Grasslands National Park Animals

Wood Mountain
-Road Killed Rattle Snake

There are not a lot of rattlesnakes around the park, especially the East Block of the park where Wood Mountain is. Nick, who is with Brenda showing off the snake skin, almost stepped on one by accident last week and it didn’t even try to bite him.

The snakes are mostly interested in these guys
Wood Mountain

Watch these videos, as the numbers get bigger at the end of the titles.


Deer at a gravel pit. Fossils in this pit go back to at least 13 Million years ago, and contain horse, rhino, and other animals from ancient Saskatchewan well before ice ages scraped much of the province flat like it is around Regina.

Species Worth Saving

The Prairie Dog Blog linked to an excellent article in The Stranger last year. It lays out humanity’s future, based on the status quo.

[W]hether you can pin it precisely on global warming or not, the ocean of wilting grain that fills the middle of our country after this hottest of summers is just a dress rehearsal. Sure, this summer was a freak of probability, more to do with the randomness of weather than the slow processes that are heating up the only world we can inhabit, but still, it was a chance to see how we might adapt to what will slowly become the norm as the planet heats. And how did we do? We failed. For now, we’ll pay more for food and eat our stored grain. In not too many more decades, we’ll starve.

This was the vision in my head as I rode my bike home. What are now the richest farmlands will become endless dust bowls. Increasingly desperate, hungry, and thirsty, we tear ourselves apart. Humanity dies. Much of the complex life that makes our world interesting and beautiful dies. It’s a hideous, vapid, lonely, and entirely predictable existence.

There’s a problem preventing us from fixing the problem of Climate Change: “the dimwitted, frightened, angry, corrupt and complicit villainy of the sort of fools and tools who insist there’s nothing wrong when evidence clearly contradicts that.”

The “fools and tools” didn’t all arrive at the wrong conclusions by the same means. Some, most I would argue, were boiled like frogs. They were slowly fed misinformation over decades, leading them to confirm one lie with another convenient one to arrive in the nick of time, just as the earlier lie became unbelievable. Yet they are in large part the hindrance humanity faces to get to work with the business of saving the world from humanity. People are the problem, and are also part of the solution. If we are not part of the solution, well, that’s a bleak future for billions of us, but I’d rather we collectively learn to live within the means of the Earth to provide for us than to wait for mass extinctions to knock us down to size.

Should we attempt to save 1/8th of all bird species that are likely to die off in our lifetimes if we do not change our collective actions? Of course! Can we manage to? Not if we let naysayers and the plain ignorant guide our political systems.

It’s okay, we don’t have to be concerned. Some guy on the Internet named Roberto told us there’s no real problem.

Thawing Out

The world’s deep freeze in the north is thawing out quickly. As a result we’re making interesting discoveries as bodies get uncovered. There are two big problems. We’re losing thousands of years of preservation in short years, giving scientists only in our time period (and before) access to direct collection of this unique and precious data. Two, it’s an indicator of climate change being well under way.

As I explained to a friend the other day, if you’re not at least a little worried about climate change, you betray ignorance of the subject. I contend there’s no way an educated, and rational person could not be worried about the impending deadly situation which has few solutions, and most of those are not attainable by individual (only global) action.

We’re triggering a massive die-off, the extinction of countless plants and animals when we change their climate around them. The mutants which are adapted to the changed situation will survive as those species lucky enough to have adapted mutants always have throughout evolution. Humans have the luxury of adapting quickly in a lifetime to many environments, but most plants and animals do not. It’s going to be a difficult future to survive in, or rather it will be for most of the lifeforms on Earth at this time.

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GE scientists in as early as 1956 realized global warming (climate change) was being caused by pollution.

Conservatives Stopped Conserving

It’s frustrating to be a Canadian, with such terrifically stupid and dishonest political representation. Sure, our insecure ‘strong’ leaders don’t send the police to your door (unless you’ve written them a mean letter), but that mildly redeeming trait isn’t enough. They have to stop denying that climate change isn’t killing people, and they must stop pretending that there is more wildlife in less habitat (particularly polar bears).

We don’t have until 2015 to piss away a chance to reduce air pollution. We’ve wasted 30 years already, we’re out of time.

“Hostility to expertise in all of its forms is the closest thing that Canadian conservatives have to a unifying ideology.

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/technology/defence+sociology/8317722/story.html#ixzz2RzLVxko5

Abandoned Community Pastures At Risk #cdnpoli #skpoli

The last remnants of a unique ecosystem on Earth are entering what is potentially their last years of natural existence. This will lead to the extinctions of some plants and animals that exist only on the Canadian prairies. Extinctions destabilize an ecosystem, and it’s an ecosystem where humans cannot be assured of long-term survival if it becomes destabilized.

