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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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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Tim Hiller, a wildlife biologist and founder of the Wildlife Ecology Institute, began studying the Sierra Nevada red fox in 2012. He said he plans to capture and radio-­collar eight more foxes within a year to continue the study. “We don’t know their population status,” Hiller said. “Nobody has a clue.”

Rare foxes spotted in Oregon may help California population

BEND — Biologists are hoping a rare subspecies of foxes spotted in Oregon can help boost their number in California. 
Biologists captured and radio-collared two of the Sierra Nevada red foxes found in Oregon, The Bulletin reported. There are believed to be fewer than 50 of the foxes in Northern California.


Sierra Nevada red fox (Vulpes vulpes necator)

Update September siting of Sierra Nevada red fox living in Sonora Pass area! See story, below...


Red FoxThe Sierra Nevada red fox is distinguished from members of the introduced lowland population of red foxes by its slightly smaller size and darker colored fur.  Red fox fur was sought after by trappers during the early part of last century because it was softer than California’s grey fox. Sierra Nevada populations have been reduced by grazing in meadows, which reduces prey populations, and by trapping, logging, and recreational disturbances. Human activities of any significant degree in areas of core habitat will certainly put pressure on this highly endangered species. Given the low numbers of the Sierra Nevada red fox and the increase of non-native red fox population, particularly in the Central Valley of California, competition from this non-native species is increasingly a concern for the Sierra Nevada subspecies.


The range of the Sierra Nevada red fox is limited to the conifer forests and rugged alpine landscape of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges between 4,000 feet and 12,000 feet. Preferred habitat for the Sierra Nevada red fox appears to be red fir and lodgepole pine forests in the subalpine zone and alpine fell-fields of the Sierra Nevada. Open areas are used for hunting, forested habitats for cover and reproduction. Edges are utilized extensively for tracking and stalking prey. The red fox hunts in forest openings, meadows, and barren rocky areas associated with its high elevation habitats. Found mostly above 6,000 feet in the summer months, Sierra Nevada populations were historically found in a variety of habitats, including alpine dwarf-shrub, wet meadow, subalpine conifer, lodgepole pine, red fir, aspen, montane chaparral, montane riparian, mixed conifer, and ponderosa pine. Jeffrey pine, eastside pine, and montane hardwood-conifer also are used. This species is known to inhabit vegetation types similar to those used by the marten and wolverine. The range of the Red fox is from the northern California Cascades eastward to the northern Sierra Nevada and then south along the Sierran crest to Tulare County.


The current range and distribution of Sierra Nevada red fox is unknown.  Because of this and the scientific certainty of its hazardously low numbers, greater research is needed to ascertain the full extent of the red foxes range. Recent research conducted in the vicinity of Lassen Peak, has begun the process of understanding exactly how rare the native Sierra Nevada red fox is. This research conducted in the late 1990’s estimated that only 10-15 individuals were likely present in the Lassen Peak area--a number certainly low enough to cause concern over the possibility of localized extinction and highly endangered status throughout its historic range. Other historical evidence related to the Sierra Nevada red fox has led scientists to believe that it likely never occurred in large numbers.  From 1940 to 1959, 135 pelts were taken by trappers and that number shrunk down to 2 pelts a year by the 1970’s.  It is possible that red fox numbers were declining before these statistics were collected but in either case the Sierra Nevada red fox has certainly been in serious trouble for a very long time. The State of California banned red fox trapping in 1974.


Until this summer (2010), the only known current population has been in the vicinity of Lassen Peak in Lassen Volcanic National Park, and also within Lassen National Forest. Periodic sightings have been reported by inexperienced observers throughout the rest of the Sierra Nevada but have not been documented by experts. In August, Forest Service biologists retrieved photographs from a bait station trail camera near Sonora Pass. DNA retrieved from saliva found on the tooth punctures in the bait bag was then analyzed by canid researchers Ben Sacks and Mark Statham at the UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory. Sacks and his colleagues confirmed that the DNA was from the rare Sierra Nevada red fox. 
The Sierra Nevada red fox is genetically very distinct from red fox populations in coastal lowlands, the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. These red foxes are derived from introduced foxes from the eastern United States (and Alaska). The Sacramento Valley subspecies is a genetically distinct native species, however. 
The Sierra Nevada red fox is so uncommon that the California Fish and Game Commission declared it threatened in 1980 and it is considered critically endangered by the California Department of Fish and Game. The U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station lists the Sierra Nevada red fox as a sensitive species.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Today another insightful article from the JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT on the dilemma of the remaining 50 Red Wolf(Eastern Wolf) population in the USA, located in the 5 county region of North Carolina(Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell and Washington counties)................Completely exterminated by us humans from its East of the Mississippi River historical domain running from Texas east to Florida, NY, Maine and all eastern states in between by the mid 1950's, the last wild Red Wolves found in Louisiana and Texas were removed from the wild and placed into a captive breeding program in the 1970's as they were facing extinction due to decimation of habitat, potential of disease epidemic and hybridization with Western Coyotes......................Re-introduced in the North Carolina barrier island counties in 1987, researchers felt that with protection from coyote hybridization and human hunters, the region could support 150 of the animals.............Indeed, as of 2001, 131 Red Wolves called their reintroduced Carolina habitat home..........................This was short lived as year round coyote hunting has whittled the Wolf population to about 50....................With the Obama Administration having first decided to end the reintroduction program and then the Federal Courts countering that order with instructions for a re-evaluation of the rewilding, we await to see what the Trump Fish and Wildlife folks decide to do for the Wolves....................As many of you know, Red Wolves are a distinct species, an American Wolf that split from an Ancient Coyote species millenia ago(as did our modern western coyotes).................For this reason, when we humans killed off all large wildlife east of the Mississippi by the dawn of the 20th century, the few remaining Red Wolves found it necessary and ecologically possible to hybridize with westward colonizing coyotes(not enough red wolves to keep it all in the family).....................I know that many researchers feel that at this point why not just let Eastern Coyotes and the 50 Eastern Wolves mix and match and let the resulting "homogenized" canid be the "new wild dawg" of the east..............I say that Eastern Coyotes do not fully execute ecological deer/beaver/Moose/Elk eating functions of the Red Wolf(coyotes still smaller on average than the wolves) and that we should "keep all the cogs and wheels" of genetic diversity that the Red Wolves bring to the planet

click on  PDF to read full article

Survival and population size estimates of the red wolf


  • First published: 


