Lynx captured in Washington State.
The Wildlife News received this photo recently of a lynx captured in eastern Washington State. I just thought people might be interested in seeing just how big and beautiful they are. This one is obviously under the influence of tranquilizers.
After a long time without any being documented there have been two Canada lynx documented in Idaho this year but they are not officially part of Idaho’s fauna and their habitat has not received any special designation in Idaho despite being protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project. We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.
79 Responses to Lynx captured in Washington State.
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I was really hoping to see one when I ran the trapline with them several weeks ago. They are beautiful animals.
Those two gal’s sure have somthing to remember.
Just amazing, as large carnivores are
From time to time we need to pause and reflect on the men and women who spend their careers documenting and building a literature base about wildlife that can then be used for pressuring politicians to actually do something positive for the environment. Wouldn’t many of the politicians love to say, “Show me a lynx, there are none.” Because of biologists like these who achieve wildlife degrees at universities and spend a thankless career on sometimes meager pay and endure the wrath of accusations like, “Over-paid government employees . . . “, we have evidence of what we need to save. We can only say it’s something in the genes that drive some people to achieve this quality of work. For those of us not lucky enough to tread in their shoes we need to support them in all we can whenever we can.
I’ve always had an interest in wildlife, but never considered a career in biology.
From everything I’ve heard about biologists employed by state or federal governments, it’s not easy to find steady work and the pay is less than robust.
The folks who deal with all that to pursue their passion definitely have my respect.
It is easy to find work, it is just damn hard getting paid for that work. Another thing that is hard is to compromise your ideals and belief’s to follow the political will of those in office and it changes every few years.
I now do independent contract work, after working for an agency and am quite a bit happier as well as free to follow by belief’s.
What caused you to decide to look for agency work in WA? Or was it just contracting work you were trying to get?
There are several areas that I frequented while growing up in WA, I also did my graduate studies in WA, I love the Columbia River Gorge area and Indian Heaven Wilderness, I was very disappointed with my stint at FWP and there was a job opportunity in my field with Washington Dept of Game.
Unfortunately, with their budget cuts and their financial problems, the position is still up in the air..
Well, I’d like to see additional money for WDFW being allocated from the State General Fund. I’ve sent emails to state politicians on that topic.
I also ordered one of the WDFW license plates to add a little more on top of the fishing licenses I purchase most years and plan to start bird hunting this fall. I know, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the current budget issues, but it’s something.
What methods do the researchers use to capture animals like that?
I don’t have any information about exactly where or how it was caught.
They had approximately 40 traps that were grouped in different areas where they had previously seen lynx sign. To run the whole trapline on a snowmobile was roughly 60 miles. The traps were almost all located right next to established snowmobile trails which received varying degrees of use.
The traps were all hand-made mostly with PVC and wire-mesh. They were camoflauged with tree-branches. Some of the traps were triggered by a pedal on the ground that was pushed by the lynx when it went for the bait, which was usually beaver. There was another type of trigger for some of the traps, but I don’t recall what it was. There was some type of scent that was also used; a scent far more tolerable than the infamous “lure” that people sometimes spread in front of trail-cams to attract wildlife and has to be quadruple-bagged.
There were electronic devices that mimicked the shriek of an injured snowshoe hare or chirped like a bird in many of the traps.
the traps were checked every 24 hours, during the whole study period which ran most of the winter. They had about five people who alternately checked the traplines in teams of two.
++. The traps were almost all located right next to established snowmobile trails which received varying degrees of use. ++
I’m sure the trapped lynx love the roar of an approaching snowmobile….
Beautiful animal, regardless of the lazy placement of the traps.
I’m no expert on lynx and couldn’t attest to how stressed they get from snowmobile activity.
From my observations, there were tracks everywhere crossing over snowmobile trails that received moderate use. It sounded like lynx had been frequenting the same areas all winter. There were also numerous tracks from snowshoe hares on or near the trails.
Any way to get the snowmobiles out of there? I could see using them for research purposes.
As someone who spent a lot of time in Wisconsin/Michigan winters, snowmobiling is seen as an excuse to break rules, drink, and harass animals.
Researchers should NOT be trapping and handling this cat. I can support using trail cameras etc., but this insane need to capture, handle, tag, and radio collar the animals is detrimental to endangered wildlife. I wonder how big the GPS collar was they undoubtedly put on this Lynx. Is this going to be another Macho B?
Larry, lynx are actually very calm and relatively undisturbed by collaring/trapping. It’s a method that’s been used for a long time with little impact. They return time and again for the free meal, obviously thinking the experience is worth the free meal.
