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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, July 20, 2012

One of our blog readers, Robert Goldman had served as the conservation chairperson of the APPALACHIAN MOUNTAIN CLUB ........His take on the potential for Wolf re-introduction into New England and the Appalachians includes this statement------- "There is a general consensus in the scientific and wildlife community that the vast forest lands of Maine and the Adirondacks, along with abundant prey species, including deer, moose and beaver, could accomodate up to 2,000 wolves and some believe even more than that number."..........

Wolves in the Northeast- by Robert Goldman
If Katahdin and the mountains and forests throughout the Northeast could talk, it is a certainty they would be urging us to help restore wolves to their rightful place in the ecology of our region. Wolves, along with other great predators, were here in Maine and the Northeast and throughout most of the North American continent for centuries before the arrival of the European settlers. Hundreds of thousands of wolves were part of the web of life on this vast continent. Native Americans, unprotected by homes of wood, lived among them with reverence and respect. After long and patient  observation they learned to appreciate wolves, their intricate family structure, the fascinating bond of the wolf pack, the cooperative hunting and their great intelligence.

 European settlers had a different perspective on the wolf, one dominated by fear, fables and ignorance. As early as 1630, wolves were targeted for elimination by the early puritan settlers. And that drive for elimination did not end until the wolves were exterminated from all regions of the fast growing United States nearly 300 years later. Other predators were targeted as well, but none more thoroughly and viciously as the wolf. They were shot, trapped, and poisoned. Wolf pups were destroyed in their dens, sometimes with explosives. Maine and other Northeastern states participated in this terrible injustice and assault against nature. Wolf extermination programs were often-times sponsored by federal, state and local authorities. After centuries of mindless killing, only tiny remnants of the wolf population remained in the US, along the Canadian border, in Minnesota and far Northern Montana.

 With the emergence of the science of ecology and wildlife study in the1920's and 1930's, some voices began to be heard that predators are a vital part of the web of life and indeed hold a key to life itself. The concept of an intricate web of life was a new one for Americans, though certainly not for Native Americans. Aldo Leopold, who started out as a hunter and killer of wolves himself, played a significant role in the emergence of a far more thoughtful understanding of ecology and ecosystems and how everything fits together. It's taken a long time and is still an ongoing process.

Red wolf-C.rufus one and the same as the Eastern Wolf C.lycaon--(one group of researchers
believe that these wolves are one and the same species, distinct from gray wolves
 In 1973, the United States established the Endangered Species Act and since then progress has been made in righting some of the wrongs that were committed against the natural world and the many species of wildlife that were so abused and persecuted, including the wolf. By now, everyone is aware of the re-introduction of wolves in the Yellowstone region beginning in the winter of 1995. The wolf population of the Northern Rockies is now estimated at 1,500. In northern Minnesota where wolves were never fully eliminated, their protection has allowed their population to grow to approximately 3,000 in Minnesota and expand to nearby Wisconsin. There are even small populations of wolves slowly being re-established in the desert Southwest and the deep South.

 So what about Maine and the rest of the Northeast? Why, thirty six years after the passage of the Endangered Species Act, is there no plan in place for restoring wolves to our state and region? It is time for the US Fish & Wildlife Service to create a wolf recovery plan for Maine and the Northeast. That is the first step that must be taken for wolf restoration to occur. There is a general consensus in the scientific and wildlife community that the vast forest lands of Maine and the Adirondacks, along with abundant prey species, including deer, moose and beaver, could accomodate up to 2,000 wolves and some believe even more than that number. With the continued growth of the conservation and environmental movement in this country, studies consistently show a clear majority of the public embraces the goal of wildlife restoration and protection.

The wolves themselves are not waiting for us to help them return to our region. For the past twenty years, there have been numerous confirmed and unconfirmed reports of wolves in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and even Massachusetts. Some of these animals were shot by hunters who claimed to be killing coyotes. DNA tests have revealed some of these
 'coyotes' to be wolves. At least two wolves were confirmed here in Maine in the last decade by state wildlife officials.

 And in March of 2008, the Boston Globe reported that the US Fish & Wildlife Service confirmed the existence of an Eastern gray wolf in Western Massachusetts the month before. Some say the wolves are here now, others say it's just aninconsequential few. Here's the point though, the wolves are trying to return, likely from nearby Quebec where they face many obstacles getting here, including the St. Lawrence River, but they are trying to return. And we in Maine and the Northeast are doing little to help them. The conservation community needs to come together on this issue and demand a Northeast wolf recovery plan be undertaken and implemented. It starts with us coming together on behalf of the wolf, just as we are doing regarding the issue of climate change.

 As a lover of this region, our wonderful mountains, forests, rivers and coast, I know that I speak for many of us in the conservation community, when expressing my deep love and respect for the wildlife of our home land. Without wildlife, the landscape itself is a silent and lonely place. And the great predators are an ecologically vital part of the natural world we treasure. Our generation of conservationists here in Maine and the Northeast has an opportunity now to right a great injustice that was done to the wolf in an earlier time. Will we turn our back still and leave it to others or will we finally join together and make amends to the wolf and the nature of our home land? Let's help the wolf return home to Maine and the Northeast. Katahdin and the mountains and forests of our region, and most of all the wolves, are waiting for us to lend a hand at last.

 Bob Goldman
Former  Conservation Committee chairperson
 Appalachian Mountain Club - Maine Chapter

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