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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, August 12, 2012

Most of us tend to focus on the adverse impacts on wildlife that are caused by severe winter weather..........Virtually all of us are aware that deer, moose, elk, pronghorn and caribou populations take hard hits from cold and snowy conditions.........What less of us think about is that severe heat and drought can debilitate animal populations,,,,,,,,,Population declines due to disease triggered by lack of water,,,,,,,,,,,,starvation brought on by loss of both insect and plant life,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,predation heightened by loss of plant cover...............The xcellent article below zeros in on the struggles of wild animals during this record setting heat that the entire nationis experiencing this Summer

Heat, drought deadly to Kansas wildlife
For months, Jim Huff has been seeing what one of the worst droughts of his 65 years has inflicted on farm and ranch lands in Crawford County.On an especially hot afternoon, an odor led him to proof that it has been just as deadly on Kansas' wildlife. The rancher had just entered a pasture when he smelled a dreaded stench coming from a nearby pond."I was afraid one of my cows had gotten stuck (in the mud) and died," Huff said. "But it wasn't a cow. When I got to the pond it was a buck deer, a pretty nice 10-pointer. He was done, out in the water."
Biologists say the one-two punch of excessive heat and Sahara-like drought is killing a variety of wildlife directly, like broiling baby birds in their nests. It's also proving fatal indirectly, like the prime-of-life buck that apparently died from a disease triggered by the conditions. Most ages, sizes and species of Kansas wildlife have been affected. Serious declines in some species are expected to take millions of dollars from the state's economy this fall and winter.
Some people are concerned a recent government program designed to help agriculture could even worsen conditions for some kinds of wildlife.

contaminated water holes and lack of water can kill off Deer and other animals

Deer die-offs, young and old

Lloyd Fox isn't surprised Huff and others have found dead deer in or near water.
It happens during most periods of extreme dryness. Fox, big-game program coordinator for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, said the deaths are probably from epizootic hemorrhagic disease.Fox said EHD outbreaks usually occur when deer are concentrated near small, stagnant bodies of water. Midges — tiny blood-sucking insects — thrive there, often feeding on several animals per day. It's a fast way to spread a disease from one ill animal to others. Suffering from high fever, many ill deer head to creeks and ponds to die while attempting to cool their bodies.
"We're getting a lot of reports and we're expecting a lot more," Fox said. "This could be a really bad summer."

In some states EHD outbreaks have taken large percentages of deer from local herds. Fox has found as many six in a mile of creek during past Kansas outbreaks. Fortunately, the disease is largely confined to eastern Kansas, and outbreaks often seem spotty."We may have a stream or woodlot where it looks like every deer has died," Fox said. "But five or 10 miles down the road, those deer aren't affected."

Severe drought carries other threats to young deer. Fox said studies show predation on fawns goes up as vegetation growth is slowed."With less feed, does tend to produce less milk, and that sets fawns up for predation," he said. "That probably causes some fawns to be more robust looking for other food, and they also have less vegetation for (hiding)." Coyote predation on fawns increases in such times, probably because the little deer are easier to find, and the rodents on which the wild canines usually feed have been reduced by the drought.

Unfortunately, naturally more active buck fawns make up the highest percentage of such predation.
That can take a large bite from rural economies for several years.
Figures from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2006 say deer hunting adds about $80 million to the Kansas economy.
Much of it comes from nonresidents, who may pay more than $8,000 to hunt for the buck of their dreams.
Several western Kansas outfitters are hosting fewer hunters to make up for reduced deer numbers.

Drought not pleasant for pheasants

But deer population reductions are minuscule compared with the population decrease amid Kansas' most-famed game – pheasants.The same federal report says upland bird hunters add about $120 million annually to the Kansas economy. The 2010 season saw some of the highest pheasant populations in decades. This season is expected to see one of the worst.

"Brood reports are basically nonexistent," said Brad Odle, a Wildlife and Parks biologist supervisor. "My guys aren't even speaking of seeing any broods, so that's not good."Odle, based in Hays, said the 2011 drought over most of Kansas had populations spiraling downward last summer.

If possible, things are now worse. This spring's early wheat harvest probably destroyed a lot of nests.
Low plant growth because of the drought left the few chicks that hatched precious few places to hide from intense heat and assorted predators.

The drought also hampered another important ingredient for high pheasant chick survival – lots of insects."Insects are the main source of protein for pheasant chicks and lots of other birds," said Mark Witecha, a Pheasants Forever biologist who serves seven counties around Ness City. "Our abundance of insects depends on our abundance of those wildflowers that have the insects. When wildflowers are severely impacted by drought, like they certainly were this year, it severely impacts the young chicks."

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