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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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Saturday, May 23, 2015

When most people hear the name Ted Turner, they either "knee-jerk" to eccentric, reclusive billionaire or perhaps to the man who started the TBS cable network, ultimately merging his media empire with Time Warner...........So many of us are surprised to know that Turner is the largest private land owner in the USA with all of his holdings in conservation easements, with his son Beau Turner heading up what is called THE TURNER FOUNDATION--------The Turner Foundation invests in select national and priority state level efforts to conserve wildlife and habitat.................. States with priority consideration include South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Montana, New Mexico, and Alaska............. In addition, the foundation prioritizes the following regions for wildlife and habitat conservation grantmaking------the Southeastern Coastal Plain (specifically GA and SC); the Florida Panhandle and the Red Hills Region of north Florida and southwest Georgia; the Sky Islands region of southwestern NM, southeastern Arizona, and northern Mexico; the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem north to the transboundary Flathead; and south central/southeastern Alaska..........So with all of this in mind, it is truly disheartening to know that the New Mexico Wildlife Commissison has withdrawn state support for Mexican gray wolf recovery work at Turner’s Ladder Ranch, bowing to pressure from Ranchers and other single minded zealots who blame 100 Wolves for all of their financial woes............Humans as the smartest of all in the animal kIngdom????? ......New Mexico starkly reinforces that we humans are perhaps the stupidest in all of creation; not being able to recognize the benefits of how wolves, pumas, bears and other trophic creatures keep our lands healthy, beautiful and majestic----- "I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer"............. "And perhaps with better cause, for while a buck pulled down by wolves can be replaced in two or three years, a range pulled down by too many deer may fail of replacement in as many decades".................... "So also with cows"............. "The cowman who cleans his range of wolves does not realize that he is taking over the wolf's job of trimming the herd to fit the range".............. "He has not learned to think like a mountain"........... "Hence we have dustbowls, and rivers washing the future into the sea."--Aldo Leopold(Thinking like a Mountain)

Billionaire’s Bid to Save Rare Wolves Ends Up on the Brink of Extinction

In New Mexico, state game commissioners unhappy with federal wildlife policies have taken aim at a closer target: a conservation program owned by Ted Turner.

