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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, March 8, 2014

A "signature issue" on this blog is DEER OVERBROWSING and it's adverse impact on forest biodiversity------Cornell University reinforces this "over browsing iron-clad scientific fact(which state wildlife Agencies deliberately ignore so as to cater to hunters who seek bloated deer density levels for their "shooting arcade" needs each Fall)--------"Deer are slowing down forest succession or natural establishment".............. "In fact, the deer are preventing forests from establishing," says Anurag Agrawal, Cornell professor of ecology and evolutionary biology,.............Deer typically prefer to eat native, woody plants and rebuff invasive species...... The Cornell Study showed that when deer consume native plants, the non-native species are left to flourish, dropping seed in the soil.................This stimulates an unnatural forest ecosystem which ripples up and down the food chain, from disrupting small mammal and invertebrate populations, to ground nesting birds to the deer themselves("eating themselves out of house and home"),,,,,,,,,,to the carnivore suite ranging upward from marten, fisher, fox, coyotes to Puma, Bear and Wolf..................The 6 to 12 deer per square mile paradigm that our North American temperate forests evolved with prior to European Invasion circa (AD 1500) allowed for the myriad of eastern and western American native species to flourish...............This has been turned on it's head over the past 500 years to where 20, 30, 40+ deer per square mile exist across the USA............So when I see Indiana concerned that their 2013 hunt was the 8th largest kill of deer in the last 100 years--but down 10,000 deer from 2012 because there were too many to begin with per the State Game Agency(increased hunting quotas,hemorrhagic Disease, and severe winter weather all synergizing to lower deer populations---a minimum of 400,000-750,000 deer in Indiana), it confirms for me that we as a nation have our priorities upside down............We know scientifically that too many deer mean a degraded environment, but because we finance the state Game Commissions largely through hunting tags, we turn a blind eye to biodiversity and "deer baby, oh bring us more deer baby" is the "blind as a bat" deer management mantra we continue adhering to------------------Most hunters love this paradigm(not all, but most).................-WHEN WILL WE EVOLVE AND BE "LEOPOLD LIKE"-'ONLY THE MOUNTAIN KNOWS THE IMPACT OF TOO MANY DEER AND NO WOLVES") IN TREADING LIGHTLY ON THE LAND?

Putnam 27th as deer harvest down but still top-10 season
Friday, March 7, 2014
The Hoosier deer harvest for 2013 was down more than 10,000 deer over the previous year but still was among the top-10 hunting seasons ever in Indiana, the Indiana DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife has reported.
Harvest of Deer this season was down more than in each of the previous five seasons. That might be sobering news to some deer hunters, but it wasn't unexpected."Going into the year, I knew it was gHoosier hunters harvested fewer deer in the 2013 soing to be down," Chad Stewart, deer management biologist with the Indiana DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife, said. "It's what we thought it would be."The reported Hoosier harvest of 125,635 deer was about 10,600 fewer deer than the record harvest of 136,248 in 2012, a decline of 7.8 percent. It still ranks eighth best since regulated deer hunting began in Indiana in 1951.

The Putnam County harvest ranked 27th among Indiana's 92 counties in highest overall harvest with 1,772 deer taken during 2013. Of those, 787 were antlered deer, ranking Putnam 30th last year in that category.

Hunters took just under 1,000 antlerless specimens in Putnam County during 2013, harvesting 985 deer with antlers.

More deer were taken in 2013 in Putnam County than in all neighboring counties except Parke (2,445, including 907 antlered deer).

The 2014 deer harvests in the other contiguous counties were reported as Owen, 1,712 total deer; Morgan, 1,344; Montgomery, 1,120; Clay, 1,051, and Hendricks, 639.
The full harvest report is available at, under Featured Topics.

"Down about eight percent is very similar to what we're seeing in a lot of other Midwest states, so we're par for the course," Stewart said. "We're still harvesting a lot of deer. The 125,635 shows we're down but not collapsing."
At least two and possibly three factors contributed to the lower harvest -- carryover from a widespread outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) in 2012 and more in 2013, a record antlerless harvest in 2012, and the second season of new hunting regulations aimed at lowering deer densities in some areas of the state.

