GRANITE PEAK PUBLICATIONS: Accompanying travelers to the Park since 2002

Wolves and Grizzlies and Good Reading

Wolves and Grizzlies and Good Reading

wolf

Gray wolf, Yellowstone Treasures page 351, photo courtesy National Park Service, Yellowstone National Park

Wolves have been feared and hated by humans for centuries. “It’s like the abortion issue of wildlife,” according to a recent Oliver Milman article in The Guardian’s U.S. edition. In his thoughtful article, Milman traces gray wolves from their rebound in Great Lakes states in the 1960s and their reintroduction to Yellowstone in the mid 1990s. He quotes wolf restoration project leader Doug Smith: “Fifty years ago, everyone hated wolves. Now, half the population hates wolves. We are progressing . . .”

I confess to having missed Endangered Species Day, which was May 20th this year. But I see that the Endangered Species Coalition has an extensive reading list for young and adult readers, including wolf books for children. For adults, it includes a favorite of mine, The Song of the Dodo, by David Quammen, the renowned author who just wrote the text for National Geographic’s May issue on Yellowstone. Then there’s a book I would like to read, The Future of Life, by one of our wisest scientists, Edward O. Wilson.

* * * * *

grizzly bear and cub

Grizzly bear sow and yearling on boardwalk at Daisy Geyser, NPS Flickr photo

The fate of the grizzly bear population in the Greater Yellowstone Area is a serious matter on the verge of being decided by the courts. People who live, work, hunt, or frequently visit the area are closely following the controversy over listing / delisting the great bears.

An excellent article appears in the May 16th issue of the magazine High Country News. Carefully researched and written by environmental journalist Gloria Dickie, her article puts the whole problem of managing grizzlies in perspective. Grizzlies can live about twenty-five years in the wild. There are now 717 in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem by a recent estimate and 960 in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (in and around Glacier National Park).

Environmentalists would like to find a way to bridge these two populations for their genetic health. Meanwhile, others with strong opinions about whether or not the bears should be delisted include hunters, outfitters, photo safari guides, and Native American Indian tribal leaders.

Chris Servheen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife grizzly bear recovery coordinator, believes the recovery level of grizzly bears reached as of now more than fulfills the goals of the Endangered Species Act. The bears’ recovery is “the greatest success story of all,” he says.

The controversy continues, but for comic relief here is a bit of (definitely not politically correct) historic humor that appears in my new collection, Through Early Yellowstone. This took place in the first decade of the twentieth century.

How Buffalo Jones Disciplined a Bad Grizzly
by William T. Hornaday
in The Minds and Manners of Wild Animals, 1922

The most ridiculous and laughable performance ever put up with a wild grizzly bear as an actor was staged by Col. C. J. (“Buffalo”) Jones, when he was superintendent of the wild animals of the Yellowstone Park. He marked down for punishment a particularly troublesome grizzly that had often raided tourists’ camps at a certain spot, to steal food. Very skillfully he roped that grizzly around one of his hind legs, suspended him from the limb of a tree, and while the disgraced and outraged silver-tip swung to and fro, bawling, cursing, snapping, snorting, and wildly clawing at the air, Buffalo Jones whaled it with a beanpole until he was tired. With commendable forethought Mr. Jones had for that occasion provided a moving-picture camera, and this film always produces roars of laughter.

Now, here is where we guessed wrongly. We supposed that whenever and wherever a well-beaten grizzly was turned loose, the angry animal would attack the lynching party. But not so. When Mr. Jones’ chastened grizzly was turned loose, it thought not of reprisals. It wildly fled to the tall timber, plunged into it, and there turned over a new leaf.

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A testimonial for Through Early Yellowstone

Here’s a delightful message sent to us this week by Lois Atwood of Providence, Rhode Island:

Thank you for sending me the book [Through Early Yellowstone], which I truly love.

I wish this had been available when I first entered Yellowstone, as viewing the park’s wonders through the eyes of early travelers highlights their extraordinary nature and variety, and the difficulties early travelers faced. I enjoyed the many details of a developing tourist trade—tent hotels, trails and roads that suddenly stopped, rare interactions with wild animals, the mother who set out for a park summer with her lively children and left her money at home—the list goes on and on. I frequently turned anew to the thirty or so paintings, never before reproduced. The book is filled with treasures, insights, humor, pictures, and descriptions of our first and still most unusual and startling national park.

