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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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Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Oregon Wolf(OR7) who captured the imagination of Californians after wandering throughout the northern part of the state last year is now raising a new family in the Rogue River-Siskyou National Forest, a scant 50 miles north of the California/Oregon state line............Only a matter of time before one or more of his pups disperses into the "Golden State where they will be protected from hunting and trapping under California's Endangered Species Act

OR7 and his family

One of OR-7's pups | Photo: USFWS
We reported in May that California's wandering part-time wolf, OR-7, was thought by wildlife agency officials to have started a family with a female wolf in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
That suspicion was confirmed in June, as was OR-7's paternity, when biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife purloined pieces of the pups' poop for DNA testing. Though there hasn't been a whole lot of news since then, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has provided us with something even better than news: baby pictures.
Try not to startle your officemates with the squeeing.

Slinking past the camera | Photo: USFWS
The photos, taken with a camera trap setup at an undisclosed location in Oregon on July 18, show Mama Wolf and at least one of the pups exploring a dirt road through a thick forest.

OR-7's mate seems to be carrying something | Photo: USFWS
OR-7's trips into the state of California prompted a flurry of activity among fans of the canid carnivore to keep wolves protected in the Golden State, culminating in a decision by the state's Fish and Game Commission to list the gray wolf as Endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. Before OR-7's visits to California in 2011 and 2012, there hadn't been a documented wolf sighting in California since 1922.

Though USFWS labeled this photo "one of OR-7's pups," the transmitter collar makes us wonder whether it might be the old boy himself. | Photo: USFWS
Though biologists are understandably keeping mum about the precise location of the new pack, none of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest is farther than 50 miles from the California state line. That's an easy two-day walk for a mature wolf, which means that once the pups are a bit bigger it's entirely likely that this family will find themselves wandering the Klamath Mountains before we know it.

Eager wolf pup | Photo: USFWS
About the Author
Chris Clarke is a natural history writer

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Is there more than the isolated individual Jaguar and Ocelot in the Mountains ringing Tucson, Arizona?.....The U.S. Geological Survey and U. of Arizona researchers will determine this over the next three years utilizing wildlife cameras..........Thus far in the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson, pictures of Jaguars and Ocelots are showing up on a consistent monthly basis(FANTASTIC!!!!!)...........Let us hope that the Jaguar Critical Protected Habitat that the USFW Service is designating for the Jaguar will be large enough to encourage a permanent breeding population for "El Tigre" and all of its smaller cat cousins--Puma, Ocelot and Margay

Project Hopes to Photograph Jaguars, Ocelots Near Tucson

Bobcat SPOT
Photo: Courtesy of Melanie Culver Bobcat photographed in the mountains west of Tucson.

Researchers from the U.S. Geologic Survey and the University of Arizona are taking part in a three-year project to photograph jaguars and ocelots living in the mountains surrounding Tucson. 
The scientists have camera traps set up at more than 200 places in the mountains. Once a month, the scientists hike into the mountains to check the cameras, change the batteries, swap out the memory cards and perform general maintenance.
two people jaguar
Photo: Chistopher Conover, AZPM
Melanie Culver and Susan Malusa check a camera trap in the mountains west of Tucson.
Melanie Culver, a geneticist with USGS and the UA, said the cameras are set up along trails scientists expect to see big cats traversing. They are having mixed results.
In the mountains west of Tucson, they have not spotted any jaguars so far, but other animals are frequently photographed.
“Mostly mountain lion, bobcat and fox and deer,” Culver said.
These mountains are the same ones where Macho B lived. He was a jaguar that came to fame five years ago when he died while being tracked by state game officials. Just down the trail from current camera traps is a large mesquite tree. It was Macho B's favorite scratching post.
Culver said that spot was most likely the lowest altitude Macho B frequented and also the closest to Tucson. Off in the distance, the western suburbs of Tucson can be seen in the early morning sun.
Jaguar tree
Photo: Chistopher Conover, AZPM
Macho B's scratching post in the mountains west of Tucson.
While the cameras in the mountains are not snapping pictures of jaguars, the same cannot be said for the cameras in the Santa Rita Mountains.
Susan Malusa, who works with Culver, said those cameras are consistently snapping photos of jaguars. Malusa said the longest period of time in they have gone without detecting the big cat is 31 days. Those cameras are also capturing images of two ocelots.
To help study the jaguar, the research team is also using a dog that was specially trained to find jaguar scat. Culver said the dog allows researchers to study the genetics and diet of the jaguar.
The cameras don’t discriminate what pictures they take. That means by the time the project finishes, a data base of more than 2 million photos of all types of Arizona wildlife will be available to researchers.
Those photos include time, place, and some even have climate data attached. Culver and Malusa say that type of data will be a boon for researchers in a many fields.
Mountain Lion SPOT
(Leopardus pardalis)
(Leopardus weidii)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

