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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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Monday, August 1, 2016

PREDATOR DEFENSE Head, Brooks Fahy turned me onto this Pennsylvania Game Commission Statement that is one of the most honest and transparent and science-based commentaries on how we must focus on optimizing the full suite of life in our forests, prairies, mountains, rivers, deserts and chaparral communities----"After decades of using predator control (such as paying bounties) with no effect, and the emergence of wildlife management as a science, the agency finally (has) accepted the reality that predator control does not work"..................."“Predators – whether they be hawks, owls, eagles, bears,(coyotes and at one time wolves and pumas) or foxes – are an important part of Penns Woods".................. "The species don't compete with our hunters for game"................. "The limiting factor is habitat – we must focus our efforts on habitat"............... "This is how we can make a difference"

Habitat, not predators, seen as key to wildlife populations

  | Monday, July 25, 2016, 5:21 p.m.

 Predators take a lot of heat for pursuing prey species that sometimes also are pursued by sportsmen.
Their impact is more imagined than real, though.
That's the word from Pennsylvania Game Commission, anyway. At its recent meeting, the agency devoted a lot of time to debunking the idea predators are driving game populations radically downward.
At the request of the board, two of the agency's biologists, Matt Lovallo and Dan Brauning, gave predator presentations.
Lovallo, supervisor of the game mammals section, said concerns over predation aren't new. Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan are in the midst of studying fawn mortality, he said.
“I can't think of a time in my career when someone hasn't been doing a fawn survival study somewhere,” he said. “It's all symptomatic of the fact, I think, that wildlife agencies have always had a difficult time communicating the complexities of predator-prey dynamics to our hunters out there.”

Black Bear

He said coyote and fisher populations are increasing statewide, and black bear and bobcat numbers are stable. In most cases, though, that “expansion” is coming in geographic terms, meaning predators moving into new locations rather than population in established areas going up, he said.
Predators tend to be self-limiting in that only so many can coexist in a certain amount of space, Lovallo said.
What is more, he said it is important to note most are opportunists who eat a variety of things, rather than hammering any one prey species. An examination of the stomach contents of fishers is an example, he said.
“The question is not what are they eating, but what won't they eat,” Lovallo said.
The same is true of birds of prey, said Brauning, wildlife diversity chief for the commission.
Bald eagles, for example, are “very defensive” of their space, he said. That is one thing that naturally limits their numbers. The same is true of everything from ospreys and peregrine falcons to hawks and owls, he said.
“These are really different species, and yet the patterns and principles do apply to any of them,” Brauning said.
Commission president Brian Hoover of Delaware County said the agency is not looking to do any predator control. The presentations were made only because one organization, the Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania, asked the agency to address the issue.


Unified, in particular, expressed concerns that bald eagles are eating stocked trout, and fishers are preying on several game species, Hoover said.
The commission doesn't believe that to be true in either case, according to a formal lengthy response that said, in part, predator control “does not work.”
The real key to boosting wildlife populations for all species, the board said, lies in giving them somewhere to live.
“To truly serve sportsmen, we must focus on proven means to restore small game hunting. And we do this by improving the habitat,” the letter said.
The statement
Here's the text of the Game Commission's full response to the predator management question.
“During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Game Commission focused much of its energy and resources into predator control efforts. During this period, we did not understand the relationship between predators and prey. After decades of using predator control (such as paying bounties) with no effect, and the emergence of wildlife management as a science, the agency finally accepted the reality that predator control does not work.

“There are no shortcuts in wildlife management. The discussion surrounding predator control on our state's hawks and eagles takes the focus away from how we can bring back small game hunting to the state – and that is by providing habitat. Over the last several decades, the issue of controlling avian predators has been raised. And here it is again.
“To truly serve sportsmen, we must focus on proven means to restore small game hunting. And we do this by improving the habitat. In addition, we see no evidence of fisher populations or eagles limiting access by sportsmen to fishing or hunting opportunities. To the contrary, the fisher population is creating new opportunities for trappers.
“You can't manage wildlife based on what makes intuitive sense, or based on anecdotal information. Wildlife management is complex; the interaction between predator and prey, including hunters as predators, is complicated. Because of these complexities, the agency has in place some of the best wildlife scientists in the country to help guide the agency making wildlife management decisions.


“The Game Commission has made strides in its ongoing efforts to improve small game hunting in Pennsylvania. For example we've been partnering for many years with pheasants forever to build habitat for pheasants in several priority areas in the state. When habitat was in good condition and wild pheasants were released, they did well in several areas.
“However, the majority of Pennsylvania is privately owned. Practices such as forestry and farming dictate the abundance of small game, not predators. To pretend that predator control can return small game hunting to the state is a false prophecy.
“Within the agency's 2015-2020 strategic plan, you can clearly see the agency is putting great emphasis on creating small game habitat on state game lands. We are using proven techniques such as prescribed fire and timber management to support more small-game hunting. However, our focus is what we know from the science, not anecdotal comments stemming from theory or supposition.
“Our work on game lands is only limited by one factor, and that is funding.
“This year, the agency set a new record in the number of acres where prescribed fire was used to improve habitat at a cost of $2.1 million. Securing additional funding is necessary for us to continue to expand the use of this tool and other habitat management tools.
“Predators – whether they be hawks, owls, eagles, bears or foxes – are an important part of Penns Woods. The species don't compete with our hunters for game. The limiting factor is habitat – we must focus our efforts on habitat. This is how we can make a difference.”

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