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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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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Killing Coyotes Doesn't accomplish reducing their population!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Many of you know and admire Marc Bekoff’s illuminating work on animals having feelings and their ability to learn and feel—emotions, like us human animals!


Marc discusses the folly of humans trying to reduce coyote populations by shooting, trapping and poisoning them………It does not work and as we have discussed on so many occasions, is counterproductive ……………actually resulting in larger coyote populations and unstable family units that can lead to increased conflicts with people……….click and read below.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Vermont Edition: Wolves In The Northeast

click on above link to listen to our friend Kim Royar discuss the possibility of wolves returning to Vermont

Rye girl, 3, attacked by coyote.............2nd time in a week that a westchester child attacked

Without knowing full circumstances, it would seem that the coyotes in Westchester County, NY(suburban NYC bedroom communitities) have become habituated to people through dogs and cats running free, foodstuffs and birdfood left in yards, etc..................Little children can be mistaken for prey by coyotes and especially at this time of year, young coyotes(juveniles) can be bold, experimentive and aggressive.........................Do not leave little ones unattended outside and stop making it easy for coyotes to make an easy living in neighborhoods.....................we need to modify our laisse faire habits and become more vigilant.

Rye girl, 3, attacked by coyote
To view the contents on, go to:

FW: Help Prevent Another Yellowstone Tragedy

If you are unable to view the message below, please go to
Greater Yellowstone Coalition

Tragedy struck two weeks ago when a man hiking on the
Shoshone National Forest just east of Yellowstone National Park was killed by a four-year-old male grizzly bear.

Also tragic is the fact that the bear was the target of an important federal research project, and was believed to have just awoken after being tranquilized and collared.

The federal research team is trying to help grizzlies have a sustainable future in Greater Yellowstone by capturing and radio-collaring bears to better understand their habits, range, and behavior.

This collared bear, set to provide information on how better to manage grizzly bears, was killed two days later by a sharpshooter firing from a helicopter.  Law enforcement and federal managers had determined that it might be a threat to nearby residents or people hiking on the national forest or in Yellowstone National Park.
Donate today in support of
better grizzly bear management
in Greater
Image courtesy of Cindy Goeddel.
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Although this is a very rare event – it has been 25 years since someone was killed in Greater Yellowstone by a grizzly – it is still a tragic story, and one that should have been avoided.  Our heavy hearts go out to the family of the victim, who had lived safely in bear country for more than 30 years.

Today, our curious minds ask the question: “Can this horrible situation be avoided in the future?”

We think it can, and you can help by supporting Greater Yellowstone Coalition’s grizzly bear program.

Humans need to respect the grizzly bear’s need to roam freely, and therefore we must carefully evaluate how to best get the information we need to make informed decisions about bear/human management.  In Greater Yellowstone, roughly 80 bears are radio-collared each year for research purposes.  Are there now other less intrusive ways to obtain information on their numbers, range, and habits?

In close encounters with humans, when bears make physical contact, bears almost always die because of people's fears that other incidents might occur.

Please, donate today – and help eliminate future tragedies like this one.

Your donation right now will help:
  • educate the public about the use of bear spray, a proven deterrent for use in bear country;
  • evaluate the types and frequency of research done and how to minimize the negative effects of research on bears; and
  • ensure habitat protection for grizzlies – nearly 98% of its original habitat has been lost to development.
As citizens and wildlife advocates, we understand the balance needed to protect humans who might be hiking in bear country, while supporting the research needed to better protect grizzlies into the future.  Our ultimate goal is to eliminate tragedies like this one.  Please, consider a gift to GYC today.


mike clark small

Mike Clark, Executive Director
Mike Clark
Executive Director

P.S.  Do your part.  Give today in support of grizzly bears and help seek a way to better manage and conduct research safely in Greater
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Monday, June 28, 2010

FW: The Ballad of King Coyote---theme song for Coyotes, Wolves & Cougars Forever??????

Every top tv show through the years from Star Trek to

Friends to Law & Order has had a memorable theme song.


My colleague and friend, Pat Parish who runs our Dallas

WB office purchased Jonathan Rice’s new albulm, FURTHER

NORTH and came upon this tune, cut #8 ………the ballad of

King Coyote………………………thought I would share with

All of you…………………..



