A loss and a win

As was feared, The Yangtze River dolphin is officially extinct.

“After more than 20 million years on the planet, the Yangtze river dolphin is today officially declared extinct, the first species of cetacean (whale, dolphin or porpoise) to be driven from this planet by human activity.

“An intensive six-week search by an international team of marine biologists involving two boats that ploughed up and down the world’s busiest river last December failed to find a single specimen.”

The loss is even worse, if this is possible, because it was not only the first large mammal to disappear in 50 years; it was, according to the Independent, the first genus in 500. (But surely so was the Thylacine?) HT Odious.

On the other hand, the black- footed ferret of our plains, once feared extinct, is bouncing back faster than expected after a slow start. I do wonder about VERY long term survival– like the sage grouse and a fox ( I am uncertain of the taxonomic status of the fox), it lives entirely within the area of the Yellowstone Supervolcano.

I await comments from John Carlson who worked with the species when its status was precarious.

Henry Chappell’s Home Range

Just found out my old friend Henry Chappell, who writes good novels and wrote one of the best bird hunting books I know, has started a blog, Home Range , on matters environmental and (I hope soon) sporting. I would bet that he would fit somewhere within the “Crunchy Con” philosophical group. Here he is on Bill McKibben’s new book:

“If “wacko” means looking at scientific evidence and concluding that the “non-negotiable American way of life” is unsustainable, then McKibben is guilty as charged. We need more wackos.

“Actually, McKibben is a devout Christian, Sunday school teacher, and family man who eats meat, appears tolerant of responsible hunters, and approves of selective, sustainable logging by local operators. He acknowledges the positive power of free enterprise and the failure of large-scale collectivism. (Right-wing wacko!) Certainly, many of his convictions seem deeply conservative in the traditional (as opposed to neoconservative) sense. Yet, taken as a whole, his sensibilities are unmistakeably progressive. His concerns always seem more practical than ideological.”

I expect we’ll be hearing a lot more from Henry. On to the blogroll with him!

Little Red Riding Hood Was Right

It seems an article of faith in American environmental circles that wolves are harmless. While (until recently) there was no record of modern North American wolves harming anyone, a bit of research shows this to be an anomalous situation. Wolves of the exact same species preyed on humans in Europe and Russia; wolves even smaller than ours eat humans in India to this day.

The recent death of a young man in Canada raised the possibility of wolf- human predation. Eminent mammalogist Dr. Valerius Geist was charged with investigating the incident. His conclusions, soon to be released, are not comforting.

Do not misunderstand me here, or Val. I believe that wolves are wonderful top- of- the- food chain predators, and ecosystems are healthier for their presence. I can thrill to a howl in the night. But attitudes must be realistic, and wolves should be hunted to keep them wary of humans. Wolves that become habituated, that hang around humans and their livestock in broad daylight, are a disaster waiting to happen.

Dr. Geist has written a long document analysing both the particular incident and pointing out signs of imminent danger. Let me quote a bit from both. First, from the abstract:

“The politically correct view about wolves, currently vehemently and dogmatically defended, is that wolves are “harmless” and of no danger to humans. This view arose from the early research of eminent North American biologists who, confronted by historical material contradictory to their experiences, greatly mistrusted such. Due to language, political and cultural barriers they could access such at best in part, but they were nevertheless convinced that the old view of wolves, as enshrined in Grimm’s fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood was incorrect and based on ill founded myths, fears and superstitions. They were greatly aided in this by premature conclusions about free-living and captive wolves, as well as by a brilliant literary prank by a renowned Canadian author and humorist, which illustrated wolves as harmless mouse eaters. While scientists quickly caught on, they nevertheless welcomed the opposition to the Little Red Riding Hood myth. They pointed to the undeniable fact that wolves killed no human in North America in the 20th Century. This did not, however, reflect on the nature of wolves, but rather on circumstances: wolves were eradicated or severely prosecuted over much of the continent, North Americans were well armed and quickly removed misbehaving wolves where such were still present, while hunted wolves are exceedingly shy and avoid humans. The view of the “harmless” wolf was greatly welcomed by the communist party of Russia, which ever since coming to power suppressed accounts of man-killing wolves. During and after the Second World War such censorship intensified, as was only disclosed after the fall of the communist rule in Russia. The reason for such suppression was to obscure the link between lethal wolf attacks and the disarming of the civilian population during the war. Wolves quickly exploited the defenselessness of villagers, leading to many fatal attacks on humans. When Russian scientists disclosed this, their translations in the west were suppressed and their authority and motives questioned by environmental organizations and some scientists.”


