of 540 West Madison, the West Loop home to firms such as Bank of America, biopharmaceutical company Shire and slot machine-maker Everi.

While human worker bees buzz about in offices below, the rooftops of some Chicago commercial buildings are becoming hubs of activity in their own right as landlords employ tens of thousands of bees in an effort to simultaneously help the environment and rope in some eco-friendly tenants.

Building owners and managers say it’s an easy formula: Set aside a few thousand dollars in the budget, contract with a beekeeper and, come autumn, enjoy fresh honey. Some have come to view the hives as an amenity, like rooftop gardens or water recycling programs. Tenants appreciate the honey and the efforts to help save the honeybees, a species under threat in the U.S. from a deadly combination of pesticides, loss of habitat and parasites.

And it’s cool, building managers say.

“It’s exciting because it’s not something you would expect in an urban area,” said Louise Harney, a vice president and group manager at Jones Lang LaSalle, the firm that manages 540 West Madison. “We’ve had people want to be here because of our sustainability program, and beekeeping is a part of that.”

Up on the roof Tuesday, Whitney orchestrated the bees like a conductor. Hive by hive, he released the bees, contained in three shoebox-sized containers, pouring them by the thousands into their new home. He stood among them as they swarmed up and around, scouting the area and creating a cloud over the high-rise.

Last year, 540 West Madison collected about 100 gallons of honey, the building’s first harvest. Much of the honey was bottled in 3-ounce jars and passed out to tenants, visitors and students who came for a tutoring program. The building managers put the jars in gift bags and handed them out around Thanksgiving and Earth Day. Slightly Toasted, the sandwich cafe on the building’s ground floor, used the honey in some of its specialty drinks.

The building expects to spend about $2,400 to maintain the hives this year, Harney said.

The staff at Everi’s development center on the 24th floor devours the honey every time building management brings it around, said Bradley Rose, senior vice president of game development. They usually drop some off around holidays or when they give building visitors a tour of the company’s office space.

“It’s so good it usually never makes it home,” he said. “We’ll go to town on it.”

Rose remembers the honeybees being part of the sales pitch when he was searching for office space for Everi’s 60-person staff. After looking at dozens of spaces, it was the amenities at 540 West Madison that helped him decide, he said. Though at the time he was more impressed with the building’s gym than the bees, the occasional honey deliveries work wonders in making the staff feel welcome, he said.

Whitney, a veteran beekeeper and owner of City Bee Savers, also rears queen bees and mentors budding beekeepers.

“I was more interested in, How will bees do 30 stories up in the air, right downtown in the concrete jungle?” he said. “Can they really thrive and survive? The answer is yes.”

But there are precautions Whitney must take to make sure the hives stay healthy. With the thousands of bees he had driven from a farm near Savannah, Ga., just days before, Whitney brought straps and bricks to put on top of the new hives to help secure them, protecting them from the strong winds that can blow above the city.

He’ll come back throughout the summer and maintain the hives, watching for signs of strain from a mite inflicting damage on beehives across the country. The mites don’t kill the bees directly, but they latch on to them, wearing them down and causing stress that becomes deadly.

Come winter, the bees do their best to keep the queen warm, with little activity outside the hive. Though a bee lives only four to six weeks in the summer, a healthy hive will survive the cold.

Nestled in a mostly shaded area of the roof, the hives face north. Visible from their new home is the building that houses Google’s Midwest headquarters, 1KFulton, where more bees that Whitney maintains reside.

The hives stayed when Glendale, Calif.-based American Realty Advisors bought the newly developed building last summer from Chicago developer Sterling Bay, said Rachael Bruketta, assistant property manager at 1KFulton. The company set aside about $3,000 this year to spend on the bees.

“(It’s) cool to say they do this. This is an amenity at the building,” Bruketta said. “Tenants like that we care, that we’re helping bee populations.”

The building’s two hives are on the seventh-floor roof deck. While tenants also have access to the deck, the bees aren’t aggressive and generally keep to themselves.

Hopefully, the green space will encourage the bees to stay closer, Bruketta said.

If not, they’ll seek out the city’s flowers, darting to the blooms along Michigan Avenue, Millennium Park’s trees, or weeds springing from sidewalk cracks and vacant lots. The bees have a foraging range of about 11/2 miles, Whitney said, though the distance they travel depends on the availability of food.

Hotels were early adopters in Chicago’s rooftop beehive business. Tended by hotel chefs and contracted beekeepers, the hives produce honey served to guests in their morning granola or tea.

At the Palmer House Hilton in the Loop, an old-fashioned walk-in cooler is full of tiny jars of honey. The golden hues of the sugary substance change each harvest, depending on what flowers the bees pollinate, said executive chef Stephen Henry. It’s usually a beautiful gold, he said, though last year it was darker, more like the color of iced tea.

