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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 10, 2019

In colonial times, northern Maine was a Wolf/Caribou predator-prey matrix with Wolves and deer doing a similar "dance" in the southern region of the state..........."Records indicate that northern Maine was once home to hundreds of thousands of Caribou with the old-growth forests of the Allagash home to the largest of the caribou subspecies – the Woodland Caribou".............. "Well suited for travel in deep snow, their large concave hooves were adept at pawing the snow to expose ground and tree lichens, shrubs, grasses and willows"............"It takes 80 to 150 years to grow the type of mature coniferous forest that would produce enough lichen to support caribou".........Regardless of the exaggerated and optimistic reports from the officials at the Maine Fish and Wildlife Commission in 1895-6(read reports below), it is a hard-to-swallow fact that by the outbreak of the Civil War(1860), there literally were only a handful of Caribou that still called Maine home.............As is now the case in Canada, as the Maine forests were logged and farmed, Caribou were hunted by the settlers...........Concurrently, with the forests now badly fragmented, deer found it easier to migrate north into the previous stronghold of Caribou........With greater deer herds in northern Maine, so did greater populations of Eastern Wolves congregate..........Fractured forests make it easier for Wolves to prey-switch, chasing down and killing Caribou with relative ease,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,And as Thoreau during his 1858 great hike of Maine stated---- "The lumberers told me that there were many moose thereabouts, but no caribou"............... "It was in 1860 when M.R. Keep told the tale of when the French first settled in the Madawaska area in Northern Maine, along the St. John River, the Indians got angry because the French were killing their moose and caribou"............... "In 1860, J.G. Rich writes in the Bethel Courier about his hunts for caribou: I shot and killed two caribou in the previous 6 years".........."Many hunters from different parts of the State have told me that the species [caribou] are almost extinct in Maine"................"The consensus is that Maine will never again support a caribou herd because the woodlands have changed from old growth to a relatively young forest"............"The fragmentation of the Maine woods with camp lots, woods roads, and the widespread presence of whitetail deer, which carry a brain worm that does not harm the deer, but is deadly to moose and caribou, are also barriers to reintroduction"


CARIBOU AND DEER. There is no question but that at least ten thousand deer have been killed in Maine during the year 1896, quite a proportion of them by our own citizens. This is not merely guess work, but based on actual count of the numbers transported by the common carriers, and records kept by various sporting camp proprietors scattered over the State.

  W e recently saw what purported to be an estimate of the number of moose, deer and caribou in the State by a famous guide and hunter, “Jock Darling;” he is reported to have estimated 150,000 deer, 12,000 moose and 10,000 caribou as being in the State at the present time. Twenty-five per cent, of this number of each would, in our opinion, be much nearer the truth.

 Guiding has become a regular occupation by a large number of our people. Three dollars a day and board is the regular price paid for their services. A t least fifteen hundred men are thus employed. Hunting camps are everywhere where fish and game abound,— attractive circulars are sent broadcast by their proprietors, and an ever increasing multitude is attracted to our State. Ten thousand, at least, visited the Rangeley region this year; more than fifty thousand souls have come to Maine in 1896 to fish, to hunt, to enjoy our unparalleled scenery and climate in spring, summer and autumn; more than five million dollars have been expended by them along our railroads, in our hotels, pay for guides, etc. It is an industry Maine can ill afford to lose. Business prudence and foresight demand that every means in our power be employed to retain it. This can only be done by propagating our fish and protecting our game. 

We have employed, nearly constantly, twenty, at an average salary of two dollars per day and expenses, all that the means at our command would permit, but this number is entirely inadequate. The'vast area of our fishing and hunting grounds renders it utterly impossible that this number can adequately protect the fish and game from the depredations of the poacher. More prosecutions for the infractions of the fish and game laws have been instituted this year than ever before, and more convictions had.