“It is even more ironic that, while wolf biologists stoutly denied dangers from wolves and failed to develop any understanding of the conditions under which wolves were harmless or dangerous, their counterparts studying urban coyotes did just that. They described a progression of behaviors, which predicts when coyotes would attack children. Wolves follow much the same progression. It can be divided into seven steps with increasing risk to humans, culminating with attacks on humans. Such a progression can be developed from historical material as well as from current attacks by wolves on humans in North America. The fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood is thus based in very real historical experiences in central Europe. In addition to targeted attacks, wolves can mistakenly charge humans. The politically correct myth of the harmless wolf is being defended with a number of lethal fallacies as well as by wrongly invoking the prestige of science. In practice it is a lethal myth and the tragic death of 22-year-old Kenton Carnegie on November the 8th 2005 in northern Saskatchewan, is a case in point. He had no authoritative warning. He was killed by wolves, which, protected from hunting, were not merely habituated to people through the use of a garbage dump, but had already mounted a first exploratory attack on humans, which was narrowly defeated. Against a pack of wolves, a lone man has no chance.”

From the conclusions:

“As I have shown, wolves signal impending attacks on people a long time before it happens. They act very much like their smaller cousin, the coyote. Yet the vehemence with which the myth of the “benign wolf” is defended by environmental groups, but also individuals claiming to be scientists studying wolves, transcends reason. Already a renowned biologist studying wolves laments that extremists have highjacked the wolf agenda. As scholars we must live by Oliver Cromwell’s admonition:” I beseech thee in the bowls of Christ, consider that thee may be mistaken!”. Especially, when political correctness has raised its ugly head!

“As to Kenton Joel Carnegie’s tragic death I harbor no doubts. He was killed and consumed by wolves.”

I welcome the return of the wolf to New Mexico, but I deplore its current means. Wolves that stalk humans in broad daylight– as is admitted– should be removed immediately. The impending disaster will not only hurt its victims– it may well put an end to our having any wolves here at all.

For some fascinating wolf material see this PDF of the wolves of the British Columbia rain forest. (HT Walter Hingley). It really shows what a high- end, opportunistic predator they can be.”Coastal wolves are proving themselves unique among wolves in the world by eating a high proportion of carnivores. Researchers are consistently finding the remains of black bears and river otters in wolf dietary samples- more than anywhere else where wolves have been studied. Notably, by consuming these two animals (which depend on food from the sea) wolves are indirectly feeding on marine resources. Interestingly, wolves also feed on other items from the sea such as washed-up marine mammal carcasses, crabs, mussels, and even barnacles.”

Adds Val: “Also, wolves released on islands in coastal Alaska completely cleaned up on deer, then turned to catching seals that had hauled out – and then starved to death! Every one. As opportunists they will in coastal areas search beaches for edibles. No wonder they are circumpolar and highly resilient to prosecution!”

Good Alcohol and Unconventional Greens

But there is still a lot of spirit, in every sense, out there to combat those who would control our every move. Brit blogger Raedwald muses on anti- drinking activists who would not allow us to teach our children to drink sanely (Peculiar? Odious? Would that not have jailed Libby and I for many joyous evenings in your youth?):

“… The French would snort, the Spanish giggle and the Italians shrug. Even the Germans would blow a little Teutonic toot through pursed lips.

“And now another thought has flicked through my mind. If the meddling witch from Alcohol Concern who spoke on R4’s ‘Today’ earlier was mashed, fermented and distilled, aged in an oak cask with wormwood and scorpion tails, and bottled, what would the taste be? Bitter, no doubt. A hidden spiteful sting, perhaps not unpleasant if well diluted. A few drops then, in a Paris goblet, well swilled round to coat the glass, before half a gill of good Plymouth Gin is added. That would be perfect.”

Meanwhile, the inimitable Michael Blowhard has a a long post on contrarian “non- Gore” environmentalism, everything from free- market types to bioregionalists, anarchists, Slow Food, and even Ducks Unlimited. Read The Whole Thing plus links, please, for alternatives to top- down Statist command and control.