The Conservatives removed protection for the community pastures in an apparent effort to privatize the land. The Sask Party, instead of putting the land under provincial management, has opted to sell off the land, following in the Conservative Party’s wishes. This is against the interest of Canadians, and of most of the ranchers and farmers who’ve used the pasture land over the decades they’ve been in the public trust.

Trevor Harriot in the Globe and Mail:

As for the program having achieved its goals [according to Ritz], the need for soil conservation and managing ecosystems in the public interest does not simply go away.

Press release sent my way today:

For Immediate Release:

April 17, 2013

Public Pastures – Public Interest

Uniting to Save Saskatchewan’s Community Pastures

Joint Venture Video Release

In April of 2012 the federal government announced it was divesting itself of 2.3 million acres of PFRA community pastures, 1.78 million of which are located in Saskatchewan. The control for these pastures has now reverted back to the prairie provinces and in response the Saskatchewan government has announced they will be seeking to sell or lease these lands to the current pasture patrons. With rising land values putting the purchase of these lands far beyond the reach of most patrons, exceeding their ability to run a financially viable operation, patrons are looking to find an alternative solution. Other stakeholders affected by this decision are looking to ensure a sustainable environmental action plan for the land is continued, safeguarding the continued health of the ecosystem and the 32 species at risk that reside there.

To help communicate this message, the various stakeholders (Patrons, First Nations, Academic and Wildlife/Environmental groups) have been meeting over the past several months to discuss their common concerns and encourage the two levels of government to reconsider their position on the importance of preserving and sustaining our community pastures. The result is a collaborative and inclusive video showcasing stakeholder concerns and their belief that, in order to ensure a positive outcome for all, they must work together to find a viable solution.

It is their hope this video will also help communicate the message to stakeholders not yet involved and encourage them to join the collaborative effort towards protecting out public interests, and maintaining current and long term sustainable management of our Community Pastures.

For more information on this video and the joint initiative please contact any of the following:

* Trevor Herriot, Public Pastures – Public Interest, Regina, trevorherriot@gmail.com , home 306-585-1674
* Senator Roland Crowe – First Nations representative, 306-539-9200
* Joanne Brochu – Patrons representative, jbrochu@sasktel.net , cell 306-255-7602

Deer-Tour Around Saskatchewan

Glentworth, SK

Saturday’s road trip through the mist and fog yielded me the best wildlife photos I’ve ever had the privilege of shooting. Some photos from the earlier part of the trip I posted on Sunday morning.

RM Waverley

Unsafe Water

Glentworth, Saskatchewan

Glentworth, Saskatchewan
-Glentworth, SK

Less than a few kms north of Glentworth, just turning toward the highway headed for Lafleche, we saw two herds on different sides of the road. They waited patiently as the humans in the car took many, many photos.

Glentworth, SK
Continue reading

Mini Solar Tour in the Fog of Wood Mountain and Glentworth

I went on a road trip Saturday with my friend Adam K., down to my parents’ place, and his grandparents’ farm. On the way around southern Saskatchewan, we saw close to 150 deer and antelope, a snowy owl, a dozen hawks, a handful of Canada Geese, smaller birds, two dead raccoons, and the final resting place of four children who passed away in 1919 (Spanish Flu maybe?).
Ukrainian Catholic Church

To Moose Jaw
The road into Regina was ice, and the road to Moose Jaw was quite a bit better, but still partly covered in a thick layer of ice. There was a semi on the eastbound highway that had done a 180, and blew open its trailer door, strewing boxes across the ditch at Belle Plaine.

We filled up in Moose Jaw, then ate at the Steakhouse in Assiniboia (we had waffles). The GPS kept trying to convince us to turn off the paved road instead of going to Limerick. We went to Limerick, I took a couple photos, and on through flooded Flintof and dry Wood Mountain we continued. Many deer were along the way, and the misting rain continued through the trip after Moose Jaw’s southern hills.
Flintoft turn

Hawk landing
- A hawk about to land

After second lunch we strolled around the various energy and heating systems my parents had installed for their home.
Solar Hot water panel mount

Solar PV

Convincing SaskPower that a generator ring/link was a good idea for a Saskatchewan power meter, took some convincing. Fortunately Dad is persistent.

Wood Mountain elevator

Ukrainian Catholic Church
- 1925 built Ukrainian Catholic near Glentworth, SK

Ukrainian Catholic Church

More photos next time of the animals who made this print:
Deer tracks

In Their Shell

The Duck and Cover propaganda has worked maybe. There’s an entire generation prone to thinking they can protect themselves from massive danger by covering their head with their arms until they feel safe again.

