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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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Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Theodore Payne Native Plant Foundation of Los Angeles articulates the the benefits of GOING NATIVE and creating an indigenous landscape on your property--------You do your part rewilding the fauna and flora in your region, optimizing the chance for life to flourish ---I just ripped up a section of my lawn adjacent to my driveway, planting the Chaparral array of native plants that call this region home---Butterflys and Hummingbirds greeted me as I walked off my 10am-2pm digging, planting and mulching project...........Guys, nothing better than being out there doing your thing and restoring a little piece of natures creation

Theodore Payne Foundation - Summer Hours

Discover the Beauty of Native Plants

beautify the landscape
native plants are rich in color, form, texture, and aroma – with careful design, your garden can have flowers year round
nurture pollinators and other wildlife
native plants provide food and shelter for birds, hummingbirds, butterflies, and other pollinators
save water
once established, California native gardens use, on average, 80% less water than conventional gardens
thrive in our local climate
native plants are adapted to our natural cycles, responding to cool, wet winters with lush growth and slowing down during the hot, dry summers
prefer our soils
native plants do well in our native soils and do not require soil amendments or fertilizers
cut pesticide use
native plants typically have fewer pest problems than non-natives because they have co-evolved with native insects
minimize your carbon footprint
most California native plants are grown in state and travel short distances to your nursery
reduce maintenance
a well-designed native garden, planted for the mature size of the plants, can require very little maintenance once established
can be installed at low cost
native gardens can easily be started with one-gallon size plants, saving on installation costs
cool the environment
even through native plants are water thrifty, they play an active role in the water cycle, adding cooling moisture to the atmosphere
harmonize with diverse garden styles
from cottage to formal to contemporary, there are native plants for every design
create a sense of place
the diversity of our flora means gardeners have many options for creating place-specific, local gardens that connect us with California's past and its future

All of us should continue to plant NATIVE MILKWEED plants(not varieties from Europe or Asia) in an attempt to optimize the Monacrch Butterfly population which is under siege from a "witches brew" of environmental degradation including the destruction of their Mexico wintering home forests and the near obliteration in the USA of it's preferred food, milkweed Vermont naturalist Barbara Mackay states below: "To start your own milkweed patch this fall, collect milkweed pods just as they are splitting open, carry them in a tight fist or paper bag, and bury them under leaves or grass so they don’t blow away".............. "Next spring you can enjoy the beauty of the flowers and the bounty of life that depends on milkweed"............ "You’ll be helping out the monarchs, too"

See What’s in the Milkweed Patch

See What’s in the Milkweed Patch
Illustration by Adelaide Tyrol
Eight or so years ago I collected milkweed seeds and painstakingly buried them one at a time under leaf debris at the back edge of my yard, hoping they would mature and attract more monarch butterflies to my home. The project has been wildly successful, but recently the monarch population has declined. So far this year I have seen only one.
Still, milkweed is a valuable perennial. Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca L.) is a sweet haven for a diversity of organisms. Visit a patch along the road or in a field and see for yourself the variety of wildlife that uses this unique wildflower.
As we near the end of summer, you are likely to notice the milkweed tussock moth caterpillar. Its appearance makes it a good candidate for a science fiction movie. It is orangey-brown, with black and white bristles and tufts sticking out in all directions. About one inch long, it often curls into a comma shape on a leaf, and will roll up in a ball if disturbed.
A dozen tussock eggs are laid together, hatch together, and move about as a group, called a colony. They communally devour a leaf, leaving behind droopy, skeletonized, green threads. Surprisingly, a milkweed plant can usually recover from the damage caused by a colony of tussock moth larvae. As they mature, they split up and feed individually.
The red milkweed beetle is a conspicuous milkweed resident. It looks a bit like an elongated ladybug. It has a slim red body with black spots on its back. It sports antennae that seem disproportionately long for its size. If you don’t see the beetle itself, you might see evidence of it having been there: it eats the tapered point of the leaves. It also eats the buds and flowers.
Another insect to discover is the milkweed bug. It has a dark body with an orange X across its back, and a line of orange across where you imagine its neck would be if it had one. Milkweed bugs can live their entire lives, from egg to nymph to adult, on their namesake plant. They are common enough that you might even see a mating pair. You have time: they stay attached (end-to-end) for up to thirty minutes.
The milkweed bug has sucking mouth parts and is considered a “true bug.” It uses its long straw-like proboscis to inject salivary enzymes into maturing seeds, then sucks out the digested juice. The female lays about thirty eggs a day between seed pods, depositing around 2,000 eggs over a lifetime.
One insect you might see is there to prey upon the other insects. Aptly named, this is the milkweed assassin bug. It can be distinguished from the milkweed bug by its long legs. The assassin bug ambushes its victims with the “sticky trap strategy.” From a hiding spot, it awaits a target with sticky forelegs held high. At just the right moment, it grabs the insect, covering it with a goo from which there is no escape. The assassin bug inserts its beak into its meal, injects digestive enzymes to liquefy the internal tissues, and then sucks up the nourishment.
The milkweed stem weevil is devastating to milkweeds. From early to mid-summer, the female burrows into the plant’s stalk, repeatedly moving up the stem poking holes for her eggs. When the eggs hatch, the newborn larvae eat the surrounding juicy pith. Between a severely weakened stem and the loss of fluids, weevil damage usually results in the death of the whole plant. In late summer, you can see which plants are weevil-damaged: look for black holes along the wilted stem.
How is it that insects aren’t killed when they ingest the poisonous sap, which contains latex alkaloids and cardiac glycosides?  In many cases by avoiding the secretion altogether. An initial bite cuts the vein below where the insect wants to eat, which stops the toxic sap from flowing. If you see a milkweed leaf with its end chewed up, you’ll often find that the large veins on the underside have been cut. Other insects can detoxify the poisons internally. One notable insect, the monarch caterpillar, devours the leaf, poisons and all, without any harm.
Many birds, butterflies, bees, wasps, flies, and ants also visit milkweed plants. They are seeking its nectar, which is sweeter and more plentiful than most other wildflowers. Take a close look at a flower. Notice the numerous cup-like parts, called hoods, in groups of five. Each hood holds nectar, worth a sweet taste on your little finger.
To start your own milkweed patch this fall, collect milkweed pods just as they are splitting open, carry them in a tight fist or paper bag, and bury them under leaves or grass so they don’t blow away. Next spring you can enjoy the beauty of the flowers and the bounty of life that depends on milkweed. You’ll be helping out the monarchs, too.

