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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, December 16, 2012

Last years Elk predation study revealed Pumas(and not wolves) as the primary predators of Elk calves in the Bitteroot Mtns in Montana........This has now prompted a new Puma population density study that will be undertaken in 2013 with the likely outcome a call for even more Puma hunting in this region.........What does not seem to have been factored into the original Elk study is the impact of ranching, mining, weather, disease and forage availability on the health and welfare of the Elk..........When does Mark Hebblewhite(a seasoned and professional biologist) bring these factors to the fore..........Like in other parts of the USA and Canada where Carnivores have increased their predation on Moose, Elk, Caribou and Deer, it is often these other factors that enable Pumas, Wolves, Bears and Coyotes to tip the scales against the hoofed browsers.........Once again Stephen Stills quoted: "Isn't ain't about time we learned"???????????????

Biologists to start extensive mountain lion study in Bitterroot Valley
HAMILTON, Montana — Biologists with the University of Montana and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks are starting a one-year study on mountain lions living in the east and west fork drainages of the Bitterroot River where a three-year elk study is also being conducted.

The Ravalli Republic reports that biologists plan to use hollow biopsy darts to collect DNA samples from cougars treed by dogs. Biologists will also use DNA information collected from scat as well as DNA from mountain lions killed by hunters. State officials approved the mountain lion study after the elk study discovered mountain lions to be the chief predator of elk calves in the area. Biologists hope to get a better understanding of how many mountain lions are in the region.

Mark Hebblewhite, a University of Montana associate professor, said many people expected the elk study to show wolves to be the chief predators of elk calves. "Everyone was sure that this was going to be a wolf story," Hebblewhite said. "Like many people, I've been surprised to see what we've learned so far." But after the elk study discovered the number of elk calves being killed by mountain lions, state officials approved the mountain lion study and increased the quota for hunters of mountain lions in the region. "We've found that lions play a very important role in elk calf survival in the Bitterroot," Hebblewhite said. "We're not ignoring wolves. We have some collared wolves that we're tracking as well. We decided that if lions were this important to elk, we better understand the lion population here."

Ben Jimenez, a research technician with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, will work with hunters using dogs to collect DNA from treed mountain lions. "The biopsy darts are less invasive than collaring and handling the animals," Jimenez said. "We will be able to obtain a quality DNA sample and work with a lot of cats." He said that DNA will be combined with DNA from scat and hair samples as well as lions killed by hunters to get an overall picture of mountain lions living in the area.

"Between those different methods, we should be able to systematically obtain a good sample for the entire area," Jimenez said. "From that, we will be able to put together a density estimate for that portion of the valley." Officials said information gleaned from the mountain lion study and elk study will be used to make wildlife management decisions.

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