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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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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Meika Jensen is a freelance writer and aspiring graduate student hoping to study at UC Berkeley..... Below is an article she has written on why the Gray Wolf needs to persist and thrive in North America............Follow her on Twitter @MeikaJensen, and if you ever want a guest post, just drop her a line

Preservation of the North American Gray Wolf

Humans are the most invasive and dominant species on Earth, but this does not make up impervious the the ill-effects of ecosystem degradation. With survival on the mind and every natural resource at our fingertips we have conquered, however many are beginning to feel it is time to scale back our influence. From those studying in biology masters degree programs to conservation experts and all of the activists in between, people are beginning to change their ways in order to save others.

An Unclear nor Present Danger

The North American Gray Wolf plays a vital role in the ecosystem by controlling natural prey populations. As human settlement increased across the continent, wolves were seen as a threat to livestock, the natural prey of wolves whose population was exploding.  The amount of livestock lost to wolves was greatly exaggerated however, as research shows wolves prefer wild prey.  Nevertheless, the wolf has been hunted to near extinction. 

With the help of recovery plans in place across the continent, the North American Gray Wolf is slowly mounting a comeback.  Led in places by university graduate students, these efforts are expected to save the Gray Wolf from extinction while adding much needed biodiversity to the continent's ecosystem. 

Gray Wolf
 Graduate student work to save the Gray Wolf is extensive. At Trent University, students are conducting to determine the true range of this top predator before European settlement devastated the population.  Students at Northern Arizona University are participating in a Mexican Gray Wolf Reintroduction Project.  These attempts to reintroduce the wolves in the western United States are beginning to show signs of success.  However, threats do remain, especially in areas where wolf habitat is being threatened by oil exploration. 

Conservation efforts are working. 

Due to legal protections, changes in land use, human migration back to urban centers, and reintroduction programs. The Gray Wolf is now listed as a species of Least Concern by the The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  However, local populations continue to need help, and the Gray Wolf is still listed as Endangered in Oregon and Washington, as well as several other states throughout the country.  As an apex predator, the wolf plays an important role in bringing balance to an ecosystem by controlling populations of prey species. In doing this, the wolf improves the biodiversity throughout their range. 

Eastern Wolf

Without the wolf, prey animal populations become genetically less vital with the survival of weaker individuals.  These prey animals push out other animals and consume larger amounts of native fauna.  The end result is a population that cannot be sustained and eventually collapses.  Protecting and maintaining wolf populations is an indispensable part of any long range wildlife conservation strategy. 


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