April 26, 2019
21 ways to mentor new hunters, anglers
Outdoor Life
CLfT photo
Teaching someone to hunt or fish isn't easy. We're talking about immersing the person into a deep, nuanced passion that could define how they view the natural world around them. The key is to take it one step at a time. So we compiled a list of tips tactics, and ideas on how to be a better hunting and fishing mentor. Read on, and then grab a new hunting and fishing buddy and hit the field. It's work, but damn good work. We promise it'll be some of the most fun you have outdoors all year.

1. Have your mentee bring a piece of gear from their own family. Chances are good they had a relative, near or distant, who was a hunter, and if they have a working gun, encourage them to bring it to you so you can inspect its field-worthiness. If they have a passed-down knife, let them carry it along. Heirloom gear can create a strong connection to family members they may have never known but with whom they share a common purpose and identity. 

Are Australia’s dingoes really just wild dogs?
By Brandon Keim/Anthropocene
Photo by Carlos Lopez Molina/flickr
Australia’s dingoes are both iconic and shrouded in mystery: were the dogs’ ancestors, introduced to the continent at least 5,000 years ago by unknown Asian seafarers, domesticated? Should modern-day dingoes be considered feral or wild, just another dog or a species unto themselves? These questions are central to the fate of dingoes and Australia’s biodiversity.

Last year the government of Western Australia, the state encompassing the nation’s western third, declared that dingoes will no longer be considered native fauna. Instead they’ll be classified as non-native wild dogs, no different than feral pets. That designation will allow them to be killed in unlimited numbers.

Writing in the journal Frontiers in Zoology , biologists Bill Ballard and Laura Wilson of the University of New South Wales address the question of whether dingoes’ ancestors were tamed—which in scientific terms meant they were habituated to human presence, not unlike birds at a feeder or orphaned elephants in a sanctuary—or domesticated, a specific process that involves long-term directed breeding by humans.

All hail the hellbender, and other state animals
The New York Times
Photo by Andrew Hoffman/flickr
For an animal covered in mucus and nicknamed the “snot otter,” the eastern hellbender salamander is awfully picky about where it will live.

Polluted rivers and streams, along with dams and loss of habitat, have significantly  reduced the population  of eastern hellbenders across the Eastern United States. They’ve been considered for addition to the federal endangered species list. And a  2003 study  was  redacted like the Mueller report  to keep their locations secret from the illegal pet trade. (Yes, there is a demand.)

On Tuesday, Pennsylvania’s governor signed a law naming the hellbender — which is two feet long, nocturnal and also known as the devil dog, Allegheny alligator and lasagna lizard — the state’s official amphibian. Though it might be the one with the most nicknames, the hellbender won’t be the first of its kind to be so honored; at least 20 other states recognize an official amphibian.

Why there are more hawks in your back yard
By Cindy Dampier/Chicago Tribune
Photo by stonehouseimages92/flickr
Laura Noe was starting her morning as she often does, watching the sparrows, doves and cardinals who come to the bird feeder she keeps in her Jefferson Park backyard, when she sensed a sudden change. “I turned my head for a minute,” she says, “and the hawk was there. And all of the other birds had left.”

Her late March visitor, it turns out, was a Cooper’s hawk, a bird of prey that’s roughly the size of a crow and is known to visit bird feeders — but not for the sunflower seeds. The hawk, one of a pair who have been hunting and building a nest in Noe’s neighborhood in the midst of a busy residential block, is also a part of a growing trend. In a study released late last year, University of Wisconsin researchers revealed that hawks, once in decline as a species, have recovered in numbers substantial enough that they are successfully expanding their territories into urban areas in Chicago.

Using data from decades of sightings faithfully reported by feeder watchers like Noe, University of Wisconsin professor of forest and wildlife ecology Benjamin Zuckerberg was able to show that only 20 percent of feeder watchers in the Chicago area spotted a hawk during the 1990s. Today that number is closer to 70 percent.

These dogs track wild trout for conservation
By Ben Long/themeateater.com
Photo by Nikkie Stardust/flickr
Anglers and fisheries biologists in the West are concerned about native trout such as westslope cutthroat and bull trout. The introduction of Eastern brook trout has created problems for natives, as brookies can hybridize with bulls, spread disease to and out-compete the cutties.

A big question is, which streams have natives and which have invasive species? It’s a difficult and expensive question to answer. Biologists must generally electro-fish water-by-water to find the facts.

Ecologist Pete Coppolillo and his colleagues had an idea: Could dogs be trained to smell fish in rivers, like the dogs are trained to smell explosives or narcotics in bags at the airport?

It may seem crazy, but the answer appears to be “yes.”

"Nature is not a place to visit.
It is home"

- Gary Snyder
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