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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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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wyoming Game & Fish carnivore specialist Dan Thompson recently gave a "fair and balanced" talk on Pumas at the DRAPER NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM(Wyoming)....................Good to hear a State Rocky Mountain biologist showing empathy and regard for any kind of Carnivore in light of how(in this bloggers opinion) this regions state game commissions come down hard in the management of these animals............

 Mountain lions adaptable, resilient
    Lion talk

Dan Thompson, G&;F lead large carnivore specialist, talks about the basics of mountain lion ecology during a recent Draper Natural History Museum Lunchtime Expedition, "Ghosts in the Darkness: Wyoming's Big Cat – the Mountain Lion."

Long admired by humans, mountain lions appear as two rock sculptures in an ancient shrine in Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico.
"Since the dawn of time, people have been fascinated with mountain lions," Dan Thompson said.

They roam North and South America, a range only surpassed by humans, yet they were once hunted extensively. Now they're studied intensively by Thompson, Ph.D., the lead large carnivore specialist with Wyoming Game and Fish.
Now focused on monitoring and managing mountain lions, he has been working with them for the past decade in the West and Midwest. Thompson spoke recently at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West during a Lunchtime Expedition, exploring the animal's history, biology and myths, and offering safety tips.
With the European settlement of America came bounties, the earliest being a 1684 reward in Connecticut for hunters.
"Their job was to kill them, but they showed mutual respect," he said.
With the 20th century came a movement toward conservation and management. The first study occurred in 1970 by Maurice Hornocker who, along with Fred Lindzey and Harley Shaw, were the "godfathers" of that research, Thompson said.
During the years, more trees have invaded some habitats, a boon to lions by offering more hiding places, Thompson said. They've also benefitted from the increase in white-tailed deer numbers and the decrease in competition with bears and wolves in areas outside Wyoming. Another boost comes from the ideological shift favoring large carnivores.
"The biggest thing is a combination of all those factors," he said.
Mountain lions are "obligate carnivores," dependent on meat to survive, and are most active at dawn and dusk, Thompson said.
"They're out there, but you don't always know where they are," he said.
They're also "highly adaptable," and resilient as evidenced by their range from Chile to the tip of the Yukon, Thompson said. They've moved into urban areas due to the presence of "hot lunch," his phrase for the deer that have become city residents.
The males weigh 125-180 pounds, females 75-120. They have big paws with tri-lobed pads and display a uniform color, while young ones show spotting and bars.
They stalk and ambush, lie and wait, and can clear 30 yards in two bounds. They generally bite and kill quickly, and deer are their primary prey, though their diet can vary widely.
"Porcupines seem to be the candy bar of mountain lions," Thompson said.
Generally they cache their kill to be eaten later, lightly covering the carcass and eating the organs first because they have the most protein. Mountain lions leave "calling cards," such as scrapes on a ridge or spray or both, Thompson said.
Unlike many mammals, females give birth year-round, though the highest rate occurs in the summer months, 2-4 to a litter. Their dens occur in inhospitable terrain, like rock slides and boulder fields. Females with kittens 2 1/2-3 months old will move the dens.
Kittens leave at 13-16 months, and siblings may travel together for 1-3 months. Females tend to stay near their homes, while males wander. In 2005, one lion traveled from northeast Wyoming to Oklahoma, Thompson said.
The reasons for mortality include hunting, natural causes, vehicle collision, incidental snaring, removal, and accidents such as drowning or electrocution.
Because "they're not easily observed," gathering information about mountain lions requires tracking, trapping and collaring, Thompson said. While the animal is drugged, researchers work to gather as much data as they can, tattoo the cat, install an ear tag and attach a radio collar.
"All that information helps us better understand and manage the species," he said. "Our goal is to perpetuate the species."
If mountain lions attack, 'fight back'
When in mountain lion country, be aware of caches or tracks, advised Dan Thompson, G&F large carnivore specialist. Lions will stay close to their caches.
"Be prepared mentally and physically," he added. "Carry bear spray – it works on all mammals."
Some clues to their presence include drag marks across a road, odors and sounds, and gatherings of crows, ravens or magpies. Rely on your hunches – "I'm a believer in trusting your intuition," he said.
Avoid children's noises, sudden movements and surprises.
"If their ears go back, you know something is going to happen," Thompson said.
Make a noise, make yourself big and show you're not their prey. Never run and back away slowly. If they do attack, fight back, don't play dead.
"They generally don't want to go after you," he said. "Mountain lion attacks on humans are extremely rare."

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