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Coyotes-Wolves-Cougars.blogspot.com

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, February 29, 2016

FEAR---"An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or death",,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,"Fear causes a change in metabolic and organ functions and ultimately a change in behaviour, such as fleeing, hiding or freezing from perceived traumatic events",,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,It is heartening to know that THE LANDSCAPE OF FEAR PARADIGM as coined and explained by biologists John Laundre and Bill Ripple is being discussed as it relates to how forest regeneration, species diversity and optimum recognition of healthy ecosystems can be recognized by returning large carnivores to our open spaces ..................Below, our friend John Laundre expounds further on how critically important it is for trophic carnivores like Pumas and Wolves to be re-introduced to our eastern forests so as to once again make them fully functioning systems that benefit all life including our own

The lack of the landscape of fear in eastern forests

The recent article in the Washington Post by Sarah Kaplan (Dread is vanishing for the animal world. Here’s why that’s a bad thing, Morning Mix, February 24) highlighted a recently published scientific article demonstrating how fear of large predators can establish a “landscape of fear” in their prey, in this case a smaller, meso-predator, the raccoon. Because prey will be reluctant to go to areas where there is a high risk that they will be killed, fear can have profound effects on their behavior and spatial use of the landscape. The avoidance of high risk areas then cascades through to all levels of the ecosystem.








 As the originator of the ecological concept of the landscape of fear (http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/z01-094), it is obviously satisfying to see experimental support of the model I proposed. However, beyond personal satisfaction, I find the results of this work to have tremendous implications to the whole Eastern forest ecosystem.

As the authors concluded and Ms Kaplan aptly pointed out, the lack of a landscape fear can have immense and ecologically harmful impacts across a whole ecosystem. And that is what is happening across the entire eastern forest. When white-tailed deer returned to the East in the late 20th century, they have returned to a landscape lacking the original large predators, wolves and cougars… a landscape lacking fear. As a consequence, deer have not only increased to excessive numbers but are free to roam around the landscape eating whatever they want, wherever they want, and whenever they want.






The ecological results of this uncontrolled herbivory by deer are being documented all across the East. Foresters complain deer are hindering reforestation by “vacuuming up” tree seedlings they plant. All across existing forests, the lack of survival of native tree seedling is halting the regeneration of these forests as old trees die.

 On the forest floor, the diversity of native flowering plants is decreasing, being replaced by invasive species unpalatable to deer. In particular, the ginseng industry is suffering as deer eat the emerging plants before humans can harvest them. Although not as well documented, the removal of ground cover plant species by deer is affecting the survival of ground nesting birds and may even be the cause of the decline in the New England cottontail rabbit.

More closer to us personally, excess numbers of deer give most of the eastern states the dubious honor of being the top states for deer-car collisions, resulting in thousands of injuries and an excess of 100 deaths per year. High rates of Lyme disease, requiring the association between ticks and deer can also likely be attributed to the uncontrolled deer numbers and movements across the landscape.








These and more demonstrate that the eastern ecosystems are declining under the sheer number and free movement of deer across a landscape lacking of fear. It is now accepted that to return a prey without its predator is an ecological blunder, a blunder that can only be rectified by the concurrent return of the predators, the return of the landscape of fear. This is why I and many others, in particular, the Cougar Rewilding Foundation (http://www.easterncougar.org/), have been calling for the reintroduction of cougars to the East.

 There is abundant habitat for cougars across much of the East and contrary to popular myths, cougars are not particularly dangerous. The now famous cougar, P22 in Southern California (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMO8-f70nFY) has amply demonstrated that cougars can easily live harmoniously within heavily populated areas.









The return of cougars would likely reduce the excessive number of deer somewhat but more importantly, they would keep the remaining deer in their ecological role by fear and prevent them from the massive destruction they are currently causing. Cougars would establish a landscape of fear that would create refuges in high risk areas for favored plant species of deer, maintaining forest diversity and allowing regeneration of the forest to occur.

 As cougars are most effective along forest edges in capturing their prey, deer might be more reluctant to use forest edges along highways, reducing deer-car collisions and saving lives.







These and many more safety and ecological reasons clearly justify the return of cougars to the East. They would be relatively good wildlife neighbors and provide valuable ecological benefits and services that would help restore the ecological health of eastern forests. This article reported in the Washington Post demonstrates that the science is solidly behind the need for cougars in the East. What is lacking is the social will to do the ecologically right thing, return cougars to the east where they belong.

Dr. John W. Laundré
Large predator ecologist/Assistant Director
James San Jacinto Natural Reserve
University of California Riverside
Riverside California

2 comments:

Ryan O'Hara said...

Trophic Cascades are fascinating and certainly the #1 justification to bring mtn lions to the east. Great article.

Rick Meril said...

Ryan...........We are fortunate to have John Laundre as a frequent contributor to this Blog.........John is a true professional, able to communicate intricate and sophisticated carnivore behaviour in a way that all of us,including myself, can absorb readily and come away seeing the logic and "sanity" of his propositions.

My thanks for reading the blog and thanks for your thoughts tonight