You missed my point. This Lynx should be left alone and not harassed by researchers seeking an advanced degee.
The photo of the researcher with the Lynx reminded me of the photo of Josh Bransford with his snared wolf. Was she smiling?
Interestingly, no one tampered with any of the lynx traps, which was surprising to me given the ease of access to them via the network of snowmobile trails. There is not only a risk of vandalism from folks who feel the way you do, but also from some rural residents who believe the study could lead to additional restrictions on their reacreational activities.
Someone did however tamper with a wolverine trap up in that area.
Thanks for your knowledgeable input on this important story. Are the sets conspicuously visible from the snowmobile trails, or do you really have to know what to look for (in order for some idiot to mess with them)?
Most of the traps were quite visible from the snowmobile trails, and any idiot could have had easy access to them. They were camoflauged in a way to reduce the caution of the lynx, not avoid detection by humans. There were also markers at the location of each trap, which I believe were meant to reduce the risk of one of the reasearchers missing one along the line. They were not concerned with the potential for tampering based on prior experience.
I took a number of pictures, and just tried to attach one (without anyone’s face showing) I took of a trap while standing on a snowmobile trail. I don’t know how/if you can attach a picture to a post. Your friend with the Mossberg Shorty is working on the trap in this particular picture.
I’m not surprised. Thanks for the info.
Any chance the traps can be moved from this busy area?
I don’t know what other options they considered when deciding on the placement of the traps. Logistically, it would be challenging to set forty traps with appropriate dispersal without access to snowmobile trails or plowed roads of some kind. It actually sounded challenging getting the traps in and out even with access to the trail network.
One of the issues we talked about was the potential for cougars or coyotes to use the trail network to get into higher elevations during the winter and compete with lynx for hares. We saw one coyote utilizing a trail during the day, and when he pitched over the bank to get clear of us, it was obvious that he wouldn’t have been able to get far at that elevation in un-packed snow.
I’ve come to the point of view that I don’t care much for collars on wildlife but I think it is important that, in some cases, they are useful and important. If this lynx is living in northeast Washington then it is outside of the area defined as critical habitat. With enough documentation of lynx in certain areas then it is possible for critical habitat protections or other protections to be expanded. This would, in my mind, be a good thing.
Last night when walking my dog, I wondered about the collar issue. They seem dangerous. The collars could catch on debris, trees or fences, or if the animal is engaged on a fight the collar might be twisted or caught in the other animal’s teeth or legs, or the leg of the animal might become entangled in the collar, and finally it seems like the collars are used to track and kill animals eventually. I don’t know if there are statistics or information about this but would like to.
If some kind of tracking mechanism must be used why not a microchip like the kind used for pets but with more sophisticated abilities? At least the animal would not have to wear something that is completely unnatural and potentially harmful?
A collar that is used to track an animal needs a battery. The tags you are thinking of are called PIT tags, which don’t have batteries, and the only way you can tell an animal has one is with a detector that has to be in very close proximity. The detector excites the tag enough so that it generates just enough electricity to emit the code signal, otherwise it is not sending out a signal and there is no way to detect it.
I used them for years while working with salmon.
They can be useful under the right circumstances, as with salmon that pass through dams where detectors can be placed, otherwise, you would have to recapture the animal and check it with a detector.
It wouldn’t be very useful in this instance but I know that PIT tags were placed in wolf pups for a time at the beginning of wolf recovery efforts. That was because the pups were still growing and the collar wouldn’t stay on them or would choke them as they grew.
With wolves, you are right, they are often used to find them and kill them or their pack mates. I’m sure that is the case with other species as well.
Is this the same thing Ken or maybe a new breakthough on tracking devices?
There have been great advancements in reducing the burden transmitters pose to birds. The transmitters in the article Nancy posted do not actively transmit data while on smaller birds; they require a recapture or recovery of the bird to collect the data. But radio transmitters, including expensive GPS transmitters that transmit signals while on the bird have been made lightweight enough to monitor larger and more critically endangered birds like the California condor and whooping crane.
GPS transmitters have been attached to leg bands on whooping cranes in the western flock. They weigh ~3 ounces, transmit locations every 4 hours, last ~4 years, and fall off after 3-5 years. They transmit a mortality signal if the birds have not moved in a certain amount of time (10-12 hours). The largest period of mortality for the western flock of whooping cranes occurs during their migration from Canada’s Wood Buffalo National Park to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Hundreds have simply disappeared on their way South with only several dozen having been recovered and had the cause of their death identified. It is crucial to their recovery to identify why these cranes die. It is also vital to further map out their migratory route as hundreds of wind turbines are poised to spring up all along the route and potentially kill cranes.
