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Growing up, Gary Kempler remembers watching flocks of bighorn sheep near his hometown of Clarkston, Washington.

“Good size herds along the river,” Kempler said — he could see up to eight flocks in one day.

Slowly, after the wildlife faced battles with a virulent form of pneumonia, Kempler saw fewer and fewer bighorns. Maybe one or two sheep at a time.

The owner of a seafood processing company in Pierce County, Washington, has pleaded guilty in a case involving the illegal sale of sea cucumbers, leathery creatures that are considered a delicacy to eat in some cultures.

Owner of Little Amazon, Linh Nguyen, holds iguanas on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Originally, the Nguyens were fish breeders, supplying the region’s pet stores.

Aurora Avenue North was good for that: Highways are where you want to be if you distribute stuff. 


A wild Pacific salmon, left, next to an escaped farm-raised Atlantic salmon, right, on Aug. 22 at Home Port Seafoods in Bellingham.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Kim Malcolm talks with Seattle Times reporter Lynda Mapes about a new study that looks at the impact of drugs picked up by juvenile Chinook salmon in Puget Sound.

Photo courtesy of Kit Kovacs of Norwegian Polar Institute

Bill Radke talks to Dr. Kate Stafford, University of Washington Oceanographer, about her latest study on the songs bowhead whales sing and why they are surprisingly more varied than other whales. 

A Tale Of 2 Whale Songs

Apr 4, 2018

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

All right, think of your favorite jazz standard.

(SOUNDBITE OF BOWHEAD WHALE VOCALIZATION)

A Red-tailed hawk
Flickr photo/Tom Murray (CC BY-NC 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/245dfsx

Gaby Spadafora of Edmonds was curious about something recently:

“What species of bird sits on the light posts above our highways? And why does this one type of bird hang out up there?”

Each spring in the global north, brown bears around the world emerge from their dens with new cubs. The cubs come into the world hapless and fragile. Their fathers are long gone; bear mothers must find a way to raise the cubs while surviving themselves.

Female bears generally spend either 1.5 or 2.5 years with their young. In many ways, the pressures of bear life favor the shorter option — a mother with cubs cannot mate, so the more time she spends with each litter, the fewer offspring she'll have over her lifetime.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke came to Washington's North Cascades Friday to make one thing clear: He wants his agency to get back to work deciding by year's end whether to reintroduce grizzlies to the North Cascades.

"I’m in support of the Great Bear,” Zinke told a small audience at the North Cascades National Park Headquarters in Sedro-Woolley, Washington.

Gray whale sightings are up on the Oregon and Washington coast in recent weeks.

Counts at Oregon’s Whale Watching Center at Depoe Bay have been between five and 10 per day, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, although many more pass the along the coast undetected.

Park ranger Luke Parsons says the actual number of whales passing by on their way from Baja to feeding grounds in the Arctic is relatively typical for this time of year.

Federal officials hit a milestone Tuesday for a new program designed to stabilize and grow the populations of two endangered species of sucker fish in the Klamath Basin.

At a calm cove on Upper Klamath Lake, Alan Mikkelsen, senior advisor to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, ceremonially released the first small group of suckers from a new rearing program.

"We got a lake full of food, little guy," he told them.

Mikkelsen upturned a net with three fish and watched the 8-inch juveniles disappear into the murky water.

The Pacific Northwest’s beloved orcas will not survive unless humans do more to ensure adequate food and cleaner, quieter waters. That was one of the messages at a crowded signing ceremony in Seattle convened by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Is there anything more Floridian than a flamingo?

Flamingo iconography is everywhere in the state: decorating front lawns, swizzling cocktails, lighting up motel signs.

The long-legged pink birds were once common in Florida. But their striking feathers were prized decorations for ladies' hats, and they were hunted out of existence for the plume trade in the 1800s.

At least, scientists thought the flamingos had been wiped out.

While you may be able to easily change your coat when the snow melts, it’s not so simple for animals whose fur turns white in winter for camouflage. A new study finds they'll need to rapidly evolve to match a climate with less snow.

Last month, a Washington state resident was fined more than $8,000 for poaching three wolves in 2016. DNA evidence linked him to three separate kills, but other poaching cases remain unsolved. 

Closeup of a peacock feather.
Flickr Photo/Gary Riley (CC BY 2.0)/flic.kr/p/ETAn4o

Last week's viral story of an ersatz emotional support peacock sent waves of hilarity ricocheting across the internet and late night talk shows. But The New York Times' David Leonhardt argues that the creeping normalization of little lies - such as falsehoods about our pets being support or service animals - has a corrosive effect on society over time. Was Dexter the peacock in the coal mine? Bill Radke spoke with Leonhardt to find out.

