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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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Saturday, February 9, 2013

This is the third and final year that Montana Fish & Wildlife has been studying the elk/predator dynamic taking place in the southern Bitterroot Mountains............What appears to be happening is that MFWP keeps expanding the Puma hunting season and fewer and fewer Cats are being killed.............Wake up folks,,,,,,,,,,,,You have killed so regularly and so thoroughly that you are endangering the Puma population here.............Most local hunters doubt that the 200-250 Pumas that MFWP claims to exist are present ..........One gets some feeling of disgust reading this article as it sounds like Puma mgmt in Montana(like Wolf mgmt) is amateurish at best and rigged to rid the land of the Cats at worst



Ben Jimenez has seen more mountain lions in the past couple of months than most people see in a lifetime.
The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks research technician has been working closely with the four crews of houndsmen hired to complete a population study this winter on mountain lions in the southern reaches of the Bitterroot Valley.
"We've seen quite a few cats," he said. "We have seen a lot of females with kittens. What we're not seeing is what hunters would consider a big tom."
"Everyone has been surprised by that," Jimenez said.

The study hopes to unlock some secrets about the stealthy predator.
No one knows for sure just how many mountain lions call this region home. State wildlife officials have used information gathered from other studies to guess their number could near 250 or more.
But local houndsmen doubt those numbers.
What researchers do know is mountain lions are efficient when it comes to killing elk calves. In the first two years of a three-year elk/predator study in the southern Bitterroot, mountain lions have taken more elk calves outfitted with electronic collars than either wolves or bears.
State wildlife officials used that preliminary information to push through a new hybrid lion this season they hoped would keep traditional houndsmen happy while reducing the number of mountain lions in the Bitterroot.

That hasn't worked out quite the way they had planned.
Controversy has been swirling around the Bitterroot's population of mountain lions for decades now.
It reached another high point last weekend when lion hunters from all over the country poured into the valley to take advantage of the portion of this year's new hybrid mountain lion season that opened up hunting to anyone with a tag.
In the Bitterroot, the first part of the new hybrid season was set aside for lion hunters with a permit. Houndsmen without a permit could still chase lions, but couldn't kill any that they treed.
The state set a quota of 44 lions in the four districts in the Bitterroot. The quota included seven more females than the year before.
Whatever portion of the quota that wasn't filled was fair game to anyone with a tag during the second half of the season.
Members of the Bitterroot Houndsmen Association said the wide-open season has resulted in a large influx of lion hunters and left many locals shaking their head in disgust.
Six members of that group came into the Ravalli Republic last week to talk about what they've seen and heard from people in the community.
They told of convoys of trucks with dog cages pulling trailers filled with snowmobiles. They talked about confrontations they say could leave a bad impression on locals about mountain lion hunters. And they talked about pressure that a wide-open season puts on the resource that they treasure – the mountain lion.
"It becomes all about the kill," said Cal Ruark of Sula. "This type of season does away with any type of sportsmanship. It's all about killing a mountain lion before the quota closes."

The local houndsmen have been through this before.
In the late 1990s, Ruark said the state kept raising quota numbers in an attempt to kill more lions. Year after year, the quotas weren't filled.
"Their answer was to keep raising the quotas," he said. "They were trying to hunt to a level of something that wasn't there."
The houndsmen worry that history is going to repeat itself.
They say that hunters are killing younger cats because that's all they can find.
"When you pay $5,000 for a lion hunt, you want to bring back something," Ruark said.
With the competition to kill a lion before the quota closes, the houndsmen said some outfitters will pay people to drive the roads looking for a mountain lion track. When they find it, they call in the outfitter.
Chuck Pyles lives in the West Fork. On the opening weekend, he counted 15 to 20 trucks go by with dog boxes in the back and two or three snowmobiles being pulled behind the rigs.
With that number of hunters in the woods – and the pressure that people feel to kill any lion before the quota closes – it tells him that there aren't as many lions in the hills as some people think.
"The conditions have been good for hunting," he said. "I've seen people killing 30- to 40-pound kittens. They are just babies. If the lions were there, the quota would have been filled a long time ago."
"There ain't no 200 lions in the Bitterroot," said Dan Peterson, the club's president. "Not even close."
Les Towner said the agency could sit down with cat hunters who belong to the organization and ask them for a population estimate.
"They could tell you almost exactly where each one of them lives," Towner said. "They know them by name."
Jimenez was out that first weekend too.
He noticed there was an influx of hunters, but he didn't see anything that seemed out of line.
"I know that some people don't like the idea of an open quota system," Jimenez said. "I know there is a perception that there will be trucks lined up on every road and races to shoot every cat."
"I didn't see that," he said. "There were definitely more people out, but I didn't see anything that would suggest unethical behavior."
State wildlife officials did make the call to potentially close the season due to the large number of lions the researchers had found and the influx of hunters.
"It seemed like it was possible that we would reach the quota that first weekend," Jimenez said. "It didn't happen."
The researchers will continue treeing lions for the next month or so and shooting a dart into their side to gather DNA. Those samples combined with others gathered from scat and hair will be used to make a population estimate of how many lions inhabit the Bitterroot.
"We know there is a diversified opinion on the cat population here," Jimenez said. "With the information that's based on actual data, we hope it will put people's minds at ease as we move forward in setting seasons."
That could be wishful thinking.
Mark Jenny said most in the local houndsmen association think that Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will always defer to elk.
"We think that mountain lions are a resource worth saving too," he said.

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