Flying in a helicopter
Watering the wildfire
Watching the coyotes running for the hills
Driving down the 405 now
Dead coyotes on the roadside
The king is watching from the shelter of the trees

Give Coldwater Canyon back to the coyotes

Running past the gay bars and markets
Dealerships and pizza parlors
Past domesticated dogs choking on the leash
A big bad German Shepherd
The coyotes got him surrounded
And they tore that big dog into little bitty pieces

Give Coldwater Canyon back to the coyotes

Last night in Benedict Canyon
King Coyote in the governor’s mansion
Standing in the middle of the big man’s living room
The Governor could not reach his shotgun
So he offered King Coyote a pension
King tore the man’s heart right out of his chest

Give Coldwater Canyon back to the coyotes

Now the streets are empty
And the beachfronts and the studio lots
The forest grows over the freeway
And the vines cover whole city blocks
And all you can hear is that high and lonesome sound

Give Coldwater Canyon back to the coyotes





About Johnathan Rice



"We're all stuck out in the desert and we're gonna die!" Coming through the speakers sounding like some strange love child of The Pixies and Country Joe And the Fish, it's the feel bad hit of the season. What I mean is, it's doomsday pop you can dance to. It is at once old and new, like a coyote slinking past a gay bar. Then, after that, it's the dumb stomp of the title track, which makes you think about a more hi-fi Crazy Horse playing way behind the beat and spreading all over the map. "I know I don't belong singin a worthless freedom song. It's all a waste of time." Is this a first? Is he protesting the protest song? Either way, alert Fox News and Moveon.Org and start slinging mud.

If you heard the first record, you'll be wondering what happened. If you haven't heard it, this is a wonderful place to start. "I think I got younger on this record" says Rice from a plastic lawn chair a few miles east of Hollywood. "The first one is so dramatic!" – referring to dream sequence–styled psychedelic pop record Trouble Is Real. The album, made in Lincoln, Nebraska with the staggeringly talented Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, The Faint, Cursive) was an incredibly bold experiment for a nineteen-year old making his first record. Almost stylistically schizophrenic, the record rocketed from orchestral pop to hammering punk-influenced rock. "While I was writing Further North, the way I feel about everything changed. The way I sing changed. It's so much less labored now. The weight of the world that was never there in the first place was lifted. I just wanted to simplify everything." There are a lot of moments on this record where everything breaks down to just drums and vocals, as if it's some sort of primal reaction to the sonic decadence of Trouble Is Real.

That's one of the few benefits of being a twenty-four year old in the pop desert of the mid-2000's. Born in Virginia and raised between there and his family's Glasgow, Scotland, Johnathan grew up on all the music worth listening to - from Neil Young and the Byrds to the Velvets and Wire to Bobby Charles, Tom Petty and Townes Van Zandt. His songs reflect a generation that heard Rock and Roll after it was born, died, and born again. He toured for nearly three years in the time before and after the release of Trouble is Real. The album reached the ears of many other musicians, leading to tours opening for Wilco, Martha Wainwright, Ben Gibbard, and Jenny Lewis. He also played rock-legend dress-up when he played a bit part as Roy Orbison in the Academy Award winning film Walk The Line and contributed an Orbison cut to the Grammy Award winning soundtrack produced by T Bone Burnett.

The album was especially well received in the UK, particularly after REM's Peter Buck caught Rice's acoustic set in a bar in Manchester. That brief encounter prompted Buck to invite the twenty-one year old to open several shows for REM, including their historic concert at London's Hyde Park in front of 90,000 fans. "Opening for any band, large or small is the true test of your own self-belief. The people didn't pay to see you, so you gotta make sure they don't feel like they're getting ripped off. It made me a stronger performer, and I took that strength with me into the studio."

Johnathan entered Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, CA (Tom Petty, Nirvana) in the eerily warm winter of 2006. Jason Lader (Vietnam, Rilo Kiley) and Farmer Dave Scher (Beachwood Sparks, All Night Radio) completed the three man production team. It's quite obvious even from a cursory first listen that the album was recorded live and not much else was added in post. "I took a pretty big gamble on the sessions. I told Dave and Jason that I didn't want to rehearse the band at all. I wanted them to hear each song for the first time right there on the studio floor and then go on their initial instincts. That can either work totally to one's advantage or totally flop. Luckily, the guys who played on it were so fucking good that it worked out. I had the time of my life recording these songs."

Whereas the first record tried to take on the world and a whole host of musical genres, this new album stays relentlessly focused on the song, the band, and that voice. The sound is warm and the words are at once hot and cold. It's an optimistic apocalypse with something for you and your weird uncle. It's consistently against the grain while staying true to that old Harvest, y'know?

