Category Archives: Venting

Wildlife Justice Has Been Served

I believe that everything happens for a reason. Ok, maybe not EVERYTHING. I don’t think that you’re entire life is already planned out or anything, but I believe that there is such thing as Karma and Fate. And I can prove it to you.

We had an interesting weekend. First of all, Hubby and I spent Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market in Sugar Land and it was a great day! The weather was perfect and people were there to spend money! I made some really good sales, and hopefully made some good contacts for future orders for photography. REMEMBER FOLKS, CHRISTMAS IS COMING, AND PHOTOS MAKE GREAT GIFTS! Ok, plug is over…

Anyway, Dad-In-Law came by the market and asked us to go see a movie with him. We had planned on going to the gym and then going to Brazos Bend State Park to do a little birding and photographing, but he REALLY wanted to go to the movie. So we figured we would just do the other things we had planned on Sunday. No big deal, right?

Then we spoke with some friends, Joey and Rachel, who said that they wanted to go with us to Brazos Bend. Rachel loves birds and wants to learn more about them, so we loaded up and headed to the park on Sunday afternoon. We went to the first lake in the park, closest to the park entrance. I don’t typically go to this lake for that exact reason. It seems that the people who care more about actually being in nature go deeper into the park, and the people who don’t really want to be there stop at the first lake, walk around real quick, and then leave. And are annoying the whole time they are there.

Rachel's first siting, a bullfrog!
Rachel’s first sighting, a bullfrog!

For example, as soon as we got to the lake we were trying to watch the birds and the bullfrogs when a family walked by. They had a Spanish radio station playing a soccer game. Loudly. If the game was so important to them that they had to listen to it, why on Earth were they walking in the park?? But I digress…

We continued to walk and saw a man attempting to fish in the pond.

While the man was fishing, the alligator ducked down and tried to grab his line.
While the man was fishing, the alligator ducked down and tried to grab his line.

It seemed like a terrible idea because there were three alligators nearby, and they were very interested in the movement of his bobber as he reeled it in and cast it out. (Not exactly sure what he was planning on doing if he actually caught a fish, because it was probably going to end up being an alligator’s meal instead of his). As we were taking photos of the alligators we saw 4 girls, young high schoolers probably, that had a bring green string with bacon tied to the end, and they were tossing it over and over into the water. At first we overheard them say that they were crab fishing. Our thoughts were, “good luck, girls. First, this is fresh water….Second, if there were any crabs they would probably be getting eaten by the alligators…” While we were taking pictures, one of the girls asked if we mind if they throw the string, since we were taking photos of the alligators. I said no. Then she said, “If it makes you feel any better, it’s biodegradable string.” All I said in response was, “as long as it doesn’t stay in the water, I don’t care.” It was a strange interaction, but I wrote it off as just that.

You can see the green line at the bottom of the picture, that the girls were throwing into the water, baiting the alligators in.
You can see the green line at the bottom of the picture that the girls were throwing into the water, baiting the alligators in.
One of the alligators that the girls were baiting.
One of the alligators that the girls were baiting.

We didn’t think much more of them and continued to take photos of the alligators, and moved further on down the trail around the lake.  Then Rachel saw him.  A small alligator, only about 2.5 feet long, sitting at the surface of the water. We would have walked right past him if Rachel hadn’t seen him, but then she saw something else. The alligator looked to be tangled in the same green string that the girls had been using.  At first I was angry and disappointed. But then we saw the truth. See, the green string was camouflaged with the green vegetation, which is why we didn’t see it at first. Once we had our search image set for the string, we could see that the little alligator had swallowed their bait and had the string in his mouth. When the girls realized that they had in fact CAUGHT A FREAKING ALLIGATOR they tied off the end of the string to some vegetation, preventing the alligator from getting away.

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Poor guy was doing all he could to get away, but he was stuck.
Poor guy was doing all he could to get away, but he was stuck.
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You can see the green string tangled in the vegetation.
The string was tied to some vegetation to prevent the alligator from getting away.
The string was tied to some vegetation to prevent the alligator from getting away.

