Saturday, October 24, 2009

Help Protect Yellowstone Wolves

Dear Friend,

Yellowstone National Park’s famous Cottonwood Pack has just been destroyed -- all the adult wolves have been killed and the surviving pups will likely die without their wolf family. These are just some of the latest victims of the federal government’s likely illegal decision to eliminate vital protections for our wolves in Greater Yellowstone and the northern Rockies.

Please sign Defenders of Wildlife's petition and urge Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to immediately take action to restore protections for these amazing animals.

The next few weeks will be crucial for our wolves in the Greater Yellowstone region. The future of wolves in the northern Rockies is at a crossroads -- and it will take the voices of caring wildlife supporters like you and me to make a difference.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lords of Nature -Life in the Land of Great Predators

I recently had the opportunity to attend the premier of Lords of Nature here in Tucson and feel that the recent killings of the Cottonwood wolf pack of greater Yellowstone make it imperative that I share this moving experience with anyone who will listen. You can learn more about this film and buy a copy of it here at:


Please support in their fight to save the wolves.

LORDS OF NATURE: Life in a Land of Great Predators tells the story of a science now discovering top carnivores as revitalizing forces of nature, and of a society now learning tolerance for beasts they once banished.
Green Fire filmmakers, Karen and Ralf Meyer, follow scientists Bill Ripple and Bob Beschta of Oregon State University, two leading pioneers in the quest to decipher the great predators’ role in the web of life. Ripple and Beschta are repeatedly finding ecosystems maintained by their apex predators—and more ominously, degraded by their absence. Their bottom line reveals top predators as keystones in the stability and balance of nature. As Beschta says, “Whether it’s cougars in Zion, or wolves in Yellowstone National Park, the presence of that predator is crucial in maintaining that system through time.”
Their discoveries are both vital by nature and far-reaching in scope, echoing a mounting body of research from all corners of the globe that increasingly reveals the top predators as key drivers of the planet’s stability and diversity of life. But these discoveries have also raised the obvious question of whether and how to incorporate the big predators into societies facing conflicts and fears with their return.
Lords of Nature traces the path of legendary naturalist and writer, Aldo Leopold. What Leopold warned seventy years ago, scientists from around the world now confirm: That a land lacking its top predators is a land subject to decay. And vice versa a land with the great beasts in sufficient numbers is a land far more diverse and resilient.
Green Fire ventures to the rural communities of Minnesota, interviewing ranchers, farmers, hunters, and wildlife managers who are living among more than three thousand wolves, the highest population in the lower 48 states.
The producers also profile two of the largest sheep operators in Idaho, who are raising eyebrows with their stunning success at raising sheep in a land running again with wolves—all without killing the wolves. These success stories are serving notice that with proper technique, and a dose of tolerance, people and predators can indeed co-exist.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Autumn Comes to the Southwest

Fall has arrived here in the Tucson area and it's quite beautiful especially on Mt. Lemmon.
While it was near record heat in the valley it was nicely in the low 70's on the mountain which was great for hiking and picnicking and just being outside.
The foliage on the Mt. is not as wide spread as it is in the northeast but it is still very beautiful and it brings back memories of earlier falls in New England for me.
We saw lots of bluebirds and nuthatches as well as many yellow eyed juncos.
We saw a few hawks and ravens but not what you would expect this time of year.
You can see how much of Summerhaven was destroyed by the fire six years ago and how long the recovery will be.

The ferns are dying back and getting ready for another winter.
We are approaching the ski area and there is quite a bit of color and the air is brisk. Almost like home.

The ski area is really nice and the lift runs year round so you can go to the top of the mountain at over 9000 ft above sea level and the views are terrific.

The aspens are truly spectacular.
The oaks are turned as well.
Poison Ivy is a nice red!
We stopped a couple of times on the way down just to get some more shots but we were anxious to get home and rest up for a busy week.

