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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, July 16, 2014

Here is the next in a series of Environmental Blog Posts from Dr. Cristina Eisenberg,......Cristina is a good friend of this Blog and is a conservation biologist at Oregon State University as well as a Smithsonian Research Associate......... A Boone and Crockett Fellow, Cristina studies how wolves affect forest ecosystems throughout the West................ She is the author of The Wolf's Tooth and the new book The Carnivore Way............Transboundary Conservation of Large Carnivores is a focus of hers.............Today, she focuses on how Peace Parks such as the U.S./Canadian Waterton-Glacier spanning sections of Montana and Alberta provide a safe haven for Grizzlies, Wolves and Pumas, abeit with imperfect "domes of protection" for these trophic carnivores...........As many of us know, the land abutting these Parks often are "animal population sinks" due to hunting and trapping being allowed there...........We have read more and more about how additional buffer land protection zones are so desperately needed to supplement the core reserves of our Parks(e.g. Denali in Alaska and Algonquin in Ontario sometimes having these buffers and sometimes not) if we expect sizeable populations of our "charismatic carnivores" to persist into the forever


On Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 7:34 AM, Eisenberg, Cristina ;; wrote:

Dear Rick,

Here is my latest Island Press Field Notes blog post, entitled, "An Imperfect Safety Net for Carnivore Conservation." Please post it to your blog when you can. Here is the link:

Also, I will be speaking at the North American Congress for Conservation Biology on July 16 at 5:30 PM, presenting a paper entitled, "Transboundary Conservation of Large Carnivores in Western North America: Science and Public Policy."


An Imperfect Safety Net for Carnivore Conservation

US-Canada border
US-Canada border. Photo by Cristina Eisenberg.

In the mid-2000s, I began doing research on wolves in Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. This peace park is composed of two national parks: Glacier National Park in the US and Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada. Glacier, established in 1910, comprises one million acres. Waterton, established in 1895 as a forest preserve, comprises 124,000 acres contiguous to Glacier. One hundred and seventy such peace parks exist worldwide, but Waterton-Glacier was the first. 
Dedicated to protecting biodiversity and natural and cultural resources, peace parks help maintain connectivity across boundaries. In 1995, the United Nations designated Waterton-Glacier a World Heritage Site. At the Chief Mountain port of entry within this park, a granite obelisk and narrow clearcutdemarcate the border crossing and provide a strong reminder that legal boundaries are very real in terms of land management and for the large carnivores who cross them regularly.
Policy expert Charles Chester defines transboundary conservation as international policies that focus on borders that present conservation challenges. Within the context of carnivore conservation, issues along these borders have to do with the fact that nations share resources but don’t always agree on how to manage the living species that they share.
The grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) provides a good example of how Canadian and US environmental laws can be applied across provincial and international borders. In the US, the grizzly bear has federal “threatened” status, conveyed via the Endangered Species Act, which means grizzlies can’t be hunted or harmed. In Canada, the Species at Risk Act (SARA) prevents extinction and provides for species recovery and management. Here, SARA has given this species “at risk” status. However, the strongest protection can be provincial. In British Columbia, a grizzly bear can be hunted, while in Alberta, this species has provincial “threatened” status, so hunting it isn’t allowed.
Grizzly bear, Waterton Lakes National Park. Photo by Rod Sinclair.
Grizzly bear, Waterton Lakes National Park. Photo by Rod Sinclair.
Like other carnivores, the grizzly covers a lot of ground. Let’s say that a four-year-old male grizzly is born in northwest Montana. During the first few years of his life, he has total protection and can ramble about freely without worrying about meeting a bullet, as long as he doesn’t get into people’s food or kill cattle. But at the beginning of his fourth year, he awakens from hibernation and leaves to get away from some of the adult male bears who’ve begun to pick on him. He travels through the North Fork of the Flathead Valley, in Glacier National Park, toward Canada. When he reaches the US-Canada border, he has several options. If he goes north or west, he’ll find himself in British Columbia, in more big mountains. If he goes east, he’ll find himself in Alberta, in Waterton Lakes National Park, which quickly turns to privately owned grasslands managed as ranches. Although he doesn’t have any awareness of the legal nuances involved in his choice, his travel route could mean the difference between life and death; in Alberta grizzly bears are strictly protected, while in British Columbia they can legally be hunted. The policy implications of this young grizzly bear’s life choices demonstrate the power of environmental laws to shape animal lives.
Environmental laws in the US and Canada are a big part of why we still have large carnivores roaming remote mountain valleys, but they provide an imperfect safety net, due to differences in management objectives. Additionally, both nations are in the process of proposing to remove grizzly bear protection, despite lack of scientific consensus about whether this species has recovered. In order to conserve carnivores, we need to work together across borders using best science. Non-governmental organizations such as Yellowstone 2 Yukon (Y2Y) and Wildlands Network are doing much to advance transboundary carnivore conservation.
Every time I see a grizzly bear I can’t help but wonder about the fate of others of his kind who routinely cross borders. Long may they roam, and long may we maintain the legal framework to enable their full recovery.
Cristina Eisenberg

About Cristina Eisenberg

Dr. Cristina Eisenberg is a conservation biologist at Oregon State University, a Smithsonian Research Associate, and a Boone and Crockett Fellow who studies how wolves affect forest ecosystems throughout the West. She is the author of The Wolf's Tooth and the new book The Carnivore Way.


Mark LaRoux said...

Odd question Rick:
Any chance Dr. Eisenberg would have any research fellows interested in doing genetic testing on a red wolf skeleton collected near Huntsville, Al. back in the 70's? It's radiologically dated as pre-coyote era, so may be one of the few 'pure' red wolves (and was described as a 'Florida black wolf' originally)from the southeast historically. It's listed as sample #348063 at the Smithsonian's off site location. I've been trying to get with an academic to have it tested for quite a while now due to it's ties to north Alabama's caving success.

Rick Meril said...

Mark........can you email me you email address and I will put you in touch with me at