Articles

Sunny, the Pioneer Llama

Eric's first attempt at publishing anything chronicles his 1979 trek across Sierras and climbing Mt. Whitney with his llama, Sunny. The story shared in earning the prestigious Maggie and National Headliner Awards for Best Tabloid in 1980.

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Robert Heinlein

With 10,000,000 books in print, Robert Heinlein is one of the most successful Sci-fi writers & a maverick freethinker.

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The Captors

Wildlife managers successfully live-capture elk & bighorn sheep, relocating them throughout California.

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Ships of the Andes

The great ancient Andean cultures depended on successful raising of domestic Llamas & alpacas in a way of life.

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Parque Nacional Lauca: Northern Chile's Amazing Camelid Refuge

Parque Nacional de Lauca is the premiere national park in the Andes to see all four species of south American camels (vicuna, guanaco, Ilama & alpaca) in a single park. The park is also rich in Andean wildlife: flamingos, Andean mountain cat, viscachas etc.

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The Islands of Australia


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Land of Five Cats
(Pacific Discovery)


The Cockscomb Basin in southern Belize is home to five wild cat species living side by side. Each cat has its own niche in a rainforest environment.

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Broken Bones - Unbroken Spirit: Illimani's Story
(Camelid Quarterly)


I’ve been raising llamas and alpacas since 1976. In the spring of 2011, I brought three guanacos home. This is a story about one of them, our male guanaco, Illimani. Illimani means “beautiful mountain” in Aymara, one of the native languages of the Peruvian highlands.

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Man Eaters

A resurgence of Australia's aggressive Saltwater crocodiles stimulates a national debate and new innovative management.

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Guanaco Communication

Guanacos communicate using broadside displays, ear & tail positioning, scent & a surprisingly wide repertoire of vocalizations.

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Australia's Saltwater Crocodiles: A Threat or a Promise?

With the help of solid science Australians respond to managing the ferocious Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porous) in a way that increases crocodile habitat while making the waterways safer for people. The article includes a separate profile, "Home on the Swamp with Grahame Webb." At the time the article was written  Dr.Webb, was the leading crocodile scientist in Australia whose management ideas influenced decision makers on the final management plan.

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Paradoxes of the Platypus

The platypus is bundle of paradoxes. Covered with fir, it has a bill filled with electro-receptors to help it find crustaceans hiding on river bottoms.

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New Guinea Welcoming Committee

The Stearns brothers kayak New Guinea's wild Sepik River, a world of beguiling beauty (exotic birds, rare animals, pristine rainforests, & isolated villages) and challenges: distrustful natives, a broken kayak, clouds of mosquitos and meager rations.

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The Galapagos – a Primeval Paradise

Eric discusses the uniqueness of the famous Galapagos and the conservation challenges brought on by the onslaught of nature tourism.

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Madagascar Extinction

As Madagascar's human population explodes, the island country's unique animals face extinction.

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Chaku: Capturing the Golden Fleece

Peru's Chaku program provides financial incentives to highland villagers for protecting wild vicunas from poachers.

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Tule Elk

How 19th century California cattle baron Henry Miller saved the Tule elk.

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Best Vet

Eric writes a profile describing the unique life of Professor Murray Fowler DVM for the Sunday Magazine in the San Francisco Examiner. Seven years later Eric and Murray co-author The Alpaca Book.

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Animal Parenting

Diverse parenting styles all focus on insuring the survival of their young.

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Saving the Bighorn

Using helicopters and net traps, wildlife managers attempt to increase the number of Bighorn Sheep by relocating them back into the Sierras.

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Comeback of South Georgia

After being depleted by 19th century whalers & sealers, frigid South Georgia is once again exploding with wildlife: pinnipeds, penguins, albatross and several varieties of whales churn the waters just offshore.

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Wild Hogs in the Forest

Hybrid feral/wild pig populations have exploded across California. As they spread, native species diminish.

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Guanacos, the Forgotten Camelid

Guanacos, the often forgotten South American camelid, is amazingly resilient and a source for valuable fiber.

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Most Fearsome Croc Making a Comeback



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Camel Trek

Eric Hoffman joins adventuresome Aussies on a camel-trek through the Flinders Range in South Australia.

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Master of the Merlin

Bill Lee, the legendary sailboat manufacturer, revolutionizes Transpac sailboat racing with ultra-light displacement boats.

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Ethics and Animal Breeding

In the race to create the perfect example of a breed competitive animals breeders sometimes forget the first goal is to produce a healthy animal, free of defects.

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Women for a Wild Belize

In Central America where men run most things, these women influence conservation efforts.

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Protecting the Golden Fleece

Guided by Alfonzo Martinez, the Peruvian government, institutes vicuna chakus, an ancient Incan method of animal capture, shearing & release.

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(about Sharon Matola)
International Wildlife


Sharon Matola started a unique zoo that has become beacon for conservation education in Central America.

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Parrot Pranksters

The Kea, New Zealand's alpine parrot, is perhaps the most intelligent & mischievous bird in the world.

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The Rigors of Screening Alpaca in Peruvian Highlands

While evaluating alpacas for a British alpaca registry Eric Hoffman & Pat Long DVM face trials working at 16,000', menacing dogs, cold, and meager rations, while enjoying the stark beauty of the remotest Peruvian highlands.

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Llamas a Light-footed Alternative

This is one of the first of many articles by Eric to popularize llamas as pack animals in North America.

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Escaping a Wildfire: A nightmare for llama and alpaca owners

This first person account describes abandoning a ranch while frantically moving 60 llamas and alpacas out of the way of a raging forest fire. With animal rescue professionals held out of the area because of the fast moving fire locals made the difference and rescued all the animals.