Whatever you think about this record, there is a story here. The lyrics cut as deep as you let them, and even if you don't pay attention to that sort of thing there are enough deep pockets and American guitars to keep you nodding your head in the drive through line. I don't know if you people read these things or not. But I do hope you listen to this record. On some quality speakers. Not those shitty little earphones either.





Sunday, June 27, 2010

More on Trophic Cascades and the "Landscape of Fear"

We heard from and reviewed John Laundre's LANDSCAPE OF FEAR  paradigm last weekend. Top down pressures on all trophic levels of animal and plants induced by the Top Trophic level predators in a system cause dramatic and positive impacts on the status and functioning of ecosystems.................these charismatic Predators are crucial for maintaining optimum biodiversity in our World.
Bill Ripple and Robert Beschta echo Laundre's call for reintroductions of Wolves, Cougars, Bears and Wolverines into our Open Spaces citing  the benefits of their presence and "job function" of both direct predation of prey species as well as "KEEPING THOSE UNGULATES(deer, moose, caribou, elk) AND MESOCARNIVORES(coyotes, raccoons, skunks, foxes) on their toes and on the move.....................not allowing them to get too comfortable in their surroundings.................and thus mitigating their negative impact on the trophic level animals and plants below them(e.g. trees and shrubs as it relates to ungulates...........birds eggs as it relates to mesocarnivores).
All three biologists(Laundre, Ripple and Beschta) and virtually every other esteemed carnivore researcher in the World cites Aldo Leopolld as one of the key
FOUNDING FATHERS of the trophic cascade premise...............................
                        "As the Elk fears the Wolf and the Lion, so does the Mountain fear the deer"
Anotherwards, too many deer, elk, moose and caribou in a system create monocultures with only those plants that taste awful to these hoofed browsers flourishing on the land....................This, causing many species of animals and birds that depend on a wide array of" green growers"  to go extinct. What appears to be a pretty green woodland, prarie or chaparrel environment is actually a desert, devoid of most life when the top carnivore species like wolf, lion, bear and wolverine are extirpated from the scene.
It is a proven fact that when the top order predators are wiped from the map, we have tidal wave irruptions of deer, elk and moose across the land...................Put the predators back on the ground and a balance returns to the system allowing for a manageable number of plant eaters to exist without denuding the forest, prarie and chaparrel.
Wolves and Cougars were gone from New York's Adirondacks by 1890 causing a deer irruption in 1895..................Out West, wolves and cougars were functionally wiped off the land by the 1930's.........................casusing elk in Yellowstone to expand 6+ times from 3000 to over 20,000 more willows, no more more beaver, as the elk stripped the land clean of those tree species, causing beaver to no longer to be able to survive.
As we know, since 1995 when Wolves were restored to Yellowstone,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,the multi-pronged predator suite in Yellowstone was re-fortified with "wolf power(in addition to Griz and Cougar and Wolverine) keeping elk from overbrowing willow and cottonwood.................beavers are back........................Wolves have reduced coyotes by 50%.............therefore fox populations are up................Griz populations are growing due to more wolf kills on the ground(Griz often take wolf kills away from wolves--they steal their meat)...............

Very positive effects for the entire animal and plant community without any creature being driven to extinction...........................Instead, Elk are drifting back to their previous 1930 wolf predation days of several thousand.............the remaining coyotes actually now live in  bigger packs as they too dine on wolf kills periodically(the remaining coyotes actually have more nutritious food to eat than when wolves were absent).................

Every species in Yellowstone is back on the ground in a much more balanced setting................biodiversity revived ................the land healing in the process and thus will be a better breeding ground for future generations of all predator and prey.
As Leopold stated in his classic 1949 SAND COUNTY ALMANAC(a must read by all those new to this area of science).........................................
If we agree with Leopold that we should not drive other living organisms to extinction......................."that we should leave all the cogs and wheels" in place(anotherwards, truly caretake our natural community),,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,then an understanding of the benefits that large carnivores bring to our planet is critical for all of us to have and understand..................