The information gathered from radio or satellite tracking is only as relevant as policy makers allow. I recall in the mid-2000s, USFWS attempting to determine critical habitat for Florida panthers by using only daytime telemetry data. This omitted the majority of the habitat the primarily nocturnal cats used for hunting and travelling, especially agricultural land and prairies which were prized by developers.
A few mornings ago, I was starting to walk into town when I noticed a guy in a small inflatable boat loitering just offshore, to the point where I became suspicious that he might be casing the neighborhood. Then I noticed what looked like a tight cluster of crab pot buoys right next to shore and another guy standing not far from them. As I approached, I noticed they were not buoys but goldeneye decoys with a mist net strung through them. It turns out they were trying to catch goldeneyes to attach satellite transmitter tags, and I will be very interested to learn of their results. A few years ago they did the same with surf scoters and found that some of them make it from here to the McKenzie Delta in 2 days. Last year, walking the two mile stretch to town, I estimated there were about 60,000 surf scoters, which according to my outdated waterfowl book would amount to a signficant fraction of the world population. They crowd in here during the spring just off the beach by the thousands, in the last open water next to the continental land mass waiting for the lakes, etc. to thaw inland. They move back and forth with the tide over the intertidal zone in very dense, very noisy rafts with one edge folding under as ducks dive and emerge at the back like a big conveyor belt. I used to wonder what on earth they found for food that could support that number of birds, and then somebody told me “mussels”. Duh! There are massive, dense intertidal mussel beds right under where the rafts hang out and obvious extensive windrows of crushed mussel shells always develop at the high tide line this time of year. It just never occurred to me that a duck had the where-withal to crush and eat mussels, not to mention they get so hot from paralytic shellfish poisoning in spring and summer that no human could imagine eating them.
Thanks for clarification
have there been problems with the collars related to choking and catching on trees, fences or on other animals teeth?
Our cats have “break away” collars with homing devices contained in waterproof splash cases. They can be tracked within 200 feet using the receiver (most cats are hiders, meaning they will hole up in a window well or under a deck when displaced).
I’ve watched them enter thick bushes, and most of the time the collars come off rather easily when snagged. I doubt the collars being used on these wild animals are “break away”, and the potential for strangulation is high.
If, and it’s a big “if”, collars are appropriately sized and properly attached by conscientious and competent biologists the risk of entanglement or strangulation is about zero. If done right there is only enough lack between the animal’s neck and the collar to fit your fingers. This keeps it from being too tight but also not so loose as to allow an animal to get its paw stuck inside. This fitting along with most mammals heads being wider than their necks eliminates the threat of entanglement in branches or other habitat features. But that is only when radio-collaring is done correctly.
To me the issue of attaching radio collars or other forms of tracking devices is not black and white. It depends on the methods, reasons, and techniques. With the addition of requiring an animal to be trapped and usually drugged there are a whole lot of variables that make it imperative that only highly trained, good intentioned people attach them and even then only when the data collected will be of clear conservation value to the species.
++I’ve watched them [my cats] enter thick bushes, and most of the time the collars come off rather easily when snagged.++
Wait a minute, I thought you only had indoor cats (including the feral cats you adopt). You know, the ones that don’t kill off song birds. So, you now admit to having cats that are not environment friendly?
So, now you track them outdoors, except when the collars come off easily in the brush when snagged. What’s up with that?
I think that they did a similar multi-year study trying to trap lynx over in the Loomis, which is not too far from where the lynx pictured was caught. They only successfully trapped one lynx that I know of during that Loomis study, and have caught several during the current study in-between the Methow and Loomis.
The takeaway I had was that this study has been important in helping to determine the actual dispersal of lynx in north-central Washington, among other things.
There is really quite a bit going on up on north-central WA right now. They have active studies on lynx and wolverine, new wolf activity, a confirmed siting of a grizzly in NCNP, etc.
The wildlife research industry needs to stop seeing every wild animal as an Employment Oopportunity. The trapping of wildlife to put collars on the animals to follow them day and night only differs from the practice of trapping them for their fur by regular trappers, in that the fur trapper kills the animals sooner.
The wildlife with radio collars die later from infection from the dart gun wound or from starvation due to being handicapped by the large, intrusive collars. They get listed on the graduate thesis as “Died from unknown causes”.
I wondered about the effect of the collars. I don’t leave my dog’s collar on when he is playing with other dogs or at home alone after seeing him stuck in the back of the car when the collar caught on something. I can only imagine those things getting stuck in branches or trees and underbrush.
