I thought this was an interesting story about wildlife not behaving exactly the way scientists predicted nor we thought. There is a pattern this week which I’ll follow up on with a few more posts. Humility, for all of us, when talking about what we know about biology, is always a good thing. Here’s the link in the Denver Post.
BOULDER — AF69, a 90-pound female cougar, makes a healthy living on human habitat — stalking, eating and hiding deer around houses — usually when people aren’t looking.
But one day, while she was dragging a dead doe past a front door west of Boulder, homeowner Ian Morris caught AF69 on his camera — first as he peered through his screen door, then over two days as she cached her kill under grass clippings and periodically gorged.
“I wondered what she could see,” Morris said. “Could she see me? Would that be a good thing? We’re told that we should avoid any contact, which will make the animal more confident in approaching humans.”
He notified the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, and wildlife researcher Mat Alldredge came and darted the cougar. Now AF69 is being tracked, along with 61 others, as part of a study that finds cougars may be living much closer to people than previously believed.
State researchers say AF69′s adaptive lifestyle, including regular night forays into the western edge of Boulder, reflects an emerging pattern for many of Colorado’s estimated 3,500 cougars. GPS tracking shows cougars at hundreds of locations near Front Range neighborhoods.
For example, during one week last month, AF69 was located at three spots near Broadway in Boulder between dusk and 2 a.m.
Tracking data also detail AF69′s move that week from foothills north of Boulder Canyon to a neighborhood where she killed a young buck, which she cached under a conifer tree near a house, covering it with landscaping mulch and pine needles.
“The interesting thing is that she’s living in these neighborhoods but she is rarely seen,” Alldredge said. “By and large, this cat is making a living in the urban-exurban environment. She’s killing deer. She’s doing the best she can in this area where she was born and raised. Part of the city is her home range.”
Here’s a story in the Denver Post Business section today, including the link with a video, on using blue-stained wood in home construction.
Colorado imports 95 percent of its lumber, which doesn’t make sense in a state with so many dead trees available to harvest, Cadman said.
New Town, which expects to build about 80 homes this year, will spend about $2,000 per home on the Colorado wood, which is comparable in cost to imported lumber.
Given the smaller size of Colorado’s lodgepole pines, the homebuilder will limit its use to vertical supports.
“We hope the example will encourage and facilitate others to use this wood,” said Bruce Ward, founder of recreation advocacy group Choose Outdoors in Pine.
Beetle-killed trees leave the state at risk of massive forest fires that pollute the air and water supply. Dead trees are falling in greater numbers on roads, tents and power lines, limiting recreational opportunities.
Ward is among those working to find economic uses for the dead trees, including converting them into pellets that can be burned.
The beetles infect wood with a fungus that leaves behind blue streaks, giving it some appeal for use in trim, decorative panels and furniture. Custom and log homes have been built with the material.
But New Town is trying to open up a much larger market — framing production homes. A key hurdle to clear will be convincing city buyers that “blue-stained pine” is safe to use and structurally sound.
“At first it was a little bit scary, and I thought, OK, something is going to happen with my place. Is it going to affect the structure or the strength of the wood?” said Nea Martinez, who has bought a townhome in Stapleton made with the wood.
Martinez said she did her homework and came away reassured.
“They’re turning something unfortunate into a positive,” she said.
Positives include creating jobs in rural Colorado and helping the state revive its lumber industry.