Evaluating anthropogenic mortality is important to develop conservation strategies for red wolf (Canis lupus) recovery. We used 26 years of population data in a generalized linear mixed model to examine trends in cause-specific mortality and a known-fate model in Program MARK to estimate survival rates for the reintroduced red wolf population in North Carolina, USA. 

We found the proportion of mortality attributable to anthropogenic causes, specifically mortality caused by gunshot during fall and winter hunting seasons (Oct–Dec), increased significantly since 2000 and became the leading cause of red wolf death. Mortality rates were greatest for red wolves <4 activities="" age="" and="" be="" by="" caused="" e.g.="" human="" hunters.="" hunting="" inexperience="" killing="" likely="" more="" of="" opportunistic="" p="" susceptible="" suspect="" to="" we="" with="" wolves="" years="" younger="">

The Red Wolf is smaller than the Gray Wolf(the former an American
canid and latter historically coming over from Europe after the last few ice ages

Since 1987, the red wolf population steadily grew and peaked at an estimated 151 individuals during 2005 but declined to 45–60 by 2016. To reduce the negative effects of anthropogenic mortality and ensure long-term persistence of red wolves, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will need to re-implement previous long-standing and proven management practices (e.g., Red Wolf Adaptive Management Plan) on public and private lands and cease issuing take permits. 

 The larger Gray Wolf of the Western USA/Canada/Alaska

The USFWS will also need to establish an effective management response to mitigate gunshot mortality through stronger regulation of coyote (Canis latrans) hunting and provide adequate ecologically and biologically supported regulatory mechanisms to protect red wolves. Finally, the USFWS should enhance recovery by providing information and education about red wolves to hunters and the general public.

Monday, May 22, 2017

An excellent article on the ability and propensity for both male and female Gray Wolves to be able to disperse from their natal birth place is in the current issue of THE JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT....................From my perch, I take from the article that without persecution, Gray Wolves likely could reclaim all of Western North America as home turf in the course of a human lifetime..............Both male and female Wolves who reach sexual maturity at approximately 2 years/8 months of age have nearly the same propensity to wander far and wide in search of a mate and territory of their own.................Unlike with Pumas where male "cats wander great distances and females do not, there would be a good "dating scene for the young Gray Wolves as they wandered far and wide seeking to spread their genes...............Full article below for you to click on and read

Click on this link to read full article

Wolf dispersal in the Rocky Mountains, Western United States: 1993–2008


  • First published: 


Gray wolves (Canis lupus) were extirpated from the northern Rocky Mountains (NRM) of the United States by the 1930s. Dispersing wolves from Canada naturally recolonized Montana and first denned there in 1986. In 1995 and 1996, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced 66 wolves into central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park. By 2008, there were ≥1,655 wolves in ≥217 packs, including 95 breeding pairs in the NRM.

 From 1993–2008, we captured and radio-collared 1,681 wolves and documented 297 radio-collared wolves dispersing as lone individuals. We monitored dispersing wolves to determine their pack characteristics (i.e., pack size and surrounding pack density) before and after dispersal, their reproductive success, and eventual fate. We calculated summary statistics for characteristics of wolf dispersal (i.e., straight-line distance, age, time of year, sex ratio, reproduction, and survival), and we tested these characteristics for differences between sexes and age groups.

 Approximately, 10% of the known wolf population dispersed annually. The sex ratio of All dispersals favored males (169 M, 128 F), but fewer dispersed males reproduced (28%, n = 47) than females (42%, n = 54). Fifty-nine percent of all dispersers of known age were adults (n = 156), 37% were yearlings (n = 99), and 4% were pups (n = 10). Mean age at dispersal for males (32.8 months) was not significantly different (P = 0.88) than for females (32.1 months). Yellowstone National Park had a significant positive effect on dispersal rate.

 Pack density in a wolf's natal population had a negative effect on dispersal rate when the entire NRM population was considered. The mean NRM pack size (6.9) from 1993 to 2008 was smaller than the mean size of packs (10.0) from which wolves dispersed during that time period (P< 0.001); however, pack size was not in our most supported model. Dispersals occurred throughout the year but generally increased in the fall and peaked in January. The mean duration of all dispersals was 5.5 months. Radio-collared wolves dispersed between Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming to other adjacent states, and between the United States and Canada throughout the study.

 Mean straight-line distance between starting and ending points for dispersing males (98.1 km) was not significantly different than females (87.7 km; P = 0.11). Ten wolves (3.4%) dispersed distances >300 km. On average, dispersal distance decreased later in the study (P = 0.006). Sex, survival rate in the natal population, start date, dispersal distance, and direction were not significant predictors of dispersal rate or successful dispersal.

 Wolves that formed new packs were >11 times more likely to reproduce than those that joined packs and surrounding pack density had a negative effect on successful dispersal. Dispersal behavior seems to be innate in sexually mature wolves and thereby assures that genetic diversity will remain high and help conserve the NRM wolf population. © 2017 The Wildlife Society.