Saturday, December 09, 2006

New Mosquito Breeding Sites

Big Thicket- Warren, TX: I crawled upon a large oak tree that had been toppled by Hurricane Rita back in September 2005 in the woods of the Big Thicket. I'm in awe at the power it took to lay over such a giant. While looking at this tree I realized that it, along with every other tree that was blown over during this storm, formed a large "crater" in the ground where the roots had once resided. These craters then fill after each rainfall and provide not only a drinking source for the animals that reside here, but also, unfortunately, an excellent breeding site for west nile virus laden mosquitoes. Lots of trees were downed during this storm which means there are many of these mosquito "stews" scattered throughout the forest. West Nile Virus was first detected in a human back in in 1937 in Africa and eventually spread to the U.S. According to the CDC in 2003 there were 720 reported cases here in Texas alone.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Jaguars in the U.S.

Though it sounds hard to believe there are jaguars crossing over into the southwestern U.S. from northwestern Mexico. Yes you read right....JAGUARS. Sightings have been documented in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. JAGUARS at one time thrived in the US, in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and "possibly" in California, and Louisiana. JAGUAR decline came during the early 1900's due to killing for pelts and fear of it preying on livestock. Loss of habit had also contributed to its decline. Recognition that jaguars were endangered outside the United States, afforded protection for them in Mexico, but not in the United States. Then in 1997 enough evidence was found to indicate that JAGUARS were indeed crossing over into the U.S. prompting the FWS to list them as endangered in the U.S. which then afforded them protection. A charitable organization, the Northern Jaguar Project, incorporated in 2004, includes members (all volunteers) from both the U.S. and Mexico who are working together to protect the endangered northen jaguar. They have helped purchase a 10,000 acre ranch in Sonora, Mexico and are in the process of obtaining and adjacent 33,000 acre ranch. Both of these areas are LOCATIONS FROM WHICH JAGUARS are migrating TOWARD the U.S. border. The NJP is a non-profit conservation organization, accepts donations in the form of funding or materials for operation of the jaguar reserve and field station. All contributions are fully tax deductible to the maximum extent allowed by law. If you would like more information about this project go to their website. If you would like to donate to the project go here. The jaguar photo was provided courtesy of the Northern Jaguar Project.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Senseless Killing

First I would like to state that I do not have anything against hunters or hunting as long as the rules are followed. Hunters have done tremendous things for conservation, but senseless killing I cannot tolerate. As an acquaintance of mine (who is a hunter) has said many times over "Don't kill it unless you're going to eat it". I continually hear time and again of hunters who kill just for the sake of killing. This past weekend was spent roaming the woods in southwestern Louisiana with friends while they hunted. On the evening of my arrival someone who had camped nearby stopped to show us a bobcat he had shot. While hunting for deer he observed it chasing a rabbit in which time he drew a bead on it and shot. The bullet of the high-powered rifle clipped the cat's spine tumbling it stone dead to the ground. It was very hard for me not to ask why he had done this, but out of respect for my friends who knew him, I said nothing. Instead I just stood there gritting my teeth as I ran my fingers through its soft fur feeling a hint of warmth left in its limp remains. I was feeling sad and at the same time disgusted thinking that when I had arrived today this beautiful creature was trodding through the woods full of vigor not knowing that its very life would end in but a few short hours. If it had attacked the hunter it would legitamize this act, but this wasn't the case. It was minding its own business, doing what came natural to it........hunting for food. Unlike the hunter though it wasn't killing just for the sake of killing.

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