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From the Desk of Janet Chapple

Personal Essay for University of Nebraska Press’s #FindYourPark Series

Old Faithful Inn interior

Old Faithful Inn interior, showing the great fireplace and balconies

At the invitation of the publisher of the travelogue by Jules Leclercq that I translated with my colleague Suzanne Cane, Yellowstone, Land of Wonders, I’ve recently written about my personal connection with Yellowstone National Park for their website.

Reflecting a lifetime association with the park—or, at least, a strong association during some of my very early years and then again since the age of sixty—I’ve written about my early memories of being there and why Yellowstone means so much to me that I continue to research and write about it during years when I might be taking it easy.

I hope my blog readers might be inspired to reward themselves with repeated visits to this richly fascinating and incomparable national treasure.

Photo credit: The image of the Old Faithful Inn fireplace from Bat’s Alley is an NPS photo.

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Priceless Yellowstone bear video shot by National Geographic team

In case you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at this! It even has a surprise ending. . . .

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Yellowstone News Unseen and Seen

Exciting for Granite Peak Publications and me is to know that our shipment of several pallets of spanking new copies of Through Early Yellowstone arrives today at the Port of Seattle from China! That’s the unseen news.

The fun-to-see news appeared this morning in the Yellowstone Foundation newsletter. It’s the announcement of the winners in their Yellowstone Forever Photo Contest.View a slide show of the 100 top entries.Their 2016 contest will open in June.

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E-books for international readers

European Map of Norway
In early April 2016 we got this message on the Granite Peak contact form:

Please make Yellowstone Treasures available for international customers through iBooks/iTunes. I love the book, but books are heavy so I would like to have it with me as an ebook when I travel to the US and Yellowstone later this year. When trying to buy it in the iTunes store I am told I need an American account to buy it. Other ways I can get the pdf or epub?
Best Regards
Ann Kristin Lindaas from Norway

I’d like to share our correspondence, edited for length, so everyone knows people around the world can now easily get the Yellowstone Treasures ebook.

April 9

Dear Ann Kristin,
I’m sorry you are having trouble obtaining Yellowstone Treasures as an ebook from outside North America. The problem is that I had only officially granted US and Canadian rights to my distributor. I will add you to the e-newsletter list and try to notify you as soon as the pdf and other versions are available to the rest of the world. The distributor says they are changing this!
Enjoy your trip!
Regards,
Beth
Editor and Publisher
Granite Peak Publications

April 10

That’s great news! I have already bought the print book and I really enjoy it. Essential for planning my days in Yellowstone! I will be traveling the US for about a month in September and I’m hoping to bring electronic versions of most of the books I’ve bought 🙂
Best regards
Ann

April 14

Hi, Ann,
I’m so glad to hear you enjoy the guidebook. Today I see that you should be able to buy it in pdf or epub format now, because the listing says World rights. You can buy the ebook on our distributor’s website. If you want to read it on an iPad, you will need to download the free Bluefire Reader app. Or if you prefer, you can try finding it in iTunes, but I am not sure if the book is available there yet.
Regards,
Beth

April 19

I am now the very happy reader of Yellowstone Treasures on my mobile phone and tablet (iPhone/iPad)! I would recommend the pdf version, not the epub, because of poor image quality in the epub. Pictures in the epub are blurry when enlarged (when you zoom in) and on a small device, you need to be able to zoom in on the details in the maps. This is not an issue with the pdf. I have written Terry at IPG about this and a couple of other things.

Yes, you can quote me and use my name! 🙂
I really appreciate that you and IPG are making digital versions available. I’ve also written National Geographic about the same thing, and only received a “sorry we don’t have our guidebooks available in digital formats” reply. Those books will be left at home even though I would have really liked to have them with me on my trip later this year.
Best regards
Ann

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Yellowstone Bison Get Room to Roam at Last

Bison herd in winter
Bison herd in winter

The Livingston Enterprise recently reported a rare coming-together of often contentious parties. Federal, state, and tribal agencies that manage Yellowstone Park bison have agreed to let bison stay in parts of Montana year-round. The members of the Interagency Bison Management Plan have verbally agreed to Montana Governor Steve Bullock’s decision to allow the big animals to roam outside the park in search of food on an estimated 400 square miles north and west of the park.

Searching through my past blog posts for what I’ve written before about bison, I can only find rare mentions of the biggest and perhaps most charismatic of Yellowstone’s “charismatic megafauna.” And even in the thirty-five or more “Nuggets” of park information I’ve supplied, somehow I’ve managed to skip writing about bison. These days, when you go to the park, you may not see bears or wolves, and even elk are not so common as they were when I started writing about the park. But bison?—oh, yes, you’ll see herds of them!