.Let us continue to explore trophic cascades and the landscape of fear in future posts...........................Please click on the Ripple/Beschta and Laundre papers attached for a full read and comprehension on this most critical component of our WILD AMERICA:

Saturday, June 26, 2010

REDDHOLE, friend of Coyotes, Wolves and Cougars forever contributing to our knowledge of Coyotes, Wolves, Bobcats, Cougars, Foxes and Deer

From the book "Deer" by Duane Gerlach:
 My friend and Coyotes, Wolves and Cougars forever contributor REDDHOLE. regularly posts analyses and point-of-view on all things Coyote on the CARNIVORA WEB SITE(
Click on the the "link to post" at the bottom right of this Post for some great insight and perspective on Coyotes interspecific competition with bobcats(coyotes reduce the amount of prey which lowers bobcat density but do not necessarily reduce bobcat populations by direct aggression....................coyotes ability to successfully prey on adult deer in ceretain locales is much higher than expected............................Pronghorn populations grow when wolves are in the system as wolves keep coyote populations in check(coyotes readily take pronghorn calves)............................Coyotes and red fox do co-exist but coyotes will be aggressive and periodically kill other times the two species can den close to each other and co-exist successfully.................nonetheless, foxes take precautions to stay clear of coyotes on a regular basis.............................cougars regularly dine on coyotes.............................
We thank REDDHOLE again for consistantly informing us of additional sources of all things "indigenous, wild and free."
« Last Edit: Mar 28, 2007, 1:00am by Reddhole » Link to Post -   ogged

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sightline Institute.........Sustainiability non profit in Seattle focuses on state of wildlife in this region

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Rick Meril <>
Date: Fri, Jun 25, 2010 at 10:39 PM
Subject: Re: Key NW species still at risk
To: Michelle Harvey <>

Michelle...............would love to collaborate with you and Sightline Institute...................send me whatever information you have on a regular basis and i will post all of it for my blog readers. So nice of you to reach out to me..............Please feel free to use anything on my blog that you deem useful and informative.


On Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 2:32 PM, Michelle Harvey <> wrote:
Dear Rick,

I'm contacting you on behalf of Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based nonprofit research and communications center that works on sustainability issues in the Northwest. I've been reading through your blog, Coyotes, Wolves, and Cougars...forever, and love your information on native animals in the Americas. We feel that your interests match our own, and we'd love to support your blog by providing relevant research.  

Sightline Institute just released its annual wildlife indicator update, in which we track five Northwest species that give us a glimpse into the state of our natural heritage. We'd love for you to use our information to inform your readers about the condition of Pacific Northwest wildlife.   

After reading through your blog, here are some tidbits I thought might interest you:
  • At the end of 2009, wolf populations in Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon showed a 3.2 percent increase over 2008, even as 2009 was the first year that gray wolves were open for sport hunting. This exceeds federal recovery goals, but wolf populations are still at a fraction of historic abundance.
  • The hunts were a hotly contested issue. Interestingly, there were more wolves killed as a result of shrinking habitat area and little protection of livestock. The total number of legal wolf killings resulting from domestic animal attacks is higher than the number of wolves killed for sport.
  • Sage-grouse are specially positioned to be an indicator for the overall health of their ecosystem, mainly because almost every human activity, from fencing to mismanaged land practices, affects their populations. For the last decade, the sage-grouse population in Oregon appeared stable. However, after a serious drought in eastern Oregon, sage-grouse populations have recently dipped significantly. Biologists estimate that about 22,000 sage-grouse remain in Oregon, which is at about 13 percent of historic abundance for Oregon.

We are excited about the work you are doing, and hope you consider using our research in your blog.

Michelle Harvey
Sightline Institute

To learn more about Sightline Institute, please visit our webpage


Black bears regain foothold in Wisconsin after 100-year absence

  •  click on the X's to see all pictures below
    buy this photoA young black bear wandered through the yard of John and Jan Swartz near Mount Horeb on the evening of June 15.
     It played with a toad, checked out a bird feeder, and wandered off. DAN KETTERER photo
    • bear2.jpgclick on the X's to see pics
    • Bear Tracking 4-6-24-10.jpg
    • Bear Tracking 5-6-24-10.jpg

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    Looking for signs of southern Wisconsin's bearsclick on the X's to see pics

