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of Book Notes Wild:
to the best of the environmental
new age CDs discovered by the Outrider
to be extinct, a magnificent bird - the ivory-billed woodpecker - has
been rediscovered in the Big Woods of eastern Arkansas. More than 60
years after the last confirmed sighting of the species in the United
States, a research team today announced that at least one male
ivory-bill still survives in vast areas of bottomland swamp forest."
de View is a magical place where wildlife abounds. As we canoed through
the swamp, wood ducks and flocks of mallards burst from the water
around us. Herds of white-tailed deer, snorting a loud warning,
splashed off across the shallow water at the edge of the woods. We saw
beavers swimming past and otters playing. The loud calls of barred owls
and great horned owls echoed through the dim recesses of the swamp,
even at midday. But most impressive were the woodpeckers. Everywhere we
turned we saw pileated, red-bellied, red-headed, and downy woodpeckers,
plus a few yellow-bellied sapsuckers...
"And then it happened. Less than eight feet away, a large
black-and-white bird that had been flying toward us from a side channel
of the bayou to the right came out into the sunshine and flew across
the open stretch of water directly in front of us. It started to bank,
giving us a superb view of its back and both wings for a moment as it
pulled up, as if it were going to land on a tree trunk. 'Look at all
the white on its wings!' I yelled. Hearing my voice, it veered away
from the tree and continued to fly to the left. We both cried out
"I remember my first bear encounter in California -- like meeting the
grizzlies in Alaska -- a memorable event. I was walking a dirt road
going nowhere in particular when I stopped to look at a moving trashcan
with a hairy bottom. The bear's head came out of the can. He looked me
in the eyes. Immediately, someone picked me up by my armpits,
running... I was delivered into my own mother's arms at a campsite. I
believe bears are my earliest memory, the moment I became me.."
migrations are wondrous. How is it that birds successfully
traverse vast distances year after year with such diminutive heads? The
largest are the size of tightly-rolled socks, shiny eyes poked pinlike
to the sides. I understand what scientists assert -- birds successfully
navigate the vast distances by memory. Birds remember landmarks, star
constellations rotating in the black heavens, and slight realignments
of the Earth's electromagnetic fields sense with intracranial
lodestones. This all occurs within the rolled-up sock. As I say, it's
Robert J. Wolfe
river attracted those boys like a magnet. Caroline had to keep them in
sight every minute or they were down the banks throwing rocks and
playing by the water. It was the same way with my own babies when they
were llittle. I love that river, but it has always scared me a bit,
with its power and immensity, the potential to sweep a small child away
in an instant. I never look at that river in flood but what I think of
Jack. When he was small, he was as intrigued by the water as Paul's
little guys are. And then..."
J. W. Secrist
"The phenomenon of allelopathy refers to the chemical interactions that
occur among plants mediated by the release of chemicals into the soil.
"ome plants are well known for reducing the growth of neighboring
competitors and chemicals released from roots have been identified in
"Among crops, sorghum has long been known to suppress the growth of
some weeds and, depending on conditions, succeeding crops such as
"Several varieties of rice have also been found to inhibit the growth
of other plants...
"Among trees, the presence of black walnut in landscapes has long been
known to be detrimental to a wide range of vegetable and crop species
including tomato, pea, beans, maize, wheat and barley...
only method that has been developed for mass immunization of wild
animals is distribution of vaccine in baits. This technique requires
that the vaccine induces immunity by the oral route and raise many
Diseases are like weeds in that both thrive in disturbed environments.
Just as weeds have great difficulty gaining a foothold in an
established forest or grassland, diseases have difficulty being
perpetuated in stable systems, but both weeds and some forms of disease
quickly invade and proliferate following disturbance. Human history is
replete with examples in which pestilence has followed social and
environmental disruption... Diseases such as measles have emerged in
epidemic form in human populations as a result of the large, dense
populations that occur in cities. Refuges on which wild waterfowl are
crowded together for months and artificial feeding areas on which some
wild species congregate seem very like cities to me, but they are
cities without the benefit of sewage disposal, clean water and the
immunization programs that protect us from many diseases,
Gary A. Wobeser
Grail Bird: Hot on the Trail of
the Ivory-billed Woodpecker,
by Tim Gallagher. 288 pp. Houghton Mifflin, 2005.
story of an elusive woodpecker, long ago consigned to extinction and
legend, and the intensive search of one of the most forbidding areas of
North America that resulted in a handful of sightings that "prove" its
takes place in the swamps and marshlands of the deep South, from the
Big Thicket country of east Texas to the wild bayous of Arkansas.
