Conservation & Environment

Inside the dangerous and unpredictable behavior of wildfire

Posted by on Apr 8, 2017 @ 7:14 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Inside the dangerous and unpredictable behavior of wildfire

Aircraft N2UW has flown through all kinds of weather. The twin-propeller plane is sleek, petite, and so packed with scientific gear for studying the atmosphere that there’s barely room for two passengers to squeeze into its back seats. Monitors show radar reflections, gas concentrations and the sizes of cloud droplets.

The plane has flown through tropical rainstorms in the Caribbean, through the gusting fronts of thunderheads over the Great Plains, and through turbulent down-slope winds that spawn dust storms in the lee of the Sierra Nevadas. But the four people on board Aug. 29, 2016, will never forget their flight over Idaho.

The plane took off from Boise at 4 p.m. that day, veering toward the Salmon River Mountains, 40 miles northeast. There, the Pioneer Fire had devoured 29,000 acres and rolled 10 miles up Clear Creek Canyon in just a few hours. Its 100-foot flames leaned hungrily into the slope as they surged uphill in erratic bursts and ignited entire stands of trees at once.

But to David Kingsmill, in the plane’s front passenger seat, the flames on the ground two miles below were almost invisible — dwarfed by the dark thing that towered above. The fire’s plume of gray smoke billowed 35,000 feet into the sky, punching into the stratosphere with such force that a downy white pileus cloud coalesced on its underside like a bruise. The plume rotated slowly, seeming to pulse of its own volition, like a chthonic spirit rising over the ashes of the forest that no longer imprisoned it. “It looked,” says Kingsmill, “like a nuclear bomb.”

Undaunted, Kingsmill and the pilot decided to do what no research aircraft had done: Fly directly through the plume.

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U.S. land agency website drops hiking photo to give coal top billing

Posted by on Apr 7, 2017 @ 12:16 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

U.S. land agency website drops hiking photo to give coal top billing

The U.S. government’s public lands website has revealed a new face, a wall of coal, as the Trump administration underscores its promotion of an industry that has seen hard times.

The Bureau of Land Management, charged with overseeing programs on vast swathes of public lands, including cattle grazing, coal leasing and recreation, changed the banner photo on its home page sometime this week, web archives show.

The banner of the agency, an arm of the Interior Department, is now dominated by a photo of a man and his truck dwarfed by a coal vein in Wyoming, the country’s top coal-producing state.

Previously, the main photo featured two backpackers – a man and a boy – on a vast mountain range gazing into the sunset.

The image switch came after President Donald Trump signed an order last week to dismantle former President Barack Obama’s climate policies. The order included a reversal of a ban on coal leasing on public lands, where 40 percent of the country’s coal is produced.

Later this week, the banner will be switched to a photo of a recreation theme, BLM said, and it will be rotated with photos that reflect the uses public lands have to offer.

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Land, water protection favored by both GOP, Democrats in NC

Posted by on Apr 5, 2017 @ 12:23 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Land, water protection favored by both GOP, Democrats in NC

Apparently protection for forests, parks, family farms land and clean water trumps all when it comes to taking political sides.

This is according to a poll released April 4, 2017 that shows residents from all political parties across North Carolina support land and water conservation.

Seventy-three percent of the 600 registered voters polled said they would support funding at the $100 million level for the state’s three publicly funded conservation trust funds.

The three trust funds are the Clean Water Management, Parks and Recreation, and the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation trust funds.

“Land and water conservation is one place where Republicans and Democrats – rural, urban, and suburban – can agree. It provides major economic and health benefits as well as protecting North Carolina’s unique natural heritage,” House Appropriations Chairman Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, said in a statement.

The majority of those polled said they support restoring funding to the pre-recession level of $100 million for the state’s three conservation trust funds to conserve forests, working farms, parks and historic sites, as well as preventing polluted runoff from contaminating rivers, lakes, creeks and groundwater.

The poll showed that 62 percent of Republicans, 73 percent of Independents and 83 percent of Democrats were in favor of the funding. Eighty-six percent of those polled in Western North Carolina supported the funding.

