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Coyotes-Wolves-Cougars.blogspot.com

Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Occasionally, common sense weighs heavy against special interests with "the needs of the many, outweighing the needs of the few" -----We saw this actually occur in North Carolina on Thursday with Federal District Judge Terrence Boyle reversing the decision by the USFW Service that would have removed virtually all of the remaining 50 Red Wolves from the wild, putting them in zoos..............."Boyle’s decision comes several weeks after federal officials announced plans to reduce the wolves’ territory starting in 2017 to a federal wildlife refuge and adjacent land in Dare County, rather than the wolves’ current five-county territory"..........From my perch, the next step should be introducing a large enough Red Wolf population into that 5 county region so that the wolves will have enough of their own kind to mate with rather than "shacking up" with coyotes...................And simultaneously, find two or three additional locations up and down the Appalachian Spine where there would be further Red Wolf rewilding instituted during the next 12 months..............Lets stop talking and and actually go to work reviving this trophic carnivore as the Endangered Species Act calls for.

http://www.toledoblade.com/Nation/2016/09/29/Federal-judge-sides-with-conservationists-in-red-wolf-f

Federal judge sides with

 conservationists in red wolf fight

Says U.S. government has failed

 to protect

 the world's only wild population






A judge said that federal wildlife officials have failed to protect the world’s only wild population of red wolves in a preliminary ruling that restricts the government’s ability to remove the animals from private property.











U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle’s preliminary injunction released today stops wildlife officials from removing the wolves from private property unless they can show that the wolves are threatening humans, pets or livestock.
Boyle also said conservation groups are likely to succeed at trial in showing that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has violated the Endangered Species Act in its handling of the dwindling red wolf population.
Boyle wrote that plaintiffs have demonstrated that the wildlife service’s actions “fail to adequately provide for the protection of red wolves and may in fact jeopardize the population’s survival in the wild.”
Red-Wolves-injunction
A federal judge's injunction stops wildlife officials from removing red wolves from private property unless they can show that the wolves are threatening humans, pets or livestock.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
Conservationists have argued that the federal government twice gave landowners permission to kill wolves on private property without meeting the strict legal requirements since 2014. One wolf was shot as a result.
Lawyers representing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say conservationists are misinterpreting regulations that give federal officials wide leeway to remove animals humanely or authorize lethal means. They say that any removals are done after thorough reviews of each case. It’s generally illegal to kill the wolves without permission.
Conservation groups hailed Boyle’s decision as an important step to preserve a recovery program that has been maligned by landowners and state government officials. Some property owners complain the red wolves cause problems when they roam onto private land.
“We believe this ruling will give red wolves a fighting chance and force the Fish and Wildlife Service to conserve the species,” said Sierra Weaver, a lawyer who has led the litigation for the Southern Environmental Law Center.
The wildlife service issued a statement that it’s reviewing the judge’s order with its lawyers and declined further comment.
Once common around the Southeast, the red wolf had been considered extinct in the wild as of 1980. Releases of captive-bred wolves started in 1987.
The only wild population, in North Carolina, grew to about 130 wolves in 2006 before experiencing sharp declines. The wild population is now about 45 wolves.











The federal government has also argued that the 200 or so red wolves living in captivity justify the wild wolves’ classification as a “nonessential” population.
Boyle’s decision comes several weeks after federal officials announced plans to reduce the wolves’ territory starting in 2017 to a federal wildlife refuge and adjacent land in Dare County, rather than the wolves’ current five-county territory. Wildlife officials have said that wolves straying beyond that shrunken territory would be captured and removed. The new plan is contingent on modifying current program rules after a public comment period.