while I am sure that California Naturalist Erin Hauge feels that she is being "fair and balanced" in her cautioning about the feasibility of rewilding Grizzlies back into the Sierra High Country in California, I urge her to reconsider her position that the Bears would create too much chaos in the Golden State.............Californians have been the most tolerant population in the whole USA as it relates to "tolerating" Pumas and Coyotes ---putting in place the most strict protocols to protect these animals from hunting and trapping...............Black Bears also have done well amongst the ever growing throng of humanity in this state...............Give the Griz a chance to recolonize California, once home to the densest population of these Bruins in the the USA(having existed alongside Black Bears just as they do in the Greater Yellowstone system) ..................The Institute of Biological Diversity with it's extensive team of researchers say the Griz can once again call the Sierras home...............Lets make this a reality Ms. Hauge,,,,,,,,,,,,,and put the proper protocols in place to ensure utmost potential for human/Griz coexistence

Read this story

Another View: Plan to reintroduce grizzly bears is unrealistic

Published: Sunday, Jul. 20, 2014 - 12:00 am
While a proposal to reintroduce grizzly bears to the Sierra Nevada sounds thrilling, it may be too ambitious for at least three reasons: Human encroachment on habitat, climate change and the fact that these bears would be a non-contiguous population in a limited range.
As long as reintroduced grizzlies stayed in the Sierra high country, they might be OK, but one adult male grizzly’s home range can extend 200 to 500 square miles. Their natural habitat includes foothills and grasslands, and movement down into the San Joaquin Valley or the Owens Valley would generate traumatic encounters with humans. While the proposed Sierra habitat for grizzlies may sound robust at 7,747 square miles, it is a fragment of range in the middle of a highly populated state. There would be no connection to the grizzly populations currently in the process of recovering in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington.

Human-bear encounters would increase due to climate change and human encroachment on suitable habitat. Increasingly drier conditions in the Sierra would force bears to forage for food at lower elevations, putting them closer to human developments. Grizzly bears would not know the boundaries of that 7,747 square miles of Sierra habitat.
Competition for food would become more stressful and fierce, causing an impact on the less aggressive black bear populations that already exist in the Sierra. And the possibility of a grizzly encounter turned unpleasant would mean that hikers would need to consider carrying high-caliber firearms, transforming their wilderness experience from peaceful and meditative to guarded and vigilant.
With stress on habitat steadily increasing, the assertion that the Sierra can support several hundred grizzly bears today seems unrealistic. While California was home to large numbers of grizzlies before the Spanish and Europeans arrived, the last bear shot in Tulare County in 1922 shows how that story ends.
Why reintroduce grizzly bears into non-contiguous range where they would have to struggle to find a niche in rapidly shrinking and changing habitat? Why not continue to focus on supporting the recovery of existing grizzly populations and the other threatened and endangered species that are already struggling to adapt to the rapidly changing conditions in California?
The loss of the California grizzly bear speaks for all endangered species. Let the grizzly on California’s state flag serve to honor those great bears who once roamed the mountains and grasslands of California with impunity.

