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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, August 24, 2015

Like N.J., N.Y. Pennsylvania, Vermont and New Hampshire, it is almost miraculous that Ohio has a remnant Timber Rattlesnake population...........With so many land manipulations and hiking trails and human presence, even the regrown woodlands of the southeastern section of the Buckeye State would seem to have shed all historical nooks and crannies where the snakes would feel safe from predators.............But in fact at least three localions(Shawnee and Vinton Furnace State Forests and the Tar Hollow State Park) have breeding populations.............Trying to balance the need to least disturb the snakes while monitoring their health has the husband/wife biologist team of Denis Case and Rita Apanius bumping heads with The Ohio Wildlife folks.................I am for the monitoring as long as least disturbance with the Rattlers, truly on the precipice of disappearing from our eastern woodlands

On an average day just outside Tar Hollow State Park, he might be found lounging on a south-facing slope, hoping the rest of the world is blissfully ignorant of his existence so he has a chance at grabbing some lunch.
He is a 54-inch timber rattlesnake, weighing in at nearly 5 pounds. To see him face-to-face, he is noticeably yellow and about as wide around as a small adult's arm.
Denis Case, a retired Ohio Division of Wildlife researcher, spent a half-hour leading the way up a ridge with his tracking equipment, which he says is "pretty standard" for field work, in his back pack.
Case tracks the snakes through radio telemetry, where the particular timber rattlesnake he is looking for has an implanted device that emits a radio signal and is picked up by the receiver he carries as he hikes.
The pulsating beeps grow louder to tell Case and his research partner and wife, Rita Apanius, that they are getting closer to where this particular timber rattlesnake is spending his day. Case and Apanius have been working together to research the snakes since 2006, and they say the best strategy is starting at the top of the ridge and starting to search for signals from there. That way, there is less of the up-and-down movement for them on the hill .
At the top of the ridge, Case pulls out the tracking device and switches it to the correct frequency for this particular snake. The signal is strong, so Case and Apanius trek on across the top of the ridge.
A few yards away, they stop to check the signal again; the signal has gained strength, so they continue on. After a couple more signal checks, they feel they are close enough to the location to move down the hillside.
Just moments of descent later, Case stops, turns the antenna toward a large tree and scans the ground. He points to a about a spot about 12 feet away and says, "there he is." Sure enough, coiled up next to the tree is a timber rattlesnake.
Wednesday's process took roughly an hour, but Case and Apanius say the results are not always so speedy.

"Yesterday we spent about three hours tracking them," Apanius said.
On an average day, Case and Apanius will track all four snakes that transmitters have been placed in, which they said the will go out and track every three to four days, depending on the weather. For them, the best place to start is where they last left off tracking the snake.
Timber rattlesnakes hibernate in dens for the winter, and within their lifetimes, will have a home range of several miles surrounding their dens.
Case said timber rattlesnake mothers will leave a scent trail outside their dens for their offspring to follow and be able to return to as adults. This means the timber rattlesnake dens are often communal. They rarely are seen going in or out, making them all the more difficult to find.
For Case and Apanius, there are two main goals: find the snakes' dens, then follow the snakes for multiple years and gather useful information for species management. According to Case, before their research, there were no known dens in the area.
But their research has hit some bumps in the road with the Division of Forestry.
In emails and letters provided to the Gazette, Case and Apanius were told by the Division of Forestry they could only continue research of timber rattlesnake populations in Shawnee and Vinton Furnace State Forests; they were told their research in Tar Hollow would not be granted a special use permit and was considered harassment of the animal.
They also were notified in a letter from April of this year that "continuing your rattlesnake activity in state forests will result in an enforcement action by the Division of Forestry."
Case said his and Apanius' research has proven the Tar Hollow population of timber rattlesnakes is a viable population and should be protected.
To ensure all endangered species are protected, the Division of Wildlife develops management plans for any species that has been designated as such. Each plan is specifically tailored to that species based on research, status and needs of the animal on a case-by-case basis.
"The first step for creating a management plan is usually finding out why the species is in the status that it is in right now," said Susie Vance, spokeswoman for the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
Vance said the plan usually goes from there into addressing the regulations surrounding the animal and its habitat as well as creating a series of outreach efforts to inform the public about the animal.
One success story of this method, he said, comes from the Lake Erie water snake. The snake was once listed as an endangered species in Ohio, but after outreach efforts, the population increased to a size that no longer required it to be listed as an endangered species.
"We want a diverse array of healthy species throughout Ohio," Vance said.
According to the Division of Wildlife, the management plan for the timber rattlesnake is to "protect existing populations, as opposed to increasing their occupied range."
The Division of Forestry also has protections in place that protect species termed endangered.
"There are laws that govern these animals that help protect them," said Matt Eiselstein, a spokesmnan for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Case and Apanius said they will continue their research, tracking the four snakes multiple times a week, until the batteries of the implanted devices run out.
In the particular snake they tracked Wednesday, the battery is nearing the end of its three-year life span, and when it's out, there are no plans to insert another.

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