Thursday, May 31, 2007

Stay of Execution

The latest from the Buffalo Field Campaign states that 300 buffaloes and calves at Yellowstone National Park have been given a little extra time before they are slaughtered. They were scheduled to be slaughtered today, but now the cruelty is set for Monday. The herd at Yellowstone is the last continuously wild herd in the U.S., a national treasure to be sure. See this Buffalo Field Campaign site for the details, including fantastic photos of buffalo "families." Take a little time to send out some e-mails and help stop the needless deaths.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dancing in the Street

Your left hoof in
Your left hoof out
Your left hoof in
And shake it all about
You do the hokey pokey
And turn yourself around
That's what it's all about

Spider Biker and Muddy Buffaloes

Insect on wheels

The "fast shoes"

Goose Buster wades while Devil Dawg washes off mud on the horse trail.

Red Chief these days is into Spiderman, so much so that when the Princess dropped him off at my place this weekend, out from the car came . . . Spiderman (the insect on the bike above). Ethan's Spiderman shoes are the result of his request for "fast shoes" to help him run faster. Believe me, the little guy can run quite fast. He and I had some sprint races in the park and although I wasn't going all out, I wasn't slouching either, and the little guy kept up with me. Those little buffalo legs really move when he wears his "fast shoes."

Had a fine mud run with buffalo buddies Devil Dawg, Cousin Don, Mr. Bill, and Goose Buster this weekend on a horse trail at Middle Fork State Fish & Wildlife Area near Oakwood. A muggy day on a mud-choked trail dotted with manure and who knows what else left behind by horses. Trail running at its best, though, followed by a buffalo pig-out at a truck stop.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Great Outdoors is Calling

Great run and socializing with the herd last night at the Mahomet trail. Busy weekend ahead with plenty of yardwork, triathlon training, and a run and shoot (photographs) with a small band of the herd at Middle Fork Forest Preserve. Hope to post photos of these activities and adventures with Red Chief and his Spiderman "fast shoes."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Man in the Wilderness, A Buffalo in the Living Room

Bought a couple of books last night that I can hardly wait to read. One Man's Wilderness, An Alaskan Odyssey first came out in the 1970s and is now in its 26th printing and selling well. It's the story of a self-sufficient craftsman who builds himself a log cabin and endures what nature deals him in an area of the Alaskan wilderness that few humans had passed through.

The other book, A Buffalo in the House: The True Story of a Man, an Animal, and the American West, I happily discovered as I was browsing through animal books. This book was very recently published and I had not heard of it. A review on the dust jacket by a staff writer of The New Yorker magazine describes the book as "riveting . . . I can't remember when I've been instructed so gracefully, or entertained to such deep purpose." After skimming the contents, I knew I had to have it. Details of the book are here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Indignity: When a Buffalo is a Hog

Biker beware. That walking Harley upholstery could knock you on your butt.

To some, real buffalo skin on your bike, or hog, is Harley Heaven. Geez.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Protecting America's Herd

Dan Brister, a long-time member and project director of the Buffalo Field Campaign, is handcuffed by law enforcement officials at Yellowstone.

The dedicated folks at the Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) recently sent out a press release detailing the arrest of two of its volunteers at Yellowstone while they were videotaping harassment of the buffalo there. At first I was shocked, but not really surprised, when I read of the rough treatment of the volunteers. Everybody is frustrated by what is going on out there with the buffalo. I don't know all the details of the arrests, but I don't like reading about people being knocked to the ground and bloodied, nor do I like reading about cop cars getting windows kicked and shattered. One thing is certain, though, the treatment of the Yellowstone bison is inhumane and unnecessary and the BFC is doing all it can to stop it. One of the arrested volunteers was Dan Brister, who was kind enough to e-mail me a while back and offer to show me around Yellowstone. I can't wait to get out there; it will be an honor to meet Dan and others of the BFC. Take some time to peruse the BFC website; it is truly an eye-opener, a testament to the plight of wildlife and a chronicle of the efforts of those who care about a magnificent animal.