Mexican Gray Wolf
Mexican gray wolf. (Photo: Joel Sartore/Getty Images)
Taylor Hill is TakePart's associate environment and wildlife editor.
Supporters of the endangered Mexican gray wolf on Tuesday in Santa Fe, New Mexico, demanded that state commissioners reverse their recent decision to close down a wolf recovery program.
The program, which operated for 17 years at a New Mexico ranch owned by billionaire media mogul Ted Turner, has successfully released around 100 of the nearly-extinct wolves back into the wild.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has called Ladder Ranch and two other pre-release facilities “integral” to Mexican wolf recovery efforts.
But now Ladder Ranch's part in Mexican gray wolf recovery is itself in danger of disappearing, and its supporters charge that the reason is opposition to any federal policy that seeks the recovery of wolves in the wild.
A controversial vote
On May 7, New Mexico's game and fish commissioners, all appointees of Governor Susanna Martinez, a Republican, withdrew state support for Mexican gray wolf recovery work at Turner’s Ladder Ranch.
For nearly two decades, the New Mexico game and fish commissioner routinely renewed Ladder Ranch’s permit. But this year, the commission raised new objections to the federal government's handling of the wolf's recovery.
“Our biggest issue is that there is no recovery plan in place,” said state game and fish director Alexa Sandoval during the May 7 meeting. “We don’t know what the end game is for the Mexican wolf population. And so at this point, the department is not in support of the Mexican Wolf Program.”
Michael Robinson, a wildlife conservation activist with the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity, believes the commissioners are more motivated by a “vendetta” against the wolf species than the lack of a federal recovery plan.
“This group is appointed by Gov. (Susana) Martinez, who has put representatives from the Cattle Growers Association—whose primary goal is the eradication of predators—and representatives from Big Game Forever, in favor of removing all wolves from the wild,” Robinson said. Since federal wildlife policies aim “They’re trying to force policy change by depriving managers of the infrastructure they need to manage the wolves.”
The commission has not responded to requests for comment on its decision.
In an editorial, the Albuquerque Journal called the commission’s decision “petty” and “unproductive,” noting that it came despite enthusiastic public support of Ladder Ranch wolf recovery program. “Turner should be allowed to use his property as he wishes in cooperation with the federal government, and the commission shouldn’t flex its self-granted power to punish a private landowner to make a statement,” the paper stated.
The 156,000-acre ranch, set in pine forests in the foothills of New Mexico’s Gila Mountains, provides critical habitat and management for endangered animals such as the black-footed ferret, the bolson tortoise, and the Mexican gray wolf.
A Mexican wolf held at the Turner Endangered Species Funds' Ladder Ranch. (Credit: TESF)
About a half acre of the ranch is reserved for five special pens, where wolves about to be released into the wild are placed. In this “pre-release captive facility,” wolves encounter minimal human contact, and the animals are fed sparingly to acclimate them to life outside captive breeding programs.
“We’re just a very small component of a ship,” said Mike Phillips, executive director of the Turner Ranch Endangered Species Fund, who has worked in wolf recovery for 35 years. “A ship that the commission feels doesn’t have a rudder, so they’ve decided to oppose the ship’s components, too.”
Dozens of different organizations have written to the governor in support of Ladder Ranch's wolf recovery program, said Robinson, but their requests to reverse the commission's decision have gone unacknowledged so far.
Back from the brink
Long hunted to prevent wolf kills of cattle and elk, Mexican gray wolves had almost vanished by the mid-1950s. Once numbering in the thousands in their historical range of the southwestern U.S. and Mexico, the population was down to just seven animals by the time the species was given federal endangered species protections in 1976.
The federal government rounded up the seven last wild wolves to begin a captive breeding program, which has increased the Mexican gray wolf's numbers to 250 in captivity among some 55 facilities, including zoos, wildlife centers, and the three special “pre-release” centers that include Ladder Ranch.
Since 1998, when 11 Mexican gray wolves were released into Arizona and New Mexico, the population in the wild has grown to 109.
Still, nearly 40 years after gaining federal protections, the Mexican gray wolf has yet to get a full recovery plan. Federal wildlife officials have set a management “rule,” adjusted in January of this year, that increases the species' roaming area about 10 times from its 1998 level, and sets a goal of 300 to 325 wolves in the region.
But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service has never established a target population that would trigger the end of federal endangered species status, which provided an opening for unsympathetic game commissioners when Ladder Ranch's permit came due for renewal.
“The million dollar question is, how many wolves are enough?” asked commissioner Thomas Salopek at the hearing. “100? 300? Is it going to be 500 or 1,000? I can’t go any further if we don’t have a known number.”
Sherry Barrett, Mexican wolf recovery coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, said that the agency is developing a formal recovery plan, but that no timetable has been set for finishing it.
A cloudy future
Phillips said the future for Mexican gray wolves would be unclear even if Ladder Ranch wasn’t being forced to shut down its program.
The 18 or so free-roaming wolf packs in Arizona and New Mexico are slowly reproducing and reestablishing the species' numbers. Many of the wolves in the wild today were born in the wild, not captivity.
But every Mexican gray wolf alive today is descended from a severe genetic bottleneck formed when the species was down to seven individuals—a “genetic disaster” as Phillips sees it. So pups bred in captivity for release into the wild are crucial to restoring Mexican gray wolves, and any curb to those programs puts the whole species at risk.
“The clock is the Mexican wolves’ enemy,” Phillips told the commission before its controversial vote in early May. “Every generation that passes is a little less genetically robust then it was before the clock started.”
Why You Should Care
Wild wolves are revered by many as symbols of freedom, nature, and true grit. But the need for healthy populations of Mexican gray and other wolf species goes beyond appreciating their good looks and charisma. As apex predators, wolves sit at the top of the food chain, where they're crucial to ecosystem health. Wolf predation helps keep the populations of big herbivores like elk and deer, as well as small animals like mice and rabbits, in balance with the surrounding ecosystem.


