Saturday, January 27, 2007

Of Wolves And Railroads

What's Going On At The Grand Canyon?
Are They Red Or Are They Not?
Yellowstone's "Buddy Boulders"

.. Thanks to Stephen Bodio's Querencia, we were directed to an L.A. Times article about wolves in Saxony and their behaviors, that are similar to those in Yellowstone. The behaviors and attitudes of their human neighbors are also similar.
.. Wolves are excellent at making a living, as are dogs, and cats and coyotes and cougars.
If it's smaller &/or weaker it is potentially food. And if it's available to a pack, it's just plain food.
.. In the more densely populated German countryside the wolves are both hunter and scavenger. They enter the villages, they roam the pastures, and they make a living on the bounty of the land. They have become habituated to humans. Germany also has a social & economic system that recompenses farmers and ranchers for lost livestock similar to the one in the United States.
.. This year because of climatic and other environmental circumstances the wolves are taking a lot of elk calves in Yellowstone. The early winter elk survey shows that there are fewer bulls and more calves, and with the lack of snow cover it's just easier to make a living off of tender meat.
.. We all know about Little Red Riding Hood. We all know about the 3 little pigs. These ancient stories have meaning and truth to them, as do most parables. We all know how the wolves have been vilified in ancient tales and nursery rhymes. But what we seldom hear about are the contemporary tales of wolves attacking people. The attacks are rare and usually due to special circumstances, but they do occur.
.. Last September King's Outdoor World Blog posted a note about an unusual wolf attack. The attack was by a lone wolf, that proved to be in poor health. It was just trying to make a living in a Canadian provincial park. The wolf was just trying to make a living off of tender meat in the easiest way possible.
.. Six people were injured, from ages 3 to 14. The attack was in daylight and among a small crowd of people enjoying a holiday outing at the beach.
.. Are these "foreign" wolves like American wolves? They are. And, as the area around Yellowstone National Park becomes more densely populated, we can expect to have incidents and encounters with wolves. As time passes wolves will discover the easy meals; the tender meat. And, as the American Gentry move to the country there will be more encounters.
.. The discussion forum at King's Outdoor World Blog has a string of factual and other tales that help illustrate an overriding concern of ours. Will we lose all of our Poodles, Dachshunds and Jack Russel Terriers to wolves in the coming years?

.. It Must be coincidental. The book store at the Grand Canyon is attacked by PEER, the bloggers have a field day, truth turns out to be stranger than fiction, then Xanterra buys the Grand Canyon Railway, and Joe Alston decides to quit rather than accept a position in Washington D.C.
.. We really like these sorts of coincidental timings. They breed speculation. They fire the imagination. They provide words for blogs.
.. We suspect, however, that there is probably not too much to these events piling up on one another, (or is there?).

.. Joe just can't stay in one place too long. He never has, and he has stayed at the Grand Canyon, in the SES, longer than most would have stayed. PEER always needs Headlines, and bloggers always need words. And, as we all know Xanterra is busy monopolizing and privatizing the parks as fast as they can, (along with Delaware North.)
.. Xanterra even believes it already owns some of the parks:

.. In-holdings are always a sore spot, but whole parks? This subtle tyranny of words is either intentional, or ignorant - either way it should rankle conscientious citizens.
.. The monopolistic concessionaires really enjoy the opportunity to gang up on the park service as they have done in Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. They are constantly talking about the 'economies of scale' and the efficiency of size. Should this sound just a bit thin, we direct you to an excellent post by Scott Silver at Wild Wilderness. The unholy alliances are all around us, and are going to continue.
.. For a pile of money as deep as the Grand Canyon, "Xanterra Parks & Resorts will take over the assets of the railroad company, including the trains, rail route from Williams to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, an RV park, restaurant and several real estate parcels in Williams." This is beginning to sound like the Disney Corporation.
.. The deal is final ----- pending National Park Service approval ----- HA. Wan'na' bet? How 'bout a ride on the rails? Want to see how the other half enjoys the Grand Canyon? CLICK HERE. And we bet that nobody complains that Xanterra is lying to children about going to the North Pole on their new "Polar Express."
.. The not so wild elk that recently escaped from an Idaho game-hunting farm have been declared "Genetically Pure" by the members of the Idaho Elk Breeders Association.
.. This announcement comes as the Idaho State Legislature is considering eliminating the tame-elk hunting ranches. An escaped cow elk was killed and genetic tests showed probable Red Deer genes, based on a Canadian laboratory report. For the members list of the Idaho Elk Breeders Association visit their members page.

.. A nifty bit of natural history has been reported by The San Francisco Chronicle. The phenomenon of buddy boulders is explored in a news essay "Like A Rock" wherein trees and their buddy boulders form a life-long symbiotic relationship. Examples of this are visible across Yellowstone.
.. Boulders can shade seedlings from harsh elements and the result is "buddy rocks", as seen especially in the flat known as "Little America" above the east bank of the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park. <<Photo by Mollie Rights.>>