Grizzly bear ‘highway’ discovery in Canada


This video from the USA is called Grizzly Bears and Wolves of Yellowstone (Full Documentary).

From The Star in Canada:

Grizzly bear ‘highway’ found on West Coast

First Nations researchers find centuries-old paw prints that show bears are very predictable in both the times of day they’re active and the routes they take

By: , Star Reporter,

Published on Fri Jul 25 2014

First Nations researchers have discovered what they believe is a grizzly-bear highway of sorts: centuries-old paw prints worn deep into the mossy floor of the Pacific Coast rain forest.

“I suspect that these grizzly bear paths have been here as long as grizzly bears have been here,” said William Housty, director of Coastwatch, a scientific initiative led by the Heiltsuk First Nation.

The Heiltsuk people have been in the area for 9,000 years and Housty believes the grizzly bear roadways along the waterways go back generations.

“Grizzly bears are very similar to humans in the way that they nurture their young, and raise them to know the territory around them,” Housty said in an email from the woods.

Heiltsuk people have shared and maintained the same roadways over generations, creating a lasting connection between the Heiltsuk and grizzly bears, Housty said.

The society set up to stop the logging that threatened to clear cut the area and hurt salmon spawning spots along the Koeye River in the late 1990s.

Healthy salmon stock means the grizzly and black bears, wolves, mink, marten and bald eagles have a food supply.

When the logging stopped, the bear populations rebounded, he said.

Grizzly bears can weigh 363 kilograms (800 lbs.) and stand 2.4 meters (eight feet) on their hind legs, but Housty insists the grizzly bear study isn’t dangerous, as long as it’s done with respect and good sense.

“We do spend a lot of time in the wild, on foot with these bears, and have never once had a negative encounter with any of them,” Housty says.

“We have the greatest respect for the bears, and always make sure to let them know when we are in the area, and there seems to be a mutual respect from them as well. Never have we ever carried a fire arm when doing this study, however we did carry bear spray. But overall, I do not consider the study to be dangerous.”

He’s one of three technicians working on the study, but there are also youth and family camp programs operating in the same study area, meaning there can be from 40 to 60 people in the Koeye watershed at one time during the summer months.

He said his group are currently working with the neighbouring Kitasoo, Nuxalk and Wuikinuxv First Nations, as well as with academic institutions such as the University of Victoria and Raincoast Conservation Society to take a more regional approach to this study.

In the study, individual grizzly bears were identified through DNA analysis of hair samples, obtained by putting salmon-scented bait inside wire snares to catch the grizzly hair.

As they got to know the grizzly bears, Housty said it became clear they have routines, much like humans.

“There are certain areas where grizzlies go to feed on salmon and berries, and if you spend enough time, you can pinpoint an exact time when they go to feed at the same time every day — usually at dusk and dawn,” Housty said. “They also do the same when it comes to berries. They work in cycles, and move to and fro within the watershed chasing berries and trickles of salmon that are coming in. It is very easy to predict when bears will be out and about.”

Hedgehog fossil discovery in Canada


This video is called Tiny Hedgehog Fossil Could Answer Climate-Change Questions.

From Wildlife Extra:

Fossils of tiny, unknown, hedgehog found in Canada

Fossil remains of a tiny hedgehog, about two inches long, that lived 52 million years ago have been discovered in British Columbia by scientists from University of Colorado Boulder.

Named Silvacola acares, which means tiny forest dweller, it is perhaps the smallest hedgehog ever to have lived and is both a genus and species new to science.

“It is quite tiny and comparable in size to some of today’s shrews,” said lead author Jaelyn Eberle.

“We can’t say for sure it had prickly quills, but there are ancestral hedgehogs living in Europe about the same time that had bristly hair covering them, so it is plausible Silvacola did, too.”

The fossils were found in north-central British Columbia at a site known as Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park that was likely to have been a rainforest environment during the Early Eocene Epoch.

See also here. And here.

Canadian Cambrian fossils discovery


This video from Canada says about itself:

4 July 2012

Associate Curator, Jean-Bernard Caron presents an overview of the fossil collection from the Burgess Shale, B.C., highlighting a number of specimens.

From the London Free Press in Canada:

‘Epic’ new fossil site found in B.C. national park

QMI Agency

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 10:30:33 EST AM

Researchers hit the “motherload” when they discovered a new fossil site in a B.C. national park.

In 2012, Canadian, U.S., and Swedish researchers made the discovery of a new Burgess Shale fossil site in Kootenay National Park, just 42 km away from what is hailed the world’s most important fossil site, located in Yoho National Park.

“We were already aware of the presence of some Burgess Shale fossils in Kootenay National Park. We had a hunch that if we followed the formation along the mountain topography into new areas with the right rock types, maybe, just maybe, we would get lucky — though we never in our wildest dreams thought we’d track down a motherload like this,” geologist Robert Gaines of Pomona College in California said in a release Tuesday.

In a paper published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers said the area and its fossils will help scientists better understand the sudden explosion of animal life during the Cambrian Period.

The study’s lead author, Jean-Bernard Caron of the Royal Ontario Museum and the University of Toronto, called the discovery “an epic sequel to a research story that began at the turn of the previous century.”

In more than 100 years of research, about 200 animal species have been identified at the original Burgess Shale discovery in Yoho National Park.

In just 15 days of field collecting, 50 animal species were unearthed at the new Kootenay National Park site.

The team will go back to the park this summer in the hopes of discovering new species.

See also here.

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Humpback Whale off Norfolk


Originally posted on Letter From Norfolk:

I made a prediction in July. I foresaw that within 5 years we would be watching a Humpback Whale off the Norfolk coastline. Having committed this to print in the latest Norfolk Bird and Mammal Report I was relived yesterday morning when Ryan Irvine called me to say he’d seen one off Hemsby. A first for Norfolk and four and a half years to spare! Good on ye Ryan.

It was later seen further north. I couldn’t make it there yesterday but did make it today and amazingly it was still offshore. Although distant it appeared to be breathing quite well and also feeding accompanied by a flock of diving Gannet.

It was as I was about to move on I noticed the whale had covered an inordinately large distance in a very short time. This of course is possible. They can move quickly. My mind momentarily slipped to asking…

View original 272 more words

American rock song on Chinese traditional instrument, video


This 21 September 2013 music video is called Guns ‘N RosesSweet Child o’ MineGuzheng Cover.

From the Huffington Post in the USA:

This Unconventional Cover Of A Guns N’ Roses Song Is Beyond Awesome

Posted: 10/07/2013 11:19 am EDT

Vancouver musician Michelle Kwan rocks out with this most holy of covers, showing that nothing is more rock ‘n’ roll than an ancient Chinese string instrument.

You may not have guessed that a guzheng would so delicately capture the essence of Guns N’ Roses’ harmonious hit “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” In fact, you might not even know what a guzheng is.

For those of you who don’t know, a guzheng is a Chinese plucked zither, related to the Japanese koto, the Mongolian yatga, the Korean gayageum and the Vietnamese đàn tranh. If you don’t know what those are either, you’ll have to watch the video above to find out.

Enjoy the teenage musician’s unlikely hard rock ode and be warned: things get really intense around 2:37.

Saving Canada’s seabirds


This video from the USA says about itself:

The marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) is a small Pacific seabird listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in California, Oregon and Washington. Rarely seen by humans, they spend the majority of their lives at sea forage, rest, and mate. For years, ornithologists did not know where this mysterious bird nested. It wasn’t until 1974 that the first marbled murrelet nest was discovered in North America. Generally, they nest in coastal old-growth forests, characterized by large trees with multiple canopy layers and moderate to high canopy closure.

From BirdLife:

Parks Canada aims to make seabird island IBAs rat-free

Fri, Sep 20, 2013

Following a pilot eradication on two smaller islets, Parks Canada staff are clearing invasive rats from two important seabird breeding islands in the north of the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site on the archipelago of Haida Gwaii, a dense chain of islands in the Pacific off the coast of British Columbia.

Rat bait containing a rodenticide is being dropped on the islands by helicopter, a technique first developed in New Zealand, and also used by BirdLife to restore seabird breeding islands in the South Pacific.

The Haida Gwaii archipelago includes many Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) recognised for their populations of breeding seabirds. Parts or all of nine IBAs are protected by the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site.

“Half the world population of Ancient Murrelet Synthliboramphus antiquus breed on Haida Gwaii, and approximately half of these breed within the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve”, said Laurie Wein, the project’s manager at Parks Canada.

One of the two target islands, Murchison, lies within the Ramsay and Northern Juan Perez Sound Islands IBA, which also meets IBA criteria for its population of Cassin’s Auklet Ptychoramphus aleuticus.

The Ancient Murrelet population is decreasing in North America. The global population is also suspected to be in decline owing to predation by invasive species, especially rats.

Parks Canada is carrying out the eradication work in conjunction with the Haida Nation.

“The introduction of rats to many of the forested islands of Haida Gwaii has meant the demise of several historic seabird nesting colonies,” said Haida Nation president Peter Lantin. “Of particular interest is the Ancient Murrelet, a species at risk. Also known as SGin Xaana or Night Bird, this was once an important food source for our people.”

Parks Canada representatives attended the 2013 BirdLife World Congress in Ottawa, Canada, to speak about their work in the islands.

“Nature Canada applauds the leadership of Parks Canada in the restoration of these globally important bird areas,“ said Stephen Hazell, Senior Conservationist at BirdLife co-Partner Nature Canada. “The coastal areas around Haida Gwaii are a global hotspot for marine breeding birds, and efforts to rid the islands of rats are a first step towards restoring the ecological integrity of these islands.”

The rats, which were brought by ships in the 18th and 19th centuries, eat eggs and chicks, and attack adult murrelets and other ground- and hole-nesting species. Ramsay Island, the largest and most important seabird breeding island in the Ramsay and Northern Juan Perez Sound Islands IBA, is currently rat-free. But as long as rats remain within the group, there is the ever-present danger that they could be accidentally introduced from nearby islands.

“Introduced predators are a major threat to colonial ground-nesting seabird species, including murrelets and storm petrels,” said Jon McCracken, Director of National Programs for Bird Studies Canada (BirdLife co-partner) and co-chair of the birds subcommittee for COSEWIC, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. “Bird Studies Canada is strongly supportive of efforts by Parks Canada and the Haida Nation to protect seabirds by eliminating rats from islands in the Haida Gwaii.”

Populations of Endangered Marbled Murrelet Brachyramphus marmoratus, Leach’s [Petrel] Oceanodroma leucorhoa and Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel O. furcata, and Black Oystercatcher Haematopus bachmani are also expected to recover once the rats are gone.

Nearly half a million seabirds die in gillnets every year, but solutions exist: here.