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Posts Tagged ‘capture’

Photo: ThePhotoImpression at Etsy.
Bighorn sheep.

Earle sent a cool article about capturing bighorn sheep by helicopter and suggested that it might be something for the blog. It comes from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

“Wildlife biologist Paige Prentice grew up surrounded by trees in Nevada City, California, and knew she had selected the right college when she saw all the redwoods on the campus of UC Santa Cruz. But it was a seasonal job after college in Death Valley National Park that spawned her love of the desert, and today she is a Desert Bighorn Sheep Biologist with CDFW, based in Inyo County. …

“CDFW: Do you remember when you first became so interested in science you realized it might become your career?

“When I was a little kid, I used to tell people that I wanted to study elephants and gorillas. After college I had the opportunity to spend six months studying orangutans on the Island of Borneo in Indonesia. And while that was an awesome once-in-a-lifetime experience, I learned that I wanted to focus on species a little closer to home. Growing up, my folks were the type of people that would drive through deserts and say, ‘It’s just hot and dry and there’s nothing here.’ I believed them, until I was 24 and I got a job in Death Valley as an AmeriCorps intern with the Park Service. It was then that fell in love with the desert. I was mesmerized by the expansive landscapes and amazed by how much life the desert supported. …

“Why does CDFW dedicate staff to Desert Bighorn Sheep specifically?

“Well, first, you have to understand that in California we have three separately managed bighorn populations. Two populations are endangered and managed under their own recovery programs — the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep and the peninsular bighorn sheep (San Diego, Riverside and Imperial counties). Then, there is the broad grouping of desert bighorn sheep which are not endangered — these are the ones I focus on. Because … we’re interested in questions at both the population and metapopulation level, it makes sense to have a desert bighorn sheep specific program.

“As a bighorn sheep biologist, what are you studying? What are you looking at when trying to manage that population?

“Great question. There is a lot to study, given that we are looking at over 50 distinct populations across a large geographic area that is fragmented by major interstates. On a broad scale, we’re looking at which mountain ranges have bighorn in them, how many animals are in each population and how the populations are connected to one another. We conduct ground, camera, and helicopter surveys to document age and sex ratios and recruitment (lambs surviving to adulthood). We capture and collar animals to track movements, monitor survival and to test for disease. We are interested in what type of diseases are present and what the short- and long-term impacts are. We also have artificial and natural water sources in the desert, and we work with NGOs, like the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep, to makes sure these sources are maintained and stay full of water. …

“Aren’t there times we capture sheep as well, shooting nets on them from helicopters?

“Yes, we generally capture bighorn using a helicopter with a netgun. Thankfully, we’re not the ones that are flying for captures– we hire professionals for that. We conduct captures in the fall and this past November we captured and collared 100 animals across eight populations. It is a team effort and certainly a lot of work. I think some folks hear about the captures and think, ‘Why capture wild animals?’ But in fact, the work we do with captures provides the majority of the data we have to help protect these magnificent creatures.

“What is it you like about bighorn sheep?

“They completely captivate me. I am aware of very few species that are experts of such extreme environments. Within California, there are desert bighorn that live above 14,000 feet and navigate snow in the wintertime. A hundred miles to the south, there are animals in Death Valley that are living below sea level and are experiencing temperatures of over 125 degrees in the summer. When you track these animals and spend time in the landscapes in which they flourish, you can’t help but respect them. They are also one of the most graceful animals I have ever seen — watching them move with ease, at top speed up mountain sides is stunningly impressive.”

More here.

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I’ve been learning a lot lately from reading ecoRI’s Tim Faulkner. Recently he wrote about entrepreneurial approaches to taking carbon out of the atmosphere. He notes that one of the more ironic opportunities, according to Thorne Sparkman of investor Slater Technology Fund, is through the oil and gas industry, which uses CO2 in extraction and now can at least bury it instead of releasing it.

“Finding ways of supplying some [CO2] from existing carbon sources is a one of the main markets in the emerging, and broadly defined, field of carbon capture and storage (CCS),” writes Faulkner.

“ ‘CO2 is everywhere, but it has not really been harnessed,’ said Emily Cole, co-founder of Liquid Light, a New Jersey-based startup that wants to reduce greenhouse gasses by transforming carbon dioxide into industrial chemicals. …

Enhanced Energy Group of West Kingstown is also looking at cutting emissions from the oil and gas industry, while increasing production. Its founder, Paul Dunn, spent 25 years designing engines for the Navy, some of which were emissions free.  He’s now building power sources that sequester CO2 before it vents into the air. …

Bioprocess Algae is converting unwanted CO2 into algae for fish and animal feed, and as nutritional supplements. The company recently relocated its headquarters from Portsmouth, R.I., to Shenandoah, Iowa, to be closer its CO2 supply source, a corn-fueled ethanol plant.”

Chief technology officer Toby Ahrens says that sequestering carbon dioxide in algae may not have large-scale prospects, but so far, it is one of the few profitable opportunities in this arena. More at ecoRI, here.

Photo: iStock
Trees are one way to sequester carbon.

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