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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, November 15, 2014

So it is refreshing to see the Canadian Press publish an article that clearly outlines the fact that predator and prey that have coexisted together for millenia(e.g. wolves and caribou) would still be thriving if not for the humans animal manipulation and rupture of both habitat and atmosphere....................The Northwestern region of Alberta, Canada has seen an on-going research study seeking to qualify the reasons for the drastic decline of Caribou there.......Only 5% of the habitat that the Little Smokey and Peche Caribou herds use is undisturbed, compared to the 65% goal of undisturbed land which is the stated goal of Canada's Federal Government..................Oil and gas seismic lines are everywhere to be found in this habitat and it is a known fact that seismic lines with vegetation heights less than 1.4 metres facilitate movement by caribou predators...............Wolves normally prefer to prey on deer and moose, but seismic lines allow them to penetrate into the deep woods where caribou hide.............It takes up to 70 years for nature to erase the impacts of seismic landscape cuts ............Without immediate human remedial habitat restoration, the 80 to 120 Caribou in these herds are sure to vanish

Caribou habitat in 

Alberta ravaged

 beyond repair

Disturbance in Alberta's northwestern

 foothills will make restoration selective

The Canadian Press 
Wild caribou need safe habitats to roam freely.  This group in the tundra in Nunavut is thriving after a decade of decline a hope for the caribou population in Alberta.
Wild caribou need safe habitats to roam freely. This group in
 the tundra in Nunavut is thriving after a decade of decline a 
hope for the caribou population in Alberta
. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Scientists studying the ravaged caribou habitat of Alberta's
 northwestern foothills say they have found so much disturbance
 from decades of industrial use that restoration of the terrain will 
have to be selective.
"There's just so much disturbance, it's important we prioritize,"
 said Laura Finnegan, a biologist with the Foothills Research 
Institute in Hinton, Alta.
  • The institute is one year into a three-year study on how
  •  animals and humans continue to use this ragged 
  • landscape in an effort to understand how to best restore it.
Governments are counting on that work to help them live up 
to promises of sustainable development.

Deforestation worse than in


This stretch of foothills still looks like pristine, trackless boreal
 forest when seen from the highway. But back roads into the
 bush reveal a patchwork of clearcuts, well pads, access 
roads and seismic lines so extensive that gravel and green
 greet the eye almost equally.

There are more than 16,000 kilometres of seismic lines, cut
 by the energy industry through the forest, within the study 
area's 13,000 square kilometres.It's part of an area that 
recent satellite data suggests is being deforested at a rate
 that outpaces what's going on in Brazil's rainforests.
About five per cent of range for the Little Smoky and a la
 Peche caribou herds remains undisturbed — a long way
 from the federal government's 65 per cent target.

Finnegan and her colleagues are trying to figure out
 how to bridge that gap. Their first step is to understand 
how both animals and humans are using what's on the 
That means understanding the impact of seismic lines, 
which are used to study geology underground.
Wolves normally prefer to prey on deer and moose, but
 seismic lines allow them to penetrate into the deep 
woods where caribou hide .Caribou also normally
 avoid coming within 500 metres
 of a seismic line, making every line, in effect, a kilometre
 wide.It takes up to 70 years in this cold climate for nature to
 efface a seismic line. The passage of even a single quad
 can retard that restorative creep by crushing plants and 
compacting soil.
"You can just look at the vegetation on the line and you'll 
see tracks," Finnegan said.

Snowmobiles ravaging the terrain

Researchers have used sophisticated satellite-based radar 
to map average vegetation heights across the entire study
 area to within a few centimetres.
They've erected motion-sensitive cameras on selected seismic
 lines to record what's using them — caribou, wolves and 
snowmobilers alike.
Preliminary results suggest there's a threshold at which
 the lines are no longer an easy way for animals to get around.
"Seismic lines with vegetation heights less than 1.4 metres 
facilitate movement by caribou predators," says the institute's
Human use is more complex. Snowmobilers and quadders
 prefer little ground cover and dry soils as well as lower
"Human motorized use of seismic lines is extensive across
 the range of a la Peche and Little Smoky caribou, and the
 probability of high levels of motorized human use increased
 when vegetation height along seismic lines was less than 
two metres in height," says the report.
Mapping where seismic lines attractive to predators and 
humans cross what used to be the best caribou habitat 
could suggest where restoration could do the most good
, the researchers say.
Such maps have been produced for the institute's
 preliminary report. Priority seismic lines for restoration 
will still add up to many hundreds of kilometres — and
 the study area is only one small part of a heavily affected 
natural region that stretches almost all the way down
 Alberta's western edge.
But the institute's work could provide at least a plan to
 get started, Finnegan said.
"That's the primary goal of this research, so that land
 managers on the ground could look at it and know
where to begin."

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