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You can clearly see the string in the alligator's mouth
Even though it’s not the sharpest picture, you can clearly see the string in the alligator’s mouth. I was trying to get pictures of him while he was thrashing in the water, so my camera had trouble focusing on him.

By this point I was livid. Hubby was livid. Even little Rachel and Joey were livid. WHO DOES THAT?! Who just baits in an alligator and then ties it off so it can’t go anywhere? They poor guy was trying so hard to get away. He was pulling with all his strength but it just wasn’t enough. I called the BBSP phone number and reported it to the park police. As we waited for the police to show up the girls walked by, as if nothing happened.

So we had a little chat.

Hubby: “Did y’all catch an alligator?”

Girls: “No.”

Hubby: “Really? Because it looks like you did.”

Girls: “No, we didn’t catch him. We lured him in.”

Me: “So, you did catch him…”

Girls: “No, we lured him in. We didn’t bring him in.”

Me: “You still caught an alligator.”

At this point they continued to walk away, so I yelled, “You know it’s illegal to hunt alligators in the state park, right?!”

Girls: “We don’t kill things.”

Me: “You could have killed him! You don’t know!”

Wow….we don’t kill things. I was so angry I was literally shaking. As we waited for the park police to show up a volunteer came by on her bicycle. We told her what happened and pointed at the girls who were still in view further down the trail. She said she was going to have a “chat” with them. Then park police showed up a few minutes later. We told him the same story and he assured us that the Nature Center people would take care of the alligator and he was going to try to find the girls.

We felt a lot better then. It was in the hands of the police. We did our good deed. We continued to walk and take pictures of the beautiful swamp.

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Clouds and sunset reflection on the water.
Clouds and sunset reflection on the water.

Hubby though, was not yet satisfied. He went on ahead, concerned that the girls weren’t going to get caught by the officer. Hubby knew that if we didn’t know how it was going to end, we were going to be thinking about it for a long time. He got to the truck and didn’t see them in the parking lot. “Damn,” he thought. They had gotten away.

We were disappointed when we got to the truck, but the sun was going down so we headed out of the park to go home. And then we saw it. Glorious day! The officer had found the girls and was busy writing them tickets! We pulled over into the parking area and waited. I snuck a picture of “the leader” standing next to the officer’s truck. She was embarrassed and angry, and when she saw me she shot daggers at me. Man, if looks could kill…

The Leader of the Group.
The Leader of the Group.

We waited there until the car load of miscreants left, and then we go out of our truck and thanked the officer over and over again for his good work. He told us that they have a date with the judge, and Hubby gave him his business card in case they needed our account of what happened. I have never wanted to get subpoenaed more in my life. I would gladly tell a judge what these terrible people were doing. The officer then assured us that he was going to take care of the alligator now, but he wanted to make sure the catch them first.

A giant weight was lifted off of our shoulders when we saw the officer’s flashing blue lights, with the girl standing next to his truck. Although we will never understand what could have possibly been going through their heads when they decided to do this, I can (almost) assure you that they will never do it again.

We were meant to go to the park on Sunday. And we were meant to go to that lake instead of one deeper into the park. We were meant to help that little alligator. Everything happens for a reason.

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Yellowstone Part 2 – Pho Phweakin’ Majephtic

Phteven

Yellowstone was an amazing trip, no doubt. However, when you travel you are always exposed to one thing that is sure to annoy you every time. Tourists.

I know, I know. Technically, you are a tourist too, but if you are anything like me, AND I THINK YOU ARE (gives approving head nod), you are a considerate traveler who wants everyone to be able to appreciate the sights and sounds of nature the way they want, without interruptions.  And unfortunately that’s impossible, because there are some people who don’t have the “considerate of others gene.” And when you are in a place that gets 30,000 visitors annually, many of these people congregate all at once.

