Environmental news from California and beyond

Category: Parks and public lands

$5,000 reward offered in killing of mountain lion

Mountain lion

A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of poachers who killed a mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains.
The state Department of Fish and Game is providing half of the reward and the Humane Society of the United States the rest.

The mutilated carcass of the 7-year-old male was found Sept. 11 in the Ventura County portion of the Santa Monicas several weeks after a tracking collar used to follow the animal's movements stopped transmitting signals.

It is illegal to hunt or trap mountain lions, which are protected under state law. Anyone with information about the case should call the fish and game department hot line at (888) 334-2258.


Mountain lion killed by poachers in the Santa Monica Mountains

Mountain lion killed crossing the 405 Freeway

Two mountain lions spotted on front lawn of Sierra Madre home

 -- Bettina Boxall

Photo: A remote camera recorded this photo of the mountain lion, known by biologists as P-15, before his death. Credit: National Park Service  

Officials announce schedule for roundups of wild horses, burros

The Bureau of Land Management has scheduled its annual wild-horse and burro roundups
The federal Bureau of Land Management on Friday released the tentative calendar for its annual wild-horse and burro roundups.

The roundups begin this month and continue through next March in California and several Western states. The BLM is expected to gather thousands of animals via helicopter herding. Some of the horses are to be removed from the range and others -- about 2,000 horses -- are to receive a fertility-control vaccine.

The controversial program has drawn criticism from animal-welfare advocates in the past as being unnecessary and harmful to the horses and foals. In response, the BLM has allowed the public to observe the roundups. 

The BLM estimates that approximately 33,00 wild horses and about 5,500 burros roam BLM-managed range lands in 10 Western states, based on data from February 2011. Wild horses and burros have virtually no natural predators, and their herd sizes can double about every four years. 

Public-lands ranchers complain that the animals compete with livestock for scarce food in the arid West.


Yellowstone grizzly bear involved in attacks euthanized

Mountain lion killed by poachers in the Santa Monica Mountains

Sierra Nevada red foxes are more common than once thought

-- Julie Cart

Photo: Wild horses gallop on the open range in 2010. Credit: Alan Berner / Associated Press


Yellowstone grizzly bear involved in attacks euthanized

  A grizzly navigates brush in Yellowstone in a 2005 photo
Authorities in Yellowstone National Park have linked a grizzly sow they captured last week to two fatal maulings this summer and killed the bear Sunday, the park announced Monday.

The grizzly's two cubs, which were captured Sept. 29, were placed in a wildlife facility in West Yellowstone, Mont.

Park officials said that adult bears do not adapt well to captivity, whereas cubs may.

Genetic testing indicated that the female bear was responsible for the death of hiker Brian Matayoshi of Torrance on July 6 and that the 250-pound sow was present at the scene of a fatal attack on hiker John Wallace in August.

In the July incident park officials determined that the sow had been defending her cubs when she attacked Matayoshi and his wife on the Wapiti lake Trail. In that case, even if authorities had immediately found the bear they would not have killed it, since it had no history of interaction with humans. 

And, even though the grizzly was one of nine bears in the area where Wallace's body was found, Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk said the sow was euthanized to "eliminate the risk of future interaction with Yellowstone visitors and staff."


Yellowstone park releases report on grizzly attack

Decision postponed, again, on Yellowstone snowmobile rule

Yellowstone grizzly bear euthanized for "predatory behaviors"

 -- Julie Cart

Photo: A grizzly navigates brush in Yellowstone in a 2005 photo. Credit: James Peaco / Associated Press

Decision postponed, again, on Yellowstone snowmobile rule


Once again the National Park Service has punted instead of issuing a final rule regarding the number of snowmobiles it will allow to operate each day in Yellowstone National Park.

Supt. Dan Wenk announced Thursday that the issue required additional analysis and that the park would implement an interim policy of allowing up to 318 commercially guided snowmobiles in the park each day, and 78 commercially guided snowcoaches.

Wenk said that when the winter use season starts Dec. 15, the same rules that have been in place the last two years will still apply. 

He said a final "sustainable" rule is expected before the start of the 2012-13 season. 

The debate over the use of snowmobiles in the nation's oldest park dates to the Clinton administration, when the use of the machines was to be phased out because of concerns about noise, air and sound  pollution, as well as visitor and wildlife safety. That rule was reversed by President George W. Bush.

The issue of snowmobiles in the park has been studied for more than a decade, at a cost of more than $10 million.


Secluded park threatened with closure

Yellowstone park releases report on grizzly attack

EPA scolded on greenhouse gas report review process

-- Julie Cart 

Photo: A bison crosses the road ahead of snowmobilers at Yellowstone National Park in a 2003 photo. Credit: Craig Moore / Associated Press 

Angeles National Forest offers free admission Saturday

In honor of National Public Lands Day, the Angeles National Forest will offer visitors free admission on Saturday.

The National Adventure Pass normally required for daytime activities such as fishing and hiking will be waived. Throughout the country, volunteers will take to public lands to clean up and make improvements, according to 626 Now.

The U.S. Forest Service, in conjunction with REI, will offer a family-oriented activity in Big Tujunga Canyon Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m. Volunteers will help make trail and picnic area improvements at the Wildwood Picnic Area on Doske Road, off Big Tujunga Canyon Road. Registration is required.


Yellowstone grizzly bear euthanized for "predatory behaviors"

Southwestern pond turtle making a comeback in San Diego County

Agency seeks to end sea otter relocations, to allow them off SoCal

-- Bill Kisliuk, Times Community News

Yellowstone park releases report on grizzly attack

Grizzly bear in yellowstone

Officials at Yellowstone National Park on Tuesday released a report on the July 6 mauling by a grizzly that killed Brian Matayoshi, 57, of Torrance. The attack, which authorities described as a "one in 3 million" occurrence, was the first fatal mauling of a park visitor in 25 years.

