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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, May 22, 2012

The WILDLIFE SOCIETY President, Paul Krausman stressing HABITAT,,,,HABITAT,,,,HABITAT---the critical element to sustain wildlie

Habitat: An Essential Element of Wildlife Management
Paul Krausman, President, The Wildlife Society

On my office bookshelves, I have more than 40 texts on wildlife management in North America, including William Hornaday's Wild Life Conservation in Theory and Practice, published in 1914. All these books emphasize the importance of wildlife habitat.
In Hornaday's era, the use of the word "habitat" was not in vogue, but its importance was very clear when he wrote, "A fauna once destroyed cannot be brought back!" In his lectures, Hornaday outlined the ills of market hunting and resource extraction by providing an example from China, writing, "No power on earth can repopulate China with the wild species that were hers when she had forests, and before the era of extermination." It was not long after this publication that definitions of the term "habitat" developed.
In Aldo Leopold's classic text, Game Management, published in 1933, Leopold used the term "game range" to refer to habitat, and he addressed questions we still ask today, writing:
"When the game manager asks himself whether a given piece of land is suitable for a given species of game, he must realize that he is asking no simple question, but rather he is facing one of the great enigmas of animate nature. An answer good enough for practical purposes is usually easy to get by the simple process of noting whether the species is there and ready, or whether it occurs on 'similar' range nearby. But let him not be cocksure about what is 'similar,' for this involves the deeper question of why a species occurs in one place and not in another, which is probably the same as why it persists at all. No living man can answer that question fully in even one single instance."

we sing about "America the Beautiful"--should we not actually save it????????????

These questions had been expressed much earlier in Aristotle's writings (384-322 BC), when even he speculated about why animals live where they do. Artwork from around the world has also depicted different species is specific landscapes. Early naturalists were interested in collecting and classifying species and asked questions about occurrence of species. Such questions eventually led, in part, to Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. Later discourse gave rise to discussion of niches within habitats, culminating in G.E. Hutchinson's n-dimensional niche, which has been continually studied to the point that habitat is one of the three major components of the wildlife management triad (i.e., wildlife, humans, habitat).
Clearly habitat is vital to wild species survival and the profession has to do a sensitive balancing act to maintain species and habitat. Land use has changed over time and the effect on wildlife is considerable. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the land mass in the U.S. is approximately 9,629,091 square kilometers. Of that, 28.8 percent is forest, 25.9 percent is in grassland pasture and rangeland, and 19.5 percent is in cropland. Parks and wildlife areas make up 13.1 percent, and miscellaneous categories (i.e., rural residential, desert) account for 10.1 percent. The remainder—just 2.6 percent—accounts for urban lands. Although only 2.6 percent, urban land has increased at twice the rate of population growth from 1945 to 2002 and has increased 13 percent from 1990 to 2002. That is a lot of land being used for a lot of purposes resulting in natural habitat rapidly disappearing across our landscape.
Species classified as threatened or endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service face multiple contributors to their endangerment including: non-native species; urbanization; agricultural land uses; domestic livestock and ranching activities; modified fire regimes; water, soil, and air pollution; mineral, gas, oil, and geothermal extraction or exploitation; and industrial, institutional, and military activities. Each of these has serious ramifications for wildlife and will only increase in intensity with human population growth.
As the population increases and the demand for food rises, large tracks of land suitable for agriculture will be at risk for conversion from natural ecosystems to fragmented cultivated monocultures. In addition, urban sprawl and roads continue to create barriers to animal movement, and oil and gas exploration results in local and landscape level disturbances including road development, pollution, land conversion, and further habitat loss and fragmentation. The influence on wildlife is devastating resulting in declining populations. Upland game bird populations, for example, are declining and will continue to decline from oil and gas development. Fences will continue to create barriers, and fragmentation certainly restricts the home ranges of species that depend on large landscapes for survival. For the numerous species for which little life history information is available, habitat loss may have already sealed their fates.

the famous childrens book portraying habitat loss

Much of the contemporary literature on wildlife habitats and fragmentation sounds similar to Hornaday's cries to eliminate market hunting and the frivolous use of our natural capital, a practice that was rampant in the early 1900s. What he said about wildlife then could just as equally apply to wildlife habitat today:
"We hold that the real men and women of to-day owe to posterity a duty in the preservation of wild life that cannot be conscientiously ignored. The wild life of the world is not ours, to dispose of wholly as we please. We hold it in trust, for the benefit of ourselves, and equal benefits to those who come after us. As honorable guardians we have no right to waste and squander the heritage of our children and grandchildren. It is our duty to stay the hand that strives to apply the torch."
The Wildlife Society and the professionals we represent have a critical role to play as "honorable guardians" of the land. By studying the impacts of threats such as habitat fragmentation and energy development — and by collaborating with state, provincial, and federal agencies, tribes, and NGOs in developing wildlife corridors, conservation easements, and restoration projects — we can help ensure the survival of adequate, sustainable habitats where wildlife can thrive. We don't need a textbook to state the obvious about wildlife and habitats; one cannot survive without the other.

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