Visitor Counter

hitwebcounter web counter
Visitors Since Blog Created in March 2010

Click Below to:

Add Blog to Favorites

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

Subscribe via email to get updates

Enter your email address:

Receive New Posting Alerts

(A Maximum of One Alert Per Day)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

2014 NY State biologist Jacqueline Frair's update on Coyote dietary habits in the Central Adirondacks and southern NY State reveals that as Beavers have increased in population, the "generalist Coyote" has made them their "first choice" as a dietary staple...........In mid 20th century, snowshoe hare had been the go-to dinner for Coyotes but in recent decades, maturing forests likely has reduced the desired brush habitat that hares prefer, thus reducing their footprint in NY State forests............It is only when both Beaver and Hares are at low ebb populations that Coyotes in the Empire State seek out adult deer as first entree.........The Coyote take of fawns in the first weeks of their life in the Spring has remained constant since the Coyote arrived in NY in the 1920's and does not appear to significantly dampen overall deer populations.............As Frair suggests: "By concentrating on the abundant beaver, coyotes may ultimately lower their overall use of deer,,,,or, it may elevate the population of coyotes and have a spillover effect on deer"..........."Only time will tell"..............Frair also found that in the southern tier of NY, Coyotes take of deer was predominantly scavenged,,,,,,,,,,,,The Coyote diet in this part of the state was primarily an admix of cottontail rabbits, woodchucks, squirrels, other small mammals and livestock


Progress Report Research Title: Population Status and Foraging Ecology of Eastern Coyotes in New York State

Coyote hunting Beaver

Coyote on a Beaver Dam

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ecologist Cristina Eisenberg is back with us today writing about the challenge that the Denali Wolf (Denali National Park in Alaska) faces since the ban on trapping them adjacent to the Park was lifted in 2010.............With Alaska giving into Trappers whims, this Wolf population has been free falling from some 147 in 2007 to just 49 as of the 2015 count.............Going going gone?


End of an Era for Iconic Denali Wolf Pack?

 06/21/2016 05:57 pm ET

IDenali Wolf and National Park Map with proposed
Buffer where trapping would be prohibited

The great die off of the Pleistocene mega-fauna likely was caused by the perfect storm of warming termperatures, the arrival of us human animals and the spears and disease that we brought with us..............".If you were able to wander around the Ice Age Americas between 125,000 and 10,000 years ago, you would have been able to hear the howls of dire wolves almost everywhere you went".................. "Their bones have been found from southern Alberta, Canada all the way down to Bolivia at elevations from sea level up to 7,400 feet".............. "In the what would become the United States, they loped from coast to coast"................."Dire Wolves were larger and more burly than the gray wolves that were also slinking around during the Pleistocene"............Dire wolves clocked in with an estimated average weight of 130 pounds compared to 88 for gray wolves"..............Note that the largest gray wolves alive in North America today can top off at 120 pounds........... So, just as in the East today where red wolves and coyotes can look very similar, it would have been tough in some cases to tell the difference between Dire and Gray Wolves when both populated the Americas

Game of Thrones characters
like Ghost
 are based on real wolves that used to
 roam the Americas

Scientific American
  • By Brian Switek on June 23, 2016


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Fact or Fiction---Is there a breeding population of Pumas in Michigan???? By all Dept. of Natural Resources and Independent biologist reports, the answer is NO.....................Yet, Pumas have been spotted in the state since being officially extirpated in 1906............It should be noted that outside of photos and the great 2014 video footage of a Puma in Mackinac County in 2014, only two confirmed carcasses reported in the Upper Peninsula over the past 3 years; the most recent on Feb 1, 2016 in Breitung Township in Dickinson County.............. The other was poached in 2013 by a hunter in Schoolcraft County................Wildlife biologist Patrick Rusz of the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy in Bath feels strongly that Pumas were never fully eliminated from the state: He states that "in 2000 I was given $5,000 to go to the UP and disprove the rumor that there were cougars living there"...... “I found one in two days"........ "He believes that cougars have been in the state all along"--------Fact or Fiction?????

Michigan’s cougar 

controversy continues

Capital News Service
LANSING — Everybody knows that there aren’t any
 cougars in Michigan. These big cats were hunted to
 extinction in the state in the early 1900s and despite
34 recent sightings reported in the Upper Peninsula,
 it’s safe to say that the cats aren’t back to stay yet.
According to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR),
 that’s true.

