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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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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wolf Biologist Doug Smith at Yellowstone National Park continues to reiterate that the Elk Herd that once numbered between 16-20,000 prior to the return of the Wolf, Griz and Puma is returning to historical "land healthy" levels of about 4000.........Smith said "it was inaccurate to heap too much blame for the elk herd's decline on wolves"....."the elk are looking really good," ...... "This was one of the hardest winters we've had in decades" …" We've got a leaner, meaner elk herd."

Wolves not the sole cause of Yellowstone Elk decrease

-with Elk down in number, the Aspens and Willows return to Yellowstone,,and with them beavers and song birds

A major elk herd that migrates between Yellowstone National Park and Montana suffered another steep decline last year due to a hard winter, predator attacks and hunting, state and federal scientists said Tuesday.
An Associated Press report says new data from wildlife agencies show the Northern Yellowstone elk herd is down to about 4,174 animals, a 10 percent drop from the prior year's count. That follows a 24 percent drop in 2011.

Wolves and Elk have "danced" together for millenia--as it should be!

Yellowstone biologist Doug Smith said the herd remains healthy despite its smaller size. The number is more in line with historic levels since wolves were reintroduced and grizzly bears and mountain lions returned naturally, he said.

The herd peaked at about 20,000 animals in 1992, a few years before wolves were brought back from Canada after being absent from the region for decades. Since then, the herd has declined about 80 percent.
Read on for details from the AP.

Some outfitters and others who live outside the park say officials have not done enough to curb predator attacks, particularly by wolves. The Yellowstone herd supported a thriving hunting industry, with several thousand elk killed in some years, before the numbers started to drop.

The Park Service has no set population target for the herd, but the latest counts have fallen below the target range of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks.The state wants between 3,000 and 5,000 elk in portions of Montana just north of the park. The latest count found 2,734 elk in that area.

Smith said it was inaccurate to heap too much blame for the elk herd's decline on wolves.
Wolf numbers, too, have been dropping in recent years, from 94 in 2007 to 38 last year in the area populated by the Northern Yellowstone herd.

"That's some bad news, a 25 percent decline last year and 10 percent this year. But the elk are looking really good," Smith said. "This was one of the hardest winters we've had in decades … We've got a leaner, meaner elk herd."

Conservationists credit wolves with helping restore balance to the ecosystem, in part by reducing the size of a herd that some had said was far too large at its peak.

To keep the herd from declining too far, Montana wildlife commissioners in February approved a new permit system for Northern Yellowstone elk. Although there are unlimited numbers of the $9 permits, the requirement is expected to reduce the number of hunters who come to the area, said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim.

Severe Winters weaken Elk

Agency biologist Karen Loveless said despite the decline seen in this year's count there are signs the Northern Yellowstone herd could rebound. Loveless says the number of calves per cow elk appears to be on the increase, an indication that more of the animals survived than in past winters. "I feel some encouragement in the long-term," Loveless said. "We sure would like to see it at least level off and I would like to see it coming back up. There is a possibility that could happen."

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