Continuing snowy conditions keep Jackson Hole

Very unusual late, deep snows keep National Elk Refuge and nearby national forest lands under winter closures-

Snow extends closures. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole Daily

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Dangerous snow: Is foot rot taking hold at the National Elk Refuge?

Rot is caused by freeze-thaw cycles in unsanitary snow-

We just have to keep pointing out that persistant winter feeding of elk breeds disease. Now 23 elk have been put down for what is thought to be foot rot. No doubt more will die.

Foot rot suspected in elk deaths on refuge. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole Daily.

Wyoming to spend $9.7M to protect pronghorn

Finally, it looks like a real effort to keep antelope bottlenecks west of Pinedale from closing-

Over the years, we have written about the Trapper’s Point pronghorn migration bottleneck a number of times.  There has been growing awareness that the thousands-of-year-old antelope migration from the Wyoming high desert over the Gros Ventre each year, down into Jackson Hole could easily be severed by increasing development.

I had heard something was being done.  This summer I visited Trappers Point, walked all around, took photos, but saw no changes to the situation had been made. Today the Jackson Hole News and Guide has some good news.  There will be an expansive and expensive overpass built at Trappers Point and another at a dangerous highway crossing about 5 miles to the NW, north of Daniel Junction.

Of course, these overpasses will benefit other kinds of wildlife hit on the highways in this area of increasing traffic and development from the gas fields and subdivisions.

State to spend $9.7M to protect pronghorn: Plan would build fences, highway underpasses and overpasses in Sublette County (WY). By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Earthquake hits Wyoming; landslide reported

Epicenter of this moderate quake appears to be in Gros Ventre River valley upstream from Jackson Hole-

Earthquake hits Wyoming; landslide reported. Associated Press

Here is more detailed information from USGS.

Update. 4.4 earthquake jiggles valley. By Angus M. Thuermer Jr.. Jackson Hole Daily

Jackson Hole area: Prescribed burn set for Lower Slide Lake area

4500 acres of 17,000 acre habitat important project to be burned this fall-

Any comments about this will be welcome. The story says the burn could last as few as 6 days but as long as 6 weeks. So what about folks who live nearby?

Prescribed burn set for Lower Slide Lake area. By Angus M. Thuermer Jr., Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Moose declines puzzling. Habitat, malnutrition, predators play roles

I think the studies show Jackson Hole moose are slowly starving-

There is a story in today’s Jackson Hole News and Guide. Moose declines puzzling. Habitat, malnutrition, predators play roles. By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole, WY

I don’t see much evidence of direct population depression from predation, especially wolf predation, here.  Predators do disproportionately take animals that are starving.  Both Joel Berger and later Scott Becker found that by far the largest mortality source of female moose in Jackson Hole was starvation.  The poor condition of female moose is also shown by the reduction in the number of twins produced from 10% to less than 5%.”

As far as much quoted B.J. Hill,  local outfitter,”[who] thinks habitat loss is exaggerated and says “I’ve watched moose literally live off of pine needles,” I say everyone knows that moose eat conifer in the winter in deep snow areas.  First, however, moose need a balanced diet the entire year and second, the conifer are dying.  Article after article after article has appeared about the vast disease and beetle kill of pines and other conifers from the Yukon to New Mexico.

Hill claims to live in the mountains every day. Why then didn’t he notice that beginning in 1988 and a number of years thereafter, most of Teton Wilderness burned? The conifers are gone. I wrote two guides to the Teton Wilderness — one came out in the early 1980s and second in 2000. Many more pine have died of insects since then.  Any damn fool that has spent time there can see that the ecology of the place has been transformed.

Jackson Hole area bighorn sheep herd showing signs of pneumonia

Disease so far seems limited in area-

Jackson bighorn sheep herd showing signs of pneumonia. Pinedale Online. From Wyoming Game and Fish

Wyoming wolf numbers increase and offset the decline in Yellowstone Park

YNP Park wolves are down another 6 % this year, but there was a 12% increase outside the Park in ’09-

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. By Cory Hatch.

There are 4 full-time packs in Jackson Hole and one part-time pack.

The year’s population results appear to be a small increase in wolves in Wyoming. Everyone should recognize that those 20% increase years in any of the 3 states are gone. There will probably be about 375 305 wolves as the official figure for Wyoming at the end of this year.

It’s good to see a recognition that well established packs are less of a threat to livestock than new packs.  One should note that this is some evidence that hunting wolves at random may be counterproductive in terms of livestock losses. Of course, livestock losses to wolves are so small in the big scheme of things it probably doesn’t matter.

Controversial Grizzly Bear Death A Family Tragedy

An Obituary For Bear 615-

This is a story about the recent killing of the grizzly in Ditch Creek. For several reasons that posting caused quite a stir on the blog

The feature article below is written by Todd Wilkinson who has a new web site I was not aware of — Wildlife Art Journal It looks interesting.

Controversial Grizzly Bear Death A Family Tragedy. An Obituary For Bear 615. By Todd Wilkinson.

Bearpaw Bay fire in Grand Teton expected to have plenty wildlife benefits

Although it was plenty smoky, end of the fire season finds the Park’s largest fire of the year beneficial-

As snow suddenly replaces warm late September, the fires in Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and nearby are dying quickly. The Jackson Hole News and Guide reports the the 2800 acre lightning caused fire west of Jackson Lake (Bearpaw Bay fire) cooked things just right for good eating by wildlife next year and later.

