Recent comments

  • Elk Population Growing at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Ted---

    Check the history of Channel Islands. There have been various campaigns to eliminate exotic species on the islands. Don't forget the burros of Grand Canyon. The granddaddy of all such programs goes on at the Galapagos.

    Rick Smith

  • Elk Population Growing at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    MRC,

    Thanks for the hunt-pointers. That sounds like quite the fence, around Pinnacles! I would be interested in compiling a list of the extermination, control and hunting projects both past, current & contemplated in the Park System. I hear 'blips' about such things from time to time, but have never encountered a resource that gathers the cases together. I would be willing to do the work, if others can give me clues about what has taken place. I would like to put together a chart-type organization of this information, and will share the results.

    Bob Janiskee,

    Your mention of archery and black powder in Seashores & Lakeshores underscores my impression, that these 'elite' hunting-cadres are more-suited, more-acceptable and would be easier for the Parks to manage. I'm aware there are even atltl & spear enthusiasts lobbying for recognition & venues. Thanks for mentioning the Hawaii Volcanoes pig & sheep hunts!

    I'd also like to hear about 'messier' animal-issues that have not necessarily been address/resolved by hunting or extermination or contraception or relocation, etc. The mountain goats in Olympic are one such example. TIA.

  • Elk Population Growing at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Zebulon, the figure I saw quoted for contraceptive control was $3,000 per animal. That strikes me as being on the very low side, since it (conveniently) doesn't take into account the federal subsidies over the years for research and development. It also doesn't take into account a number of risk factors under the general title of "unintended consequences."

  • Elk Population Growing at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    There is plenty of precedent for sport hunting in National Seashores (not to mention National Lakeshores). For example, Cumberland Island National Seashore annually schedules six archery and primitive weapons (black powder rifle) hunts for white-tailed deer and feral hogs, and waterfowl hunting has been a popular activity at Cape Lookout National seashore for many years. There is also precedent for hunting in some of the 58 National Parks. Hawaii Volcanoes NP, for example, schedules carefully controlled hunts to control feral pigs and mouflon sheep.

  • Elk Population Growing at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Hunting to control and exterminate the population of non-native species has been done a number of times in national parks and even in wilderness areas. Not too far from Point Reyes National Seashore, in Pinnacles National Monument and the Pinnacles Wilderness all feral pigs were killed after the completion of a fence around the whole monument in 2003. The pigs disturbed the soil and the native vegetation in the lower parts of the monument, particularly in the river corridors. I'm pretty sure we can collect a number of such projects so the extermination of non-native deer in PORE is not unique.

  • Elk Population Growing at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Hunting in Parks? It is being ... I think the word is, "agonized" over by various Park administrations.

    Point Reyes does highlight the special problems of small Park-units, with animal-problems they would like to control. Gut piles do not have to be left; these are small deer. We have strong garbage bags that would be fine for packing out the offal. Bow hunters are well-represented and usually the cream of the hunting fraternity: no need for a 'shooting gallery'. The Park had no difficulty setting things up with "White Buffalo" so they could shoot 400 deer in Point Reyes by January 2008, so I have to think that once they are open-mindedly interested in working out a hunting-solution, the objective logistics of it will not exceed their ability.

    California has had marauding coyotes kill children (coyotes!), are watching several other growing human-wildlife conflicts that are best solved by hunting ... and are looking at reversing their policies suppressing hunting.

    At this point in history, the Parks come across as "deer in the headlights", with respect to animal-problems and the option of using hunting to address them.

    Perhaps, realistically & pragmatically, 'the ice will be broken' to address the problem of the changing behavior of newly-protected predatory carnivores. Ultimately, nature being what it is, predator populations that can see no reason to distinguish between deer and humans will require an 'education program', and hunting is by far the most effective way to achieve that.

    Although people like to view elk standing in a meadow, from the comfort of their automobile, they have a different reaction to having their lawns and gardens trashed by herds moving through. Elk appear to have 'trip-points', at which herds fission and then strike out for new terrain: it is during this phase that phone-lines at Fish & Game and Parks are suddenly jammed.

    The long-term trends do seem to point at the adoption of hunting in the Parks. I.e., once the fallow and axis deer are gone from Point Reyes, we know that the native deer species are also inclined to overwhelm the landscape and do the same kind of damage that got the imported species targeted.

