Why Do Animals Attack Humans In The Wild? A Lot Of The Time, It’s Kind Of Our Fault.

Reposted with permission:  Huffington Post Science Section: 02/05/16; Carla Herreria Senior Writer, HuffPost

It’s more than just “don’t feed the wild carnivores.” But, uh, don’t feed wild carnivores.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram always seem to be full of photos of people’s outdoor adventures. But not everyone who likes spending time in the wild really knows what they’re doing out there — and according to a study published this week in Nature.com’s Scientific Reports, that’s why humans are increasingly being attacked by wild animals.

A group of researchers from Europe and Canada analyzed data on 697 documented attacks on humans by large carnivores, including bears, cougars and coyotes, in North America, Russia and two countries in Europe.

They found that nearly half of all the observed attacks, which occurred between 1955 and 2014, involved risky behaviors on the part of the human victim.

The most common of those risky behaviors? Leaving a child unattended in the wilderness.

The researchers also found that as populations of large carnivores recover in developed countries (a result of successful conservation efforts), the number of “bold individuals” engaging in outdoor activities has also increased.

The data suggests that most people who explore the outdoors have no idea just how dangerous these habitats really are, according to the researchers.

For evidence, look no further than Lake Tahoe, California, or Water Canyon Park in Colorado, where officials have had to issue official warnings because too many people were trying to take selfies with wild bears.

“A lot of what people do is based on a total lack of knowledge about what is dangerous and what isn’t,” Stephen Herrero, a researcher from the University of Calgary who was involved in the study, told the Canadian Broadcasting Company this week.

“Half of the attacks could have probably been avoided if people had done some pretty simple things,” he went on.

Kathi Taltos/Getty Images – A black bear is seen in Sequoia National Park in California.

But what exactly constitutes “risk-enhancing behavior”? The definition is more broad than you might think, and includes things you’ve probably done at least once in your life.

These were the five most common behaviors people were engaged in at the time of an animal attack, according to the study:

  1. Parents (or adults) leaving children unattended
  2. Walking a dog without a leash
  3. Hunting or searching for a wounded animal
  4. Engaging in outdoor activities at night or before dawn
  5. Approaching a female carnivore with its young

Other risky actions include feeding a wild carnivore and encountering a carnivore that has been fed by humans in the past and therefore approaches humans in search of an easy meal.

The researchers note that while these types of attacks on humans are extremely rare, they tend to have dire consequences for both the human and the animal — especially when media reports sensationalize individual attacks and make them seem more common than they really are.

In 2014, for example, Australia began a controversial cull on sharks — including great white sharks, considered a threatened species — in response to seven fatal shark attacks in three years, despite a number of experts arguing that such a response would not reduce the already low risk of attack.

The study’s authors echo this sentiment, adding that this type of reaction hurts conservation efforts for these carnivores.

“When attacks occur,” the researchers wrote, “large carnivores are frequently killed and negative attitudes toward large carnivores harden.”

If we’re all going to be the great adventurers we portray on social media, then we have to learn how to live safely alongside these wild animals, the researchers urge.

Before going on a hike or a camping trip, or entering a national park or any area that carnivores call home, make sure to follow all safety rules posted by federal wildlife agencies.

And please, leave wild animals — especially carnivores — alone.

At The Cove Palisades State Park, we do not have bears or wolves in the park; however we do have other carnivores like cougar, various omnivores and even some bolder herbivores, such as mule deer that think they should eat Doritos.  Cougars dislike a lot of noise and activity.  They will not walk into camp and beg for food but the others will not hesitate to search out and greedily inhale human handouts.  If you feel the need to hand feed a wild animal remember that they can bite or carry disease.  That cute little forest creature that you were dying to have a selfie with only moments before, can become a despised varmint instantaneously.  Feeding wildlife can have devastating, even if unintentional, consequences to either animal and/or human. 

While wildlife encounters are typically very safe at The Cove; practice not feeding any wildlife.  There is plenty of natural food for them in the park already.

Thanks for doing your part to keep The Cove’s animals wild!

First Rain Storm of the Season

That wonderful smell of rain on wet asphalt, is actually a chemical reaction. The air smells good after a rain, and much of the reason is a thing called “petrichor.”

“Petrichor,” is constructed from Greek petra, meaning “stone”, and ichor, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology (Blood of the Stone).  The smell itself comes about when increased humidity – a pre-cursor to rain – fills the pores of stones (rocks, soil, etc.) with tiny amounts of water.  While it’s only a minuscule amount, it is enough to flush the oil from the stone and release petrichor into the air.