Confirmed picture of a Puma in Michigan-source Michigan
of Natural Resources--2014;Mackinac County
cougar DNR.jpg
“They were found in most of Michigan at one time,” said
 DNR wildlife management specialist Kevin Swanson. “In
 the early 1900s they were being extirpated. The last cougar
 harvested in Michigan was in Newberry in 1906.”
Swanson said that the 34 confirmed sightings doesn’t mean
 34 separate animals. According to the DNR, 23 of these
sightings were photos, eight were tracks, one was video and
 animal waste and the final two were carcasses. The most
 recent carcass, discovered in a snare Feb. 1 by conservation
 officers four miles north of Iron Mountain in Breitung
Township in Dickinson County. The other was poached in
 2013 by a hunter in Schoolcraft County.
The DNR says it plans to continue enforcing the legal
protection that the cougars are given by the Michigan
Endangered Species Act, which prohibits harming,
capturing or harassing cougars.
Some people, however, have a bone to pick with the
DNR about the status of the cougar in Michigan. One
of these people is wildlife biologist Patrick Rusz of
the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy in Bath.
“In 2000 I was given $5,000 to go to the UP and
 disprove the rumor that there were cougars
living there,” said Rusz. “I found one in two days.”
Rusz says that he believes that cougars have been
in the state all along.
In 1907, one year after the DNR stated that the last
 cougar was harvested in Michigan, the Sault St.
 Marie Evening News reported on a cougar killed
 in a wolf trap in Chippewa County,
In 1948, R.H. Manville, a taxonomist, reported
 several sightings by “reliable people.”
In 1966, Francis Opolka, a DNR officer, observed
 a cougar in Delta County. Plaster casts of the
 animal’s tracks were verified by the University
of Michigan as “that of a large cat.”
In 1984, blood-covered bone fragments were
 recovered from a cougar shot in Menominee
County. The sample was sent to Colorado State
University, where it was determined to have a
 “positive identity to a mountain lion.”
These instances were recorded in “Milestones
 of the History of Cougars in Michigan,” a
 document by the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy.
 If reputable sources, and even DNR officers,
 continued seeing cougars, then why did the DNR
 continue to state that they were extinct in the state,
 even up to a February 2016 interview with the
Great Lakes Echo?
Simply put, Rusz says he believes that the DNR
denies the presence of the cougar in the state
for selfish reasons.
In the 1960s, the Florida DNR discovered a
 population of panthers (cougars) living in the
 wetlands in the southern half of the state.
The federal government gave it $50 million
with which to buy land and educate the public
 to protect the animals, but the wetlands
 bought by the Florida agency began to
restrict expansions on other projects such
 as airports.
When the Michigan DNR asked for a similar
grant to investigate the cougars that people
were still seeing in the state, the feds said no.
“The cougar went from being a potential cash
cow to a financial albatross.” said Rusz.
From that point forward, Rusz says, the DNR
 continued claiming that cougars were an
extirpated species. Cougar sighting were
debunked as escaped pets and the people
 who reported them became drunken Yoopers.
 It wasn’t until the digital age, when many
people started having camera phones and
trail cameras to catch these animals in action,
that the DNR changed its stance.
“The escaped pet theory wasn’t gonna fly
 anymore. They needed a new excuse.
 That’s when they started saying these
animals were transients,” Rusz said.
“The ability of the Internet to spread
erroneous information is mind-blowing.
I’m sure there are suits (officials) that
 believe this cougar nonsense but the
 higher ups are just maintaining the
 charade,” he said.
“Ask your readers this question. According
to the DNR and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, there were no cougar sightings in
 102 years. Not a single confirmation
between 1906 and 2008. Since 2008
they’ve confirmed 34. They’re telling
 you that the state was worked over so
well by hunters and trappers that they
killed every animal,” Rusz said.
“Do you believe that?”

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources
 released Thursday video footage of a male
cougar at a deer kill site in Mackinac County.
The sighting and footage are rare as Michigan
doesn't have an established cougar population
, DNR officials say. As of Thursday there have
 been 28 confirmed cougar sightings in the
Upper Peninsula since 2008.
"What's interesting about this video is it's the
 best footage we've ever come across from
 a citizen," said Debbie Munson Badini,
spokeswoman for the DNR. "It's a neat
 thing for the public to see. People appreciate
 being able to see the wild being wild."
The 60-second clip posted to YouTube
 Thursday shows the cougar repeatedly
 returning to the site to eat a deer. The
video was provided by hunters from
 Remus who discovered the deer kill
 site. The hunters set up a trail cam
which captured the footage on Dec.
10, 2014 and Dec. 11, 2014.
The state doesn't have an established
cougar population, but the animal does
 travel through the Upper Peninsula while
 searching for a place to set up its territory.
Most are juvenile male cougars traveling
 from the Dakotas, Munson Badini said.
"They travel hundreds and hundreds of
 miles to find what they need," she said.
There have been no confirmed sightings
 of cougars in the Lower Peninsula,
Munson Badini said.

