January 24, 2020
McGraw’s Gehrt and Potter talk coyotes
With coyotes in the news, McGraw President & CEO Charlie Potter invited Dr. Stan Gehrt, director of the McGraw Center for Wildlife Research, to discuss the issue on Potter’s “Great Outdoors” show on WGN-AM.

Among other topics, the two discussed how coyotes increasingly are coming into contact with humans in urban environments, the relative rarity of coyote attacks on humans, and what to do should you encounter a coyote.

They also addressed urban raccoon populations and how new technology such as drones and better tracking collars is changing wildlife research.

What’s in
the budget for conservation?
Photo by Geoff Livingston/flickr
Every year, Congress must decide how federal funds will be divided among virtually every agency and program, from defense to medical research, federal highways, and conservation. This process of appropriations reflects which issues are most important—or have the broadest appeal—in our country.
At the end of 2019, the passage of H.R. 1865 showed that conservation remains a bipartisan priority for lawmakers. With generally strong numbers across the board, this spending bill for Fiscal Year 2020 reinvests our tax dollars into programs, research, and federal agencies that are essential to hunters’ and anglers’ enjoyment of America’s natural resources.
You’re probably not going to want to read H.R. 1865, which weighs in at over 1,700 pages, but here are a few highlights that sportsmen and women should celebrate.

Keeping Galapagos pristine may be a bad idea
By Elizabeth Hennessey/Washington Post
Photo by Pedro Szekely/flickr
Visiting the Galapagos Islands — which have long been considered Charles Darwin’s natural laboratory — is like stepping into a nature documentary. Widely seen as one of the world’s last bastions of wild nature, the islands are a conservation success at a time when optimistic environmental stories are all too hard to come by.

But  the sinking of a barge carrying hundreds of gallons of oil in the archipelago on Dec. 22  jarred our image of this natural sanctuary. The accident revealed a different side of the Galapagos, one that is fully entrenched in the environmental troubles that plague our world. Indeed, as we seek models for saving nature in the midst of a global extinction crisis, the example of the Galapagos threatens to lead us astray. Attempts to rescue the archipelago may, ironically, even be suppressing the very thing that made it so special to Darwin — the way it helped him understand how species adapted to changing environments.

Conservationists have worked for decades to effectively cut the islands off from the rest of the world so that evolution could continue untouched by human influence, while also restoring populations of endangered species, such as the giant tortoises, whose charisma draws our attention to their plight.
Yet no matter how badly we want them to be, the Galapagos are not pristine.

How should we be recruiting new hunters?
By Joe Genzel/Outdoor Life
CLfT photo
You know the doom and gloom: millions of hunters have been  aging out of the sport over the last few decades . Those of us in our 20s, 30s, and 40s have a monumental task ahead. We have to recruit new hunters—lots of them—that are from diverse cultural backgrounds and urban areas. And, we have to keep them engaged in the sport, so their hunting careers last more than a single season. If we fail to do this, the money that funds wildlife agencies and conservation initiatives will most certainly dry up.

It’s a difficult task, though new bipartisan legislation  (Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act)  that allows excise taxes to now be used for R3 programs may help. However, more money doesn’t automatically equate to more hunters. All kinds of different people are coming into hunting (or at least considering it), and how they view killing animals is much different than that of traditional hunters. Hipsters, farm-to-table enthusiasts, and new adult hunters who live in urban areas also have opinions on where hunting should be headed. The newcomers and veteran hunters have to decide how to navigate those murky waters together.

How are we doing so far?

The magic of your garden in wintertime
By Emma Johnson/National Wildlife
Photo by Hornbeam Arts/flickr
It is the dead of winter. In many parts of the United States, skies are gray, temperatures are plummeting, and you may think there's nothing living in your dormant backyard. But within the  fallen leaves , tree bark,  downed logs , soil and dried seed heads of your garden thrives a complex community of animals that are adapted to waiting out the cold.

From small centipedes, spiders, beetles,  earthworms , slugs and moth pupae to larger frogs, salamanders, snakes and  box turtles  to even bigger  foxes  and  bats , a myriad of creatures depends both on the soil and on the  ground cover  above it throughout the winter.

Just a few inches below the soil's surface, for example, many small insects go into a hibernationlike state called diapause, lying dormant until the ground warms.  Moths  undergo a full transformation: In autumn, "94 percent of moths drop off the tree when they develop as larvae," says University of Delaware entomologist  Doug Tallamy . The insects land under the cover of leaves, bark and soil and pupate in cocoons, emerging as adults the following spring.

“The archipelago is a little world within itself.” 

– Charles Darwin

To read past McGraw Reports click here.