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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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Saturday, May 20, 2017

"Some would consider America’s least known large mammal an Arctic antihero",,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,. "That mammal is the muskox (Ovibos moschatus), and despite its low profile, it survived the last ice age, unlike woolly mammoths, saber-toothed cats, and other prehistoric animals"........"Although doing well in the Canadian Archipelago and a few mainland sites, musk oxen disappeared from Arctic Alaska 150 years ago"...... "Today’s persisting populations were re-introduced and they currently experience strong interacting effects of climate change, predation by grizzly and polar bears and by humans, and food limitation"........."Scientists are also finding that they have a highly ordered social structure like elephants, with groups of up to 30 often led by one matriarch"....... "The animals use cooperative techniques to defend themselves against predators and when confronted will form a circle with the young in the middle and horns facing outward".............. "Dr.Joel Berger if the Wildlife Conservation Society has been studying musk oxen in Alaska since 2006 and is looking into various factors responsible for the animals’ ability to thrive in some areas, hold stable population numbers in others, and decline in still others"............. "He and his partners are currently evaluating the impacts of changing climate, species interactions, and nutrition to musk oxen population dynamics and distribution in western Alaska"

How To Study Muskox Behavior? Become The Master Of Disguise

This researcher disguises himself as the predators of muskoxen to study their reaction.

Video producer Luke Groskin recently traveled to Alaska and interviewed conservation researcher Joel Berger about his unique method for testing muskoxen behavior: pretending to be their predator.
There’s a muskox hunting season in Alaska, and in the past, more males have been killed than females. If a herd lacks mature males, will that affect their behavior when a predator approaches? Are they more likely to flee and get eaten? If so, Alaska may have to reduce the quota of male muskoxen hunting.
To answer this question, Joel dresses as a grizzly or polar bear and approaches a herd to see its reaction.

Joel Berger and Ellen Cheng, a fellow conservation biologist, prep the grizzly bear suit. Credit: Luke Groskin

Dressed as a fake grizzly bear, Joel Berger approaches muskoxen in social defense formation. Cape Krusenstern National Monument, Alaska. Credit: Joel Berger

Berger approaches an isolated female muskox in a snow hole. Credit: Joel Berger

Female muskoxen use the strength in numbers tactic to ward off dangerous predators, like grizzly bears and, sometimes, polar bears. Credit: Joel Berger

A muskox social group watches Berger dressed as a polar bear before fleeing. Wrangel Island World Heritage Site, Chukota Autonomous Zone, Russia. Credit: Joel Berger

Berger, in fake polar bear garb, approaches three muskoxen. Wrangel Island World Heritage Site, Chukota 

Muskoxen look on as Joel Berger releases the head of a polar bear model after a playback experiment. Credit: Joel Berger

Wolf Pack sizing up Musk Ox herd determining how to
separate the youngsters from the adults

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