Note that in this weeks Post regarding biologist Geri Vistein's Coyote co-existence interview with the Portland, Maine TV station, I did not accurately identify her credentials accurately---Note that GERI VISTEIN IS NOT A MAINE REPRESENTATIVE OF PROJECT COYOTE,,,,,,,,,,SHE DOES WORK AS AN INDEPENDENT CARNIVORE BIOLOGIST IN MAINE................Pick up a copy of her most recent book, I AM COYOTE

Meet the Scientist, Geri Vistein

As a Conservation Biologist here in Maine, my work focuses on carnivores and our relationship with them. In order for carnivores to survive and play their role effectively in the ecosystems of Maine, our communities need to be informed and knowledgeable about their ecology and value, and to understand and practice coexistence skills.
So, in addition to research and collaboration with fellow biologists here in Maine, I educate our communities throughout Maine about carnivores, and how we can coexist with them. I work toward this through creative outreach projects with artists, musicians, poets and puppeteers, and by presenting the powerpoint program, “Coyote~ America’s Songdog,” and other programs as well.
I work with Land Trusts who seek to initiate greater biodiversity on the land they have protected by incorporating carnivores into their goals. By partnering with organizations, schools, and universities I support their efforts in offering children and young people experiential learning opportunities and innovative educational initiatives.
I received my undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana, and my Masters in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont.  My Masters work focused on conflicts regarding the use of natural resources at Cape Cod National Seashore, and the social psychology of human belief systems.  Prior to pursuing my Wildlife Degree, I had earned a Masters in Education.
While living in Montana I participated in research projects concerning carnivores: The Grizzly Bear DNA Study in and around Glacier National Park, The Elk Calf Mortality Study (determining the carnivores that caused their deaths) in the Blackfoot Valley of Montana, and a Snowshoe Hare Study (in reference to an ongoing Lynx study) in Yellowstone National Park.
In addition to my field work in the West, I was employed by Redlodge Clearinghouse, a collaborative effort in the West that brings diverse groups of stakeholders together.  Participants create projects that involve “thinking out of the box” in order to find solutions on behalf of land and wildlife protection, and the well being of the human community.
I continue to expand my work here in Maine by creating this Educational Network for all Maine citizens, teachers, parents, children, farmers, our legislators, and political leaders in order that Maine will stand out in the Nation as a leader in the protection of a rich biodiversity, but also as an example of the mutual respect we have for each other’s diverse perspectives as we work together “for the Way Life should be”.   Geri Vistein

Geri Vistein
Carnivore Conservation Biologist

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Canada's Alberta Province is adding 1.8 million hectares of protected forest in an attempt to stave off the Caribou"blink-out" that Oil and gas, logging, roads and various other human "footprinting" has and continues to cause.............The question is with the land already so altered and "pock-marked", is there already too many Moose and Deer (who now also call these lands home) here to prevent the Caribou from becoming "Wolf meal"...........The historically dense Alberta forest kept Moose and Deer from proliferating in large numbers ,,,,,,,,,,,No longer is that the case with Moose and Deer having taken advantage of the more open, altered forest..............And with the deer and Moose come their predator, the Gray Wolves who now can "prey-switch" away from the deer and moose to the easier to kill Caribou.............To slow down this prey-switching, the Province is also putting up additional Caribou Calf fencing in an attempt to accelerate Caribou calving recruitment .............Ultimately, thick horizontal and vertically dense forestland must be recreated to ensure that Caribou can hold their own in the years ahead

