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Costa Rica Still a Hotspot for Birders – October 30, 2014

Travelers flock to the Central American nation with high hopes of seeing rare and beautiful birds

On an overcast day in the middle of Costa Rica’s green season, the boat floated down the murky Río Frío (cold river) along the border of Nicaragua. Large trees, seemingly pulled from a Dr. Seuss book, lined the waterway, casting shadows along the water’s edge.

This was my first trip to Costa Rica, a 2013 journey to catch sights of as many exotic species as possible. I went into the rainforests, cloud forests and unique water environments like so many other camera-toting tourists. I was looking for a sloth, those adorable, smiley mammals that have become a must-see in this Central American locale. If no sloth were ready available, a caiman… more

by: John Soltes

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Bear Encounters: Why Feeding a 500-Pound Animal is a Bad Idea – August 4, 2014

Bruins that associate camps and homes with easy to access food lose their ingrained fear of people

The undulating hills of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York are so vast and filled with dense forests that spotting black bears which inhabit these mountains can be a challenge. For most outdoor enthusiasts, simply being among the birch trees and rushing streams, and listening to the lone cries of the dignified loon is pleasure enough. For others, who perhaps expect more of a safari or zoo-like experience, not being able to spot a bear can prove frustrating.

A black bear peeks out of a dumpsterPhoto by Jim MullhauptThat's a cute bear-in-a-dumpster photo for sure, but the consequences of bears getting used to… more

by: John Soltes

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A New Virus is Attacking North America’s Wild Turkey Populations – November 25, 2013

Hunters chasing down their Thanksgiving gobblers may not be able to detect virus from sight alone

As Thanksgiving nears and gravy-drenched pieces of hot turkey induce culinary daydreams, wildlife biologists are trying to connect the dots on a virus that has started to infect North America’s wild turkey population.

Wild TurkeysPhoto by Don GreeneIt's still not clear if the virus is killing off the birds or if they are dying of natural causes.

Lymphoproliferative Disease Virus, known as LPDV, has been present in domestic turkeys in Europe and Israel for decades, but in the last few years, biologists have started confirming cases in wild turkeys in the eastern United States. Some of the infected birds have lesions on their head… more

by: John Soltes

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For Ambassador Wolves, a Life in Captivity So That Their Species Can Run Free – September 10, 2013

A safe, personal encounter with a wolf can change people’s attitudes toward these animals, but it comes at a price

The noise starts out somewhat faint, like a whisper, on this wooded hillside in the lower Hudson Valley of New York. Then the shrill cries grow in intensity, blanketing the area and morphing into unmistakably canine howls.

Atka the wolf and a little girlPhoto courtesy Wolf Conservation CenterAtka, a 11-year-old Arctic gray wolf, is one of three ambassador wolves at the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, NY. The wolves were raised to be comfortable around humans.

This is the Wolf Conservation Center, a nonprofit founded by celebrated pianist Hélène Grimaud in South Salem, NY. The wolves housed here include nearly 20 endangered Mexican… more

by: John Soltes

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