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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, March 13, 2011

Kansas Dept. of Wildlife and Parks commenting on the historic occurrence of Wolves, Cougars and Black Bears in their State............Kansas was a very wild geograhphic region prior to 19th Century Sod Busting........Dispersing male Bears, Cougars and Wolves have source populations within striking distance of Kansas............Does Kansas have the necessary habitat to foster a breeding population of our keystone predators?

historically were primarily found in the woodlands of Eastern Kansas and in the rugged terrain of the Red Hills in the Southcentral and Southwestern portions of the state, and were probably rare or absent from open grasslands. They are thought to have been extirpated from the state by the 1880's, though specimens have been documented from Kansas on occasion since that time. Today, established populations of black bears occur within short distances of Kansas. The Eastern border of a Colorado-New Mexico black bear population occurs within about 100 miles or so of Southwest Kansas, and an expanding Oklahoma-Missouri-Arkansas population occurs even closer to Southeast Kansas. Both populations are within potential travel distances for dispersing or transient black bears, and in fact, black bears suspected to have originated from each population have been documented in Kansas. No wild black bears are currently known to exist in Kansas.
KDWP recognizes the possibility that wolves and especially black bears and cougars may naturally immigrate into Kansas on occasion, and that individuals of these species may exist in the state at any given time, including the present. However, despite numerous investigations of reports of these species (primarily cougar) over many years, only wild black bears have sporadically been verified in recent times. The paragraphs below generally provide an explanation of why these species might reoccur in Kansas, and are meant to provide justification for such a document to be implemented prior to these species becoming established in Kansas. Whether or not Kansans will tolerate the presence of these species remains to be seen, but the potential for their at least occasional reoccurrence does exist.

Black bears

 were historically found nearly transcontinentally, including throughout Kansas. The last documented wild cougar (also referred to as puma, panther, painter, catamount, or mountain lion) in Kansas was shot in Ellis County in 1904. The current distribution of cougars in the Midwest is not well understood. After many decades of absence, cougars have reappeared, even relatively frequently, in several nearby states. Seven cougars have been confirmed in Missouri since 1994, including one that was killed just miles from Kansas. Nebraska has had 14 confirmed cougars since 1991, including multiple animals that most likely originated from the Black Hills population in South Dakota. Oklahoma has confirmed suspected wild individuals in and near the Panhandle, most likely from the recognized Colorado-New Mexico population – which occurs within 75 miles of Southwest Kansas. But more recently (May, 2004), a cougar that had been radio-collared in South Dakota and had dispersed from the Black Hills population, was killed by a train in Oklahoma 40 miles south of Arkansas City, KS. Iowa, Arkansas, and Illinois have also had recent confirmations. When animals have been obtained in many of the instances mentioned above, they have most often been young males – indicating dispersing individuals but not necessarily reproducing populations within those states. The susceptibility of these young animals to roadkill or other forms of mortality indicates that when cougars do first reappear in a state, these animals will be documented prior to the establishment of a reproducing population. Despite numerous reports of cougars in Kansas, a suspected wild specimen has not been documented in recent times.

 Gray wolves, or timber wolves as they are often recognized, historically ranged thoughout Kansas with the possible exception of the Southeast corner, and were considered common in the state. They were the first of these three species to be extirpated from Kansas (in the mid-1800's) and have the most distant established wild populations. They appear the least likely of these three species to reinhabit the state. However, gray wolf populations have exceeded their numerical recovery goals as set forth by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for both the Eastern (Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, etc) and Western (Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, etc) Distinct Population Segments (DPSs), and were reclassified from endangered to threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act in April, 2003. At that time, the USFWS announced plans to begin work on proposals to delist both populations, and expects to actually make these proposals in the "foreseeable future." With gray wolf recovery efforts in the Northern states having been so successful, the possibility of occasional immigration of individual animals into Kansas should not be completely dismissed. In fact, in at least four incidences since October 2001, dispersing individuals have shown up far from recognized gray wolf range, including once each in Missouri, Illinois, Nebraska and Indiana. In each of these cases, the wolves were known to have dispersed hundreds of miles from packs in Michigan, Wisconsin, or Minnesota.


Anonymous said...