A quote:

“I’ve spent bunches of time exploring the eco-world, and I can testify that eco-people and eco-orgs come in all kinds of flavors. There are people who really like ducks and trees lots better than humans, for instance. (I feel that way myself sometimes.) There are one-issue people — people who are doing what they can to protect manatees, or coral, or local forests. (God bless ’em.) There are far-out radicals who want the midwest to be declared a grass-and-buffalo preserve, and who argue that we need to create nature-corridors to reconnect the “natural” parts of the country. (They make remarkably convincing arguments for this, IMHO. Plus I often simply like the bioregional eco-anarchy people a whole lot.) And there are people like Bjorn Lomborg, who’s eco but realistic. (I think he’s great too, if not the final word on anything.)”

Bee Crisis

.. and a little barking lunacy just for fun. As anyone environmentally concerned knows, domestic honeybees are disappearing. Here is a detailed and balanced view of the problem.

While I agree that Africanized bees– present here– are overhyped as a danger (and may well be a source of mite- resistant genes) the native pollinators may be under different stresses in some areas. See this fascinating book for details.

And then– well, you can expect madness when Vegans get into the act.

“Even if crops do currently require honeybee pollination, that is no reason to further exploit bees by consuming honey, beeswax, bee pollen, etc. The fact that everything in our society is based on animal exploitation shouldn’t surprise us since Western civilization literally began with the “domestication” (i.e. enslavement) of animals. Dead animals are used to build roads, but this doesn’t justify eating animals.”

That last sentence is never explained…

But at least he likes the Buchmann and Nabhan book.

Around the Web

Of course I have still been at least crawling around the web and have found much entertainment and as always a little offense. I’ll direct you to some goodies, but I hope that in my absence you have visited not only friends linked to here but also O &P, Heidi, Mary, Chas, Roseann, Pluvi (returned from the Stans and seeing Goshawks at home!) and Darren.

Patrick weighs in here on mandatory spay neuter and– scroll up on the site– with a wrinkle on Zumbo: “Marmot Culture”. Patrick, you haven’t seen Marmot Culture until you have visited Mongolia!

A federal court finds for the Second Amendment! The NYT is somewhat shocked. Istapundit isn’t.

Bruce Douglas comments:

” “The majority rejected the District’s
argument that the Second Amendment should apply only
to the kinds of guns in use at the end of the 18th
century” always gets me. I’d be cool with carrying a
brace of flintlocks if the media was willing to
distribute the news on individually printed
handbills, distributed by horse and foot. Oh yeah,
they also have to get rid of air conditioning in DC
and go back to outhouses. And, of course, dueling
was legal again.”

Carel delights Libby by telling us all about softshell turtles, her favorite reptile (if in this cladistic age we can still use such an archaic term.)

Sixty to eighty cheetahs persist in Iran!

The Irish may really be English.

Puritan anti- drug warriors are trying to turn our kids into Stalin-era youth prohibitionist- informants. Luckily ours (Mr. P.) didn’t get anything like that, and I doubt his potential kids– or Odious’s actual one (see his recent post)– will either.

Annie D sends news of a new clouded leopard in Borneo. This cat is not just genetically distinct– it actually looks different.

The prairies should burn— but not evenly.

“The prairies were never some homogenous sea of grass rolling off in unending sameness. They were a patchwork, a shifting mosaic of burned and unburned, some places grazed down, others hardly grazed at all. Some areas were replete with forbs and others not. Patches ranged from small to immense. And none of this happened on a set schedule; the whole process was infused with randomness and rotating change. Conditioned to forests, settlers from the east may have little perceived the diversity of the prairies, but diverse and dynamic they were.”

(HT Walter Hingley).

Stewart Brand has never stopped thinking originally. As Tom McIntyre says: “God (or Gaia, if you prefer) bless old acid freaks!”

You want biodiversity? THIS is biodiversity! HT Nate and Liz Johnson.

And finally: they can always amaze me. The AR movement has apparently combined with academia to convene the (seventh annual!) “Convention on Inadmissible Questions” on the question “Can the Holocaust be compared with African American slavery or the Native American genocide? Can any of these experiences be related to those of animals on today’s factory farms?”.

Their apparent answer is “Yes”. I was going to comment but I think I’ll just let it hang. I’m not sure it isn’t historically illiterate to compare the first three…


Update: Darren has already informed us that the “new” clouded leopard was described in 1823. Two lessons: don’t get sick and don’t miss Darren, even for a few days…