Going wild in the city

At first glnce, it’s a scene that plays out daily in cities across America. A U.S. Postal Service carrier wearing a royal blue bucket hat steps out of his mail truck and strides across the street, letters in hand. That much is unremarkable. But this postman either doesn’t notice or doesn’t seem to care that a hefty black bear, likely a young male, is sitting on his haunches a few yards away, vigorously scratching his shedding winter coat.

Immediately to the left, Interstate 240 roars behind a chain-link fence, apparently just white noise to the bruin, which eventually lopes down the sidewalk deeper into this neighborhood barely a half mile from downtown Asheville, North Carolina…

While Black Bears have reclaimed about half their former range and now live in some 40 states, coyotes—native to the Great Plains—have taken the U.S. by storm in recent decades. They now can be found in every state except Hawaii and most major cities. The metropolis most synonymous with the urban coyote is Chicago, home to as many as 4,000 of the animals…

Sarah Benson-Amram presented raccoons, coyotes, and skunks with a box equipped with a button or foot pedal that, when pressed, releases food. After the animals figured out how to get the food, the researchers would switch the buttons and pedals, forcing them to tweak their strategy. Most of the raccoons solved the problem on the first night, while only one of six coyotes engaged with the box—and not until the 44th night of testing. Once the coyote was comfortable engaging with the object, it could win the prize just as well as the raccoons and skunks…

Until recently, urban wildlife was mostly ignored in scientific research. This is partly because such species are considered pests unworthy of our attention—or not wildlife at all.

“We live on a planet that’s rapidly urbanizing, and it’s silly for us to say, Oh, we don’t care about animals in urban landscapes,” says Seth Magle, director of the Urban Wildlife Institute at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. “Whether we like it or not, we live with wildlife.”

Time to start learning how to get along with your new neighbors, folks!

Bear thinks he can fit through a cat door

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An Idaho man snapped pictures of a bear attempting to get into his home through a cat door but only managing to fit its head through the opening.

Doug Harder of Sandpoint said bears have become a frequent nuisance at his condo this year and he first snapped photos of the animals when a mother and two cubs climbed onto his second floor deck to eat birdseed in late May.

He said bear sightings continued in the area and a yearling broke into his condo while he was on vacation last week by opening the sliding glass door, which he had left cracked open with a piece of wood blocking the doorjamb.

Harder said the intruder did very little damage to his property, but the animal defecated on the carpet and raided the domicile for food including flour, brownie mix, Toblerone and Pepsi.

The homeowner said he went to investigate a racket at his door Thursday and was shocked to see a bear attempting to squeeze through his cat door. He said the animal was far too large to fit more than its head through the door.

It came to the cat door Thursday night, trying again and again to get through, which is when I took the photo,” Harder said…It came back yesterday trying to get through the cat door again.”

Time to get some bear spray. It won’t harm the bear; but, it will likely get the idea.

U.S. stocks plunge in biggest retreat since recession bottom

A global rout in equities drove the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to its worst slump since February 2009, while two-year Treasury yields plunged to a record low amid concern the economy is weakening…The S&P 500 tumbled 4.8 percent to 1,200.07 at 4 p.m. in New York, a 12 percent drop from its April 29 peak and weakest level since November 2010…

Concern the global economy may relapse into a recession has driven investors out of stocks and into the relative safety of Treasuries, the Swiss franc and yen and is spurring speculation the Federal Reserve will start another stimulus program. Japan’s moves to sell the yen, which this week neared a post-World War II record, and expand an asset-purchase fund follows efforts by the Swiss central bank to curb the franc’s gains. The European Central Bank resumed bond purchases and offered banks more cash to stem the spread of the debt crisis.

The mood right now is gloomy,” Mike Ryan, the New York- based chief investment strategist at UBS Wealth Management Americas, said in a telephone interview. His firm oversees $774 billion. “The burden of proof is for better data that show the economy is not falling into recession. Tomorrow’s payroll report is crucial. If we see another disappointment, the stock market will have significant downside from here…”

Gap Inc., the largest U.S. apparel chain, sank 12 percent after sales missed analysts’ estimates. DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite-television provider, tumbled 5.7 percent after adding fewer U.S. customers than analysts estimated.

“It’s not a flash crash,” Michael Shaoul, chairman of Marketfield Asset Management in New York, said in a telephone interview. His firm oversees $1 billion. “It’s much more orderly and I don’t see any weird prints like we saw that day in individual issues. I still couldn’t tell where this market will bottom. I also don’t think this is 2008 when you saw a genuine failure of global finance to be able to fund asset process. You don’t see money markets going crazy. It’s a plain and simple liquidation of equities and commodities.”

There is little reason for confidence in the US economy – and even less in the European economy taken as a whole. RTFA for details – if you dare.

There is no reason to expect action on the part of Congress – especially the worms who think markets, commerce and finance are something that hasn’t changed since the end of the Civi War. And they would have been on the losing side there, as well.

Halfway measures from the Obama Administration never developed into infrastructure revival which would have produced jobs and employment for some of the “unemployables” stuck into double-digit unemployment. The Tea Party and Republican flunkies on the Right wouldn’t act, today, if called upon to enact the measures jointly agreed upon as bipartisan measures at the end of the Bush administration. I doubt if anyone expects them to join with Obama and the progressive Democrats who were elected while Blue Dogs were made redundant.

Chickens are coming home to roost, folks. If you voted for teabaggers, you’re witnessing the results of that foolishness. If you voted to reelect slugs like Boehner and McConnell, the Coburns and Ryans of Congress – prepare to start shoveling chickenshit, right now. It will be the only job you can get.

ADDENDUM: A few folks have asked “what should I buy on the way down?” I don’t give stock advice at my personal blog. Yeah, with just a little cash at hand, I bought a little bit today – and anyone who knows me really well knows there’s just one more equity I’m waiting to get low enough to grab a little more.

Do I think we’re heading into another recession? Damned if I know. I’ll be happy when my social security check arrives this month. 🙂

Bears guard Canadian marijuana farm

Police raiding a marijuana farm in western Canada were astonished to find black bears apparently guarding it.

However initial alarm wore off when officers realised the 10 or so bears did not behave aggressively and were in fact docile and tame.

Police believe dog food was used to attract the animals onto the farm in British Columbia…

Or they were stoner bears.

Two people were arrested in the raid.

The five police who went to the farm near Christina Lake, close to the US border, to dismantle the marijuana plantation were amazed when the bears loped into view.

They were tame, they just sat around watching. At one point one of the bears climbed onto the hood of a police car, sat there for a bit and then jumped off,” said Royal Canadian Mounted Police sergeant Fred Mansveld.

In Canada, feeding bears is illegal as it leads to bears associating food with humans and increases the likelihood of bears coming into towns and cities to look for food.

Especially if they have the munchies.