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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, September 12, 2013

We have Posted previously that while many have thought that gray wolves did not historically occupy California, the hard evidence does in fact support the fact that Lobos roamed the state prior to European colonization..........Sonoma State University Scientists Michael Newland and Michael Stoyka found linguistic and cultural evidence indicating that indigenous peoples across California had words for, and rituals involving, wolves............... No fewer than 15 of California's indigenous languages have distinct words for "wolf," "coyote" and "dog.......... In the oral traditions of five indigenous languages, wolves appear as deities or a part of ceremony or ancestral history..............Previous research had compiled historical accounts of sightings of wolves in California by European explorers and settlers...........These accounts were from locations scattered widely across the state.............. However. because it was not always clear that observers were familiar with, and could distinguish between, wolves, coyotes and dogs, the reliability of such accounts had been called into question............. The new study's linguistic analysis honed in on whether indigenous people distinguished between these three canids as well as examining the role ascribed to wolves in cultural stories and traditions.............All evidence pointed to the unique treatment of the wolf — quite distinct from roles or characteristics assigned to coyotes or dogs............Hopefully this new study will expedite the passage of laws protecting the Wolf as it wanders into the state from neighboring Oregon


For Immediate Release, September 11, 2013
Lauren Richie, California 
Wolf Center, (443) 797-2280
Amaroq Weiss, Center for

 Biological Diversity, (707) 779-9613
Michael Newland, Sonoma State

 University Anthropological
 Studies Center, (707) 664-2734

SAN FRANCISCO— As gray wolves begin to return to California,
 a study 
released today by the Sonoma
 State University Anthropological Studies Center sheds new light 
on the 
widespread historical distribution 
of wolves in the state. The report comes as the California 
Department of 
Fish and Wildlife is considering 
whether to protect the animals under the state's Endangered
 Species Act;
 it demonstrates the historic
 presence of gray wolves across California.

"The new research is relevant to the state's decision," said 

Lauren Richie,
 Northern California associate
 director for the California Wolf Center, "since it provides
 evidence of the 
widespread distribution of
 California's wolf population across diverse habitats before 
wolves were 
hunted to extinction here." 

Oregon Wolf "7" photographed in California

The study, conducted by the university's staff archeologist
 Michael Newland
 and faunal specialist Michael 
Stoyka, found linguistic and cultural evidence indicating 
that indigenous 
peoples across California had words
 for, and rituals involving, wolves. No fewer than15 of 
California's indigenous 
languages have distinct words for
 "wolf," "coyote" and "dog," and in the oral traditions 
of five languages, wolves
 appear as deities or a part of
 ceremony or ancestral history.

The wolf is a creator deity, for instance, in Southern
 Paiute traditions; sorcerers
 are capable of turning into
 wolves in Tolowa traditions; and three Northern
 California tribes — the Karuk,
 Hoopa and Yurok — used wolf
 fur in their dance regalia. Evidence also exists that
 some California tribes ate
 wolves as food. The widespread
 distribution of evidence implies the wolf itself once
 had an expansive range,
 from north to south and from east
 to west throughout the state.

"In modern times we talk about wolves being 
ecologically important," said 
Amaroq Weiss, a West Coast wolf 
organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity,
 "but this research shows us
 that wolves have been a part of 
California's cultural heritage for thousands of 

Previous research had compiled historical 
accounts of sightings of wolves 
in California by European explorers 
and settlers, and these accounts were from
 locations scattered widely across 
the state. But because it was 
not always clear that observers were familiar
 with, and could distinguish between,
 wolves, coyotes and dogs,
 the reliability of such accounts had been 
called into question. The new study's 
linguistic analysis honed in on
 whether indigenous people distinguished
 between these three canids, and the 
study's examination of the role 
ascribed to wolves in cultural stories and 
traditions revealed unique treatment 
of the wolf — quite distinct from
 roles or characteristics assigned to 
coyotes or dogs.

"This study sets a baseline for understanding

 that many indigenous people across 
California came into contact
 with wolves and also helps to identify additional
 research areas that would broaden
 our understanding of the 
historical distribution, role and cultural 
significance of wolves in California," said 

Wolves were driven to extinction in California
 by the mid-1920s, but in late 2011
 a wolf from Oregon, known as
 OR-7 or "Journey," entered California and 
remained in the state for 15 months, 
wandering throughout seven 
northern counties before returning to Oregon
 in March. The dispersal of this wolf 
into California sparked efforts
 to gain full state protections for the species, 
in anticipation that Oregon's growing
 wolf population will result in
 more wolves finding their way into California.
 A state listing petition filed in 2012 
by the Center for Biological 
Diversity and allies resulted in the gray wolf 
being declared a candidate for listing;
 the state is expected to 
complete its status review and issue a 
recommendation on listing late this year.

Amaroq Weiss
West Coast Wolf Organizer
Center for Biological Diversity

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