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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 14, 2013

Large connected habitat is the key to large carnivore populations staying at healthy ecosystem services levels.................Former New Mexico Senator Harrison Schmitt recognizes this fact and in the article below expresses this clearly and forthrightly................Prior to the late 19th Century, when drought and other adverse weather conditions would impact the land, Black Bears in New Mexico could traverse out of the Sandias Mountains into the Rio Grande Valley to find the food and water necessary to sustain them..............Today, with our large human population and all of the infrastructure that comes with it, the Bears are in essence "island offed" the Valley floor and forced to make do in their mountain passes....................The fast dwindling 50 to 100 Bruin population is on the verge of blinking out without some temporary foodstuffs "tossed their way..................and more importantly, more connected open space out of the Sandias so there is no need for human handouts going forward.

State should move in to help black bear survive in Sandias

For thousands of years, bears could migrate from the Sandias into the Rio Grande valley for water and alternate food sources.
Today, when bears try to do this, they find our homes, commerce, fences and streets between the mountains and the river. The bears also encounter excited, unprepared homeowners.

Some residents contact wildlife officials to remove the bears, unknowingly giving a possible death sentence to these hungry and thirsty foragers.
The remarkable black bear, prominent figure of Native American lore, is a tri-athlete in its own right. These animals can turn on a dime and run at incredible speeds, climb trees with little exertion and swim effortlessly in lakes and rivers. The giant paws can carry its large mass silently through the night with little or no trace.
Stealthy giants like these would be the envy of Hitchcock’s famous cat burglar, Cary Grant.
In a normal year, black bears would come out of winter hibernation and begin to eat early spring grass and a wide variety of insects. Summer’s wild fruits, berries and seeds then would fill the menu. Come autumn, acorns and piñon and pine nuts provide essential preparation for hibernation and the birth of cubs.
This year, the combination of drought and a late spring freeze eliminated almost all of these food options and forced bears into our neighborhoods searching for garbage, bird feeders and pet food.
Today, the black bears in the Sandia Mountains are in deep trouble. Unable to find food in the mountains, they have extended their feeding range into housing areas.
As Jan Hayes, founder of Sandia Mountain BearWatch, has pointed out for decades, New Mexicans must be diligent about not leaving garbage and bird feeders out that habituate starving bears to urban areas. Cars hit bears that come into our residential environments, and they are chased or injured when treed and tranquillized.
If captured and released in remote areas, unfamiliarity with the unknown habitat may result in death.
When the advance of history isolates biological habitats such as the Sandias, and we wish to preserve species in those habitats, common sense management becomes our only choice. Elimination, unfortunately, seems to exist as the primary means of bear population management. To have a viable wildlife population, it is necessary to preserve that wildlife above its critical level of sustainability.

Destroying a thousand bears each year through hunting and other causes, in a population of unknown size, hardly seems logical. Sadly, if state officials continue down their current path, our black bear population may reach a point of no return.
History is not going to be reversed. People living in the Heights between the black bear and the Rio Grande are not going to pick up and leave. The small Sandia Mountain black bear population, estimated at 50 to 100 bears, now must survive 2013′s perfect storm of severe drought, late spring freezing and human, insect and fire-caused loss of habitat.
Survival of our local black bears requires that the governor and wildlife officials authorize emergency diversionary feeding in the bears’ normal, undeveloped range – at least until it is clear that the acorn and nut crops will be available in the fall.
Diversionary feeding has solved bear problems in many states – Oregon, Nevada and Washington, for example. It should work in New Mexico.
As a friend pointed out, “The state that saved Smokey Bear should now come to the rescue of his relatives.”
I live at the base of the Sandias at the edge of Black Bear country. Our family wants the state animal to stay healthy and survive for coming generations. New Mexicans will have heavy hearts if the Sandia Mountain black bear population disappears due to inaction and lack of perspective and common sense.
The governor and other state officials need to act and act quickly. Time is running out for the bears.

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