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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, January 26, 2016

With the very healthy Whitetail Deer population existing throughout Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and all of the states defining the spine of the Appalachian Mountain region, there has been any number of studies indicating that there is suitable core habitat for Puma and Wolf restoration............Lowest human population and road density coupled with continuous and unfragmented forest habitat with a suitable prey base are the three key variables that need to exist to support our top carnivore matrix in the east..................As the following articles posted in today's blog indicate, both West Virginia and Virginia seem to qualify strongly for Puma and Wolf restoration


 Kristin Taverna, Jason E. Halbert, and David M. Hines Appalachian Restoration Campaign A Project of Heartwood

 Abstract: The Appalachian Restoration Campaign (ARC) is dedicated to the restoration and protection of Central Appalachian wildlands by developing an interconnected system of reserves in which human activity is compatible with ecological recovery and health. The core of this project is the Central Appalachian Assessment (CAA), focusing on a regional study area that encompasses portions of six states throughout the Central Appalachians.

 Part I of this Assessment includes an examination of the current landscape within the study area and its suitability for supporting the eastern cougar (Puma concolor couguar). Suitable cougar habitat still exists within the Central Appalachians, yet prior studies have not examined the location or availability of habitat. The cougar stands out as an umbrella species for habitat management due to its extensive home range. If we protect the habitat that falls under this protective “umbrella”, we could effectively provide for the habitat needs of a number of other species throughout the region. 

Using GIS software, this analysis identifies suitable cougar habitat based on the landscape characteristics of prey density, road density, human population density, and land use. The data for each layer was reclassified and ranked from 1 to 10 according to its suitability as cougar habitat. The highest suitability rating (10) was given to the categories of lowest road density, lowest human population density, highest deer density, and forest habitat. 

The reclassified data layers were added using ArcView to create a final composite map, with a total score calculated for each cell of 5.5 mi2 (14.2 km2 ). The composite scores for the CAA study area range from 8 to 40, with 40 being those cells most suitable as cougar habitat. 

The greatest density of high suitability cells within the CAA study area (total score 37 - 40) is located within the central to northwest section of West Virginia. There are also smaller areas of dense cells with a high suitability rating (total score 34-40) located in northeastern West Virginia and in northwest Pennsylvania.

 In addition, a large portion of cells which received a high suitability rating (total score 32-40) are located along the Appalachian mountain chain and within the northern Allegheny plateau. Additional research is necessary to further identify specific areas of suitable habitat on a smaller scale and to examine these areas in terms of property ownership and current protection status.

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