Barbara Mackay is a teacher and naturalist who lives in northern Vermont.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Over the years, we have Posted information from U. Of Delaware Researcher Douglas Tallamy depicting how non native plants reduce the diversity of native insects in a given region............When non-natives dominate a landscape, they create a significant adverse cascade that greatly narrows the variety of bird life in a given locale..........This is especially true when the array of non-native plants are completely without any close native counterparts in a given ecosystem............Native trees support large arrays of immature insects, which in turn attract the greatest array of native bird species, thus fostering optimum diversity...............From my perch, so important to plant the largest number of native plants on your property as possible............If we re constantly choosing plants and flowers native to Europe, Asian and the Middle East, "we are limiting the wildlife and conservation support system on the land we call home"--------# native plants, #native insects, #native plant landscaping, #biodiversity with native plants

Research shows that non-native plantings have an impact on the diversity of insect populations.
Credit: Photos by Karin Burghardt, Douglas Tallamy/University of Delaware


Redesigning Suburbia

What will it take to give our local animals what they need to survive and reproduce on our properties? NATIVE PLANTS, and lots of them. This is a scientific fact deduced from thousands of studies about how energy moves through food webs. Here is the general reasoning. All animals get their energy directly from plants, or by eating something that has already eaten a plant. The group of animals most responsible for passing energy from plants to the animals that can’t eat plants is insects. This is what makes insects such vital components of healthy ecosystems. So many animals depend on insects for food (e.g., spiders, reptiles and amphibians, rodents, 96% of all terrestrial birds) that removing insects from an ecosystem spells its doom.

But that is exactly what we have tried to do in our suburban landscapes. For over a century we have favored ornamental landscape plants from China and Europe over those that evolved right here. If all plants were created equal, that would be fine. But every plant species protects its leaves with a species-specific mixture of nasty chemicals. With few exceptions, only insect species that have shared a long evolutionary history with a particular plant lineage have developed the physiological adaptations required to digest the chemicals in their host’s leaves. They have specialized over time to eat only the plants sharing those particular chemicals. When we present insects from Pennsylvania with plants that evolved on another continent, chances are those insects will be unable to eat them. We used to think this was good. Kill all insects before they eat our plants! But an insect that cannot eat part of a leaf cannot fulfill its role in the food web. 