The Palmer House has been keeping bees for about five years on its 25th-floor rooftop garden, which it populates with bee-friendly flowers such as marigolds. Henry incorporates it into recipes, replacing the apricot glaze on the top of the hotel’s famous brownie with honey.

The bees at Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile produce so much honey that the hotel collaborates with a brewery to make a honey wheat ale out of it.

Several blocks south on Michigan Avenue, Chicago Honey Co-op maintains hives on top of the Chicago Cultural Center. The urban beekeeping cooperative also works with three other buildings.

Another company, The Best Bees Company, has installed hives atop other Chicago commercial buildings like AMA Plaza, 1 North Dearborn and 515 N. State St.

Unlike cities such as New York, Chicago does not regulate beekeeping, besides limiting a property to five hives. The state requires beekeepers to register with the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Sometimes, new hives aren’t as accommodating to bees as the city is to keepers. On top of 540 West Madison on Tuesday, Whitney had to entice the bees to stay in the hive and claim it as their own.

He gave them a start with used honeycomb, pampering them with pollen and a few drops of sugar water while he watched them zip back and forth around the hive. Honeybees are rarely vicious, especially without an established hive to defend. They were memorizing their new home, Whitney said.

“They’re memorizing that pole; they’re memorizing that building,” he said, pointing to the top of a nearby high-rise. “They’re memorizing their spot here. They wouldn’t be doing this if they didn’t think this was going to be their hive.”

brutal childhood to peace with horses–interview

Listen to touching interviews.  Click here.

Monty Roberts is a horse trainer who has a remarkable relationship with horses. He has developed a radical way of communicating with them that has earned him many fans, including Queen Elizabeth.

Enos Mafokate is South Africa’s first black showjumper. His exceptional talent and passion for horses helped break down the racial barriers that governed all life in the apartheid era.

 

Illinois Bobcats

 

Bobcat conservation group continues fight after first Illinois hunt    source

While the Illinois Department of Natural Resources declared it first bobcat hunting season a success after 141 animals were taken from the lower third of the state last fall, groups that oppose the hunt plan to keep the pressure on.

These are the same groups that tried to get non-hunters to enter the hunting lottery for permits so they could reduce the number of hunters in the field, but the IDNR noted that the vast majority of those that applied had already been a previous user of IDNR licenses.

“Ninety-eight percent of them were current IDNR customers, and only two percent got permits in the lottery,” said Rockford resident Jennifer Kuroda, 45, who helped form the Illinois Bobcat Foundation, which now has a Facebook page for more than 300 followers.

The state had more than 6,400 people join the lottery, and 500 hunting and trapping permits were awarded, according to the IDNR. Approximately 98 percent of the 6,416 applications and 96 percent of the 500 permits issued were from existing DNR customers, according to the IDNR..

But Kuroda added that she feels “when all the news articles started coming out, it brought a lot more awareness to the issue. There are some people who didn’t even know we had bobcats.”

According to Kuroda, the foundation has networked with the Illinois Ornithology Society, Illinois Environmental Council, Sierra Club and the Humane Society. She is part of her local Audubon group and a volunteer at the Sand Bluff Bird Observatory near Rockford.

This battle against state-sanctioned bobcat hunts actually began about three years ago when the legislation was introduced, but it was eventually vetoed by Gov. Pat Quinn. But Gov. Bruce Rauner came into office and put the hunt back on for last fall.

“I have a cousin who is a deer hunter, and he put six trail cameras out, and he has never seen one in our area,” Kuroda said, adding that she meet another hunter who never saw one until he was ice fishing.

“A bobcat could be two feet away and you might not know it is there as you go down the path,” she said. “I wish more hunters would speak out. I’ve talked to some deer hunters who said they’d never go after a bobcat. It’s more of a trophy hunt.”

Kuroda said she was surprised to learn an estate sale had a mounted bobcat priced at $1,850. She added that the foundation asked if the owners would donate it, but they declined and sold it.

“I understand it would cost about $600 to mount, and the $5 bobcat permit means there is a pretty good profit, so it’s kind of disheartening,” she said. “I was surprised more were hunted than were trapped. I thought it would be easier to trap them because of the bait.”

According to the IDNR, 69 bobcats were taken by hunting, 49 by trapping, 12 by archery, and 11 from salvaging on roads. Bobcats were harvested in 44 counties in the open zone, which included the western and southern parts of the state. Top counties were Pike (11), Jackson (10), Jefferson (7), Carroll (6) and Randolph (6). The hunting area is described as the area of Illinois that is east of Interstate 39 and north of U.S. Route 36.

“We are very pleased with the response to Illinois’ new hunting and trapping season for bobcats,” IDNR Director Wayne Rosenthal said in a statement at the close of the season.

