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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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Sunday, August 3, 2014

U. of Alaska and USGS biologists have modeled the habitat of the Porcupine Caribou herd and conclude that: “There seems to be more frequent wildfire events as the century progresses, and what that results in is younger forests containing less lichen-producing winter habitat" ...............21% projected loss of winter habitat would severely knock down the acreage where the Caribou can graze and could lead to a debilitating shrinkage in their numbers

Study Suggests Climate Change May Reduce Caribou Habitat

Credit Dean Biggins, US FIsh and Wildlife Service
Wildfires and the caribou population are the subject of a new study released by the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the US Geological Survey.  KDLG’s Chase Cavanaugh has more on the data and its implications.
“There seems to be more frequent wildfire events as the century progresses, and what that results in is younger forests containing less lichen-producing winter habitat.”
The study says higher temperatures increase the flammability of forests, and predicts that by the end of the century, the Porcupine caribou herd will lose 21% of its winter habitat by the end of the century.  Brinkman says this habitat loss will have a direct effect on where these populations graze, and by extension, villages that depend on them.
“If caribou may be avoiding these young forests, and these burns are occurring near a community, that may mean that these caribou are wintering in different areas away from communities.  There’s certain communities in the Porcupines Winter Range that depend on that herd, and if there’s a lot more young forest, they may be spending more time in tundras or other areas.”
While the study didn’t address this directly, Brinkman says other research indicates wildfires may also harm local trail systems, hindering the efforts of caribou hunters.
“When a burn comes through, depending on the severity, it can really cause a lot of destruction to trail networks around these rural areas.  As you probably know, there’s not a very good road network around most of these rural communities in Alaska, so they depend on these trail systems to get to their subsistence areas, and if there’s more fires ripping through, they’re going to spend more time trying to repair trails, or they may lose those trail systems altogether.”
The study says unlike Porcupine caribou, the Central Arctic variety is less likely to suffer from habitat loss due to mainly grazing on the tundra. 
The full study is available on the PLOS ONE website.

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