An Avalanche of Misfortune

A Russian hunter on a Buran snowmobile. Photograph © Wildlife Conservation Society Russia Program

Somewhere around Day Fifteen of the winter 2014 field season a hunter named Strogov happened past our camp in his pickup truck. Strogov, a prematurely-grey, stocky forty-year-old with eyes of cold-blue steel, occasionally provided us with meat and gave us news of the outside world. He was surprised to see us still working in the area. I asked why.

“Because of the bear that killed that guy about ten kilometers from here,” he replied.

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The Unexpected Beast

Brown bear. Photograph Ⓒ Jonathan C. Slaght

A few years ago I was helping a colleague track Siberian musk deer in the Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Reserve. She was a graduate student studying the behavior of these fascinating, spritely creatures, and was in the middle of a grueling field season collecting reams of movement data from several radio-tagged musk deer.

One afternoon, in the middle of a day hike, we turned up a narrow valley dominated by Korean pine while tracking a male musk deer. This was a lush gorge bisected by a gurgling brook that further masked our footsteps already dampened by the carpet of pine needles. This stealth allowed us to obliviously approach then flush a trio of roe deer then later a sounder of at least a half-dozen wild boar.

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Heeding the Sign: Live from the Bronx Zoo!

Watch me avoid turning the first Bison into a disaster. Photograph courtesy Jeff Morey, WCS.

Click on the above photo or follow this YouTube link below for a nine-minute, LIVE telling of my Heeding the Sign story, from the inaugural The Bison performance held at the Bronx Zoo on July 8th, 2015.

“The Bison” is the Wildlife Conservation Society‘s new story-telling vehicle–a venue for field researchers and people from all walks of life to share their interactions with diverse wildlife across the globe. Thanks to Stephen Sautner, Nat Moss, Natalie Cash, Jeff Morey, and Steve Fairchild for making this a successful event (I only knock over the microphone once….).