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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, March 20, 2014

So the age old dance of the Porcupine Caribou Herd in Alaska with their age old predator partner", Wolves, continues with gusto with Caribou numbers now standing at nearly 200,000 strong, double the 1970's population................The herd migrates every year over about 250,000 square kilometres from birthing grounds in northern Alaska and Yukon to wintering grounds in the Northwest Territories................With First Nations peoples limiting their hunting of female Caribou, the herd is in an up phase..............Population volatility earmarks Caribou Herds so there will be ups and downs in the years ahead especially with the impacts of global warming looming over us


Porcupine caribou herd thriving

The caribou herd known for its epic annual migrations between the Northwest Territories and Alaska is thriving after a decade of decline.
In sharp contrast to many of its southern and eastern cousins, the latest population count of the Porcupine caribou found the herd has hit record numbers for recent times.
The herd has grown to an estimated 197,000 animals — the highest since biologists in Alaska, Yukon and the Northwest Territories began counting in 1972.
"It's fantastic," said Joe Tetlichi, chairman of Canada's Porcupine Caribou Management Board. "I think it's something that we should be very proud of and I think the harvesters should be proud that they are part of the success."
Decades ago, board members, First Nations and hunters noticed the decline in neighbouring herds. Pressure from hunters on the Porcupine herd increased dramatically when the Cape Bathurst and Bluenose herds dwindled so low that hunting was banned.
"We looked and watched the other herds decline and we didn't want to get into the same scenario," Tetlichi said.
There are an estimated two million caribou in Canada but many of them are considered threatened or endangered as climate change and human development encroach on their vast migration routes.
But the Porcupine herd count last summer was almost double the 102,000 caribou found in the first year of the count in 1972.
During the last caribou census in 2010, there were an estimated 169,000 animals but there was some alarm after the count previous to that, in 2001, found just 123,000 animals.
"We still don't know exactly why the herd declined from 1989 to 2001," the board said on its website. "That means we don't know why the declining trend appears to have reversed either."
The herd migrates every year over about 250,000 square kilometres from birthing grounds in northern Alaska and Yukon to wintering grounds in the Northwest Territories.
Canada and the United States jointly manage the herd under a 1987 agreement and in November 2006, the joint board decided the herd was in immediate need of conservation.
The joint management boards came up with a plan, but that wasn't enough, Tetlichi said. They went to the local communities — mostly First Nations — gathered their input and got them on board.
The plan relied largely on conservation measures such as a hunt that focuses on bulls — not cows — and leaving the animals alone during calving. One cow can produce 23 offspring over a 10-year period.
"We have no control over weather, we have no control over climate change, we have no control over global warming. What we do have control over is how we harvest," Tetlichi said.
A decade later, board members and biologists are pleased with the numbers but not ready to declare victory. The population can peak and then come crashing down, said Jason Caikoski, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
"Caribou herds typically grow really fast and at some point, they decline," said Caikoski, adding that Alaskan caribou herds have not seen the decline that Canadian herds have suffered.
"We really don't know why but we're fairly confident that that herd is in a growing phase."

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