“The wildlife with radio collars die later from infection from the dart gun wound or from starvation due to being handicapped by the large, intrusive collars.”
The BS meter is clanging at full volume.
You can say that again!
Or perhaps the “self interest” meter? Larry makes a living photographing wildlife, so he has a vested interest in them not having collars. Of course, that doesn’t excuse making things up to suit your purpose.
And these people that collar have no self-interest? So they can say, “I followed collared wildlife around for 6 months, where’s my PhD?”
I don’t have a problem with Larry protecting his own interest (I was just pointing it out)–I do have a problem with dishonest advocacy.
FYI: Those who radio-collar wildlife for use in University-sponsored studies go through a rigorous process designed to minimize negative consequences to study subjects. The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee oversees and monitors all research with animals; you can read more here: http://www.iacuc.org/.
Actually, there is proof that collars impart harm. The extent of this harm is just beginning to be understood. See the effects of radio collars on San Joaquin Kit Foxes and survival rates and loss of mass:
Collars, in this study, are to be avoided during periods of stress, and survival rates of newly-collared animals were lower. I wonder how this applies to lynx who are living from meal to meal during winter.
Perhaps instead of responding to Louise (who is very friendly) with an aggressive tone, you should do a bit of research first.
“Actually, there is proof that collars impart harm. The extent of this harm is just beginning to be understood. See the effects of radio collars on San Joaquin Kit Foxes and survival rates and loss of mass:”
Another swing and a miss, Mike. Maybe you should read the whole paper instead of just the abstract – it might improve your batting average.
“Perhaps instead of responding to Louise (who is very friendly) with an aggressive tone, you should do a bit of research first.”
Another whiff – my post was clearly directed at Larry Thorngren’s BS, not Louise’s.
Here’s my research – over 800 wolves collared by my agency with zero mortalities due to needle poke infections. And in well over 300 collared wolves necropsied, not a single death attributable to starvation caused by wearing a radio collar.
“Perhaps an apology is in order?”
No apology necessary, Mike – you’re just in over your head, as usual.
Try not to change the goal posts, ma’iingan.
It’s clear that the process of collaring and incapacitating animals to apply transmitters is not a benign process, and does cause various levels of harm.
This is not candy, and IMHO it shows a lack of professionalism to flaunt it as such.
Negative effects to animals include reductions in survival rates, physical condition, or reproductive success. Such effects can result from direct injuries from the package (entanglement, abrasions restriction or impediment of movement,or altered behavior.Direct injury or death can result from tight transmitters that damage integuments or impede respiration, feeding, or growth.
In short, Louise was correct. Perhaps an apology is in order?
Grizzly bear cub dies from internal bleeding after being darted:
The process of applying a collar to a wild animal is not benign. Never has been.
This illustrates the point I made below. This article describes findings entirely different than what you cited, and openly admits to sample bias, low sample size, and lack of data collection standardization among other faults. You cited material from the article introduction, where the author summarized findings of others to set the stage for his study – you did NOT cite his work, yet you cited his manuscript. You did not bother to read the original papers and cite them accurately, nor did you accurately cite the relevant findings of this study – frankly they’re interesting enough to warrant some discussion, if dated, and they did push this body of science forward to better practices today. This is scientific illiteracy and frankly, dishonesty. A good Master’s or doctoral degree advisor would have schooled you for this.
I’ll be sure to mention that to the professor I’m working with ATM….
To flaunt the process of collaring as benign is completely dishonest.
Trying to obfuscate the issue with pointless nitpicking is also questionable. I can point to study after study of various animals and of course produce the same results:
Radio collars should be used with caution because demographic parameters of geese because they modify
their behaviour, promote divorces and depress reproductive
success. Similar effects have been reported for
harness-attached transmitters. In addition, harnesses
are difficult to adjust during the moulting period because
they cannot be fitted too tightly to account for future
expansion of the atrophied breast muscles and cannot
be fitted too loosely as a bird can get its foot entangled
(J-F. Giroux, pers. obs.).
Feel free to dismiss this as well.
You neglected to note that, (a) the study you site looks only at San Joaquin kit foxes, and (b) the same study concludes that “few occurrences of injury and mortality directly attributable to radiocollars were observed among kit foxes…”
In fact, the authors go on to note that, “some of the injuries and the single documented mortality apparently were caused by collars that were fitted improperly to foxes.”
Actually I stated that the study involved Kit Foxes in the earliest post.
But let’s just cut to the chase.
Is the process of attaching collars to wildlife a completely benign process?
