A project tracking grizzly bears and hunters in Grand Teton National Park has yielded some interesting preliminary results. The bears have an incredible sense of smell, estimated to be some seven times more sensitive than that of a bloodhound; they can pick up the scent of a dead elk from four miles away.
Using GPS collars on the bears and GPS trackers on the hunters, they found that the bears tend to follow the hunters, evidently in hopes of feasting on an elk carcass, a gut-pile, or - if push comes to shove - an unwary hunter.
As one group of hunters left a parking area at around 6 a.m. they turned on their GPS. As they moved around a lake in search of elk a nearby GPS-collared grizzly starts moving in the same direction behind and to the side of the hunters — probably downwind of them. At one point, the bear is within about 100 yards of the hunters who never knew it was there.
Sleep well, mighty hunter.
Closer to home, a joint study undertaken by the U.S. Forest Service and The Nature Conservancy on forest health in the Pacific Northwest also yielded some interesting results: that report states that nearly 12 million acres of forest need restorative help. That help involves selective logging in 9.5 million acres to get trees removed from overcrowded lands, together with some controlled burns to reduce understory overgrowth.
The remaining 2.5 million acres might benefit from controlled burns as well. Sierra Club, Audubon, and Earth First are likely soiling themselves. Logging! AAACK!
“This study demonstrates the urgent need for forest restoration and supports the current emphasis by the Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy and other partners to significantly increase the pace and scale of forest restoration in the dry forests of Oregon and Washington through ongoing and enhanced coordination across governments, agencies and landowners,” said Mark Stern, forest program director for The Nature Conservancy in Oregon and one of the study’s co-authors.
One of the great things about The Nature Conservancy is that they've not been taken over by a bunch of preservationist nut-jobs. Rather than collecting donations so they can launch lawsuits, TNC actually assesses lands that they find of interest, and then they buy them. They also practice sound management of the lands. In some cases, they turn their lands over to the state - as in the case of the Tom McCall wildflower lands in the Columbia River Gorge near Rowena. In others, such as the large tract they own along the Sandy River, they hang onto the lands, practicing solid management of them, and often use them as educational tools.