But as long as Boyle’s injunction is in place, conservationists say that federal officials can’t execute their plan.
“Under this ruling they will not be able to remove non-problem wolves from the wild,” said Jason Rylander, senior attorney for Defenders of Wildlife, one of the groups that sued the federal government.
Boyle previously gave environmentalists a win in a separate case when he temporarily halted coyote hunting in the wolves’ territory, and he later approved a permanent agreement in 2014 banning nighttime coyote hunting in the five-county area. Conservationists say red wolves can easily be mistaken for coyotes by hunters.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A Little Background on Red Wolves
Thousands of magnificent red wolves once roamed across the southeastern United States north to Pennsylvania, helping to keep this part of the natural world in balance.  Smaller than gray wolves, red wolves weigh 50-85 pounds—about twice the size of a coyote. These social animals live in packs of five to eight animals consisting of a breeding adult pair and their offspring. Red wolves prey on a variety of wild mammals. Most active at dusk and dawn, red wolves are elusive and generally avoid people.
Why Red Wolves are Essential
  • Red wolves are good for landscapes: These small wolves likely play a critical role in maintaining the ecological balance in the Southeast.  As a top predator, they feed upon white-tailed deer, raccoons, rabbits, nutrias and other rodents (some of which are believed to be the carriers of Lyme disease.

  • Red wolves are part of America's natural heritage: Red wolves are only found in the US; they are our native wolves. Protecting them ensures a future for our kids in which our Nation's rich and diverse natural heritage thrives.
Why Red Wolves Need a Recovery Program
The red wolf is America's rarest wild canid. By the 1970s predator control programs and habitat loss had decimated their numbers to only remnant populations in Louisiana and Texas. After declaring the red wolf an engangered species in 1973, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) initiated a recovery program in an attempt to save the red wolf from extinction





 After capturing those that remained in the wild, only 14 were found to be pure red wolves. Subsequently, these animals became the founders of a successful captive breeding program. In 1987 the first red wolves were released into North Carolina’s Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. This program has become one of the most successful reintroductions of a large mammal in the world—their highest numbers reach approximately 130 red wolves living in the wild in 2009.
Today the only free-ranging population of red wolves lives in northeastern North Carolina on 1.7 million acres of public, private and state land. This area contains three national wildlife refuges (Alligator River NWR, Pocosin Lakes NWR and Mattamuskeet NWR) that provide important protection to the wolves. Another 200 red wolves remain in US-based zoological facilities as part of their red wolf breeding program.
Photo Credit: USFWS/A. Beyer
Red Wolves need us now!
Since 2009 when the red wolf populaton was at its peak, approximately 10% of the population has been lost annually, largely due to gunshot and trapping. In 2015, at least six wolves were lost to gunshot, trapping and suspected illegal take. And in a crippling blow to the program, the FWS has cut its funding.
Critical pieces to a successful red wolf recovery plan!
  • More reintroduction sites
  • More breeding of red wolves for reintroduction


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Less Deer mean more vibrant forest regeneration and a healthier remaining deer herd both in terms of size and reduced incidence of diseases like Chronic Wasting Disease(CWD)...........Over the past several years, Ohio Wildlife Managers have responded to the Ohio Farm Bureau demand for there to be a smaller herd due to crop damage inflicted by the "Bambi" herd.............. A quarter-million deer taken during both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 hunting seasons suggested that a good part of the landscape held too many whitetails............... "In fact, the large number of deer competing for nourishment was having a measurable effect on deer size as well as “quality” of bucks, studies indicated"................And even the now established Eastern Coyote population(in all 88 Ohio Counties without official state population estimates) and the returning Bobcat(and a handful of Black Bears) is not denting the Whitetails negative impact on woodland and farmland...............As Dr. Thomas Rooney states(Professor of Wildlife at Wright State University)-----"Historically, wolves and cougars preyed on deer year-round(in Ohio)"............... "(As) Wolves and cougars are now absent from the eastern United States(save Florida's 100 Pumas), Black bears, Bobcats and Eastern Coyotes typically prey on fawns but not as routeinely on adult animals"

https://www.google.com/url?rct=j&sa=t&url=http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/sports/2016/09/18/outdoors--deer-season-harvest-could-reach-200000.html&ct=ga&cd=CAEYACoUMTY0NTMwODYzNTE3NzE1OTMxODgyGmZjMjVkY2RmMTQyNDZkOTE6Y29tOmVuOlVT&usg=AFQjCNHIktNopuJELeIJ63AMMFnvG_xMLg