I will actually beg to differ. I know for a fact that there are cougars and wolves populating Kansas. I have seen and heard plenty of both species. I can still remember back in 2000, my brother and I were coming home from a friends house and we almost hit two cougars crossing the highway only six miles from where we lived. So if the State Of Kansas would like to lie, let them, but we all around here know the truth. If we didn't have wolves in the state of Kansas, then a couple of months ago when they had a complaint come across the radio about the Cedar Bluff Lake area that wolves were becoming to close to humans. I guess from what they had said on the radio they have been attacking campsites in the area and almost attacking people. Another way to to prove, I was out at my grandmother's farm the other day and there was a pack of Wolves crossing the road. I know the difference between a coyote and a wolf and they were much too tall and the colors didn't match to that of a coyote.

Anonymous said...

I will agrede with you there is something Kansas is keeping from Its people. I was out hunting one morning last deer season qnd saw what I thought was a bobcat but When I pulled my binnoculars up it was bigger and has a longer tail than a bobcat. the Lady i hunt coyotes for told me she thought she saw 2 wolve in here fríos explaining to me that they Were bigger than a coyote. Kansas introduced the mountain lions because they were tagged with gps chips in case anyone killed one.

Rick Meril said...

perhaps tagged in south dakota?.............wandered into Kansas?

Anonymous said...

I'm almost 100% positive that I saw a wolf in the south end of Topeka today. It was running out by the water tower by the Walmart on 37th & Topeka Blvd. I drove by it as it stopped in the little parking lot by the tower. It was a wolf, not a stray dog or coyote. Very strange that it would be so far inside the city limits, though.

Rick Meril said...

I hope that your observations are accurate..............At this point,a reproducing wolf and Puma population in your state has not been verified by any of the advocacy groups...............I get that your state wildlife agency might not want to publicize a few prospecting inidviuals,,,,,,,,,,,,,but if there was a breeding population for either animal, road kill and sightings with pictures would be occurring,,,,,,,,,,,,,,as there is with the 6 to 10 Pumas residing in Los Angeles

Joshua Schreiner said...

I am from Topeka and am very sure i saw a wolf near the kansas river in Topeka. If it was not a wolf it was a coy wolf but was way to large to be a coyote.

Rick Meril said...

Give em enough habitat and protection and soooner or later from The Rockies or from the Great Lakes, we will see the Wolves again in Kansas

Moonshadow said...

My daughter and I are pretty sure we saw a wolf run across in front of our car on the way home tonight. It was too big and husky to be a coyote. It was grayish, not brown/red. It wasn't a dog. This was on K42 about 5 or 10 miles west of Wichita.

Rick Meril said...

Moonshadow.............Happy Thanksgiving to you and your daughter........Who is to say?,,,,,,,,,,,,perhaps a disperser out of the Great Lakes or Northern Rockies

Shepherdlover said...

Okay, I ran across this website today because I was searching for wolves in Kansas. We just came back from camping at Melvern Lake, Ks in the Arrow Rock Lake campsites. We were the only campers there because it was right before open season. We have a German Shepherd and he slept with us in our tent. Around 3:30 am I heard very heavy footsteps walking on the gravel road next to our tent. It woke me up because it sounded like a human's footsteps. Looked out the tent window and about 100ft or less from us is what looked like a wolf or the biggest coyote I've ever seen in my life! If a coyote out here can get up to about 90lbs+ . He was bigger than my German Shepherd, and I have a tall Shepherd. I was hoping it was a deer, but no such luck. I know he smelled my dog and that's why he was there. He stayed in that same spot outside my tent for about 30 minutes, lifting his head, smelling the air and just moving around some. He had a long bushy tail, kind of looked like my Shepherd. He would not leave! He kept looking in our direction. All I saw was his shape, because there was only moonlight. He was a big guy. My son and I were not going to stay in the tent so we slowly walked into the truck (left dog in tent) and he watched us the entire time. When I started the truck it scared him off. I didn't get the chance to get my headlights on him. When I told the gate keepers at Melvern this some said there aren't wolves here and others said, yes there are. Needless to say, we slept in the car the next night!

Rick Meril said...

perhaps a prospecting wolf out of the great lakes..............or a coyote that appeared bigger to you in the dark than in actuality..............Regardless, an exciting overnight trip for you and perhaps one day a return of the "Buffalo Wolf" to the Jayhawk state, pursuing their ancient prey, the bison

dustin Hearlson said...

Driving to work entering the west side of Oxford I and an elderly woman observed a reddish brown wolf. His size of course got are attention but what struck me it's how he ran.

Rick Meril said...

Dustin.,,,,,,,,,Thanks for sharing your observation with us.......Let us get those prospecting Wolves out of the Great Lakes to take up residence in Kansas!