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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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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Sue Morse is our good friend in Vermont and and Director of KEEPING TRACK, the organization that she started in 1994 to help people discover, document and conserve key wildlife habitats across North America........Sue is a nationally known naturalist whose philosophy is that human infrastructure development in all its forms often unwittingly harms, isolates and eliminates habitat critical to local biodiversity and broad-scale ecological health.............. Compounding the problem, many of those responsible for protecting habitat lack the resources needed to “keep track” of the status of wildlife and habitat in their assigned areas.............. Sue started KEEPING TRACK to fulfill that need.......... Through her programs, whole communities can become engaged in monitoring potential habitats and threatened regions..............Sue recently gave an interview suggesting that the Puma may be able to recolonize her home state of Vermont on it's own without a human assisted rewilding effort...............I hope she turns out to be right about this but despite the lone Puma that crossed the Country from South Dakota into Connecticut a few years back(only to be killed by an automobile), there really is no nearby source population to easily make natural recoloniztion a likely event...............Even with a small eastern wolf population across the St. Lawrence River from Maine in Ontario, there has only been an occasional prospector making it's way into New England...........With Pumas at best at "ghost" status in eastern Canada and 100 Pumas way down south in Florida the closest reproducing population, it would seem a miracle for a male and female "cat" to somehow get into the northeast kingdom of Vermont(Vermont's wildest and least human populated sector) and start a family...........Sue has all my support on her prediction of a breeding Puma population to occur in Vermont in 2034 despite the long odds as we begin the New Year of 2015

Cougar expert:

 Cats could return 

to Northeast US

January 1, 2015 Updated: January 1, 2015 8:28am

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont animal
 tracker known nationally for her expertise in
 tracking cougars believes the big cats will
 eventually return to the Northeastern United
 States and neighboring parts of Canada, bu
t she says the region won't see large numbers
 of them anytime soonThe forests of Maine, New
 Hampshire, Vermont and upstate NYork have
 ideal cougar habitat, meaning plentiful
 forest cover and large animals to sustain
 a cougar population, said Sue Morse of 
Jericho, the science director and founder 
of the organization Keeping Track.
"Back in the '80s, I just looked at that
 huge expanse of country between the
 Rockies, the western slope of the 
Rockies and here, and I thought
 to myself 'how can this happen?'" said Morse.
Since then, scientists have tracked the
 animals moving out of South Dakota
 into Midwestern states. Cougars also 
are moving north into Manitoba, the 
Canadian province to the west of Ontario,
 which Morse considers their most likely
 route back to the Northeast.
"We need our apex carnivores in a big 
way," Morse said. "We need them for
 the health of our forests. Our forests
 are being ravaged by too many deer in 
some places."

of names: mountain lion, puma, panther
, catamount. Vermont's last known 
cougar was killed in 1881 in Barnard.
 The animal, now stuffed, is on display
 at the Vermont Historical Society in Montpelier.
"It's a known fact that dispersing tom 
cougars will go hundreds, if not thousands of
 miles as they search for a habitat in which
 they can settle down in the company of 
females and call home," said Morse, who 
is planning a lecture on the topic Jan. 7 in 
The challenge is the females are more
 likely to stay near their home range,
 but they too will sometimes move into
 new territory, she said.
Scientists say sightings of individual 
cougars are possible, but they're 
skeptical that breeding populations
 of cougars will return to the region
 on their own.
Mary Parkin, endangered species
 recovery coordinator for the Northeast
 Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
 Service, agrees the region has suitable
 habitat for cougars and male cougars 
do pass through.
"The trick is getting that female there,
 they would have to be brought in,"
 she said, adding that was unaware of a
ny effort to bring cougars back to the Northeast.
Mark Scott, director of wildlife for the
 Vermont Department of Fish and 
Wildlife, said his agency regularly
 receives reports of cougar sightings 
and it's possible that individual cougars
 could be spotted in Vermont, but he
 calls the possibility of a breeding population
 returning to the state "a long shot."
"It used to be if someone saw a mountain 
lion they'd say 'I'm not going to tell anybody
 because they're going to think I'm crazy,'"
 Scott said. "But people shouldn't feel that 
way today. There really is a possibility that
 if they see a large cat, obviously it needs to
 have a long tail ... they could be seeing the 
real thing."
Other scientists say there's no question the
 animals are moving far from what is 
considered their current range. In 2011, 
a cougar was hit by a car and killed on
 DNA testing found that the animal 
was from South Dakota.
Morse said the animals regularly confound 
scientists by doing the unexpected. It coul
d take 30 years (Morse hopes less) for a 
breeding population to return.
"I am looking forward to seeing how 
these animals pull it off because I'm
 convinced they 
will," she said

 Keeping Track

Keeping Track, Inc., PO Box 444,
 Huntington, VT 05462 |
 (802) 434-7000 | Contact Us

Our Philosophy

The fragmentation and destruction 
of habitat is a primary cause of 
decline in wildlife populations. 
When development or irresponsible
 resource extraction occurs, critical
 habitat is often unwittingly harmed,
 simply because no one realizes tha
the area affected is an important 
denning, feeding, wintering or travel 
area for one or more species. 

The isolation of wildlife populations
 within fragmented habitats severely
 compromises the long-term well-being
 of many species as healthy ecosystem
 functions, services and resiliency 
declines over time.

By monitoring potential habitats and
 threatened regions - systematically 
searching for and recording evidence 
of use by “focal species” over multiple
 years - citizens can obtain the 
information needed to make informed 
decisions about wildlife habitat
 stewardship. Our adult and youth 
training programs are designed to
 both inspire community volunteers
 as well as turn them into practitioners
 of a science-based field study 
methodology. Keeping Track®
recognizes that more “boots on the
 ground” field research is essential 
if we are to successfully conserve 
an appropriate matrix of 
core and connective habitats. 


All original writing above and
 photography © Susan Morse  

Keeping Track, 
Inc., PO Box 444,
 Huntington, VT
 05462 |
 (802) 434-7000 |
Contact Us



Anonymous said...

I won't be too surprised if you are already aware, but just in case your not I'm sure you'll be interested--a cougar, alas, was just shot in Kentucky recently by a wildlife agent. DNA tests are pending as to where it came from(former captive? transient from a known wild population?). I blundered into this looking up some other stuff which then led me to another story that I was surprised I haven't heard yet either, of a Gray Wolf also shot fairly recently in Kentucky, whose DNA indicated it was from the Great Lakes area population--you can just Google these things and quite a few articles come up....Let's us predator huggers hope there are others out there NOT getting shot as they spread into their former ranges. Maybe I will live long enough to know of breeding cougars in N. C.(at least in our mountains--EXCELLENT cougar habitat!) one day before too long?....L.B.

Rick Meril said...

L.B.............I did post on both events............Hope that your wish(and mine--reproducing wolf and puma population throughout the east) is recognized during our lifetime............Best for the New Year and good hearing from you


Anonymous said...

Ha! I figured as much, but I musta missed those posts somehow. You ARE prolific--hard for my occasional computer use to keep up! But I always enjoy(and learn!) reading your blog!....L.B.

Rick Meril said...

Thank you L>B.

Best for the New Year