Thursday, February 23, 2012

Film Showing- Green Fire - February 25 at Refuge

“We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.”
- Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 1949

The impact of his own gunshot from a rimrock in Arizona changed Aldo Leopold’s own thinking, leading to the key insight that was the culmination of his life’s work: a responsibility for its health. Join us as we trace Leopold’s personal journey and follow the threads that connect to his legacy today. (From the Aldo Leopold Foundation website)

On Saturday, 25 February at 2 pm, the Friends of Hagerman and Austin College will host a free screening of a new film called Green Fire, the first full-length, high definition documentary film ever made about legendary conservationist Aldo Leopold. The film explores Aldo Leopold’s life in the early part of the twentieth century and the many ways his land ethic idea continues to be applied all over the world today.

Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time is a production of the Aldo Leopold Foundation, the US Forest Service, and the Center for Humans and Nature. The film shares highlights from Leopold’s life and extraordinary career, explaining how he shaped conservation in the twentieth century and still inspires people today. Although probably best known as the author of the conservation classic A Sand County Almanac, Leopold is also renowned for his work as an educator, philosopher, forester, ecologist, and wilderness advocate.

Dr. Jason Luscier, Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology at Austin College, will introduce the film by talking briefly about Aldo Leopold and reading excerpts from Leopold’s “A Sand County Almanac”.

“Aldo Leopold’s legacy lives on today in the work of people and organizations across the nation and around the world,” said Aldo Leopold Foundation Executive Director Buddy Huffaker. “What is exciting about Green Fire is that it is more than just a documentary about Aldo Leopold; it also explores the influence his ideas have had in shaping the conservation movement as we know it today by highlighting some really inspiring people and organizations doing great work to connect people and the natural world in ways that even Leopold might not have imagined.”

Green Fire illustrates Leopold’s continuing influence by exploring current projects that connect people and land at the local level. Viewers will meet urban children in Chicago learning about local foods and ecological restoration. They’ll learn about ranchers in Arizona and New Mexico who maintain healthy landscapes by working on their own properties and with their neighbors, in cooperative community conservation efforts. They’ll meet wildlife biologists who are bringing back threatened and endangered species, from cranes to Mexican wolves, to the landscapes where they once thrived. The Green Fire film portrays how Leopold’s vision of a community that cares about both people and land—his call for a land ethic—ties all of these modern conservation stories together and offers inspiration and insight for the future.

The film will be shown in the Multi-purpose Meeting Room in the Visitor Center at the Refuge. Hagerman NWR is located at 6465 Refuge Road, Sherman, TX, 75092. The event is free of charge and open to the public. For direction or more information, call the Refuge, 903 786 2826, or see

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bobcat Family at Hagerman NWR

We had just turned the corner onto one of the many oil well pads at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge when Marolyn said "stop", as she often does when we are searching for wildlife to photograph. I immediately saw a beautiful bobcat moving among the oil field equipment. We moved our vehicle slowly into photo range trying not to disturb the cat. It was not alarmed as it moved slowly across the pad into the tall grass and woods giving me plenty of time to capture some images. After the excitement of our sighting calms, Marolyn and I usually sit and discuss our good fortune and relive an event like this with smiles and laughter.

The bobcat had acted a little strange, looking over its shoulder as it walked across the ground, so we decided not to move, but sit and wait to see if the cat might return. Sure enough, after about 20 minutes, out of the tall grass it came, moving into the open area.

As the bobcat made her way back toward the equipment, out from its hiding place bounded a tiny bobcat kitten to greet its mother. We were amazed, not only for our good fortune, but because most bobcats are born in April -- this was December. Our joy quickly turned to concern for the little cat. Will he make it through the winter? So far this year, we have not had a harsh winter -- good for the baby kitten.

Bobcats will typically breed from late January through March. The average gestation period for a bobcat is 62 days resulting in the kittens being born in April or May. The litter size can be up to four, with the average size being two. The kittens are born in a den located in brush piles, hollow trees, stumps, logs, or rock crevices. The dens are usually lined with grass, leaves and other soft vegetation.

