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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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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

You hear a lot of "No we can't, "No interest", "No cooperation from other stakeholders and the Public" and "We don't have the capacity to deal with it" coming out of the mouths of New York's Dept. of Conservation as it relates to rewilding the Adirondacks with Wolves and Pumas............If the folks in Los Angeles can live with "Pumas in their midst", certainly upstate New Yorkers have the "grit" to take advantage of both the economic and habitat/biological integrity positive additions that the Wolf would bring back to the region----“We publicize the Adirondacks for summer hiking, fishing, hunting, winter sports, stuff like that, but also it could be a good place to see wildlife"............... “I think we should position the Adirondacks as another place to see wildlife a la Algonquin Park [in Ontario"..............." We’d start to open up to a whole new type of tourist"--Steve Hall; Owner of Adirondack Wildlife Refuge,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,“In pretty much any system where you have active predation, you will have higher biodiversity than in one where you don’t"............... "This has been observed in oceans, coral reefs, savannahs, worldwide in many different types of ecosystems"--Ecologist Cristina Eisenberg

Adirondack Almanack

MONDAY, MARCH 16, 2015

Will Wolves Return 

To The Adirondacks?


Standing in a snowy meadow in Wilmington, a wolf lifts
 its head and howls,
 breaking the near silence on a cold winter day. Just a
 few feet away Steve
 Hall watches the scene, a leash in his hand.
The wolf on the other end of the leash is one of three
 owned by Hall and
 his wife, Wendy, a wildlife rehabilitator. The couple
owns Adirondack
 Wildlife Refuge, and the animals are used for education,
 including popular “wolf walks.” During the walks, visitors
 hike with Hall and the wolves. Hall hopes the walks will
give people a better understanding of animals that are
 commonly feared even though they rarely attack humans.

Hall yearns for a day that wild wolves return to the
 Adirondacks. He sees the wolf not only as filling an
 important role in the ecosystem as a keystone predator,
 but also as a tourist draw.

“We publicize the Adirondacks for summer hiking,
 fishing, hunting, winter sports, stuff like that, but also
it could be a good place to see wildlife,” Hall said.
“I think we should position the Adirondacks as
another place to see wildlife a la Algonquin Park
 [in Ontario]. We’d start to open up to a whole
 new type of tourist.”

Hall is one of numerous wildlife advocates who
are hoping state and federal wildlife
 agencies will work to facilitate the wolf’s return
 to the Northeast. Wolves
 disappeared from New York State around
1900 as a result of habitat
 destruction and unregulated hunting. Between
 1871 and 1897,
 ninety-eight wolves were killed for bounties
 in the state, according
 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Gray wolves are listed as endangered in the
 Lower 48 states,
 but largely because they have made a
comeback out west, the U.S. Fish
 and Wildlife Service has proposed delisting
 them. Wolves also are on New
 York State’s list of endangered species.
 In December, however, the state
 Department of Environmental Conservation
 dropped cougars, lynx, and
 wolves from its proposed list of Species
of Greatest Conservation Need
. In the past, extirpated species had been
on that list, which is part of the 
state’s Wildlife Action Plan.

“We feel that our conservation work is better
 directed at retaining viable
 populations of the species that are currently
present in New York,”
 said DEC biologist Joe Racette, coordinator
 of the Wildlife Action Plan.
At this time, DEC has no interest in
reintroducing wolves to the state.
 Gordon Batcheller, DEC’s chief wildlife
biologist, told the Adirondack
 Explorer that the department lacks the
staff and funding to reintroduce 
or aid the recovery of large predators such
 as mountain lions and wolves.
 He also said the department already has
its hands full with hundreds of
 other species in need of protection.
 Furthermore, he said reintroducing
 cougars or wolves would be a complex
 undertaking, requiring the cooperation
 of nearby states and support from a wide
range of stakeholders.

“We just aren’t able to take this one on
 right now because it’s so huge,” he said
. “We don’t have the capacity to deal with
it, and it would take an awful lot of
 analysis and evaluation and public
engagement before we even got out of
 the gate.”
Peter Nye, who headed the DEC
Endangered Species Unit before retiring
 2010, said wolves didn’t have the public’s
 support in the 1990s, when there
 was a campaign to bring them back, and
doubts that they do now. “We
 didn’t actively have any programs to
even think about bringing wolves back
,” Nye said. “It was just too contentious.”

Both Batcheller and Nye said wolves
 probably would migrate beyond the
 Adirondack Park to low-lying areas
 where deer are more plentiful. “That
 would immediately, of course, set up a
problem for the animals in terms of
 people interactions,” Nye said.

Wolves are known to prey on livestock,
 and like other predators, they 
have a reputation for being dangerous
 to humans, even though only a
 handful of fatal wolf attacks have been
 recorded in North America.
Cristina Eisenberg, scientist for
 Earthwatch, an international nonprofit,
 lived in northern Montana and observed
 wolves recolonizing that area.
 “Wolves are not at all dangerous to
humans in my experience,” she said.
“I’ve been around hundreds of wild
 wolves at very close range and they don’t
 see us as prey.”

