In a perfect world, campfires would stay contained and be used only for s’mores and hot dogs. However, it’s not a perfect world and the vast majority of wildfires, which are sometimes fatal, are caused by careless campers. Phillip Elden says education is the best weapon against tragedy.
According to Phillip Elden, your first priority if you’re planning to build a campfire is to make sure that your particular site allows fires in the first place. Check with your local park ranger to see if there are burn bans in place and pay attention to the wind. A mild breeze is likely not a problem, however, high winds can easily send smoldering debris through the air, and leave your fire out of control.
You already know you aren’t supposed to feed wild animals but do you know why? Here, conservation strategist Phillip Elden offers four answers to that very important question.
1. Your food wasn’t made for animal bellies.
According to Phillip Elden, people food does not contain the right balance of protein and fat to be healthy to wild animals. In fact, feeding the ducks and geese at the local lake can even deform the animals you’re trying to help out. Waterfowl that subsist on a diet of human-provided crackers, bread, and popcorn may develop “angel wings,” wings that aren’t strong enough to fly.
2. Feeding wild animals makes them less fearful of people.
You’re scared of wolves and bears but they, along with most other creatures, are also afraid of you. When you feed deer and other seemingly docile critters, you allow them to lose this fear and that’s not a good thing. Phillip Elden cautions that animals that become comfortable around humans can quickly become a hazard.
Phillip Elden has dedicated his life – both personally and professionally — to the conserving land and animals in his home state of Oregon. Here, the Native Oregon founder talks about tree conservation strategies that can be implemented by homeowners across the nation.
Q: Why is tree conservation important?
Phillip Elden: Trees are one of our most important natural resources. Not only do they help clear the air of pollutants, they also a provide valuable habitat for thousands of animals across North America. Birds and squirrels, for instance, make their homes in and around trees while certain insects rely on the canopy shade for survival.
Q: How can community leaders discuss tree conservation efforts with township citizens?
Phillip Elden: The first step would be to obtain and distribute information regarding local trees and wildlife. This can be culled from horticulturists, landscape architects, and forestry professionals. Information can then be discussed in length at community meetings.
While Zoos get a bad reputation, many are a final destination for animals who could not fend for themselves in the wild, says conservationist Phillip Elden. Here, the Oregon native shares information on a few of the state’s finest zoological parks.
The Oregon Zoo, according to Phillip Elden, works tirelessly to promote preservation of the world’s most at-risk animals. In addition to its exhibits of local and global wildlife and habitats, the zoo operates a number of wildlife conservation projects on site, including the California condor breeding facility. It is currently working with organizations throughout the state to help protect Western pond turtle hatchlings.
Phillip Elden also enjoys the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Here, children can learn about jellyfish, sea turtles, coastal mammals, and more. The aquarium also hosts dozens of beach cleanup days throughout the year. Education programs are available for children of all ages on everything from anemones to plankton. For adventurous kids and their families, the aquarium also offers the opportunity to sleep under the tunnels and enjoy more personal attention from staff.
It’s still cold but the spring and summer vacation seasons are fast approaching. That’s left many wondering how the rampant wildfires of 2017 might affect their 2018 vacation plans. Phillip Elden, a conservationist and natural landscape and wildlife expert, answers a few questions about common landmarks in relation to the fires.
Q: What is the status of Mount Jefferson?
Phillip Elden: The Whitewater fire was one of the first to trigger panic throughout the state. It torched more than 11,500 acres of prime hiking and backpacking trails. The fire, which was started by lightning, has not caused any long-term damage to Jefferson Park, though Mount Jefferson remains closed until late spring to early summer.
Whales, dolphins, and porpoises are abundant just off Oregon’s 363 miles of coastline, says Phillip Elden. However, these underwater wonders rarely draw public interest. Here, Elden opens up about some of the largest mammals in the state.
Q: How many grey whales live off the coast of Oregon?
Phillip Elden: Throughout the summer and fall, Oregon boasts a population of around 200 resident grey whales. However, during migrations – winter and spring – more than 18,000 of these massive creatures crowd Oregon’s waterways. Gray whales can grow up to 50 feet long and can weigh more than 80,000 pounds. Whale sightings are reported year-round but peak between Christmas and New Year, with an estimated 50 sightings each day during Whale Watch Week.
Phillip Elden has spent a lifetime studying local wildlife in his native Oregon and has always held a cautious fascination with snakes. Here, the conservationist answers a few common questions pertaining to these slithery serpents.
Q: What are the most common species of snake in Oregon?
Phillip Elden: There are more than a dozen of poisonous and nonpoisonous snakes throughout the state. The black racer is perhaps one of the most abundant and is found in a variety of habitats from meadows to sagebrush flats. Racers typically avoid high mountain tops and forests in favor of rocky slopes and dense low-lying shrubbery.
Q: What do snakes eat?
Phillip Elden: The majority of snakes eat insects, amphibians, and even small mammals. The ringneck snake, which thrives in moist microhabitats in both woodland and rocky areas, makes its primary diet out of earthworms, frogs, small lizards, and salamanders. Larger varieties, such as the common king snake, may also dine on birds and turtles. Some of the more aggressive serpents will go after gophers, scorpions, and rabbits. Snakes are not only predators; they are prey for mid-sized mammals such as foxes, coyotes, and badgers.