Outdoors | Ohio’s deer-season harvest could reach 200,000








Ironic humor might not be among things deer hunters expect to hear from a wildlife biologist approaching the cusp of the bow season.
Nonetheless.
“If you’re excited about the status quo,” said Mike Tonkovich, deer project leader for the Ohio Division of Wildlife, “you’ll be excited about this deer season.”
Not that the hunt doesn’t bring an authentic tingle. It’s more that Ohio deer, deer hunters and the wildlife division seem stuck in a holding pattern in terms of regulations, numbers and expectations.
After several years of jiggering deer zones, permit availability and season limits in order to knock down the deer population where needed and to increase numbers where desired, the 2016-17 deer season that begins Saturday with the kickoff of the archery hunt will, in many ways, be a reprise of last year.
For instance, while a hunter may take as many as six deer between the Sept. 24 opening day and the Feb. 5, 2017, final day of the bow season, individual Ohio counties are designated as four-, three- or two-deer counties.
In central Ohio, hunters may tag four deer in Franklin and Delaware counties, three in Licking and Union and two in Fairfield, Madison and Pickaway. To reach the six-deer annual total, hunters would have to take deer in a minimum of two counties, three if they hunt only in two-deer counties.
The use of antlerless permits continues to be limited. A single antlerless permit may be used in four-deer counties and in four northern Ohio counties with three-deer season limits. That breaks down in central Ohio as follows: Antlerless permits are not legal in Union, Licking, Fairfield, Pickaway and Madison. A single antlerless permit can be used before gun week in Franklin and Delaware counties.












Because of the recent regulatory tightening, moreover, deer populations in some counties have rebounded somewhat, Tonkovich said. As a result, the 2016-17 deer kill might increase as much as 5-10 percent from a year ago.
“That’s what we’re thinking,” he said.
Important variables, including weather during key hunting times, the size of the mast (nut) crop and hunter interest, are yet to be gauged and won’t really be apparent until the season gets underway, Tonkovich said.
Should the harvest forecast prove accurate, the 2016-17 kill would reach 200,000 whitetails give or take, a benchmark not reached since 218,910 deer were tagged during the 2012-13 hunt. The take was 188,239 last year, 175,801 in 2014-15 and 191,503 in 2013-14.
All those numbers indicate “we had achieved what we set out to do,” Tonkovich said.
What the wildlife managers wanted, at least partly in response to an Ohio Farm Bureau demand, was fewer deer in some areas. A quarter-million deer taken during both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 hunting seasons, coupled with numerous deer-damage complaints, strongly suggested that a good part of the landscape held too many whitetails.
In fact, the large number of deer competing for nourishment was having a measurable effect on deer size as well as “quality” of bucks, studies indicated.
The upward harvest trend suggested by this year’s forecast shouldn’t be interpreted as a signal that soon Ohio hunters again will be knocking down a quarter-million deer annually, Tonkovich said.
Efforts will continue to adjust regulations that keep the whitetail population at something like a happy medium for hunters as well as for those less than enthusiastic about the whitetail presence, he said.
The weeklong gun season runs Nov. 28-Dec. 4, and the weekend gun hunt will take place Dec. 17-18. The youth gun weekend is scheduled Nov. 19-20. The statewide muzzleloader hunt is set for Jan. 7-10.
The deer-hunting day begins 30 minutes before sunrise and ends 30 minutes after sunset.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

IMPACT OF COYOTES ON DEER POPULATION IN OHIO
It's difficult to measure the impact of coyote on the deer herd, said Hill. Some deer have learned how to ward off a coyote attack.













