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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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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Researchers from the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources and Mississippi State University are in a multi-year predator/prey study up in the Upper Peninsula............The article below is somewhat hard to decipher in terms of what the researchers are trying to make readers feel about predators,,,,,,,,,,,,, The gist of things(my interpretation) is what most readers of this Blog know---- That Coyotes kill a % of Fawns each Spring, so do Black Bears, with Wolves more an adult deer predator.............Good to see that habitat quality(e.g. Deer Yards as well as unbroken forest)and Winter Weather severity are mentioned as significant bottom up trophic factors in how dense a deer herd exists up in Northern Michigan...........Remember that for milenia, Upper Michigan's predator/prey suite had Wolf(Western/Eastern Wolf admix)/Puma, Black Bear, Bobcat, Lynx, Wolverine, Marten, Fishers, Gray and Red Foxes,Whitetail Deer, Elk, Moose, Caribou and Beaver all in healthy populations, following "natures design"...............Today, the Puma is extirpated. few Elk on the land, Moose Winter tic debilitation, Caribou extinct, some Beaver present, few lynx with recovering Fishers and Martens, Bobcats and Wolves present in survivable numbers along with Coyotes-----A new evolving natures design having to cope with lots more man-made buildings,roads, climate change and other land alterations changing how all of these animals interact.............There should be no efforts made to reduce what is left of the predator/prey matrix...............Instead, best efforts to restore, enhance and expand habitat so all of our fellow creatures who use the land can persist into the future

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Predator-Prey Study: Wolves not threat to deer you may think

By Howard Meyerson | The Grand Rapids Press 
on January 31, 2016 at 7:00 AM, updated January 31, 2016 at 7:08 AM
In the snowy woods of the western Upper Peninsula, wildlife researchers are learning a thing or two about deer survival: what preys on adult whitetails and fawns — and what else contributes to their deaths.
Researchers are learning that predators, winter weather and habitat influence the deer population. (Dave Kenyon/Michigan DN

Some in the hunting community presume the answer is wolves. Many know harsh winters take a toll. Both are true, according to recent research, but a lot depends on other factors, such as the availability of young forests and food, predator density, and what other prey are available. The study, started in 2009 by Mississippi State University and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, has turned up some surprises.
"We've been surprised by a few things in Phase I (low-snow study)," notes Dean Beyer, a researcher with the DNR. "We learned that adult does were avoiding core wolf areas and that coyotes were avoiding them, too. That put coyotes and does in the same area, which probably resulted in a greater mortality by coyotes. And we were all surprised by the rate at which bobcats killed fawns. The rate is much higher than other species."
Coyote chasing fawn

The study, known as The Predator Prey Project, is a three-phase endeavor that examines ecological interactions in low-snow, moderate-snow and deep-snow regions of the western U.P. The answers are being derived by tracking deer fitted with radio-telemetry collars and predators fitted with GPS collars. The low-snow work wrapped up in 2011. The moderate snow work is slated to finish this year. Then three years of deep-snow work will begin, provided funding can be found.
Two Phase I findings are particularly interesting. "Predation was the leading cause of mortality, 3.5 times more hazardous than human-caused mortality sources," the preliminary report states, along with "Overall, coyotes were the leading cause of adult female mortality, followed by wolves."
Predation by black bears was infrequent and considered "opportunistic," and wolves were not considered important predators for fawns.
Coyote kills a fawn

Beyer suggests the proximity of coyotes and deer boosted those mortality numbers. Wolves in the low-snow zone were often feeding at livestock carcass dumps.
"Coyotes in Phase I were the biggest and most important predator of fawns and adult does," Beyer said. "In Phase II (the moderate snow zone) coyotes cause the most total mortality of fawns, but when we look at adult deer, wolves jump up to No. 1; I think because they don't have the livestock carcass dumps."
The winter season also has an impact, according to the report: "Adult female mortality was greatest during winter (44 percent of those deaths), followed by spring/summer (37 percent), and fall (19 percent)."
Winter severity, which can hinder a deer's ability to move around and feed, in turn can affect fawn size at birth. A 2.-pound reduction in a newborn fawn's weight can increase mortality by 11 percent, the research shows.
Wolves chasing adult Whitetail in moderate snow

"Phase II has been interesting because we have had some very severe winter conditions," Beyer said. "A couple of things jumped out. In 2013, (adult) doe survival was 58 percent, which is on the low end of things. In 2014, when we had even more severe weather, doe survival was 38 percent — some of the lowest survival rates I've seen in the literature. Those conditions stressed the does, and the fawns were born in poor condition.
"We pretty much lost the fawn crop in 2013 and had fairly low fawn survival in 2014, when 11 percent of the fawns survived."

Pumas used to be a equilibrium inducing trophic adult deer and fawn predator-gone
from the East at this point

For those who remain certain that Michigan wolves will decimate the deer herd, Beyer suggests it is unlikely. The two species, he says, have evolved together, and other factors influence outcomes. Habitat and predator densities are just two. Then there are predator's energy needs. Coyotes, for instance, are more likely to kill fawns while wolves are more likely to kill adult does. They need more meat/fuel to sustain themselves.
"What we know from the scientific literature is there are only two reports where wolves are believed to have contributed to a substantial reduction of deer ... winter weather is still the driving factor, even in the low-snow zone," Beyer said.

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