Cite…

 

Nestle pipes water from national forest, sparking protests

Posted by on Apr 5, 2017 @ 8:42 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Nestle pipes water from national forest, sparking protests

Dressed in bright colors and holding homemade signs, protesters are aiming to draw drivers’ attention to an effort to get Nestle Waters to stop piping water out of the San Bernardino National Forest.

Local activist and organizer Glen Thompson said many people, including himself, are angry that while Nestle paid to run water pipes through the national forest, the company pays no fee for the water rights.

“In other words, Nestle receives millions of gallons of water that rightfully belong to the citizens of California at nothing,” he said. “That’s why we’re here, to let the public know that this Swiss corporation is not welcome on our mountain.”

Nestle Waters North America, the nation’s largest seller of bottled water, has long piped water out of the San Bernardino National Forest to produce Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water.

“We respect individuals’ rights to express their views and welcome open dialogue with members in the communities in which we operate,” Nestle Waters North America said in a statement. The company said Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water has been bottled from springs in the national forest for more than 122 years and those “operations for more than a century point to our commitment to long-term sustainability.”

A 2015 investigation revealed that the Forest Service has been allowing Nestle to continue drawing water from the national forest using a permit that lists 1988 as the expiration date. The Forest Service subsequently announced a review of the permit and in March 2016 released a proposal to grant the company a new five-year permit to operate its wells and pipelines in the mountains near San Bernardino, CA.

Under the proposed management plan, water extraction would only be permitted when it’s demonstrated “that the water extracted is excess to the current and reasonably foreseeable future needs of forest resources.”

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Get Free Admission to U.S. National Parks Later this Month

Posted by on Apr 4, 2017 @ 12:00 pm in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Get Free Admission to U.S. National Parks Later this Month

National Park Week is America’s largest celebration of national heritage. It’s about making great connections, exploring amazing places, discovering open spaces, enjoying affordable vacations, and enhancing America’s best idea—the national parks. It’s all happening in your national parks.

Travelers who want to enjoy the warmer weather in the outdoors can take advantage of free admission to U.S. national parks for two weekends this month as part of National Park Week.

In 2017 fees will be waived April 15-16 and April 22-23 at parks that typically charge for entrance.

That means travelers can enjoy popular parks like California’s Yosemite National Park, Utah’s Bryce Canyon, and Florida’s Everglades National Park for free.

You will also be able to take part in events like ranger-led bike rides and talks throughout the parks, all while enjoying everything from giant sequoias to cascading waterfalls.

The parks will also be waiving fees this year on August 25 for the National Park Service’s birthday, on September 30 for National Public Lands Day, and on November 11-12 for Veteran’s Day.

For those planning to head to a park this April, there are plenty of hidden areas to enjoy in even the most popular parks.

 

Oil Shouldn’t Have to Spill to Get Us to Fight for the Environment

Posted by on Apr 3, 2017 @ 6:49 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Oil Shouldn’t Have to Spill to Get Us to Fight for the Environment

Those old enough to remember 1969 may recall that it was a very good year for music, moon landings, and the New York Mets. But it was a spectacularly bad time for the American environment.

On January 28 of that year, an offshore oil drill violently ruptured six miles off the California coast. Over the next 10 days, nearly 1,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the Santa Barbara Channel every hour. Much of it seeped onto Central Coast beaches and the shorelines of the pristine Channel Islands, killing thousands of birds, dolphins, seals, and other marine life. Between that blowout and a second one discovered on the ocean floor two weeks later, the Santa Barbara oil spill became the biggest of its kind in California history—and remains, nearly half a century later, the third-largest oil spill in U.S. history (behind the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill and the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster).

Then, on June 22, 1969, Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River quite literally caught fire. Thanks to images that indelibly made their way onto front pages and nightly newscasts (and even into pop songs), Americans cringingly bore witness to what happens when we allow waterways to fill up with so much flammable material that they become—in defiance of our concept of natural order—fire hazards.

Not every toxic cloud has a silver lining, of course, but good things did come out of these disasters. On the first day of 1970, President Richard M. Nixon inaugurated a new era of federal environmental protection. He signed into law the National Environmental Policy Act—which, among other things, created the Council on Environmental Quality, a special office within the executive branch that coordinates environmental efforts undertaken by various agencies. Less than four months later, 20 million people took part in the very first Earth Day to protest environmental disasters of 1969.