"A pack of coyotes can easily chase down an adult deer and attack its hind quarter, taking it to the ground," said Hill. "Deer simply can't run all out for very long. The stress of the chase results in 'capture myopathy,' which is like a heart attack.
"Rather than run from coyote, I've now seen a deer back up against a tree and hold its ground, not allowing coyotes to get behind it and attack its backside. Coyote are too smart to battle a deer and its sharp hooves face-to-face, even though a big male coyote can weigh more than 50 pounds."
Prange studied coyotes in Illinois before joining the Ohio Division of Wildlife. She was surprised coyotes were much larger in Ohio, averaging more than 40 pounds. She said coyotes have a surprisingly versatile diet. They kill rabbits, field mice and other rodents, but also eat vegetation and fruit, such as summertime berries. When the big pawpaws are ripe, they'll focus on that fruit in late summer and fall.
Prange also keeps an eye on bobcats and black bears, reporting both are doing well in Ohio. Bobcats disappeared in the heavily-farmed and timbered Ohio of the 1850s, but have been on the rebound over the last decade, or two.
"It's great bobcats could recover on their own," said Prange. "They're completely off the endangered list in Ohio, which is a good sign the habitat is healing. Strictly carnivores, bobcats eat smaller game, like rabbits and squirrels. They will feed on dead deer or deer gut piles in winter when food is in short supply."
Young black bear males often roam into Ohio from West Virginia or Pennsylvania, which has a statewide population of about 18,000 bruins and a hunting season that kills about 4,000 bears each year. Those young bruins are looking for a mate. After crossing highways and byways, stumbling through back yards, feeding in garbage cans and smashing bird feeders and beehives, they usually head back to their home state.
Every once in a while, a black bear has decided to stay. Prange estimates a few dozen black bears live year-round in the Buckeye State. Unlike the precocious young males with mating on their minds, resident black bears are rarely seen and will never be hunted
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjP9ZzZ77XPAhUFbhQKHdpTBZAQFghDMAY&url=http%3A%2F%2Fbeltmag.com%2Fis-ohio-ready-for-a-big-predator-comeback%2F&usg=AFQjCNFUaxF8gt4RtM95b8W91UiETwmLkQ&sig2=cye1bW6VYFLaVJV3BwZm_A


IS OHIO READY FOR A BIG PREDATOR COMEBACK?


By Matt Stansberry, Illustrations by David Wilson
On a desolate January night last year, as the snow fell in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, I got up from the dinner table, threw my cross-country skis in the car and headed to theTowpath Trail.
About a mile into the trip, I heard them, coyotes calling off to my right. They must have been very close. It could have been a pair of animals, or maybe a dozenn’t easy to come by in Northeast Ohio.
Just two coyotes howling together can sound like a large group, an evolutionary strategy to keep intruders guessing on the size of the pack. A single animal makes a variety of howls, barks, and yips. Also, the sound distorts as it carries through the woods, echoing back on itself, changing pitch to sound like multilayered, multianimal calls. Biologists call it the Beau Geste Effect.
















No one has assigned a number to the population in Northeast Ohio, but biologists assume it is large and growing. Native to the plains and deserts of the West, the coyotes have steadily migrated east across the North American continent, brilliant opportunists exploiting a range of habitats, including urban areas.
.The earliest documented coyote in Ohio was reported in 1919, and today they are everywhere, all 88 counties. “There was a time when there were no coyotes east of the Mississippi River,” said Suzi Prange, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s furbearer biologist. “We did two things – we extirpated the wolves and opened the forests. That’s why they were able to colonize the entire United States. They are the most persecuted animal in the country, and yet they still expand their range. You knock their populations down and they just have more pups. They are incredibly adaptable and will eat anything. You can’t stop them.
. Ohio State University Associate Professor and Wildlife Specialist Stanley Gehrt guesses about two people get bitten by coyotes in Ohio each year. Compare that to the nearly 4.5 million Americans that are bitten by dogs annually.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

An 8 year U. of Alberta study of the "Grizzly maze" death trap that is the Elk Valley in British Columbia, Canada reveals that the huckleberries and buffalo berries that grow in abundance here are luring the bears into human settlements where they are being hit by cars and railroad cars.........In fact, over the past 8 years, Griz numbers have crashed from 271 bears to 163...............Preserving more wild habitat and using electric fencing to route bears around human conflict points are suggestions being put forth to bring down the Griz death rates here

https://www.google.com/url?rct=j&sa=t&url=http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/too-many-grizzly-bears-seeking-berries-dying-in-british-columbia-study&ct=ga&cd=CAEYACoUMTczMzY4NzUwNTgwMTA2NTg5MjIyGjU2ZDFlN2YxOWU4Zjk5OTE6Y29tOmVuOlVT&usg=AFQjCNGqBgMCf9274QZnrR_OvZohFdzrYA

