Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wolf Terrorist Sentenced

The trend of light penalties for killing/trying to kill endangered species continues. Last week Timothy B. Sundles was sentenced for trying to kill wolves with poison meatballs. In his attempt to kill wolves, Sundles instead killed three domestic dogs, a coyote, a fox, several magpies, and probably other animals as well. In addition, his actions posed significant risk to anyone who handled the animals. What does one get for all of this - six days in jail and somewhere near $2000 in penalties. Basically a joke. Its my belief that the sentence would have been lighter still had the domestic dogs not been killed. Probably the most significant part of the penalty is that Sundles is banned from public lands for 2 years, although I doubt that there is anyone out there enforcing this.
Just another fine example of our society's lack of respect for life, for wild ecosystems and our lack of serious enforcement of the laws to protect them. This was a planned attack (Sundles supposedly had a web site describing the recipe and process of killing wolves with tainted meatballs) endangering wildlife, people, and a valuable public asset. For that he will get a slap on the wrist and be honored by his friends.

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Bike Transportation

With the onset of warm weather, the excuses for not riding your bike to work are quickly decreasing. A local blogger - The Bike Nazi - has written a great series of articles on Why Bike Transportation. Its a great series, check it out.

Reason #10 – "Unrighteous Pride"
Reason #9 - The Environment
Reason #8 – Sense of Achievement
Reason #7 - Social Responsibility / Conservation
Reason #6 - A Feast for the Senses
Reason #5 - Independence and Self-Reliance
Reason #4 - Exercise and Physical Health
Reason #3 - Stress Relief / Mental Health
Reason #2 - Economy
Reason #1 - (Drum roll... ... ...) FUN!!

On a related note, the local highway district has announced their "roadways to bikeways" plan, which should be completed by next year. The intent is to make the bike lanes within our city more useful, to "take existing pathway systems in Boise and Eagle and connect them so bicyclists can get from Meridian to Kuna, or Boise to Star, in a way that's safer." As a recreational and commuting cyclist, I view this as a positive plan that should encourage more bicycle commuting. If you would liek to provide your input take the survey.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Something has been bothering me since the horrible events occurred at the Virginia Tech campus earlier this week. I was on a business trip during the time, providing more access to TV and newspaper media than I usually see. Nearly every channel, morning and night, had coverage of the events on campus. We listened as the media poured more and more people in front of the camera to say the same thing - what a despicable act this was. People saying what we all believe, bringing to life those emotions.
But where was the media the day before, when the same things happened in Iraq? Where were they the day before that when the same thing happened in Iraq? What about the day before that? Some might say, "but these were university students in their prime"? So where was the media when the over 70 students were killed at a Baghdad University in January. This story barely made the front page, a simple mention on most news programs. Did the president fly there to meet with the families?
We in America say we care about what's right. We say we care about innocent people dying. Why is no one paying attention? Is the difference that we actually created the problem in Iraq? If we create it, then it somehow doesn't count?
We wonder why most of the world dislike and/or hate the US. They watch as we consistently ignore innocent deaths around the world, many that we ourselves have caused. Then make a huge week long spectacle when a much smaller incident occurs here. How would you perceive that if you were in their shoes? I would find it extremely hypocritical.
Its time for the US to step up and take leadership in the world. Leadership by stopping the war in Iraq. Leadership by engaging in positive change instead of negative. Leadership by showing some compassion for others. Leadership to save this world from what we in the US are doing to it.
I am truly sorry for the families and friends of those killed in Virgina. I am equally sorry for the families and friends of the innocent people being killed daily in Iraq.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Blatent Disregard for Life

The Idaho Fish and Game once again demonstrated their blatent disregard for life, by unjustifiably killing an endangered Grizzly Bear. Last week a man in Eastern Idaho was mauled by a Grizzly Bear. The mauling occurred on his property and was likely the result of the bear trying to defend a moose carcass which was left over from the winter. Because of the mauling, the Idaho Fish and Game trapped and killed the bear.
The argument for killing the bear appears to be that the bear might do it again? One Fish and Game officer also said that the bear could have rabies! An apparent way for the officer to justify what he was doing.
Anyone with wildlife experience should know that most animals, especially carnivours, will fight to protect their food. If this bear was really out to eat people, I guarrantee that it would have been successful in doing so! It most likely just wanted to keep the man away from the area.
To put this in perspective, the bear was guilty of our law of battery. For that, we have given the bear an immediate death sentance. It isn't like this bear was a repeat offender, breaking into houses, chasing or hunting people in the streets. No, it was in its element, far from population centers, in its surroundings, doing what bears do - just trying to survive.
We could have relocated the bear, we could have hazed the bear from the area, we could have let it be!
When will our society learn to live with nature? When will we learn that we are dependent upon nature for our own survival? When will we look at the bear and realize that it also has a right to the land? When will we stop killing things just because they "could" be a threat?


