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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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Friday, March 30, 2012

Are Wolves, Pumas and Black Bears "spreading their wings into Southern Michigan?........The Michigan Wildlife Conservancy feels that they do in fact have a toehold south of the Lower Peninsula although the Michigan Dept of Ntl. Resources disputes that conclusion as it relates to Wolves and Pumas but does acknowledge that about 10% of the State's 15-19,000 Black Bears live South of the Lower Peninsula.........If we provide habitat, they will reoccupy former haunts!

Wildlife experts debate presence of cougars and wolves in lower Michigan
By Cole Waterman;

Puma in Oscoda County in 1993.

BAY CITY, MI — Black bears and feral hogs aren't the only predatory species increasing in numbers throughout southern and central Michigan.

Cougars and wolves are likewise experiencing population surges, says said Dennis Fijalkowski, executive director for Bath-based Michigan Wildlife Conservancy, though the Michigan Department of Natural Resources disputes such a conclusion.

With wolves, people don’t necessarily need to fret, but they should be conscious and respectful of their presence. "They've been in the northern Lower Peninsula for about 25 years,” Fijalkowski said. “They crossed the ice from the Upper Peninsula ... a trapper shot one in a coyote trap back in ’04. They’re as far south as Roscommon County, and there have been a few reports, unconfirmed, all the way to the Indiana line.”

Gray Wolf

Despite their reputation for fearsomeness, wolves aren’t much of a threat to people, with Fijalkowski saying there have only been two documented cases of wolves attacking humans in North American history. Wolves are prone, however, to attack pets, Fijalkowski said.

The DNR doesn't subscribe to Fijalkowski's belief about the wolves' range. "There’s no wolves in the whole Lower Peninsula that we know of," said Brian Roell, a DNR wildlife biologist. "I'm not saying they're not there, just that we haven’t detected them. If they are there, they're at a low level, but detection is very difficult. We could get that proof tomorrow."

Reports of suspected wolves in the northern Lower Peninsula were proven by DNA testing to actually be coyotes, Roell said. Coyotes are prevalent throughout Michigan.

As with wolves, the presence of cougars in the Lower Peninsula is a subject for much debate among experts.  “We have not confirmed any (cougars) in the Lower Peninsula,” said Adam Bump, bear and furbear specialist with the Department of Natural Resources. “We’ve confirmed quite a few in the Upper Peninsula since 2008. We look at a lot of potential sightings and pictures taken in the Lower Peninsula, but we have not been able to verify them.”


Fijalkowski contests the DNR’s findings regarding cougar presence, or the lack thereof. “They’ve been around since the ‘50s,” he said. “They followed the deer down from the UP. We’ve had many reports from Bay County and in and around the Thumb. They will benefit from the increasing wildness of southern Michigan.”

Fijalkowski attributes the cougar and wolf proliferation to them following prey. “Any place you have a big deer population, you’re going to have cougars, and you’re going to have wolves in the future,” he said.

Black Bear

Other species experiencing a renaissance in Michigan include otters, porcupines and pileated woodpeckers, Fijalkowski said. One reason, wildlife experts say, is that the Lower Peninsula is experiencing a resurgence of woodlands after turn-of-the-19th-century logging led to significant deforestation.

More black bears sighted in Michigan's populated areas

By The Associated Press

Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Jeff Goss, left, and Battle Creek police officer Kurt Dittmer carry a black bear after it was shot near Fremont Elementary School in Battle Creek Mich., in May 2008. Black bear populations are either increasing or moving in some Midwestern states, raising the chances of confrontations with humans in unexpected places. Michigan has an estimated 15,000 to 19,000 black bears.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- In southern Michigan, police officers responding to a mid-May domestic violence call were startled to find a black bear wandering the streets of a residential neighborhood dozens of miles from the species' typical roaming grounds. Five bear sightings have been confirmed in Iowa this year, the first since 2005. And in Wisconsin, wildlife officials reported this summer the state may have twice as many black bears as previously believed.

Black bear populations are either increasing or moving in some Midwestern states, raising the chances of confrontations with humans in unexpected places -- like Terry Cook's front yard in rural Jackson County. Cook, 66, went to bed one night last week and soon heard a telltale rattling sound outside. When he looked out the window, he expected to see squirrels or raccoons breaking into his birdfeeders, an ongoing issue for the Henrietta Township man. "It took me a while to comprehend what I was seeing," Cook said of the scene outside his house, roughly 60 miles west of Detroit. "There was a big bear, chewing on the feeder and busting up the plastic. I was just in shock, really."

While the bear didn't hurt anyone, it's those kinds of sightings that have state wildlife officials eager to update their bear management plan. They'll try to get a better fix on the bear population, and what to do about it, with a series of community meetings this month. The state Department of Natural Resources will help gather information over the next nine months with the goal of having a draft management plan by winter 2009.

About 90 percent of Michigan's estimated 15,000 to 19,000 black bears are thought to live in the state's Upper Peninsula, at least 250 miles north of Cook's home in the southern Lower Peninsula.

A wild black bear whose head got stuck inside a 2½-gallon clear plastic jug, presumably while foraging for food, is seen in a July 22, 2008 photo. Minnesota wildlife officials tried for six days to capture the bear but ended up killing the animal after it wandered into the city of Frazee, about 200 miles northwest of the Twin Cities, during the town's busy Turkey Days celebration.

The state's black bear population has edged southward over the past decade or so, likely squeezed out of their homes by suburban sprawl or to avoid territory where a larger bear already rules. Most often, a bear sighted in a new location -- especially in the spring -- turns out to be a young male on the prowl for food or an undisturbed home. "It's a normal behavior," said Adam Bump, the DNR's bear specialist. "They're looking for unoccupied territory."

Rarely has that location been in Battle Creek -- about 40 miles from the Indiana border. So police were shocked to find a bear standing in the middle of a northside neighborhood street about 2 a.m. one morning this spring. The bear scrambled between houses and climbed backyard fences while officers shot at him. The bear was hit by a patrol car and scrambled up a pine tree by an elementary school, where police shot and killed him.

Other sightings over the past few years abound. A young bear was struck and killed by a car in Ada, less than 10 miles east of Grand Rapids, in 2007. A 135-pound bear was killed in 2006 after being struck by at least three vehicles on I-75 in urban Flint Township. In the Lansing area in 2005, a bear was seen in a Wal-Mart parking lot north of the state's capital city, another in a residential neighborhood just west of town.
Two black bears have been shot in Iowa this year, among the state's five confirmed sightings. Wildlife officials speculate the bears may have wandered in from neighboring Minnesota or Missouri, although they haven't ruled out the possibility some of the bears may have been released into the wild by former owners or escaped from their holding pens.

Wisconsin officials now estimate their black bear population is about 26,000, twice as many as previously thought, based on preliminary results of a study coordinated by the University of Wisconsin.
That's no surprise to residents of northern Wisconsin's Rusk County, which reported 11 bear-vehicle accidents this year through July. That's up from eight for all of 2007. There also are more bear complaints in and around Ladysmith, the county's biggest city with a population of about 3,600.
"They're hitting garbage cans and bird feeders, looking for something to eat," Rusk County Sheriff David Kaminski said. "People need to be aware they're out there."


Anonymous said...

Black bears go figure

Scott said...

I seen a cougar 15 feet from me for about 2 minutes in my ex girlfriends house here in muskegon by Catholic central. Walked up on the deck then turned and hoped the wooden fence like if was nothing

Rick Meril said...

Scott........As you know, several confirmed Michigan sightings over the past 15 years..........Still, no evidence of a breeding population in the state