Out of this recognition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was born on December 2, 1970. Bringing up this bit of history illustrates a point that’s all too easy to forget. Much of what we now think of as the modern “environmental movement” represented a reflexive response to disaster—or, at the very least, a response to the disturbing feeling that governmental negligence was allowing a bad situation to grow worse.

Are we getting complacent again?

 

Fossils stolen from Death Valley National Park

Posted by on Apr 2, 2017 @ 11:56 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Fossils stolen from Death Valley National Park

Ancient fossil footprints have been stolen from Death Valley National Park.

The park announced that scientists who visit the area to document the fossilized animal tracks discovered the theft recently and reported it to rangers.

The fossils formed 3 million to 5 million years ago after animals walked across what was once a muddy lakeshore in the park that sprawls across 3.4 million acres in California and Nevada.

Park Superintendent Mike Reynolds says it’s illegal to collect fossils, rocks or anything else in the park. “The purpose of National Parks is to conserve the landscape and everything it contains for the next generation,” he said in a public statement.

This follows several other incidents of vandalism and theft in the park. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports recent cases included a man whose tire tracks defaced the park’s famous dry lake — the unfortunately named Racetrack Playa — during a 10-mile joyride in August, and a woman who pleaded guilty to damaging government property in a graffiti-spraying spree in 2014.

A $1,000 reward is being offered by National Park Service investigators for information leading to an arrest and conviction of whoever took the fossils.

The Park Service said anyone with information about the stolen fossils can submit a tip by phone (1-888-653-009), text (1-202-379-4761) or email ([email protected]). Or visit www.nps.gov/isb and click “Submit a Tip.”

 

11 New Cloud Types Named—First in 30 Years

Posted by on Mar 31, 2017 @ 11:27 am in Conservation | 0 comments

11 New Cloud Types Named—First in 30 Years

When satellites first began taking photos of our Earth it revolutionized the way we saw our atmosphere, providing images on a grand scale from above. Now the advent of personal tech, such as smart phones, is giving us a new perspective on the sky from below.

This increased use of technology is what prompted the World Meteorological Organization to add 11 new cloud classifications to their International Cloud Atlas, a globally recognized source for meteorologists. A far cry from simple white puffs, these 11 new cloud types roll, dip, and menace their way across the skies.

Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, believes that this democratized access to photographing and sharing images will help create a sense of interconnectivity and appreciation for how we treat our atmosphere.

These 11 additions are the first updates that the atlas has received in 30 years, and much of the change can be attributed to citizen scientists who can share and discuss clouds by uploading photos to the Atlas’s site.

The International Cloud Atlas was first created in 1896 and has been a resource of cloud types and photos that has helped train meteorologists for decades.

Cite…

 

Dartmouth College Sells Parcel Of Land To Be Added To Appalachian Trail

Posted by on Mar 29, 2017 @ 12:13 pm in Conservation, Hiking News | 0 comments

Dartmouth College Sells Parcel Of Land To Be Added To Appalachian Trail

Dartmouth College and The Trust for Public Land entered into a land deal that promises to protect an old farm estate that offers birding and hiking opportunities just 3 miles from Hanover, New Hampshire’s Main Street.

Immediately after purchasing the 175-acre Hudson Farm from Dartmouth, the trust gave it away to the National Park Service so that it could be added to the Appalachian Trail.

It’s a prime location. All the neighbors use it for hiking and snowshoeing and skiing in the fields in the wintertime.

A mixture of forests, wetlands and open fields, the property includes a trail system that links areas of Hanover to the Appalachian Trail.

The preservation of those grassy fields is particularly good news for bobolinks, songbirds that are in decline in the state and have lost about 2 percent of their numbers for a 10-year period ending in 2013, according to New Hampshire’s Wildlife Management Plan, which cited habitat loss as one of the driving factors.

Dartmouth bought the property in 1963 and worked the land, according to a Dartmouth spokeswoman. “For years, the fields were hayed and the land was used by the College for research and teaching” subjects, including biology and terrestrial ecology.

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Scientists made a detailed “roadmap” for meeting the Paris climate goals. It’s eye-opening.

