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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, May 18, 2015

The Eastern Timber Rattlesnake will be studied over the next 3 years by Pennsylvania East Strousberg Professor, Tom LaDuke,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,While not listed as endangered in in Pennsylvania, the Eastern Timber Rattler is listed as a "species of concern"....................


    East Stroudsburg University professor begins 3-year study of Pa. timber rattlers

    Professor begins 3-year study of Pennsylvania's timber rattlers
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  • Thomas C.Thomas C. LaDuke, professor of biology at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, who was recently awarded a $221,329 grant from the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission to conduct a long-term population study of the timber rattlesnake in Pennsylvania. (Photo contributed)
    • By Jarrad Saffren
      Pocono Record Writer

      Posted May. 17, 2015 at 7:16 PM
      Updated May 18, 2015 at 7:28 AM 

      Thomas C. LaDuke, a professor of biology at East Stroudsburg University, will spend the next three years studying Pennsylvania’s timber rattlesnake population. It is the biggest project of his 24-year career at ESU because of its statewide scope.
      It is also the type of project that LaDuke has waited his whole life to tackle.
      LaDuke fell in love with snakes on a childhood camping trip to Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. He was walking with his brothers over the top of a hill in a woodsy field when they saw two large blue racer snakes.
      “They came up and looked us in face and wiggled away very quickly. They were very big animals with this steel blue color,” said LaDuke. “I went home and looked them up in a reptile field guide. Which made me want to look at other snakes and see about other snakes in the area.”
      That is exactly what LaDuke and his research team will do. The professor recently received a $221,329 grant from the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission to determine whether timber rattlesnakes are becoming endangered in Pennsylvania. He will work with two biology students and the chair of ESU’s geography department.
      LaDuke and Kevin Juchno, a biology grad student, will focus on population monitoring. Shixiong Hu, the geography chair, will look at satellite imagery to see if human development has threatened the rattlesnake population in specific areas. Corey Janusz, a senior biology major, will be the bridge between the two professors.
      “The satellite imagery allows us to focus our efforts on population areas that are more encroached upon, that need more immediate attention,” Janusz said.    
      The team will travel to satellite-identified population areas in the western and eastern parts of Pennsylvania to observe snakes and mark newborns. Then they will monitor the areas for three years to determine population figures like number of births and deaths.
      LaDuke, a herpetologist, realized in the mid-1990s that states and countries were not paying close enough attention to amphibian and reptile populations.
      “Amphibians in Costa Rica started to disappear from national parks, and people didn’t know why. I thought it would be useful if we could get people to monitor those populations,” he said. “People do that with game animals. They have hunting seasons so they know how many were shot in season and how many are left. No one was doing that with amphibians.”
      Though not endangered, rattlesnakes are a species of concern in Pennsylvania. Since no one knows the exact rattlesnake population in the state, LaDuke wants to set up a monitoring program to make sure the state has enough rattlesnakes in its ecosystem.
      “We are doing it specifically to save a species that, if ignored, could slip off the radar screen,” said LaDuke.  
      Rattlesnakes are essential to the ecosystem because they eat rodents and get eaten by hawks. “Each species connects to multiple organisms in the environment. If one goes extinct, it could have a drastic effect that we don’t anticipate,” said LaDuke.
      If rattlesnakes go, one drastic effect could be a proliferation of Lyme disease. “Rattlesnakes play a huge role in Pennsylvania in keeping Lyme disease down because they eat a species of mouse that’s the intermediate host for ticks that carry Lyme disease,” Janusz said.
      While Pennsylvania may need rattlesnakes, it does not need more of them, LaDuke said. “We just need to make sure they aren’t slipping away from us.” If his research proves that rattlesnakes are slipping away, LaDuke will publish papers to convince state officials to establish a statewide monitoring program.

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