(click photos to enlarge)
This morning, on a cloudy, windy day, Karyn and I took an extended hike through our local foothills. We saw some good birds, nothing particularly unusual. Due to the wind, the Great Horned Owl chicks were hidden in their cave (counted at least 3 chicks yesterday, probably 4). The Redtailed Hawk chicks were nested underneath their mother to stay warm (counted at least 1 chick so far, most likely at least 2). But it was a great day for Belted Kingfishers! The Hull's Grove Reserve has two ponds. There is a pair of Kingfishers in each pond, although we only spied 3 today.

Upper Pond Female Belted Kingfisher.

Upper Pond Female Belted Kingfisher.

Upper Pond Male Belted Kingfisher.

Lower Pond Male Belted Kingfisher - hovering.
Lower Pond Male Belted Kingfisher - hovering.

Lower Pond Male Belted Kingfisher - hovering.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Does Anyone Care?

There are a couple of blog posts/articles out today asking very valid questions on whether or not people in the US really care about what is going on in the world. I agree strongly with each of these articles.
The first is a blog post at The Questionable Authority titled An open letter to my Representatives and Senators. In this letter the author, a spouse of a current army officer, points out the fact that most of America does not currently appear to feel any sacrifice with our continued failed policy in Iraq. He points to the media coverage of racist DJs and paternity tests getting more coverage than the extension of the army's tours in Iraq from 12 months to 15 months. He suggests that any further involvement in Iraq be funded by a tax increase, so everyone can start sharing in the burden (not that taxes come close to the burden currently carried by our military). I fully agree and will be sending his letter on to my own representatives with my additional comments. I encourage you to do the same.
The second is an article in The Detroit News on Lee Iacocca's new book Where Have All the Leaders Gone?. In the book, Iacocca apparently states, according to the Detroit News, "Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, 'Stay the course.' ". Wow. Very good questions. I will definitely put that book on my list.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Google Analytics

Being the geeky person that I am, I am very interested in the analytics data that Google Analytics provides regarding my blog. It has been running for close to a month now.

Most of the traffic coming into my blog is coming from Google searches (about 55%). Next would be referrals from other blogs and web sites (34%). With the remainder being direct links (bookmarks) or people who click on the link via my email footer.

I was surprised and happy to see people coming into my site from,, and The fact that people in government are at least looking at what I am writing is a big motivator for me. Most of those have first found the 43rd State Blues Blog, then followed the links from there to my blog. This is even more positive as 43rd State Blues aggregates many of the Idaho lefty blogs and they publish a lot of great perspective over there.

Google Analytics also provides the search words that people use to get to your site. Not surprising, I receive a lot of traffic on wolves, leatherback turtles, birds, and Idaho outdoors. This is expected as these are my primary interest areas. Also of note, are the number of "porn" searches that come into my site. Since I used the word in two posts (now three), regarding bird mating photos, this has opened my site up to these searches. I can also see what domains these searches come from, so the people shouldn't be searching for Idaho porn!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Shooting in Idaho

I love Idaho, but sometimes I am amazed at what people consider as acceptable behavior around here.

Idahoans generally consider themselves independent types. They generally don't like outside influences telling them what they can and cannot do. Additionally, still dominated by a rural population, Idaho generally lacks an appreciaton for what it means to work and live together as a society. Individual rights usually trump the rights of the whole.

On Thursday, the associated press released an article on Idaho shooters target National Guard. I originally thought this was an April Fools joke, but it does not appear to be. The story has a pciture of a person sitting behind a "no shooting" sign with a rifle shooting ground squirrels (not surprising). The story goes on to explain that numerous endangered birds have been killed in the area (also not surprising), some private cattle that are still allowed to roam in the area have been shot (somewhat surprising), but the most amazing of all - that national guard vehicles are regularly hit with gunfire in the area.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Downy in the Neighborhood!

