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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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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A critical habitat requirement for Wolverines is sustained deep snow cover that persists well into late Winter and early Spring..........The pregnant Wolverine female digs her den into the snow and her kits come into the world snug and protected from the elements..............Many Idaho weather models predict that there could be as much as a 40% reduction in snowfall 50 years from now and an 80% "dryout"by the year 2100.............With such a contraction of snowfall predicted, Idaho Wildlife, the Round River Conservation Studies and other wildlife Agencies are making recommendations that will optimize safe travel corridors and reduce trapping of our strongest "pound for pound" carnivore.

Report: Shrinking snowy areas may not be enough for both wolverines, outdoorsmen

 The Spokesman-Review
Informational chat
Idaho Fish and Game will host an online chat from 1-3 p.m. June 3 to answer questions about the draft wolverine conservation plan or wolverines in general. For more information, or to view the draft plan, wolverine-conservation-plan
Idaho’s backcountry skiers, snowmobilers and wolverine population could be competing for territory on the same shrinking snowfields in years to come, research compiled by the state suggests.
Some climate models project that Idaho will lose 40 percent of its spring snow by 2060 and about 80 percent by the century’s end. Given wolverines’ dependence on cold, snowy habitat, and a growing demand for winter recreation, conflicts could develop, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s draft wolverine conservation plan.
Wolverines are adapted to harsh mountain environments, with frost-free hair and a metabolic rate that can’t tolerate temperatures above 70 degrees, said Beth Waterbury, team leader for the draft plan. The species is thinly distributed across North America’s arctic, boreal and alpine forests. The fierce-looking critters resemble small bears, but they’re actually members of the weasel family, along with otter and mink.

Between 250 and 300 wolverines are believed to inhabit the Rocky Mountains of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, and Washington’s North Cascade Range. Wolverine numbers have rebounded since the early 1900s, but they remain candidates for federal endangered species listing. In Idaho, wolverines from Canada and large wilderness areas have helped sustain the state’s wolverine population, according to the draft plan.
But climate change is expected to alter the landscape wolverines need for survival. Of particular interest to researchers are the secluded, high-elevation sites where female wolverines den in late February, Waterbury said. They pick sites where the snow lingers until mid-May.
“People are still kind of speculating on what’s driving that,” she said. Among the theories: The isolation may protect wolverine kits from predators, and the snow provides insulation from frigid temperatures.
A smaller snowpack is likely to drive wolverines and backcountry recreationists to the same sites, so it’s imperative to know how wolverines react to winter recreational use, the state’s draft plan said.
Some of that field research has begun in central Idaho through studies conducted by the U.S. Forest Service and Round River Conservation Studies with various partners, including the state of Idaho and the Idaho State Snowmobile Association. But more work is needed to understand how recreation influences wolverine distribution and reproductive success, the draft plan said.

Given the small numbers of wolverines, it will take at least several more years of data collection before researchers have enough data to draw conclusions, Waterbury said.
The draft plan supports continuation of that work, along with cooperative efforts among Western states to identify the travel corridors that far-flung wolverine populations need to maintain genetic diversity.
Public comments will be accepted through June 9 on the draft plan, which also recommends:
• Working to reduce the number of wolverines accidentally taken through trapping and increasing hunters’ ability to identify wolverines, which are sometimes mistaken for badgers.
• Providing safe highway crossing sites for wolverines and other wildlife.

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