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Preparing for Forest Fires

Thoughts on how to prepare a farm for a forest fire.

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Bloody Dishonest

Australian wheat farmers are angry that government-subsidized American crops undercut them in the world market place.

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World Class Arboretum

UCSC Chancellor Dean McHenry & professor Ray Collet start a world class arboretum with a non-existent budget. This is the story of passion trumping budgetary constraints.

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Saving the Peregrine

In the 1980s Peregrine falcons, the fastest of all predators, were headed towards extinction in California due to egg-shell-thinning DDT. Project manager Brian Walton, working on the UCSC campus, reverses the trend by hand rearing Peregrines and releasing them into the wild.

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Some Thoughts for the Push for Breed Standards

Breed standards are often talked about and valued in pedigree dogs and other domestic animals. When the push for breed standards became an issue in the alpaca community Eric struck cautionery note by pointing out more than 1,500 genetic defects have been catalogued in pedigree dog breeds primarily due to squeezing the diversity out of a gene pool in the name of breed purity or a tightly defined "look."

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Paca Power

Created in 1989 by Eric Hoffman and Susan Stackhouse, The Alpaca Registry in North America was the first camelid registry in the world with mandatory scientific verification (blood typing/DNA) for lineage verification. The registry also included a screening provision that would serve to improve the quality of imported animals after the registry was closed. The registry separated alpaca & Ilama populations in the US and improved the quality of alpacas in North America. Written in 1990 this article captures the beginning of a new form of livestock in North America.

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Ghost of the Condor

Noel Snyder PhD and a team of ornithologists and students overcome tremendous odds to save the California Condor from extinction.

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Monarchs Moving Out

Monarchs are both one off the most beautiful and mysterious butterflies. They choose to over-winter in trees along the Monterey Bay coast. Their ability to fly as far north as Canada and return to specific tree is not clearly understood.

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Eccentric Echidna

Echidnas are the other egg laying mammal in Ausralia. It's design and survival strategy is as bizarre as its aquatic cousin, the Platypus.

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Raising Alpacas in Mountain Lion Country

Mountain lions are increasing throughout the western United States, which brings new challenges to people raising livestock where they exist. In this story Eric describes the outcome of the loss of most of an alpaca herd to a mountain lion and the strategies in deterrring furhter attacks.

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Raising Alpacas in Mountain Lion Country: Part II

This article further explores mountain lion behavior (including the differences betweent mountain lions hunting preferences) and how to design fencing and shelters to deter mountain lions along with strategies that include guard dogs and the use of radios.  The emphasis is developing defensive strategies the preclude an actual attack.

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An Estate in Bonny Doon

Bill Cunningham built an Arts and Crafts house on a large chunk of land overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He exaggerated the style with outrageous free-flowing exterior stone work & an impressive interior finish.

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Man's Best Friend May Be Your Livestock's Worst Enemy

This article examines the mayhem and destruction suffered by dogs attacking livestock and poultry. The article identifies which dog breeds are usually culpable and supplies data to show that dogs, more than wild predators, destroy more livestock than the wild predators combined in many parts of the US. Legal remedies and weaknesses  in existing laws is also discussed.

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Escape From the Zoo

This article captures th beginnning years of llama and alpaca business in the United States and emphasizes how the llama led the way until alpacas were imported from South America.

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Class Glass

John Forbes has been my neighbor for 40 years in Bonny Doon. When I wrote this article in l981 about his innovative work in art glass he was recognized internationally  for making a rigid medium into a fluild one. 33 years later John is still leading the way.

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The Incomparable Platypus

Article integrates the thoughts of leading mammalogists and paleontologist involved in understanding the 100 million year old platypus and its many peculiarities.

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Land of the Jaguars



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Monterey Bay's Marine Mammals: What does the future hold?

The article celebrates the amazing diversity in Monterey Bay and hope and concerns the future holds for these animals.              

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Accent on Speed: Ultra Lights of Santa Cruz

Historical: recounts when Santa Cruz was a mecca for ultra-light displacement boat builders.

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A Raptor Rebounds

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Guardians of our Water

Scientists take on hardship and risk to assure San Francisco’s sewage enters the Pacific with minimal impact.

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Hog HiJinks

Feral pigs threaten agriculture & the environment.

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Half-pint Predator Battles for Survival

Story chronicles the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Group’s success in breeding the Elf owl, a tiny predator whose adult weight is less than two ounces!

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Duck it's a Pelican

Story captures reaction to questionable management recommendations by the department of Fish & Game for Elkhorn Slough and reaction from the conservation minded citizens who eventually changed policy to provide more protection of migratory birds.

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For the Love of Llamas

This article celebrates the surge of interest in llamas in l970s and explains both who is involved in promoting them and why people are attracted to them.

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Saving the Steelhead

Loggers and conservationists join forces in an attempt to create sizeable populations of Steelhead and salmon in streams where they were once plentiful along the California coast.

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The McCrary's of Swanton

The McCrary family first settled in the forests near Davenport in the 1840s when grizzly bears were still common. Today's McCrary's are stewards of the forest both as leading conservationists and advocates of selective harvesting as loggers.

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Capturing the Land Time Forgot

This  is both  at a pictorial appreciation of the Galapagos by world renowned wildlife photographer Frans Lanting and a profile of Lanting who explains the challenges of wildlife photography.

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Shawnee O'Neill

Shawne O'Neill adds to the O'Neill water sports legacy by mastering windsurfing and competing internationally.

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South America's Camels

.

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The Comeback Camelid



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