Outdoors, action, adventure

Category: Animal behavior

Study suggesting sharks are color-blind could help prevent attacks

Shark New research on how sharks see suggests that the predators are color-blind, a discovery that may help prevent attacks on surfers, swimmers and other ocean-sport enthusiasts.

Using a technique called micro-spectrophotometry -- which measured the light-sensitive cells in the eyes -- the joint study, conducted by researchers from the University of Western Australia and the University of Queensland, looked at the potential for color vision in numerous shark species caught off Queensland and Western Australia and concluded that they have only one type of cone photoreceptor in the retina.

"Humans have three cone types that are sensitive to blue, green and red light, respectively, and by comparing signals from the different cone types we get the sensation of color vision," Nathan Hart, associate research professor at the University of Western Australia, said in a news release. "However, we found that sharks have only a single cone type and by conventional reckoning this means that they don't have color vision."

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Fox shoots man during hunting scuffle

Red_fox An Eastern European hunter was outfoxed by his quarry when the fox he had wounded (not the one pictured here) ended up shooting him by pulling the trigger on the man's gun.

The unnamed Belarus hunter was trying to finish the animal off with the butt of his rifle after having wounded it from a distance, reports the Vancouver Sun. He approached the fox and a scuffle ensued, according to media reports citing prosecutors from the Grodno region.

"The animal fiercely resisted and in the struggle accidentally pulled the trigger with its paw," one prosecutor was quoted as saying.

The hunter was admitted to an area hospital with a leg wound, while the fox made its escape.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Red fox. Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Whale Watch and Intertidal Life Festival at Cabrillo National Monument

A statue of explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo looks out over the San Diego Bay at Cabrillo National Monument.

Cabrillo National Monument is hosting its annual Whale Watch and Intertidal Life Festival on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The 24th annual event celebrates the Pacific gray whales and their return to local waters during their southbound migration to Baja California. The weekend will feature opportunities to watch for the leviathans and the chance to take guided tide-pool walks.

There also will be films; guest speakers sharing their expertise on a variety of marine-related subjects; and exhibitor booths filled with activities and information about whales, tide pools and local oceanic organizations.

All events are included with the regular park entrance fee of $5 per vehicle and $3 for motorcyclists, bicyclists and walk-ins.

Cabrillo National Monument is at the tip of the Point Loma Peninsula, just west of the city of San Diego.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A statue of explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo looks out over the San Diego Bay at Cabrillo National Monument. Credit: New Thanyacheron / National Park Service

Colorado to draft regulations prohibiting hunting bears in their dens

A black bear peers through the brush. Colorado officials are drafting a regulation that, if passed, would prohibit the hunting of bears in their dens.

The state Wildlife Commission directed the Colorado Division of Wildlife to draft the regulation after an incident last November in which hunter Richard Kendall, of Craig, Colo., tracked a large black bear to a cave, entered the cave and killed the animal.

Although the killing of the 703-pound bear was legal -- Colorado hunting regulations currently do not prohibit hunting a bear in a den -- the incident sparked public outrage, generating angry e-mails and calls to state wildlife authorities.

On Wednesday, Division of Wildlife regulations manager Brett Ackerman told the commission at its January meeting that den-hunting is apparently not common among bear hunters. However, he said the division monitors issues that Colorado citizens may find do not meet public expectations of fair chase, and that this incident has generated significant negative public feedback.

Ackerman added that numerous other states have banned den-hunting on the grounds that it does not meet public expectations of fair chase.

Commission Chairman Tim Glenn said the panel considers regulations regarding hunting ethics on a case-by-case basis.

"We talked about the importance of fair chase for maintaining public trust in what we do," he said. "That is absolutely critical, so for what it's worth, I certainly think we do need to address this issue."

Several commissioners wondered if the issue could be addressed by closing bear hunting seasons earlier, before bears would be expected to enter hibernation. But others noted that weather, elevation and geography all factor in to the timing of bear denning, which varies across the state.

The draft regulation will be presented for consideration by the Wildlife Commission at its March meeting in Denver and could be approved by May.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A black bear peers through the brush. Credit: Steve Hillebrand / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

2011 DFG advanced hunting clinics schedule now available

Three youth and a dog watch a flushed pheasant sail out of gun range.

The California Department of Fish and Game has posted the 2011 advanced hunting clinics schedule on its website.

The clinics take place at various locations during the year and focus on the basics of hunting. The series includes sessions on how to hunt turkey, upland game, waterfowl, bear and wild pig. There are also classes offered on land navigation and wilderness survival.

