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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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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Chronic Wasting Disease(CWD) is becoming the bane of Wildlife Managers and hunters.......... (CWD) is a transmissible neurological disease of deer and elk that produces small lesions in brains of infected animals. ............. Infectious agents of CWD are neither bacteria nor viruses, but are hypothesized to be prions............... The protein that prions are made of (PrP) is found throughout the body, even in healthy people and animals...........However, PrP found in infectious material has a different structure and is resistant to proteases, the enzymes in the body that can normally break down proteins...........This deadly disease is becoming more and more pronounced in hoofed browsers such as deer and Elk...............In 2006, researcher N. Thompson Hobbs wrote “A Model Analysis of Effects of Wolf Predation on the Prevalence of Chronic Wasting Disease in Elk Populations of Rocky Mountain National Park"........“Increased mortality rates [by predators e.g. wolves, pumas, coyotes, bears] in diseased populations can retard disease transmission and reduce disease prevalence"................. "Increasing mortality(of the infected deer/elk, etc) slows transmission via two mechanisms"....... "First, it reduces the average lifetime of infected individuals".................. "Reduced lifespan, in turn can compress the time interval when animals are infectious, thereby reducing the number of infections produced per infected individual".............. “The effect of reduced intervals of infectivity is amplified by reductions in population density that occur as mortality increases---reductions that cause declines in the number of contacts between infected and susceptible individuals".............. "Both of these mechanisms retard the transmission of disease"........... "If these mechanisms cause the number of new infections produced per infected individual to fall below one, then the disease will be eradicated from the population"..............Therefore, we should not be killing our Wolves, Pumas, Coyotes, Bears,,,,,,,,rather, encouraging them to run free and fulfill their ecological cleansing role in the environment

The Undeniable Value of Wolves, Bears, Lions And Coyotes In Battling Disease


“While I don’t think any of us large carnivore proponents are saying that wolf predation will prevent CWD, or totally eliminate it from infected herds, it is ecologically irresponsible to not consider the very real possibility that wolves can slow the spread of CWD and reduce its prevalence in infected herds.  We should consider wolves to be ‘CWD border guards,’ adjust wolf hunting seasons accordingly, and let wolves do their job of helping to cull infirm animals from the herds.”  —biologist Gary Wolfe, former Montana wildlife commissioner and former CEO/president of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

The impacts of historic predator-killing campaigns have been documented.
Stein added that “Geist and Princeton University biologist Andrew Dobson theorize that killing off the wolf allowed CWD to take hold in the first place.” Further, the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance observed, “The spread of chronic wasting disease toward Yellowstone’s famed game herds alarms wildlife lovers, but two top researchers think biologists will discover a powerful ally in an old frontier villain. The wolf.”

Be it wolf, mountain lion, bear or coyote, each different predator species has different approaches to both taking prey and scavenging. Besides the significant body of evidence in the Mech-Smith MacNulty book, there is a lot of brainpower that has been applied to thinking how predators could help head off CWD.

Many scientists say that Greater Yellowstone's full predator guild represents a formidable gauntlet to CWD.

Mountain lions are known for being ambush predators, lying in wait to target mule and white-tailed deer. Wolves and coyotes are “coursers” meaning they chase prey across open ground. Grizzlies and black bears take elk calves and deer fawns and, like the others, feast upon freshly killed carcasses, cleaning them down to the bone. Of note is that Mech and others have documented that wolves, for example, take down larger numbers of deer bucks, which, according to CWD researchers, also have a higher level of CWD prevalence in wild herds.

“Wolves pick up on stuff we can’t see. They are most efficient at exploiting weaknesses in prey because their survival depends on it. They are predisposed, by instinct and learned behavior, to focus first on animals that are easier to kill rather than those living at the height of their physical strength.” —Yellowstone's chief wolf biologist Douglas Smith

“In the main, the preponderance of scientific evidence supports the view that wolves generally kill the old, the young, the sick and the weak. Based upon everything I’ve seen over the course of my career, I generally stand behind the assertion that wolves make prey populations healthier. The evidence to support it is overwhelming.” —Renowned American wolf biologist L. David Mech

In a 2010 peer-reviewed journal article, “Mountain lions 
prey selectively on prion-infected mule deer,” lead author Caroline E. Krumm with the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s scientific research center and four colleagues noted how cougars appeared to select for CWD-infected deer because they were easier to fell. Their research examined 108 kill sites where the big cats ambushed deer.

Wolves account for about 1 percent of total livestock losses. Noteworthy is that only 62 of the 300-plus wolf packs in the western U.S. were involved in livestock depredation and the majority of those cases involved only a handful of livestock depredations at most. “What it means is that four of every five packs are existing without incident,” former federal wolf biologist Michael Jimenez said.

Those who possess a disdain for wolves have, for years, thrown up a series of theories, all either discredited or unsubstantiated.  The first was that wolves would decimate big game herds. Fact: it hasn’t happened and most big game populations in wolf country are at or above population objectives

“What we are witnessing with wolves is a battle of modern scientific data against entrenched Old West dogma and we are in a time in which data doesn’t appear to matter to those who cling to dogma. It is disheartening to realize how the states have abandoned good sense.” —Conservationist Norm Bishop

In their tome, Wolves on the Hunt, Mech, Smith and MacNulty note in field observation after field observation how difficult it is to be a predator like a wolf making a living with its mouth.  The vast majority of predator attempts to take down large game animals are unsuccessful—by some estimates more than eight of every ten tries fail—and each one comes replete with the very real possibility that the wolf could get killed or maimed. 

Survival of the fittest has a huge upside for those who care about elk and deer. “And so it goes, day after day, as wolves continue their rounds, ever searching for more vulnerable prey animals, chasing, missing, trying again and again, and eventually connecting,” the authors wrote. “The net result of all this sifting and selecting of prey over eons is that the prey gradually get faster, smarter, and more alert.”

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