Friday, February 27, 2009

Animals Are Entering Our Lives

(photo credit: Morris Grover, Oregon State Parks Ranger)

Now they are coming back to us,
the latest homeless, driven by hunger.
--Lisel Mueller

In 1906, the last sea otter--once native to the Pacific waters off the coast of Oregon--was killed. After that, they were declared extinct. An attempt at reintroduction for this federally-protected species failed in the 1970's. Since then, there have been two major confirmed spottings: off the Yaquina Head in the 1990's, and Cape Arago in 2003. On Wednesday, February 18, 2009 an Oregon State Parks employee photographed a lone sea otter in Depoe Bay Harbor. Whether there are others remains to be seen.
According to the "Findings" section of the March '09 issue of Harper's, "Confused and dead pelicans were turning up far from shore in California, pygmy killer whales were disappearing off Hawaii, and coyotes were encroaching on Detroit."
The American pika, known in mountain country as "rock rabbits," and familiar to hikers in the high country for their familiar "peep" as they dart into their burrows on boulder fields, are threatened by global warming. They are adapted to cold weather, and can die from exposure to temperatures as low as 78 degrees. More than a third of known populations in the Great Basin mountains of Nevada and Oregon have gone extinct. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is deciding whether the pika warrants endangered species status.
This morning, on my way to work, two dead Canadian geese were sprawled out in the road, near the on-ramp to Highway 224. Not an uncommon occurrence, as bands of geese often feed on the grass along the shoulder and between interchanges. They sometimes wander into the road, and at such speeds cars and trucks travel, they cannot move quick enough out of the way.

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