Monday, October 25, 2010

Creepy-Crawly Things

It's Halloween, a perfect week to celebrate all those critters that make us shake, squirm and scream...

The Nature Conservancy has a special web feature, Spooky Science, on conservation projects that benefit things that go bump in the night. Check out a snake-sniffing dog, bats galore, spiders, the aptly named hellbender and even Idaho's very own terrifying trout.

I've also written a Cool Green Science post about the scary creatures that inhabit our world--and how much more scary it would be without them.

Have a happy Halloweeen week, and enjoy our cast of real-life creepy-crawlies. --Matt Miller

Monday, October 18, 2010


An unpleasant fact of life, a safety hazard, a good topic for humor? When it comes to dead wildlife on the road, we often don't know how to respond.

Consider the long list of tacky roadkill products--from cookbooks to theme restaurants to t-shirts.
And yet, most of us know that hitting a deer or moose is not a joke. More than 200 people each year are killed in such collisions.

Roadkill also represents another major threat: the threat to wildlife populations. Roads cut off migration routes, and kill large numbers of large mammals each year.

There is hope. The Nature Conservancy is working to protect wildlife habitat--keeping large mammals in the forest and off the highway--in places like the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem and North Idaho.
Other efforts, like the Freedom to Roam campaign, seek to protect vital migration corridors and to install wildlife-friendly road devices.
Read the latest installment of our column, A Natural Perspective, to learn what you can do to protect people and nature from the very real--and very unfunny--risks posed by wildlife-vehicle collisions.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Elk at Silver Creek

One of the interesting trends at Silver Creek is the increasing number of elk using the preserve throughout the year.

On a recent visit, I saw more than 200 elk on the preserve and on private lands adjacent to Silver Creek.
Drive slowly along Stocker Creek Road at dawn or dusk, and you have a good chance of seeing similar scenes.
As night falls, the preserve becomes an even more dramatic place, as the sounds of bull elk bugling echoes across the valley--from the aspens, from the meadows, from the Picabo Hills.
While the peak of the elk rut is past, you still have a decent chance of hearing some bugles if you visit the preserve soon. To my mind, it's one of the most dramatic sounds in nature.
As Wyoming resident Audrey Hagan says in this National Public Radio piece on natural sounds: "When I moved to Jackson Hole about twenty years ago and first heard an elk bugle, all of a sudden the fall was defined by the sound of an elk instead of the color of an elm tree."
Accompanied by the calls of cranes, ducks, geese, coyotes and owls, it creates what I call the Silver Creek fall symphony.
Big bulls like the one in the photo above jealously guard their harems. Their bugles advertise their dominance, and they continue throughout the night. There's little time for rest for a bull elk in autumn.
I watched and photographed this herd on the preserve for a while, but then something disturbed the elk--and they were off in a cloud of dust.
They didn't go far. Their bugling soon resumed across the preserve--yet another natural spectacle to enjoy at the preserve.--Matt Miller

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Lemhi River: Agreements Protect Salmon Habitat, Ranchland

Leadore, Idaho – Two conservation easements along the Lemhi River near Leadore will protect nearly 2400 acres of salmon and wildlife habitat, tributary streams and working ranchland, The Nature Conservancy announced yesterday.

The conservation easements protect two ranches, and include some of the most important salmon habitat in the Lemhi valley. Both ranches will continue to be operated as working ranchland, with conservation plans in place to restore tributary streams, protect streamside vegetation and increase water flow to the Lemhi River.

Read more.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Silver Creek Video

Enjoy this short video about the Conservancy's partnership with MillerCoors at Silver Creek, aimed at improving water conservation on neighboring barley farms.