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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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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Idaho trailcam pictures from this past Summer reveal a "gang of Pumas" hanging together in the Panhandle region of the Selkirk Mountains.............Two years ago, the on-going Teton Cougar Study revealed that while long thought to be solitary carnivores, Pumas indeed do socialize with each other beyond mating season................."Using GPS location data from 18 Jackson Hole-area cats and DNA tests from 68 animals, the Teton Cougar Project crunched the numbers and affirmed that local lions were social"............... "And their associations with one another were not due to Wolves pressuring them, less food or the proximity of relatives".............."In fact, interactions occur between the least-related individuals most often"..............More research is needed to "know what these guys are doing"........."Are they fighting? Are they mating?............Or are they just seeking companionship?

By Rich Landers; Outdoors blog
TUESDAY, JAN. 10, 2017

‘Herd’ of mountain lions photographed in North Idaho

Idaho Fish and Game biologists, who apparently are finally sorting through some of the remote camera images from their summer field work, have posted a series of shots showing a group of five mountain lions in the Selkirk Mountains.
Four of five mountain lions photographed in a series of images in a remote camera put out in the Panhandle Region by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. (Idaho Department of Fish and Game)

The best single image (above) shows four of the five cougars traveling together in August in the Panhandle Region.
While it's not uncommon for a female cougar to have three grown offspring with her, biologists say more than four in a group is likely to be an adult female cougar with her young along with one of her older female offspring and one or two of that female's offspring.
Either way, it's a rare sighting and and a jaw dropper, especially if you happen to be a deer in the area.

Mountain lions prove rare wildlife sighting for Bennett Valley(California) residents

female puma with cubs


Cougars not so solitary, Teton researchers find

Jackson Hole’s lions hang out together more than expected.

For years there has been talk around Jackson Hole of mountain lion “prides” that has run against the grain of the conventional belief that the large felines are a purely solitary species.
Perhaps, researchers with the Teton Cougar Project pondered, lions were teaming up to better defend themselves against wolves. Or maybe it was because elk and deer were falling off in numbers, forcing cougars to share finite food sources. Possibly, the biologists hypothesized, the social behavior was because the cats’ home ranges were near those of siblings or parents, and they were associating with their own blood.
It turns out that all of those hypotheses were flat wrong, Cougar Project team leader Mark Elbroch said.
“What’s really exciting about science — when it actually works — it’s that you can test these ideas,” Elbroch said. “I thought of [the study] as a wonderful example of science at work.”
Using GPS location data from 18 Jackson Hole-area cats and DNA tests from 68 animals, the Kelly-based Teton Cougar Project crunched the numbers and affirmed that local lions were social. But their associations with one another were not at all driven by more wolves, less food or the proximity of relatives.
The results were recently published in the academic journal Acta Ethologica.
“In fact,” Elbroch said, “what we found is that interactions occur between the least-related individuals most often.”
Some years back, two mother lions with kittens tracked by the Cougar Project — F51 and F61 — were seen “plainly hanging out” with each other consistently for months.
“Every time one of them made a kill, the other one would show up,” Elbroch said. “The assumption and the story was that they must be sisters.”
Instead genetics tests proved that the two female felines were as “unrelated as they could be,” he said.
Over the course of an eight-year period, the Cougar Project detected 92 “spatial associations” between GPS-collared cats, defined as any time when two animals were within 200 meters of each other for four hours or less. Another 190 “spatial overlaps” were documented, defined as a period when cats were within 200 meters of each other for between four hours and two weeks.
Male and female cats associated most of the time, followed by females rubbing shoulders with other females.
Males were tracked within 200 meters of one another just six times in eight years, a rate of association that was “statistically insignificant,” the Acta Ethologica paper said.
Associations were nearly seven times more frequent during the breeding season — February 1 to July 31 — compared with the rest of the year. That seasonal rise is not just because of male and female lions are canoodling, Elbroch said. It can also be attributed to fluctuations in the whereabouts of prey.
“Winter’s a big deal here,” he said. “There’s deep snow, serious ungulate migrations, large congregations of elk.
“This changes everything for mountain lions, including where they are.”
The Acta Ethologica paper uses the word “associations” rather than “interactions” because of some limitations that Elbroch is up front about.
The Cougar Project study relied only on hard data acquired from GPS collars and did not attempt to weave in observations made via remote video camera.
But an analysis of cougar relations from the video feed, which includes 50 adult cat interactions, is coming soon, Elbroch said.
“No one knows what these guys are doing,” he said. “It really creates a mythology.”
“What I’m excited to do is address this mythology directly,” Elbroch said. “What are they doing? Are they fighting? Are they mating?”

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