Some of the topics covered in the clinics include the type of firearm and ammunition best for each hunting situation; scouting, tracking and field-dressing game; hunter safety and ethics; and conservation.

Space for each clinic is limited, so those interested in participating should register early.

For more information, e-mail or call Lt. Dan Lehman at (916) 358-4356.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Three youths and a dog watch a flushed pheasant sail out of gun range. Credit: Brent Stettler / Utah Division of Wildlife Resources



Outposts looks back at 2010: Unusual news 2

With the year ending, it is worth looking back at memorable posts of 2010. Each day this week through Friday, Outposts will recount some of the records broken, the achievements reached, the notable passings and the downright unusual during 2010 in the outdoors, action and adventure world.

Hunter's ticking timepiece attracts some interesting clock-watchers

Deer seem to be checking the time in these images taken by a trail camera. Minnesota bow-hunter Doug Strenke received a surprising, and amusing, reaction after hanging up a large, white-faced clock near the infrared trail camera he installed on the property he hunts, wanting to keep track of when deer visit the area, since the cam had no time-stamp function.

The St. Paul Park, Minn., resident was worried that the clock would scare everything away "within miles." Instead, his trailcam began photographing lots of deer and, Strenke said, "A lot of my pictures show the deer looking at the clock."

Photo credit: Doug Strenke

Bigfoot alive and well and living in North Carolina

North Carolina resident Tim Peeler drawing the Bigfoot creature he had a close encounter with. Bigfoot has apparently gone blond and lives in North Carolina. At least according to Cleveland County resident Tim Peeler, who told local authorities of his encounter with the 10-foot tall creature.

Peeler thought he was calling coyotes, but instead got surprised and frightened by what -- or who -- came a-calling.

"This thing was 10-foot tall. He had beautiful hair," said Peeler.

Screen-grab credit: NBC affiliate WCNC NewsChannel 36, North Carolina

Sailboat struck by breaching whale

A southern right whale breached and landed on a sailboat off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa on July 18. The whale broke the mast and then swam away, but the boat's occupants were uninjured.  A couple sailing off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa, on July 18 got the surprise of their lives but were uninjured when a breaching southern right whale crashed onto their sailboat, damaging the vessel.

"It was quite scary," said Paloma Werner, who had been out sailing with her boyfriend and business partner, Ralph Mothes of the Cape Town Sailing Academy. "We thought the whale was going to go under the boat and come up on the other side. We thought it would see us."

Photo credit: European Pressphoto Agency

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Fish and Game Q&A: Is it unlawful to use night-vision equipment while legally hunting?


In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: I have an important question regarding the use of "passive" night-vision equipment when legally night-hunting nongame mammals and nongame birds in the state of California. My research indicates that it is perfectly legal to hunt nongame mammals (e.g. coyote and bobcat) using passive (which means it does not project an infrared beam of light or other artificial light) night-vision equipment (e.g. rifle scopes, binoculars, etc.) that do not conflict with the California Penal Code for legal possession.

If you believe that my conclusions are in error, please state the applicable regulation and specific verbiage in the law. For the record, is it illegal to use any type of night-vision equipment in the state of California while legally hunting big game or nongame animals? Yes or no? (Rick B.)

Answer: Yes, it is unlawful to use or possess at any time any infrared or similar light used in connection with an electronic viewing device or any night-vision equipment or optical devices. According to Department of Fish and Game Ret. Capt. Phil Nelms, this includes but is not limited to binoculars or scopes that use light-amplifying circuits that are electrical- or battery-powered to assist in the taking of birds, mammals, amphibians or fish (Fish and Game Code section 2005(c).

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Fish and Game Q&A: What to do with pesky coyotes?

Coyote sightings in and around urban areas have become common. In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: For the past 10 months, our neighborhood in Encinitas has been overrun by coyotes. Who can we work with to mitigate the situation before someone gets hurt? (Ken S.)

Answer: Coyotes and other wildlife cannot and should not be removed just because there may appear to be too many in a community. If they are congregating, the problem may be that your neighbors are being careless with food and garbage, which serve as attractants. Coyotes play an important role in the ecosystem by helping to keep rodent populations under control. They are by nature fearful of humans.

Coyotes primarily hunt rodents and rabbits for food but will take advantage of whatever is available, including garbage, pet food and domestic animals. If coyotes are given access to human food and garbage, their behavior changes. They lose caution and fear and may cause property damage or threaten human safety. When this happens and they threaten humans or begin preying on domestic livestock or pets, they may be killed.

Relocating a problem coyote is not an option because it only moves the problem to someone else’s neighborhood.

