Thursday, June 25, 2009

B.C. officer uses CPR to resuscitate bear

A conservation officer in Prince George, B.C., used his CPR training to save a bear's life after it was tranquillized. This photo was captured by cell phone camera.

Gary Van Spengen's conservation team was called to a residential neighbourhood Monday after a female bear was spotted in a tree. A biologist tranquillized the bear while it was up the tree, and after what Van Spengen described as a "soft landing," the bear stopped breathing after it hit the ground, but still had a heartbeat.

Van Spengen said he has never seen a bear stop breathing after being tranquillized in his 20 years as a conservation officer. "We could tell the heart was still beating … but the chest wasn't moving at all. I didn't want to lose this bear because I wanted to get a radio collar on it, so I started doing chest compressions on the bear to try to get air in and out of the lungs," Van Spengen told CBC Radio's B.C. Almanac on Tuesday .

While he said he did consider mouth-to-mouth breathing, another component of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), Van Spengen jokingly said, "[Bears] usually don't carry breath mints." Van Spengen said it was similar to doing chest compressions on a person, where the diaphragm is pushed up and down, to move air in and out of the chest cavity.

"I've gotten a bit of razzing from it, but it's all in good fun," he said. After 10 to 15 minutes, the bear started breathing on her own. After being fitted with a radio collar, the bear was released south of Prince George.

Conservation officers plan to track the bear's movements as part of a study on the interaction between humans and bears in the area. Van Spengen said this particular bear was a good candidate because it hadn't started eating garbage, so would not be considered a nuisance bear. "She's wandering around doing bear things right now, eating and trying to fatten up for the winter," he said.

Source: CBC news

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

New Winthrop Ranger District Manager

Michael Liu hosted an open house for the public at the Winthrop ranger station. He is the new district manager and has 27 years experience with the USFS. Previous postings included Idaho, Montana, California, Colorado and New York. He has seen it all and been exposed to many of the same issues that will require attention in the Okanogan area.

Local stakeholders stopped by to say hello, chat and ask questions. Folks representing the town of Winthrop, logging, snowmobiling, back country horsemen and conservationists were in the mix.

Mike took all questions and responded thoughtfully. For someone who has been on board for only a short time he has taken in a lot about the local issues and the resources that are available to the district. Impressions were he will attempt to strike a balance with issues that tend to be polarizing such as the local wolf pack and controlled burning policies.

Everyone welcomed Mike to the Methow.

Farmer's Market season in full swing

Twisp Washington has a vibrant farmer's market every Saturday from 9am till noon. Lots of local crafts and produce. Many local residents, vacation home owners and tourists attend.

It's a great place to talk to a cross section of folks about bears. Believe me, everyone has a bear story and you get to hear them all.

This family was no exception. They had many questions about black bears and grizzlies in the Methow Valley area.

Just about everyone wanted to compare the size of their hand to the casting of the grizzly track. Impressed they were.

The tip of the day came from a Native American couple who lived in a village near St. Mary's in the Yukon territory. They literally grew up with grizzly bears as neighbors. "Never set up camp on old grizzly tracks. Only set up camp on fresh grizzly tracks."

Can you think why?

Monday, June 08, 2009

Bear species: six of eight face extinction

The Asiatic black bear is now listed as vulnerable, therefore six of the eight species of bear in the world are now officially facing extinction.

The smallest, the sun bear, is the latest to be classified as vulnerable on the Red List of Threatened Species. Four other species - Asiatic black bear, Sloth bear, Andean bear and Polar bear - are also listed as vulnerable.

The giant panda is facing the greatest threat and remains in the endangered category. There is least concern over the European brown bear and the American black bear.

The sun bear found in Souteast Asia, Sumatra and Borneo, will be included in the 2007 Red List drawn up by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Previously it was known as 'Data Defficient' meaning not enough was known about it to give it a classification. Rob Steinmetz, co-chair of the IUCN Bear Specialist Group's sun bear expert team, said: "Although we still have lot to learn about the biology and ecology of this species, we are quite certain that it is in trouble.

"We estimate that sun bears have declined by at least 30 per cent over the past 30 years (three bear generations), and continue to decline at this rate. Deforestation has reduced both the area and quality of their habitat. Where habitat is now protected, commercial poaching remains a significant threat.

"We are working with governments, protected area managers, conservation groups and local people to prevent extinction of the many small, isolated sun bear populations that remain in many parts of Southeast Asia."

Bear hunting is illegal throughout Southern Asia, but they suffer heavy losses from poachers, who risk the small chance of being caught against lucrative gains from selling parts. Bile from the bear's gall bladder is used in traditional Chinese medicine and their paws are consumed as a delicacy. Additionally, bears are often killed when they prey on livestock or raid agricultural crops. Bears simply roaming near a village may be killed because they are perceived as a threat to human life.

Dave Garshelis, co-chair of the Bear Specialist Group, which met earlier this month in Mexico, to update the status of the eight species, said: "Although the bear population estimates for Asia are not as reliable as we would like, we estimate that bears in Southeast Asia are declining at a particularly rapid rate due to extensive loss of forest habitat combined with rampant poaching."

Bruce McLellan, also a co-chair, said: "An enormous amount of effort and funding for conservation and management continue to be directed at bears in North America where their status is relatively favourable. It is unfortunate that so little is directed at bears in Asia and South America where the need is extreme. We are trying to change this situation but success is slow."

By Paul Eccleston,