Monthly Archives: February 2009

Don’t forget! Carnival of the Arid deadline looms

It’s been a little quiet Chez Coyote, partly because I’ve been involved in a long-form writing project that — being largely unpublishable anywhere else — will show up here eventually, and partly because I’ve been bidding on projects, and partly because I’m heading off to a Climate Change conference in Joshua Tree Friday and a hiking date with Larry Hogue this weekend. (You may envy me now.)

But I wanted to remind you all that Saturday, while I’m out hiking, you will be having your deadline for the Carnival of the Arid Numero Dos, which will appear here on Monday, March 2. That’s just a few days away! We’ve got a few great submissions already, but there’s still plenty of room. Send ‘em on in to me by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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or drop a link in comments here.

Okay, okay, you’ve got until Sunday. It’s only fair.

And though it’s still early, perhaps I’ll come back with photos of the beginning of what will almost certainly be a spectacular desert bloom this spring, what with the slightly greater than usual levels of precip the desert has enjoyed the last few months.

N. N. Jaeschke kills baby bats

A disturbing, sad story from the BatWorld Wall of Shame. Please reprint, link, and otherwise spread.

During a record breaking CA heat wave during the summer of 2008, Bat World San Diego received a rescue call for six abandoned pups at La Estancia Condominium Complex in Oceanside, CA. The condos are managed by N.N. Jaeschke, Inc. and maintained by the La Estancia Maintenance Corporation. Apparently the roost had overheated, causing the tiniest pups to be pushed from the roof tiles as bigger bats struggled to stay cool. The woman who called lived in the apartment directly under the roost. She also informed us that her neighbor below was complaining of the smell and wanted the bats removed. While collecting the bats our rescuer noticed some of the pups had fallen onto this neighbor’s porch and had likely crawled under the door leading to an outside storage closet. However, the man refused to open the storage closet and never changed his mind.  Two other volunteer bat rehabilitators helped us collect 29 bat pups. They fed and hydrated the lost pups, and successfully reunited the pups with their mothers the same day.

We contacted the condominium owner who made the initial complaint about the bats, as well as the N.N. Jaeschke, Inc. The condo owner said the bats had been using the roost for years, yet nothing had ever been done about the problem such as sealing the roost during the winter months when the bats were gone. We offered help in humanely excluding the bats after the pups were raised, which would have occurred just a few short weeks later. We also made contact with a local wildlife biologist as well as a group of Boy Scouts who wanted to assist with the problem by building and installing bat houses in nearby open spaces as an environmental project. We made the suggestion to N.N. Jaeschke that the problem could turn out to be a positive public relations story for their company as they could deal with the bat problem humanely while working with a local scout troop. Although we managed to speak to the condo owner by phone (who insisted the bats should be killed), our calls and e-mails to N.N. Jaeschke, Inc went completely ignored.

A week later we received another distress call from the resident of the condo, who told us that she believed N.N. Jaeschke, Inc had hired someone to get rid of the bats. A pest control company had netted the roof, trapping the mothers and pups inside. The caring resident climbed on her balcony and tore down the netting, freeing the bats, while Bat World San Diego contacted the San Diego Department of Animal Services and alerted them to the problem. That evening a local news station came to cover the story, filming the location, pieces of the netting that remained and interviewing everyone involved. The story made news in San Diego that evening:  A representative of N.N. Jaeschke responded to the news story by promising to leave the colony alone until maternity season was over, and said they would then humanely exclude the bats during the fall after all the pups could fly. Note: The condo resident later received a notice of violation from N.N. Jaeschke, Inc.

Once again we contacted N.N. Jaeschke with offers to help, and once again we were ignored. We also called the California Dept of Health Services after hearing that some of the condo residents were starting to panic after being given incorrect information regarding histoplasmosis, a lung condition that can occur from bird and, rarely, from bat droppings. We took initiative and distributed the correct information about bats to the residents, including information from the health department stating that there has never been a human case of histoplasmosis from bat guano acquired in California. We also called the CA Department of Fish and Game, who sent a game warden to the condominiums. The warden informed the condo owner that he could not immediately exclude the bats but needed to wait until September 1st.

Two weeks later we received a tearful call from the caring condo resident, who had just arrived home to find the condo roof dripping wet. She walked around her building to see what happened and encountered to two workers who both stated they were hired power wash the bats in order to kill them. Approximately 2,000 mothers and pups lost their lives that day. We later spoke by telephone to Lil Van Vleet, Senior Vice President of N.N. Jaeschke, who denied they ever hired a company to net and bait the bats in July, and also stated they did not hire someone to power wash bats to kill them. Ms. Van Vleet did state, however, that N.N. Jaeschke hired a company to power wash the grounds of the condominiums on the very the same day the bats ended up being killed with a power washer.

Investigators were sent to the roost to search for bodies that may have fallen so that the method of death could be determined in order for charges to be filed against the managers of the condo. Unfortunately, all the bodies are still trapped within the now-sealed roof, and the ground beneath had been cleaned. This cruelty case is still open, but as yet no charges have been filed.