U of A researchers help secure habitat for nearly-endangered caribou

U of A researchers help secure habitat for nearly-endangered caribou

University of Alberta researchers have contributed to the province establishing the strongest plan in Canada to protect its endangered caribou from industry, wolves, and black bears.
The province is now conserving 1.8 million additional hectares for a total of 4.9 million hectares in a plan to protect woodland caribou from forestry and oil and gas development. Under Alberta’s Wildlife Act, the species is listed as “threatened,” meaning it’s likely to become at risk for extinction if current problems are not addressed. Stan Boutin, a population ecology professor and the Alberta Biodiversity Conservation Chair, is one of the researchers involved in provincial caribou conservation.
“This plan is an enormous advance forward,” Boutin said. “I am just so impressed by the breadth (the Alberta government) has included in it.”
In addition to expanding protected areas for caribou, the province is fencing off space to protect calves and yearlings from predation, an idea that originated in Boutin’s caribou conservation lab. Roughly 100 square kilometers will be fenced off, allowing females to raise their calves where they cannot be hunted by wolves and black bears. This will allow the province to rely less on culling wolves for caribou conservation — roughly 100 wolves were killed per year to help Alberta’s caribou between 2005 and 2012.
The new protections may not be enough to save the caribou, Boutin said. In the past, caribou avoided wolves by living in forests without enough other prey to attract predators. Alberta has two main caribou groups, the southern population in the Rocky Mountains and the boreal population in the north, and both have declined rapidly due to habitat loss caused by industrial development. Logging and fossil fuel extraction has pushed caribou habitats to overlap more with wolf territory, leading to a higher predation rate as well.
Wolf populations have been increasing as more moose and deer are able to thrive in these altered environments, and the higher number of wolves prey on caribou and their young. These factors will lead to caribou extinction if humans don’t intervene — and the government may be too late in tackling the problem, Boutin said.
“The whole situation in the last five to seven years was one of an impasse between industry and government groups,” he said. “(There was) a lot of talk on both sides about what to do, but no one doing anything. Complete inaction.”
The low-productivity forests that caribou once thrived in will need to be restored for caribou to survive in Alberta, but that process takes a long time. In the short term, solutions such as caribou rearing facilities are necessary for the current population’s survival, Boutin said.
In the future, Boutin will chair the province’s expert advisory panel to evaluate the success and implementation of the caribou conservation plan. U of A researchers will also be involved with monitoring the new caribou rearing facilities.
“We’re very keen on all the research that’s going to have to go into how these rearing facilities have helped the populations,” Boutin said. “There’s lots to be worked out as to the details and how the caribou respond in the system.”
More pressure may be put on the caribou as the climate changes in the future. Warmer temperatures will likely lead to higher deer populations, causing higher wolf populations and caribou predation rates. While the announcement of Alberta’s new caribou conservation plan is an important step, the public must continue pushing for action, Boutin said.
“We have to watch very carefully and see that this plan gets implemented in a timely manner,” he said. “There’s no time to waste.”

Monday, June 20, 2016

I AM COYOTE AUTHOR, PROJECT COYOTE'S Maine biologist Representative and our friend Geri Vistein was just interviewed by a Portland, Maine TV station regarding how Farmers can successfully co-exist with Coyotes..........Check out the video below...........Way to go Geri!


 I Am Coyote is three years old when she leaves her family in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario and embarks on a 500-mile odyssey eastward in search of a territory of her own and a mate to share it with.
Journeying by night through the dead of winter, she endures extreme cold, hunger, and a harrowing crossing of the St. Lawrence River in Montreal before her cries of loneliness are finally answered in the wilds of Maine. The mate she finds must gnaw off a paw to escape a trap.  The first coyotes in the northern U.S., they raise pups (losing several), experience summer plenty, winter hardship, playfulness, and unmistakable love and grief.  Blending science and imagination with magical results, this story tells how coyotes may have populated a land desperately in need of a keystone predator, and no one who reads it will doubt the value of their ecological role.
  • Told through the eyes of a coyote, this is a riveting story with mythic dimensions.
  • A work of creative nonfiction that adheres to the highest standards of wildlife biology.
  • With deep insights into wild canine behavior, penetrates the veil of “otherness” that separates us from the animals with whom we share the planet.
  • An appendix explores the history and current status of coyotes in North America. Native Americans considered them tricksters, messengers, and companions. Given the disappearance of wolves, they are even more critical to ecosystem health today. The author explains how, without coyotes, prey species are weakened by disease and parasites.
  • Geri Vistein speaks extensively about coyote-human interactions to a variety of audiences. She is a nationally recognized expert on the topic and maintains the website
  • A QR code in the book takes readers to a hauntingly beautiful recording of coyote song.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

