Supernatural

As much as I say, “oh, I’d be a great hunter”, I actually wouldn’t be able to do anything other than look for information. Paranormal things scare me half to death, I’m the literal clumsiest person ever, I can’t shoot a gun, I have no strength, AND I can’t run. But I mean if I can do information,the other hunters with me would be able to rest up for the hunt, and I’d be able to rest while they do the killing. So, I guess I would be kind of important.

Obama bans sport hunting of wolves from helicopters

August 2016 - The Obama administration is banning sport hunting of bears and wolves on federal lands in Alaska’s outback in an effort to stop what it calls the unethical practices of the state’s game board, practices that former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has touted.

The Fish and Wildlife Service approved the regulations that ban hunting in Alaska’s national wildlife refuges without express permission from Washington and without proving it would serve a vital role in the conservation of the species.

Palin once touted these practices in support of maintaining the caribou and moose herds that rural Alaskans depend on as a food source. She was criticized by conservation groups and Democrats for supporting the hunting and shooting of wolves from helicopters.

“This is not sportsmanship,” Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe said. “It is purportedly aimed at increasing populations of caribou and moose but defies modern science of predator-prey relationships. And finally, it is inconsistent with the laws guiding management of our National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska.”

He added that the practices are “wholly at odds with America’s long tradition of ethical, sportsmanlike, fair-chase hunting, in something they call ‘intensive predator management.’" 

The regulations come in response to what Ashe called a persistent movement in the nation to give states ultimate authority over federal lands, alluding to a clause in the Republican Party’s national platform that was approved in Cleveland last month. 

"Special interest groups are quietly working at the federal and state level to lay the groundwork for federally managed lands to be handed over wholesale to state or even private ownership,” he said. “Others have sought to erode federal management authority piecemeal, dealing death by a thousand cuts.

"Unfortunately, without the protections of federal law and the public engagement it ensures, this heritage is incredibly vulnerable,” he said.

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The Silent Flying of an Owl. 

The video shows how effortlessly an owl fly’s compared to other bird species. 

A pigeon that has a relatively large body and small wings needs to flap furiously to produce enough lift. A falcon has large wings that move more aggressively so the bird can gain much faster speeds. 

Both birds create large turbulence in the air and noise as a result. Comparatively, the owl is the perfect night time hunter, silently flying through the sky.

The hyena that made its home in a wolf pack

26 March 2016 -  Hyenas are not usually a friendly bunch, but one has been spotted in the midst of a wild wolf pack for the first time

Striped hyenas (Hyaena hyaena) are solitary hunters. They forage alone but occasionally come together to munch on a kill. They are far less sociable than their better-known cousins, spotted hyenas.

Both species are known to be highly intolerant of other large carnivores, and even of other members outside their immediate social group. They will also kill large aggressive dogs that get in their way.

That is why Vladimir Dinets of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, US, was surprised to find that a striped hyena had travelled with a pack of grey wolves – another hostile predator usually intolerant of other species.

“It went against everything that was known about wolves and hyenas,” Dinets says. He first spotted tracks of both creatures near Eilat, in the Negev desert of Israel in 1994. This included three grey wolves and one striped hyena.

Remarkably, in many places the hyena tracks were on top of wolf tracks… The tracks of the three wolves also overlapped each other in all possible orders,” Dinets and his colleagues write in a new study in the journal Zoology in the Middle East.

This indicates, they say, that these four animals were walking together at the same time.

Although Dinets was confident of his initial observations, he knew the footprints were not enough to convince his colleagues at the time. “Most zoologists today don’t get trained in conventional tracking and know little or nothing about the kinds of data you can get from it.”

It was only four years later, about 1,300m away, that Dinet’s colleague Beniamin Eligulashvili, an Israeli zoologist, had a similar experience.

This time he saw the two species together, first-hand. He observed seven wolves with one hyena.

What was even more surprising was that the hyena was not following the wolves, but moving in the middle of the pack.

While hyenas have been known to scavenge the kills of other large predators, they had never before been known to socialise with other hunters.

No striped hyena has been spotted with a wolf pack since.

Eligulashvili had hoped to see more instances of this unusual friendship, which is why the team waited so long to publish the results. “But he [Eligulashvili] never saw anything like it again,” says Dinets. “He didn’t even see another striped hyena. They are very difficult to see in the wild.”

The question is, why would the wolves tolerate a hyena among their ranks?

The authors believe it might be because both groups live in such an inhospitable, arid part of the world. There is only 29mm of rain each year in the area.

It is these extreme conditions that may have driven the two species together to form this unlikely alliance, the authors propose.

Wolves are better at tracking down large prey, while hyenas have a superior sense of smell. They can also get into discarded rubbish like tin cans, and are extremely good at scavenging and ripping apart large bones.

It is still unclear how long the hyena spent with the wolves, or how many times similar behaviour has occurred before or since.

What it does show is that “predators are smart, flexible animals”, says Dinets. This observation reveals that they certainly do not “stick to roles prescribed to them by biology textbooks”.

Hyena expert Kay Holekamp of Michigan State University, US, has never seen or heard of anything of the kind. “Stranger things have happened,” she says.

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Revealed: hunting strategy of the endangered African wild dog

A new study led by researchers at the Royal Veterinary College has revealed that African wild dogs may be more robust than previously thought.

The researchers used custom-built GPS collars to collect position and speed data to reconstruct the hunt behaviour of an entire pack of African wild dogs in northern Botswana.

The researchers found that given the the opportunity, African wild dogs hunt with frequent short chases. In addition, the pack showed no evidence of coopertive hunting, apart from travelling together and sharing the kills made by an individual dog. 

Understanding the hunting strategies of a species helps conservationists to identify which areas should be protected, or where new populations can be reintroduced most successfully. 

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Image credit: Neil Jordan, Megan Classe,  Tambako The Jaguar