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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, March 6, 2016

While Lewis & Clark had explored and mapped much of the trans-Missouri territory at the beginning of the 19th century, it was not until just in front of the Civil War, May-July 1860, that Capt. William F. Raynolds of the U.S. Army was given the assignment by the Federal Government to "explore the region of country through which flow the principal trbutaries of the Yellowstone river and which they, and the Gallatin and Madison forks of the Missouri river, have their source".......While late season snow prevented Raynold's party from entering what today is Yellowstone Park, they did explore a good swath of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana..........Their travels took them into the Wind River and Gros Ventre Mountains and had them spend eight days in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.........Like Lewis & Clark, Raynolds kept a detailed diary of all he saw...............His report on the Bison herds he encountered strikes me so strongly of the anti-wolf sentiment that so many in our Country harbor to this day, seemingly unabated in it's lack of understanding of the millenia long dance of the Wolf and the Bison---"When we reached the Valley of the Upper Yellowstone, I estimate that 40 or 50 miles of the area are covered thickly with buffalo"............"The on-going wholesale destruction of buffalo is because female buffaloes are always singled out by the hunter"............"Hence, the males in a herd always exceed the females in the proportion of not less than 10 to 1"........"The reason females are singled out is that only the skin of females is valuable for robes"........"The skin of the male buffalo over three years old is too thick and heavy to be used for anything but lodge coverings and the flesh is coarse and unpalatable and never used as food"..........."The immense number of Wolves in the country are responsible fir killing buffalo calves"............"There might be some improvement(in population numbers) if trading buffalo robes were prohibited and a premium(bounty) placed on Wolves".............." I think it is more than prbable that another generation will witness the entire extinction of this noble animal(buffaloes)...................Indeed, Raynolds was right about the near extinction event of Bison......... He was right about over hunting,,,,,,,,,,,,,However, he was dead wrong about the dance of Wolf and Bison...............Same as today, wrong about the decline of Caribou being due to Wolves-----Habitat destruction(ranching), and over hunting,. the scourge of both of these hoofed browsers in the 19th century as well as today

Edited by Marlene and Daniel Merrill(no relation)


In the late 1850s many of the most striking places in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana had not yet been surveyed by any government expedition. This book brings to life the expedition that first explored these regions.

 As the last major government survey of the American West before the Civil War, the Raynolds Expedition began in 1859. This highly readable daily journal of Captain William F. Raynolds, previously unpublished, covers the most challenging period of that expedition, from May 7 to July 4, 1860. 

It describes what the Raynolds party did and saw while traveling from its winter quarters near today's Glenrock, Wyoming, up to the head of the Wind River, through Jackson Hole, and on to the Three Forks of the Missouri in southwestern Montana.

 The party included legendary mountain man Jim Bridger, geologist Ferdinand Hayden, and artists Anton Schönborn and James Hutton, among the first to depict the Teton Range.

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