We have planted Kousa dogwood, a species from China that supports no insect herbivores, instead of our native flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) that supports 117 species of moths and butterflies alone. In hundreds of thousands of acres we have planted goldenraintree from China instead of one of our beautiful oaks and lost the chance to grow 532 species of caterpillars, all of them nutritious bird food.  My research has shown that alien ornamentals support 29 times less biodiversity than do native ornamentals.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

in 2010, author Debra Mitts-Smith published a classic inside look at how The Wolf has been depicted for children via books............Entitled PICTURING THE WOLF IN CHILDREN'S LITERATURE, the author "poses the idea that since the pictures in children's books usually create the first and often only images of wolves most people see, they deserve serious study and reflection"............"Adults will find this a useful guidebook to the wolf that is symbolic of fear or love of the wild in our lives"......."Perhaps it will lead us to differentiate between the wolf of RED RIDING HOOD and the wild wolf that if we are lucky, crosses the road in front of us stopping just long enough for us to register each other's reality before it slips into the woods"---Nancy Jo Tubbs reviewing the book in the Fall 2015 issue of INTERNATIONAL WOLF MAGAZINE

From the villainous beast of “Little Red Riding Hood” and “The Three Little Pigs,” to the nurturing wolves of Romulus and Remus and Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, the wolf has long been a part of the landscape of children’s literature.
 Meanwhile, since the 1960s and the popularization of scientific research on these animals, children’s books have begun to feature more nuanced views. In Picturing the Wolf in Children’s Literature, Mitts-Smith analyzes visual images of the wolf in children’s books published in Western Europe and North America from 1500 to the present. In particular, she considers how wolves are depicted in and across particular works, the values and attitudes that inform these depictions, and how the concept of the wolf has changed over time. What she discovers is that illustrations and photos in works for children impart social, cultural, and scientific information not only about wolves, but also about humans and human behavior.
First encountered in childhood, picture books act as a training ground where the young learn both how to decode the “symbolic” wolf across various contexts and how to make sense of “real” wolves. Mitts-Smith studies sources including myths, legends, fables, folk and fairy tales, fractured tales, fictional stories, and nonfiction, highlighting those instances in which images play a major role, including illustrated anthologies, chapbooks, picture books, and informational books. This book will be of interest to children’s literature scholars, as well as those interested in the figure of the wolf and how it has been informed over time.

Monday, September 28, 2015

While simultaneously researching Bobcats, the New Hampshire Game and Fish Commission is considering reopening a trapping season on the estimate 1100 adult "cats" that roam the state..............1 Bobcat for every 3-4 miles of viable habitat---Not a large enough population(my opinion) to put under the pressure of an annual trapping season, especially when trappers can use hounds in the pursuit,,,,,,,,,,, the history of these Bobcat trapping seasons is not pretty---having brought the population to near extirpation--- only some 100-150 animals as recently as the 1980's...........Lynx might also be in jeopardy as they are near identical look-a- likes to Bobcats.............Lynx are starting to reappear in the northern sections of the state, spreading their wings from the breeding population that exists in Maine...........# bobcat trapping season in New Hampshire

  • Why allow bobcats 

  • to be killed again?

    • Posted Sep. 28, 2015 at 2:31 PM 

    How do Wildfires effect wildlife?.........California Forester Eric Huff answers that question this way: "It depends on the duration of the fire, the intensity of the fire, the rate of spread, how quickly animal species, particularly terrestrial, have time to react to the fire"........... "Obviously those species that have more ability to move more rapidly, whether they are avian species or terrestrial mammals, have an advantage"......... "The question of fire intensity is really the key"...................."We need to get back to a native fire regime"............... "Clearly we’ve been very good after 100 years of fire suppression at controlling our environments and in doing so thinking that we were doing the right thing"............. 'But we need to get back to understanding that it’s important to get low-intensity fires going every couple of years and to manage these landscapes that have, in historical and geological timescales, been managed to regular occurrence by fire"---------# Wildfire's impact on wildlife