Friday, May 11, 2007

To All Moms: Happy Mother's Day

From American Bison: A Natural History by Dale Lott: "A buffalo's first breath, its first sight of light, comes as it emerges from a warm womb into the brightness of a spring day or the dimness of a spring night. It's not alone. Mom is there, a bit tired from her labor but ready to begin a foundational relationship - mother and child . . . . Love at first sight comes only to those who are ready for it, and this mother is ready. As her womb emptied, her heart filled and her senses absorbed the sight, sound, and smell of what would be, for the months to come, her one and only. The one living thing she will nurture - and sometimes even challenge hungry wolves to protect."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Asleep in the Earth

As I was mowing my lawn a few days ago I noticed what I first thought might be a dead cat in my back yard. To my astonishment as I got closer I discovered it was a red fox, which probably had been dead for no more than a day or two. It was getting dark, so I decided the best thing to do was to bury the little guy near a stand of tall pine trees in the corner of my yard. He was a beautiful animal, looking much like these photos but scrawnier than the fox in the bottom photo. It had a big bushy tail too. I'm not sure what caused his death, although there were tufts of his fur nearby. I didn't see teethmarks or other signs of violence, like what might be caused by a dog. I very rarely see stray dogs in my neighborhood. Whatever happened, the fox now rests, but I was saddened to have made such a discovery.

Monday, May 07, 2007

This is good for me, this is good for me, this is good for me

That's what I must constantly remind myself as I labor through boring swim laps. Al Morris formerly lived in Champaign and was the first president of our local Second Wind Running Club and director of the U.S. Olympic Sports Medicine Research and Education Site at the University of Illinois. He is currently in Washington, DC, and is director of health improvement and physical fitness for the 10,000 uniformed members of the U.S. Border Patrol. Al has this to say about swimming:

"Unlike running and cycling, which provide aerobic activity benefit but strengthen only some muscle groups, swimming can provide a vigorous total-body aerobic workout. Swimming provides a full-body exercise and is an excellent conditioner for the cardiovascular system. Also, researchers have found that swimmers are injured less often while exercising when compared to runners."

Bad Hair Day

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Continued Harassment of an American Icon

Buffalo calf and Mom, Yellowstone National Park

The latest from the Buffalo Field Campaign, protectors of the 3600 wild buffalo at Yellowstone National Park:

"The wild Yellowstone buffalo are at the peak of their calving season, an extremely sensitive time of year for the gentle buffalo who have survived a long winter and must find good grasses and quiet places to give birth and raise their young. In the midst of the big, chocolaty brown buffalo are beautiful, tiny, red, delicate babies using their brand new senses to greet the earth for the first time, their little, wobbly legs walk with their proud, protective mothers, and are soon able to jump and play with the welcoming family members in the herd. Of course, after a few minutes of exploring and hopping around, very frequent naps in mama's protective warmth are a must.

Unfortunately, so many of these baby buffalos' first steps have been taken in fright, fleeing government-backed cowboy cops, trying to keep up with their moms and the herd, as they are run off of their native habitat for many miles back into Yellowstone.

This week, the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL), Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), the National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Forest Service (FS) have been engaged, every single day, in pushing nearly all the buffalo they can find out of Montana, back into Yellowstone National Park. Contrary to a DOL/FWP press release issued Monday night that said buffalo would be "safely and humanely" hazed "off of private land," using horses, trucks and ATVs, the agents forced buffalo out from everywhere; including public land where they were supposed be allowed to live in peace through May 15th. This, according to the IBMP agency's own "tolerance" agreement, which they have broken again and again. There is nothing "safe" or "humane" about forcing wildlife off of their chosen ground. Now, not only is the agreement broken and there is no tolerance for wild buffalo anywhere in Montana, the agencies have stated that the May 15th date has been set for lethal removal if any buffalo set foot in Montana."

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A Shark I'm Not

Swim training for triathlons is not going well. June 2 is the Tri Shark triathlon at Moraine View State Park near Bloomington. Signed up for it months ago. Right now my only hope for a good swim in a race is to grow fins.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Bloody Peanut

You want a good sandwich? Try peanut butter and tomato. Jelly is overrated.