Posted by on Mar 29, 2017 @ 7:03 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Scientists made a detailed “roadmap” for meeting the Paris climate goals. It’s eye-opening.

Back in 2015, the world’s governments met in Paris and agreed to keep global warming below 2°C, to avoid the worst risks of a hotter planet. For context, the planet’s warmed ~1°C since the 19th century.

One problem with framing the goal this way, though, is that it’s maddeningly abstract. What does staying below 2°C entail? Papers on this topic usually drone on about a “carbon budget” — the total amount of CO2 humans can emit this century before we likely bust past 2°C — and then debate how to divvy up that budget among nations. There’s math involved. It’s eye-glazing, and hard to translate into actual policy. It’s also a long-term goal, easy for policymakers to shrug off.

So, not surprisingly, countries have thus far responded by putting forward a welter of vague pledges on curbing emissions that are hard to compare and definitely don’t add up to staying below 2°C. Everyone agrees more is needed, but there’s lots of uncertainty as to what “more” means. Few people grasp how radically — or how quickly — we’d have to revamp the global economy to meet the Paris climate goals.

Surely there’s a better, more concrete way to think about this. So, in a new paper for Science, a group of European researchers try to do just that — laying out in vivid detail what would have to happen in each of the next three decades if we want to stay well below 2°C. Fair warning: It’s unsettling.

Read full story…

 

Trump’s big new executive order to tear up Obama’s climate policies, explained

Posted by on Mar 28, 2017 @ 3:00 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Trump’s big new executive order to tear up Obama’s climate policies, explained

This is it. The battle over the future of US climate policy kicked off in earnest today. In a sweeping new executive order, President Trump has ordered his Cabinet to start demolishing a wide array of Obama-era policies on global warming — including emissions rules for power plants, limits on methane leaks, a moratorium on federal coal leasing, and the use of the social cost of carbon to guide government actions.

Everyone knew this was coming: Trump has said repeatedly that he wants to repeal US climate regulations and unshackle the fossil fuel industry. But this order is only a first step. Trump’s administration will now spend years trying to rewrite rules and fend off legal challenges from environmentalists. And it’s not clear they’ll always prevail: Some of President Obama’s climate policies may prove harder to uproot than thought.

Trump’s order, meanwhile, won’t say anything about whether he wants the US to stay in or withdraw from the Paris climate deal, the key international treaty on global warming. Although Trump vowed to pull out of the accord during the campaign, some of his advisers, like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have reportedly warned that he’d face immense diplomatic backlash if he did so. A White House official said that’s “still under discussion.”

The order also won’t challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s fundamental authority to regulate greenhouse gases via the so-called “endangerment finding,” a power that Obama used to craft climate policy after early attempts to pass legislation failed. That’s important: If the EPA’s regulatory authority survives the Trump era, then a future president could use it to write new rules to curb US emissions. That’s what happens when climate policy is crafted through the executive branch, as it currently is in the United States — things can change drastically with a new president.

So, with that said, here are the key components of Trump’s new climate and energy order…

 

Clean energy employs more people than fossil fuels in nearly every U.S. state

Posted by on Mar 28, 2017 @ 12:38 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

Clean energy employs more people than fossil fuels in nearly every U.S. state

Trump’s upcoming executive order meant to boost fossil fuel jobs may end up harming an even bigger job creator — renewable energy.

Nationally, clean energy jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs by more than 2.5 to 1, according to a new Sierra Club analysis of Department of Energy jobs data. And when it comes to coal and gas — two sectors President Donald Trump has promised to bolster through his upcoming executive order on energy regulation — clean energy jobs outnumber jobs dealing with those two fossil fuels by 5 to 1.

“Right now, clean energy jobs already overwhelm dirty fuels in nearly every state across America, and that growth is only going to continue as clean energy keeps getting more affordable and accessible by the day,” Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said in a statement. “These facts make it clear that Donald Trump is attacking clean energy jobs purely in order to boost the profits of fossil fuel billionaires.”

According to the Sierra Club’s analysis, nearly every state in the country has more jobs in clean energy than fossil fuels — just nine states have more jobs in fossil fuels than in clean energy. Some of largest discrepancies between clean energy jobs and fossil fuel jobs were in states like Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, where jobs in renewable energy “vastly exceeded jobs in the fossil fuel industry,” according to Sierra Club’s analysis. Many of these places also happen to be states that helped Trump win the presidential election in November.