    Q&A: The Effect of Wildfires on California Wildlife

    By Joshua Rapp Learn

    Image Credit: Jeff Head
    Wildfires are still raging across California and while they are mostly contained, they have consumed more than 150,000 acres combined. But what happens to wildlife in fires like the Valley and Butte in California that are currently raging across the north of the state?
    To get a better idea of the ways animals are affected by the flames and changed landscape, we spoke to Eric Huff, a forester with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
    How do burning fires affect wildlife?
    This is a complicated question, really. It depends on the duration of the fire, the intensity of the fire, the rate of spread, how quickly animal species, particularly terrestrial, have time to react to the fire. Obviously those species that have more ability to move more rapidly, whether they are avian species or terrestrial mammals, have an advantage. The question of fire intensity is really the key.
    If you think about how fast the Valley Fire spread, I liken it to a dragon flying overhead and laying fire down in a pretty narrow column of fire. I imagine that there were some animals that could not get out of the way.
    How about the ecosystem?
    You’re going to have those [animals] that gain from these fires. You’re going to have cavity nesters, insects. You’re going to have species that will be able to feed on those that thrive in burned landscapes. There will be some net positives — I don’t know that they’ll be outweighed by the negatives.
    We’re going to see a big boom in woodpeckers, maybe even some black-backed woodpeckers. You’re going to obviously see a big boom in the insect population — bark beetles in particular are going to benefit greatly from those timber landscapes.
    We’re not going to see loss of species in their native range. Certainly as forage comes back, we’re going to see deer populations coming back to areas they temporarily abandoned. We’re probably going to see more benefits than adverse impacts there.
    So this is part of a natural process?
    “I don’t think that I’m speaking out of turn in saying that we need to get back to a native fire regime. Clearly we’ve been very good after 100 years of fire suppression at controlling our environments and in doing so thinking that we were doing the right thing. But we need to get back to understanding that it’s important to get low-intensity fires going every couple of years and to manage these landscapes that have, in historical and geological timescales, been managed to regular occurrence by fire.
    The Washoe Tribe [of the Lake Tahoe Basin] would regularly burn off their spring-summer camp as they left for lower elevations. The benefit of that is not just to be able to have more abundant wildlife populations to hunt and gather from. But it also benefits the forest. You’ve got far fewer trees per acre in that kind of setting and far more openings. You have a resilient landscape that can handle lightning strikes and human-controlled fire.
    We need to get back to understanding that fire is part of the native regime. We are in California and I don’t think there’s any part of California that hasn’t at least since geologic timescales, been touched by fire.
    How have is the fire regime changing?
    I think what we’re seeing is a much longer fire season — I don’t think anyone can argue that. From my perspective that’s climate related. We’re going to have to get used to a longer fire season which again really promotes this idea that we’re going to need to have more consistent, lower-intensity fires on the ground so we can create these more resilient landscapes.
    Like it or not, our future is going to be, and it has been, inextricably linked to fire. We just have to get around to being accepting of it and using it to our benefit and to the benefit of wildlife populations.
    Joshua LearnJoshua Rapp Learn is a science writer at The Wildlife Society. Contact him at with tips or story suggestions on conservation, wildlife science, management or other story ideas. @JoshuaLearn1

    Saturday, September 26, 2015

    Kansas Wildlife Officials are most certainly on the verge of confirming the 13th verified mountain lion in Kansas since 2007......The "Lion" in the picture below was caught on a wildlife camera in the Chikaskia River region of Sumner County on September 20th........... Prior to this Pumas had not been documented in the Kansas for more than 100 years............Like in Michigan and Kentucky where Pumas were recently documented, Kansas Wildlife Officials claim that no breeding population exists but in fact the recent sightings are of Pumas wandering in from South Dakota and/or Nebraska, the easternmost breeding populations of Pumas in the USA save the 100+ Cats found in south Florida----# kansas pumas, # kansas mountain lions, # kansas cougars

    THE COUGAR NETWORK advocacy organization got confirmation from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources that on September 18, a Puma passed by a trail camera in Dickinson County, Michigan, which is in the Upper Peninsula, bordering Wisconsin............ To date, Michigan has recorded more than 30 confirmations of Pumas over the past couple of decades...............The Michigan DNR states that there is no evidence of a breeding population within Michigan and that all the confirmations are of animals"passing through" from other locales----# Michigan cougars, # michigan Pumas, # Michigan mountain lions

    Is there a need to kill any of the 478 Brown Bears believed to roam the Kenai Peninusla in Alaska? With up to 40 Bears killed annually by humans in ways other than hunting(auto collisions, etc) and another 69 shot by hunters(at least 23 of them females), that means 23% of the believed to exist population was blown away last year...........Is this a sustainable kill level?.............And even if statistically falling within so-called sustainability levels for long term Bear persistence on the Peninsula, this killing formula feels wrong to me.............Does any of the Biologists in Fish and Game for this region ever think about genetic variability, the fact that hunters along with the other manner of bear kills might be removing critical gene pools from the population.................Is it always about human comfort levels in determining population levels of carnivores or is it as the POPE said this week at the U.N. and it D.C. in the Capitol Rotunda,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,"ALL CREATURES HAVE INHERENT RIGHTS TO EXIST ON THE PLANET",,,,,,,,,,,,"MAN SHOULD NOT SEE HIMSELF AS THE DOMINANT LIFE FORM, BUT AS A FELLOW CREATURE ON THIS ARK WE CALL HOME"-------# Brown Bears, # Kenai Peninsula. # Alaska, # hunting carnivores, # hunting brown bears, # hunting Grizzly bears, # Kenai brown bear population

