Monday, July 2, 2007

Wolves and Polar Bears and prairie dogs? oh my!

I'm finally getting a chance to go through some piled up mail in my box, so pardon me if these 'announcements' are a bit late...I'm sure there are still plenty of ways you can help and a lot you can learn!
All in trouble this month: Southwest or "Lobo" wolves, Polar bears as always, and a funny little rodent you probably never think about: Prairie Dogs.
First the wolves. I've had the privilege and pleasure to meet these creatures up close at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum outside of Tucson, Arizona, where a staff member invited us to stay a bit past normal closing time, in order to give a howling demonstration. The Coyotes started it off, but the wolves joined in quickly, and the Ravens over in the aviary added their voices as well. To a Raven, Coyote and Wolf talk probably means dinner! I've also seen them in the wild, in New Mexico while visiting family near White Sands. New Mexico Representative (R, of course) Pearce recently attempted to undermine the Southwest Wolf Recovery Program by spreading misleading and often outright untrue information about wolves to his fellow New Mexicans, calling for the termination of the recovery program. Thankfully, he was thwarted! The man actually went so far as to tell people that 'nothing is more appealing to a wolf than the sound of a baby crying.' How outlandish! Everyone knows politicians lie, but really. Despite the recent win for Lobo Wolves, we must remain vigilant that the government continue to support the Endangered Species Act and not allow sensationalism and fantasy sway them.
Meanwhile Polar Bears continue to face threats from every direction...poaching, global warming, habitat loss. For the sake of todays argument I'm not even going to open the Global Warming can of worms. I'm focusing on destruction and disturbance of habitat and LOCAL pollution. Big Oil has been pressing for years to open up arctic wildlands to drilling, lands that include several key wildlife areas, national parks and refuges in Alaska. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is the largest wildlife refuge in the United States, and a key denning and breeding habitat for animals from Polar Bears, to Caribou, to migratory birds you can find in your own back yard! Polar Bears den here, Caribou cross thousands of miles to drop their calves, and Arctic Wolves hunt. Oil company development along the coastal plain would have a drastic affect on all local wildlife, including fish and marine mammals such as the endangered Bowhead Whale living in the Beaufort Sea. To understand the impact of drilling and exploration in the arctic refuge, one only need to look as far as nearby Prudhoe Bay.
And last but not least on todays ranting agenda the Prairie Dog. Prairie Dogs get a bad rap. They (as well as numerous other rodents in the mid and southwest) can be carriers of Bubonic Plague, dig holes that old time ranchers will always blame for the breaking of a prize bull or cutting horse's leg, and (heaven forbid!) make use of ranchland that should rightfully belong to cows, ain't that right folks?! There has been noise from many plains states about using poison to destroy up to 2/3 of the prairie dog population in some places. On its own a Prairie Dog might not seem like much. But consider: Prairie Dog's provide food for some of our most endangered small predators, the Black-footed Ferret and the Swift Fox, both of which are currently being managed by recovery programs. If the Prairie Dogs were destroyed, these other key species would also suffer. Also, vacant Prairie Dog burrows are used by Ferrets, Foxes, Owls and snakes, as well as the rodents providing food for other animals such as Coyotes, Bald and Golden Eagles, owls and many species of hawks. The effort to exterminate the Prairie Dog not only highlights the government's serious lack of understanding the impact of its 'management' actions, but costs tax payers billions of dollars a year. Do YOU want to pay for these misguided schemes? I don't!
Visit Defenders of Wildlife and WorldWildlifeFund to find out what you can do to help them in their efforts in these areas. And if you happen to see a Polar Bear, Wolf, or Prairie Dog today tell him I said "Hi! and Good Luck!"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have to express more your opinion to attract more readers, because just a video or plain text without any personal approach is not that valuable. But it is just form my point of view