Birders and ornithologists and local outdoorspeople all contribute to a
year-long search that produces at least 15 sightings, four seconds of
video, and audio recordings of what may be an ivory-bill woodpecker.
by a lone
kayaker's February, 2004, report of an "unusual woodpecker" foraging on
a huge cypress tree in an eastern Arkansas bayou, the author and his
colleagues revisit the sighting location hoping for a glimpse of the
de View is a
magical place where wildlife abounds," Tim Gallagher writes. "As we
canoed through the swamp, wood ducks and flocks of mallards burst from
the water around us. Herds of white-tailed deer, snorting a loud
warning, splashed off across the shallow water at the edge of the
woods. We saw beavers swimming past and otters playing. The loud calls
of barred owls and great horned owls echoed through the dim recesses of
the swamp, even at midday. But most impressive were the woodpeckers.
Everywhere we turned we saw pileated, red-bellied, red-headed, and
downy woodpeckers, plus a few yellow-bellied sapsuckers...
happened. Less than eight feet away, a large black-and-white bird that
had been flying toward us from a side channel of the bayou to the right
came out into the sunshine and flew across the open stretch of water
directly in front of us. It started to bank, giving us a superb view of
its back and both wings for a moment as it pulled up, as if it were
going to land on a tree trunk. 'Look at all the white on its wings!' I
yelled. Hearing my voice, it veered away from the tree and continued to
fly to the left. We both cried out simultaneously, 'Ivory-bill!'"
ordinary birder. As editor in chief of Living Bird magazine -- flagship
publication of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology -- and author of
Wild Bird Photography and Parts Unknown: A Naturalist's Journey in
Search of Birds and Wild Places, he's schooled in professional
ornithology and knows how to make careful and precise observations. His
identification of a living ivory-bill woodpecker, like those of others
in the field, helps substantiate the existence of at least one
after the public announcement of the discovery, this book provides a
timely background and supplement to one of the most surprising natural
history news events of the 21st century.
With Fish And Other Lessons from the North,
by Robert J.
Wolfe. 137 pp. University of Arizona Press, 2006.
collection of personal essays, a cultural anthropologist contrasts his
studies of Alaska's indigenous peoples with his suburban California
homeland and draws insights from the juxtaposition about how
sustainable relationships between people and nature can be formed.
Eskimo of Alaska, whose traditional hunting and fishing practices the
author documented, there is a saying, "The fish are not to beplayed
with." This instruction is ingrained in Yup'ik culture and impressed
upon its children from a young age. "The teaching touches on correct
ways of perceiving nature. It describes how humans may find rightful
places within it," the author explains.
formerly a research director with the Alaska Department of Fish and
Game and a first-time author with this book, describes how this
traditional view of nature conflicted with the catch-and-release
sportfishing community in southwest Alaska.
professionals believe their sport to be unmatched. For them, the sport
in its purest form is unquestionably beneficial, both to people and to
fish. This is a basic tenet of faith," he explains. When Yup'ik elders
challenged their viewpoint, pointing out that catch-and-release was a
violation of their sacred trust with nature and that sport fishing was
making subsistence fishing more difficult, it was "disorienting,
gut-wrenching, and psychologically threatening. There's an initial rush
to righteous anger. Then the challenge is dismissed as self-serving
politics or simple ignorance. For the faithful, it's heresy to consider
it an authentic possibility."
catch-and-release conflict between the Yup'ik and the sport fishers is
not resolved, and its story is just one of eight essays in this volume,
all of them bound together by the common theme of conflicting cultures
at odds over their relationships natural world.
Place to Stand: A Tale of the Peace River Country,
by J. W.
Secrist. 320 pp. Authorhouse, 2006.
this book is
a work of fiction, it is largely about a real place -- the Peace River
Country of British Columbia -- and real people, the 20th century
homesteaders drawn to its wild and pristine mountain valleys. Though
fictionalized, their stories are drawn from the author J.W. Secrist's
own immigration to the area in the 1970s and his involvement with and
experience in farming and ranching in a wilderness environment.
sprawl of Edmonton lay a country as yet little developed, in fact
little known," Secrist writes in a chapter titled "1914."
of it lay as
it had since time immemorial, a vastness of rolling poplar-covered
hills, festooned with sluggish muskeg streams and pattered with shallow
lakes. Cutting through the land, flowing always northeast ran great
rivers which drained the mountain passes to the south and west... the
Peace River country was one of the last great frontiers, begun
centuries earlier when the first whites had thrust inland from the
Atlantic Coast. For more than 100 years, white men had come and gone up
and down the calm waters of the lower Peace, but only a mere handful
had come to stay. Though the occupation by the Beaver, Sikanni,
Woodland Cree, and other indigenous peoples extended back into the
mists of time, in the year 1914 the country was little changed from the
way it was in the beginning."
primeval backdrop, Secrist tells the story of Irish immigrant Liam
Brennan and his post-WWII Belgian bride, Marta, as they try to carve a
life for themselves out of the frigid cold, the stark isolation, and
the elemental beauty of their chosen homeland.
