Thursday, December 27, 2018

Wildlife Management Fail

In the mid 1980's I became interested in arranging a trip to hunt caribou in the Ungava Peninsula region of Quebec.  The George River caribou herd was growing rapidly, trips were affordable, and the success rate for hunters was nearly 100%.  I was fortunate to have been able to make three trips, one each in 1987, 1989, and 1991.  The above photo was of our party in 1991.

The herd which was estimated to number some 50,000 animals in the 1960's had grown to 800,000 animals by the early 1990's.  Sport hunters were allowed two animals of either sex and the killing of wolves was strictly forbidden.  The major management concern voiced by the managing ministry was of the herd eating itself out of house and home.

The early 1990's was the high water mark for the George River herd.  By 2001 the herd was down to 385,000 animals and dropping farther to 75,000 by 2010 when all sport hunting was banned.  The herd population has continued to fall with the 2018 estimate being only 5,500 animals.

According to government researchers wolf populations are considered low, habitat disturbance is low, calf birthrates are normal, and the animals tested are healthy with decreasing prevalence of parasites. However the herd continues to decrease.  Consideration was given to place this herd on the  Canadian endangered species list.

Caribou populations in many areas around the arctic are decreasing and may very well be tied to global climate change. 

Saturday, December 22, 2018

New Baby, Stubborn Mother

A cow who's first two pregnancies resulted in stillbirths, went into labor yesterday morning.  A couple hours later her delivery was complete without assistance.  However she didn't seem to understand what she should do, walking off from her newborn bull calf.

As I dried the calf with old towels she became interested and soon was licking him enthusiastically however when he tried to nurse she nudged him away.  After giving him time to gain some strength I maneuvered his to her bag and she kicked him each time he nuzzled her teats.

Its imperative that a newborn have colostrum within a few hours of birth so the next step was to attempt to milk her but I soon found that what was gentle kicks when her calf nuzzled became roundhouse kicks that if landed soundly could break bones.  Borrowing a set of kickers from a neighbor I was finally able to milk her a little and feed the baby a mix of her colostrum and a bag of colostrum supplement.

Today the calf, while much stronger, showed no interest in attempting to nurse.  Again I struggled to milk the cow some and supplemented her milk with milk replacer.  I still have a couple tricks up my sleeve and remain optimistic that mother and son will soon bond in a nourishing relationship but only time will tell.

Such is life on the farm!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Whitetail Rut Wrap Up 2018

While my photographic success during this years rut didn't measure up to some ruts of the past it was more the fault of other obligations on my part rather than the lack of whitetails.

This buck was the nicest one that I encountered.  The photo opportunity was fleeting as he spotted me at the same time I spotted him. 

Other bucks were more accommodating

Some posed nicely

While others intent upon pursuing does seemed oblivious to the clicking of the shutter

 And some were at a distance where my presence was not as noticeable

Lip-Curl's are one of my favorite poses with this rut providing me a number of opportunities. 

I am most thankful to have once again had the opportunity to photograph another whitetail rut.  Whitetails have always held a special place in my heart. Whether it is a tiny spotted fawn, a soft coated brown doe, or a heavy antlered buck, they all are incredibly beautiful and graceful, deserving of out attention and support more so as other living beings who's presence enriches our lives rather than as mere targets to shoot at and antlers on the wall.