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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, November 2, 2014

The moment that an esteemed Wolf researcher like Dave Mech makes a comment about increased Wolf numbers PERHAPS having a debilitating impact on Moose in the northeast section of Minnesota, the newspapers cause the general reader to kneejerk into the LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD mentality of the BIG BAD WOLF............If one looks closer at Dr. Mech's recent paper on whether Global warming and/or wolves and/or other factors are driving down the states Moose population you learn that this scientist states that---“My data tends to indicate the problem was there were more wolves"....... “But that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the only answer(to Moose decline)"............... "Is there some change affecting moose that allows wolves to take more of them, or is it merely that there’s more wolves?”...............I am not a biologist but virtually every piece of information that one reads about the collective "hurt" that we human animals bring to bear on the environment, the more one concludes that it is our activites which allows carnivores to make a greater impact on the prey that they hunt..........The most prominent example being on how cutting up the forests in Canada for oil and gas exploration(and previously the northern USA) has allowed wolves to penetrate deep into Caribou habitat, knocking down that hoof browsers numbers in the process.......Let us solve root problems in the environment and then the age old millenia dance of predator and prey will not drive either to extinction

Are wolves to blame for fewer

 Minnesota moose?

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune 
  • Updated: November 1, 2014 - 7:14 PM
The jury is still out on climate change, but more wolves seems to correlate with a decline in moose population.

A days-old moose calf near Isabella, Minn., was fitted with a radio collar. Researchers are trying to find out what effect wolves are having on moose mortality.
Photo: Minnesota DNR,
Wolves likely have played a bigger role in the decline of
 northeast Minnesota’s moose population than originally
 believed, and there’s no evidence yet that climate change
 has been a major ­factor, according to a new analysis by
renowned Minnesota wolf researcher Dave Mech.
Mech doesn’t dismiss climate change as a possible factor
 in the declining moose herd, but said evidence presented
 in earlier research done by the Department of Natural
 Resources “just doesn’t hold up.”
Instead, an increasing wolf population in at least part of
 the northeast moose range might have contributed to the
 decline, Mech and John Fieberg, an assistant professor
 at the University of Minnesota, concluded in a recently
published paper. The state’s northeast moose herd has
 fallen 50 percent since 2006, to an estimated 4,350 animals
 last winter.
In the earlier studies, DNR researchers considered the
 statewide wolf population stable between 2000 and 2010,
 which was correct, Mech said. But they didn’t consider
 that the wolf population in an area that Mech has been
 studying — which overlaps part of a moose study area
— had increased to the highest levels in 40 years.
“My data tends to indicate the problem was there were
more wolves,” Mech said in an interview. “But that doesn’t
necessarily mean that’s the only answer. Is there some
change affecting moose that allows wolves to take more
of them, or is it merely that there’s more wolves?”
If wolves are a major factor in the moose decline, Mech
 said the DNR could allow hunters to kill more wolves in
the moose range until the population recovers.
Michelle Carstensen, DNR wildlife health program
supervisor, who in 2013 began conducting an adult
moose mortality study using radio-collared animals,
said the previous DNR studies looked at overall
 but researchers weren’t able to determine cause
of death
 in most cases.
“We assumed wolves were accounting for a portion
that mortality, but we didn’t know how much,” she
But now officials are finding how much impact
are having on moose mortality. The study radio
alert researchers when an animal has died, and
 GPS coordinates so they can be quickly located
and a
cause of death determined.
So far in the study, the overall mortality rate is 26
 which is a concern. Normal stable moose
have an 8 to 12 percent mortality rate. Wolves
accounted for 55 percent of the mortality (17 of
31 deaths);
 the rest died from health issues.
“The level of wolf predation on the adults is well
 in line with
what we’d expect,” Carstensen said. “It’s the
mortality [from all causes] that has us concerned.”
She noted that the northwest moose heard
from about 4,000 in the ’80s to fewer than 100
 today, and
wolves had nothing to do with that. Those moose
 died from
 health-related issues, possibly driven by climate
And, she said, adult moose in the northeast keep
 dying in
summer, fall and early winter “when they shouldn’t
be dying.”
Carstensen said the results from current ongoing
studies, which also include moose calves, habitat
and diet,
should eventually provide researchers with answers
to the
mystery. “There still might not be a smoking gun; it
might be very complex,” she said.
So far, in a different study involving collared moose
calves, 67 percent of the mortality was due to wolves.
“Wolf predation is probably a little higher than we
expected,” DNR researcher Glenn DelGiudice said.
 “But we knew it would be a main source,” he said,
 and it’s far too early to draw any conclusions.
He is planning on collaring more moose calves next
spring, and said several years of data are needed.

Mech’s latest report says the northeast moose
population was relatively unaffected by wolves from
 1997 to about 2003 and that wolf numbers tended to
 parallel moose numbers. However, after the wolf
population in his study area jumped 81 percent between
2000 and 2006 — from 44 animals to 81 — moose
 numbers began declining.
“We don’t know how far and wide that increase [in the
 wolf population] took place, but it did in our study area,
 and that area was adjacent to the moose study area,
” Mech said. He said it’s reasonable to surmise the wolf
population in the rest of the moose study area also was
rising, rather than remaining stable, as it was elsewhere.
Moose are a prime food source for wolves in the
northeast, so as the moose population declines, one
would expect the wolf population to eventually fall, too.
 “That seems to be happening in our study area,” Mech
 said. The wolf population there increased until 2012, but
 he said it appears to have since declined.
The DNR estimated the state’s wolf population last winter
 at 2,423, stable from 2013.
So if the wolf population in moose country is declining,
will moose rebound?
“That depends on what’s going on,” Mech said. “If it’s
strictly wolves, the moose population will recover. But
if there are other factors involved — parasites, disease
 or warming temperatures, then it’s hard to say.”
And if wolves turn out to be a major factor, then the DNR
 will have to decide whether to try to lower the population
of one iconic animal to try to boost the population of another.

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