One of the things I enjoy most about writing this blog is when I come across new research that sheds new insights as to historical population levels and range size of our native grazers and carnivores..............This past week, The National Park Service revealed that a small but persistent population of Bison did in fact occupy the Grand Canyon region, Pre-European contact, circa AD1500.............. Their 2010 SURVEY OF BISON REMAINS uncovered a 3,000 year-old hunting site in southern Arizona showing Bison bones intermingled with those of the Archaic people in the region...............Also, oral stories from American Indian tribes such as the Ute rendition of "tribal members bestowing a herd of bison as a gift" is further evidence of how Bison and Indigenous people interacted in this region............. "Paiute tribes also have names for Bison---- one story recorded by explorer John Wesley Powell describes an encounter between a porcupine and buffalo".............Where there were Bison, there were Wolves,,,,,,,,,,,both should call the Grand Canyon home again in the 21st century

Report finds Grand Canyon bison are native to region

Updated 5:26 am, Saturday, June 18, 2016
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The effort to come up with a way to manage bison at Grand Canyon National Park has taken a turn back in time — thousands of years — to determine the massive animals' roots.
A new National Park Service report declares bison are native to the area and says they perhaps arrived sporadically in small, dispersed herds over the past 11,000 years. The designation means authorities can cull the beasts that have been damaging the landscape but not remove them entirely from the park.
 This Aug. 26, 2010, file photo provided by the Kaibab National Forest shows bison in the national forest adjacent to the Grand Canyon in Northern Arizona. The hundreds of bison that roam the far northern reaches of Arizona are descendants of the massive animals brought to the region in the early 1900's as part of a crossbreeding operation. But a new report issued Thursday, June 16, 2016, by the National Park Service says that’s just a snapshot of bison history in the region. (Kaibab National Forest via AP, File)

The study released Thursday acknowledges the current herd descends from bison that were brought to northern Arizona in the early 1900s by a rancher who wanted to crossbreed them with cattle. But that's just a snapshot of the animal's history in the region, the report says.
Bison historically weren't a dominant part of the landscape. But they did appear in the area, which was the edge of their historic range, said Glenn Plumb, acting chief of science and resource management at the Grand Canyon and one of nine wildlife biologists who authored the report.
"All the evidence shows that northern Arizona was not a black hole for bison," he said. "It was part of the narrative; the habitat was suitable for them."
The study replaces an internal report meant to inform efforts to quickly reduce the burgeoning population from as many as 600 animals to between 80 and 200, and come up with a long-term strategy to manage the bison and have a huntable population outside the Grand Canyon.
The animals that can weigh 2,000 pounds or more are trampling vegetation, grazing in pristine meadows and polluting water sources in the park, officials say.
Environmental groups say the internal report and the new study are not grounded in science and marked a surprising change in the Grand Canyon's onetime classification of bison as nonnative.
Jeff Ruch,executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said the new report reaches an absurd conclusion that possible ancient sightings of bison in small numbers make the current herd native to the park.
"That is the leap that is hardest for everyone to swallow," he said Thursday. "This was a group of animals, imported, bred with cattle, part of the commercial enterprise and don't fit most people's idea of what native wildlife would be."
In 1906, a rancher brought dozens of bison to northern Arizona to crossbreed them with cattle. But the operation produced no male calves and was abandoned. The state now manages the animals.
The report points to various factors as evidence of the animals' previous existence in the region: a 2010 survey of bison in North America, bison remains recently discovered at a 3,000 year-old hunting site in southern Arizona, and oral stories from American Indian tribes.
 According to a Hopi story, Ute tribal members bestowed a herd of bison as a gift during a and it is remembered through dances today. Paiute tribes have names for the buffalo, and one story recorded by explorer John Wesley Powell describes an encounter between a porcupine and buffalo, the report says.
Ruch contends the report reached what appears to be a predetermined management decision that up to 200 bison can be supported in the Grand Canyon. He contends the Park Service is aligning interests with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to appease hunters.
Hunting tags for bison are the most sought-after of the state's big game species on lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon. Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain has said he wants state-licensed hunters to be able to participate in any effort to cull the population and be allowed to keep the meat.
Visitors can see bison on the drive to the Grand Canyon's North Rim, sometimes grazing near the park entrance gates. The animals have been spending more time within the Grand Canyon where they can't be hunted, but they rarely, if ever, go below the North Rim, wildlife officials say.
In recent years, the Park Service has focused on restoring and sustaining wild bison populations across the central and western United States. Plumb said state, federal and tribal officials envision a 215,000-acre area of northern Arizona where bison can roam free, including on 54,000 acres of the Grand Canyon.
Millions of bison once roamed the Great Plains, but the number has dwindled to around 500,000 in the U.S. Few bison herds roam freely in areas including Utah and Arizona, with the largest wild population in Yellowstone National Park.