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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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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Good to hear from our friend Stan Gehrt, who has run the decade-plus Chicago Urban Coyote Study...................Stan's research was reported on last week regarding the fact feral cats in the "Windy City" have learned that you stay alive when you stick close in to houses and buildings and stay clear of parks and other open space areas that ring Chicago..........The cats get to live another day and the small mammals and birds that make their living in the "natural areas" in turn get to thrive and fulfill their ecological services functions.................
Urban coyotes are deadly hunters,
 tracking rodents, rabbits and other
 small prey. Sometimes, feral cats are 
on the menu. But a new study of the 
two species shows that feral cats have
 figured out how to avoid coyotes and thrive.

Cats vs. coyotes: Smart

 felines learn to adapt

Birds in parks benefit when cats retreat, Ohio 

State study finds

  • OSU coyote researcher Stan Gehrt

    By  Spencer Hunt
    The Columbus Dispatch
    Sunday December 8, 2013 8:41 AM
    Urban coyotes are deadly hunters,
     tracking rodents, rabbits and other
     small prey.
    Sometimes, feral cats are on the menu.
    But a new study of the two species shows
     that feral cats have figured out how to
    avoid coyotes and thrive.
    The Ohio State University study, which
     focused on Chicago, found that this
     coexistence creates a side benefit for
     birds and other small animals that feral
    cats kill.
    Over time, feral cats there learned to stay
     away from parks and nature preserves
    where the coyotes dwell, said Stan Gehrt,
     an urban wildlife ecologist at Ohio State’s
    School of Environment and Natural
     Resources and a coyote expert.
    That, in turn, means cats no longer hunt
     for birds and other prey in those areas.
    Gehrt said that despite that loss of potential
     food, the cats he followed in the study did
     surprisingly well, living near buildings and
    “We expected these animals to be in fairly
     poor condition or carrying a lot of diseases
    and parasites,” he said. “Their survival rate
     was pretty darn high.”
    Gehrt has spent years studying how coyotes
     have increasingly adapted to city
     environments. In some areas of Chicago,
     there are as many as six coyotes for every
    250 acres, he said. As many as 60 feral cats
    can occupy the same spaces.
    The study examined feral cats that roamed
     near six Chicago parks and preserves
    known to harbor coyotes. Gehrt said he
     initially thought that the increasing number
    of coyotes, city traffic and disease would
    kill as many as 70 percent of the cats.
    But using radio tags to help track cat
    movements and check on their health,
     Gehrt found that 20 percent died during
     the two-year study period.

    The findings offer some good news in an ongoing
     debate over feral cats and how they are handled
    . Many groups trap and sterilize feral cats and
     maintain them in colonies to help keep the
     population down.
    Conservation groups, including the
    American Bird Conservancy, consider
     feral cats a threat to birds and wildlife,
    regardless of whether the cats are able
     to reproduce.
    One recent study estimated that domestic
     and feral cats kill as many as 3.7 billion
     birds and 20.7 billion small mammals
     each year in the United States.
    Gehrt said his new findings, published
    in the journal PLOS ONE, show that
    coyotes have reduced the cats’ ability
     to kill birds and other small animals
     in parks and nature preserves.
    No one knows how many coyotes live
     in and around central Ohio. But Gehr
     said he expects the population to
     continue climbing. And if Chicago
    serves as a model for Columbus, there
    should be fewer feral cats hanging around
    central Ohio parks.
    The idea that feral cats have figured out
     how to survive among coyotes came as
     no surprise to Jay Mathew, a Columbus
    retiree who routinely traps the cats to be
    spayed and neutered.
    “Cats are smart enough to adapt to almost
    anything humans can throw at them, as well
    as Mother Nature,” Mathew said

    Donald Burton, a veterinarian and CEO of the
     Ohio Wildlife Center, said he’s not sure how
    much of an effect coyotes would have on overall
     bird and small-mammal populations. Cats are
     responsible for 12 to 15 percent of the injured
    wild animals treated at the center, he said.
    “Coyotes kill some wildlife, too,” Burton added.
    Gehrt said he plans to more closely examine
     what feral cats hunt outside parks and preserves
     in an upcoming study.
    “If they are moving out of the green spaces, they
     are potentially having impacts in those urban
     areas,” Gehrt said.

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