“The only wolves that are dangerous,
that have been documented attacking
 or killing people, are wolves that are
habituated by humans to human food,” 
she added.
Even if DEC won’t reintroduce wolves,
 wildlife advocates are hopeful that 
someday the predators will recolonize
 the Adirondacks on their own. Over
 the years, there have been a number
of reported wolf sightings, but physical
 evidence has generally been lacking.
Scientists did confirm that a wild wolf 
was killed in Day, north of the Great
 Sacandaga Lake, in December 2001.
Wolf populations have rebounded and
 expanded out west. In the Grea
t Lakes region – Minnesota, Wisconsin,
and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula –
 there are now 4,500 animals and tens
 of thousands of wolves live in Canada.

“One of the amazing things about the past
 few years is all these animals—
cougars or wolves or what have you – are
 just really showing us that their
 wildways do exist, these corridors, and
 most of these animals, they roam,”
 said Maggie Howell, executive director
of the Wolf Conservation Center in
 downstate New York and coordinator of
 the Northeast Wolf Coalition, which
 was formed last year by scientists and
 environmental groups.
Wildlife advocates believe the wolf
stands a better chance than the cougar 
of returning to the Adirondacks. Ontario’s
 Algonquin Provincial Park, which
 lies a couple of hundred miles to the
 northwest, has a few hundred wolve
s and even sponsors wolf howls for

 Wolves from Algonquin are the most
 likely to disperse to the Adirondacks,
 according to many observers.
Nevertheless, there are obstacles.
“The eastern wolf is really close, but
 there is very aggressive hunting and
 trapping between here and Algonquin
Park,” Howell said. In addition, wolves
 must cross numerous roads, including
 Highway 401 in southern Ontario,
a fragmented landscape, and the St.
Lawrence River.
Yet there is evidence that Canadian
 wolves can make it across the border.

 In addition to the animal killed in Day
in 2001, two wolves were shot in
 Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom in
 1998 and 2006, presumably after 
migrating south from Quebec.
“And these are only the ones we
know of because we killed them,”
 Eisenberg, who is writing a book on
 eastern carnivore conservation.
 “From what I know, this is the tip of
 the iceberg, that there are many
 more that are making their way down,
 likely down from Canada, although 
some may be dispersing from the
 upper Midwest.”
Evidently, New York State has plenty
 of habitat and prey to support a wolf 

 The Eastern Wolf Status Assessment
 Report, prepared for the
 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011
 concluded that “sizeable
 areas of potential wolf habitat exists in
 this state, especially in the
 area of the Adirondacks.” The report
refers to several studies that
 reached the same conclusion, including
 one that estimated that the
 state could have supported up to 460
 wolves in 2000.

If wolves do return to the Adirondacks,
one concern is that hunters
 will mistake them for coyotes and
shoot them. Like many states, 
New York has a liberal coyote-hunting
season, lasting from fall to
 spring. Moreover, the state allows
 hunters to kill an unlimited number 
of coyotes and doesn’t require hunters
 to report their kills.

The Northeast Wolf Coalition argues
 that one reason DEC need
s a wolf-recovery plan is to protect
 dispersing wolves from coyote hunters.
“There is evidence that wolves have
attempted to naturally recolonize 
the region,” Howell said. “But because
 states in the region sanction
 policies that encourage the
 unregulated killing of canids,
 this evidence
 is in the form of dead wolves.
 New York needs a management
 plan to address
 the potential return of wolves, to
 promote wolf recovery, educate
 the public, 
and have a plan in place to protect
 wolves from being killed accidentally
 or intentionally.”

In the 2005 version of the state’s
 Wildlife Action Plan, which is being
 updated, DEC took more interest
 in the wolf. The report noted tha
t wolves from Algonquin Park range
 to within fifty miles of the New York
 border. The report also discussed
the need for surveying public 
opinion about wolf recovery, adding
 that identifying the wolf as a 
Species of Greatest Conservation
 Need “will facilitate the evaluation
.” DEC never conducted the survey,
and Racette said it is not a high priority

“It is possible that wolves will be
able to naturally expand their range
 to New York from nearby populations
in Canada, and if that does
 occur we will conduct outreach to
help people learn how to coexist
 with wolves,” Racette told the Explorer.
Howell says the Northeast Wolf
Coalition hopes to conduct its own
 survey, but she couldn’t provide
 any details because it’s still in the
 early planning stages.