    In the big picture, the notion that hunting is fundamentally offensive and unacceptable is probably untenable. Humans - though classified biologically as "omnivores", are predatory pack-hunters, going way back. Even chimpanzees hunt.

  • Snow Falls in Death Valley National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    The picture by Jimmie Affholder showing the Funeral Mountains following a recent snowfall is fantastic. Jimmie has a great eye for taking pictures.

  • Elk Population Growing at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    What?!? Kill deer in a national park?!?!?!

    Ahem.

    It likely would save money and, by being quicker (a number of weeks versus years), save some vegetation. But the national park setting is the controversial aspect of it all. Similar situations are being played out in Rocky Mountain National Park, Theodore Roosevelt National Park and, I believe, Badlands National Park, all which have growing elk populations. And, of course, back East there's a serious white-tailed deer problem in some NPS units. The burning question in all these places is whether to allow a public hunt, use NPS sharpshooters, hire sharpshooters, employ contraceptives, or a mix of all of the above.

    Of course, another alternative is returning predators -- in most cases wolves -- to do the dirty work and, along the way, enhance the overall health of the ecosystem. It seems to be working in Yellowstone, but that 2.2-million-acre park not only is much larger than most of these other places, but also removed from large cities where wolves might get a taste for fido or kitty.

    Now, if Point Reyes National Seashore was also "a Preserve," well, hunting likely wouldn't be such a big deal, as that's how hunting was shoe-horned in some other NPS units (aka Katmai National Park AND Preserve).

    But even if that suffix were added, how do you manage a public hunt in a national park setting that's as accessible as Point Reyes or even Rocky Mountain? Do you want gut piles left lying on the ground? Do you want mom and dad and their two kids cruising by while a hunter is cleaning his kill? How do you prevent wayward bullets from hitting non-hunting park tourists?

    All sensitive questions that have complicated answers.

  • Elk Population Growing at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Regarding the Fallow/Axis deer in Point Reyes. They were given by the San Francisco zoo to the local landowner in the 40s to add variety to the hunting. Once the place became wilderness, hunting was stopped and the non native specie started displacing the native deers. A few years ago, people started agonizing over how getting rid of the non native deers, and that contraceptive idea was floated to appease local environmentalists who could not live with the idea of killing those deers. From what I remember, the contraceptive program was extremely expensive (they had to shoot the contraceptive in the deer, then examine their droppings to make sure it worked) and was not 100% effective. I'm no scientist, but I'm not sure that I get the benefits of doing that contraceptive experiment. Could we save some money, kill those remaining deers and use the money saved somewhere else in the NPS?

  • The AARP Seven-Tip List for Economical National Park Visiting is One Tip Short   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Darn it, Ken. Now you've gone and ruined my dinner. All I can think about is that trout! :(

  • The AARP Seven-Tip List for Economical National Park Visiting is One Tip Short   5 years 30 weeks ago

    The cafeteria at Yosemite Lodge has a great Trout dinner with veggies for about $7. HOW CAN YOU BEAT THAT!

  • What Were the Top Stories Across the National Park System in 2008?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Lepanto, your assertion that "most regional offices HAVE been cut" is not supported by the evidence.

    The FY2008 Park and Program Summary shows on page 12 that none of the 8 regional offices' budgets have been cut. In fact, the difference between FY2006 and the FY2008 President's Request is +8.89%. Since 2001, the regional offices' budgets have increased by roughly 30%.

    I advise looking at the data before asserting anyone is trying to "starve the beast".

  • Elk Population Growing at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Roger, I don't doubt you've got plenty of coyotes, but I seriously doubt they were legally introduced. Coyotes are considered vermin in the southeast, with many people ranking them right up there with kudzu and fire ants. Here in South Carolina, coyotes were illegally introduced in some counties by hunters who enjoyed running them with hounds. Now coyotes live in all 46 counties of the state and the coyote population has spiraled out of control -- much to the chagrin of those of us who appreciate turkeys, foxes, cats, and the other creatures they regularly kill. I'm not saying that coyotes have no role to play in this ecosystem, only that they have grown too numerous.

  • What Were the Top Stories Across the National Park System in 2008?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I'm with Ted and Beamis.

    This webzine deserves some props!