A study suggests hungry grizzly bears drawn to bountiful berry crops in southeastern British Columbia are dying in disturbing numbers.
The fruit the grizzlies want to eat is in the same Elk Valley area where lots of people live and work, so bears end up being hit by vehicles and trains or being killed by hunters and poachers.
Clayton Lamb, a University of Alberta researcher, said the combination of great habitat and human activity has captured the grizzlies in what amounts to an ecological trap.
“In the last eight years, we’ve lost 40 per cent of our grizzly bears in that area — that’s not normal,” said Lamb, whose findings are being published Tuesday in the Journal of Animal Ecology.
Years of data shows more bears keep moving from the rugged backcountry to the Elk Valley area to find a rich supply of huckleberries and buffalo berries.
A study suggests hungry grizzly bears drawn to bountiful berry crops in southeastern British Columbia are dying in disturbing numbers.
Once tempted to the region, bears tend to stick around. They prey on livestock, eat apples from orchards or nose through garbage.
That in turn can lead to conflicts with people, including bear attacks.
“We have a number of attacks in this region annually,” Lamb said from Fernie, B.C. “We had more than one last year within the span of a couple of weeks.”
He estimates that over an eight-year period the population of grizzlies in the larger South Rockies research region declined to 163 from 271 — a loss of 108 bears.
The survival rate in the “ecological trap” is even lower.
The study notes that about 12,000 people live in the Elk Valley region year-round, but each summer there is a major influx of tourists. Four highways and one major rail line either run through or near the area.
Just over half the grizzly deaths are caused by collisions. About one-third are from hunting, which is legal in B.C., and the remainder are due to poaching and other causes.
Lamb said the provincial government can control how many bears are killed by hunters, but more research is needed on how to reduce collisions with vehicles and trains, and how to decrease conflicts with people.
Research shows the need to provide the grizzlies with a refuge from human development by maintaining critical habitat.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjZk5uyubPPAhUCNSYKHcUgBAwQFggmMAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cbc.ca%2Fnews%2Fcanada%2Fbritish-columbia%2Fgrizzly-bears-encroaching-bc-1.3782144&usg=AFQjCNGabatphyfWrY58nvZ0VzLsAxRr0A&sig2=BumNwQpPoiR1U4apRIk6Qg

Berries, human

 food 

enticing East

 Kootenay

 grizzlies to 

their deaths

Bears lured by the abundance 

of fruit and other

 foods near human settlements 

often end up killed

CBC News Posted: Sep 28, 2016 
A new University of Alberta study says the abundance of buffalo berries — like the kind this grizzly is eating — in the resource-rich Elk Valley means grizzly bears are increasingly encroaching on local towns and falling victim to human-caused deaths.
A new University of Alberta study says the abundance
 of buffalo berries — like the kind this grizzly is eating —
 in the resource-rich Elk Valley means grizzly bears are
increasingly encroaching on local towns and falling victim
 to human-caused deaths. (Alex Taylor/Parks Canada)
new University of Alberta study has found
 the Elk Valley in the East Kootenay has
 effectively become a death trap for B.C.'s
 grizzlies.
The study found the bears are attracted to the
 valley because of the huckleberries and buffalo
 berries that grow in abundance.
The problem is the nutrient-dense Elk Valley
 contains a number of small towns including
Jaffray, Fernie, Elkford and Sparwood,
explained
 study author and PhD candidate Clayton Lamb.
When the bears come into contact with human
 settlements, they put themselves at greater risk
 of mortality.
"In the last month, we actually had five grizzly
bears killed by non-hunting sources," Lamb
explained. "It's quite a large portion of the
population."
In fact, the study found bears in the region
 had a 17 per cent lower survival rate.

A bear death trap

The issue doesn't stop there.
When the bears die, Lamb explained, the
 reduced bear population in the area make it
attractive for other grizzlies to come in and
access easy food.
"The bears are looking for food ... [but] there's
 a mismatch between food and mortality."
He said bears flowing into the valley are
effectively marching into a trap.

Possible solutions

Lamb's study is based on eight years of
grizzly data from the region, and he said the
data shows nearly 40 per cent of grizzlies
that have wandered into the area have died.