Erin Hauge is a certified California naturalist and an advocate for wildlife and habitat conservation and education.

Read more here:

Monday, July 21, 2014

A good friend of this blog not heard from in a while, biologist Roland Kay, Director at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences talks below about the recent sighting of a Fisher in the Bronx, New York............As we start to hear of Coyotes, Fishers and Foxes penetrating our largest city, I take exception to some who take issue with those folks who question whether Wolves and Pumas can live in our Appalachians, the North Woods of the Great Lakes and our Southern bottom lands.................And for those who take issue with the discussion of Grizzlies rewilding the Grand Canyon and Sierras, I ask for you to take stock about your human-centric position and take to heart what Roland saids about our natural world----The return of Fishers to NYC "highlights the adaptability of wildlife if given a chance"

Fisher photographed in the Bronx – First ever NYC record of this squirrel and rat predator

JUNE 6, 2014
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences & NC State University
Following the paw prints of their larger carnivore cousins, coyotes, fishers are now returning to New York City.  A new photograph confirms that at least one animal has found its way to the Bronx, after a scattering of records across Westchester County in recent years.  These oversized weasels (females are 4lbs, males weigh up to 13lbs) are adaptable predators recently found to climb trees to hunt the squirrels that typically overrun suburban areas.
Bronx Fisher
NYPD officer Derek Lenart captured this photograph of a fisher walking down a Bronx sidewalk at dawn on 15 April 2014, producing the first ever evidence of the species living in New York City.
Their long skinny build also makes fishers keen tunnel users, which helps them crawl through drainage culverts to cross under roads and avoid becoming road-kill.  Their love of tubes and rodents should also make them keen ratters, although no fisher has ever lived so close to so many rats as our recent Bronx visitor.
Fishers lived in Manhattan when the island was first settled, but were one of the first to disappear due to the high prices fetched by their fur.  Trapping pressure only increased over the centuries, leaving a handful of fishers surviving in the Adirondacks and other wilderness areas when trapping was banned in the 1930′s.  Their population recovered, slowly at first, but is now booming across the Northeast, even with trapping seasons reinstated.  After repopulating wild and rural forests, they began colonizing upstate suburban forests about a decade ago, and seem to be doing quite well there.  Camera trap surveys suggest they may be more common suburban Albany than nearby wildlands, possibly because of the abundant squirrel populations. 
Our GPS tracking study showed how suburban animals use movement corridors to move between favorite hunting grounds, skirting around neighborhoods to find the next small patch of woods.
The recent Bronx fisher was photographed at dawn by Derek Lenart, a NYC Police officer who works the night shift.  He saw it cross the road in front of him and run underneath parked cars and along the sidewalk on Hennessey Place, just south of Bronx Community College, and three blocks east of the Harlem River.  The fisher then turned up a driveway, ran into a back yard and out of sight.
Although they can be active during the day in wild areas, fishers living near people are nocturnal.  This fisher was probably looking for a place to hide for the day, either down a hole or up a big tree.  Judging from the picture this a male fisher, likely a dispersing animal looking for a female and a new place to settle down.  If he can find a plafinding a way to make ce to sleep and something to eat he might stick around.  Bronx squirrels would make good fisher prey, but things could get really interesting if fishers start hunting rats in New York.
Officer Lenart says he sees rats everywhere on his nightly patrols, some places in huge numbers.  The other animals he sees at night – raccoons, possums and skunks -are not rat predators.  Coyotes can certainly dispatch a rat, but their large size makes it difficult for them to move around the metro area outside of parkland, and Officer Lenart has never seen one in his five years working the night shift in the Bronx.  No predator keeps a lower profile than fishers; if they can use their tunnel-running to hunt rats, and tree-climbing to get squirrels, they could make a nice living in New York City.  Fishers pose little threat to people.  Although they are rumored to kill cats, there is little evidence to support this idea.
But lets not get ahead of ourselves here – one brief glimpse of one male fisher in the Bronx does not mean the end of your local rat problem.  It does, however, put an exclamation point on the recovery of fishers in the region, and highlights the adaptability of wildlife if given a chance.

