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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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Friday, October 4, 2013

Our friend Dr. Cristina Eisenberg sent me this article about the Wolf Delisting controversy and re-analysis that is taking place within the USFW Service......Will Federal Delisting take place as the Service wants,,,,,,,,,,,,or will enough concerned citizens and Scientists convince the USFW Service not to put Wolf management in the hands of the States and instead move forward with a Federal effort to rewild Wolves across the USA where peer reviewed science has shown that they can thrive?.............As Isle Royale(Michigan) wolf Biologist John Vucetich insightfully states----"Why do we have such a hard time getting along with wolves?" ............... "When we talk about these things, it's really about our relationship with nature"............: "Why do we have such a hard time getting along with nature?" ........................"The purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to mitigate the threats against a species".....................One of the threats to the species(Wolves) has always been human intolerance"............... "The Fish and Wildlife Service is using the Endangered Species Act to prescribe the status of wolves rather than mitigate it"

Gray Wolves May

 Lose Endangered 

Status, But Not 

Without a Fight

By Megan Gannon,

Critics of the proposal to delist gray wolves argue that the decision is
 premature. They say stripping wolves of their federal protections could
 hurt the animals' chance of recolonizing other parts of their historic range,
 such as Colorado and Utah.

WASHINGTON — In passionate and at times
 tearful testimony
at the U.S. Department of the Interior Monday
 night (Sept. 30),
 Americans who say they have admired, studied,
defended and
even kissed gray wolves offered a plea to federal
officials: Don't
 take the animals off the endangered species list.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to lift
federal protections
for all gray wolves in the continental United States,
except for a
struggling population of a subspecies, Mexican
 wolves, found in
the Southwest. The agency argues the threat of
 extinction has
 been eliminated; wolves' numbers have bounced
 back to healthy
 levels and have even surged beyond recovery goals.

But critics, including several biologists, say the move
 is premature.
 They are concerned that the proposal would result in
 more aggressive management tactics and hunting
policies, and could hurt the species'
 chances of recolonizing other parts of their historic
range. Some
scientists wonder if the battle raging over wolves
stems from greater
 confusion about how to define recovery and deal
 with threatened
wildlife in the United States — especially species
as storied and
controversial as the wolf.

From hated to hallowed species
A century ago, the gray wolf was so universally
 reviled that
 even conservationist William Hornaday wrote,
 "Of all the wild
creatures of North America, none are more
 despicable than wolves."

"No animal engenders more polarizing emotion
 amongst Americans
 than does the wolf," Dan Ashe, head of the Fish
 and Wildlife Service,
 told reporters in a firm defense of the proposal
 ahead of the agency's
public hearing. "We see powerful emotions on
 both sides of this
 debate. But I think, regardless of our positions,
 I think we all can
recognize recovery of the wolf is one of the
greatest conservation
 success stories in the history of our nation."

Before the arrival of European settlers, wolves
 once occupied nearly
 all of the lower 48 states, expect for a swathe
of the Southeast, but
 their numbers plummeted due to hunting. Wolves
killed livestock and
 game, and bounties were awarded for their
 carcasses. By the
 mid-20th century, the gray wolves in the
 continental United States
 were confined to a sliver of northern Minnesota
 and Michigan's Isle

The environmental movement of the 1960s and
 1970s marked a
major turnaround for the animals. Though some
 state and federal
 measures had already offered protections to
 wolves, the predators
received the most sweeping safeguards under
 the Endangered
Species Act in 1978.
In the decades that followed, recovery and
 reintroduction programs — including the iconic
 release of wolves in Yellowstone National Park
— helped to establish breeding populations below
the Canadian border. Today, there are more than
5,000 gray wolves in the nation, primarily in the
 western Great Lakes states of Michigan, Minnesota
 and Wisconsin, and the northern Rocky Mountain
states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, as well as
 eastern Oregon and Washington.

In this map made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the
 striped orange areas
 show where gray wolves (Canis lupus) currently live in the
 lower 48. The yellow
 regions show the areas where wolves have been deemed
 recovered and their
 management handed over to state officials. Under the federa
l delisting proposal
, a subspecies of gray wolf, the Mexican wolf, would retain
 protections in the dark
 blue part of Arizona and New Mexico. The striped gray region
 in the eastern states
 shows where the gray wolf has been "listed in error." A recen
t study suggested that
 wolves once found in that region are actually a separate
 species, Canis lycaon;
 they are now only found in eastern Canada.
Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
As wolves have recolonized parts of their
 historic range, their
 public image has also enjoyed a revival.
"The Endangered Species Act has
accomplished two things
— two miracles really — a biological
 miracle and a social miracle
in really getting people to think differently
 about wolves in the
American landscape," Ashe said.

