Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Open Season Threatens the Extinction of Deer

A New York state hunter could only kill only one deer per season, which had to be a male buck with antlers. Starting in 1919, a hunter could kill two deer, including a male buck or a female doe. Would that decimate the animal’s population?

Even some hunters were opposed to the new law, for that very reason:

Most of the real sportsmen were opposed to allowing does to be shot, for they well knew that if the does were killed off, it would not be long before the last deer would be gathered in from the Adirondacks. But the demands of promiscuous hunters had sway. The law was passed.

Those fears didn’t come to pass. In fact, the opposite occurred.

In 1919, a census found there were “not more than 50,000 deer in New York State.” But by 2018, there were about 1 million. Hunters kill about a quarter-million deer in the state each year, including 227,787 in 2018. Yet the animal’s population has remained roughly steady.

As Oak Duke wrote for the Evening Tribune in upstate New York:

Long gone is the attitude of 50 years ago when there were few deer compared to now. A sighting, let alone a successful hunt, was more of a rarity. Now deer have become ubiquitous, a common sight, if not a serious bother to motorists, farmers, and outdoors recreationists worried about ticks.

 

Open Season Threatens the Extinction of Deer: Hunters Permitted by New Law to Kill Does as Well as Bucks–Quail Still Protected, but Fight for End of Restrictions Is in Prospect (PDF)

Published: Sunday, November 16, 1919

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Written by Jesse

November 16th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

National Menace of Our Depleted Forests

The hit country song Wagon Wheel, written in 1973, begins with the lyric “Headed down south to the land of the pines.”

Not exactly. A 1919 headline warned “Supplies of Southern Pine Likely to be Exhausted in Ten Years.” Today, only 3% of the supply remains.

Smithsonian Magazine interviewed Chuck Hemard, author of the 2018 book “The Pines,” about what allowed any of the Southern pines to remain, rather than going completely extinct. His answer: that the remaining pines were essentially an ecological afterthought.

Despite deforestation, many of the remaining longleaf pines you feature in your book have survived hundreds years. What do you think help accounted for their survival?

Because they’re literally remnants or leftovers, meaning at the time many of these logging sites had trees left on them that were either undesirable as merchantable timber, or located geographically on a spot that was hard to log.

 

National Menace of Our Depleted Forests: Supplies of Southern Pine Likely to be Exhausted in Ten Years, and Program of Conservation Is Needed to Protect Country and Its Industries (PDF)

Published: Sunday, May 11, 1919

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Written by Jesse

May 9th, 2019 at 12:07 pm

Posted in Nature

Blossom Time in January New York, 1919

The current polar vortex has caused temperatures to hit record lows or near-lows across much of the country, including -60° F with the wind chill in Minnesota. But 100 years ago this week, the exact opposite was happening:

For two weeks, said the [Weather Bureau] statistician last Wednesday, the average temperature has been 39 degrees. The normal temperature for March is 38 degrees. So at the end of January we were just on the verge of entering into April. It may be remembered that on Jan. 1 temperature was 50 degrees. That is four degrees above the normal temperature for a day in the middle of April.

 

Surely global warming deniers will point to the fact that temperatures were significantly warmer a century ago this week as proof that global warming is a hoax. But in the words of Stephen Colbert:

Blossom Time in January New York, 1919: Somehow the Weather Man Got His Dates Mixed This Winter, and the Trees Began to Bud Two Months Ahead Their Schedule (PDF)

Published: Sunday, February 2, 1919

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Written by Jesse

January 31st, 2019 at 1:41 pm

Posted in Nature

Hunters in Autos Exterminating Big Game

The relatively new invention of the automobile was producing unforeseen consequences for hunters. William T. Hornaday, director of the New York Zoological Park, thought that lawmakers should ban the practice:

“There is not the slightest doubt,” he said, “that if things are allowed to remain for the next three years as they have been during the last three, there will be no wild game left excepting wolves and coyotes, skunk, and weasels.” This deplorable state of things is due, according to Mr. Hornaday, to crude and ineffective game laws, which allow ridiculously liberal bag limits, open seasons which are nothing less than exterminatory, the use of automatic and pump guns, and worst of all, the automobile: swift, silent, and terrible in its efficacy as a destroying agent.

Today, New York state law says “It is illegal to take or hunt wildlife while in or on a motor vehicle,” according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. When exactly this law was passed, and whether or not it was passed shortly after this article, I couldn’t easily ascertain.

