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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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Thursday, August 15, 2013

After blinking out in Pennsylvania at the turn of the 20th century, Fishers were transported into Penn. from New Hampshire and New York during the 4 year span 1994-98..............The 190 animals released into the state have multiplied to an estimated 5000 animals, a fantastic rewilding accomplishment...........Bucking the established wisdom that they need large mature woodlots to thrive, the Fishers have shown themselves adaptable to mixed forest and field and now reside across all sections of Pennsylvania.......Bobcats never were completely extirpated from the state but were limited to most interior woodlands by 1950...................Protections were instituted for the "cats in the 1970's and today they seem plentiful and continue to expand their range across Pennsylvania..............So together with Black Bears and Eastern Coyotes(Coywolves), the great state of Pennsylvania only lacks Wolves, Pumas and Wolverines from it's pre-settlement Carnivore suite........................The habitat is there for all of them to return.................Up to us to make it happen!

Bobcats, fishers and river otters, once on the ropes in the state, are now firmly established and growing

Maybe it's time to take a deep breath and take a sigh of gratitude for several remarkable comeback stories for mammals here in Pennsylvania.

I speak specifically of the successful reintroduction of fishers and otters through most of the state, and the guided resurgence of bobcats.

We have the often-maligned folks at the Pennsylvania Game Commission to thank.


This furry predator, a member of the weasel family, had pretty much been eliminated from Pennsylvania by the early 1900s.

One report has the last native fisher killed near Holtwood in 1921. Other accounts list one killed two years later in Mifflin County.

The Fisher

Fisher restoration efforts underway in West Virginia and New York were beginning to send animals creeping into Pennsylvania when the Game Commission launched its own concerted reintroduction effort.

From 1994 to 1998, 190 fishers captured in New Hampshire and New York were released in northern parts of Pennsylvania.

Have they taken hold? Swimmingly.

Tom Hardisty, the Game Commission's furbearer biologist, estimates the state population has swelled to close to 5,000 and has grown rapidly in the last few years.

Biologists thought the predator needed solid forest and would be restricted to big woods parts of the state.

But they have been surprised as the fisher has set up shop in all but extreme southeastern counties.

"It doesn't take much," says Hardisty. "All they need is a little woodlot and a little prey population. They're a lot less particular than we thought."

A lot of their diet consists of animals the size of squirrels and smaller, such as chipmunks and rodents.

Hardisty says it's only a matter of time before fishers establish themselves in Lancaster County.

The population has done so well that in 2010 a limited trapping season was allowed in southwestern and southcentral counties. Since then, roadkilled fishers and ones showing up in traps convinced managers to expand trapping opportunities.

Trapped fishers have risen from 152 that first season to 228 in 2012-2013.

The Game Commission never intended to have so robust a fisher population that they could allow a sustainable harvest.

"Mainly, we just wanted to establish them," says a pleased Hardisty.


Bobcats are a Pennsylvania predator that never really disappeared from the state. But by the 1950s, with no limits on hunting and trapping them, they were found only in deep woods areas.

In 1970, the Game Commission classified bobcats as a game species and thus open to protection. At first, hunting and trapping were prohibited to allow populations to build and expand naturally in the state.

They did. The management plan from the start was to bring back bobcats to healthy enough numbers to have a sustainable hunting and trapping season.

In 2000, the first controlled season was held. Now, 28,000 square miles are open to trapping and hunting.

Harvested bobcats has skyrocketed from 58 in 2000 to 1,056 in 2012-2013. And still the bobcat population is expanding, most recently into northwestern parts of the state, says Matt Lovallo, the Game Commission's game mammal section supervisor.

With young males dispersing up to 150 miles after leaving family units, Lovallo thinks even Lancaster County will eventually see an established bobcat population as they move into agricultural areas of southeastern Pennsylvania.

A roadkilled bobcat was found in southern Lancaster County in 2001.

"I think we're all excited by it," says Lovallo. "I think more and more people are aware that we have a growing bobcat population and it's more common to see them now."

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