EHD, a viral disease transmitted by biting flies, was confirmed or suspected in 67 counties in 2012. It was reported in 23 counties in 2013, with 20 of them taking a hit for the second straight year. EHD is often fatal to deer.
"We had a record antlerless harvest in 2012 on top of a major disease outbreak, which tells us there were a lot less deer going into the season," Stewart said. "It was pretty easy to predict the harvest would be down."

It's less certain how much of a role the new hunting regulations played.

"It really complicates things as far as interpretation," Stewart said. "It's not clear if deer numbers were down because of EHD or our management efforts or a combination of both."
The number of deer harvested in individual counties ranged from 91 in Tipton County to 3,454 in Harrison County. The 2013 harvest exceeded 1,000 deer in 57 counties; 2,000 deer in 19 counties; and 3,000 deer in three counties.

Harrison County had the highest harvest with 3,454 deer. Washington, Switzerland, Franklin, Steuben, Noble, Parke, Jefferson, Lawrence and Orange counties rounded out the top 10.

Harrison County's total made it one of 10 counties with unofficial record harvests, compared to 35 record-setting counties in 2012.

Steuben, which had been the perennial top county until 2012, reported its lowest harvest total (2,652) since 1997 but still ranked fifth in the state.

Tipton had the lowest reported harvest with 91 deer, followed by Benton, Blackford, Hancock, Rush, Clinton, Wells, Howard, Shelby and Marion.

The firearms season accounted for 57 percent of the total, followed by archery at 27 percent. The muzzleloader (8 percent), late antlerless (5 percent), and youth season (2 percent) made up the rest.

Hunters had three options to report their harvest -- traditional in-person check stations, online or by phone. It was nearly an even split between check stations (64,740) and the online/phone method (60,895). Last year, just over 60 percent were reported at check stations.

The antlered buck harvest exceeded 1,000 in three counties, while the antlerless harvest exceeded 1,000 deer in 31 counties compared with 42 in 2011. Antlerless deer composed at least 50 percent of the total harvest in 90 of the state's 92 counties in 2013, similar to 2012.


Deer proliferation disrupts a forest's

 natural growth

posted by news on march 7, 2014 - 10:30pm
ITHACA, N.Y. – By literally looking
 the surface and
 digging up the dirt, Cornell researchers have
 discovered that
a burgeoning deer population forever alters the
 progression of a forest's
 natural future by creating environmental havoc
 in the soil and
 disrupting the soil's natural seed banks.
The study, "Deer Browsing Delays Succession
by Altering Aboveground
 Vegetation and Belowground Seed Banks,"
 was published online March
 7 in PLOS ONE.
"Deer are slowing down forest succession or
 natural establishment. In fact,
 the deer are preventing forests from
 establishing," says Anurag Agrawal,
 Cornell professor of ecology and evolutionary
 biology, a co-author on the
Deer typically prefer to eat native, woody
 plants and rebuff invasive
species. The study showed that when deer
 consume native plants, the
 non-native species are left to flourish,
 dropping seed in the soil.

ground layer denuded by deer
 overbrowsing(left)-low density deer

As forests normally mature, their grasses give way to
 herbs and shrubs, and then new trees eventually
 take root. Expanding deer populations in the
 Northeast, however, stall forest development and
 promote the growth of thorny thickets of buckthorn,
 viburnum and multiflora rose bushes. If deer leave
 the forests alone, such trees as cottonwood, locust
and sumac can sprout and grow unimpeded.
The researchers found that the impacts of deer
grazing on vegetation were severe and resulted
in bare soil and reduced plant biomass, less
 recruitment of woody species and relatively
 fewer native species. And the deer's negative
 impact on seed banks resulted in significantly
decreased overall species richness and relatively
 more short-lived species of both ann
ual and biennial plants.
Co-author Antonio DiTommaso, Cornell associate
 professor of weed ecology and management, and
 research technician Scott Morris gathered soil
 cores – from both within and outside of fenced
 "deer exclosures" – and germinated the seed.
They found the soil cores from outside of the
exclosures contained many more seeds from
 non-native species.

Deer select forests for their trees but in doing
 so disrupt forest system growth trajectories, concludes
the study.
"It's obvious that the deer are affecting the
above-ground species, but it's like an iceberg. There
are major effects below the soil surface. We are seeing
a divergence of seeds contained within the soil from
 what should be there," says DiTommaso. "We are
 not seeing the seeds of woody plants. Instead, we're
 seeing an escalation of non-native seed and the
virtual elimination of woody plant seeds."
Source: Cornell University

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