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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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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Even when Elk herds reflect above-land-carrying-capacity abundance, Montana Fish and Wildlife Biologists like Craig Jourdonnais seek to minimize these facts and instead play the "fear card" that Wolves(the "evil boogeyman of the Forest) could change things any minute for the worse and cause the "sacred" Elk to shrink in numbers...............Geez, does it ever cross Mr. Jourdannais's Wildlife Biology trained mind that reduced Elk herds might be good for the land????.............That by his own admission, William Ripple and John Laundre's LANDSCAPE OF FEAR hypothesis is already in play and successfully keeping Elk from "nubbing the landscape" down to a moonscape?,,,,,,,,,,,,Does Aldo Leopold's "Thinking Like A Mountain" credo(the Mountain needs both Wolves and Elk in order for the Mountain to be healthy) that he studied in College ever cross his mind in his Wildlife Management recommendations to his Fish & Wildlife" Bosses????...........Has he ever read any of George Wuerthner's essays on Carnivore Management that talk about the great need not to manage Carnivores based on a minimum population size but instead on Ecosytem Services criteria????.............. And in the case of wolves and Coyotes, to base management of these sentient and intelligent animals on an intact Pack Integrity basis????????????? Disappointing that he and the majority of his colleagues across the USA seem to have blinders on (as well as feeling job security threats from powerful Ranching lobbyists) as it relates to every ecological consideration.............and it is the hunting and Ranching $$$$$$$ that create our Conservation Policies.............Are you reading this President Obama...............REAL CHANGE NEVER IS ACCOMPLISHED WITH RHETORIC...............REAL CHANGE IS ACCOMPLISHED THROUGH GUTS AND ACTION...................PLEASE START SETTING THE PROPER TONE ON ENDANGERED SPECIES, WILDERNESS AND ENERGY and perhaps Mr. Jourdonnais et al will be forced to modify their behavior and actions!!!!!!!!!!

Bitterroot Valley elk numbers increase in annual count


Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Craig Jourdonnais spotted around 400 more elk in the Bitterroot Valley this spring than during the annual monitoring flight last year. But he's not ready to tell anyone to start celebrating."It's good that we saw more elk, but this year's conditions for counting were exceptional," Jourdonnais said. "The elk were more concentrated and easier to count."This year's count may just be a reflection of that happenstance. "We hit green-up just right, and the elk were out in places where we could see them," Jourdonnais said. "There were only a few days where we had to hunt and dig them out of the timber. That didn't happen much."
In total, Jourdonnais counted 6,605 elk in the Bitterroot Valley. Last year, he spotted about 6,200.
With calf survival rates relatively low over the past few years, Jourdonnais said it is doubtful that elk numbers will increase dramatically in most areas of the Bitterroot. The one exception may be the west side of the valley, where calf numbers appear to be on the increase."Hunting District 240 is the one area that seems to be having a legitimate upswing," Jourdonnais said. "I counted more than 30 calves per 100 cows. That's the highest recruitment rate that I've seen since I've been here."
There is a caveat, however. The best calf/cow numbers are found in the herds hugging the river bottoms. Jourdonnais counted upward of 51 calves per 100 cows on those private lands on the valley bottoms, which helped to drive the average higher.That's a trend Jourdonnais is noticing throughout the Bitterroot. Elk wintering in wildland areas tend to have lower calf recruitment rates than those that spend most of their lives closer to developed areas, like the river bottoms. Jourdonnais has seen elk change their behavior over the past few years. In the past, the animals would leave the valley bottom in the spring and summer in the mountainous areas on public lands. "Some have just quit doing that," Jourdonnais said. "I think they are making that decision for two reasons: nutrition and predation."
In the East Fork of the Bitterroot River, Jourdonnais said, low calf recruitment for several years appears to be impacting total bull numbers in the area, especially south of Rye Creek. For the last two years, Jourdonnais counted less than 10 bulls per 100 cows in that area.Under the statewide elk plan, that ratio triggers consideration of changes in hunting-season packages, which could include the requirement for some type of permit system. No changes will be made until after the public has a chance to offer input, Jourdonnais said.
The decline in mature bull numbers follows a year when good hunting conditions led to a relatively large harvest last fall. There were 269 bulls killed in HD 270."I'm happy the hunters had the success they did last fall, however I knew that when they really got into those mature bulls during the last 10 days of season, we would pay for it," Jourdonnais said. "You can't have that kind of success when there is low calf recruitment happening at the same time."
Calf numbers varied between the south and north portions of the hunting district. North of Rye Creek in HD 270, Jourdonnais counted 20 calves per 100 cows. On the south end, he found 13 calves per 100 cows. "That surprised me a bit," Jourdonnais said. "It does seem like there is a more persistent presence of wolves south of Rye Creek."
Elk numbers in the West Fork appear to have stabilized.Jourdonnais counted 785 this past year, which was up from 764 last year and 744 in 2009. "Those variations are easily discounted by the variability in the survey," Jourdonnais said. "It does appear that eliminating any antlerless harvest there has stabilized that population for now."

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