Hunters in Autos Exterminating Big Game: Unless Law Prevents Slaughter by “Sportsmen” in Motor Cars Our Wild Game Will Disappear, Says William T. Hornaday (PDF)

Published Sunday, April 1, 1917

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Written by Jesse

April 6th, 2017 at 2:54 pm

River of Doubt Now on Brazil’s Official Maps

In 1914, Theodore Roosevelt — at that point a former U.S. president — trekked upon a previously unmapped tributary of the Amazon River in Brazil. To honor his heroism, Brazil officially named the Rio Duvida (or River of Doubt) the Rio Roosevelt. Did the new name last to the present day? Yes it has.

River of Doubt Now on Brazil’s Official Maps (PDF)

From Sunday, March 4, 1917

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Written by Jesse

March 12th, 2017 at 6:56 am

Posted in Adventure,Nature

Scenic Surgery for “Old Man of Mountains”

From October 8, 1916

scenic-surgery-for-old-man-of-mountains

Scenic Surgery for “Old Man of Mountains” — Forehead of Famous Profile on Mount Cannon, New Hampshire, Has Been Secured by Bolts to Prevent It from Tumbling Into Space (PDF)

The famed natural formation that many believed look like the silhouette of a man was at risk of collapsing in 1916, so work was done to secure it. The inevitable was delayed by 87 years, with the formation eventually collapsing in 2003. Here are before and after photos, taken by Jim Cole of the Associated Press:

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Written by Jesse

October 6th, 2016 at 5:49 pm

Posted in Nature

Humidity This Summer Has Broken Record

From August 13, 1916

Humidity This Summer

Humidity This Summer Has Broken Record: It’s a Notable Contrast to Just a Century Ago, Which Was “The Year Without a Summer,” When Snow Fell in June (PDF)

Ah, the days before global warming and the climate crisis.

James H. Scarr, then the head of the New York Weather bureau, stated in 1916: “The highest average mean temperature for July occurred in 1901, and was 78 degrees. The coolest July within this period of forty-five years was in 1884, when the average was 70 degrees.” If only that was still true. AccuWeather data shows that the average mean temperature in July in New York City is about 82 degrees — higher than ever the highest average ever recorded in the city a century ago.

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Written by Jesse

August 11th, 2016 at 1:39 pm

Posted in Nature

Do Sharks Attack Humans Only When Crazed?

From July 30, 1916

Do Sharks

A full 59 years before Jaws created a generation of terrorized beachgoers, people were worried about sharks and the possibility of being attacked. In fact, the fear should go the other way around, seeing as sharks kill about 10 humans a year but humans kill about 20 million sharks a year. So to answer the title question: do sharks only attack when crazed. NOAA says they actually mostly attack humans when mistaking us for their typical prey like sea turtles or marine mammals.

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Written by Jesse

July 28th, 2016 at 5:36 pm

Posted in Adventure,Nature

Mount McKinley Three Weeks from New York

From July 23, 1916

Mount McKinley

Mount McKinley Three Weeks from New York: New Railroad Will Pass Great Mountain, a Part of Extensive National Park, Which Congress Has Been Asked to Create (PDF)

The mountain had been colloquially referred to as Mount McKinley since 1896 and had clearly achieved widespread usage by this article’s publication in 1916, becoming the official name one year later in 1917. But indigenous Alaskans had long called it Mount Denali and never stopped doing so. Last September, President Obama announced that the name would once again officially become Mount Denali, in accordance with the wishes of most native Alaskans.

As was to be expected in this day and age, Obama’s set of a firestorm of controversy, with Republicans claiming this was political correctness gone amok and an intentional attempt to undermine a mountain named after a Republican president. Donald Trump has vowed to change the name back to McKinley if elected president.

Another notable tidbit from that article: the reference to “James Wickersham, the Delegate from Alaska in Congress.” Alaska didn’t become a state until 1959, so back in 1916 they had a Delegate much as the District of Columbia or Puerto Rico does today.