  • Elk Population Growing at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    I have heard that elk and coyote were also introduced into Mt Rogers National Receartion Area. Can any confirm this? We live 6 miles from the park and coyote sighting in the last few years have skyrocketed.

  • What Were the Top Stories Across the National Park System in 2008?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Lepanto,

    I agree that a "starve the beast" tactic is being used, and that it is underhanded and unattractive ... but.

    "Starve the beast" is very similar to "demand destruction", which we are currently watching cut the price (and use!) of crude oil several fold.

    "Demand destruction" is applauded by some enviro-Liberals as a method to force folks to reduce CO2 emissions, etc, whether they want to or not. (It also slashes the money flowing into the coffers of Russia, Venezuela, Iran, etc.)

    The Democrat/Liberal faction, meanwhile, consistently bloats government using every device it can find. Conservatives respond by making excess government employment unpleasant and unrewarding, trying to force people (with guaranteed jobs) to reduce their dependency on government featherbedding by finding a more-agreeable position outside government.

    "Too many chiefs and not enough indians" is the classic sign of inflated government payrolls. The readiness with which opposing points of view agree that Parks management is top-heavy, gives us fair notice that when proponents of smaller government get the chance, the Parks System will be in the line of fire as reformers attempt to "starve the beast".

    I agree also with Beamis, that the Democratic victory in the White House & Congress is unlikely to change things at NPS to their liking. Even without the global economic problems, Obama is coming down well to the Right of where some of his supporters inferred he would stand. And I second Beamis' motion that National Parks Traveler be listed as a Parks Story of the Year!

    Ted

  • The AARP Seven-Tip List for Economical National Park Visiting is One Tip Short   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Blessed are the senior retirees!
    So many times within and around many of Our National Parks have they given this scruffy backpacking scrambler a ride,
    a beer, fed me, shared the warmth of their fire, let me use the shower in their room etc.
    Thank You!

  • What Were the Top Stories Across the National Park System in 2008?   5 years 30 weeks ago

    It is a strategy to destroy the competence of government and the confidence of the American people in their government.

    That goal was achieved long before the current OMB or White House ever set out on their current course of destruction.

    Again, I will ask (my broken record----again) how does the scenario, which lepanto so aptly describes, allow y'all to continue to be inspired to put your faith and trust in the criminal enterprise known as government to do the right thing for the national parks? You all seem to have this quaint and barely coherent notion that just getting the right people into positions of federal power will solve the deeply systemic problems that plague the management of the parks and suddenly make everything right for Bambi and his friends in the Enchanted Forest. Pure poppycock!

    That fatuous notion is nothing more than utter and hopelessly idealistic nonsense and mark my words people, things will NOT improve over the next four years due to a Democrat sitting in the Imperial Palace and holding a majority of seats in the Star Fleet Command. This ship is going down and a cute and nattily attired captain at the wheel ain't gonna save what is left of their tattered empire, especially the national parks. They are going to suffer right along with the rest of it.

    Merry Christmas to all of my fellow NPT readers. It has been a fun and exciting year trading comments and insights and if the truth be known I think this forum's existence has been one of the bigger stories of the year for the national parks. I wish it and you all a happy and prosperous (as best as can be achieved in a Federal Reserve caused hyperinflationary depression) new year.

  • Elk Population Growing at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    The CBS News affiliate in San Fransisco reported on Jan. 28, 2008: Controversial Deer Slaughter Resumes At Pt. Reyes

    "Hunters from White Buffalo Inc., an East Coast company, shot between 8 and 10 fallow deer Monday morning in the Point Reyes National Seashore before weather conditions curtailed Monday's planned removal of the non-native deer species from the national park.

    The eradication is intended to preserve the park's native black-tailed deer and tule elk populations.

    John Dell'Osso, spokesman for the Point Reyes National Seashore, said the deer were shot in the Limantour wilderness area of the park. The deer are shot once in the brain by sharpshooters and additional lethal removal efforts this week are weather dependant, Dell'Osso said.

    The extermination of non-native axis and fallow deer began when an experimental contraceptive drug was used on 80 deer last summer. Since then 400 deer have been shot, Dell'Osso said.
    ...
    Dell'Osso said helicopters are used to herd the deer to other locations and shooting the deer in the brain is a humane lethal method of removing the deer.