Here’s Percy, a climate change denier, responding to Purple Library Guy’s comment in 2011 about ocean acidification.

PLG: “researchers have found using tanks with sea water only acidified to levels we’re predicted to reach in 20 years or so if current emission trends continue,”

Percy: Predicted by secretive computer models which fail to predict the past. I think it’s time for everyone to panic. I’ll tell you what. Let’s not worry about this impending doom which we are facing and, in twenty years, you can tell me that you told me so. Get a grip. The sky is not falling, Chicken Little. The apocalypse is not nigh. I’ve lived long enough to have heard a great deal of caterwauling about one crisis or another and I know enough about politics to recognize that this is just the latest attempt at a power grab.

Here’s a news report. Ask a clam digger.

Ocean acidification, as scientists call this pickling of the seas, is, like climate change, a result of the enormous amount of carbon dioxide humans have pumped into the atmosphere. Oceans have absorbed about a quarter of that output, and ocean chemistry has changed as a result. Surface water pH has long been an alkaline 8.2, not far from the pH of baking soda, but it now averages about 8.1. That doesn’t look like much, but since pH is a logarithmic scale, that means a 30 percent increase in the acidity.

The industry finally pulled out of its tailspin in 2010, when NOAA scientists determined that what was killing the oyster larvae was corrosive water that entered the hatchery at certain times of the year — usually in summer, and specifically on days when winds from the northwest caused upwelling of deeper water, which is more acidic than surface water. With federal money, hatcheries were able to install sophisticated pH monitors and CO2 monitors. When waters are becoming too corrosive, hatchery operators can now close off the seawater intake, and, Dewey says, “pray that the winds change soon.”

Here’s what’s important to remember also:

Unlike other problems caused by CO2, ocean acidification is spurring some action, possibly because the effects are so visibly tied to the cause. “With climate change there’s often a schism between scientists and those who flat out don’t want to believe it,” says Green. “It’s hard to get a man to believe something if his job depends on not believing it.”But in this case, he says, it’s the people in the industry who are leading awareness. “Talk to shellfish clammers — the guys who dig — and every one of them is on board, especially the old timers. They have seen over the years the populations go from incredibly productive to virtually disappearing in many cases.” One bit of anecdotal evidence diggers have reported is clams with thinner shells — so thin, they say, that sometimes it’s not possible to fill bushel baskets to the top because the fragile shells at the bottom will be crushed.

(emphasis added)

ReThink Meat

Meat fraud is taking place all around us. Most people probably can’t tell the difference between similar looking meats sold in stores, were it not for the labeling.

Fish fraud is apparently common in the USA.

Safeway recalled big and juicy E.coli burgers. “Must be cooked” is right on the box, and they weren’t kidding, were they?

I’m not above eating horse meat. I’ve never done it, however. At least, I don’t think I have. Many French and Italians didn’t have a choice if they bought from a mega-meat distributor who decided for them.

What all this brings to our attention, is how vital it is to cut down on overall meat consumption. You don’t have to eliminate meat from your diet to make a huge difference. Have it at half as many meals as you typically do today if you’ve not made a previous effort to cut back.

“Unless action is taken, increases in pollution and per capita consumption of energy and animal products will exacerbate nutrient losses, pollution levels and land degradation, further threatening the quality of our water, air and soils, affecting climate and biodiversity.”

Over consumption of meat, leading to higher than optimal demand in the food supply chain, leads to suffering in even rich countries:

Suzanne Salami, a single mother of three, subsists on just £30 a week and is angered by the way the horsemeat scandal is hitting the poorest hardest. “When you can’t afford to buy anything to eat, [or] ask where meat comes from and if it’s sustainable, it is not fair,” she said. “I am being made to eat stuff I don’t know about and I am being let down. It’s like we’re being told to eat and shut up.” She was particularly worried about the potential health impacts of traces of equine painkillers found in horsemeat in the food chain by the Food Standards Agency this week.

When I buy meat, I prefer it come from a source I know, such as a farmer near Wood Mountain or Ormiston; if I’m in the city, then a local meat shop like Fellinger’s. I’ll still take chances and buy meat from elsewhere, but I don’t feel comfortable with doing that.

Russian Dash-cameras

The meteor strike last week made more people realize the prevalence of dash-cams in Russia. I’d seen shocking vehicle footage on YouTube before, one of a brick flying from a truck and killing a passenger in a car going the other way. The Guardian put together an assortment of unusual vehicle incident videos. The one of the car being hung up on the street car wire is particularly unusual, as are the two with jets. Unfortunately one with a jet, is a crash, where four on the plane died. I’d be more than a little terrified if a hail of debris suddenly washed over the highway in front of me (with a wheel hitting the car in front too).