Wildlife advocates contend that if
 wolves return, they will have
 a beneficial impact on the
environment. “In pretty much any
 system where you have active
predation, you will have higher
biodiversity than in one where
you don’t. This has been observed
 in oceans, coral reefs, savannahs,
 worldwide in many different 
types of ecosystems,” Eisenberg

Yet scientists debate what,
exactly, the wolf’s ecological
 role would
 be and which wolf would fill it.
 Because canids interbreed, the
 gene pool has become
complicated. Algonquin Park
has some
 gray wolves, which are also
 found in the Great Lakes region
, but the majority of them are
smaller eastern wolves, which
 may or may not be a separate

 In addition, the eastern coyote,
 which lives in the Adirondacks,
 has some wolf genes as a result
 of interbreeding.
“Wolf taxonomy right now is a
 mess,” Eisenberg said. “The
 don’t agree about what an
 eastern wolf is.” Indeed, it’s uncertain
 what wolf originally lived in New
York State.
In the Adirondacks, hybridization
 would likely occur between dispersing
 eastern wolves and the resident
 coyotes, according to DEC biologist
 Jenny Murtaugh. In contrast, scientists
 believe that gray wolve
s, such as those in the Great Lakes,
 do not breed with coyotes
 in the wild and displace them instead.

“Thus, dispersing gray wolves from
 Quebec and Ontario
 may have a higher probability of
avoiding genetic
 swamping from eastern coyotes
 and establishing 
a viable population in New York,”
 Murtaugh wrote for the 
forthcoming Wildlife Action Plan.

Steve Hall, the owner of the
Adirondack Wildlife Refuge, 
acknowledges that wolves may
 breed with coyotes in the
 Adirondacks, but he still argues
 that their presence would
 make the Park a wilder place.

“I don’t really go along with the
 idea that we have to have pure
 gray wolves, pure Canadian wolves,
” Hall said. “We have an
 animal we call the coy-wolf, who
 is rather impressive and rather
 beautiful, and I think if we let wolves
 come back you’ll see larger coy-wolves.”
Hall said wolves would benefit the
region economically, noting that 
tourists visit Algonquin Park,
 northern Minnesota, and Yellowstone
 Park to hear or see wolves.

In Yellowstone, where wolves were
reintroduced in the mid-1990s, wolf 
tourism translates into $35 million a
 year in visitor spending, according
 to a 2006 report prepared for the
 Yellowstone Park Foundation.
Lake Placid resident Larry Master,
 a former chief zoologist for the
 Nature Conservancy and an
Adirondack Explorer board member,
 has visited Yellowstone Park to
photograph wolves. “My god, I would
 love to hear wolf packs,” Master said.
 “People camp for weeks on 
end in late May, early June in camper
 vans with telescopes and
 spotting scopes with the hope of
 seeing a wolf, or wolf packs hunting
. It’s an enormous economic boon
for that area.”

Mike Lynch is a staff writer and
photographer for the
 nonprofit Adirondack Explorer,
the regional bimonthly news
 magazine with a focus on outdoor
recreation and environmental issues.

- See more at: http://www

New York: Wolves persisted in portions 
of northern New York until the late 1800s
(Goldman 1944).  Hunters referred to two
 wolves in the state according to
 Goldman (1944), one being a “deer wolf “,
 and the second a clumsy
 short-legged wolf that especially fed on
 livestock. The 
deer wolf likely was the eastern wolf, but 
the wolves that fed on livestock
 may have been wolf-dog hybrids based 
on the descriptions in Goldman (1944). 
 Between 1871 and 1897, 98 wolves were 
submitted for bounty in New York,
 mainly in northern counties(Goldman 1944). 
 The bounty ended in 
1898, and wolves were considered extinct 
thereafter. A specimen 
collected in the Adirondacks prior to 
1855 was considered to be an eastern
 wolf (Canis lupus lycaon) based on skull 
(Nowak 2002).  Wilson et al. (2003)
 considered this same specimen 
an eastern wolf by genetic assessment,
 referring to it as Canis lycaon.

Sizeable areas of potential wolf habitat 
exists in the state, especially in the area
 of the Adirondacks. Harrison and Chapin 
(1997) estimated 14,618 km2
 (5644 mi2) of core habitat and 4,589 km2 
(1772 mi2) of dispersal habitat, 
and felt the state could hold about 146 

 Mladenoff and Sickley (1998)
 estimated New York contained 16,020
 km2 (6,185 mi2) of favorable habitat
 for wolves, and potentially could hold 
about 200 wolves. Paquet et al. (1999)
 estimated that the Adirondacks 
contained 9,634 km2 (3,720 mi2) of highly
 suitable habitat, and 11,666 km2
 (4,505 km2) of moderately suitable habitat,
 but felt conditions were not adequate 
for maintaining long-term viability of
 wolves in the Eastern Wolf Status 

 Carroll (2003) calculated that New
 York could hold as many as 
460 wolves under conditions 
that existed in 2000, and would 
still be able to support as many wolves
 as 338 in 2025. Carroll 
suggests higher numbers and 
viability for wolves in New York than
 estimated in earlier studies.

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