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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, January 15, 2014

Wolf populations in Europe quadrupled between 1970 and 2005 and there may now be 25,000 animals, says the International Union for Conservation of Nature.............. They have been seen within a few miles of major cities including Berlin, Rome and Athens............... Last month one was found near the Dutch hamlet of Luttelgeest, just 30 miles from Holland's densely populated North Sea............It is a sad statement that in the wide open spaces of the West, mid West and northeast,,,,,,,,,,, state wildlife agencies are always saying there are "too many" wolves"...............,Yet, "crowded" Europe has more tolerance for the animals................. From the steppe to central Spain, Europe echoes to the howl of the wolf The shepherds' ancient foe is back in numbers – and now packs are breeding a mere 40 miles from Madrid"................They are also reportedly expanding their range in France, Germany, Poland, Scandinavia and Italy, with sightings in Belgium and Denmark,,,,,,,,,,,,,crossing roads to make inroads into territories not occupied in over a 100 years.............Time for us in the USA to reassess the regions where Wolves and Pumas can successfully retake up residence. .

* The Observer<>,
 Saturday 4 January 2014 14.22 EST
* Jump to comments (141)<http://www.theguardian

From the steppe to central Spain, Europe echoes to the howl of the wolf

The shepherds' ancient foe is back in numbers – and now packs are breeding a mere 40 miles from Madrid
Iberian Wolf
Spain is now a wolf stronghold. There are thought to be more than 250 breeding groups and more than 2,000 individuals. Photograph: Steven Ruiter/Corbis
A twig snaps, a crow calls, but nothing
 moves in the dense pine forests ofSpain's Guadarrama mountains. Vultures and
eagles soar over the snowcapped peaks
 and wild boars roam the valleys below,
 as they have for centuries. But for the
 farmers who work this land, a
threatening and worrying comeback
is taking place in this timeless
landscape, home to Spain's newest
national park.
After an absence of 70 years, the wolf
 is back in the Guadarrama hills and
breeding just 40 miles from Madrid.
There have been sightings for several
years of lone males, but camera traps
 recently picked up a family of three
cubs, two adults and a juvenile. To
the consternation of the farmers who
 believed that this ancient foe had left
the hills for ever, breeding packs are
 expected to follow. The bloody results
 are plain to see. In the past two months
 around 100 sheep and cattle have been
 killed near Buitrago, in the northern
foothills of the Guadarrama mountains,
 says Juan Carlos Blanco, a wolf
specialist and adviser to the Spanish
environment ministry.
"Guadarrama can support two, even
 three, packs. We think there are now
 six packs within 100km of Madrid. When
 they arrive in a new area the shepherds
 do not know what to do. Then they find
ways to protect their flocks with dogs or
 fences. It's a natural event and the wolf
will not go away now," he says. "Maybe
 hunters will exterminate one pack, but
others will take its place. Wolves are very
 flexible and resilient."
Spain is now a wolf stronghold. While the
 population had diminished to just a few
packs in isolated regions in the 1960s,
there are now thought to be more than
250 breeding groups and more than
 2,000 individuals.
"As wolf numbers grow so does the
number of attacks on animals. From
2005 there were about 1,500 attacks
a year. Then in 2008 it jumped to over
 2,000," says Luis Suárez, WWF
 biodiversity officer in Madrid. "In the
 past seven years 13,000 sheep, 200
 goats and several hundred cows have
 been attacked across Spain."
In the 19th century the European wolf
 was almost driven to extinction as
hunters made a living from the bounties
 paid by villagers. But conservationists
are surprised at how fast wolves have
returned during recent years, populating
areas where they were last seen more
 than 100 years ago.
Wolf populations in Europe quadrupled
 between 1970 and 2005 and there may
 now be 25,000 animals, says the
 International Union forConservation
 of Nature. They have been seen within
 a few miles of major cities including
Berlin, Rome and Athens. Last month
one was found near the Dutch hamlet
 of Luttelgeest, just 30 miles from
Holland's densely populated North
 Sea coast.
They are also reportedly expanding
their range in France, Germany,
Poland, Scandinavia and Italy, with
 sightings in Belgium and Denmark.
 In the past 10 years, says Blanco,
 wolves have arrived in the Pyrenees
 from Italy and the Alps. "They have
crossed 450km and a lot of roads
 to get there. So far they are not
breeding there, but it's only a matter