If you ask our Founder and Chairman, Ted Turner, what his favorite natural place is - you'll get a response that really hits home.

"It's Planet Earth. The whole place. I've been from the Arctic to the rainforest to the equator to the desert. I've been in over 70 countries. I love this world. I want to see humanity succeed, and learn to live in peace and harmony with the environment and each other." Turner has always been interested in the totality of the planet.
When I was a kid, I read a lot of books about animals in Africa, about butterflies, birds, whales, plants, flowers, trees, everything. The natural world fascinated me.
Ted Turner
In fact Turner believes so emphatically in protecting the environment from further degradation that he views it as no less than, "an effort to ensure the survival of the human species." To that end, the Foundation was created in 1990 and is committed to preventing damage to the natural systems - water, air, and land - on which all life depends.
The Turner Foundation is a family foundation governed by a Board of Trustees, which is made up of Ted Turner and Turner's five children -- Rhett Turner, Laura Turner Seydel, Jennie Turner Garlington, Teddy Turner, and Beau Turner.
Turner Foundation, Inc. has given Ted the opportunity to involve his family and teach them how to become responsible philanthropists and environmentalists. Jennie Turner Garlington, the youngest of the five Turner children describes her experience as "one of the greatest opportunities that any son or daughter can ever hope to have." Garlington's four siblings also share their Dad's passion for environmental causes. "It's allowed me to do some great things," said Beau Turner. "I think Dad thought it was very, very important to start giving money away while he was still around, so he could see what our interest was in all this. And so he could see his children enjoying the giving." Teddy Turner, Ted's oldest son, recalls the first vote the Trustees outvoted Ted on, "we thought it was the end of the world. But he thought it was the greatest thing. I think it was part of the transition he wanted -
Think on your own; do the right thing. Because I'm not always going to be here to tell you what to do.
Ted Turner
When Turner was asked what he wanted the Turner Foundation to do when he's gone, he replied, "I want it to do good, that's all."
The Trustees' passion is not only reflected in their involvement in the Foundation, but also in their personal commitments. Laura Turner Seydel, a strong advocate for environmental and women's issues, is actively involved in a number of environmental organizations and is co-founder of the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Chairman of the Captain Planet Foundation and serves on many national boards. Rhett Turner's Emmy-award winning production company Red Sky Productions has produced documentaries for such organizations as The Carter Center, International Crane Foundation, National Wildlife Federation, Yahoo News, and others. Jennie has nurtured her love of media and the environment into an Emmy-award winning show she produces for PBS called Ecosense for Living. In addition to serving as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Turner Endangered Species Fund and on the boards of numerous conservation organizations, Beau is committed to inspiring young people to get outdoors and enjoy nature.  He founded the Beau Turner Youth Conservation Center (BTYCC) in Northern Florida which has become a model for outdoor youth centers throughout the state. Teddy is a high school teacher and very active and engaged in education and coastal conservation issues- serving on the Children's Museum of the Low Country and South Carolina Aquarium boards.

Safeguarding Habitat Program
The goal of this program is to protect terrestrial and marine habitats and wildlife critical for the preservation of biodiversity. Focus is placed on protecting functioning ecosystems, including core, intact habitats, buffer zones, and wildlife corridors on both private and public lands. Wildlife communities of interest include far-ranging carnivores, fish, migratory birds, pollinators, and other keystone indicators of ecosystem health. Projects of interest include both ecosystem-based management solutions and local projects that serve as real-world case studies.

The Turner Foundation invests in select national and priority state level efforts to conserve wildlife and habitat. States with priority consideration include South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Montana, New Mexico, and Alaska. In addition, the foundation prioritizes the following regions for wildlife and habitat conservation grantmaking: the Southeastern Coastal Plain (specifically GA and SC); the Florida Panhandle and the Red Hills Region of north Florida and southwest Georgia; the Sky Islands region of southwestern NM, southeastern Arizona, and northern Mexico; the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem north to the transboundary Flathead; and south central/southeastern Alaska.

Internationally, the Turner Foundation supports salmon and marine conservation in the Russian Far East and along the central coast of British Columbia.

Programs and Partners

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