Friday, October 26, 2012

Habitat, Not Handouts

One winter years ago, my yard was a gathering place for a handful of does and fawns as they made their daily begging rounds about the area. After filling up on day-old bakery goods at my neighbor's place, they'd come down and wait at my front door for a few carrots, cucumber rind, or whatever apples I had to spare. My babes and I delighted in the daily visit, and we took great satisfaction in providing the deer a bit of "healthy" food to get them through the often frigid nights.  We slept a little easier believing that we helped take the edge off the suffering the deer might endure.   

Photo courtesy of U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
In mid-February, a perfectly healthy-looking yearling fawn wandered into my backyard and bedded down at the edge of the heavy brush line behind the house.  Even though the days were getting warmer and the snow was pretty well melted, I threw pints of cherry tomatoes and wholegrain cereal to her.  She could use a little comfort food, I reasoned.  For three days, she lingered there, standing up occasionally to nibble, but becoming noticeably weaker by the day.   On the fourth morning, I walked outside to find the fawn dead beside a sizable pile of droppings, indicating that she had been eating plenty of food.  But, through her thick coat, I could see deep troughs between her ribs.  She had obviously died, in part, due to insufficient fat reserves, but I wondered why the extra food hadn't given her a boost.
With a little bit of research, I discovered that there are many pitfalls to feeding deer, and maybe my offerings weren't as helpful as I'd hoped. 
Read more about why healthy habitat is so much more important to wildlife than handouts HERE, and learn how you can help improve winter habitat in your area HERE.

Saving Salmon: Possible?

Of course, I'd like to think that anything is possible ... even preserving the wild salmon runs that are still clinging to life in the Columbia River Basin.

The survival of salmon lies in our hands. Photo by USFWS

I have a small personal stake in this epic battle for life. For one sweet summer, I practically lived in the cold flows of the upper watershed, contributing to a restoration project that successfully drew spawning steelhead back to a long-lost natal stream.

It worked, and I helped (no Shake 'n Bake jokes needed, thank you very much).

At any rate, my participation in salmon conservation proved to me that good work can be done. But among the many techniques being used to save salmon from the maws of many dams on the Columbia, barging seems like a lost cause.

It just isn't enough.

Learn more about it HERE.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Red List, Green List!

No, silly, it's not a new twist on an old schoolyard game. 

The IUCN Red List, in case you didn't know, is the world's most comprehensive inventory of conservation statuses of threatened and endangered species.

In other words: bad news.

But now, the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) is mobilizing to create a Green List, which will catalog and, essentially, congratulate conservation efforts that are succeeding in bring species and their habitats back toward long term sustainability.

In other words, good news--at last.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Read more about it HERE