Throughout the testimonies, wolves were
 praised for their
 beauty, intelligence and importance to
 the nation's heritage.
 Many speakers touched on wolves'
biological significance
as apex predators that can exert a
 top-down influence on
ecosystems, affecting everything from
 the behavior of elks
 to the growth of trees and the diet of bears.

Wolf politics
Gray wolves already have been delisted
 in their primary
 current habitats in the western Great
Lakes states and the
 northern Rockies states after recovery
 goals in those regions
 were met. For the northern Rockies, that
 goal was 300 wolves,
and for the western Great Lakes, the goal
was to have a
 sustained population in Minnesota and
 100 wolves outside
 that state.

Advocates fought to keep gray wolve
s protected as
 endangered species in those areas,
but after several
 legal battles and eventually congressional
conservation and management efforts
 were handed over
 to state officials by 2012. Now states
 like Wisconsin and
Montana have established wolf-hunting
 seasons, in part
 reasoning that hunting would improve
tolerance for the
 controversial species. But surveys
 have shown that
tensions over wolves remain high.

recent study by researchers at the
 University of
Wisconsin-Madison showed that the
state's first wolf
 hunt last year did not increase tolerance
 toward the
animals. In 2009, 51 percent of those
 living in wolf
country said they would be more tolerant
 of wolves
if they could hunt them, but a follow-up
survey in 2013
 found that 81 percent of residents
across Wisconsin
 said their opinion on wolves had not

Biologist John Vucetich, who studies
 wolves at
Michigan Technological University,
took issue with
 the fact that human intolerance was
 cited in the
Fish and Wildlife Service's proposal
as one of the
limits to the possibility that gray wolves
recolonize more of their historic range.

"The purpose of the Endangered Species 
Act is to
 mitigate the threats against a species;
 one of the
 threats to the species has always been
intolerance," Vucetich told LiveScience
last week.
 "The Fish and Wildlife Service is using
Endangered Species Act to prescribe
 the status
 of wolves rather than mitigate it."

Among the critics of the proposal at
 Monday's hearing
 was one of Ashe's predecessors,
 Jamie Rappaport
Clark, president and CEO of Defenders
of Wildlife,
who was director of the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service
 under the Clinton administration.Cristina
 an ecology researcher at Oregon State
added that "wolvestravel up to a
 thousand miles to
 find a mate and establish new territory."
 who is working on a book about
conservation policy
 for large carnivores, told LiveScience
 that delisting
wolves on a nationwide basis means
 that states like
 Colorado and Utah are unlikely to
 have a wolf
 population in the future.

"When wolf recovery began more than
25 years ago,
 I had really high hopes," Clark said in
her testimony.
"Using Yellowstone, central Idaho, the
desert Southwes
t as sources, we had hoped not only to
 prevent the
 extinction, but to restore them throughout
a significant
 portion of their range," Clark added.
 "Fast forward to
 today, with wolves struggling to gain a
 toehold in the
Northwest and still non-existent in states
with significant
 areas of unoccupied habitat like California
, Utah and
Colorado, the federal government seems
 ready to give
 up before the job is finished."

But Ashe bristled at that perception.
"The idea that the Fish and Wildlife Service
 has a desire
 to wring our hands and walk away from
wolves could not
 be further from the truth," he told reporters
 earlier in the day.
"But the time has come for us to focus our
 efforts where
 they are needed most."

Ashe said it is legitimate to consider how
 wolves could
 be a healthy part of an ecosystem in a state
 like Colorado,
 but asked, "Is that necessary in order to
 ensure that wolves
 are not in danger of extinction?
"We believe the answer is no," Ashe said.
 "That's a good
 question to ask Colorado. The same
 question could be
 asked in Utah and California and Nevada
 and in other
states where wolves don't exist today."

Living with wolves
Others see the battle over wolves as a result
 of unanswered
 philosophical questions about how humans
 live alongside
 wildlife in the United States. Deciding where
 wolves belong
 today after the animals were nearly
 exterminated becomes
a matter of ethics, not science.
"I don't think we have any clue as a society
 what counts as a
nendangered species," Vucetich told Live
Science last week.

"The big-picture problem is probably the
 hardest one, and
every citizen has a stake in that: Why do
 we have such a hard
 time getting along with wolves?" Vucetich
 said. "When we talk
about these things, it's really about our
relationship with nature:
 Why do we have such a hard time getting
 along with nature?"

The government shutdown throws a wrench
into the agency's
 next steps; additional public hearings were
scheduled for this
 week in Albuquerque, N.M., and Sacramento,
Calif., but those
 events have now been canceled.
The Fish and Wildlife Service proposal will
 be subject to an
independent peer review. That process was
 put on hold earlier
this year when the agency found that some
of the reviewers had
 signed a letter critical of the proposal
 (after identifying the
individuals based on their resumes).
 Vucetich was among
 those disqualified reviewers).
The public comment period remains open
 until Oct. 28, and a
 final decision on the proposal is expected
within a year

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