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Written by Jesse

July 24th, 2016 at 2:20 pm

Carrier Pigeons an Aid to Preparedness

From July 16, 1916

Carrier Pigeons

Carrier Pigeons an Aid to Preparedness: Europe’s War Has Shown That Homing Birds Often Beat Aeroplanes and the Wireless in Carrying Military Dispatches (PDF)

As the sub-headline suggests, 1916 was an era where a bird could be counted on as more reliable and speedier than “aeroplanes” or “the wireless.” Today, of course, with supersonic jets and instant communication worldwide via the Internet and other digital devices, that is no longer true. The U.S. military stopped using messenger pigeons in 1957. Yet the NYT article estimates that 18,000 such pigeons were being used in France alone during 1916.

The author even suggests that readers mobilize to help out in the war effort, not by rationing food or donating war bonds as were the most typical methods, but by training carrier pigeons yourself:

And you, the reader, may take part in such a nation-wide scheme of preparedness by raising and training your own homing pigeons and holding them ready for the service of the military authorities in time of war or your community in time of peace. On every motor trip you can take a few pigeons and fly them back home from various distances, or any friend in a distant town will delight in flying them to you and telegraphing the moment of release. Express companies on all railroads carry crates at low cost, and I have uniformly found their agents courteous and willing to release the birds on arrival and to ship back the empty crates.

I wouldn’t count on agent being as “courteous and willing to release the birds on arrival” in this day and age.

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Written by Jesse

July 16th, 2016 at 5:05 pm

America’s Switzerland; Three Days From New York

From September 17, 1911

AMERICA'S SWITZERLAND; THREE DAYS FROM NEW YORK

AMERICA’S SWITZERLAND; THREE DAYS FROM NEW YORK: A Traveler’s Tale of the Beauties of the Canadian Rockies Where Comparatively Few Americans Go (PDF)

The Canadian Rockies remain a great place to go on vacation. I went last year, spending a week or so in and around Banff, Alberta. A Google Image Search for Banff will show you some of its beauty. There’s a lot of great hiking, it’s easy to reach, not very expensive, and not too crowded.

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Written by David

September 14th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Martians Build Two Immense Canals In Two Years

From August 27, 1911

MARTIANS BUILD TWO IMMENSE CANALS IN TWO YEARS

MARTIANS BUILD TWO IMMENSE CANALS IN TWO YEARS: Vast Engineering Works Accomplished in an Incredibly Short Time by Our Planetary Neighbors — Wonders of the September Sky. (PDF)

Percival Lowell was a smart astronomer. He was the first person to build his observatory in a remote location away from city lights, at the top of a high mountain. Lowell picked Flagstaff, Arizona as the location for his observatory. I lived in Flagstaff for four years in college and the observatory is one of Flagstaff’s really big claims to fame because Pluto was discovered there in 1930 (14 years after Lowell’s death).

Anyway, Lowell was a smart guy. He also believed there was life on Mars. He was convinced that lines on the planet’s surface were canals, and when he observed some changes in the appearance of these canals, he concluded that somehow the martians had quickly built these enormous canals 20 miles wide and a thousand miles long.

Mary Proctor wrote this article summarizing Lowell’s findings, and also describing some of the planets people might see in the sky in September.

I love that this stuff appeared in the New York Times Magazine.

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Written by David

August 25th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Nature,Science

Pasteur Expert Sounds Warning Against Pet Dogs

From August 27, 1911

PASTEUR EXPERT SOUNDS WARNING AGAINST PET DOGS

PASTEUR EXPERT SOUNDS WARNING AGAINST PET DOGS: Woman and Children Especially in Danger of Possible Hydrophobia Through Carelessly Fondling Household Pets — Tuberculosis, Scarlet Feber, and Other Diseases May Be Transmitted. (PDF)

Well, that’s a pretty scary headline. Turns out that the expert is pretty much just concerned about rabies (referred to as “hydrophobia” because one symptom of rabies is a fear of water). He does mention those other diseases, but, well, just read it yourself:

“Almost any of the contagious diseases may be conveyed by either dogs or cats, although dogs, because of their peculiar habits and their tendency to caress with their affectionate tongues the persons whom they love are much more dangerous than cats. Tuberculosis, scarlet fever, measles, diphtheria — all of these and many more diseases may be conveyed from dogs to humans in this way. I don’t wish to go on record as pronouncing that they are, to any large extent, but I do say that such transfer is a possibility…”

The Centers for Disease Control has a list of diseases you can get from dogs. But they also point out that pet ownership has health benefits.