Story by Cory Hatch. Light hand on the land: Bearpaw Bay firefighters use minimal tactics to contain fire in Grand Teton National Park.

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Yellowstone/Grand Teton fires having big final run before season ending change in weather

Arnica Creek (YNP) at 9300 acres; Bearpaw Bay (GTNP) 2500 acres; more in the Gros Ventre-

Fires consuming acres, but weather might turn. By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole Daily

By Wednesday morning there might be snow and an end to the suddenly exciting late season burst of wildfires.

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Photos of  and commentary9/28 on the Arnica Fire by Dusty Roads.

The photos were taken from boat on Yellowstone Lake. Sept. 27, 2009

arnica-fire1

Arnica Creek forest fire from Yellowstone Lake. Copyright Dusty Roads. Sept. 27, 2009

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Incident page on Arnica Fire (Yellowstone Park)

From time to time, this only big fire of the year has cut off the remaining access to the north of Yellowstone Park-

Here is Arnica fire incident page. The fire grew from 4 to over 1600 acres in 4 days. When the fire blocks the road, due to the closure of the other road to the north of the Park — the closure between Madison Jct. and Norris, there is no easy access to the north of Yellowstone Park if you are to the south.

Next Tuesday could be a bad fire day but then also the end of the fire season as a strong and cold front with possible snow will blow in. Meanwhile warm weather.

Currently the southern half of Yellowstone and both sides of the Tetons and points south are filled with smoke. See my earlier post of Sept. 23 (and updated Sept. 26).

arnica-fire

Arnica fire on Sept. 24. Source. Mt. Washburn web cam. Public domain

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One year after large prescribed burn, vegetation flourishes in Gros Ventre

Prescribed fire east of Jackson Hole was big success; more planned-

Meanwhile late season fires break out amidst planned ignitions

Link Fixed. Plants healthier year after Gros Ventre burn. Prescribed fire improved forage for bighorns, other wildlife in Red Hills area. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

For those unfamiliar with this common place name east of Jackson Hole, it is pronounced Grow Vont

Update 8:30 PM, Sept. 26. I found out in a big way, why they might have run this story in the News and Guide. Last Wednesday, Sept. 23, I went up to this general area. Phase 2 of this burn had been ignited and put up a huge cloud of smoke visible 50 miles away!  As this fire, several other “prescribed burns” and lighting fires began in Grand Teton and Yellowstone Parks, what were gloriously blue crystalline skies slowly turned to awful gray crud.

cave-falls-.arnica-fire-smoke

Smoke from the Arnica Fire in Yellowstone Park fills the sky upstream from Cave Falls. Sept. 24, 2009. Copyright Ralph Maughan

9-26. Here is the story on the second substantial fire in Yellowstone Park this year. Fire [the Arnica Fire] closes park’s Grand Loop. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide

Late 9-26. Arnica Fire grows from 250 to 1600 acres. More growth expected. Billings Gazette.

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WDOT to build 5-lane highway in winter elk range south of Jackson, WY

Teton County Commission wanted smaller improvements on the 7-mile stretch-

WYDOT: 5 lanes in elk range. Agency rejects commissioners’ plea for smaller highway upgrade from South Park Loop to Horse Creek. By Cara Froedge, Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Research shows continuing decline of moose in Jackson Hole

Primary causes are warming, lack of shade and poor nutrition-

It’s obvious to anyone who has spent years living in or visiting Jackson Hole that the moose population isn’t what it was 30 years ago or even a decade. Now biologists are discovering why. Unfortunately for those who want more moose around little can be done to change any of the primary conditions that are causing the decline.

Moose on the decline in Jackson Hole area. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Jimenez says Jackson Hole wolf pack has mange

However it is only up to 11 of about 50-55 wolves that now inhabit Jackson Hole-

Federal wolf manager for Wyoming, Mike Jimenez, says the Antelope Pack, which inhabits the central area of Jackson Hole has contracted mange.

On various days as many as 4 additional wolf packs can be in or very near Jackson Hole: Pacific Creek, Buffalo, Hoback and Pinnacle.

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide.  “Valley wolf pack has mange, biologist says. Collaring operation sees 15 animals fitted with transmitters for research”. By Angus M. Thuermer Jr.

Magnitude 4.0 quake near Jackson Hole

Moderate quake was in the Snake River mountain range-

I first learned about this when someone made a note of it on a photo I had uploaded to Panoramio (Google Earth). My photo was at the quake’s location.

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. By Cory Hatch and Angus M. Thuermer Jr.  Quake Shakes Region.

The Idaho/Wyoming border area doesn’t have as many quakes as Yellowstone Park, but it has quake a few and they tend to be stronger.

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Most bears around Jackson Hole have denned

Two faces on the bear situation in NW Wyoming for 2008-

2008 was good for Jackson Hole bears, and there were few conflicts; but grizzlies took a big mortality hit in NW Wyoming overall. Nevertheless, the total grizzly population grew slightly . . . kind of complicated.

Jackson Hole Bears are searching for food near homes

Bears in Jackson Hole are searching for food near homes. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole Daily.

A “group of bears” (probably a sow and three large cubs) has been near homes around the east boundary of Grand Teton National Park.  They are also quite far south for Jackson Hole, and they are especially hungry because the deep snow continues to cover grass, newly growing forbs, carion, etc.

The bears might be famous grizzly 399 and her cubs about which a news story was recently published.

Previous story (April 16) on grizzly bear 399 and cubs. Photogenic grizzly family making last show together. By Cory Hatch.  Jackson Hole News and Guide.