While the grizzly hunt is one contentious cause of death, Lamb found 70 per cent of deaths in the region were caused by non-hunting reasons.
Non-hunting deaths — like those caused
 by road, rail and human-bear interactions
 — are harder to regulate and will require
much more education and behavioural
 adjustments, he said.
"These are pervasive problems that
 require quite a bit more effort on the
 side of the government, the people
and the community."
Lamb said preserving wild habitat,
using electric fencing, keeping people
out of the backcountry and equipping
people with non-lethal
 bear management tools like bear
 spray are some of the ways to
reduce bear mortality.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"Many Health and biologist researchers suggests that fragmentation of forest habitat plays an important role in facilitating the spread of Lyme disease".......... "Diaries of early American settlers reported abundant ticks, and the evidence now shows that Bb(lyme spyrochete) is an ancient infection in North America.that did not morph into a scourge impacting humans due to the equilibrium created via carnivores(Wolves/Pumas/Black Bears/Marten/Fishers/Bobcats/Lynx/Coyotes, Red and Gray Foxes/Eagles/Hawks et al) preying on tic hosts(Deer/Elk/Caribou/white footed mice/skunks/raccoons/chipmunks/voles et al.)......................... "Distinctive Bb genes have been identified in museum collections of ticks from the 1940s and of white-footed mice from the turn of the twentieth century"........... "Studies of genetic variation in separate populations of Bb suggest the pathogen existed across much of the present-day United States many thousands of years before European settlement".................... "Nevertheless, genetic analyses indicate that this genus of bacteria originated in Europe"..............."Bb is a microbe of forest habitats, and its history is tied to human land use"................ "As European settlers moved west across the United States, they cleared great swaths of forest"................ "Deer, major host for black-legged ticks, were overhunted and dwindled to a few small, scattered populations"................ "Populations of white-footed mice, an important reservoir host for Bb, also declined".............. "But in some undisturbed spots in the Northeast and the Midwest, deer, white-footed mice, their tick parasites, and Bb all survived"................ "With the abandonment of most northeastern farm fields in the mid-nineteenth century, forests regenerated, and the microbe traveled with its tick and vertebrate hosts into newly re-expanding habitats, bringing on the scourge of Lyme we now face as a nation"


The Lyme Disease Debate: Host Biodiversity and Human Disease Risk

Sharon Levy
Sharon Levy, based in Humboldt County, CA, has covered ecology, evolution, and environmental science since 1993. She is the author of Once and Future Giants: What Ice Age Extinctions Tell Us about the Fate of Earth’s Largest Animals.

History of Lyme Disease

Lyme disease occurs in Europe and Asia as well as North America, always spread by ticks in the genus Ixodes. Over the last decade, about 20,000–30,000 U.S. cases of Lyme disease have been reported annually by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority occurring in the Northeast and the Midwest, where the vector is the black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis. Average annual numbers of cases in Europe and Asia have been estimated at 65,467 and 3,450, respectively.
Image result for lyme disease cycle of infection


The infection’s sudden rise in the United States in the 1970s gave the impression that Lyme disease was caused by a newly invading pathogen, but the diaries of early American settlers reported abundant ticks, and the evidence now shows that Bb is an ancient infection in North America. Distinctive Bb genes have been identified in museum collections of ticks from the 1940s and of white-footed mice from the turn of the twentieth century, and studies of genetic variation in separate populations of Bb suggest the pathogen existed across much of the present-day United States many thousands of years before European settlement. Nevertheless, genetic analyses indicate that this genus of bacteria originated in Europe.
Bb is a microbe of forest habitats, and its history is tied to human land use. As European settlers moved west across the United States, they cleared great swaths of forest. Deer, one of the major hosts for black-legged ticks, were overhunted and dwindled to a few small, scattered populations. Populations of white-footed mice, an important reservoir host for Bb, also declined. But in some undisturbed spots in the Northeast and the Midwest, deer, white-footed mice, their tick parasites, and Bb all survived. With the abandonment of most northeastern farm fields in the mid-nineteenth century, forests regenerated, and the microbe traveled with its tick and vertebrate hosts into newly re-expanding habitats.
Lyme disease now appears to be expanding outward from long-time refuges. Migratory birds carry ticks to new habitats, enabling the spread of both ticks and Bb south and north. Some bird species that host ticks are expanding their ranges north, and studies of emerging Lyme disease in Quebec, Canada, suggest that climate change makes it possible for tick vectors to survive in an area that once would have been too cold.