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Written by David

August 24th, 2011 at 11:00 am

Posted in Life,Nature

Have You Ever Seen A Blue Rose? A Horticultural Problem

From July 30, 1911

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A BLUE ROSE? A HORTICULTURAL PROBLEM

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A BLUE ROSE? A HORTICULTURAL PROBLEM: Many Varieties of the Queen of Flowers Created in a Century, but Blue Roses Still Elusive. (PDF)

This article gives a nice background on the history of roses as a coveted flower, and then gets into the matter of a blue rose.

A blue rose is held to be about the hardest thing in the flower-growing world to attain…

It can’t be done by any chemical process, of course. Any one rose can easily be made blue, but there is no known way of treating the soil in which a bush grows so as to change the color of all its flowers, and even if there were such a way the progeny of the roses would revert to the ancestral type. The blue rose is to be obtained — if it ever is attained — by combining roses of different colors and using the most promising as parents for a newer and bluer race.

There has been a pale lavenderish-blue rose produced by a German grower, but it is not by any means a true blue.

Well, that problem vexed growers for another 100 years until a Japanese company proclaimed that after twenty years of research and three billion yen, they genetically engineered a blue rose. Well, I guess it’s sort of blue. To me it looks like a pale lavenderish-blue, not by any means a true blue.

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Written by David

July 25th, 2011 at 9:00 am

Posted in Nature,Science

For The Sightseer In New York: “There’s The Aquarium”

From July 16, 1911

FOR THE SIGHTSEER IN NEW YORK: THERE'S THE AQUARIUM

FOR THE SIGHTSEER IN NEW YORK: “THERE’S THE AQUARIUM”: Some Interesting Features, Human and Piscine, to Be Found at the Battery Park Establishment on a Sunday Afternoon. (PDF)

Amusing look at the personalities of people and animals that one can find at the city’s aquarium back when it was still in Battery Park.

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Written by David

July 13th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Life,Nature,Recreation

The American Student Acquiring A Uniform Face

From July 9, 1911

THE AMERICAN STUDENT ACQUIRING A UNIFORM FACE

THE AMERICAN STUDENT ACQUIRING A UNIFORM FACE: Mayor Gaynor’s Statement to That Effect Starts a Discussion — A Distinct American College Type Being Developed, Unlike the European University Man (PDF)

The two faces in the middle of the page are composites of 25 boys and 25 girls, to create the “typical” student face. In modern times, this has been done digitally to interesting effects. I wonder if this is the earliest known example of such a composite.

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Written by David

July 7th, 2011 at 11:30 am

Seventeen-Year Locusts Here; Moths Even Worse

From May 28, 1911

SEVENTEEN-YEAR LOCUSTS HERE; MOTHS EVEN WORSE

SEVENTEEN-YEAR LOCUSTS HERE; MOTHS EVEN WORSE: Cicada Army Not the Most Destructive of Our Pests — How, thanks to Ineffective Laws, We Yearly Import Creatures That Cost Us Millions — Despite All Efforts Moths Steadily Increase. (PDF)

I don’t have time to write more comments on this article because I’m a brand new dad and need to focus on that for a bit. But please feel free to read the article and make your own comments.

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Written by David

May 26th, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Posted in Nature,Science

A Great Sixty-Inch Reflector Which Photographs The Stars

From May 21, 1911

A GREAT SIXTY-INCH REFLECTOR WHICH PHOTOGRAPHS THE STARS

A GREAT SIXTY-INCH REFLECTOR WHICH PHOTOGRAPHS THE STARS: Wonderful Instrument Erectred by the Carnegie Institution at Mount Wilson, California. (PDF)

The rest of this post is unwritten because I’m a brand new dad and need to focus on that for a bit. But please feel free to read the article and make your own comments.

2 comments

Written by David

May 17th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Nature,Science

Apes Who Entertain At The Zoo

From May 14, 1911

APES WHO ENTERTAIN AT THE ZOO

APES WHO ENTERTAIN AT THE ZOO (PDF)

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Written by David

May 11th, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Entertainment,Nature

Mrs. Belmont Training Girls To Be Agriculturists

From May 14, 1911

MRS. BELMONT TRAINING GIRLS TO BE AGRICULTURISTS

MRS. BELMONT TRAINING GIRLS TO BE AGRICULTURISTS: Nine of Them in Overalls Learning ‘How to Become Farmers and Landscape Gardeners on Her Estate at Hempstead, and They Are Only the Advance Guard. (PDF)

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Written by David

May 10th, 2011 at 10:00 am