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Cradle of Forestry 2017 Season Kicks Off April 8

Posted by on Mar 28, 2017 @ 7:10 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Cradle of Forestry 2017 Season Kicks Off April 8

The Cradle of Forestry in America historic site will begin the 2017 season on April 8 with a living history event, “Old Time Plowing and Folkways.”

David and Diane Burnette from Haywood County will demonstrate how their Percheron draft horses work the land the old way. Weather permitting, they will plow the Cradle’s vegetable garden along the Biltmore Campus Trail and teach a skill that was once familiar to many.

The Cradle of Forestry’s living history volunteers will demonstrate their crafts among the historic buildings, including wood working, candle making, chair caning, blacksmithing and crafting corn husk dolls.

The Cradle of Forestry will be open daily, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., from April 8 – November 5. At various times during the season, living history volunteers will demonstrate wood carving, fiber arts, blacksmithing, traditional music and making corn husk dolls. The Giving Tree Gift Shop at the Cradle offers many of their creations as well as forest related books, maps, gifts and snacks. The Café at the Cradle will serve lunch from 11 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. daily.

A full schedule of events is planned in 2017 including Migratory Bird Day April 29, the Songcatchers Music Series Sunday afternoons in July, and Forest Festival Day October 7. Visit www.cradleofforestry.com for a full event schedule, details and updates on interpretive programs and exhibits.

The Cradle of Forestry in America is proud to be part of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. Thorough out the season it offers many opportunities to explore the five themes of Blue Ridge Heritage- craft, music, natural, agricultural, and Cherokee heritage.

Admission to the Cradle of Forestry is $5.00 for adults and free for youth under 16 years of age. America the Beautiful passes, Golden Age Passports and Every Kid in a Park passes are honored. The Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association provides reduced adult admission of $2.00 on Tuesdays.

Admission includes the new film, First in Forestry- Carl Alwin Schenck and The Biltmore Forest School, hands-on exhibits and scavenger hunts. It also includes historic cabins, antique equipment and forest scenery on three paved trails, the Adventure Zone designed to reach children with autism and engage young families, and guided trail tours and living history demonstrations when available.

The Cradle of Forestry is located on Hwy. 276 in the Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, six miles north of Looking Glass Falls and four miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway. For more information call 828-877-3130 or go to www.cradleofforestry.com.

 

Little White Oak Mountain: A Collaborative WNC Conservation Venture

Posted by on Mar 27, 2017 @ 6:33 am in Conservation | 2 comments

Little White Oak Mountain: A Collaborative WNC Conservation Venture

The scenic ridgeline and south facing slopes of Little White Oak Mountain, slated as the site for a 687-unit residential development north of the Town of Columbus, NC known as the Foster Creek Preserve in the mid-2000s, will now be permanently protected thanks to the cooperative action of local organizations. Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC), working closely with the Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC), purchased the 1,068-acre property in December 2016 to conserve its dramatic views, rare species, wildlife habitats, and opportunities for outdoor recreation.

A major gift from private donors and a $1.86 million loan from the Conservation Trust for North Carolina enabled Hendersonville-based CMLC to close on the purchase with the sellers, American Land Fund of Philadelphia. The conservation organizations are now pursuing a strategy to fundraise and convey sections of the property to collaborating agencies in order to be made whole on the purchase.

Over coming years CMLC and PAC hope to transfer portions of the property to the capable management of state and local partner organizations including the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, the Polk County Recreation Department, and the Housing Assistance Corporation, a nonprofit Hendersonville-based developer of affordable housing.

The Tryon-based Pacolet Area Conservancy has targeted the tract as a conservation priority for over a decade and at one point worked with the previous owner on a plan to protect the high-elevation part of the property with a conservation easement. Although the easement never came to fruition, PAC maintained periodic contact with the owners and, working with CMLC, approached the American Land Fund (ALF) once again in 2015. The dialogue initiated then led ultimately to the offer by ALF to sell for a price below market value if the transaction could be completed by the end of 2016.