Please let N.N. Jaeschke know that this level of cruelty does not go unnoticed.

Eleanor Hugus, CEO
N.N. Jaeschke
9610 Waples Street
San Diego, CA 92121-2992
Tel: (858) 550-7900
Fax: (858) 550-7929

You may also use the NN Jaeschke website to send a comment.

1,000-mile OHV atrocity in Nevada: more info

Basin and Range Watch has the authoritative description of just how destructive the so-called “Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno Off-Highway Race.

Talk about your insult to injury, with that title. These yahoos wouldn’t know the best of the desert if it pitched them off their motorized phallus replacements and into a patch of cholla.

At Grand Canyon, water battle rages anew

Via Lee Allison, a relatively thorough story in the Arizona Republic about the Grand Canyon, Glen Canyon Dam, and science and the environment being disregarded for considerations of political and electrical power.

Nearly a year after the federal government flooded the Grand Canyon in a test of resource restoration, questions persist about whether the agency in charge watered down the experiment to protect power providers and ignored high-level critics of the operation.

The allegations resurfaced with a January memo written by the superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park, who accused his bosses of disregarding science in preparing for the flood designed to reverse some of the damaging effects of Glen Canyon Dam on the canyon and on the Colorado River. He also described the environmental review of the experiment as one of the worst he’s seen.

Conservation groups say the Interior Department tailored the experiment, a four-day flush of water from Lake Powell down the Colorado River, to appease providers whose power is generated by Glen Canyon Dam. The providers have long complained about the money lost whenever changes are made in the way water is released from the dam.

The episode further feeds a long-simmering feud between environmentalists and power interests and raises the issue yet again of whether a dam and a fragile riparian ecosystem can coexist.

Read the rest: it’s good. Then check out the Grand Canyon Trust’s website for background.

Democrats and mice

GOP Talking Point: “The Stimulus Package includes ludicrous and wasteful porkbarrel spending such as 30 million dollars to help preserve the salt marsh harvest mouse in San Francisco Bay.”

Democratic Talking Point: “Actually, the stimulus package does not include any ludicrous and wasteful porkbarrel spending to help preserve the salt marsh harvest mouse in San Francisco Bay.”

Responses from progressive bloggers pointing out that protecting the wetland habitat of the salt marsh harvest mouse is neither ludicrous nor wasteful, but is in fact our goddamned moral obligation, are detailed below the fold.

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This pebble in my boot, when it was one
still with its mother rock, cooled over tens
of centuries: a batholith. Bright grew
the flakes of muscovite, bright grew the pale
discolored quartz, each grain an infinite
fine tetrahedral tesselation, it
rose out of the depth of earth buoyant,
a yearning isostasy, then was stripped
of its crust-cover by dull-rasped storm.
At length outcropped, massive and without fault,
the rock began at once to decompose.
Frost-riven, wind-and water-worn, in turn
summer sun-scalded and ground down by ice,
mother rock failed. A craze, not half as wide
as spider strands, but still a root-purchase.
The mosses’ fierce and ravening grasp, the clench
of desert aster’s roots ratcheted, prised
apart by microscopic increment
rock from the monolith. Melt and refreeze:
ice put its Archimedean back against
the wall, strained quietly for centuries.
A thousand years, ten thousand, and the break:
Rockfall. A stony flinch, echoing gasp
as earth released its hold on earth, falling,
fracturing, a scattering of shards
and shrapnel. Storms to file the edges smooth,
an eon’s iterations, boulders rent
to cobbles, cobbles to stones,
shard-sanded scraps of stone a pediment
gravel apron mantling the mountain,
until the whole assemblage, self-entombed,
fuses itself, forms a conglomerate
core of some unborn range. This pebble in
my boot a scion of lands lost, a seed
of landscapes not yet made. This reddened heel
a blistered point of contact where my life
meets the much longer life of pulsing rock
falling, rising, its crests a mile above
and frequency unfathomably long.


[Time to haul this one out of the archives, what with all the targazing I’ve done the last couple days.]


“What is it that sets us apart,” she asked,
“from sunset or sierra?
What is the line between ourselves
and the terrain from which we come?”

He thought he knew, but something in her eyes
transfixed him in a way he knew too well.
Deep and dark and wet they stuck him fast.

In parts of California, long ago,
impressive monsters ambled in the hills:
placid armored sloths two people tall,
cats with teeth as long as boning knives,
dogs the size of bears. Now and again,
a glint of water tempted them, or else
a furry piece of meat held strangely still,
and only after the imprudent pounce
would the tar entomb them.
Now, the graduate students pick their bones.

When the land thus asserts your membership
in the vast assemblage of dust and bark,
of feather, fur and rock in which we live,
it’s best not to struggle overmuch.
The land is patient, yet insistent.
Fighting off the tar will muss your hair.
Paleontologists an era hence
will find your clothes awry. Embarrassing!
Far better just to let oneself be swallowed
in all-consuming pitch, placidly slurped
into the balm of Quaternary ages.

