California Sea Lions, Scapegoat

Make the Pie Higher


The fiercest fight WC ever witnessed between two grizzly bears was over the nearly meat-free remains of a moose rib cage. There might have only been scraps left, but the two big boars were determined to keep that other bear away. Fighting over scraps. There’s a similar fight over the pitiful remains of the once-epic…

Oleander Aphids, Harmonia axyridis, on Showy Milkweed stem

Chemical Warfare in the Garden


Mrs. WC planted Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) in the backyard this past summer, in an effort to attract threatened Monarch Butterflies, a species dependent upon the milkweed family. Monarch eggs laid on any plant but one of the hundred or so milkweed species will starve to death. Milkweed is toxic to most animals. It has evolved…

Brown Capuchin Monkey, Peru

Monkey Business


It’s all been very serious around Wickersham’s Conscience lately: endangered species, evil politicians and corrupt capitalism. We’ll take a break from all that and spend some time with our cousins; in WC’s experience, monkeys always lighten things up. And it will take some of the heat off claims that WC is a speciesist and focuses…

Duck Lake, altitude 6,800 feet, Central Idaho

Lick Creek Notebook: September 2019


It’s been 25 years since wildfire devastated the Douglas Fir and Ponderosa Pine forest at Lick Creek Summit, at the divide between the Payette and Salmon River drainages. At 6,500 feet and higher, the terrain just doesn’t recover that quickly, especially from a really hot fire like the 1994 blaze. Lick Creek Road climbs up…

Steller's Jay, Payette Lake, Idaho

Alaska’s First Naturalist: Georg Steller


Vitus Bering, ex patriate Dane and would-be Russian explorer, after ten years of preparation, launched his Second Kamchatka Expedition in 1740. In a near-last minute decision, a German ex-pat physician and naturalist named George Wilhelm Steller was substituted for the much better known Johann Georg Gmelin as the expedition’s scientist and physician. Bering was somewhat better…