Bb is hitched to the life cycle of its tick vector. Over the course of a life span that lasts at least two years, Ixodes ticks must take a blood meal from a vertebrate host on three separate occasions, dropping off the host after each meal. Tiny larval ticks hatch out on the forest floor in summer and latch onto passing hosts; because the larva waits for a host (“quests”) close to the ground, it can attach to an animal of any size, from a rodent, to a bird, to a deer. The blood from this first host will fuel the larva’s metamorphosis to the next, nymphal life stage. Nymphal ticks, no larger than a poppy seed, must take another blood meal before molting into adult form. Adult ticks drink blood from a third and final host in order to reproduce. Nymphs and adults sit higher on the vegetation to quest, so they can attach only to larger animals; this is why deer are so important for maintaining tick populations, according to Sarah Randolph, a parasite ecologist at Oxford University.
Adult ticks are large enough to be noticed by any humans they bite within the 24 hours or so it takes to pass along an infection.1But nymphs are not as easily detected, and Lyme disease most often arises when a person is bitten by an infected nymph. Since Bb is not passed from mother ticks to their offspring, every larva comes into the world uninfected. The natural transmission cycle begins anew when a larval tick feeds on blood from an infected host, typically a mouse, chipmunk, or shrew. Once the larva develops successfully into a nymph, it will seek a new host, putting any passing humans at risk.

Lyme Hosts

Blame for the emergence of both black-legged ticks and Lyme disease has typically focused on deer, which have abundantly repopulated the northeastern and midwestern United States over the last few decades. Yet deer turn out to be immune to infection with Bb; even though they’re an important host for ticks, especially in the adult life phase, they don’t transmit Lyme disease.
Early research tested the assumption that reducing deer populations would lower the risk of human infection by reducing numbers of infected nymphal ticks searching for a host. The results were mixed. Some studies showed a strong relationship between deer abundance and tick density. Others, however, reported that tick density was tightly linked with numbers of white-footed mice or small mammalian predators, not deer. Experiments in the Italian Alps reported an increased density of questing nymphs in habitat patches where deer had been fenced out.
In assessing such findings, it is essential to take into account the time scale. “We all know that tick abundance will increase at first in the absence of hosts; they accumulate on the vegetation with no hosts to attach to,” she explains. “But later the abundance declines fast as the ticks die and are not replaced through natural reproduction—no hosts to feed adult ticks, no eggs.”
A number of studies in Europe and the United States have shown that while some species are competent reservoir hosts for Bb (that is, they’re likely to pass Bb along to the ticks that bite them), others are not.  In 1990 Durland Fish, an epidemiologist at Yale School of Public Health, coauthored a study in which wild raccoons, striped skunks, opossums, and white-footed mice were held in cages over water pans that collected all the engorged larval ticks that dropped off. In the laboratory, the larval ticks were incubated, and the researchers tracked the numbers that developed successfully into nymphs. They then tallied the percentage of nymphs that carried Bb. Forty percent of the nymphal ticks that had fed on white-footed mice as larvae were infected. The figures for ticks that had fed on raccoons and skunks were much lower. (In the jargon of zoonoses, such animals may be “dilution hosts,” meaning they tend to make infection less prevalent in the tick population.) None of the nymphs from larvae that had fed on opossums survived long enough to be tested.

Forest Fragmentation and Biodiversity

Ostfeld suggests that fragmentation of forest habitat plays an important role in facilitating the spread of Lyme disease. His argument is based on the notion of nested biodiversity: Large swaths of habitat house diverse animal communities, and as forests are cleared for human use, species disappear from the remaining isolated scraps of habitat in a predictable sequence. This pattern has been documented on oceanic islands and other isolated habitats. But whether it applies to the forests of the northeastern and midwestern United States, where Lyme disease is most prevalent, remains a contentious issue.
16th century forest