Public sentiment is, more and more, in favor of a thorough enforcement of the laws. As stated, guides receive three dollars per day and board, in most instances; to be a successful warden, especially to protect the big game one must be a thorough woodsman, familiar with the woods, and the hunting regions, and also familiar with the methods of poachers. In order to get the best, we must pay as much, at least, as is paid for guiding. This we have been unable to do, on account of lack of funds, and have consequently been unable to do as much as ought to be done. W e have devoted practically our entire time to the work during the year. 


LARGE GAME. It is beyond successful contradiction that the deer is increasingly plenty in our State and with reasonable effort for its protection must continue abundant. During the open time of 1895, nineteen hundred and twenty-one deer were shipped by the American Express Company from different stations in the State o f Maine. This is nearly double the amount of these animals shipped by the same com pany during the open time of 1894. 

. When we remember that there are at least twenty thousand deer in the State of Maine and that their natural annual increase is at least sixty per cent we not only account for the constant increase of these animals but dissipate any fear as to future supply.

From the same sources o f information wre learn that the shipment of caribou for 1895 was double that o f 1894. These shipments represent a larger per cent of the whole number of these animals taken than the shipment of deer, for but few of them were consumed by our people, or in the forests, and most of them passed through the express offices. The number o f these animals shipped, was one hundred and five for the open season of the current year. And it will also he remembered that in 1894 a person might lawfully take two caribou while in 1895 he could take but one. The indications therefore, seem to be in favor o f an increase of caribou, but no definite rule can be applied to these animals as to increase or decrease in any given territory as they are migratory and range large stretches o f country, roaming from Nova Scotia to Alaska.

 S. L . Crosby, E sq., the leading taxidermist at Bangor and who is familiar with this subject, in a paper read by him before the Maine Sportsman’s Fish and Game Association at its last annual session, said, “ The caribou is a roving, migratory creature, here to-day and perhaps miles away to-m orrow, and I well know that in some sections of the State, where they were formerly abundant, they are now very scarce ; but they were not killed o ff, they merely changed their feeding grounds. This season we have received fifty-one heads for mounting as against twenty-eight last season, and in ten days three of my friends who hunted around Mt. Ktaadn, counted over seventy-five caribou, and in various other localities old hunters assure me that they have never before seen them more abundant. 
Of course, owing to their roving nature, the supply will vary but rest assured that there will be good caribou hunting in Maine for many years to come.”

The number of moose shipped in the open time of 1895 was one hundred and three which is also double the number shipped in 1894. These one hundred and three were all hull moose because no other could be lawfully taken, while in 1894 all varieties of the m oose might be so taken. As touching this subject we again quote from Mr. Crosby who in the same paper above referred to said, “ Never have so many fine moose heads been brought out in one season by sportsmen, but that there are plenty left in the woods.

A prominent business man here in Bangor, who successfully hunted and killed a magnificent bull in November assured me that he and his guide started at least fifty moose in two weeks’ time, and sportsmen who have hunted in other localities all report the same thing— that moose are on the increase. It is very gratifying to note that many cow and calf moose were seen in the summer months by fishing and camping parties.” It is probably true that the extreme drought which lasted into the open season, compelling large game to seek lakes and rivers for water, made it much easier to capture them early in October. The number o f shipments each month o f open time were as follows : October, 62 moose, 39 caribou, 896 deer; November, 16 moose, 19 caribou, 623 d eer; December, 25 moose, 47 caribou, 402 deer. time.

Greater vigilance is being used for the protection o f these animals in the close season. During December 1895, and the early part of January 1896, practically every lumber camp in our Maine forests will be visited by wardens, most o f them have been prior to the date o f this report. This work will be continued until the forests are again deserted by the lumbermen. In this work we find an increasingly friendly sentiment among all the lumbermen and operators visited, and all or nearly all have aided us by furnishing information to and entertainment for the warden, and express themselves as pleased to have this work done, and we are glad to report that in nearly every case owners and operators have adopted the rule that they will not countenance the killing of large game or have it in their possession or about their camps and forbid their men molesting it. 

Arrangements have been completed for guarding the Canadian border against the encroachments o f deep snow and crust hunters from the Canadian side o f the line, and men will be stationed there as soon as the conditions require it.

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