When Kathy Lampi's mom died of cancer last June, she placed the velvet bag filled with her mom's ashes on a shelf in her china cabinet. Lampi thought that was a fitting place for her mom to rest until she could plan a proper burial.

Then in October the Northern California fires reduced Lampi's two-story house in Santa Rosa to six inches of rubble. Her mom's ashes were now mixed in with the ashes of her sofa and front door.

Dexter the peacock did not get to fly the friendly skies.
Photo courtesy Dexter the Peacock via Instagram screenshot/www.instagram.com/dexterthepeacock/

This week a woman and her peacock were turned away from a cross-country flight. She'd pleaded that Dexter was an emotional support animal, to no avail. And now the most regal road movie in existence is taking place as the pair drives to Los Angeles instead. But sneaking untrained animals onto planes and into restaurants is no snickering matter, and could soon be subject to civil penalties in Washington state.

The known population of one of the world's rarest fish has just doubled, thanks to a lucky find in the waters off Tasmania, Australia.

Meet the red handfish, a name that reflects the hand-shaped fins on the sides of its body. The striking creature doesn't really swim — it "walks" slowly along the seafloor. And until recently, researchers say they were aware of only one colony of the rare animals, with around 20 to 40 fish.

Grumpy Cat finally has something to smile about.

The perpetually scowling kitty, whose real name is Tardar Sauce, has been awarded a cool $710,000 in a copyright infringement case. Or at least her human, Tabatha Bundesen, has.

Lynn Tompkins peers down at a red-tailed hawk laid across a small exam table at Blue Mountain Wildlife’s clinic in Pendleton, Oregon.

It’s out cold.

“She was in very good shape until she got zapped,” Tompkins says as she removes the bandage on the hawk’s left wing, revealing a raw wound.

The bird was electrocuted a week earlier near Boardman, likely the result of a run-in with a power line.  

The last herd of caribou found anywhere in the lower 48 states is in the Pacific Northwest. To be clear, this caribou herd is tiny.

“Today, these are the last 11 that occupy habitat in the Lower 48.”

Every winter, hundreds of bald eagles migrate through Idaho’s panhandle. They stop at Lake Coeur D’Alene to feed on kokanee salmon for a few weeks. And this year, the number of eagles are at a record high.

Could Slower Ships Help The Orcas?

Jan 5, 2018

 

This story first appeared at Crosscut.com

To the human eye, big ships cruising along the west side of San Juan Island this summer might have looked like they were traveling in slow motion. To the perceptive ears of killer whales, those same ships might have sounded a little bit quieter.

In Florida, it's raining iguanas. And in Cape Cod, Mass., sharksicles are washing ashore.

The unusual cold that has slammed the U.S. East Coast is wreaking havoc with wildlife, particularly the cold-blooded variety. As one no doubt remembers from grade-school science class, reptiles and fish take heat from their environment — when it is warm enough, all is well, but if it gets too cold, you can expect scenes like this.

Even very young babies can tell the difference between someone who's helpful and someone who's mean — and lab studies show that babies consistently prefer the helpers.

But one of humans' closest relatives — the bonobo — makes a different choice, preferring to cozy up to the meanies.

That's according to experiments described Thursday in the journal Current Biology, by scientists who wanted to explore the evolutionary origins of humans' unusually cooperative behavior.

How Drones Are Helping Washington's Moose

Dec 22, 2017

Deep in the forests of northeastern Washington, snow blankets the ground. Through the trees, it’s hard to see the moose wandering in the woods.

But from a bird’s eye view? You can see a little brown splotch — with antlers.

Wildlife researchers are ditching the usual (costly, time consuming and invasive) ways they count moose. They’re taking to the sky and taking a new drone for a spin.

A new study from Oregon State University scientists finds that old-growth forests could be an important refuge for songbirds in the face of climate change.

Lead author and ecologist Matt Betts tracked songbird populations in different kinds of forests – including old growth and mature tree plantations.

They’ve been called devil fish. They’re No. 1 on the hit-list for invasive aquatic life in Washington waters.

And they’re creeping farther and farther down the Columbia River system.

So far, northern pike have reached Lake Roosevelt, the reservoir that's impounded behind Grand Coulee Dam.

Penitent penguins. A seal aghast. A turbocharged wigeon, a vain gnu and a kickboxing kangaroo.

The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards are back. This year's winners were announced Thursday morning.

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