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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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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Elk and Deer are sympatric herbivores in the West(and historically in the east as well before Elk were extirpated by man)............Historically, they thrive together as their food consumption habits are different...........Elk graze on grass and forbs whereas Deer browse on stems, twigs and bark............However in Winter(especially snowy harsh winters), Elk also become browsers with both species competing for stems, twigs and bark............Elk are the winners in this cold weather competition due to their larger size, pushing Deer off of prime browsing locations.............Wyoming is conducting a 5 year Study to determine why Elk have moved into regions in the southwestern part of the state long dominated by Mule Deer..........The Mulie population has been declining there..........The same Puma/Coyote predator mix remains in existence without Wolves being present so is it harsh weather, over hunting or some kind of prey switching taking place and thus causing deer declines?...........What does the changing weather patterns mean to the herbivore suite...............How have we human animals downgraded the habitat to cause the Deer declines?..............All will be analyzed over the next 5 years to determine management strategies going forward for the two hoofed browsers

Million-dollar study looks at competition between elk and deer

Elk, one of Wyoming’s iconic big game animals, may be out-competing
 mule deer for food. And if they are, it means a growing southwest elk 
population could be responsible for declining deer numbers.
That’s the theory, anyway. On Sunday, researchers with the University
 of Wyoming and Wyoming Game and Fish Department will begin 
a five-year project to see if the hypothesis proves true.
“In general, we know deer tend to not like elk,” said Kevin Monteith,
 a UW professor and lead researcher on the project. 
Researchers also know that deer require higher quality food than 
their larger counterparts.
Elk did not historically roam south of Rock Springs in large numbers
, Monteith said. Mule deer reigned king. But a few decades ago, elk 
numbers started to rise while deer numbers dropped.
The Muley Fanatic Foundation and Game and Fish have been major
 contributors to the $1.4 million study.
“This isn’t just a one-shot-and-you’re-done project,” said Joshua 
Coursey, president and CEO of the Muley Fanatic Foundation. 
“This is going to be the most truth-telling research project showing 
what’s actually happening on the ground.”
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Coursey and other sportsmen in the area have long noticed the decline
 in mule deer in one of the most prized herds in the state. But this year, 
the wildlife advocate drew a coveted license for the area.

His time in the field has reinforced the need to better understand,
 and find a solution to, declines, he said.
“I’ve had this firsthand account in the last 13 days to see how poor 
that area is represented by mule deer,” he said.
While it is not the first study in the country to look at competition 
between elk and mule deer, it is the first to look at a combination
 of hunting, habitat condition, drought, predation and competition,
 Monteith said.
“We’ve gotten glimpses and pieces,” he said. “But we have yet
 to put all those pieces together.”
While it may be a few years before all of the data can be analyzed,
 the end result could solve a mystery that has puzzled wildlife 
managers and researchers for decades
Elk south of Rock Springs

When Deer and Elk Compete

Deer and elk are closely related species in the Deer
 family (Cervidae). They often inhabit similar habitat
types in locations where they co-occur. They are also
 active during the same parts of the day, mainly in the
early morning and in the evening. It is not at all
 uncommon to see them in close proximity, exhibiting
no signs of competition and apparently coexisting

Deer are browsers. Most of the time they eat leaves, stems,
 twigs, and bark. Shrubs constitute about 75% of their diet,
 and about 25% comes from forbs (non-woody herbs). In 
contrast, elk tend to graze (eat grasses and forbs) whenever possible. They get 85% of their food from grazing. They
 often take the most rapidly growing, thus frequently the
 softest and most nutritious, plants. During most of the 
year there is no competition for food between deer and 
elk, because they are using different eating strategies which
 include different plants or different parts of the same plant.

However, in winter, the peaceful coexistence
shifts. In winter, elk become browsers. This
that in the coldest time of the year, when food
become scarce, deer and elk compete.
It is not an even battle, and it is waged very subtly.
Elk are about two to three times the size of their
 smaller cousins, the deer. They can easily push
 deer off prime browsing areas, although direct
aggression is exceptionally rare. In good range,
 in mild winters, when numbers of animals are
low to moderate, the competition may not be
intense. In areas where food is not abundant,
in hard winters, or when animal numbers are high, competition can be severe. In such situations,
 it is not uncommon to see deer numbers decline

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