Wolf mating season on the greatly reconfigured Yellowstone northern range

The Druids are the only northern range pack still intact. New packs and groups abound-

Due to the complexity of the changes on the northern range, I know it took Kathie several weeks to write this. Ralph Maughan

– – – – – – – – – –

Yellowstone wolf report. Feb. 15-22, 2009. By © Kathie Lynch.

A week in Yellowstone, Feb. 15-22, 2009, during the height of the wolf breeding season, provided plenty of action and lots of surprises.

The Druid Peak pack actually was not the main attraction, as they were way up the Lamar River and out of sight most of the time.

However, the Druid’s many dispersers have contributed to the formation and gene pool of quite a few other packs or groups, including: the newly named Blacktail Pack (started by former Druid beta 302M and five Druid male yearlings-grandchildren of the great Druid alpha 21M); 694F’s Group (which includes the two Druid two-year-old females 694F/”High Sides” and “Dull Bar”-both also 21M’s grandchildren); the newly named Cottonwood Group (started by 527F, who was born to 21M and 42F, but dispersed to the Slough Creek pack and then dispersed to form her own pack in 2007); and even the Agate Creek pack (whose long-time alpha female, 472F, was also the offspring of 21M and 42F). The blood of 21M still runs strong.

Read the rest of this entry »

Coal plants checked by enviro campaigns, costs

Good news for energy and wildlife-

It is increasingly clear that the building of new coal plants is collapsing as this article indicates as a followup to my post of yesterday, Companies rethink coal plants.

While planning and some actual construction of wind, solar and geothermal plants in remote locations continues, with plenty of hype accompanyhing it, it seems to me that as in the 1970s energy crisis, it will be increased efficiency that wins the day. For example, read this story about building a “smart energy grid.” Stimulus Dollars Energize Efforts To Smarten Up the Electric Power Grid. By Peter Slevin and Steven Mufson. Washington Post.

Building new transmission lines is enormously expensive, and even large solar or wind farms do not supply all that much energy compared to a coal or nuclear plant. Therefore, I am thinking most of these wind and solar electricity facilities will be built next to, or near already existing transmission lines and in or near load centers such as on building roof tops.

The currently largest solar-steam electricity plant in the United States is Solar One. located just south of Henderson and Boulder City, Nevada. I drove by it the other day. See below. It takes up a lot of space and yet “largest” only means generation of 74 megawatts. The typical coal plant today is built in units of 500 to 750 megawatts. I also noticed that Solar One was located right next to a transmission line coming from Hoover Dam on the Colorado.


The Solar One steam-electric plant in Eldorado Valley, Nevada. Feb. 2009. Notice the big transmission line behind the plant. It comes from nearby Hoover Dam. Copyright © Ralph Maughan

Awful as the “great recession” has become, one bright side is that it decreases the demand for electricity from what it would otherwise be. This makes is so that lack of electrical energy is not a barrier to economic recovery.

The disruption to wildlife habitat will be less than many believe, despite some scary proposals on the table such as China Mountain on the Idaho/Nevada border, which may indeed be built.

Tools That Leave Wildlife Unbothered Widen Research Horizons

Non-invasive techniques such as hair traps, camera traps, and scat samples can tell biologists a lot about habitat use and population size

Tools That Leave Wildlife Unbothered Widen Research Horizons. By Jim Robbins. New York Times

There has been a lot of discussion on this blog about radio collars and other invasive techniques used to get information about wildlife. After Macho B’s death this is a timely article.

I used to inject PIT tags into juvenile salmon and steelhead and the information gathered is valuable. The quandary with these methods comes from the fact that individuals will inevitably be killed and the wild nature of the animals can be affected.