    Biologists wrestle with how much hunting Kenai brown bear population can support

    Joseph Robertia
    Blaine Anliker of Chugiak poses with the brown bear he shot May 20, 2015 over a registered bait station near Clam Gulch. The bear’s hide measured more than 10 feet and was one of two large brown bears taken last month at bait stations registered to Kenny Bingaman of Soldotna.
    Courtesy of Kenny Bingaman

    SOLDOTNA – State and federal wildlife managers have not always agreed on the number of brown bears living on the Kenai Peninsula or the best way to manage the population, however large.
    But recent studies by the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game have yielded some of the most specific population data in decades.
    “As of the end of 2014, there are 478 brown bears on the Peninsula. That’s what we believe is out there,” said John Morton, a supervisory biologist with the refuge.
    That’s an increase from earlier estimates, but just a sliver of the 32,000 brown bears that Fish and Game estimates live in Alaska, from the Arctic to Southeast. About 3,000 are believed to live in bear-dense Kodiak Island, which is about twice as big as the Peninsula.

    Bear hair on barbed wire

    Since 1993, an extrapolated estimate of 250 to 300 Kenai brownies was the benchmark provided by the state, but that changed in 2010, after the refuge conducted an intensive DNA-based study that involved collecting hair samples for more than a month.
    Bear habitat across the Peninsula’s 16,000 square miles was divided into cells forming a grid. Each cell had a lure station baited with fermented fish oil and cow’s blood, surrounded by barbed wire. As the bruins stepped over or went under the wire, they left hair on the barbs. More than 11,000 hair samples were collected, which were then sorted – brown bears from black -- and analyzed.

    “Our estimate, for 2012 and based on the field work from 2010, was 582 brown bears,” Morton said.
    While the number was a snapshot in time, according to Jeff Selinger, Fish and Game’s Soldotna area wildlife manager, the 582 number was useful when added to Fish and Game’s own radio-telemetry studies of the population. The number of bears in Fish and Game’s study changes from year to year as animals die or slip out of their collar, but at any given time 30 to 40 sows are being monitored.
    “The collars last six years or more, and we replace them as needed,” Selinger said. “The goal is to follow these bears their entire lives.”
    Consequently, biologists can determine exactly where the bears den, where they roam and whether they have any cubs.
    Information gleaned so far includes when the grizzlies first breed, average litter size, when cubs are weaned and what percentage of cubs survive the first few years of life, among other things. The information has helped foster some changes in brown bear management.
    “We weren’t managing for that specific 250-300 number before the estimate,” Selinger said. “We were trying to manage a stable population with a minimum number of negative interactions with humans. But prior to 2012, it seemed like the number of (Peninsula) bears was going up. There were people who felt threatened by bears, and we were having a lot of DLPs (defense-of-life-or-property shootings).”

    Bear cap rises

    Prior to 2012, Selinger had been under a department directive for more than a decade to manage brown bears conservatively.When he took the job in 2002, Selinger was asked to manage for an average of not more than 14 brown bears (including no more than six sows) killed during a three-year period. By 2003, he championed and received approval to increase the cap to 20, including no more than eight females older than 12 months.
    The higher cap didn’t do hunters much good.
    That’s because the number of brown bears killed annually in DLP shootings, dispatched by Fish and Game personnel or who perished in collisions with vehicles, met or exceeded the cap, often before hunters got afield. The peak came in 2008, when 40 bears died from human causes that didn’t involve hunting. 
    Hunts happened in 92 percent of the seasons from 1974-2011, but some were only a few days long.  The average harvest was 11.3 bears. 

    A different strategy

    To quell public concern, the Alaska Board of Game in 2012 recommended more bears be killed. Within months, spring and fall drawing permit hunts, which tightly control the number of hunters and direct them to specific locales, were set up. In addition, a registration hunt was added, and more than 600 hunters applied.
    The result: 44 brown bears dead, including 13 adult females.
    Then the refuge released its census of 582 bears, and that changed everything again.
    “In 2013 we had no cap,” Selinger said.

    The bear hunting season was extended and spring hunters were allowed to hunt brown bears over bait.
    The result: 71 brown bears dead, including 23 adult females.
    Last year, a cap of 70 bears or 17 adult females was established, and hunters stayed under it. Sixty-nine brown bears were killed, including six adult females.
    “In basically two-and-a-half years, almost 200 bears were killed, of which 42 were adult females,” Morton said. “That’s huge.”