Some plants secrete oils during dry periods that accumulate in dirt and rocks, and when it rains, these oils are released into the air. As the water activates the oils it invariably hits you: the sweet, fresh, powerfully evocative smell of fresh rain.  The second reaction that creates petrichor occurs when chemicals produced by soil-dwelling bacteria known as actinomycetes are released. These aromatic compounds combine to create the pleasant petrichor scent when rain hits the ground. Studies have revealed that the human nose is extremely sensitive to geosmin in particular—some people can detect it at concentrations as low as 5 parts per trillion. You may also smell this if you are turning soil over in your garden.

Another scent associated with rain is ozone (O3). Some people say they can smell a storm coming.  This can occur if wind pushes the ozone ahead of the storm.  During a thunderstorm, lightning can split oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the atmosphere, and they in turn can recombine into nitric oxide (NO). This substance interacts with other chemicals in the atmosphere to form ozone, which has a sharp smell faintly reminiscent of chlorine and it can carry over far distances from high altitudues.

stormy day on the deschutes river.JPG

Happy 1st day of Fall!


Autumn Equinox September 22, 2016

The term equinox is used by meteorologists to mark the change in seasons in spring and autumn, and occurs when the sun passes directly over the equator, creating a day and night that are the same in length.  The equinox occurs because of the tilt of the Earth in relation to the sun.  The Earth’s tilt is 23.5 degrees relative to the plane of its orbit and means that, although one revolution of the planet takes 24 hours – it’s different depending on the time of year. On the autumnal equinox, the Earth hits the turning point in its orbit where neither the North or the South poles are tilted towards the sun. That means the amount of daylight and night time is the same at all points on the Earth’s surface.


“Campers” in Deschutes Campground today enjoying the sunshine and green grass.



NEW! Renumbering Deschutes Campground


The Cove Palisades State Park is renumbering campsites in the Deschutes Campground.  This affects Loops A and B. C loop will stay the same.  Ultimately this will reduce confusion and make finding your site a lot easier.

Deschutes River Campground is open mid-May through mid-September. Please note when making reservations that if you have a favorite site, it will have a new number. You can find a map of the campground at:  http://oregonstateparks.reserveamerica.com/camping/cove-palisades-state-park/r/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=OR&parkId=402446


Planning Your Fall Weekend


Labor Day has come and gone.  The rabbitbrush is starting to fade.  Geese are beginning to fly south, taking summer along with them.  Crisp nights and cool mornings are a sure sign that fall is here.  Is there anything to do at The Cove once the summer season is over?  Most definitely!  In fact, fall can be one of the most magical times here at the park.  The cooler weather makes for a great time to hike the Tam-a-lau Trail.


You can access the trail from the Upper Deschutes Day Use Area and embark on a seven mile journey.  The initial climb, an elevation gain of 600 feet in the first mile, is worth it when you reach the top and see the spectacular views of the park this trail affords.  You are certain to see some of the most awe inspiring views of Lake Billy Chinook .  It’s definitely worth lugging a camera and water with you!

Not a hiker?  Being on the water provides a whole new perspective of the park, and the peace and quiet of this slower time of the year can really give you the opportunity to relax and appreciate the beauty that surrounds you.  Bring a kayak, canoe or stand up paddle board and try paddling along the Deschutes or Crooked Rivers?  Our all new non-motorized, water trail along the Crooked River will guide you on the best route for how far you want to go.


Prefer a little more information as you paddle along?  Book a guided kayak tour of the Deschutes arm of the lake!  Your guide will point out some of the geological features of The Cove and help look for wildlife as you go along.  These tours are available Thursday and Saturday mornings in September and Saturday mornings in October.  Call the park office for details and to reserve your space (541) 546-3412.

If you’d rather just to sit back, relax, and enjoy the beauty of the area;  reserve a site at the Crooked River Campground, grab some extra blankets and wood, and enjoy the colors of fall as you watch the sun set over Mount Jefferson.  If you’re up for a short walk, you can take the Crooked River Wetlands Nature Trail, accessed from the boat and trailer parking area, which provides views of the first two ponds in our wetlands.  As you walk this easy quarter mile loop, you can see the bluebird house and bat boxes built by Culver students, as well as the Certified Monarch Way Station the middle schoolers planted last school year.  You never know what kind of wildlife you might encounter along the way.