Wild animals are not even mentioned in the 1872 act of Congress that set aside “a certain Tract of Land lying near the Head-waters of the Yellowstone River” in “the Territories of Montana and Wyoming.” Regulations were to be set up for the preservation of “timber, mineral deposits, natural curiosities, or wonders,” and “wanton destruction of the fish and game” was frowned upon. That animals were not mentioned in the Organic Act does not surprise me, since in the 1870s there were still millions of bison in the U.S. West, and other wild animals were everywhere, too. What need was there to preserve them?

The fate of the bison illustrates probably the most grievous case of man’s wanton destruction of a natural resource in America’s history. Not only did hunters nearly eradicate the bison during the last decades of the 19th century, but the slaughter was actually encouraged by the government to suppress the Native American Indians who depended upon them.

During the 20th century, different efforts to bring bison back to Yellowstone met with varying success, but now there are close to 5,000 of them in and near the park. This is really too many to be manageable in the parts of the park where they prefer to graze. In recent decades the question of whether they can transmit brucellosis to domestic cattle has greatly complicated the scene and caused major strife between the National Park Service and other interested agencies. Brucellosis is a disease that can cause a pregnant cow to abort her calf, understandably a concern for Montana ranchers. But no cases of the disease being transmitted from bison to cattle have ever been documented, and besides, elk can also carry brucellosis.

Since 2000, wandering bison have sometimes been hazed back into the park in wintertime. Some have been quarantined and others relocated to Indian reservations. With this spring’s new regulation, the iconic animal that appeared on the “buffalo nickel” for decades has a better chance to survive severe winters.

I must issue a word of warning, though: more people are injured in Yellowstone by bison than by any other animal. Lately visitors are being injured and even killed while taking so-called selfies. Bison look placid but are NOT tame and can run very fast. Stay at least 25 yards away—unless, while driving, you are caught in a “bison jam.” This happens especially in Hayden Valley, where the animals frequently cross the highway. In that case, stay in your car and wait patiently!

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Great bike-riding opportunity this month!

Some of the plowed roads in Yellowstone are open for just a short time every year to bike riders. This great opportunity to enjoy the road from West Yellowstone to Mammoth car-free lasts until April 15th, when the other park roads gradually open to motorized vehicles. You can enjoy the quiet, the animals, and all the beauties of the northwest part of the park on two skinny wheels. Click here for all the details. Note that the road from Madison to Old Faithful is closed at this time for bear management.

The same privilege is offered by Glacier National Park in northern Montana, another paradise. But Going-to-the-Sun Highway requires really ambitious bike riders with good brakes!

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Plans for the Yellowstone grizzly

Grizzly bear on Swan Lake Flats, Yellowstone

Grizzly bear on Swan Lake Flats, Yellowstone

Grizzly bears have been in the news in recent years. First, because human-bear conflicts have been more numerous, including a total of six deaths of people since 2010. Managing these conflicts and the bear predation on cattle means about twenty grizzlies are intentionally killed or removed to zoos per year (see this database if you are interested). In 2016 the news is that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to take them off the Endangered Species list by the end of the year. The National Park Service put together an informative page about the history of efforts to help the Yellowstone-area grizzly recover, including listing it and delisting it, plus explaining how to minimize encounters with bears and ensure your safety if you do accidentally come close to one. You can find the article here: “Grizzly Bears and the Endangered Species Act.” The most recent delisting was in 2007, but a court ruling overturned that and put them back on the threatened species list in 2009.

Here’s a quick list of safety points, courtesy of the NPS. When backcountry hiking, you can reduce the odds of being injured by a bear by following these five rules:

  1. Hike in groups of three or more people.
  2. Stay alert.
  3. Make noise in areas with poor visibility.
  4. Carry bear spray.
  5. Don’t run during encounters with bears.

The grizzly bear population has made a remarkable recovery, to about 700 individuals in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. So why is delisting controversial? Some are worried about plans for hunting in the surrounding states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. For a March 20, 2016, article that quotes the state governors on the subject, see “US seeks end to Yellowstone grizzly protections” on the Explore Big Sky website.

Do you have an opinion on this subject? Isn’t this photo beautiful? Write your informed comment below.
—Editor Beth

Photo by Jim Peaco for the National Park Service, June 2005.

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Get a free copy of “Yellowstone Treasures”!

Here’s your chance to get a free signed copy of my popular guidebook!

As a Goodreads author, my “Yellowstone Treasures” is eligible for their Giveaway program, which goes on from now through April 7th. Just go to:
this Goodreads link
and take a chance on receiving a free book. It will help you plan for your next trip to Yellowstone Park and enjoy the park to the utmost while you’re there.

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