Roland Kays

Roland Kays

Research Associate Professor, North Carolina State University,
and Director of the Biodiversity & Earth Observation Lab, Nature Research Center, NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Ph.D. Zoology, University of Tennessee (1999)
B.S. Biology, Cornell University (1993)
Research Interests:
Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation of Mammals

NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Nature Research Center

9 West Jones St.
Raleigh, NC, 27601
Tel: 919-707-8250
Fax: 919-733-1573

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Delisting Grizzlies before they form an interconnected population up and down the Rockies????? .............So that Wyoming and sister states can "manage them as successfully" as they are doing with Wolves--------The classic film THE WIZARD OF OZ said it best "Lions and Tigers and Bears oh my"...........That is the heritage of North America................Are we going to honor that heritage or let it melt away as we do our best to heat, poison and geo engineer our home????????????????

Biologists look for ways to preserve grizzlies as feds consider delisting

July 14, 2014 6:00 am  •  

The grizzly bear answers to a lot of names.
Biologists call it Ursus arctos. They also describe it as an “ecological engineer” or “keystone predator.”
Wordy members of the general public call grizzlies “charismatic megafauna.” Others call them “vermin.” While running for president in 2008, Arizona Sen. John McCain famously derided studying grizzlies as a classic example of “Washington, D.C., pork.”
McCain later apologized for misunderstanding the value of Montana grizzly bear researcher Kate Kendall’s DNA hair analysis. Kendall’s unlocking of grizzly genealogy, diet and movement from strands of fur had a huge impact on what we know about grizzlies in the continental United States. It’s part of the evidence the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service relies on as it considers removing grizzly bears from the “threatened” list of the Endangered Species Act.
If that happens, the grizzly faces a fateful moment.
Americans once thought it was socially acceptable to shoot every bear on sight, in the interest of protecting life and livestock. Even as we memorialized grizzlies on the California state flag and the University of Montana’s athletics program, the actual animal followed the Rocky Mountain gray wolf, jaguars of the Southwest and Florida panthers onto the list of critters we really didn’t want to have around.
After 30 years of research, relocation and rhetoric, are we ready to share the landscape with a creature that occasionally considers us as a food source?
Almost half of the Lower 48’s grizzlies live in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, around the junction of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. The Fish and Wildlife Service expects to publish a delisting plan this fall, eventually turning those roughly 700 bears over to state management. That potentially means creating a hunting season for an animal that’s been federally protected since 1975.
Almost 1,000 more grizzlies live in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, reaching from Missoula’s northern fringe to the Canadian border. A delisting plan for those bears could be ready by late 2015.
“Bear habitat is more than just space on the ground,” said FWS grizzly bear recovery coordinator Chris Servheen in Missoula. “It’s the level of human acceptance that exists for them.”
Bears deep in the forests of the Bob Marshall Wilderness get a different level of attention than the grizzlies showing up on the urban fringes of Missoula and Kalispell. And it appears the more we see them, the more we want reassurance there are tools handy to control them.
“Our ability to accept bears is based on our ability to manage bears when they come into conflict with people,” Servheen said. “So it’s important we have that response system in place. It’s built. It exists. We coordinate among all the agencies involved, so that when the average person that lives in bear habitat calls, someone responds.”
That’s important, because while millions of people have opinions about grizzly bears, a tiny fraction of that number has to deal with a 500-pound omnivorous invader tearing up the chicken coop. What’s it worth to have such animals roaming the landscape?

