Wolves and Ravens

The relationship between ravens and wolves has been a topic of comments on a post about a Petition to Stop the Slaughter of Ravens in Idaho. Whenever I’ve seen wolves on a carcass in Yellowstone, ravens are right there with them to cash in and help clean up. The ravens lead in turn wolves to potential meals, letting them do the dirty work they aren’t equipped for.

Here’s a photo of the two together in Yellowstone’s Hayden Valley…

Wildlife Photography Copyright Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography Copyright Jim Robertson

Petition to stop the slaughter of ravens in Idaho

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a small news article explaining that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game had received a permit from the United State Dept. of Agriculture (I think it was Ag) to kill 4000 ravens. This is proposed under the guise of protecting the sage-grouse, which, I believe, is being added to the endangered species list. The sage-grouse does need protection but here’s the problem. There are 19 factors that have caused their populations to decline, most the result of human activity. Predation by other creatures is #12 and ravens are the only ones that have been singled out, although there are many. Killing ravens will do little if anything at all to mitigate the problems the sage-grouse face.

I was so upset that I took it on myself to create a petition and I hope some of you will consider signing it.

There is a bias among many people against ravens and crows–their voices are not lyrical and some people see them as bullies or as symbols of evil. But recent studies show that they are among the most intelligent creatures on earth and actually may be the most intelligent. They have complex societies, young stay with their parents for years and they even have a ritual that humans would call a funeral when one of their own dies. Killing 4000 of these remarkable birds will reverberate through their community for generations.

You’ll find my petition here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/114/2…-4000-ravens/#

And just so you know, I have NO financial or professional interest in this. It is a simple act of love. I have long adored ravens and crows. And Edgar Allen Poe, too.

Big huge thanks to all who take the time to sign.

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Photo Copyright Jim Robertson

Ravens: Superstars of the Slopes

I’m sure we could all use a short break from all the depressing news about Montana and Wyoming extending their wolf hunting seasons, etc., so today I’m going to talk about those who knows how to genuinely enjoy life: Ravens. Recently I took a day off the other day and went skiing in the Cascade Mountains. Skiing is the one time a human being can feel even a modicum of the joy and freedom a raven feels on a daily basis—it’s where I feel my chi. Birds like ravens must be in touch with their inner self continually.

A skier would have to have their head firmly planted in the snow not to notice the omnipresent raven at their local “hill,” be it in the Cascades, the High Sierras or the Canadian Rockies. The fanatically practical may write off the raven’s presence as simply the result of a daily supply of scavenge-able food dropped from chairlifts by skiers and snowboarders whose cold hands can’t keep a grip on their sandwiches or granola bars. But there’s another, equally rewarding reason ski hills are favorite stomping grounds for ravens: they’re fellow fun-seekers! They like watching us glide down the mountain almost as much as they enjoy participating in their own form of winter sports.

Just as the expert skier becomes one with the snow (knowing, through years of practice, the precise angle of descent and tilt of skis needed to adjust to the texture and resistance of hard pack or powder), ravens are one with the sky, correcting for gravity, wind speed and air currents by varying the slant of their wings, fine-tuning the angle of their descent with the slightest tweak of a single feather. And they really get a kick out of flaunting their talents for us lowly, flightless, earthbound two-leggers.

Many’s the time I’ve felt I was at the top of my game on the ski slopes, only to have an acrobatic raven steal the show by performing a spectacular series of forward barrel rolls or some other astonishing feat. Once I watched in amazement as a raven swooped in and broke off a dead branch from the crown of an alpine fir tree. Clasping the branch in his talons, he handed it up to his beak (like a relay racer handing off a baton) and flew on without breaking speed. I don’t know if he was trying to impress his mate or the astounded human onlookers. Maybe carrying that branch was his way of saying, “You folks have your ski poles but I’ve got this stick, so there!”

Circumpolar, ravens are one of the only birds to feel at home in the arctic during the winter, long after about every other avian has flown the coop. They’re as comfortable scaling the summits of the Himalayas as descending into the sweltering depths of Death Valley. Ravens near and far have been raised up or reviled, tarnished or exalted, demonized or deified. But to a skier, ravens are just a bunch of show-offs.

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Portions of this post were excerpted from the book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Ravens: the Superstars of the Ski Slopes

I’m sure we could all use a short break from all the depressing news about Montana wanting to extend their wolf hunting season, or how comedian Steve Martin had to go and bring another human baby into the world at the ripe old age of 67, rather than choosing to adopt a homeless kid…or dog for that matter.

my skiis

my skiis

 

Instead, today I’m going to talk about somebody who knows how to genuinely enjoy life: namely, the raven. I took a day off the other day and went skiing. Skiing powder is the one time a human being can feel even a modicum of the joy and freedom a raven feels on a daily basis.

