Rare White Tiger Kills Zookeeper

The Free Press WV

A rare attack from a rare tiger killed a zookeeper in Japan on Monday. Officials say 40-year-old Akira Furosho was found bleeding from the neck in a cage in the Hirakawa Zoological Park in the southern city of Kagoshima, the BBC reports. They believe he was attacked by Riku, one of the zoo’s four white tigers. The 375-pound animal, a 5-year-old male, was sedated with a tranquilizer gun. Police are investigating procedures at the zoo, where the manual states that keepers are not allowed to enter display cages until tigers have been moved to their sleeping chambers, reports the Japan Times.

Judge’s Ruling Halts Grizzly Bear Hunts

The Free Press WV

Score one for the bears: A judge has restored protection for a group of around 700 grizzly bears living around Yellowstone National Park, meaning Wyoming and Idaho will have to call off the first bear hunts planned in the lower 48 states in nearly 30 years. Judge Dana Christensen, siding with wildlife groups against Trump administration policies, said the ruling was “not about the ethics of hunting,“ but about whether threats to the species’ long-term survival had been considered when protections were lifted last year, the BBC reports. It would be “simplistic at best and disingenuous at worst” for federal authorities not to consider how removing protection would affect grizzly bears in other areas where populations have been recovering, Christensen wrote.

Alliance for the Wild Rockies Director Michael Garrity tells the Billings Gazette that the bears’ situation is comparable to an isolated town of 700 people where people become inbred after a few generations. “The same thing is happening to Yellowstone grizzlies,“ he says. “They can’t be recovered until their population is reconnected to the grizzly bear population around Glacier Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness area.“ Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead was among the officials who reacted with disappointment, the AP reports. “Grizzly bear recovery should be viewed as a conservation success story,“ he said, arguing that the ruling shows why Congress should make changes to the Endangered Species Act.

Huge squirrel population chomps crops, driving farmers nuts

The Free Press WV

There’s a bumper crop of squirrels in New England, and the frenetic critters are frustrating farmers by chomping their way through apple orchards, pumpkin patches and corn fields.

The varmints are fattening themselves for winter while destroying the crops with bite marks.

Robert Randall, who has a 60-acre orchard in Standish, Maine, said he’s never seen anything like it.

“They’re eating the pumpkins. They’re eating the apples. They’re raising some hell this year. It’s the worst I’ve ever seen,” he said.

Evidence of the squirrel population explosion is plain to see along New England’s highways, where the critters are becoming roadkill.

Last year, there was a bumper crop of acorns and other food that contributed to a larger-than-normal squirrel population this summer across the region, said Rob Calvert, wildlife biologist from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.

This summer, there’s not as much food, so the squirrels are looking for nutrition wherever they can find it, including farms, Calvert said.

New England is home to both red and gray squirrels. Known for their bushy tails, the rodents are a common sight in city parks and backyards, and people enjoy watching their frenetic movements.

They eat everything from beechnuts and acorns to berries and seeds.

And, apparently, apples, peaches, high-bush blueberries, pumpkins and gourds. In New Hampshire, squirrels have been raiding corn fields, dragging away ears.

“It is crazy. You see squirrel tails everywhere,” said Greg Sweetser, who has a boutique apple orchard in Cumberland Center, Maine. In the past, he said, squirrels have sometimes nibbled on apples that had fallen to the ground. But this season they’re skittering into the trees, scurrying to and fro, and making their mark.

Oftentimes, the squirrels will take a single bite, then move on.

But a single bite is all it takes to ruin fruit.

In Vermont, where the harvest is just beginning in earnest, farmers are keeping a watchful eye because rodent damage has been a growing problem for its apple producers, said Eric Boire, the president of the Vermont Tree Fruit Growers Association.

The good news for farmers is that boom years for both acorns and squirrels are uncommon. Thus, it’s likely that populations will return to normal soon.

The fact that squirrels are hustling to find food, and getting run over in prodigious numbers on highways, suggests the culling already has begun, Calvert said.

As hungry as the squirrels are, it’s unlikely that they’ll inflict massive economic damage.

“Every year in farming, there’s something that we’re dealing with,” said Margie Hansel, an owner of Hansel’s orchard in North Yarmouth, Maine. “It is what it is. It’s part of farming. You expect to have something like this happen every once in a while.”

Elk Management Project Tours begin at Chief Logan Lodge in September and October 2018

The Free Press WV

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will be leading 20 guided tours of the state’s elk reintroduction site in Logan County in September and October. Public tours will start at Chief Logan Lodge and include a visit to the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area, where elk from Kentucky and Arizona were released in 2016 and 2018.

West Virginia’s last native elk was seen in Webster County in 1875. About 90 free-roaming elk make up the growing herd. The tour is four hours and includes a program about the elk, their habits, habitat, and the challenges and future of elk management, led by Chief Logan State Park naturalist and biologist Lauren Cole.

“There is a good chance tourists will see an elk or even hear a bull bugle,” said DNR Director Stephen McDaniel. “But even if they don’t, these tours are still something you don’t want to miss. The program is fun and informative, and the location and terrain of southern West Virginia is amazing.”
Morning or evening tours are offered at 5:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Advance registration is required and participation is limited to 13. The tour costs $30 for adults and $27 for kids 15 and younger. Tickets include breakfast or late lunch, the educational program, transportation and a tour souvenir. An overnight package is available at Chief Logan Lodge for $170 (double occupancy) and includes tour tickets and dinner for two.

Ticket dates and times are not transferable for other dates. Program and tour is rain or shine. Participants must wear sturdy closed-toe shoes or boots and long pants. Participants may want to wear a light jacket and bring a walking stick and binoculars.

For reservations, call Chief Logan Lodge at 304-855-6100. For ticket and tour questions, send an email to . Chief Logan Lodge is near Chief Logan State Park in Logan County. The facility features a 75-room lodge, restaurant and conference center.

Scheduled dates and times for the 2018 Elk Management Project Tour programs are:

  Saturday, September 08 — Morning
  Sunday, September 09 — Morning
  Saturday, September 15 — Morning
  Saturday, September 15 — Evening
  Thursday, September 20 — Evening
  Sunday, September 23 — Morning
  Tuesday, September 25 — Evening
  Saturday, September 29 — Morning
  Saturday, September 29 — Evening
  Sunday, September 30 — Morning

  Saturday, October 06 — Morning
  Saturday, October 06 — Evening
  Sunday, October 07 — Morning
  Thursday, October 11 — Evening
  Saturday, October 13 — Morning
  Saturday, October 13 — Evening
  Sunday, October 14 — Morning
  Saturday, October 20 — Morning
  Saturday, October 20 — Evening
  Sunday, October 21 — Morning

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