Duke University biologist Norm Christensen studies how animals and fire disturb ecosystems in places like the Rocky Mountains. He sees big challenges ahead as human society pushes ever harder on the remaining places where grizzly bears can find isolation.
“If you look at the Wilderness Act, did we know what we wanted in 1964?” Christensen asked. “Did we get what we wanted? In 1964, nobody understood the issue of scale. We made a lot of arbitrary decisions, like a wilderness area had to be at least 5,000 acres. That’s the territory of a single bear or wolf pack.”
“Arbitrary boundaries don’t correspond to ecological boundaries for predators or fire,” Christensen continued. “You can see the western boundary of Yellowstone from space. It’s a straight line. And that just magnifies the management issues. You can’t just walk away and say it’s going to function on its own and we can do whatever the hell we like. I don’t know how one gets around that.”
But that’s what managers like Chris Servheen have to work with. FWS proposed transplanting grizzlies into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness along the Montana-Idaho border in the 1990s, but public opposition kept the plan on the shelf. Tiny populations of grizzlies hang on in the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem of northern Montana, the Selkirks of northern Idaho and possibly the Cascade Mountains of Washington. They remain so isolated, FWS and state wildlife agencies relocate bears from bigger areas there in an attempt to expand genetic diversity.
Conservation biologist Stuart Pimm said that model may become the norm for preserving fragile species in our expanding human world. He recalled the reintroduction and rescue of Florida panthers in the Everglades over the past two decades.
“There was a lot of discussion about whether to allow it to go extinct, and whether we could rescue the population genetically,” Pimm said. “That was a really controversial and carefully thought-out intervention, yet they’re probably going to have to do it again every 40 or 50 years. That’s probably going to be inevitable.”
And it’s a cost Pimm said he’s willing to bear to keep such animals as part of our world.
“These populations aren’t going to make it otherwise, and it would be an enormous tragedy if grizzly bears and wolves and mountain lions were absent from the landscape. These ecosystems developed in the presence of large predators. I’m first-generation American, and I remember watching the ‘Wizard of Oz’ for the first time with my two daughters – ‘Lions and tigers and bears/ Oh my!’ Whatever the ecological argument I might make, it’s a spiritual thing how we pass on our rich natural heritage. I want to be able to take my grandchildren to see elk and grizzlies and other spectacular wildlife.”

Gary Wolfe works on the fence between the practical and philosophical needs of grizzly bears. As director of Vital Ground Foundation, he focuses the resources of thousands of bear advocates around the world to preserve crucial bits of habitat the bears need. On Friday, he was traveling to a Bigfork celebration and fundraising event for more such work.
“My wife and I spend an incredible amount of time in the Swan Valley,” Wolfe said. “In 20-plus years, we’ve seen dozens and dozens of fresh tracks. And yet I’ve still never seen a grizzly bear in the Swan Valley.”
And that’s far better than the case for many of Vital Ground’s members, who’ve rarely gotten closer than a Discovery Channel program to the animal they’re devoted to helping.
Wolfe can list numerous scientific reasons why grizzlies are necessary: Country good enough for grizzlies is great for almost every other form of wildlife, the big bears aerate mountain soils looking for ground squirrels and fertilize river corridors with digested fish. But there’s another aspect that touches even those people on the other side of the TV screen.
“The grizzly adds to the value of the wild country,” Wolfe said. “I grew up exploring the Pecos country of New Mexico. There used to be bears there, but not anymore. As I look back on spending time in the outdoors, my experience in wilderness areas of Montana with its full complement of wildlife and predators — grizzlies, cougar, lynx — it’s a different experience. If the grizzly wasn’t there, I’d personally be missing something. I don’t have the same experience in Colorado or New Mexico when I’m hiking there.”