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    Living with bears

    Wildlife biologists recommend the following for living with bears:
    • Don't knowingly feed a bear.
    • Keep garbage cans in a closed building.
    • Reduce garbage odors by rinsing food cans before putting them in recycling containers.
    • Keep meat scraps in the freezer until garbage day.
    • Keep pet food inside or don't feed in the evening.
    • Keep barbecue grills and picnic tables clean.
    • If a bear is near your home, wave your arms and make noise. Then back away slowly or go inside and wait for the bear to leave.
    • If the bear found food such as garbage or bird feed, it will return. Remove the source of food and the bear will probably not return.
    BARABOO — In the deep summer green of a hardwood stand in Devil's Lake State Park, Bill Ishmael puts on his reading glasses and
     stares closely at the bark of a slender tree. Up and down the trunk run parallel gouges and scars. In several places the bark is punctured by deep holes.
    "We'll put this one down as a hit," said Ishmael, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources.
    The pronouncement, coupled with the damage to the tree bark, immediately causes one to become more attentive. Suddenly, the forest feels different.
     It becomes wilder, deeper, stranger. More mysterious and maybe just a little scarier.
    All because this woods may now be home to a black bear.
    This spring has marked the beginning of a new era in how the DNR thinks of black bears in southern Wisconsin. With multiple bear sightings coming to
     the agency every day, including numerous reports of sows with cubs, DNR wildlife experts now believe southern Wisconsin is home to its own population
     of black bears for the first time since the late 1800s.
    And this week saw the beginning of efforts to scientifically gather data on the fledgling population as Ishmael and Becky Roth, also a DNR wildlife biologist,
    conducted the first bear bait station surveys undertaken in southern Wisconsin.
    "This year was just crazy compared to the last two years," said Roth of bear sightings.
    Don't buy bear insurance just yet
    While the increase in those reported sightings is a good indication that bears are moving in, the reports alone are just the beginning of a more rigorous approach
    to documenting and describing southern Wisconsin's newest wild residents. For one thing, some sightings don't quite pan out.
    Ishmael said he once received a somewhat panicked phone call from a man on a farm who said he had gone inside and locked his doors because there was a bear
     behind his house. When Ishmael arrived, he walked around the house to check out the field in back and saw two pointy ears and a black head sticking up above the grass
     — a farm cat.
    "I felt bad for the guy," Ishmael said. "I was almost embarrassed to knock on the door and tell him it was a cat."
    Other sightings, however, are a pretty good indication that bears are making themselves comfortable in the state's more southern reaches. Jan Swartz, of rural Mount Horeb,
    watched with a neighbor on the evening of June 15 as a bear ambled into her yard.
    The bear, she said, seemed more curious than anything else. It sniffed around and played for a bit with a large toad. "He and the toad jumped at the same time when they saw
    each other," Swartz said. The bear then noticed the bird feeder on a post attached to the deck and walked over to check it out but lost interest and wandered away.
    Swartz and her husband, John, spend a week each year paddling in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota and have never seen a bear there so
     they chuckle at finally seeing one in their own backyard.
    Bare bones science
    To back up such tales with science, Ishmael and Roth traveled the Baraboo Hills in a pickup truck Thursday, rumbling down dead-end dirt two-tracks to remote, woodsy spots
     where they had wired two-pound net bags of beef tallow to trees seven days before. Altogether they strung up 50 of the bait stations from Columbia County in the East to the hills
     and coulees in southwestern Wisconsin.
    The research isn't fancy or technical. Find the orange ribbon along the road that marks the location of a station, grab a red bucket from the back of the truck, scramble through the
     forest to find the tree with the bait bag, check the tree trunk and the bait for evidence of bear, turn the red bucket upside down and stand on it to snip the wire that holds the bait to
     the tree, put what's left of the bait in the bucket, record the data on a sheet on a clipboard. Repeat at the next tree.
    Thus, from the leafy shadows of the woods on Thursday came the very first information for what will become a database on bears in southern Wisconsin. Such transects will now be
    conducted every year, according to Ishmael, and the data will help with management decisions on everything from hunting to crop damage payments as bears continue to make themselves at home.
    Ishmael cautioned that the transects, which have been conducted for years in northern Wisconsin bear country, are more of a survey tool than a way to estimate populations. They give rough glimpses
     of bear activity from year to year, including information on where bears have established territories. More definitive population estimates comes from combining the survey data with information such
     as age and sex collected from bears killed during hunting season — about 4,900 bears last year out of the state's total population of around 30,000. Additional information may be gained by winter
     visits to dens in this part of the state, Ishmael said, to take a closeup look at moms and their cubs.
    Future uncertain
    Beginning to collect such data in southern Wisconsin, Ishmael said, is crucial.
    "If there is going to be this increasing population trend, then how are we going to manage bears? Especially down here where there are more people."
    Such research data takes on a much more intense meaning, of course, if you are someone such as Jan Swartz who stared down from her deck at the muzzle of a bear as it clawed its way up the post to
     her bird feeder. And as for how to manage and live with bear populations, John Swartz said it didn't take much in the way of science to prompt a change in certain habits.
    "We're putting the garbage out in the morning now instead of leaving it out all night the night before," he said.