++In fact, the authors go on to note that, “some of the injuries and the single documented mortality apparently were caused by collars that were fitted improperly to foxes.”++
The point I and others were making is not that collars kill every animal they are applied to. The point was this is not a benign process, and both studies I cited verify this.
“Few” injuries to Kit Foxes caused by collaring is not “perfectly benign”. I don’t consider this an “oops”. I consider this unnecessary injury.
Clearly, collaring causes harm to certain animals. This cannot be disputed by any lucid individual.
“The point I and others were making is not that collars kill every animal they are applied to. The point was this is not a benign process, and both studies I cited verify this.”
What constitutes “benign” cannot be measured dichotomously, but rather, requires a continuum. (A paper cut isn’t the same as having your leg chopped off). I would think that it is obvious that the process of capturing, handling and radio-collaring a wild animal is not completely benign?
From my perspective, the important point (that you seem to miss) is that outcomes differ depending upon species, method of capture, and the health of the individual animal captured–so you cannot simply make broad generalizations like, “wildlife with radio collars die later from infection from the dart gun wound or from starvation due to being handicapped by the large, intrusive collars.”
This statement (and your continued assertions) ring hollow NOT because animals are never harmed by radio collars, but because they overgeneralize and overstate the nature of the effect. Then you make things worse by cherry picking studies in an attempt to support your conclusions without understanding the breadth of the available literature.
There is evidence that wearing radio transmitters has negative consequences for somespecies–in particular avian species. There are also studies that have documented other effects (e.g. lower body weight, reduced movement) of wearing radio collars in certain species (e.g., bears). However, there are also numerous studies that fail to show any effect, and other studies that indicate that negative effects are often short term. An honest assessment of the peer-reviewed literature does not support Larry’s statement about radio collars–the statement many here objected to. It is simply dishonest advocacy.
For the record, the statement that Larry made that many of us object to (and you continue to defend) was:
“The wildlife with radio collars die later from infection from the dart gun wound or from starvation due to being handicapped by the large, intrusive collars.”
Now you claim:
“‘Few’ injuries to Kit Foxes caused by collaring is not “perfectly benign”…Clearly, collaring causes harm to certain animals. This cannot be disputed by any lucid individual.”
And you accuse Ma’iingan of “moving the goal posts”?
++What constitutes “benign” cannot be measured dichotomously, but rather, requires a continuum. ++
It also requires context. “Minimal effects” are not minimal if you are one of the animals that dies/suffers injury.
++ I would think that it is obvious that the process of capturing, handling and radio-collaring a wild animal is not completely benign?++
It’s obvious to some, but not the few who continually act as if it’s child’s play.
++From my perspective, the important point (that you seem to miss) is that outcomes differ depending upon species, method of capture, and the health of the individual animal captured–so you cannot simply make broad generalizations like, “wildlife with radio collars die later from infection from the dart gun wound or from starvation due to being handicapped by the large, intrusive collars.”++
I haven’t heard of dying from dart infection, but it’s always possible, I suppose. Anyway, that wasn’t my point, but rather Larry’s. as for going hungry, yes, that does happen as seen in the loss of mass in some animals form these studies.
++This statement (and your continued assertions) ring hollow NOT because animals are never harmed by radio collars, but because they overgeneralize and overstate the nature of the effect.++
Again, those weren’t my words. My point, since being on this forum, is that there has to be a very good reason to tag and collar animals. “Because I’m in school” is not a valid reason.
++There is evidence that wearing radio transmitters has negative consequences for somespecies–in particular avian species. There are also studies that have documented other effects (e.g. lower body weight, reduced movement) of wearing radio collars in certain species (e.g., bears). However, there are also numerous studies that fail to show any effect, and other studies that indicate that negative effects are often short term. An honest assessment of the peer-reviewed literature does not support Larry’s statement about radio collars–the statement many here objected to. It is simply dishonest advocacy.++
So what you’re saying is nothing is exactly set in stone. To move forward without complete certainty is IMHO the most intellectually dishonest approach of all…
In a general sense, Larry’s claim of dart injury and loss of mass are correct. Does this happen to every animal? No. But it doesn’t have to in order to raise eyebrows. As far as Larry’s comment about dart infection, I have not seen that in a study, but you never know. Any breakage of skin has potential for infection.
Perhaps what you objected to was the hyperbole. The truth is he had a point.
++ The truth is he had a point.
Actually, Larry just had an unfounded opinion, nothing more, which is not shared by the scientists who do that kind of work, or are knowledgeable in the field and cited relevant documented source material. There is a difference.
No, he had a point. If you strip away the hyperbole, there has been damage caused by the process of collaring, even darting.