Friday, July 18, 2014

A female Bear and two cubs were spottted and confirmed to be wandering through Fayette and Clayton Counties in Iowa.........This is a "wow" moment as Black Bears have been extirpated in this state since the 1860's!..............Additionally, a Puma was confimred to have downed a deer in Cherokee County this week as well...........We know the occasional transient male Puma wanders out of the Dakotas and Nebraska but to see a mother bruin with cubs means a breeding bear population has somehow taken hold in the few remaining natural areas of Iowa.............Wisconsin and Minnesota Bears are deemed to be the feeder states for these now Iowa residents

Tracks confirm black

 bear sighting in Iowa

UPDATED 6:25 AM CDT Jul 18, 2014

CLAYTON COUNTY, Iowa —The Iowa Department
 of Natural Resources
 has confirmed a black bear sighting in Clayton County.

Officials said the bear destroyed beehives south of the
town of Wadena.  DNR
 officials tracks and scat found at the scene is from a bear.
The landowner reported seeing an estimated 200-pound
 female bear and two cubs.
The DNR is continuing to investigate and confirm the
size or number of bears in the
 area.  They advise people to leave the bears alone,
 give them plenty of space and to
not feed them.
"Wild bears generally avoid people, keeping to
themselves and moving along," said
Vince Evelsizer, DNR furbearer and wetland
 biologist. "That said, we do want people
 to know there is one around, and we encourage
 them to give the bear its space --
don't harass or follow the bear, especially if do
we have a female bear with cubs."
If there are cubs, they would be the first cubs
documented in Iowa in more than
140 years.
DNR officials said that once native to Iowa,
 black bears have not had wild
populations in the state since the 1800s.
Clayton County is the county just north of
 Dubuque in eastern Iowa along the
Mississippi River

Read more:



Predators Come Back to Iowa

Thanks to hunting regulations in other states, black bears and mountain lions are returning to Iowa.
A mother black bear and her two cubs were spotted earlier this week, on the border of Fayette and Clayton Counties, in northeast Iowa.  The next day, a beekeeper discovered bear scat and paw prints near some damaged hives. Also this week, theIowa Department of Natural Resources confirmed the state's first mountain lion of 2014. A deer carcass with signs of mountain lion predation was found in Cherokee County, in northeast Iowa.

Black bear cubs spotted in Alberta, Canada. A female black bear, or sow, has her first litter between 3-5 years. Her cubs stay with her until they are 16-18 months.
Credit Mark Stevens
For the first time in five or six generations Iowans are coming face-to-face with black bears and mountain lions. For both species, young males are traveling far distances in search of mates.  These wild encounters have delighted some Iowans, while scaring or angering others.
Karl Hendriskson lives on a small farm, surrounded by woods near Decorah, in northeast Iowa. This May, he found a black bear in his front yard clinging to an evergreen, about 7 or 8 ft. in the air.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing…I thought it was a black lab puppy or dog up in the tree because of the snout…He turned to look at me, and I said, ‘It’s a black bear!’ So I quickly, quickly got out of here.”

Bear scat found near the location a mother black bear and her cubs are thought to have damaged beehives in Clayton County.
Credit Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Neighbors of Hendrickson’s found a pile of bear scat in their driveway and an emptied bird feeder. Bird and livestock feed left unattended attracts bears thanks to their strong sense of smell.
Iowa’s black bear population is trickling down from Wisconsin and Minnesota. The bear roaming Hendrickson’s neighborhood was likely a young male driven south into Iowa by older bears, wanting to protect their territories.
Rebecca Christoffel is wildlife extension biologist at Iowa State University. She says like black bears, young, male mountain lions are chased out of territories by older, dominate cats.  “Think of yourself of as child, right about at 17 or 18," says Christoffel.  "Mom and dad are saying the same things, ‘Hey, time to fledge, get out of here.’”
Since mountain lions range throughout North and South America, young cats will travel far distances. One mountain lion from South Dakota was killed after colliding with a car in Connecticut, in 2011.
With both predators, females more tolerated and therefore less likely to venture into Iowa.  The cubs in eastern Iowa maybe the first black bears born in the state since the mid 1800s.
150 years ago, hunters collected bounties on large predators and this caused populations to shrink dramatically.  “Every time an animal came into an area, it was worth more dead than alive," says Christoffel. "Now we no longer have bounties paid on these animals…and state agencies are going out of their way to help animals recover.”

