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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, March 31, 2011

Grizzly Population in British Columbia, Canada cannot sustain losing 300 to 600 bears each year to legal and poached trophy hunting.................More protected reserves have to be created(especially in Southern B.C. where a high % of the deaths are occurring) if our largest emblematic species of Western North America is to persist into the forever

Government data reveals hundreds of B.C. grizzlies killed by humans in 2010

    Government data reveals hundreds of B.C. grizzlies killed by humans in 2010
    New government data shows that more than 300 grizzly bears were killed in British Columbia last year, mostly as a result of trophy hunting. Released by the David Suzuki Foundation at the start of B.C.'s spring bear hunt, official government records indicate 317 grizzlies died at the hands of humans in 2010. Almost four out of five of these deaths were attributed to the legal trophy hunting of grizzly bears.
    "British Columbia is one of the last safe havens for grizzlies in North America, however, these bears are consistently threatened by human activity such as resource extraction and trophy hunting," said Dr. Faisal Moola, Director of Terrestrial Conservation and Science at the David Suzuki Foundation.
    The number of grizzlies killed last year is slightly less than previous years (an average of 339 bears have been killed annually since 1976). However, research conducted by provincial government biologists indicates that up to 100 per cent more bears are killed by humans than are officially reported, largely as a result of illegal poaching. This means grizzly mortality for 2010 may be up to double what the government records indicate.
    Grizzly bears have already been eliminated or are currently threatened in 18 per cent of the province, including the Lower Mainland and most of the Interior. In an effort to protect the remaining grizzlies, the David Suzuki Foundation is calling on the provincial government to work with First Nations and others to implement a network of Grizzly Bear Management Areas (GBMAs) as part of its stated commitment to protect grizzlies across B.C.
    "What we're calling for are essentially "bear parks" – big areas where grizzlies can feed, breed and roam away from the threat of human activity," said Dr. Moola. "Industrial development and roads would be strictly controlled, and trophy hunting would be off-limits in these designated areas. They would also be connected through undeveloped corridors that allow grizzlies to move across the landscape, which is key to their survival."
    The David Suzuki Foundation's recommendation for expanded protection for grizzlies received the support of professional bear biologist Wayne McCrory, whose work with the Valhalla Wilderness Society helped to establish Canada's only grizzly bear sanctuary in the Khutzeymateen Valley in the Great Bear Rainforest. The sanctuary is co-managed by the Tsimshian Nation and the province.
    "I was part of the government's first Grizzly Bear Scientific Advisory Committee that recommended the B.C. government reduce human-caused mortality and provide better habitat protection for bears," McCrory said. "I'm disappointed that the science-based solutions we recommended, such as new Grizzly Bear Management Areas where no hunting would be allowed, have not been adequately implemented to date. Consequently, the survival of B.C.'s grizzlies is in jeopardy."
    Most human-caused grizzly bear mortality is a result of legal trophy hunting, poaching, human-bear conflicts, and collisions with trains and vehicles. Indirect causes of bear mortality include habitat destruction (industrial, recreational and urban development in places bears frequent), habitat fragmentation (road building that interferes with bear movement between habitat patches), and increasing motorized access into grizzly bear habitat, which results in more human-bear conflicts. 
    The David Suzuki Foundation obtained its grizzly mortality data from the B.C. Fish and Wildlife Branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. This government agency has maintained an annual record of human-caused grizzly bear deaths since the 1970s as part of its Compulsory Inspection Database. British Columbia recently established three no-hunting reserves for grizzly bears, called GBMAs, in the Great Bear Rainforest at the request of conservationists and First Nations. The David Suzuki Foundation believes this is an important step, and is encouraging the government to meet its commitment for other no-hunting reserves in the rest of B.C., including management zones in the south and interior of the province, where records show most bears are being killed.

    A Plea for Science to outweigh Politics coming from nearly 1300 USA Biologists.............their letter seeking the U.S. Senate to immediately cease circumvection of the Endangered Species Act relating to delisting Wolves

    March 30, 2011

    Dear Senators:

    As scientists with expertise in biological systems, we are writing to urge you to vote against any
    legislation that would undercut the use of best available science as the basis for adding or removingany particular species from the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Allowing Congress toremove or add protections for particular species would set a dangerous precedent, as the fate ofevery species on the endangered species list (or any candidate for that list) would then be subject topolitical interference.

    Because of its strong scientific foundation, the Endangered Species Act is the most critical and
    successful law for ensuring the protection of threatened and endangered wildlife in our country.
    Objective scientific information and methods should be used in listing or delisting species,
    subspecies, and distinct population segments as endangered or threatened. While non-scientific
    factors may appropriately be considered at points later in the process, their use in listing decisions is
    inconsistent with the biologically defensible principles of the Endangered Species Act.

    We are aware that there are legislative attempts to remove individual species from the EndangeredSpecies Act. For example, congressional proposals to delist the gray wolf forgo scientificdetermination of whether the species, or populations of the species, have recovered and whether

    sufficient regulatory mechanisms are in place to ensure the species' survival. In the northern RockyMountains the return of wolves has restored key predator-prey dynamics in and around YellowstoneNational Park that have resulted in changes throughout the entire ecosystem. To remove protectionsfor wolves before the best available science tells us recovery is ensured would place one of ourcountry's greatest conservation success stories at risk.
    Biological diversity provides food, fiber, medicines, clean water, and myriad other ecosystem
    products and services on which we depend every day. To undermine the careful and thoughtful
    scientific process that determines whether a species is endangered or recovered would jeopardize
    not only the species in question and the continued success of the Endangered Species Act, but the
    very foundation of the ecosystems that sustain us all.