 settlers clearing forest










Ostfeld’s work shows that the white-footed mouse, a powerful amplifier of Lyme disease risk, persists in small fragments of forest after other species disappear. He argues that hosts resistant to tick infestation and Bb infection are far more sensitive to human disturbance. Yet raccoons and opossums, which appear to be among the most effective dilution hosts for Bb, are common in urban and suburban areas. Studies from Illinois and California showed these animals thrived in remnants of forest and moved easily across farm fields. The California study noted that opossums prefer intensely disturbed habitats.
“If you fragment the forest, you still have all the main hosts for Bb,” says Maria Diuk-Wasser, a disease ecologist at Yale School of Public Health. “The major hosts are all human-adapted. Raccoons and opossums are present in people’s backyards.”
Diuk-Wasser is now collaborating with Fish on a study that tests the hypothetical link between biodiversity and human risk of Bb infection in new ways. Among the human residents of Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island, Lyme disease is a common affliction. The island has low mammalian biodiversity; the only tick hosts present there are deer, white-footed mice, and birds. The researchers are trapping mice, collecting the ticks that infest them, and testing them for Bb infection. They’re cooperating with colleagues who have been collecting data on human cases of Lyme disease for years. The results from Block Island will be compared with those from a site on the Connecticut mainland, where a full complement of vertebrate tick hosts is present—and Lyme disease is also endemic.
If the dilution hypothesis holds, the number of infected nymphal ticks should be much higher on Block Island than on the mainland. The Yale investigators are also collecting ticks from backyards to directly examine the interface between humans and vectors of Bb. Fish, a critic of Ostfeld’s model of Bb ecology, does not expect to find simple correlations. “Community composition does affect Lyme disease ecology, but it’s not a rule of thumb that more biodiversity means less risk to people,” he says.
Both Ostfeld and Fish have coauthored studies that found a correlation between the size of forest habitats and the risk of Lyme disease. In surveys of 14 forest fragments ranging in size from 0.7 to 7.6 hectares, Ostfeld’s team found that white-footed mice were abundant in small forest patches and that the density of infected nymphal ticks was highest in the smallest patches (less than 1.2 hectares, comparable to the area inside an athletic track).Fish and his colleagues found a similar pattern in woodland habitats near Lyme, Connecticut, but noted that despite the higher number of infected ticks in fragmented habitats, the rate of human infections was lower there. This was so, the group concluded, because as woods were cleared for suburban development, the remaining habitat patches became few and far between, so that most people in the area never got near enough to a forest fragment to contact an infected tick.

An aerial view of a neighborhood shows how the houses and streets isolate small patches of woods. An inset image shows three raccoons feasting at an overturned trashcan.The relationship between forest fragmentation, biodiversity, and human risk of Lyme disease is still under debate—at least two research groups have shown that the density of Bb-infected ticks increased as habitat size shrank, yet one study showed that human infection rates went down at the same time. The role of urban-adapted “dilution hosts” such as raccoons and opossums remains unclear.
Houses: © Steve & Dave Maslowski/Science Source; raccoons: © Paul A. Souders/Corbis

It boils down to a numbers game. The tick population depends on the presence of hosts to provide blood meals. If a Bb-resistant host species feeds enough larval ticks to lower the density of infected nymphs at the next life stage, it’s also likely to boost the overall tick population. That means more larvae will be around to feed on hosts that do pass along the disease, explains Randolph; the proportion of infected ticks may decline even as their abundance increases.
That phenomenon was illustrated in a recent experiment on Lyme disease ecology in California. The western fence lizard is an important host for disease-bearing ticks there but is resistant to Bb. Its immune response to the bacterium is so powerful that a lizard can actually clear the infection from the midgut of ticks feeding on it. This ability would seem to make the fence lizard the ultimate dilution host, and when researchers removed the lizards from test plots in oak woodlands, they expected the numbers of infected nymphal ticks to increase as a result. But the opposite occurred. The density of infected nymphs—and thus the potential risk of human infection—decreased in plots where lizards had been removed. The study, coauthored by Ostfeld, concluded that “the California Lyme disease system behaves differently than that in New York.”

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Ticks carrying Lyme disease in almost half of US counties


http://nypost.com/2016/01/18/ticks-carrying-lyme-disease-in-almost-half-of-us-counties/








-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/a39664/persistent-lyme-disease-ptlsd/
I Was Diagnosed With Lyme 

Disease — And Then It 

Wouldn't Go Away


Despite doctors insisting she was just tired and overwhelmed, Brandi Dean knew she wasn't crazy — something was terribly wrong.











Many Scientists feel fragmented forests
encouraging the high density of tics
which transmit Lyme Disease