As summer leaves, the busyness settles down, and fall colors peek out around the park, so does the wildlife.  This is a great time of year to see some of The Cove’s residents who prefer a bit less human interaction.  Deer are more active as they prepare to rut, ducks are pairing up and coyotes have been howling.   In fact, just about any trail or dock you wander along could afford you that opportunity.  Maybe take a stroll along the water and see if the river otters are out playing.  Or just find a nice, quiet, pretty spot to sit and relax and see what wanders along.

DSC_0063.JPGDon’t think that just because summer is over there’s nothing to do or see here at The Cove.  Come on out and take a look.  You just might surprise yourself.


Discover Nature Festival

Saturday, September 24 from 11 – 3 at Riverbend Park in Bend, Oregon

Kids, come play!  Oregon State Parks will be there!  Enjoy a beautiful fall day with family!

The Children’s Forest of Central Oregon presents Discover Nature Festival featuring over 35 nature education, outdoor recreation, and health and wellness activities. Bring your whole family out for a fun day to connect with nature, play fun outdoor games, practice outdoor skills, and spend time together. Free!

Activities Include:

Sponsored by The Gear Fix

-Bike Rodeo Obstacle Course with Bend Endurance Academy and Hutch’s Bicycles
-Archery with Bend Parks and Recreation District
-Crosscut Saw Demo with Heart of Oregon Corps
-Compass Skills with REI
-Fly Casting Practice with Trout Unlimited
-Leave No Trace with Oregon State Parks
-“10 Essentials” with Camp Fire Central Oregon
-Rope Skills with Boy Scout Troop 25


-Wacky Watershed Wonders with Upper Deschutes Watershed Council
-Volcano Demonstration with Discover Your Forest
-Birds of Prey and Reptiles with Sunriver Nature Center
-Solar Viewing with Sunriver Observatory
-Skulls, Pelts, and Tracks with High Desert Museum
-Story Time in a Tent with Deschutes County Library
-Birding with East Cascades Audubon Society
-Stream Tables with Discover Your Forest
-Migratory Bird Run with Discover Your Forest
-Fish Prints with Bend Park and Recreation District
-Wood Cookies with Bend Park and Recreation District
-Recycle Run with The Environmental Center
-Nature Mandala with The Environmental Center
-Braintan Leather Demonstration with Wildheart Nature School
-Pine Needle Baskets with 4-H Deschutes County
-Enviroscape with City of Bend
-Sally the Snag

Sponsored by Mix100.7

-Healthy Snacks with OSU-Extension
-Health Activities with Mosaic Medical
-Outdoor Family Photo Booth
-Fire Fighter Challenge with Deschutes National Forest
-Wild Side with Bend Park and Recreation District
-Energy Challenge with Children’s Museum of Central Oregon
-Animal Yoga with Mama Bear Oden
-Sun Safe with St. Charles

Plus food carts, games, arts and crafts, and more!
All activities are free and fun for all ages and abilities!

For more information:  dnf-poster-2016-8×11

Ant Lions

An Ant Lion is not some strange Sci-Fi creature or the newest Marvel character but a super beneficial bug that naturally controls ants.

Ant Lions, also known as doodle bugs in the US because they make markings like a distracted artist, are a group of insects in the Order Neuroptera – translated as “nerve wings.”  They are part of the Family Myrmeleontidae,  which is of Greek origin myrmex (ant) and leon (lion)You know you have Ant Lions when you see these upside down cones in the dirt or sand.  These are actually traps that the (predatory) larvae set so that they can eat the ants, and other bugs or spiders, when they fall in.

The larva looks like something you would see in Star Trek The Wrath of Khan or The Mummy movies, it grows to approximately an inch long and it’s head bears a very impressive and sizeable pair of sickle-like jaws (mandible) that have numerous sharp, hallow projections.  In fact, their mandible is so large that it makes walking difficult and so they will typically walk backwards. They seize their prey by injecting poison that paralyzes it.  Additional digestive enzymes are injected to break down internal tissue of its prey.  It then sucks the liquefied contents of it’s preys body and then flicks it out of the pit.  The larva then repairs the pit and waits for it’s next victim.

Ant Lion larvae eventually pupate in the soil.  As scary as their adolescent stage appears, the adult resembles a dragonfly or damselfly except the Ant Lion folds it’s wings back in a tent-like fashion.  They also have longer, prominent, clubbed antennae and different type of wing venation.  Adults are rarely encountered in the wild as they are nocturnal.  They feed on nectar and pollen.

Ant Lions are often included in lists of beneficial insects, no doubt because they prey upon ants, a common pest to humans.

