Animal planet: falconry, orcas, wolves, and narwhals!

A handful of animal-stories compiled from Fellows over the past few days: From Meera Subramanian, a beautiful essay about the history of falconry in the middle east:

A heritage takes wing

Some stories have no beginnings. But sitting around a fire in a spacious landscape with radiant stars overhead, next to a man with a gyrfalcon on his fist, I get a sense of a beginning. The bird is exquisite, otherworldly, glowing in the light of the fire. When I am offered the chance to hold it, I do not say no. We slip the thickly padded, finely embroidered cuff from his hand to mine. I stroke the bird's feathers with the backs of my fingers. Its weight is, somehow, just right: light enough not to be a burden, heavy enough to convey the substance of what rests on my wrist... Read & see more.

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Ashley Ahearn with KUOW reports on the Navy's plan to renew sonic testing in the Pacific Northwest - and its potential effects on marine mammals:

Navy looks to renew permits for sonar testing in Northwest

The Navy wants to expand the areas off the Northwest coast where it uses sonar, despite objections from environmentalists that this is harmful to whales and other marine mammals.

On Tuesday the Navy wraps up a series of public meetings in Northwest coastal towns as it pursues permits to test and train with sonar in a larger area of the Pacific.

The Navy says sonar is a critical tool to protect national security along the Pacific Coast... Read more.

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Would hearing some wolf howls brighten up your morning? Find them in Cassandra Willyard's piece on the Smithsonian blog about the Gray Wolf in the Great Lakes region:

The Gray Wolf: The Great Lakes' comeback kid

The gray wolf has been taken off the federal endangered species list three separate times in the past 9 years. In each case, wolf advocacy groups persuaded courts to intervene, and the wolf ended up back on the list. On December 21, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially delisted the wolf yet again in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. And many environmentalists hope that this time the decision will stick.

Over the past several decades, the wolf population in the Great Lakes region has skyrocketed. In 1985, Wisconsin had just 14 wolves. Today the state has roughly 800. More than 4,000 wolves live in the region, most in Minnesota... Read more.

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And finally, check out Sharon Oosthoek's piece about tracking narwhals in the Arctic using satellite transmitters. (The rest of this series on the Arctic is worth reading too - even if the other pieces don't include horned whales):

Satellite view: Tracking Narwhals

From the comfort of your home computer, you can keep tabs on one of the world’s most mysterious creatures in its watery world 1.5 kilometres beneath the sea.

An international team of researchers headed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is tracking seven narwhals that were fitted with satellite transmitters last August off the coast of North Baffin Island. The tags send signals to a satellite 850 kilometres above Earth that relays coordinates in real time back to antennas on the ground. Scientists are using the information to better understand and protect this at-risk species, which is thought to number 100,000 worldwide, including roughly 80,000 in Canadian waters... Read more.