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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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Sunday, January 6, 2019

From yesterday's account of the 16th-19th century Wolf/Puma cornucopia that resided in present day Pennsylvania, we today examine explorer, surveyor and author John Lawson's first hand account of the fauna, flora and native American life he encountered over his 600 mile Carolina exploration during 1700-1704...........Eastern Wolves, Pumas(Mountain Lions/Panthers), Buffalor(Bison), Elk, Bobcats, Black Bears,Gray Foxes and the occasional Jaguar(Tiger) all occupied the southern eastern seaboard states a full 100 years post the early 1600's founding of Jamestown, Plymouth and New Amsterdam(New York City)

John Lawson, 1674-1711

A New Voyage to Carolina; Containing the Exact Description and Natural History of That Country: Together with the Present State Thereof. And a Journal of a Thousand Miles, Travel'd Thro' Several Nations of Indians. Giving a Particular Account of Their Customs and Manners
London:  1709.

click on this link to read full book--Full Text ([3], 258, [1] p., map p., ca. 760K)HTML file

John Lawson (27 Dec. 1674-16 Sept. 1711), explorer, surveyor, and author of A New Voyage to Carolina (London, 1709),  His family owned estates in the vicinity of Kingston-on-Hull, Yorkshire, where it is likely young Lawson first attended Anglican schools, followed by lectures at Gresham College near the family's London, England residence.   It was also the usual meeting place of the Royal Society, dedicated to the pursuit and advancement of scientific methods of developing and verifying knowledge in the natural sciences. 

Lawson wrote that he met with a "gentleman" who had been abroad and who was familiar with much of the New World. 
When questioned, he suggested that Carolina was the best country for Lawson to visit, and it just happened that there was a ship about ready to sail there. Although Lawson did not name his informant, there is evidence that it was either Christopher Gale, a native of Yorkshire and an official in the northern part of Carolina, or James Moore, from Charles Town, then in London seeking the governorship. 

A London botanist and apothecary, James Petiver, had recently published a notice seeking someone to collect American specimens for him, and Lawson volunteered to do this without charge, and thus he set sail out of New York in 1700, intent on exploring the Carolina's.

*Panther(Puma/Mountain Lion)-"His prey is swines flesh, deer or anything he can take, no creature is as nice and clean as this in his food"

*Buffalo-"The Buffalor is the wild beast of America.........he seldom appears among the English inhabitants, his chief haunt, the land of the Mississippi............But they can come near........I have known some that were killed on the hilly parts of the Cape Fair River...Two were killed one year in Virginia at Appamaticks"

Bison traversed the Cape Fear River drainage
in North Carolina as well as in Appomattox,
Virginia in AD1700

*Black Bear-"The Bears here are very common,,,,,,,,,,,,They devour acorns and sit by the creek sides where the fish run, scooping them up with their paws...........They are not naturally voracious, but they are fierce when wonded"

*Wolves-"They are neither as wild or fierce as the European Wolf............They ar enot man-slayers; neither is any creature in Carolina unless wounded..........They go in great droes in the night to hunt deer

*Tigers(Jaguars)-"Tigers are never met in the settlements.............but are more to the westward and are not numerous on this side of the chain of mountains(Appalachians)...........I once saw one that was larger than a panther(puma/mountian lion) and it seemed to be a very bold creature......The Indians that hunt in those quarters say they seldom meet with one"

*Bobcat-"They are quite different from the European wildcat, being more nimble, fierce and larger...........His tail does not exceed 4 inches..........He climbs a tree as does the panther, preying in the same fashion

*Elk-"The elk is the monster of the venison sort...........They will often resort and feed with the Buffalo, delighting in the same range as they do"

*Fox-"the Fox of the Carolina's is gray..........They run up trees when pursued..........They live chielfly on birds and fowl and other small prey"


Anonymous said...

I have been reading John Lawson's Voyage to Carolina....His accounts of wildlife and flora are impressively accurate. Trees and bird lists are pretty complete.

Two bird accounts have to be deduced....

Lawson mentions the gray eagle as being the common eagle of Europe. This has to be the golden eagle which is the only other eagle in No America. The golden eagle is known to use the Carolinas as a major wintering ground after breeding in eastern Canada.

The other is the pheasant....which he states is not the common pheasant of Europe (Korean or Asian).
The only other bird larger than a grouse (partridge) and almost the size of the Asian pheasant is the heath hen which was found on the east coast. The southern range of the heath hen is unclear but theorized as far south as the Caolinas and perhaps Florida

David Messineo said...

My first comment above was attributed to anonymous erroneously

Rick Meril said...

Dave.........always excellent supplementary information on the Post of the day......thanks