 of time," he says.
In Germany, where they were hunted
out of existence in the 19th century,
there are now thought to be around
160 wolves in 17 packs in the state
of Brandenburg. Cubs were born last
 year in Heidekreis in Lower Saxony
for the first time in 150 years, and
there were sightings in the states
of Hessen and Rheinland-Pfalz.
"The wolf has been able to reclaim
 territory in the Alps by crossing over
 from Italy and it has now spread as
 far as the Lozère region in central
 France. In 2012, individuals from
 the Alpine population formed the f
irst pack in 150 years in the Calanda
mountains of Switzerland and four
cubs were confirmed to have been
 born this year," says a report from
 the Zoological Society of London
 and others.
Wolves in Spain
Wolves traditionally flourish in times of
 political and economic crisis. Their return
 to Europe in the past 20 years is thought
 to be linked to widespread rural depopulatio
n and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The
demise of the USSR saw a near 50%
increase in the number of wolves in the
1990s, as animals that had been kept
under control by state-sponsored culling
 were left to roam unchecked and many
packs crossed into sparsely populated
areas of Poland, Germany and Scandinavia.
Some conservationists say the economic
 recession in Spain, Portugal, Greece
and elsewhere has also helped them
 spread into new areas. "People have
migrated from rural areas, allowing the
wolf to reoccupy abandoned land.
The recession has left less money
 for farmers to protect their animals,
 says Suárez. "More money in the
economy means more money for
 protection. Worse circumstances
 in the recession have seen a progression
 of rural people to the cities and an
 increase in wolf numbers," he says.
"Land is being abandoned. The woods
 regrow, so there are more deer, less
hunting pressure, and more food for
 wolves," says Peter Taylor, British
ecologist and editor of Rewilding
journal, who lives in the Czech
Republic. "Wolves are returning
to many of their old haunts in Europe
 and also wandering into long-
forgotten territory. There are
 breeding pairs now in Germany,
 Slovakia, Poland, Romania, Croatia,
 Alpine Italy, the Apennines and
Alpine France," he says.
"Wolves have always been hated by
country people, but they do not t
hreaten people," says Blanco, who
 expects to see numbers continue
 to grow in the next decade. "We
 must help farmers tolerate them,"
 he says. But the image of the wolf
as a danger to be exterminated is
strong in countries to which it has
 recently returned. Its re-emergence
 has pitted conservationists against
 farmers furious that wolves are
killing their livestock.
"It leads to resentment among
older people left in villages where
 the young have moved to the cities,"
 says Taylor. "In contrast to lynx and
 bear, nobody has tried to reintroduce
wolves – they just wander in. They are
seldom welcome. They remind older
 people of hard times – a sign that
civilisation is slipping backwards
Wolves are a protected species
and most countries offer to
compensate farmers for the
 animals they kill. But many are
now being hunted illegally and
 poisoned. Farmers and shepherds
 invest in fences and fierce dogs
to protect their animals, says Taylor.
 "They have lost the habit of
defending their flocks. In areas
where wolves never disappeared,
 they have always had some
 losses, but they are used to
protection. Farmers are more
desperate because the prices
they get are low."
Suárez adds: "Officially, 130
wolves have been killed [since 2005]
 in Spain, but the real numbers are
unknown. They are being poisoned."
María Vázquez, who works with
farm advice group Asaja in Aviola,
 helping farmers with electric fences
 and dogs, says: "We're not against
 wolves, but we need help. The
 number of attacks on livestock
 is growing."
As their populations grow, the wolves
' best friends may be tourists
flocking to Guadarrama and other
conservation zones. The animals'
presence just a few miles from city
centres is proving popular with
 politicians and a draw to city
 residents. Visitor numbers to
 Guadarrama and other wild areas
in Europe where wolves have
moved in are growing fast, and
 governments are mostly happy
 to invest in modest protection
 measures in return for being
 hailed as friends of the
"Their return to Guadarrama
 is a good thing, but for people
with animals it's trouble. We are
 willing to pay subsidies," says
 Spain's environment secretary,
Federico Ramos. "We have to
understand that ideas about the
 wolf are changing. In the past
they were a serious problem,
but now people are sympathetic.
It's not the devil; it's just an animal.
 We must learn to live together."
Additional reporting: Paul Evans

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