    The National Park Service approved a plan a year ago to get rid of 1,200 non-native deer, claiming they were a threat to the native species in the area.
    ...
    The Park Service contracted Connecticut-based White Buffalo, which killed about 400 of the deer in the summer and fall. The company returned last Friday to continue the job."

  • What Were the Top Stories Across the National Park System in 2008?   5 years 30 weeks ago


    Tahoma,

    most regional offices HAVE been cut. Key functions, like contracting and project management, that small parks cannot handle, are becoming disfunctional, because of lack of staff.

    Meanwhile, under this departing Administration, significant new responsibilities in "accountability" -- functions I think are mostly useless and just serve to tie up the parks, have become ADDITIONAL burdens on the regional offices. The Office of Management and Budget and the Department of the Interior are setting it up so a park cannot get the funding it needs without first getting thru this maze of "accountability" paperwork; because the smaller parks do not have the expertise, they need backup from the Regions or they go further into the financial black hole.

    While you are right that there are not enough workers, too many at the higher level, that disproportion is caused by the twin problems of money squeezes and all the extra "reporting and accountability" expertise. That means parks are discouraged from hiring either young permanents or seasonals, and so are left with only the aging permanents, and, that some of the functions cannot be done by the GS 5s, 7s & 9s that used to run the parks. For example you cannot run or get funding for a maintenance program unless you are a systems manager with the skill and tolerance of tedium to handle the maintenance computer programs. These jobs will not accept the lower wage-grade maintenance people. In short you cannot get the money into and the work done for impoverished parks without the now-required skills in the Regions. Because there is very little movement in these positions, because it is harder and harder to see the results of your work, and the NPS is not hiring and moving people around, some of these people can become uninspired to put it mildly.

    How should this problem be solved?

    This is not a problem created by the National Park Service. My personal paranoia is this system was devised by people hostile to government, people in OMB and the White House and congressional republicans. The republicans even have a term for it: "starve the beast."

    It is a strategy to destroy the competence of government and the confidence of the American people in their government.

  • Elk Population Growing at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Thanks for the clarification. I guess I must have heard the term "white deer" used in reference to the Point Reyes' axis deer and fallow deer at some point or other; I just don't remember it. (Is there some vernacular word term for the park's Tule elk, too?) The info Kurt furnished about the use of contraceptive technology for this wildlife population control need is absolutely fascinating. Does anyone know about the status of the contraceptive program for the feral horses at Cape Lookout National Seashore?

  • Elk Population Growing at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    See Friends of the White Deer

    The Park has a contractor slaughtering the Fallow or Axis deer introduced to the Point Reyes area in 1948. The former Channel Islands unit superintendent is speaking out.

  • Elk Population Growing at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Actually, they're not "white deer" at all, but rather non-native Axis and Fallow deer (and the Fallow deer can appear white in color). Axis deer are native to India and Sri Lanka, while Fallow deer are more commonly at home in the Mediterranean and Asia Minor.

    In short, both were introduced to the Point Reyes area back in the 1940s, before the national seashore existed in name, by a local landowner. Park officials have a plan to remove all these non-native deer by 2021. You can learn more at this site.

    In the fall of 2008, the Seashore began focusing solely on contraceptive methods to control the non-native deer population. Over the next few years, the park's ambitious deer contraception program will involve veterinarians and wildlife contraception experts and utilize the most advanced techniques to ensure that the remaining deer herd is safely and humanely controlled. Park biologists and wildlife experts have determined that application of fertility control methods to the estimated 100 - 150 remaining deer over the next 5 years will likely result in a non-reproductive remnant herd. The non-native deer will not reproduce and will live out their natural lives within the Seashore over the next 10-15 years. The Seashore's contraception program is one of the largest studies ever attempted with free-ranging wild deer.

  • At Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, Old History Made Way for New History   5 years 30 weeks ago

    Ted, it's interesting that you mention the Soviet approach to public architecture (huge-heroic-stylized). The arch was a product of its time, so some people are naturally going to try to make something of the fact that the arch was designed and built during the heyday of Soviet public architecture. Though the design of the arch may not have been propaganda-inspired, the result was the same. Had Stalin lived to see the arch he would have understood what the designer intended even if he didn't know squat about the settlement of the American West.

  • Elk Population Growing at Great Smoky Mountains National Park   5 years 30 weeks ago

    What "white deer" experiment at Point Reyes?