The investigative record includes audio of the 911 calls that other hikers made seeking help. In one instance, a trauma surgeon who was part of a group of six hikers reported hearing Marylyn Matayoshi calling for help and asked if he should assist. 

The report added few details to what was already known about the incident, which occurred when Matayoshi and his wife, Marylyn, were hiking on the Wapiti Lake trail. The couple had earlier joined others watching a female grizzly and two cubs.

They had walked away from the bears, but when the couple turned to look back, the grizzly sow was charging them, the report said. Matayoshi yelled to his wife to run, and both raced down the trail yelling, according to the report. 

Continue reading »

A lucky squirrel survives the La Brea Tar Pits

La Brea Tar Pits

The California Wildlife Center in Malibu has cleaned up its share of birds rescued from oil spills. But last month, a goo-covered squirrel arrived, freshly plucked from the La Brea Tar Pits, the famous tomb of   prehistoric animals. 

The young female fox squirrel was rescued by staffers at the nearby Los Angeles County Museum of Art who saw her struggling in the pool of tar. She went under, managed to pop back to the surface and then was lifted out with a stick.

Once at the wildlife center, hospital manager Jo Joseph and animal care coordinator Christina Van Oosten attacked the black goop that coated the unrecognizable animal from head to claw tip. Their 90 minutes of scrubbing, first with mineral oil and then with a mixture of Dawn dish detergent and water, was recorded on video.

The center kept the squirrel for two weeks to make sure she didn't grow ill from her dunking and then released her on the tar pit grounds, presumably the wiser. 

Court approves endangered species settlement

Rocky Mountain pikas not nearing extinction, study finds

Endangered arroyo toads cling to existence in the Tehachapi Mountains

--Bettina Boxall

Photo: Replica of a prehistoric animal stuck in the tar pits. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times






Secluded park threatened with closure

Seclusion is threatening Henry W. Coe State Park near Gilroy.

Light visitation and low revenues have made California's second-largest park a target in the state's budget battles.

In May, California officials announced plans to close this rugged expanse and 69 other state parks by next summer to save $22 million, leaving volunteer groups scrambling to raise funds and forge agreements to keep them open.

Shutting down one-quarter of its park system, a move long threatened but never carried out in the state's history, has exposed a maze of obstacles and complications.

Park boosters around the state say abandoning the properties creates logistical headaches that could undermine the small savings the plan will bring, so they are working feverishly to keep them as accessible as possible. Read the full story on the park cuts.


Texas wildfires: Is drought the new climate?

Climate change: Drought, floods, tornadoes part of 'new normal'?

Is nature doing what the climate models predict?

--Tony Barboza

Texas wildfires: Is drought the new climate?

Drought and climate change
The litany of misery playing out in Texas is tough to watch but less difficult to predict.

Well before the contagion of wildfires was sparked this week, the state had been experiencing a weather catastrophe. Texas has seen its driest consecutive months since record-keeping began in 1895. Parts of the state have had no measurable rain in nearly a year. The drought, warn officials from the National Weather Service, may continue into next year.

A brutal heat wave has tormented residents, with some cities experiencing 100-plus degree weather for more than a month.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a GOP presidential candidate, scoffs at the notion of human-induced climate change, even suggesting recently on the campaign trail that scientists are manipulating data to make money. He also has declared a  weather-related state of emergency every month since December. Meanwhile, Texas' state climatologist has warned that his fellow citizens should get used to this new climate of extremes.

These horrible fires are driven by wind, to be sure, but are fueled by much more combustible decisions: fire-prone nonnative plants planted to benefit another nonnative -- cattle. Rampant urban incursions into wildlands, placing homes in danger. Private property owners' failure to manage the grasses and trees on their land. A budget-cutting policy that pared  most of the state's volunteer firefighters. 

Climate-watchers are reminding Perry that Texas' nightmare is a direct result of a political decision to ignore the reality of climate change, leaving the state unprepared for its devastating effects on public health, the livestock and agriculture industries, and, ultimately, the sustainability of life in the arid Southwest.


Is nature doing what the climate models predict?

Global warming effect seen in pole-to-pole data-gathering flights

Climate change: Drought, floods, tornadoes part of 'new normal'?

--Julie Cart

Photo: A nearly drained stock tank in West Texas. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

Woman brings some green to her Huntington Beach neighborhood

Shirley Knopf still walks regularly past the school where she taught for 14 years. But this summer, she was starting to have trouble recognizing the front of it.

Hawes Elementary School, where Knopf taught computer classes until 1997, had become overgrown with tall weeds that nearly obscured the camellia trees around the main entrance. So Knopf, the vice president of the Huntington Beach Tree Society, got out her shovel and went to work enlisting the community.

"You couldn't even see the plants," Knopf said. "It was just a weed fest."

When students return to Hawes on Tuesday, they will find the weeds gone, mulch embedded and dozens of new trees and bushes around campus. Knopf, Hawes PTA President Miriam Lazur and her husband Andy spent the last three weeks working in the hot sun with gloves and shovels to make the school presentable for the new year.

Along the way, they had a few allies. A nearby resident donated $1,000 to the Tree Society to help start the project. A local Eagle Scout spruced up a corner of the parking lot with a bay laurel tree and lantana bushes, and planted nine eucalyptus trees in neighboring Hawes Park.


BPA ban passes California state Senate

Mountain lion killed in attempt to cross 405 Freeway

Sierra magazine ranks UC Irvine among top 10 green schools

--Michael Miller, Times Community News

Photo: Shirley Knopf with the HB Tree Society, works on beautifying the front of Hawes Elementary School on Monday. (SCOTT SMELTZER, HB Independent / August 31, 2011)


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