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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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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Good to see that North Dakota State biologist Stephanie Tucker is acknowledging that the annual survival rate of Pumas is only between 42 and 48%, far lower than the minimum 70% necessary to assure long term persistence.........As a basis of comparison, annual Puma survival rates in Utah are about 69%, in Washington and Oregon about 59%.............It is fascinating to note that no one in the North Dakota Game and Fish Dept can tell you how many Pumas actually call the state home.......Here is what their 2014-15 Mountain Lion status report concluded about the population there......"Verified reports(of Pumas) in only 8% of counties"..... "Not surprisingly, we verified the largest number of reports in Dunn (n = 12) and McKenzie (n = 19) counties(western end of state), which have the highest proportion of suitable habitat for mountain lions (NDGFD 2006)"............. The number of reports of mountain lion occurrence we documented from 1 July 2014-30 June 2015 was 27% lower than the previous fiscal year"............ "External and internal examination of mountain lion carcasses indicated mountain lions in North Dakota are generally healthy"....................... "The sex ratio of all mountain lion carcasses we have examined to date in North Dakota (n = 164) was 1.4 females per male and mean age was 2.5 ± 2.3 (𝑥̅± SD) years"............. "In comparison, the sex ratio of mountain lion carcasses examined from 1 July 2014-30 June 2015 was 0.5 females per male and age was 2.4 ± 1.6 years"............ "Report and population trends indicate that the number of mountain lions found in Zone 1(western end of state) has been on the decline for the past 3 years"....... "This concurs with results from our research over the past 4 years, which suggests that survival rates for radio-collared mountain lions in Zone 1 are below the amount needed to sustain current numbers (Wilckens 2014)".............. "Wilckens (2014) also suggests that the late-season hunting quota should be the focus when trying to manage mountain lion numbers". .............."Therefore, it appears we have reached and possibly surpassed the number of mountain lions that can be hunted sustainably on an annual level"............Ok, so stop hunting them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We shouldn’t deplete lion population

December 28, 2015 2:00 am

When the North Dakota Game and Fish Department instituted a mountain lion season a decade ago it was a novelty. The sightings of mountain lions in the state had been rare and reported sightings often questioned. A lot has changed over the years.
There’s no doubt that mountain lions roam the state, with the majority in the western part of North Dakota. They have been confirmed as far east as Grand Forks and they are hunted across the state.
Lion hunting is allowed in two zones, Zone 1 in the western part of the state and Zone 2 , which is everything east of Highway 8. There are two seasons in Zone 1, an early season when 14 lions can be taken and a late season when seven kills are permitted and hunters can use dogs. There’s no quota in Zone 2 because it’s an area where mountain lions travel through and don’t stay long.

It appears hunters, especially those with hounds, have gotten too good at tracking the lions. Game and Fish is considering adjustments to the lion hunting regulations. While some hunters and landowners don’t believe the lion population has been declining, Game and Fish has the numbers to back up its concerns. The Tribune believes the state shouldn’t allow the situation to return to the days when lions were a rarity. While lions on occasion can pose a danger to livestock they need to be preserved.
Since lion hunting was legalized, there have been 97 mountain lion kills in Zone 1 and nine in Zone 2. The Fort Berthold Indian Reservation has its own program and 12 lions have been killed there, for a statewide total of 118, according to Game and Fish records.
Stephanie Tucker, a biologist with the state Game and Fish Department, told Tribune reporter Lauren Donovan that research starting in 2011 shows the lions have a 42 percent to 48 percent survival rate, but a rate higher than 70 percent is needed to sustain the population. Tucker studies the lions after they are killed to obtain biological and demographic information. The Game and Fish information indicates the number of lions in western North Dakota has been declining since 2011 and department officials will meet with the public in February about how best to preserve hunting and a sustainable population. Hunters with hounds made quick work of the late season hunt when dogs are allowed.
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Hopefully the department can come up with a plan that gives a little to everyone. A reduced quota, possibly a shorter season or a lottery and maybe fewer lions allowed to be killed using hounds.
Chaston Lee, a Grassy Butte rancher who trains hounds to track mountain lions, suggested to Donovan that Game and Fish offer a training period where hounds could learn to track lions but there would be no killing.
“It’s not all about killing, it’s the memories and the exercise. … They’re so majestic; so cool,” Lee said of the lions.
He’s right, they are great creatures and we shouldn’t allow the mountain lion population to be depleted.
The first year of the hunting season (2005-06), seven mountains were killed. The next four seasons, 11-12 cats were killed, until the 2010-11 season when 22 were killed.
The high came in 2011-12, when 31 cats were taken. The last two seasons, there have been
23 and 20 mountain lions killed, respectively. Tucker said those numbers reflect all forms of mortality, whether from hunters, road kill or protection of property.
Tucker said data shows that until 2011, the mountain lion population in Zone 1 was increasing. But that has changed, she said.
“We’ve been declining the last three years,” she said. Part of that has had to do with the success of those hunting with hounds.
“Hound hunters are still having a lot of success,” she said. “We know our harvest season is having an impact.”
Conversely, Tucker said, those hunting without dogs are having less success than in previous years.
Tucker said data from the first three years of the study indicates the survival rate of the North Dakota mountain lion population is significantly lower than other states.
She said lions here showed a survival rate of 42 percent for two years following their capture and tagging. That compares to survival rates of 59 percent in the Pacific Northwest, 64-74 percent in Utah and 67-97 percent in Canada where similar studies have been conducted

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