DownyWalking into our backyard this morning, I once again heard the nearby sound of a woodpecker. This is a frequent sounds as of late. We have lots of Northern Flickers, but they usually don't drum this loudly. It sounded as if it was still a few blocks away. A short while later, Karyn comes in to tell me that there is a Downy Woodpecker on a pole about a block away. I grab the camera and walk outside. I get two pictures off before the Downy flies over to a pole in our yard. Here he is.

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Sage Grouse Field Trip

On Saturday Karyn and I decided to attend the local Audubon Society field trip to view a Greater Sage Grouse Lek. We are members of the Audubon Society, but you don't have to be to attend their field trips. I had previously seen a Greater Sage Grouse female (just a few weeks ago), but never a male and not in a Lek where they are in full display. There is a petition in process to list the Greater Sage Grouse as Endangered. More information can be gathered at The Sagebrush Sea. Unfortunately, political pressures are impeding the process.

We arrived at the park and ride lot at an early 5am to carpool to the Lek site near Midvale Idaho. The field trip was lead by a biologist which specialized in the Greater Sage Grouse. He provided an overview of what we would see and the procedures to minmize the disturbance of the Lek. He also told us the Lek was currently in a feedlot! We got up at 4 in the morning to go look at a feedlot. Luckily his definition was different than our. It was an old pasture, not heap of cow dung will cows laying around.

Sage GrouseTwo others joined us in our car for the carpool to the Lek site. Arriving at first light, we could see a number of males displaying about 30 yards from the road. We parked and watched for a while from the car before getting out so as not to disturb them. There were 6 males on the near hump in the pasture, with a couple of other in the far distance. We watched as the males would charge each other in full display. They sure are strange birds! We watched for nearly an hour before they moved off beyond the hump and out of view. Unfortunately, there was still not enough light for a great photo. This is the best that I got.

Horned Lark near Midvale IdahoAcross the road from the Lek site, This Horned Lark joined in the viewing. The rest of the field trip involved a loop on the country roads around the Midvale area, then a planned walk on the Weiser River Trail. The field trip guides were experienced in the area stopping to look at birds in along the way. At each stop we saw unique birds that I would have easily missed had I taken the trip myself. Wilson's Snipe near Midvale IdahoPassing one pond we saw a Greater Yellow-legs, which was a new bird for me. The lead car, with the guides, missed it. At the next stop we walked back to show one of the guides, who did see it just as it flew off. Just then a Wilson's Snipe started flying overhead. Here is a shot. The Snipe's loud vibration of its tail feathers echoed all around us. A fascinating bird to listen to. Long Billed CurlewWe would see a couple of Wilson's Snipes later in day in their courtship displays. The Long Billed Curlews were also out in force. We must have seen a few dozen of them through the day. Probably my best photo of the day was this Redtailed Hawk. Redtailed Hawk near MidvaleThere was a pair of them near a large nest which had to be theirs. They watched us with interest as we passed by their home. We also came around a corner to see a large Bald Eagle sitting on the top of a hill in the grass. It seemed like a very odd place to find one. It didn't look like to had food there, but seemed intent just to hang out.Song SparrowThe last stop of the day was a walk along the Weiser River Trail. This was a great place to see Song Sparrows (pictured), Great Blue Herons, Ducks, Geese and Spotted Towhees. The most unique sight of the day, other than the displays of the Sage Grouse, had to be this Canada Goose trying to nest on top of an old snag. Not sure how well that is going to work out!

Canada Goose along Weiser River TrailIn all it was a very worthwhile and educational trip. The guides were very knowledgable and willing to answer any questions. They pointed out a number of birds that I would clearly have missed. If interested you should attend a field trip. You don't have to be a member to participate, although the cost of membership is low and supports a good cause.

Bird list for the day (38 Species): Snow Goose, Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Mallard, Blue-winged Teal (New bird for me), Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Common Merganser, Greater Sage-Grouse, California Quail, Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, American Coot, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs (New bird for me), Long-billed Curlew, Wilson's Snipe, Ring-billed Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Northern Flicker, Say's Phoebe (New bird for me), Black-billed Magpie, American Crow, Horned Lark, Tree Swallow, American Robin, European Starling, Spotted Towhee, Song Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Red-winged Blackbird, Western Meadowlark, American Goldfinch.

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