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January 11, 2012     The New Era Paper
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January 11, 2012
 

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:l/e - January 11,2012 Page 13 .I Most people can barely read road signs let alone game sign in the woods. If most people in this country suddenly found themselves out in the middle of a wilderness, they'd most likely perish within a day or two, es- pecially if they use any survival tac- tics they saw on Man vs. Wild. Most hunters can't tell elk tracks from those of a herd of cattle. More than a few laughs come from those who think they can read sign. Fol- lowing a set of deer or elk tracks up a steep, rocky mountain, across a deep river canyon and through deep snow more times than not results in ex- haustion, skinned and bruised knees, wet feet and frostbite. In most cases, the animals track us humans better than we track them. Plus, they're getting smarter. Scott Staats They've seen man wandering around outdoors for the last 4 million years or so with his eyes to the ground fol- lowing their tracks. They've learned to walk in geometric patterns resem- bling those of today's corn mazes or the tribe on his trail, having to hide in mean the government agency but the crop circles. They sit on a hillside an active beaver lodge for a week un- actual alcohol, tobacco and firearms. looking down and laughing, til the Indians got fired of looking for Today the government is hard Grizzly bears have learned the him and gave up. It was just easier to at work tracking us via computer tactical maneuver of backtrack- read sign correctly the first time. and telephone records, dozens of ing and lying in wait hidden along The experienced mountain man spy satellites in space and countless their trail for some unknowing frail of years ago (ie- one who lasted at surveillance cameras located inside creature such as a human who may least six months in the wild) could of buildings, on the outside of build- be tracking the mighty beast. These look at a set of tracks and tell if they ings, on light poles, at mountain scenarios Often end up in a chapter of were made by another mountain passes. We may not know where the "When Grizzlies Attack." man, an Indian or even a Sasquatch, government is but they always know It was essential for the early especially if any of the above were our exact location. I especially get a trappers' and mountain men's very still standing in the tracks, little nervous with those motion-sen- survival to read sign of animals and A good woodsman today can sor-camera thingies in restrooms. Indians. He didn't come across a set also read sign. For example, near a Even the movie theaters are of footprints and simply follow them; modem hunting camp the woodsman tracking us. I can tell because they they could lead him face-to-face with can tell that those in camp were eat- announce a new movie with, "Corn- an angry griz or into an Indian vil- ing com by the.., empty cans of com ing to a theater near" you." How do lage whereupon he would be forced found nearby, they know where I am? to "run the gauntlet" then run buck- It doesn't take long to for the Scott Staats is a full-time outdoor naked for over 1,000 miles with half modem woodsman to figure out the writer who lives in Prineville. presence of ATF in most camps dur- Contact him by e-mail at news@ ing the hunting season and I don't sweethomenews.com. Hatchery steelhead study surprises researchers By David Stauth Oregon State University Writer The impact of hatcheries on salmonids is so profound that in just one generation traits are selected that allow fish to survive and prosper in the hatchery environment, at the cost of their ability to thrive and repro- duce in a wild environment. The findings, published in De- cember in Proceedings of the Na- tional Academy of Sciences, show speed Of evolution and natural selec- tion that surprised researchers. They confirmed that a primary impact of hatcheries is a change in fish genetics, as opposed to a tempo- rary environmental effect. "We've known for some time that hatchery-born fish are less suc- cessful at survival and reproduction in the wild," said Michael Blouin, a professor of zoology at Oregon State University. "However, until now, it wasn't clear why. What this study shows is that intense evolutionary pressures in the hatchery rapidly se- lect for fish that excel there, at the expense of their reproductive suc- cess in the wild.'" Hatcheries are et~ficient at pro- ducing fish for harvest, the research- ers said. but this and other studies continue to raise concerns about the genetic impacts that hatchery fish may have when they interbreed with wild salmon and steelhead, and whether or not they will help wild salmonid runs to recover. The findings were based on a 19-year genetic analysis of steelhead in theHood River. It examined why hatchery fish struggle to reproduce in wild fiver conditions, a fact that has been made clear in previous re- search. Possible causes explored in- cluded environmental effects of cap- tive rearing, inbreeding among close relatives, and unintentional "domes- tication selection." or the ability of some fish to adapt to the unique hatchery environment. The study confirmed that do- mestication selection was at work. When thousands of smolts are born in the artificial environment of a hatchery, those that survive best are the ones that can deal. for whatever reason, with hatchery conditions. But the traits that help them in the hatch- ery backfire when they return to the problem, they said. wild, where their ability to produce Historically, hatchery managers surviving offspring is much reduced, preferred to use fish born in hatch- "We expected to see some of eries as brood stock to create future these changes after multiple genera- generations, because whatever trait tions," said Mark Christie, an OSU they had that allowed them to suc- post-doctoral research associate and ceed in the hatchery helped produce lead author on the study. "To see thousands of apparently healthy these changes happen in a single young salmon. But they later found generation was amazing. Evolution- that when those same fish were re- ary change doesn't always take thou- leased they had a survival and repro- sands of years." ductive success that was far lower It's not clear exactly what traits than those born in the wild. are being selected for among the Billions of captive-reared salm: thousands of smolts born in hatch- on are intentionally released into the eries, the scientists said, but one of wild each year in order to increase the leading candidates is the ability fishery yields and bolster declining to tolerate extreme crowding. If re- populations, with hatchery fish. search can determine exactly what "This shows that hatcheries can aspect of hatchery operations is se- produce fish that are genetically dif- lecting for fish with less fitness in the ferent from wild fish, and that it can wild, it Could be possible to make happen extraordinarily fast," Blouin changes that would help address the said. 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