You can find lots of these cone shaped traps in the Deschutes Campground and along the Tam A Lau trail.  Also in the Crooked River Day Use Area.  You can pretend to be prey by gently dropping a small piece of stick and watch them kick the sand out to knock the prey down into the bottom of the cone.  Please be respectful of park wildlife and do not step on or destroy the traps.  Ant lions do not typically bite humans but they can if they are scared.

Cove Kayak Tour Flyer

Perseid Meteor Shower


It’s time for the annual Perseid Meteor Shower light show. This show will burst into light as the Earth passes through the tail of Comet Swift-Tuttle. Between July 17th and August 24th you can find front row seats for this astronomical wonder. Picture icy balls of space debris (meteoroids) hurtling through the sky at hundreds of miles per hour. As they reach Earth’s atmosphere they burn up and streak across the night sky; much to the wonder and delight of the humans below. But this year isn’t just any year. In 2016 the Perseids will be in “outburst,” which means that they will appear at twice the rate – that’s right folks, at the peak on August 12 you may see as many as 200 falling stars an hour. It hasn’t been this incredible since 2009!

This map shows the radiant of the Perseid meteor shower from the constellation Perseus in the northeastern sky during the meteor display on August 12, 2015.  The Perseids appear to radiate out from a point on the border of constellations Perseus and Cassiopeia.  Credit:  Sky & Telescope Magazine Illustration

Comet Swift-Tuttle is the largest object known to repeatedly pass by Earth; its nucleus is about 16 miles (26 kilometers) wide. It last passed nearby Earth during its orbit around the sun in 1992, and the next time will be in 2126. But it isn’t out of sight, out of mind, because Earth passes through the dust and debris it leaves behind every year, creating the annual Perseid meteor shower.

The key to seeing a good meteor shower is to find a dark, wide open sky with few trees to block the view. Prepare to sit outside for a few hours.  Bringing a comfortable lawn or camp chair, a warm blanket and some hot chocolate make it much more fun.  It takes thirty to forty-five minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark; the longer you are outside, the more you’ll see. Don’t turn on flashlights or lanterns with white light, it will diminish your night vision.  If you need light, cover your lens with red cellophane.   Then sit back, relax and wait… A rate of 150 meteors per hour, for instance, means two to three meteors per minute, including faint streaks along with bright, fireball-generating ones that are truly ooh & ahh-inspiring.

If you are camping at The Cove, try looking on the Crooked River side of the park up high.  Find a spot facing Mt. Jefferson, it is particularly awesome if the Island is in between, looking west and enjoy!  If anyone gets great pictures they’d like to share, we’d love to talk to you.  Contact Ranger Erin Bennett 541-546-3412 x 229 or erin.bennett@oregon.gov



Algae Update at Lake Billy Chinook

Health Advisory Lifted – New water monitoring has confirmed that the level of blue-green algae toxins are below guideline values for human exposure.  It is safe to boat/swim in the Crooked, Deschutes and Metolius River Arms of Lake Billy Chinook at this time.

The Oregon Health Authority recommends that people continue to be cautious with their pets in the lake because toxins are still above the very low exposure levels established for dogs. (Health Advisories may still be in effect at Perry South)

Round Butte Dam and the Selective Water Withdrawal Tower. Photo by Greg McMillan.

Why is the lake green?

The term “Algae” refers to a broad scope of organisms.  Algae can range from the microscopic single celled organisms that can be floating in a lake, to large seaweed plants that are found in the ocean, like Giant Kelp.  Your common lake variety of algae is known as green algae.  (This is different from the toxic blue-green algae, which is actually a form of bacteria known as Cyanobacteria, that can make some people and animals sick.)

Single celled Green Algae, photo credit http://www.algae.info

Green algae is the single cell variety of green algae that most commonly turns Lake Billy Chinook green.  These tiny little micro-organisms live off of the nutrients in the lake and use the sunlight to photosynthesize, much like the plants and trees above the water.  These little organisms contain large amounts of “chlorophyll,” which is a pigment that makes all plants green.  (Chlorophyll is the essential pigment that allows plants to photosynthesize sunlight into food.)

Green Algae in Lake Billy Chinook

When the weather and the water temperature warm up, typically in late spring or early summer,  the entire lake can resemble a huge pot of split pea soup.  This occurs when the number of algae organisms begin to reproduce at an astounding rate.  These algae are able to reproduce because there is an excess of nutrients found in the water.  The algae can become thick and doesn’t smell very good.  Algal blooms are a naturally occurring phenomenon, and are essential to the overall health of the lake.  This excess bloom of plant life provides tons of food for other microorganisms and fish.


The Cove Rattler


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