Migration Time

Barker-Ewing, Rafting, Wildlife

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Last weekend at my home in Bozeman, I was startled to awareness by a distinct clattering that reminded me of summer afternoons on the Snake River. Except much, much louder. Entranced, I listened for a moment, wandered to the backyard, and gazed skyward for the source. Turns out the cacophonous clattering was emanating from a large flock of at least 60 Sandhill Cranes. They wheeled above me in giant circles, calling out in unison while rising higher and higher into the sky. I was mesmerized. Though I’ve often seen Sandhill Cranes along the Snake River, I’ve never seen more than five or six at a time. And here I was, seeing dozens and dozens, right in the middle of town. It was migration time.

Sandhill Cranes have many distinct vocalizations, but the one we most commonly associate with these majestic birds is that trademark squeaky clatter. The Cornell Bird Guide tells us that the tone is derived within the bird’s long trachea, which serves to lower the pitch of the vocalization and creates multi-layered overtones. To hear such an enormous flock calling out together was a truly memorable experience.

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Unidentified Flying Objects

Barker-Ewing, Environment, Hiking & Climbing, Rafting, Wildlife

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Green-tailed_TowheeAs we navigate our stretch of the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park, Barker-Ewing guides are constantly on the lookout for wildlife. Moose, Mule Deer, and Elk make their homes in the spruce and cottonwood forests along the riverbank and are relatively easy to spot. I’ve frequently had Pronghorn Antelope, Bison, Otters and Beaver swim the river within sight of my boat, and I’ve been lucky to spot Grizzly and Black Bears about once a season.

Bald Eagles, Osprey, Red-tailed Hawks, Sand Hill Cranes, Great Blue Herons, Canada Geese, Mergansers, Ravens, all make appearances along the river, and are easy to identify. But we often float past smaller birds that pose an identification challenge. Luckily, we’ve got many resources in the Barker-Ewing boathouse to help us assign names to these UFOs.

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Colter’s Run and other Tall Tales

Barker-Ewing, History, Jackson Hole, Rafting

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Artwork showing John Colter and Yellowstone GeysersBarker-Ewing boatmen are world-class storytellers. Whether we’re driving you up to the launch site in our shiny new vans or guiding you down the Snake River right through the heart of Grand Teton National Park, we’re never at a loss for words. Geology, natural history, wildlife, western lore and regional politics – we’re experts on a wide variety of topics, and take pride in our ability to weave a compelling narrative. The Mountain Men who frequented Jackson Hole in days of yore were terrific storytellers themselves – and famous for their tall tales. Jim Bridger spun a story about a Petrified Forest in Yellowstone: seems that he saw petrified birds sitting in petrified trees singing petrified songs. And Jim Beckwourth claimed to be able to track antelope by their smell alone. But John Colter’s run is a ripping yarn that just may be the most famous tall tale of all. …continue reading Colter’s Run and other Tall Tales

HOWL can we balance Wild Nature with Human Nature?

History, Wildlife

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Gray wolf

Wyoming is facing a major dilemma today.  The gray wolf (Canis lupus), which was RE-introduced into the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in 1995 (after being wiped out by humans in the early 1900’s), has become the symbol of many things in the human world.  Are they wanton killers or indispensable protectors of the natural ecosystem?  Are they evil monsters driving moose to extinction or are they extraordinary allies bringing balance to an area that has been suffering from human interference for so long that we no longer know what is “normal” or natural?

There are two very distinct and very vocal sides to the “wolf issue” here.  Both sides are convinced that they are right and the other is wrong.  There are no easy answers. . . and time is running out.   Local outfitters feel they are being driven out of business by the wolf, while conservationists believe the wolf has only just started to make a comeback, and is hardly recovered yet.  And there are a lot of angry Wyomingites who feel that the wolf is the symbol of government control… and even THAT issue is seen on both sides!

One side believes that the Federal Government had no right to re-introduce a predator that had been successfully eradicated from the area.  The other side is enraged with the current Wyoming State Government for implementing a new rule that will allow people to kill any and all wolves (including new born pups in their dens) at any time even while trespassing on private property with absolutely NO penalty!  This new policy would again upset the fragile balance of nature which the re-introduction had finally restored.

September 9th is the deadline for public comments to be received and considered by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission.  The Commission will only read comments which are on the proper form. Visit the Wyoming Game and Fish website and click on “Wolf Plan Comment Form.”  Be sure to read the revised Gray Wolf Management Plan and send your comments soon if you are concerned about how the future of the wolf will be handled in Wyoming.

 

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Wildly Scenic is a blog by Barker-Ewing employees and fellow river enthusiasts.

Established in 1963, Barker-Ewing Float Trips has been sharing the beauty and wonder of Grand Teton National Park with visitors from around the world for over 40 years, floating beneath the Grand Tetons on the headwaters of the Snake River.

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