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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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Friday, February 27, 2015

We are pleased to have a 2nd consecutive day with our friend and Ecologist Cristina Eisenberg............., Today we are introduced to her recent Huffington Blog Post which reveals how the Yellowstone Park Lamar Canyon Wolf Pack has fared since 2012 when wolf hunting seasons resumed in the Northern Rockies after Wolves went off the Endangered Species List......... As we have discussed time and time again, in social pack animals like Wolves, even if only a small % are killed by human hunters, the Pack can fall into disarray, become splintered and implode when one or both of the breeding pair is killed off..................Cristina's detailed account below for you to absorb and soak in...............

Wolves in Paradise? Yellowstone's Wolves in Transition

Posted: Updated: 

When Congress listed the gray wolf as endangered
 under the Endangered Species Act in 1974, it set the
 stage for a famous ecological experiment. The federal
 government began to create a recovery plan, which
 called for wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone National
Park and Idaho.

In 1995, the reintroduced wolves hit the ground running
. Scientists carefully documented the ecological effects
 wolves sent rippling throughout the northern Rocky
 Mountains. Wolves restored this ecosystem from
 top to bottom. The subsequent recovery of willows
 and aspens that elk had been eating to death in the
absence of wolves offered a powerful ecological lesson.

Yellowstone Wolf Reintroduction, Photo Credit National 
Park Service

By 2002, wolves had reached recovery goals of 300
individuals and 30 breeding pairs in Idaho, Montana,
and Wyoming for three consecutive years. Since 2011,
wolves have been delisted and hunted annually in much
of the northern Rockies.

Because wolves don't abide by political boundaries,
 Montana implemented a buffer zone around
Yellowstone where wolves couldn't be hunted.
 However, the state quickly succumbed to pressure
 from hunters and removed this buffer, leaving
Yellowstone wolves vulnerable.

The 2012/2013 wolf hunt, combined with other causes
 of mortality, caused a 12 percent drop in their population
. While this level of mortality is biologically sustainable
 in a species as resilient as the wolf, the impacts of the
 wolf hunt go far beyond numbers.
The Lamar Canyon pack, formerly one of the most
stable and viewable park packs, is a case-in-point.
 When the gun smoke cleared from the 2012/13 wolf
 hunt, this pack's story provides a cautionary tale
about the unintended consequences of hunting
 wolves immediately outside national parks.


Lamar Canyon pack,
 photo by
 Doug McLaughlin

Before the 2012/13 hunt, an illustrious pair led the Lamar
 Canyon pack: wolf 832, called the '06 female (for her
birth year) and wolf 755M. Pack leadership also
included wolf 754M, the beta male (755M's brother),
who'd vied for 832F's admiration and then helped the
alpha pair care for their pups. This trio engendered
tremendous public affection. Capable of taking down
 an elk by herself, '06 quickly became a legend. She
ranged widely through the Lamar Valley, yet she
 seldom left the park.


The '06 Female, photo
 Doug McLaughlin

Tragedy struck in November 2012, when 754M met a
 hunter's bullet in Wyoming, outside the park. The next
month, the '06 female also went down in the wolf hunt.
 Their entirely legal deaths played out publicly and
created public outrage. But that was only the beginning
 of the trouble.


754M, photo by
 Doug McLaughlin

When breeding season began in late December, one of
 '06's daughters became the new alpha. However,
because she was the alpha male's daughter, she
 wouldn't breed with him. And so now 755M, the
 alpha male, a great hunter with the most social
experience, went looking for a mate. This left the
Lamar Canyon pack unstable and leaderless.

By late January, the Lamar Canyon pack was going
through major changes. Two of 755M's daughters had
attracted mates from other packs. Meanwhile, 755M,
who'd been wandering, had found a mate, 759F from
 Mollie's pack, and returned to his pack with her. But
pack dynamics had shifted in his absence, so what he
returned to was actually partly his old pack with some
 new wolves. The new males turned on 759F, killed her,
 and ran 755M off. By April 2013, 755M's daughters
 were both pregnant and preparing for birth, and the
 pack was spending lots of time outside the park.

Eventually '06's daughters had their pups. While at
 first this seemed an example of wolf resilience, further
 events demonstrate how '06's and 754's deaths
disrupted this pack's social stability. In August 2013,
 wolf 820F, '06's two-year-old daughter, left the
 pack under hostile pressure from her older sisters.
 That she'd spent her entire life in the park and was
 very used to people led her to make a foolish choice.
She started hanging out in Jardine, Montana. When
 she turned to raiding chicken coops for food,
 Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks killed her.

In wolf society, each spring begets new beginnings.
 In spring 2014, the Lamar Canyon pack denned
 and produced pups. That fall, people often saw
 926F romping with her pups, her playfulness
notably different from the '06 Female's intensity.
And as the seasons turned yet again, around
Valentine's Day 2015, people observed 755M
 mating with his new alpha female.
The Lamar Canyon pack's response to the wolf
 hunt demonstrates both resilience and instability
in the face of challenges. A reinstated buffer would
 return these and other wolves to being a protected
 research population and fully realizing their
ecological role. In the meantime, scientists are
 actively studying the impacts of the hunt on wolf
 behavior to help inform wolf policy.

* * *
Learn more about Yellowstone's wolves and the
 impacts of the wolf hunt by readingThe Carnivore 
Way: Coexisting with and Conserving North
 America's Predators, by Dr. Cristina Eisenberg.
Learn more about wolf and large carnivore
conservation by signing up for the Rewilding
 Adventure sweepstakes, offered by Island Press,
 or by joining Cristina afield on her Earthwatch
expedition, Tracking Fire and Wolves through
 the Canadian Rockies.

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