Here is one of those times…

…Of course we did the geysers and thermal pools, we saw the frozen Yellowstone Lake, and then putzed around in the Old Faithful area of the park for a little longer to see Old Faithful, the lodge, and the geysers before heading down to Jackson Hole for our first real night of the trip.  While we were walking along the boardwalks of the thermal area we spotted a female grizzly and her young cub! We were so excited to see them. Earlier that morning, Hubby had said if he could see a bear with her cubs, that would make the trip perfect, and sure enough, here she comes wandering out of the woods.  It was amazing! Seeing them wander around, grazing here and there, and just being bears without being harassed was wonderful. They were so majestic! It was almost like I was the only person there. Until I was reminded that I wasn’t.

See, there was some sort of AV club or photography class there as well.  It was a small group of guys who had nice equipment, but acted like they were the most important people there. They would constantly sit down and wait for God-knows-what on the boardwalks and take up the entire thing, forcing people to carefully walk around them, for fear of falling off of the boardwalk and being boiled alive like on the warning posters, telling you to stay on the boardwalk. Seriously. Clearly these guys had already irritated me, right?  So while we were standing their watching this majestic wild animal do her wild animal thing, and she started to wander back into the woods where she came from, it surprised the crap out of me when AV nerd #1, AKA Douchebag McGee, started suddenly yelling for his counterpart, AV nerd #2 (let’s call him Charlie; he didn’t really earn a touching nickname). The conversation went something like this:

D.bag McGee: “Charlie! Charlie!!! She’s moving! There are people on the trail!”

Charlie: (looks up from his camera uncertainly)

D.bag McGee: “Charlie!”

Me: “HEY! WHY ARE YOU YELLING?!”

D.bag: “BECAUSE THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THE FOREST!”

Me: “Do you work here?” (Douchebag had a 2-way radio, so I thought it MIGHT be a possibility).

D.bag: “No, BUT I DON’T WANT TO SEE ANYONE DIE TODAY!”

Me: “There is a ranger RIGHT THERE” (points in the direction of the ranger truck, complete with flashing lights, megaphone, and a barricade to prevent tourists from wandering up to the grizzlies)

D.bag: ignores me and continues to talk loudly to Charlie to see if everyone is safe. States that his reasoning for yelling is he “didn’t want to interrupt radio traffic.”

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The only good thing that came out of this “interaction” is that Hubby and I now have years and years of entertaining each other by randomly screaming “THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THE FOREST! I DON’T WANT TO SEE ANYONE DIE TODAY!!!”

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Here are a few rules to live by when visiting Yellowstone and you see bears:

1. If you aren’t a park ranger, don’t try to do the park ranger’s job. They probably have a better idea of what needs to be done than you do, and more than likely they are already doing that job before you even notice something is happening. They’re good like that.

2. Pay attention to your surroundings. The “people in the forest” were actually walking on a well established ROAD. The road in which Douchebag drove in on, to be exact.

3. Do you not think that peoples’ lives are worth interrupting radio traffic?! If something is TRULY a danger, then yes. Report it. But keep a cool head and try to observe if there is ACTUALLY an emergency before you start freaking out and yelling uncontrollably. And maybe just avoid the freak out all-together if possible. All you do is piss of the Texans next to you. And you do not want a pissed off Texan.

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Pho Phweakin’ Majephtic

Why I Prefer Dogs to Humans

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Last night, after a wonderful dinner with some great friends, I pulled into the driveway to find my plant pot missing from its place in the front yard. Now this is not just any old plant pot. This was a plant pot that I had taken the time to paint our house address on, and put a plant in it! I got the idea off of Pinterest, and I was do proud of myself. Not only did I pick out something from Pinterest and ACTUALLY do the project, but it turned out well! I have even gotten compliments about it from the Chinese delivery guy!

Well apparently someone else liked it too, because it was stolen. I couldn’t believe that someone had actually taken it out of my yard, especially because we live at the end of a dead end, so it probably wasn’t someone just happening by, but it was probably someone visiting one of my neighbors.

This is why I prefer dogs to humans. Dogs are loyal, every day is the best day of their life, and they know how to make you feel better when you are blue. Dogs have evolved with humans for thousands of years, which is why they are so utterly loyal to humans. This is why I don’t trust people who say they don’t like dogs. Obviously they haven’t evolved correctly.

