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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, July 21, 2013

Farmer and Rancher "Bonepiles"(dead livestock dumped in open pits) is a prime example of the worst husbandry that is practiced today across the world................A first class invite for Carnivores of all kinds to be drawn to the "smorgasbord" of free foodstuffs where they become habituated to humans and their "handouts",...................This habituation most often leads to death by rifle or trap as the now encroaching Bears, Wolves, Pumas and Coyotes go one step beyond "bone scavenging" to killing cattle, sheep and livestock.................And then Agriculturalists complain that all they were doing is defending their property,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,No self blame of course for having lured the offending carnivores in via their own human laziness via improperly disposing of their dead livestock..............Thankfully a new strategy that is being utilized in Southern British Columbia(Canada) and Montana called the DEADSTOCK PICKUP PROGRAM where dead livestock is transported to composting facilities rather than being left to rot on the land................In Montana, this Program led to a 93% reduction in conflicts between landowners and carnivores from 2003 to 2009................The British Columbia program began in 2009 has shown a similar success and the hope is that the DEADSTOCK PICKUP PROGRAM in combination with Electric fencing around pastures will enable Griz, Wolves, Pumas and Coyotes to go about their ecosystem functions without running afoul of husbandry Producers

Landowners work to reduce conflict with grizzly bears

Landowners work to reduce conflict with grizzly bears

Stephen Bevans, assistant ag fieldman with Cardston County, runs the first-in-Canada composting facility that could help reduce potential conflicts with bears. He is standing in the large steel building where dead animals are placed in a bed of straw, compost and wood chips to decompose.

GLENWOOD, Alta. — Early one morning last October, a sheep farmer along the Belly River valley awoke to the sound of his dogs barking madly. He looked out the living room window, wondering what could be wrong, and saw a grizzly bear feasting on freshly killed lambs just metres from his family's farmhouse."He didn't even care about the dogs," says the Glenwood-area grain and sheep farmer, who asked not to be identified. "He knew that he was king of the food chain.
"He would take a swipe at them every once in a while, but it wasn't solving the problem."

The man, who gets choked up as he stands in front of his sheep pasture and tells the story to a group of landowners, conservation groups and government officials during a recent tour held by the Waterton Biosphere Reserve, says he was able to scare the bear away.
But not before he lost at least a dozen sheep. It was his second such encounter last year — and one of a growing number of conflicts between landowners and grizzly bears in southwestern Alberta.

Their concerns are at the centre of a pilot project working to monitor changes in the bear population in southern Alberta and ultimately find ways to change the grizzly's status as a threatened species.
There are fewer than 700 grizzly bears in Alberta, prompting the province to list the animal as a threatened species and implement a recovery strategy to ensure their survival in the province.It's currently being updated by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development.

Rancher open pit bonepile

In southwestern Alberta, there are signs the grizzly bear population is increasing — due, at least in part, to management strategies in other jurisdictions. Recent statistics show there are 1,100 bears in the Crown of the Continent area, which includes southwestern Alberta, B.C's Flathead Valley and northern Montana. It's expected about 50 of those bears live permanently in Alberta.

The pilot project — a partnership between the province, Parks Canada, United States Geological Survey and the University of Alberta — is trying to determine the exact number by analyzing hair samples in southwestern Alberta. In its second year, when samples were taken from private as well as public lands, the results released this week show there are at least 122 different grizzly bears (72 males and 50 females) in the area — up from 51 recorded on public lands last year.

"It certainly has implications or it will have implications for the management of bears in this bear management area, which is south of Highway 3," says Nathan Webb, a carnivore specialist with Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. "We'll need to start having a discussion of what does recovery look like.
"They are still listed as a threatened species and that applies provincially, but I think there is growing recognition that the status of grizzly bears isn't the same across the province."

Some ranchers have said it's time to resume a hunt for problem bears — at least in southwestern Alberta.But both conservationists and the province say it's too soon to reconsider a hunt, with Webb noting there are several steps required as part of the recovery plan before that's considered.Webb says 13 grizzly bears have already been killed in the province this year, including nine deaths caused by humans.
Another 12 bears have been relocated, with half of those moved from the area in southern Alberta where the province is working with landowners to reduce conflicts.

They are trying to avoid contact by removing attractants such as animal carcasses, installing bear-proof doors on grain bins and putting electric fencing around livestock pens."The work down here is really cutting-edge," says Webb.Several programs are being run by the Waterton Biosphere Reserve, an organization that works to balance biodiversity conservation and sustainable human use of the land.

It includes what's called a deadstock pickup program — a way to dispose of dead livestock rather than leaving their carcasses to rot on the land, attracting predators.The program, which began in 2009, includes a first-in-Canada composting facility in Cardston County where ranchers can take any dead livestock.

Grizzly dining on cattle

Stephen Bevans, assistant ag fieldman with the county, runs the facility — a large steel building where the animals are placed in a bed of straw, compost and wood chips to decompose."There's a total of 348 animals in this building right now," he tells those gathered for the tour. "There's seven bulls, 87 cows, seven yearlings, one steer, three horses, seven ewes, 31 lambs and 205 calves."I didn't think they'd all fit in here, but they have."

A similar program down in Montana led to a 93 per cent reduction in conflicts between landowners and carnivores from 2003 to 2009.
In addition to the facility, there's help for landowners to retrofit grain bins with bear-proof doors, steel or concrete floors and hopper bottoms to stop bears from getting into the grain or silage.Electric fencing is also being used to prevent bears and other carnivores from getting into pastures.

Several ranchers agree the measures are working to keep bears away.
"We used to have a lot of bears travelling through the year," says Roger Gerard, who manages the Soderglen South ranch, where they've lost several cows or calves each year to wolves and grizzly bears.
Since installing fences and removing dead livestock, the numbers have dropped.

Gerard says it's a positive change, because provincial funds provided for lost livestock often don't cover the full value of the animals.
In addition, it's often difficult for ranchers to prove unexplained deaths.
The unnamed Glenwood-area farmer believes he lost up to 50 sheep from his pasture last year, but was only compensated for the 15 killed in last year's incidents because he couldn't prove the others were caused by a grizzly bear.He then spent thousands of dollars more to install an electric fence around his pasture.

"We're optimistic it's going to help," says Jeff Bectell, chairman of the Waterton Biosphere Reserve, which was one of several organizations that helped offset the cost of nearly $14,000 in fencing. "We're all heavily invested in it and hope it works." 

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