This is supported by a multitude of news stories and studies.
Actually it appears to be rare compared to other risks the study animals face in their environment. So much for one’s ability to sort the fly specks from the pepper, Mike.
The point was it does happen, and there are many variable we can’t quite understand yet, such as total stress factors and psychological effects.
And again, this goes beyond a single animal and into man’s general motorized intrusion into the back country.
There are many things to look at here.
Again, those weren’t my words. My point, since being on this forum, is that there has to be a very good reason to tag and collar animals. “Because I’m in school” is not a valid reason.
And if you were paying attention, you would know that all university studies are required to show a “very good reason” when they submit their paperwork to IACUC. And no, ‘because I’m in school’ isn’t considered adequate.
“So what you’re saying is nothing is exactly set in stone. To move forward without complete certainty is IMHO the most intellectually dishonest approach of all…”
LOL! Science almost never provides “complete certainty”. You are recycling the same argument the climate change deniers employ–i.e., we don’t know for sure, so it’s foolish to act. More importantly, you seem to fail to grasp that it is only through science that we are able to quantify our (un)certainty. If we took the approach you advocate, no science would ever take place.
“In a general sense, Larry’s claim of dart injury and loss of mass are correct. Does this happen to every animal? No. But it doesn’t have to in order to raise eyebrows.”
No, Mike. That’s like saying, that ‘because wolves kill elk, in a general sense, it is true that wolves are decimating elk populations’. Go ahead, try to have it both ways (this ought to be good).
“As far as Larry’s comment about dart infection, I have not seen that in a study, but you never know. Any breakage of skin has potential for infection.”
The key here is that you admit that you “have not seen that in a study”–and yet you continue to defend even after several individuals have attempted to show you the inaccuracy of this statement.
++And if you were paying attention, you would know that all university studies are required to show a “very good reason” when they submit their paperwork to IACUC. And no, ‘because I’m in school’ isn’t considered adequate.++
Just like self-select online polls, right JB? lol.
“A good reason” is entirely subjective, of course. You seem to think that there are good reasons for killing wolves. Not everyone does. This very site was founded on supporting wolves, long before it was overtaken by the Kill Crowd.
LOL! Science almost never provides “complete certainty”. You are recycling the same argument the climate change deniers employ–i.e., we don’t know for sure, so it’s foolish to act. More importantly, you seem to fail to grasp that it is only through science that we are able to quantify our (un)certainty. If we took the approach you advocate, no science would ever take place.++
You’re changing the goal posts, JB. My comments relate directly to the potential ending of an intelligent mammal’s life, not all science. There should be a good reason for killing something. Many people feel the same way. You may not.
Enjoy your bath of hyperbole. Is it bubbly?
++No, Mike. That’s like saying, that ‘because wolves kill elk, in a general sense, it is true that wolves are decimating elk populations’. Go ahead, try to have it both ways (this ought to be good).++
That’s a terrible analogy. When you strip away the bickering and nonsense that often gets posted, you’ll see that darts do cause problems. So what if Larry was dramatic about it? It does happen. Now, I haven’t specifically seen a study that indicated an animal was killed by infection caused by dart, but darting has killed animals for other reasons. This is simply fact. I think that’s what he was getting at. But the Kill Crowd is simply looking for a fight. That’s how it’s been here for quite some time. It didn’t use to be this way.
++The key here is that you admit that you “have not seen that in a study”–and yet you continue to defend even after several individuals have attempted to show you the inaccuracy of this statement.++
I think you’re having an issue with context here, and perhaps looking to argue just to argue. I’m defending the fact that darts cause problems in general.
“That’s a terrible analogy. When you strip away the bickering and nonsense that often gets posted, you’ll see that darts do cause problems. So what if Larry was dramatic about it? It does happen. Now, I haven’t specifically seen a study that indicated an animal was killed by infection caused by dart, but darting has killed animals for other reasons.”
Actually, it’s a great analogy because, “if you strip away the bickering and nonsense that often gets posted, you’ll see that [wolves too] cause problems.” But of course, what presents a problem to one person isn’t problematic at all to the next–we can agree on that much.
“You’re changing the goal posts, JB. My comments relate directly to the potential ending of an intelligent mammal’s life, not all science. There should be a good reason for killing something.”
Again, if you were paying attention (you might actually try reading people’s posts, particularly, TCs) you would know that researchers are required to use the best methods available for ensuring the safety of their study subjects (again, see http://www.iacuc.org). Peer-review and other mechanisms also help ensure that studies are not undertaken for trivial purposes. Let’s be crystal clear, shall we? if you desire oversight of wildlife studies, it already exists, both regulatory oversight (IACUC) and peer-review.
