A stately bull elk in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Photo by Kathy Callan
The recent killing of Hwange National Park’s beloved icon, Cecil the Lion, has brought to mind a number of outrageous poaching incidents that occurred right here in California—all of them inside national parks, state parks, or wildlife refuges.
Author with one of three orphaned black bear cubs, circa 1981. Photo courtesy of author
One of the more disheartening, sometimes discouraging, aspects of a wildlife officer’s job is dealing with injured, orphaned, or imprinted wildlife that cannot be released back into the wild. Wildlife rehabilitation facilities, most of them operated by dedicated volunteers, are generally equipped to care for birds and small mammals, but not for large potentially dangerous carnivores such as bears, mountain lions, and exotic big cats.
It was a thrill and a great honor to recently receive the “Best Outdoor Magazine Column” award from the Outdoor Writers Association of California for the second year in a row. It was an added honor to win a first-place award for an article I wrote entitled “America Needs Parks Now More Than Ever.”
One of the many incredible rock formations within Joshua Tree National Park. Photo by author
In late April, before summer set in, Kathy and I decided to spend a few days in the land of blistering sands and sharp thorns. I had worked in the California desert during my early years with the California Department of Fish and Game and remain captivated by the incredible diversity of plants and animals that flourish in this seemingly barren landscape.