Plans call for the majority of the tract – up to 600 acres — to be added to the adjoining Green River Game Lands. The 14,000-acre game land located in and around the Green River Gorge in southeast Henderson and western Polk counties is managed by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and is primarily used by anglers, hunters and hikers. Though the game land has expanded many times since its creation in 1950, this addition will be the first since 2008 and will provide a point of public access from Houston Road.

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California just put serious limits on methane leaks

Posted by on Mar 25, 2017 @ 7:10 am in Conservation | 0 comments

California just put serious limits on methane leaks

The California Air Resources Board voted unanimously on Thursday to enact regulations that will curb the amount of methane the oil and gas industry can leak and vent during production and storage.

The new rule — years in the making — requires oil and gas companies to monitor infrastructure and repair leaks. It is a massive step forward for California’s air quality programs, advocates say, and it is the strictest in the nation.

The Air Resources Board expects the new rule will reduce methane leaks by 45 percent over the next nine years.

The oil and gas industry contributes about a third of the United States’ overall methane emissions. Not only is methane a powerful greenhouse gas, trapping heat 86 times more effectively than carbon dioxide over a 20-year span, but leaking and flaring natural gas also adds benzene (a carcinogen) and NOx compounds (which create ground-level ozone) into the air we breathe.

Still, the environmental dangers of leaking methane haven’t stopped Congress or Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from taking steps this year to reduce accountability from the oil and gas industry. In February, the House passed a Congressional Review Act to rescind a Bureau of Land Management rule that required oil and gas operators on public lands to limit their methane leaks and flaring.

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New Mexico has sold 4 million acres of land to oil companies and development

Posted by on Mar 24, 2017 @ 12:08 pm in Conservation | 0 comments

New Mexico has sold 4 million acres of land to oil companies and development

  A Wilderness Society report finds that in a little over a century of statehood, New Mexico has liquidated about 30 percent of the land originally granted to it—nearly 4 million acres—and sold it to cattle ranchers, oil and gas companies, railroads and other development interests.

The report underscores again why we should be skeptical of politicians’ guarantees that the land takeover movement won’t ultimately serve to enrich special interests at the expense of ordinary Americans.

The findings arrive at a felicitous moment. In the last few months, a fringe-led campaign to seize national public lands has moved from isolated state legislatures—including New Mexico’s-to the halls of Congress. Early in 2017, New Mexicans rallied in opposition to a House bill-later withdrawn-that would have sold off millions of acres of land in the state and nine others (the parcels were to be “disposed of,” in the parlance of that legislation).

Anti-public lands lawmakers have frequently tried to quell fears about the “land takeover” enterprise by claiming that, once seized, public lands will not be sold off. Like a similar report about Idaho’s state lands, released in May 2016, these data suggest New Mexicans should be wary of such promises.

Read the full report…

 

Cougars confirmed in Tennessee

Posted by on Mar 24, 2017 @ 6:31 am in Conservation | 0 comments

Cougars confirmed in Tennessee

At least nine cougar sightings have been confirmed. Tennesee Wildlife Resources Agency said they will be monitoring the natural expansion of the cougar. All of the confirmed sightings listed are in Middle or West Tennessee. There are several possible reports in East Tennessee, but none confirmed by the TWRA.

Zoo Knoxville Director of Animal Care Phil Colclough said it could be several years before more cougars are in the area.

“Obviously they are coming this way there’s a few scattered records here and there and I think they will be here at some point, coming down from the north. We obviously have a lot of deer in this area so the prey is here for them to have,” said Colclough.

According to TWRA the cougar is native to Tennessee, but was extirpated because of hunting and habitat loss.

Colclough said the return of the cougars might be good for the environment.

“They could control the deer population. It would be huge, think about all the car accidents and the problems deer cause because of their over population,” said Colclough.

According to TWRA cougars, once they establish a home range can be up to 150 miles. They can travel up to 600 miles or more to find that home range.

It is also illegal to hunt and kill cougars. The TWRA on their website states, “Tennessee law protects all animals for which no hunting season is proclaimed, the cougar is protected in Tennessee. It is illegal to kill a cougar in Tennessee except in the case of imminent threat of life and injury. Also, if a landowner is experiencing property damage made by wildlife, that landowner has the right to protect his/her property.”

Learn more here…