A Day of Small Wonders

We set out for Mt. Lemmon at about 6 A.M. and at the last minute I decided to take the scenic route through Tucson Mt. Park and head over Gates Pass. As we were traveling on Gates Pass Road I spotted this Desert Tortoise trying to cross the road. As I was barely able to miss it myself and the car behind me probably never even saw it I decided to stop and get it out of harms way.
Desert Tortoise populations have plummeted 90% since the 80's and it is illegal to touch, harm, harass or bother these rare creatures. I quickly turned it around and deposited it 3 feet from the road and it headed back into the desert. Gates Pass Road is a relatively busy road on a Saturday morning and I doubt if he/she could have made it all the way across without bring hit. This was a tough decision for me as I usually am reticent to interfere with wildlife but this was a case of allowing an endangered species to be killed by man or taking action. I made the right decision.
We went on to Mt. Lemmon to photograph the fall foliage and there were lots of little creatures to enjoy on the way up the Mt.

This Canyon Wren was very entertaining and didn't seem to concerned by my presence.
We encountered a family of Acorn Woodpeckers who were feeding on the side of this Ponderosa Pine. There were a total of three but they never all got in the same picture.

We stopped along the road and climbed up a hill to get a better view of the area which was littered with boulders everywhere.
Future generations of Ponderosa Pines.
A new beginning. It is also the end of my picture taking as I broke my camera and it is now in the shop at least until Tuesday. I was very upset as the foliage above this point was really exquisite and I had to turn around and drive the 40 miles home without the pictures I came to get. We are going back this morning with my little Canon Powershot to get foliage shots to share here and even though they will not be what I had hoped for they will show that even in the middle of the desert there are changes in the seasons.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wolves-Yellowstones Cottonwood Pack Destroyed

On this fine October morning that should be filled with joy and anticipation of my trip to Mt. Lemmon my heart is broken over the destruction of Yellowstone National Parks Cottonwood wolf pack. All of the adults that comprise this pack have been killed and the remaining offspring left to die. This happened because the Interior Department removed these wonderful animals from the endangered species list and allowed them to be slaughtered for no good reason. At this point more than 60 wolves have been killed in Yellowstone and the greater Rockies.
As I approach my retirement years it has been my single clear desire to spend a lengthy period of time photographing Yellowstone National Park, especially the wolves. A part of that dream has died on this day, taken away by this unbelievably cruel act. It is time to take action against those who allow our national treasures to be eradicated. These wolves belonged to all of us and others had no right to take them from us. I am calling for the following actions to take place immediately.

1 I call on the Interior Department to stop the killing of wolves immediately and re-list them with the full protection of the Endangered Species Act.
2 Require Ken Salazar who is the head of Interior to explain how this unconscionable slaughter could have taken place on his watch. He must explain why considering his ranching background that he made this flawed decision that deprived so many Americans of their national treasure.
3 If he cannot adequately explain then I call for him to step down as Secretary of Interior and I also call on President Obama to replace him with someone who will make decisions based on science and the rights of all Americans who own the National Parks not the ranchers.
4 Support and donate as much as you can to who have long worked to reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone and other areas of the country.
5 I will personally not eat beef as I feel that most of the senseless death of wolves and buffalo in Yellowstone is related to the cattle industries desire to control public lands and protect their own interests ahead of the national good.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lobos of the Southwest

I have been following links that originated on the Defenders of Wildlife website and came across this very interesting website on the Mexican Gray Wolf and it's status in the southwest. I wanted to share it with you and I hope that it is both illuminating and moving.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Walk in the Park

Sometimes it's just nice to go walking in the park at sunrise.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Madera Canyon

After the final turn on to Whitehouse Road it's ten miles to Madera Canyon across a very expansive area with excellent views. The first encounter with wild life was this Red Tail Hawk.
We saw two roadrunners early in the ride up to the canyon.
We only saw fifteen different birds on our trip. Most of these were on the road leading up to the canyon. There was very little water available and even fewer seeds so we think migrating birds that usually stop over in the canyon went on to better feeding grounds.

The first of two Loggerhead Shrikes that we encountered on our excursion.

Squirrels remind me of home as we don't see them unless we head up to the mountains.

Lorquin's Admiral Lots of these butterflies hanging around the only pools of water that we encountered.
We saw five of these in the canyon.

We hiked the trail toward one of the mines which was gradually steeper and steeper as we went along. It was also very rocky and and a difficult climb.

I love the Sycamores.

The trail gets harder!
On the way out of the canyon we stopped to get some pictures of the surrounding mountains and the valley.
Elephant Head Rock.
Our second Shrike!
This area was burned some time in the recent past.