Roots: Growth, Function and Interactions with the Soil,
Peter Gregory. 328 pp.
Science Inc., 2006
understanding of plant roots and their interactions with the soils
around them has been somewhat neglected by botanists compared to the
research on the leaves and fruit of plants. Roots in soil are difficult
to observe and until, recently, their processes have been difficult to
measure. Many of the studies of roots extant in plant literature are
based on seedlings in solution rather than soil, and extrapolating
their findings to older plants begs questions about the impact of
changing root anatomy, chemical composition, and the fungi and bacteria
in the soil.
the imbalance with a comprehensive survey of current knowledge on the
root systems of vascular plants and their interactions with soils. The
author, Professor Peter Gregory, shares his expertise on the
development and growth of root systems and his understanding of how
roots are both affected by interactions with their biological
environment and how they, as well, modify their environment.
of Disease in Wild Animals, by
Gary A. Wobeser. 256 pp.
Blackwell Publishers, 2006.
spread the West Nile Virus and deer are unwitting confederates in the
dissemination of Lyme Disease. Rodents are harbingers of hantavirus and
avian influenza flies in on the wings of wild waterfowl.
transmission, and control of all these diseases is in some way
connected to wildlife, as are rabies, tularemia, plague, brucellosis,
SARS and dozens of other human and livestock afflictions.
critter populations may be closely managed and monitored, but the
viruses and bacteria within them are still wild and their bite can be
that crouches motionless before it strikes, the role of wild animals in
epidemics has been largely overlooked by scientists until recently. But
in the last two decades physicians and public health officials have had
to face up to the fact that most of the emerging infectious diseases of
humans are "zoonoses" -- diseases that are shared with animals.
a host of
scientific disciplines -- epidemiology, ecology, biology, toxicology,
medicine, agriculture, veterinary science, animal behavior -- are
taking a serious interest in the diseases of wild animals and a new
breed of specialist in wildlife medicine has emerged.
Disease in Wild Animals" by Gary A.
Wobeser is the first academic book on wildlife diseases to take a broad
view of the subject rather than focusing on a single disease or species
of animal. Wobeser discusses the nature of diseases and how
emerge, explores how they spread and persist in the environment, and
considers the effects they have on both individual animals and their
extended species population.
disease as an ecological (rather than strictly medical) issue, Wobeser
questions the effects that diet, habitat loss, pesticides, and genetics
have on the emergence and spread of disease in wild animals. "Disease
is one environmental feature among many that affect animals," he points
out. "It is impossible to understand disease without
the interactions among disease agents and with other factors such as
nutrition, predation, climate, and reproduction."
are no simple
answers to why animals get sick, nor is there an easy cure. Disease is
part of the ecology of the wild and cannot be eradicated with vaccines
or quarantines or education the way it is in human populations.
makes it clear that the health of wildlife is important all
us, not just wildlife managers, and that diseases in the wilds pose a
threat not only to wild animal populations, but to the livestock and
humans they will inevitably contact.
their outdoor recreation guide, A
FalconGuide to Death Valley National
Park: A Guide to Exploring the Great Outdoors
writers and guidebook authors Bert and Jane Gildart detail 30 of their
favorite drives and hikes, from the volcanic Ubehebe Crater in the
north end of the park to the desert bighorn sheep range near Willow
Spring to the south.
Nearby trailheads and suggested outings are included with each entry in
Best in Tent Camping guidebook
series from Menasha Ridge
Recent releases in the series cover Minnesota, Montana, Washington, New
England, New Jersey, Missouri and the Ozarks.
and Jim Monger explain British Columbia's geologic history in simple
terms in Roadside
Geology of Southern British Columbia
Publishing Company, 2005), which covers southern British Columbia from
the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the Alberta border east of
earthquake sites? Seems unlikely, but it's true. Finding
California: An Earthquake Tourist's Guide
Company, 2004) helps readers locate active faults in earthquake-prone
California and recounts the temblors they have caused.
venturing into the outdoors, the Hunters'
Guide for Treating Medical
Emergencies by Patrick Brighton
(Menasha Ridge Press, 2006)
prevention and treatment of everything from gun shot wounds to
Mountains of the West: The
Lake Volcanoes (Mountain Press Publishing Company, 2005) by Stephen L.
Harris profiles the active volcanoes of the Pacific Coast,
Mammoth Mountain in northern California to Mount Meager in southern
Reptiles, and Their Habitats at Sabino Canyon
by David W.
Lazaroff, Philip C. Rosen, and Charles H. Lowe (University of Arizona
Press, 2006) offers annotated and illustrated descriptions of the
amphibians and reptiles found at Sabino Canyon and an overview of their
Ecology and Fisheries (Blackwell
Peter Boyle and Paul Rodhouse present a thorough review of the animal
group that includes squid, cuttlefish and octopuses.
& garden books