Like most cats, bobcat kittens are born blind and very helpless. The kittens will nurse until they are a couple of months old, but will start eating solid food at one month old. They will also begin leaving the den at one month. Bobcat kittens will stay with their mother until they are approximately 8 months old and will have an average life span in the wild of 10 to 12 years. The most important determining factor of whether a bobcat kitten survives its early months is food availability. Another danger for the young kittens is that they are preyed upon by owls, coyotes and male bobcats.

We made certain we did not approach the mom and baby too close as to alarm them, hoping they would sense we meant them no harm and that they would relax. That's exactly what happened. After a short while, the mother relaxed and she and her kitten began to play. The kitten would run and jump on mom as mom would play swat and bite at her baby. At one point, the mother rolled over on her back as the kitten jumped on top of her. This behavior is a real sign of trust that the cats felt safe with Marolyn and me looking on.

Then, to our surprise, the kitten strolled over toward us to get a closer view of us from behind a pipe. The mother laid down and watched - totally unalarmed. It made us feel great to get this kind of trust from a wild animal with a baby.

Over the next four days we observed and photographed the bobcat family at three different locations within 300 yards of the original site and then they were gone. Bobcats have multiple dens, one main site and a number of secondary sites throughout their territory. She must have moved on to another site. Since this event in December, we have photographed two other bobcats, but have not seen this mother bobcat and her little kitten. We do hope our paths will cross again.

Another unforgetable experience for Marolyn and me in the wilds of Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge.

Written By: Skeeter & Marolyn Lasuzzo

Photography By: Anthony "Skeeter" Lasuzzo

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge offers opportunities to fall in love with nature not only on special holidays but any day you visit. During this week alone the geese have been back again, browsing at the Refuge, three otters were spotted by the low water crossing and the birders tallied 70 bird species. And for those who love Bluebirds, a special treat February 11, when Refuge Manager Kathy Whaley gives a Second Saturday presentation on the blue beauties.

Kathy’s presentation will begin at 10 am in the Visitor Center meeting room and will include general information on eastern Bluebirds, as well as information on the three Bluebird trails at the Refuge, and will be followed by a panel of Bluebird monitoring volunteers, to field questions.

Speaking of Bluebird monitors, trail monitoring will begin the last week of February, and those who adopted nest boxes will begin receiving emailed reports of activity in their nest box. If you missed out on getting a box this year, plenty of photos will be posted on the Friends website and Facebook page for all to enjoy.

And finally, here is a link to “Love in the Wild” from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Enjoy!

Photo - Harris Creek Bluebird, by Bert Garcia

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hagerman NWR Established 66 Years Ago

Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge turns 66 years old this month! The Refuge was established in 1946 with the primary mission of protecting and providing for migratory waterfowl. Acknowledging the anniversary, today we take a look back in history just over a decade before Hagerman was dedicated, thanks to this article adapted from a post by the National Conservation Training Center of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on the Conservation History webpage.

. “Blown out Dust Bowl farmers were not the only victims of the ‘Dirty Thirties.’ Migratory waterfowl also suffered from the harsh climate conditions. As the wheat fields of North America dried up and blew away so did many of the wetlands necessary for the breeding of migratory waterfowl. By the early 1930s the winds were bringing hunters more dust than ducks and drastic measures were required; President Franklin Roosevelt appointed a special presidential committee in January 1934 to discover a means to conserve migratory waterfowl--a New Deal for Ducks. The committee was headed by Thomas Beck, editor of Collier's magazine, and eventually included Aldo Leopold and Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling. The "Beck Committee" urgently requested more funds and better management of the nation's waterfowl. With surprising swiftness both occurred in March as Darling was made the new Chief of the Bureau of Biological Survey and Roosevelt signed the first Duck Stamp Act. These two momentous changes came together as the cartoonist Darling designed the first duck stamp of two mallards landing in a lush wetland, a scene ironically rare in North America during this period. Six hundred and thirty five thousand of the stamps were sold at $1 apiece and the program was instrumental in providing a solid financial & foundation for migratory waterfowl protection.

Cyclical drought and ever increasing development have served to increase the importance of the wetlands and conservation of migratory waterfowl at refuges throughout the U.S. Visits to the Hagerman and other refuges not only bring enjoyment but also understanding and support for this important work. The Friends of Hagerman NWR are grateful for the opportunity to support these efforts and Hagerman NWR.

Photo credit: