Appeals court upholds Colorado poaching conviction

Former Meeker outfitter who was convicted of baiting deer and elk with salt claimed his confession was coerced

Bull elk in morning sun, Rocky Mountain National Park.

A grazing bull elk in northern Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A convicted northern Colorado poacher will remain in prison after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals last week affirming the 41-month prison sentence and fines the former outfitter received in early 2013 for illegally baiting deer and elk with salt.

Dennis Eugene Rodebaugh, 73, of Meeker, Colorado, had appealed his conviction based on a series of legal technicalities, claiming that his confession was involuntary. The appeals court denied those claims after reviewing records of the investigation and questioning by investigators.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigators, between 2002 and 2007, Rodebaugh and an associate used large quantities of salt to attract elk and mule deer to an area in the White River National Forest where he had installed tree stands, enabling their clients to easily kill the animals. Continue reading

Popular Waterton Canyon recreation area near Denver closed after bear chases cyclist

American black bears are notorious scavengers, and their habit of seeking out human food nearly always ends badly. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.

American black bears are notorious scavengers, and their habit of seeking out human food nearly always ends badly. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.

Wildlife managers have closed several areas this summer due to bear activity and to avoid unwanted encounters

Staff Report

FRISCO — After earlier summer closures of popular national forest areas due to close encounters with bears, Denver Water and Colorado Parks and Wildlife have decided to close Waterton Canyon to public recreation until further notice — for the same reason.

According to a release from Denver Water, there are two sows, each with twin cubs, and other bears actively foraging in the canyon. Friday afternoon, a biker was chased by a bear in the canyon. No one was injured. Continue reading

Bluebirds ‘shout’ to be heard above noise pollution

Western bluebird

A mountain bluebird in Dillon, Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

Biologists say noise impacts should be part of wildlife conservation planning

Staff Report

FRISCO — Outside a few remote wilderness areas, human-caused noise pollution is so common that birds have started to “shout” in order to communicate with each other.

Biologists with the University of Exeter took a close look at how bluebirds alter their songs in response to increases in nearby background noise caused, in many cases, by human activities such as traffic. Continue reading

Stronger winds, driven by climate change, could affect seabird populations

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New research suggests that winds strengthened by global warming present a potential threat to seabirds. @bberwyn photo.

UK study tracks impacts to coastal birds in Scotland

Staff Report

FRISCO — Biologists in the UK say stronger winds projected my many climate change models could have a big impact on some coastal bird populations. When winds are strong, females take much longer to find food compared with their male counterparts.

In many seabird species, females are smaller and lighter than males, and so must work harder to dive through turbulent water. They may not hold their breath for as long, fly so efficiently nor dive as deeply as males. The study suggests that climate change will exacerbate the differences and could ultimately affect population sizes.

To reach their findings, scientists with the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology at the University of Edinburgh and the British Antarctic Survey tracked shags — cormorant-like birds — on the Isle of May National Nature Reserve in south-east Scotland. Small tracking devices attached to the legs of birds helped measured how long they foraged for fish in the sea.

Scientists found that when coastal winds were strong or blowing towards the shore, females took much longer to find food compared with males. The difference in time spent foraging became more marked between the sexes when conditions worsened, suggesting that female birds are more likely to continue foraging even in the poorest conditions. Continue reading

Public lands: Feds finalizing management plan for wildlife refuges in Colorado’s San Luis Valley

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Wetlands in Colorado’s San Luis Valley form the heart of a 106,000-acre complex of wildlife refuges. Photo via USFWS.

Restoration and public use among the key focus areas

Staff Report

FRISCO — After years of planning and public input, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials this week said they’ve completed all the environmental studies and a conservation plan for the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex, in south-central Colorado.

The plan covers about 106,000 acres across three national wildlife refuges: Alamosa, Monte Vista, and Baca National Wildlife Refuges, home to the hundreds of year round resident birds-and an important stop-over location for migratory birds during their long journey between their breeding grounds to north and their wintering grounds to the south. Continue reading

National Park Service releases name of man killed by grizzly bear in Yellowstone

Grizzlies are roaming farther north and encroaching on Polar bear habitat, PHOTO COURTESY U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.

National Park Service officials have trapped a grizzly bear that may have been involved in a fatal attack in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy USGS.

Lance Crosby was a 5-year seasonal resident of Yellowstone; park rangers say they will euthanize the bears responsible for the death

Staff Report

FRISCO — Yellowstone National Park officials have identified the 63-year-old man who was killed Aug. 7 by a grizzly bear. The victim was Lance Crosby, a long-time employee of Medcor, the company that operates three urgent care clinics in the park.

According to a park service press release, Crosby had worked and lived in Yellowstone for five seasons and was an experienced hiker. Park officials continue to investigate the death, with preliminary results showing that Crosby was attacked by at least one grizzly bear. His body was found partially consumed and cached, or covered, and partial tracks at the scene indicate that an adult female grizzly and at least one cub-of-the-year were present and likely involved in the attack. Continue reading

Another gray wolf wanders into northeastern California

Gray Wolf

More wolves may roam from Oregon into adjacent states, including California, where the state is developing a wolf management plan.

Conservation activists say sighting confirms need for endangered species protection

Staff Report

FRISCO — Wildlife biologists in California say another gray wolf has likely wandered into the far northeastern corner of the state. Based on an evaluation of photos and paw print measurements, the animal may be a lone dispersing male looking for new territory to occupy.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has deployed motion-sensor cameras and biologists will try to collect scat for a DNA sample to conclusively establish whether the observed canid is indeed a wolf. The sighting was in Siskiyou County, in an area comprised of both U.S. Forest Service holdings and private timberland. Continue reading

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