These beehives are believed to be damaged by a female black bear and her two cubs spotted on the border of Clayton and Fayette Counties. Bear scat and prints were found near the hives.
Credit Iowa Department of Natural Resources

The American black bear is distributed throughout North America, from Canada to Mexico and in at least 40 states in the U.S. They historically occupied nearly all of the forested regions of North America, but in the U.S. they are now restricted to the forested areas less densely occupied by humans. In Canada, black bears still inhabit most of their historic range except for the intensively farmed areas of the central plains.
Credit Defenders of Wildlife
Today, states like Minnesota and South Dakota regulate the number of large predators killed through hunting seasons, which partially accounts for the population growth. Iowa has no limits on the number of black bears and mountain lions that can be killed. This in part is because by the time the state legislature established hunting seasons, there were no black bears or mountain lions left.
Additionally, black bears and especially mountain lions were never very common in Iowa. “We simply never had a lot of really good habitat for them,” say Cristoffel. Most black bears and mountain lions spotted in Iowa are just traveling through, on a kind of road trip looking for girlfriends.
Christoffel says migration is good for the genetic diversity of a species. “Individuals from one population (move) and they’ll start breeding with individuals with another population. And that’s how you keep these populations going.”
Some Iowans like Hendrickson and his family are excited large predators are coming to Iowa, but others see these animals as a nuisance and a danger.  Iowa DNR biologist Vince Evelsizer says it’s good to be cautious and encourages Iowans to contact him with concerns. He adds at most five mountain lions and about that many black bears live in Iowa,“The size of the population is very small.”
Evelsizer says the public is less accepting of mountain lions than black bears. This in part is because mountain lions are more inclined to hunt livestock. The Iowa DNR's only confirmed mountain lion sightings are of young males, meaning mountain lions are not breeding within the state. Usually the large cats originate from Nebraska and South Dakota, if not farther west.
Larry Ehert keeps about 65 head of cattle at his ranch in central Iowa.  Back in May one of his calves disappeared. “The only sign of it we found, was a tail down by the creek.” Ehert thinks the fact the calf had an injured leg made it an easy meal for a mountain lion.

Mountain lions are solitary creatures and tend to avoid humans.
Credit Nathan Rupert
“The only thing I could surmise is that it was a mountain lion or a big predator. Coyotes would have killed an animal and eaten it there. It had to be something strong enough to take it over a fence. This calf probably weighed 600 lbs. And if somebody is going to steal one of my calves, that wouldn’t be the one they would have taken.”
Ehert estimates the lost calf cost him roughly $1,400 dollars.  To be clear he isn’t 100-percent certain what took his animal, but there have been mountain lion sightings near Ehret's ranch. And if he sees one, he intends to kill it.
Evelsizer says Iowa is at an impasse on whether this is a good idea. “It’s definitely a grey issue. I think the more you understand the topic and the animal’s biology, and their traits, I think that would go a long way in easing some fears.” He recommends the public learning more about these animals and contacting the DNR with questions.

A month after Larry Erhet's calf disappeared, one of his horses was attacked while grazing. Erhet says on each side of the animal's hips there were claw marks, now mostly healed.
Credit Larry Erhet
In the meantime, ISU's Rebecca Christoffel says there are a number of strategies to keep predators at a safe distance, "You want to right away get on it, so they don't the idea that they are welcomed to help themselves." She recommends not leaving food outside (and removing bird feeders and salt blocks,) putting up fencing, and getting a guard dog, or even a guard llama.
Both Christoffel and Evelsizer agree though it might take some adjustment, it's possible to live safely and peacefully near wild predators.