“The recovery of the bobcat is a conservation success story in Illinois,” Rosenthal added. “We were pleased with the response of hunters and trappers that applied for permits, and we will continue to evaluate the program.”

Prairie State cats

According to the Illinois Natural History Survey, bobcats were nearly wiped out from the state in the mid 1900s, and they were protected as a threatened species in Illinois from 1977-1999. They can be found throughout Illinois, but are more common in the southern third of the state, according to the survey.

The survey added that bobcats were thriving in Southern Illinois, and a study by Southern Illinois University pegged the population at about 2,200 south of Interstate 64 in 2000. That grew to about 3,200 bobcats in 2009, and they continue to grow in the state, especially along major rivers, according to the survey.

Another SIU study noted that the solitary bobcat needs a large range. Males need just over seven to 20 square miles, and females need more than three to six square miles.

Adult males can weigh up to 40 pounds, but the average is 22 pounds, while the females are smaller and weigh less. Males and females breed during the spring, and they may vocalize using squalls, howls, meows and yowls, according to the survey.

They prefer forest with a thick understory for cover and denning sites, and then they use the forest edges and fields for hunting. The cats eat rabbits, mice, voles and squirrels, but will also eat larger animals like muskrat and opossum. Bobcats will also dine on birds, frogs, insects, fish and snakes, according to the survey.

The survey noted that bobcats will also kill fawns or injured or sick deer, and they are capable of killing an adult deer when it’s bedded down or during periods of deep snow.

Kuroda said the foundation is presently pushing legislation in Springfield, specifically Senate Bill 1981, which passed through the Commerce and Economic Development Committee on March 17. The bill will amend the Illinois Wildlife Code to prohibit the sale of bobcat pelts and make it unlawful for any person to trap bobcat at any time.

Kuroda added the foundation would still like to see a moratorium on bobcat hunting, but the proposed legislation would be a step in the right direction. She sees the foundation providing education about bobcats and funding research. It is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization, so contributions are tax deductible.

“Our goal is a moratorium on hunting until there is sufficient evidence to support hunting,” she said, “The IDNR said they had four nuisance reports (on bobcats) since 2015, so they really aren’t a nuisance at this point.’

Lake Forest resident

Steve Ballen, 66, of Lake Bluff, can’t get enough of his encounters with a bobcat named Boris in Lake Forest at the Wildlife Discovery Center. Besides the center, there is a Lake Forest Open Lands section of woods in Lake Forest and the Middlefork Savanna Forest Preserve just off Route 43 south of Route 176. This is also the site of the city’s Elawa Farm, which offers a farmer’s market, meeting rooms, programming and events.

Almost two hours a day, seven days a week, Ballen goes into Boris’ enclosure around 1 p.m. to feed him and play with him, and people are encouraged to watch. Ballen has been the bobcat’s caretaker for close to five years, and the bobcat has called Lake Forest home for eight years.

“People joke that I am a zookeeper and I moonlight as a CPA,” he said as he showed a visitor a pair of long, thick welder’s gloves, “I go through about five pairs a year. Sometimes Boris just gets into the seam and tears it.”

Boris was being raised by a couple who had dogs that were part of a circus routine and they purchased the kitten. After just a year, they decided they couldn’t keep the animal, and the Wildlife Discovery Center became his new home. Boris is 40 pounds, much bigger than his wild brethren, but then again he doesn’t miss any meals.

“When I first started, he was quite food aggressive, trying to take it away from me, and that was kind of dangerous,” Ballen said, adding that eventually they bonded. But he said you can see the wildness in Boris’ gaze and some of his actions.

“The bobcat loves to hunt. It’s in their DNA,” he said. “They will hunt even if they are not hungry.

“But I’ll ask people, ‘Why does the bobcat hunt?’ and people say ‘hungry’ or ‘instinct.’ The reason bobcats hunt is because they love to hunt — it’s something inside them, like I like to fish.”

According to Ballen, Boris is no exception to that rule.

“Bobcats have an essential investment in hunting to eventually pass on their DNA,” Ballen said. “He takes pride in hunting. He’ll stalk me, and I’ll play that game, and he can be real quick.

“When he surprises me with a false attack, you can see it in his eyes. He’s almost smiling, saying, ‘Point, Boris.’ He won the game. But I surprise him, he doesn’t get the joke and doesn’t like it.”

Ballen, who is also a member of the Illinois Bobcat Foundation, also voiced criticism of the state’s bobcat hunt.

“I don’t have a problem hunting deer or pheasants. I have a problem with hunting predators,” Ballen said. “I have a strong attachment to these animals because I have a relationship with one. They are so extraordinarily beautiful.

“I’d like to see a native population that’s indigenous again in Lake County and the rest of the state.”

