National Geographic May 2016, Part 2

Sorry for the gap, but I’ve been stressed out lately and so dealing with that took precedence over blogging. I need to get more prewritten posts racked up before this happens again. Oh, well, this is a learning process, isn’t it?

Now, on to the issue.

Into the Backcountry, by David Quammen, photographs by various photographers

In this part of the issue, we talk about wolves, grizzlies, and elk. Quammen spends a while talking about changes to the environment and the introduction of lake trout to Yellowstone Lake. You’d think that lake trout would thrive in Yellowstone. And you’d be right. The problem is that the lake trout are thriving just a little too much. Grizzly bears eat cutthroat trout. The cutthroat trout eat bugs on the surface of the water and come into the rivers to spawn which make them available for the grizzlies to eat. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.

The lake trout outcompete the cutthroat trout and are also basically unavailable to bears. The lake trout eat crustaceans from the bottom of the lake and also spawn down there, meaning that their nutrients are locked inside their bodies for too long to support the grizzly.

As a result, for the last five years, Yellowstone has hired a company from Door County Wisconsin which brings boats and nets and slaughters literally tons of lake trout every day. The dead lake trout are then dumped back into the lake so that their nutrients will be available to the ecosystem once again. Quammen doesn’t believe that this will end the reign of the lake trout, but the humans are trying the best they can to restore the balance to the ecosystem.

Other Sections in This Part of the Issue:

Voices: John Craighead, wildlife biologist

The Carnivore Comeback, a pictorial of predators

Tracking the Wildlife Highways, another pictorial, this time of migrations, including a section on the migration of pronghorn.

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