And I didn’t change the goal posts, Mike. I simply noted that you employed the exact same argument that climate deniers employ when you suggested that we should be certain before we act. Your words:
“To move forward without complete certainty is IMHO the most intellectually dishonest approach of all…”
Your words, your goal posts. I merely pointed out that the goal you would have us set is unachievable.
There’s certainly enough hyperbole in your posts for me to bath in, but I think I’ll go for a walk outside instead. Good day, Mike.
Larry I’ve had wild eastern coyotes/coywolves radio-collared for 8-10 years (obviously captured when young). These animals lived double an average life with the collar on them. If done right, collars have very minimal to even no effect on the animal’s long term survival. Mind you, these animals tested positive for Lyme Disease and Heartworm yet continued to live. If I was a coyote or wolf I’d take a collar over a disease or parasite such as Heartworm…
Thanks for your insight, a question, why the collar vs lyme or heartworm? I’m missing something! does the collar do something to protect the animal?
No it doesn’t protect them (except sometimes collars stop snares from strangling them but that is exceptional circumstance).
I was just stating the hypothetical that I would rather wear a collar than have a disease or debilitating parasite if I were an animal. Of course they dont’ have the chose.
The point is that Larry always greatly overstates the impact that collars have. In general the animals that wear them are minimally impacted by them and info collected on them generally helps their species. The best example here would be wolves in yellowstone and the data/info produced by studying them vs the minimal impact caused by the collars.
++The point is that Larry always greatly overstates the impact that collars have. In general the animals that wear them are minimally impacted by them and info collected on them generally helps their species. The best example here would be wolves in yellowstone and the data/info produced by studying them vs the minimal impact caused by the collars.++
The question one has to ask is if the information gathered is worth those animals that do die/suffer from the process of collar attachment. There are all sorts of other factors too, of course, such as potential psychological effects we can’t readily observe, the intrusion of man ever-further into the remaining wilderness (the ceaseless buzzing of Cessna’s and other technology in the last wilderness areas).
I’m not hardcore anti-collar, but I also don’t think it’s handing candy to a kid, either. This process can kill and maim animals. There better be a damn good reason for employing it.
There´s definitely some kind of collar mania. Is there a species, not wearing a collar or a ear tag or both? Coyotes, Wolves, Bears, Foxes, Cougars, Lynx, Elk, you name it, they wear it! The value of the research results is often questionable. The esthetical appearance not. Not only photographers (professional or non-professional alike) hate these collars. The animals look like a remote controlled toy. At least, it seems, the collars pose no real thread to the animal as far as getting stuck in branches is concerned. I think the design prevents that somehow. I´ve never heard of such a case. They are maybe a nuisance for the animal and there was a wolf pack in YNP famous for chewing off the collars. Further, these collars are expensive, so money seems not to be a eal factor in the respective projects.
I’ve done quite a few studies over the years involving radio-collars. I’ve never had an animal get “stuck in branches or trees or underbrush”. I’ve also never had an animal die from infection caused by a dart wound or of starvation “due to being handicapped by the large, intrusive collars”. Never on any of these accounts. Do such things ever happen? Yes, life can be messy – the list of bad things that happen in medical, biological, conservation, ecological, and related fields of research is endless if you look hard enough. Generally, most problems are avoidable and good research performed by knowledgeable and qualified people builds in redundant measures to prevent such losses – we like wildlife too (why are we in this field?) and we cannot afford to be so obtuse or myopic or thoughtless. There are endless regulatory systems in place (IACUC, IBC, peer review funding panels and boards, peer review of manuscripts, endless federal and state regulations on animal welfare, etc.) to keep us honest. People – learn before speaking. An educated critic is valuable, a kneejerk personal agenda is worthless. Stay vigilant, but please become educated advocates and work with people that know what they’re talking about.
As to “money seems not to be a eal (sic) factor in the respective projects”, that is just silly. Safety for animals and humans is the primary consideration in any reputable study. Scientific merit and relevance to the species in question are the driving factors in whether studies should get funded. And usually “money” (availability of funding, generally acquired in a very competitive granting process) is a determining factor in whether a study happens or does not happen. Fewer and fewer worthwhile studies are being performed due to a lack of funding – federal, state, intramural, NGO, and other wildlife funding sources are drying up. If you’ve never tried to keep a career alive competing for dwindling grant dollars to do the research you, your peers, and other stakeholders believe important and impactful, I’m forced to devalue comments without merit. As to the value of research results often being “questionable” – some of you are in no position to evaluate many of these studies thoroughly. Seriously, in no position to do so, especially as you rarely read the peer-reviwed articles critically. You’re rarely equipped to evaluate the body of knowledge leading to the research question, the methodology, the collection of data or data analysis, or the conclusions. Hell, I’m not equipped to deftly evaluate wildlife studies far afield from my areas of expertise, and I avoid doing so. You’re rowing with the same oar as people like Senator McCain questioning grizzly bear census techniques based on DNA microsatellite analysis and judging them worthless boondoggles at taxpayers’ expense. The internet has made everyone an expert on every subject. Never before has so little knowledge been so dangerous.
well put TC!
