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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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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It is truly unsettling how special interests have all but torpedoed the previously scientifically proposed 375.000 acre Washington State/Idaho Woodland Caribou critical habitat area-----now scaled back to a measely 30,000 acres,(a 92% reduction)!!!!..............And in a separate lawsuit tendered by Bonner County, Washington and the idaho State Snowmobiile Association, even those 30,000 acres are not guaranteed to become a reality............No one wants to challenge development interests so the handful of surviving Caribou will not have a real chance of being joined by other of its kind in a rewilding program........Horrible precedent this is..............Like with the Jaguar habitat in New Mexico and Arizona, the rationale of Ranchers and other Business interests is----"since we extirminated these creatures previously, there is no need to bring them back"----A real life example of the flawed philosophy depicted so wonderfully in Dr. Seuss's classic environmental tomb, THE LORAX

Feds scale back proposed N. Idaho caribou habitat

  By TODD;

BOISE, Idaho — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to scale back the acreage it wants to set aside in northern Idaho and eastern Washington as critical habitat for the rare woodland caribou.
The agency announced Tuesday the designation of 30,100 acres in Idaho's Boundary County and Washington's Pend Oreille County as critical habitat to help improve conservation of the species. The agency initially proposed more than 375,000 protected acres, but modified its plans after taking public comment and reconsidering population data at the time the species was given protections under the Endangered Species Act in 1984. "Thoughtful inquiry and scientific information was presented to us," said Brian T. Kelly, the agency's Idaho supervisor. "Because of this, we have a modified rule that adheres to policy, is responsive to issues raised by others and most importantly addresses habitat for caribou conservation."

Woodland caribou are struggling to survive in habitat south of Canada and only four were tallied in the region encompassing northern Idaho and eastern Washington during an aerial census last winter.
To protect its habitat and bolster populations, the service proposed a special habitat stretching across 600 square miles, an area that also included Bonner County. But that plan and restrictions that would be imposed on the region angered recreation groups, loggers and local government officials.
Idaho's congressional delegation also got involved, complaining that the proposed habitat map was overreaching and infringed on human activity in the forest and backcountry.

Washington State herd of Woodland Caribou

But the agency's changes earned praise Tuesday. "I am pleased the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listened to the public outcry regarding the impacts this expanded critical habitat designation would have had on people's livelihoods," said U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, a Republican.U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, also a Republican, said the agency acted "appropriately" in modifying its proposal to better balance the needs of humans and rare species.

It's unclear, however, what the reduced habitat decision means for a lawsuit filed in federal court related to caribou and its protected status.

Bonner County and the Idaho State Snowmobile Association sued the U.S. Department of Interior earlier this month, asking a federal judge to lift ESA protections for the caribou. The groups, along with the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative legal group, petitioned the federal government earlier this year claiming ESA listing is unwarranted.

"We're still going forward with our lawsuit to require the service to respond to our petition, said Daniel Himebaugh, an attorney for PLF. "If our lawsuit is successful, then there will be no need for critical habitat designation at all."The rule becomes effective 30 days after it's published in the Federal Register

Mountain Caribou Range in Western USA
The most endangered large mammal in North America, mountain caribou retain only the barest foothold south of the Canadian border, and are in danger of extirpation. In the remote Selkirk Mountains of northeast Washington, northern Idaho, and southern British Columbia, one caribou herd persists; the Scorecard includes their precarious numbers as a proxy for the populations of mountain caribou across the northern regions.

In 2010, biologists counted only 43 animals in the Selkirk caribou herd, 3 fewer than the previous two years. But it’s not clear whether this represents a one-year decline or a more serious problem for the tiny population. The caribou are threatened on several sides. Clearcut logging has reduced the old growth trees that host the lichen that the caribou depend on for food. People, especially those on snowmobiles, startle the animals in winter and cause them to expend scarce calories to flee through deep snow. And predators such as cougars traverse the hardened snowmobile tracks into the herd’s winter range–travel that the predators could not otherwise manage.

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