 

A skier would have to have their head firmly planted in the snow not to notice the omnipresent raven at their local “hill,” be it in the High Sierras, the Cascades Mountains or the Canadian Rockies. The fanatically practical may write off the raven’s presence as simply the result of a daily supply of scavenge-able food dropped from chairlifts by skiers and snowboarders whose cold hands can’t keep a grip on their sandwiches or granola bars. But there’s another, equally rewarding reason ski hills are favorite stomping grounds for ravens: they’re fellow fun-seekers! They like watching us glide down the mountain almost as much as they enjoy participating in their own form of winter sports.

 

Just as the expert skier becomes one with the snow (knowing, through years of practice, the precise angle of descent and tilt of skis needed to adjust to the texture and resistance of hard pack or powder), ravens are one with the sky, correcting for gravity, wind speed and air currents by varying the slant of their wings, fine-tuning the angle of their descent with the slightest tweak of a single feather. And they really get a kick out of flaunting their talents for us lowly, flightless, earthbound two-leggers.

 

Many’s the time I’ve felt I was at the top of my game on the ski slopes, only to have an acrobatic raven steal the show by performing a spectacular series of forward barrel rolls or some other astonishing feat. Once I watched in amazement as a raven swooped in and broke off a dead branch from the crown of an alpine fir tree. Clasping the branch in his talons, he handed it up to his beak (like a relay racer handing off a baton) and flew on without breaking speed. I don’t know if he was trying to impress his mate or the astounded human onlookers. Maybe carrying that branch was his way of saying, “You folks have your ski poles but I’ve got this stick, so there!”

 

Circumpolar, ravens are one of the only birds to feel at home in the arctic during the winter, long after about every other avian has flown the coop. They’re as comfortable scaling the summits of the Himalayas as descending into the sweltering depths of Death Valley. Ravens near and far have been raised up or reviled, tarnished or exalted, demonized or deified. But to a skier, ravens are nothing but a bunch of show-offs.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

_________________________

This post includes material excerpted from the book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport

Chapter Titles

Here’s the Table of Contents for Exposing the Big Game?
Foreword by Captain Paul Watson

Introduction

Chapter 1) Hide-hunting Holocaust Survivors Still under Fire

Chapter 2) An Act of Bison Altruism

Chapter 3) War on Coyotes an Exercise in Futility and Cruelty

Chapter 4) Time to End a Twisted Tradition

Chapter 5) Avian Superstar Both Athlete and Egghead

Chapter 6) From the Brink of Oblivion and Back Again?

Chapter 7) A Day in the Sun for the Hayden Wolves

Chapter 8) Critical Cornerstone of a Crumbling Castle

Chapter 9) Bears Show More Restraint than Ursiphobic Elmers

Chapter 10) The Fall of Autumn’s Envoy

Chapter 11) Inside the Hunter’s Mind

Chapter 12) A Magical World of Oneness

Chapter 13) Living Targets of a Dying Sport

Chapter 14) A Few Words on Ethical Wildlife Photography

In Closing

Acknowledgements:

Looking back, this was not, at the outset, planned as a podium from which to lambaste anyone’s hobby or heritage, but was originally intended as a venue for relating some of the behaviors and capabilities I’d observed among animals living in the wild, and as a celebration of life along the compassion continuum. However, after delving deeper into the histories of the species covered here—thanks in part to the invaluable references listed below—I found it impossible to simply depict their natural activities without also chronicling the shocking stories of abuse they have suffered at the hands of man. It would have been doing the animals a disservice to merely record how they naturally lived without at least alluding to the far-reaching and pervasive ways that human actions have altered their lives and sometimes their very natures. And the facts are clear: there has been no greater direct human impact on wildlife than the ongoing threat of hunting. As with the other pertinent and profound quotes from a variety of enlightened sources, this one from Edward Abbey proficiently puts it in a nutshell, “It is not enough to understand the natural world. The point is to defend and preserve it.”

New Interview on Wild Time

Put down your spectacles and prick up your ears for…

http://wildtimeonline.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/exposing-big-game-in-conversation-with.html

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Exposing The Big Game – in conversation with Jim Robertson

Jim Robertson is a wildlife photographer and self-taught naturalist who makes his home in a remote wilderness setting in the Pacific Northwest, beyond the reach of cable television and mercifully out of earshot of Sarah Palin’s daily sound bites.
Wild Time talked to Jim about his new book “Exposing The Big Game”, which challenges the archaic, yet officially endorsed, viewpoint that the primary value of wildlife in America is to provide cheap entertainment for anyone with a gun and an unwholesome urge to kill. Portraits and portrayals of tolerant bears, loquacious prairie dogs, temperamental wolves, high-spirited ravens and benevolent bison will leave readers with a deeper appreciation of our fellow beings as sovereign individuals, each with their own unique personalities.