That’s what her eyes felt like, he thought;
a sudden lack of individual
identity: nothing sets us apart
one from the other, nor from the land around.

A thousand-mile swath of destruction?

The ORV boosters are pushing an event that could be more destructive than the infamous Barstow to Vegas Race, banned a dozen years ago.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Tonopah Field Office, will conduct an environmental review and hold two public meetings to gather public comments on a proposed off-highway race.

The race, planned for August 20-22, 2009, is called the “Best in the Desert Vegas to Reno Off-Highway Race” and covers 1,000 miles of Nevada’s high desert. It begins north of Pahrump and runs through Beatty, Tonopah and Hawthorne before finishing southeast of Dayton.

The Best in the Desert Racing Association, which is seeking a special recreation permit from the BLM to conduct the race, bills it as the “greatest long-distance, off-road event in this decade on U.S. soil.”

As many as 350 vehicles could be entered, including motorcycles, ATVs, dune buggies, high clearance SUVs and 4×4 trucks. The race route uses a combination of existing smooth and rough dirt roads on public lands in Nye, Esmeralda, Mineral, Lyon, and Douglas counties.

The full press release, from the pro-ORV Blue Ribbon Coalition, is below the fold. Some of the proposed route would apparently follow the Amargosa River, under consideration for Wild and Scenic status.

Kinda gives the lie to the whining from the ORV set about how they’re being squeezed off our public lands. Apparently they want every square inch.

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Breaking Pleistocene Update

I Am Zed's Mandible

I went over to the Page Museum this morning to get a look at some of the fossils they pulled out from underneath the May Company parking lot.

I got a handful of blurry, underexposed photos with my phone. They’re here.

On a side note, why is it the tourists always come up to me and ask me to explain things? I was just minding my own business reading the latest issue of Natural History near Pit 91, not bothering a soul or looking at all intelligent. Always, ALWAYS happens. Weird.

Coyote-killing “tournament” in Idaho

From our friends at Project Coyote, this upsetting press release.

Wildlife advocates are condemning an upcoming coyote killing “tournament”, scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 21, and sponsored by the Bent Rod Outdoors, a Challis business.

“This event has no place in the 21st Century”, said Brian Ertz, a Hailey resident, and president of Wildlife Watchers, a group that says wildlife viewing, rather than killing, is preferred by the majority of Idahoans. “We are urging concerned citizens to contact the Bent Rod Outdoors [(208) 879-2500], and also the Challis Chamber of Commerce [(208) 879-2771] to protest this day-long coyote slaughter.”

The coyote “tournament” was publicized through ads in the Challis Messenger on Feb. 12 and 18. When contacted, a Bent Rod employee stated that there would be prizes including cash for the most coyotes killed, the largest and smallest coyotes, and other categories. Coyote killers would enter the Bent Rod’s “tournament” by paying $25 per person, or $50 for a two-person team. The “contest” starts Saturday morning and ends that evening at Bent Rod Outdoors.

The full release is below the fold. You have time to make a call: I know it.

No, seriously, you do. Don’t make me pull out the pictures.

OK, fine.

coyote and raven

Idaho coyote and raven. Photos by Lynne K. Stone.

Challis Chamber of Commerce (208) 879-2771
Bent Rod Outdoors (208) 879-2500

Also, please note the ORV-related item in the release. Yeah, class acts, those guys. Respecters of wildlife, those guys.

Continue reading

Major cache of fossils unearthed in Los Angeles

From the Los Angeles Times:

Workers excavating an underground garage on the site of an old May Co. parking structure in Los Angeles’ Hancock Park got more than just a couple hundred new parking spaces. They found the largest known cache of fossils from the last ice age, an assemblage that has flabbergasted paleontologists.

Researchers from the George C. Page Museum at the La Brea tar pits have barely begun extracting the fossils from the sandy, tarry matrix of soil, but they expect the find to double the size of the museum’s collection from the period, already the largest in the world.

Among their finds, to be formally announced today, is the nearly intact skeleton of a Columbian mammoth—named Zed by researchers—a prize discovery because only bits and pieces of mammoths had previously been found in the tar pits.

According to the story, “Zed” is being cleaned in the Page Museum’s “fishbowl,” which means I’m gonna go gawk at it tomorrow.

The paleocontractors doing the excavating have a blog. You can see photos of one of them woman-handling an intact American lion (Panthera atrox) skull here.

[Updated] In other Breaking La Brea Tar Pits News,* researchers have isolated new species of bacteria and archaea living in—and off—the asphaltum in the Rancho La Brea seeps. These extremophile organisms possess the ability to metabolize the tar, and biotech developers are eyeing the microbes for environmental cleanup potential. I’m hoping for a spray application that will dissolve big knobby tires.

* How many redundancies can you spot here? The answer may scare you.