Kuroda agrees, and she is sure it could happen if bobcats are given a chance to keep spreading north. The forest preserves offer some habitat, but there’s only been an occasional sighting, probably of a Southern Wisconsin bobcat, and there were reports of one near Wauconda a few years ago and a more recent one in Lincolnshire that Kuroda is investigating.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to see a bobcat in the wild?” she said.

Biggest Dinosaur Footprints Found

March 27     source
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Where can you see dinosaur tracks in the U.S. ?
http://dinosaurstop.com/listings-by-state/
Search on DINOSAUR TRACKS yields information for various sites around the country.
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More than 100 million years ago, on a muddy stretch of land that is now Australia, nearly two-dozen species of dinosaur once roamed.

There were duck-billed ornithopods, which left long, three-toed tracks in their wake. Heavy armored dinosaurs pressed large, tulip-shaped prints into the soil. Predators scratched the ground with their talons. And the feet of gigantic, long-necked sauropods created bathtub-sized depressions in the dirt.

Asteroids struck, continents moved, sea levels rose and fell. What was once a damp, forested environment surrounded by shallow seas became the hot, rugged coastline of northwestern Australia.

But the dinosaurs’ tracks remained. The footprint assemblage, which contains evidence of 21 species, is the most diverse in the world, researchers reported Friday in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

One of those tracks is the largest dinosaur print ever recorded: a 5-foot-9-inch print from a sauropod, or long-necked dinosaur. The tracks also provide the first evidence that spiky tailed stegosaurs lived in the land down under.

“The tracks provide a snapshot, a census if you will, of an extremely diverse dinosaur fauna,” lead author Steve Salisbury, a paleontologist at the University of Queensland, told Gizmodo. “Twenty-one different types of dinosaurs all living together at the same time in the same area. We have never seen this level of diversity before, anywhere in the world. It’s the Cretaceous equivalent of the Serengeti. And it’s written in stone.”

There are thousands of marks along the 15-mile stretch of coastline, called Walmadany by the indigenous Goolarabooloo people and labeled James Price Point on most maps. Salisbury likened the region to “Australia’s own ‘Jurassic Park.’ ”

The Goolarabooloo have known about the fossil trackways for millennia. The massive markings, which are visible only at low tide, are featured in Goolarabooloo oral histories, or “song cycles,” Salisbury told the BBC.

“They relate to a creation mythology, and specifically the tracks show the journey of a creation being called Marala — the emu man. Wherever he went he left behind three-toed tracks that now we recognize as the tracks of meat-eating dinosaurs,” he said.

In 2008, Walmadany was selected as the preferred site for a natural gas plant. Worried that the sacred and scientifically significant site would be lost, the Goolarabooloo reached out to paleontologists and asked them to look into the tracks.

“We needed the world to see what was at stake,” Goolarabooloo leader Phillip Roe said in a statement.

The area was listed as a natural heritage site in 2011, and plans for the natural gas plant fell apart two years later.

Working alongside the Goolarabooloo, who are considered the region’s “traditional custodians,” Salisbury and his colleagues spent 400 hours investigating the markings. Each one was measured with three-dimensional photogrammetry, a technique used to build a 3-D reconstruction of an object by taking photographs from a variety of angles. For some tracks, the scientists also made casts out of flexible silicon, which can later be used to produce museum replicas of the prints.

According to Salisbury, most other Australian dinosaur fossils come from the continent’s eastern side and date back to the mid-Cretaceous, about 90 to 115 million years ago. These tracks, which are between 127 and 144 million years old, represent the only fossil evidence from the early Cretaceous and are some of the oldest dinosaur remains in Australia, he said.

 

Tigers Kill Drone–video

 

WATCH: In The War Between Tigers And Drone, Chalk One Up For Tigers

 VIDEO:  Click on full-screen box, lower right.
YouTube

Never underestimate a tiger, no matter how fat.

It’s an enduring truth we’d all do well to remember — and one that attendants at a tiger enclosure at the Siberian Tiger Park in China’s Heilongjiang province have learned all over again.

They scrambled a flying drone to catch the attention of some of the, let’s say, bigger big cats and get them some exercise. Trouble is, the tigers managed to track down the drone and bat it out of the air.

Then, naturally, the Siberian tigers tried to eat it.

Happily, all of it was caught on film, which you can watch above, courtesy of China Central Television. From the dramatic chase to the quadcopter’s grim end … to the quadcopter’s revenge from beyond the grave, when it startled the tigers as it started smoking. Eventually, the staff retrieved it from the tigers’ big mitts.

As NPR’s Bill Chappell reported last year, this isn’t the only small victory tigers have recently racked up. In 2016, the World Wildlife Fund announced that for the first time in a century the population of tigers in the wild rose, getting a 20 percent boost in numbers since 2010.

That said, National Geographic notes that Siberian tigers remain endangered, threatened by poaching and loss of habitat.