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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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Sunday, June 10, 2012

As is the case when it comes to Wolf depredation of livestock in the Rocky Mountain and Great Lakes States, the % of calf deaths attributatble to tthe 160 Pumas who call Florida home seems to be minimal, ranging from 1 to 4% across Florida Ranches..........U. of Florida and Florida Fish & Wildlife have teamed up on a two year study to determine just how severe livestock depredation from Pumas really is..........Prior to the study, some Ranchers claimed that 1/3 of their newborn calves were taken by our "gHOST cATS",,,,,,seemingly highly exaggerated as year 1 of this study is bearing out.............A Program to compentsate Ranchers for Puma inflictied mortalities and/or for keeping Pumas alive on their property is being considered based on the conclusions brought to bear by the University and Wildlife researchers

UF study in Immokalee shows panther kills of calves not as common as feared

Florida Panther calf-tagging project
—Neither ranchers nor researchers knew what to expect when they kicked off a two-year study last year to try to figure out how often Florida panthers are attacking newborn calves around Immokalee.

A report on the first year of the study is putting some hard numbers to the problem, for the first time, and is revealing some surprises, they say."I think we have a good handle on what happened," said University of Florida graduate student Caitlin Jacobs, who conducted the study with the help of ranchers.

Puma on Florida road eyeing a Deer

Getting to the bottom of the problem of panthers preying on cattle herds looms large because private landowners' cooperation is key to the survival of a rebounding population of the endangered species that's running out of room in Southwest Florida.

The study is helping guide the development of a possible program to compensate ranchers for calf losses, either paying ranchers per killed animal or paying a so-called "ecosystem services" fee to reward ranchers for the environmental benefit of their land.

Scientists estimate that as many as 160 panthers live in the wild, up from as few as 30. A recovery plan calls for establishing new panther populations in other parts of Florida, raising concerns about conflicts between panthers and humans elsewhere.

The study tagged 98 calves at the JB Ranch and 108 calves at the Immokalee Ranch with ear transmitters that allowed researchers to keep track of the calves during calving season from September 2011 to April 2012.
At the Immokalee Ranch, seven calves were lost from the study herd, or about 6 percent. One calf, or 1 percent of the study herd, was confirmed killed by a panther. The study documented the deaths of another 15 untagged calves at Immokalee Ranch.

Calves, both tagged and untagged, were lost at the two ranches after abandonment by the mother because of the stress of the tagging, abandonment for unknown reasons, sickness, attacks by other predators like bears, coyotes and vultures. Some calves went missing for unknown reasons, according to the report.

The number of calves killed by panthers at the JB Ranch was less than what ranch owners had estimated in 2010, when they guessed that as many as 70 calves were killed by panthers, or about one-third of all calves born that fall.
Last fall, the Priddys estimated that panthers killed 70 calves on their ranch, about one-third of all the calves born last fall. They lost another 15 percent of the herd to other predators, like coyotes or vultures, or to natural causes.
Still, JB Ranch owner Liesa Priddy called the study's findings a "big step forward."
"I just think it serves to confirm a lot of what the ranchers were seeing in our herds (with panther depredation)," said Priddy, also a member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission board.

Florida Wildlife Federation field representative Nancy Payton agreed: "It confirms there is a problem. It might not be as extensive as some had thought but there is a problem and it has to be addressed."

Puma in Everglades

Priddy said the study came with a few surprises, too. She said she was surprised at how far panthers will drag a calf to conceal the kill, a possible explanation for why ranchers couldn't find many of the calves that they suspected of being attacked by panthers before the study.

Another surprise to ranchers: The calves killed by panthers during the study were older and larger than ranchers had suspected a panther would kill, Priddy said. She said she also was surprised at the number of panthers abandoned by their mothers."We learned a lot that we didn't know before," she said.

Jacobs plans to return this fall to retag newborn calves at the two ranches and is sending out a survey to ranchers statewide asking about their perceptions of the panther depredation problem, the panther recovery efforts and possible compensation options.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist Dave Onorato said he's pleased science is being used to make decisions but warned that the second year of the study could establish different findings."Things change," Onorato said. "I don't think you want to jump to any major conclusions."The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's top man at the Vero Beach field office sounded a similar caution about drawing conclusions from the study's first year."It brings some insight that there is a level of predation," field supervisor Larry Williams said. "It's fairly low but they still can be considered significant if you're the rancher losing those calves."

Something the study hasn't done in its first year is reveal any foolproof way to stop, or even curtail, panthers preying on ranchers' calves.
"I haven't heard any good ideas at all," Priddy said. "I wish there were some."

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