But with the loss of my plant pot, it just gives me another project to do to display our address. Trust me, it is VERY IMPORTANT that the Chinese delivery guy know my address!

(Un)Common Sense

This particular topic has come up has come up quite a lot in the recent past, so i thought I would share my opinion on it, and see if any of you (ok, Sister, mom, and maybe Mom-in-Law) have an opinion on this too:

Common sense has become less common. Ironic, I know, but it’s true. Maybe it’s from all the seatbelt laws and warning labels, but it seems as if no one has to learn from their mistakes or observations. Here are two examples from recent outings.

1. Scorpions live in water.

Looking back I can’t believe it was almost two years ago, but we went out to Brazos Bend State Park to walk to trails on a beautiful spring day. It was perfect-not too hot, not too humid, and there was wildlife everywhere. Turtles, birds, alligators, and apparently, scorpions….?

So, this little guy was hanging out on the edge of the water, and was apparently in his honey spot for hunting, so he didn’t care how many pesky humans were around-he wasn’t leaving.

National Geographic, eat your heart out.

There were several people standing around watching this Yellow-crowned night heron hunt, and yes, it was during the day. One man standing ont he shore with a baby backpack and corresponding toddler on his back, was trying to explain what was happening to his family. He said, and I quote,”He’s got a frog. No, wait, it’s a….it’s a scorpion!”

Yep. Scorpion.

That’s right folks: Scorpions live in swamps. It’s a little known fact about them, actually. Many people think that they prefer drier climates and living under rocks, but let’s face it. When you’ve been educated in the US, you KNOW scorpions live in swamps. Right?

 
So as this night heron pulled up crawfish after crawfish (no, they aren’t REALLY scorpions), the man and his family looked on in amazement. His family. Meaning he had children. Meaning he passed on not only his genes, but he is now passing on his knowledge.
 
God save us.
 
2. A snake will hold onto its prey until it grows big enough to eat it.
 
Over the weekend, Hubby and I were in Hermann Park in Houston spending the day birding and feeding the super fat squirrels in the park. I didn’t have my camera because the battery was dead 😦 so you will just have to take my word on this. I mean, you read all this other drool, so I would expect you to take what I have to say as gospel.
 
While we were birding in the park, a massive group of Whistling ducks was congregated on a small island in the middle of the lake near the zoo, and there were a few others walking around on the other shore, where we were. In particular there were three that let us get fairly close. One of those poor ducks had something stuck to him, so I waited until he got closer to make out what it was. The poor thing had a 5 inch long rubber fishing worm (and presumably the hook attached to it) stuck in his neck. While the duck walked, he would step on the worm and it would tug out from under his foot. Every time he took a step. He also had fishing line wrapped around one of his feet. This duck wasn’t doing horribly, considering the circumstances. He was foraging for food, he just didn’t look very comfortable, and his neck was pretty swollen. But hooks are meant to rust away to nothing, so we can only hope that it will rust away before he gets an infection.
 
What does this have to do with common sense? Later while we were still walking through the park, we heard a group of high school aged kids talking about how a duck had something stuck to him. “It was like a snake or a leech” they said. Over and over, they repeated that a snake or leech was holding on for dear life to the neck of a duck. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, yes leeches are difficult to remove, but I would think that a duck would rather eat a leech than let it suck the life out of him. And as often as the duck was stepping on it, it would seem that the leech would eventually give up and find an easier meal, so he wasn’t getting stepped on constantly.
 
But a snake? A snake. A 5 inch-long snake on the neck of a duck? This just reminds me of the chicken hawk in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons. He just doesn’t realize how small he is, but By God, he’s going to eat that duck! 
 
So my lesson today is, use common sense. Think about your observations. If it doesn’t make sense, don’t make an assumption about something you know nothing about. Ask questions. Learn. Especially learn to think critically.  You will need those skills when the apocalypse comes, anyway.  
 