Thanks for the thoughtful comment.
My view is that the purpose of the radio collar is a much more significant issue than its mere presence.
Yes there are accidents, incompetence, poor designs, etc.; but what really counts is why the animal wears a radio collar. For example, a collared wolf by U.S. Wildlife Services, our national wildlife killing agency, is a very bad thing. However, a collar on a wolf in Yellowstone Park is in sum probably a good thing even though they don’t look so good in photographs. They do serve to protect the wolves. I think the anti-wolf people are getting emboldened enough that they might try shooting or poisoning wolves and other wildlife inside the Park.
Folks should also be aware that there are many other kinds of identification and tracking devices for animals such as microchips, clipped fins (on fish), ear tags, etc..
Radio collars will be largely phased out in favor of less intrusive devices.
Thanks Jon and Ralph,
Ralph your comments about the purpose of the collars is a core concern about their use. Its good to know that the collars do not in your opionin Jon seem to be causing injury or mortalities.
++For example, a collared wolf by U.S. Wildlife Services, our national wildlife killing agency, is a very bad thing.++
I have a slightly different view. If collaring a problem wolf(ves) can tend to show evidence of the wolf being at a time sensitive location of a livestock depredation incident, it would have evidentiary value which would be harder to dispute. On the other hand not having this type of evidence leaves open greater risk of criticism that this particular wolf(ves) need to be lethally controlled. The down side of fewer collars of all wolves in a pack could mean that some uncollared one gets implicated in an event involving a collared one, just by association.
I gather your concern is the greater ease to track a particular wolf to do the actual killing of it.
WM, I have an even better idea. How about ranchers watch their livestock?
Well thought out post and I agree 100% with your statements.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the recent string of disasters in Glacier and the incident with Macho B.
These events are not all that rare.
What I’d like to see is tracking collars for convicted poachers, making sure they do not approach wildlife habitat.
Something along these lines happens when the planets align… More than a few obtuse poachers have been caught with collar in hand (or truck, or garage), or have admitted to a crime when threatened with (exaggerated) stories about what those collars “can do”. I can say no more on the subject without digging myself a hole.
“What I’d like to see is tracking collars for convicted poachers, making sure they do not approach wildlife habitat.”
Oh boy, ain’t that the truth! And, while we’re at it, maybe we can use collars to enforce bans on convicted poachers being on public lands, specifically including park lands. If they’re going to get suspended sentences and probation, no matter what, anyway, then maybe we can use tracking devices as a way to keep them from temptation and forestall recidivism for at a little while.
Speaking of “collars” Saw a collared cow elk this morning and that, was a first. The white collar really stood out on her neck.
She and 4 other elk were trying to jump a fenceline along the road as I approached them. The last one, a yearling, got a leg caught.
My heart was in my throat but after a few seconds of frantic tugging, tuffs of hair flying every which way, she thankfully, got her leg free of the wire.
One of the lucky ones.
This looks like a good place to leave a note about a perhaps low-probability, relatively unexpected, certainly unofficial Lynx-presence.
About 15 years back, on the north-central Olympic Peninsula, near the coast and the Elwha River, I watched at about 100 yards, for at least 5 uninterrupted minutes, in perfectly clear view, what certainly looked for all the world to me, to be a lynx.
This winter, working with a friend, he idled his excavator, jumped down out of the cab, and excitedly asked me; “How big do bobcats get?!”. He then described what a prudent person would say could only be a lynx.
Wildlife people & officials purse their lips, nodding slowly. “We have no confirmation. We’re hearing things. Maybe they are erratics. Maybe we could have a small population. But so far, it’s just these kinds of sighting-reports.”
For as long as the rumors have been going on (I got the above reaction, when I reported what I saw, back in the ’90s), I would expect that good tracks in the snow, scat or monitored sites would have led to elevation of the ‘rumor’. So I have to downgrade it, on absence of strengthening indications.
But there you go: We think we are seeing Lynx on the remote Olympic Peninsula. And have been, for many years.