Hopefully, only a matter of time until Eastern Wolves(c.lupus(lycaon) get to patrol New England, the Mid Atlantic and the Appalachian Spine

Wolves won't be coming to the Northeast after FWS denies petition

Supporters say species recovery lacks leadership

By Darren Marcy - Published: June 25, 2010
Supporters of the idea of recovering wild wolves to Vermont and the northeastern United States suffered a setback recently when the U.S.
 Fish and Wildlife Service denied a petition seeking to designate gray wolves in the Northeast as a distinct population.

The FWS had a simple reason for denying the petition: There is no proof that a population of wolves exists.

The end result is no recovery plan will be developed to bring the wolf back in the Northeast.

But the issue remains and it’s worthy of consideration.

Wolves are one of those signature species that draw dramatic and divergent views.

Like coyotes, the wolf is hated in some camps and revered in others.

The opposition to wolves can best be found out west where wolf wars have been fought for

 decades and popular refrains include, “We got rid
 of them for a reason,” and “The only good wolf is a dead wolf.”

Their impact on elk and deer herds is well documented, although supporters will say those

 game species are merely brought down to a level they should be.

Ranchers are also – generally – opposed to the wolf because they tend to eat their sheep,

 cattle and even dogs.

Others, however, are simply concerned with the idea that a coyote hunter who thinks he shooting

 a large coyote later to be determined to be a wild
 wolf could be charged under the Endangered Species Act.

But supporters are passionate about the wolf and what it symbolizes.

I’m certainly not anti-hunting. I was born and raised a hunter and fully support legal, ethical hunting

 practices as a scientific tool to better manage game
 species that would otherwise quickly expand beyond their biological carrying capacity.

But I am, as I imagine many outdoor enthusiasts are, fascinated by the wolf.

There are real and valid concerns.

Having wolves in our midst would change some things.

While documented attacks on humans are incredibly rare, just like with the grizzly bear and mountain lion,

 wolf attacks do happen.

For a long time, it was largely reported that no human had ever been killed by a healthy, wild wolf on the

North American continent. Wolf-hybrids, which are kept as pets by some people, and rabid wolves have been
known to attack people.

That all changed in the last few years.

Ontario college student was killed by wolves in Sakatchewan in 2005 at a remote camp. There were some
 questions as to whether the man was actually a victim of wolves, or perhaps a bear, but after detailed analysis
 of the case and based on reports of wolves in the area that seemed to have lost their fear of humans, wolves were
 listed as the official culprit.

Then, just a few months ago, a young woman was killed by a pack of wolves in southwest
Alaska, throwing gasoline
 on the wolf debate.

Alaska and Canada were the only places in North America wolves could be legally hunted until some limited
 and tightly controlled hunts were offered in some northern Rocky Mountain states this past year.

The recent decision to deny the permit that would have designated gray wolves in
Vermont, New York, New Hampshire,
Massachusetts and Maine as a distinct population segment under the Endangered Species Act doesn’t sit well with advocates of the wolf.

In a press release, Mollie Matteson of the Center for Biological Diversity said the only thing stopping the return of the wolf in the region is leadership.

“There is extensive habitat for wolves in the Northeast,” Matteson said. “The only obstacle to the return of the wolf in the Northeast is leadership

 and a clear plan for their recovery. Wolves need a national recovery plan that plans for their recovery in the Northeast and elsewhere.”

Wolves were extirpated in the Northeast a century ago, but there have been several documented cases of individuals in the region.

In fact, there have been eight wolves killed in the Northeast in the last 50 years.

The most recent came in 2007, when a male gray wolf was killed in western
Massachusetts. Officials say the wolf most likely traveled south
 from Quebec, Canada.

In 2006, a farmer shot an animal in northern
Vermont that was determined to have DNA from two separate, geographically distinct, wolf populations,
 but was most likely captive bred, according to genetic testing conducted at four laboratories.

To be considered a population, there would have to be at least two breeding pairs each successfully raising at least two young in two consecutive years.

The potentially exists in pockets of the Northeast.
New York’s Adirondack Park and the upper regions of border states are all sparsely populated with vast stretches of suitable habitat.

One study suggested the Northeast could support a wolf population of 1,200 to 1,800 wolves.

But the biggest question isn’t the biological carrying capacity of the area, but the social carrying capacity.

Just how many wolves would residents of the region put up with?

That question isn’t yet answered, and for now, thanks to the FWS decision, won’t be any time soon.

I, for one, would relish a chance to hear the howl of a pack of wild wolves when sitting by a campfire at night.

@Body tagline:Contact Darren by e-mail at or through his website at