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Fish and Game Q&A: Why are tags and licenses needed for hunting feral pigs?

Wild pig. In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: Please explain why the Department of Fish and Game requires a hunting license and tags to hunt and kill feral pigs. Feral pigs, as the name implies, are domestic pigs that have gone wild. They are an invasive species that destroy the environment and spread disease. Proper and responsible environmental management would mandate the eradication of this invasive species; yet DFG has a policy that discourages killing feral pigs by charging fees. Why is this? (Curtis A.)

Answer: DFG requires a valid license and tag to legally take a wild pig. According to DFG Wild Pig Program Coordinator Marc Kenyon, Fish and Game Code, section 4650 says that any free-ranging, non-domesticated pig is classified as a wild pig, and therefore is considered big game. DFG instituted the tagging requirement as a means to continuously monitor California’s wild-pig population. This information is used by DFG biologists, in concert with private and public landowners, to develop pig-management plans that are intended to protect cultural and natural resources from the damage wild pigs are known to cause. Without the wild-pig harvest report information, private and public land managers would lack the information necessary to develop these plans of action. Furthermore, the revenues generated by the sale of wild-pig tags are used by DFG to monitor disease transmission, evaluate environmental impacts of wild pigs and provide the public with additional hunting opportunities. Your participation in this process is greatly appreciated.

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Fish and Game Q&A: What to do for a lonely osprey?

Osprey2 In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: We keep our sailboat in the Alamitos Bay Marina and recently have been seeing an osprey perching on another sailboat mast across from ours. This same bird was there last year, and there was another osprey flying around with him. This year, he is the only one there, and he just cries and cries and gets no answer. My husband is very worried about him. Is there anyone we can talk to about this? (Lois and Chuck M.)

Answer: You can assure your husband that there’s no reason to worry about this lone osprey you’re seeing. According to Department of Fish and Game Seabird biologist Laird Henkel, although osprey are typically monogamous, after their breeding season concludes each year the two members of a pair will separate and migrate to different wintering sites. Since they don’t nest in Southern California, any osprey you may see during the winter in your region are likely migrating or just wintering there locally. Because of this, the two birds you saw last year were almost certainly not a mated pair. It’s also unlikely they were a parent-juvenile pair as juveniles also migrate separately from their parents.

The second bird you saw last year may be around again this winter but just in a different part of the bay, or it may have been a bird that has died since last year.

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Diver videotapes extremely close encounter with shark


A scuba diver got an unexpected and shocking surprise Saturday while diving near Eastport, off the eastern tip of Maine, when a porbeagle shark apparently mistook his camera equipment for food.

Scott MacNichol, 30, was uninjured but definitely shaken up by the encounter (you can hear him screaming), which he caught on video.

MacNichol saw the shark swimming above him while he was filming the ocean floor and taking samples from empty salmon pens at Broad Cove as part of an environmental assessment for Cooke Aquaculture.

"That shark wasn't there for the salmon. There were no fish, no food," MacNichol told the Bangor Daily News. "It circled me two times and then began jabbing at my camera."

MacNichol estimated that the shark was 8 feet long and weighed 300 pounds.

"I've seen plenty of sharks around here chasing mackerel and herring. That's not uncommon," said MacNichol, who has been diving for 17 years. "But this is the first time I've seen one while diving. And the first time one came after me."

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Funeral, memorial service and ocean paddle-out to be held for Lucas Ransom; shark identified as great white

Lucas2 The family of 19-year-old shark-attack victim Lucas Ransom will hold a viewing, rosary and funeral Mass Wednesday at 5 p.m. at St. James Catholic Church, 269 W. 3rd Street in Perris.

On Thursday, a separate memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. at Evans-Brown Mortuary, 27010 Encanto Drive in Sun City, just south of the family's home in Romoland.

And at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, family and friends will gather at the south side of the Oceanside Pier in Oceanside, where a paddle-out will be held to scatter flowers into the Pacific Ocean in Ransom's memory.

All events are open to the public.

Ransom was attacked by a shark and died from his injuries Friday while body-boarding with a friend off Surf Beach at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

On Monday, California Department of Fish and Game officials said they are all but certain that the attack was likely by a great white shark.

"It would be highly surprising if it was anything else," Fish and Game marine biologist Carrie Wilson told The Press-Enterprise. "Typically when these things occur, it's a case of mistaken identity. These sharks really don't have much interest in humans. We're too skinny compared to seals and sea lions," Wilson said. "They want the blubber and high meat content."

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About the Bloggers
Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.