And because I like to leave you with something nice to look at:
 
Here is an adorable family of Whistling ducks!

Conserving Our Planet

CAUTION: The venting may have gotten out of control.

Ok, so there are very few things that I get onto a soap box about. Conservation is one of those few things. This is one of the most important things in the world to me, and it drives me crazy when other people don’t think it’s as important as I do, much less people who basically say, “screw it,” and drain the wetlands to build their apartment complexes, or put a golf course in the middle of the desert, or any number of other things.

I try to stay updated on depressing subjects like poaching black rhinos in Africa, deforestation on Borneo, and ship wrecks off the coast of New Zealand that they are very conveniently NOT discussing the damage to the coral reef that was struck by the ship, and with every crashing wave that pushes the ship into it over and over again.

Shipwreck that occurred in mid-October 2011, still there as of January 18, 2011

These are just some of the things that drive me bat s!*t crazy. These are people who care nothing for the planet, want the quickest and easiest way to make a buck, and then when something goes wrong they don’t do anything about it.

The cruise ship that just wrecked and sank off the coast of Italy?

Ya, it hit a reef, too.

BP is constantly advertising about how much money they have spent, cleaning up the Gulf after the April 2010 blow out. IT WAS YOUR MESS. OF COURSE YOU HAD TO PAY A BUNCH OF MONEY TO CLEAN IT UP.

 And it’s not just people who don’t care. It’s also people who refuse to think anything other than what “granddaddy” told them is true.

Example: killing predators.

CAUTION: TANGENT AHEAD

Be it coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, bobcats, or snakes, some people still think that it’s the right thing to do. They still think that if the deer and livestock are going to survive, all the predators need to go. Then all of a sudden, every county in Texas is overrun with feral hogs, and people just have the idea that now they need to kill them, too.  What they don’t understand is, feral hogs are a large portion of the food source for coyotes and mountain lions. My old dog actually killed 2 piglets in no time at all, with no effort. That’s what the coyotes would be doing, if people would just leave them alone.

Now, if you don’t understand why I’m advocating killing pigs and not predators, this is why: Predators are native. They belong here. They evolved with all the other wild animals in the area, and have their lives pretty well mapped out as to how things should go. Feral hogs, on the other hand, are not native. Hundreds of years ago, domestic pigs were brought over the pond with settlers, and instead of keeping stinky pigs penned up, they released them. It was easier to let them get fat on acorns by themselves and hunt them down later, than it was to keep them in a pen, and have to feed them every day. Well, the settlers let them continue to breed in the wild, and low and behold, they became “feral.” They are now an agricultural pest, constantly rooting up soil, and consuming food that would generally be there for other native species, like raccoons, deer, and even bears.

Part of the reason feral hogs are everywhere, is it is big money to hunt them. You always hear about people hunting “Hogzilla” right? Ok, maybe not always, but I’m sure you’ve heard of it before. But this is beside the point.

Now, because there are so few predators pigs are all over the place. Also, there are fewer predators to hunt the deer. Because of this, deer are getting too abundant and can actually starve to death in hard years. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather be killed by a mountain lion than starve to death. Am I right? And with predators, who also take out the sick animals, diseases don’t spread as easily. Without predators and with higher deer numbers, diseases like black leg, hoof and mouth, and other nasty things can get spread through a population like wildfire.

It becomes a vicious cycle of kill predator-feed deer-kill predator-feed deer, because there isn’t enough natural vegetation for the deer to eat, because there are too many damn deer in the first place!

These are just a few examples of the annihilation of the planet that I have observed recently. I’m trying to save the planet one uneducated jerk at a time by passing on my wisdom, and encouraging others with my like-mindset. Help me, won’t you? The more support I have, the less crazy it will make me in the future.

And, so I don’t TOTALLY bring down the party, here are a couple of pictures of me bottle feeding a baby bobcat after someone shot the mom, and then they had the bright idea that she was probably being aggressive because her babies were nearby.

This little guy was clawing me to shreds, but in a good way 🙂