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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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Monday, February 23, 2015

Sitting in a NY Hotel tonight as the temperature outside drops to the single digits.............I thought this article about sharing your home with the "critters" would hit home with all of you tonight who are tending to a fireplace or thermostat to keep warm

When Nature Comes Knocking
Illustration by Adelaide Tyrol
We two-leggeds build inviting habitats and fill them with ample food supplies. We heat these spaces in winter, cool them in summer, and keep them dry year-round. And when our wild neighbors have the audacity to move in, we frequently kill them on sight.
My wife and I recently restored an old brick farmhouse that was built in 1790, back when Vermont was still an independent republic. We removed walls and ceilings to expose and repair the original structure, then vacuumed every nook and cranny to remove debris left behind by two centuries of sundry inhabitants.
The cavities were crammed with butternut shells and tiny ears of corn that had been stripped clean – the work of red squirrels and mice. After we pried back a battered kickboard near the kitchen, a river of ancient wheat seeds cascaded out onto the floor. These must have been pilfered from human food stores and cached by mice during an era when Vermont farmers still grew their own wheat. I saved some of those seeds to see if I can resurrect what could be a lost heirloom variety.
Most of the wall and attic spaces were stuffed with clumps of useless insulation, replete with evidence of mice: countless droppings, pee-infused nest material, rodent skeletons and desiccated mouse-mummies. These were the remnants of nesting deer mice or white-footed mice – the most common denizens of homes in the hinterlands.
The house also boasted an extensive collection of spider webs, which festooned the rafters in the basement. Most of the webbing I encountered was spun by the common house spider, Parasteatoda tepidariorum – a round-bodied arachnid, about one tenth to one third of an inch in size, often with banded legs. This species is one of the “cobweb” spiders, known for their messy-looking snares. It seeks warmth and shelter in the quiet corners of our homes, and earned the species name, tepidariorum—which is Latin for “warming house”—because of its propensity for living in greenhouses.
In time, I worked my way up to the top of the house. Balanced on a rooftop while painting a dormer, I inadvertently invaded the flyway of a colony of paper wasps going in and out of a soffit vent. They buzzed loudly to warn me off; sometimes a wasp landed on my face or neck and crawled around ominously. Since I had no free hand, I allowed the wasps to creep around on my skin while trying to quell my nerves and exude an air of calm, all while continuing to paint.
I now do my writing in an office alcove beneath that same roof. As with many south-facing locations in old houses, this is the most active animal abode. I maintain a live mousetrap in the nearby crawl space. Some time ago, I heard skittering in the wall, followed by the sound of the trap tripping. When I checked, the trap was closed and the seeds gone, but there was no mouse inside. Over the next few weeks I tried every conceivable contrivance to catch whatever tiny creature could pull off such a trick.
Finally, I stayed up one night, tweaking the trap and re-baiting it repeatedly. Sometime after midnight, the trap clicked shut and started to rattle. I looked inside to find a masked shrew — one of the smallest mammals in the world — wiggling its tiny, tubular nose at me.
My encounter with that diminutive shrew was an epiphany; it put an end to any remaining hopes I harbored of critter-proofing a house that was more than two centuries old. After three years of trying to block every conceivable crack and hole that could serve as an entryway for mice, ladybugs, spiders and the like, I realized that “our” house is as much an extension of the natural habitats that surround it, as it is a domesticated refuge from the wild.
Michael J. Caduto is an author, ecologist, and storyteller who lives in Reading, Vermont.

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