    We strongly urge you to oppose any legislation that circumvents the use of best available science inEndangered Species Act decision making.


    Michael Barbour, M.S.
    Database Manager
    Alabama Natural Heritage Program
    Auburn University, AL
    Luben Dimov, Ph.D.
    Department of Natural Resources & Environmental
    Alabama A&M University
    Huntsville, AL
    Sarah Duncan
    Doctoral Candidate
    University of Alabama
    Tuscaloosa, AL
    William Gates, M.S.
    Wildlife Biologist
    Madison, AL
    Susan Hunter
    Master's Candidate
    Auburn University
    Auburn, AL
    Robert Lawton, Ph.D.
    Huntsville, AL
    Nichole Mattheus
    Master's Candidate
    University of Alabama
    Tuscaloosa, AL
    Kenneth Ward, Ph.D.
    Academic Program Coordinator
    Department of Natural Resources & Environmental
    Alabama A&M University
    Huntsville, AL
    William Armbruster, Ph.D.
    Senior Research Scientist
    Institute of Arctic Biology
    University of Alaska
    Fairbanks, AK
    Leslie Cornick, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor
    Department of Environmental Science
    Alaska Pacific University
    Wasilla, AK
    Duane Howe, D.V.M.
    Homer, AK
    Christa Mulder, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor
    Department of Biology & Wildlife
    University of Alaska, Fairbanks
    Fairbanks, AK
    Andrea Repetto
    Master's Candidate
    University of Alaska Fairbanks
    Fairbanks, AK
    Derek Sikes, Ph.D.
    Curator of Insects
    University of Alaska Museum
    Fairbanks, AK
    Stephen Stringham, Ph.D.
    Bear Viewing Association
    Soldotna, AK
    Stephen Stringham, Ph.D.
    WildWatch LLC
    Soldotna, AK
    Lynn Wilbur
    Master's Candidate
    Sitka, AK
    Bruce Wright, Ph.D.
    Senior Scientist
    Conservation Sci

    A Letter from 1,293 Scientists with Expertise in Biological Systems to the United States Senate
    Concerning Science and the Endangered Species Act

    When you bait your property with hay and other foodstuffs to attract deer and Elk, you are also going to bring in the bears, wolves, coyotes, bobcats, lynx and Cougars.............Take a look at the pic below of a Cougar caught on webcam North of Spokane, Washington................lured to a location by the hay barrel deposited as deer bait

     Mountain lions don't eat hay, but this veggie bar spready out near Chewelah this winter likely attracted plenty of deer. 

    Cougars like an all-you-can eat buffet deal as much as anyone.
    This photo is amon several snapped of cougars in February and March by a motion-activated camera about 45 miles north of Spokane.

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    Helen McGinnis at COUGAR REWILDING sent me this informative article on Missouri Fish and Wildlife Officials who are getting a "workout" identifying the wolves and Cougars that are now turning up with regularity in "THE SHOW ME STATE"...........Wolves from the Great Lakes and Dakota(and perhaps Utah) to make Missouri home.........Wildlife officials feel that within a decade, it is possible that females of both species might join prospecting males and indeed re-colonize their former haunts

    DNA Tests Shed Light on MO Cougar, Wolf Sightings

    By Jim Low, Missouri Dept. of Conservation
    Analysis of DNA and other physical evidence is helping biologists learn more about unusual wildlife sightings that have occurred in Missouri in recent months.
    The string of sightings began Nov. 13 with the shooting of what appeared to be an unusually large coyote in Carroll County. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) sought DNA tests to clarify the animal's identity. Scientists sometimes can determine where an animal came from by comparing its DNA with DNA samples from animals of the same species from different areas. The first round of testing compared DNA from the 104-pound canine to that of western timber wolves. The tests showed a poor match with western wolves but did confirm the presence of coyote DNA.  However, further testing linked the animal to timber wolves.
    "Coyotes seldom get bigger than 30 pounds in Missouri," said MDC Resource Scientist Jeff Beringer. "A coyote weighing more than 100 pounds just didn't seem credible. Wolves are known to interbreed with domestic dogs and coyotes, so we had further testing done to look for evidence of that, and we found it."
    The second round of DNA tests compared the Carroll County canine's DNA with samples from timber wolves from the Great Lake states of Minnesota, Wisconsin or Michigan. This time, the tests found a close match. Wolves from that area are known to have coyote DNA in their genes. This accounts for the match with coyote DNA in the initial tests. "Lots of people were skeptical when we announced results from the first round of testing," said Beringer. "We were too. But when you are trying to unravel a biological puzzle like this one, you take things one step at a time and go where the science leads you. This animal appeared to be very different from the western wolf samples it was compared with, but when we compared it with wolf DNA from the Great Lake states we found a match."
    When asked how a Great Lakes wolf got to Missouri, Beringer noted that wolves from northern states have turned up in Missouri before. The most recent case occurred in 2001. It involved an 80-pound timber wolf killed by a landowner in Grundy County. The man mistook the wolf for a coyote, but discovered his mistake when he found the animal wore a radio collar and an ear tag linking it to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, more than 600 miles away. He notified MDC, which was able to confirm its origin with Michigan officials.
    Missouri's other recent news about large carnivores consists of six confirmed sightings of mountain lions (Puma concolor), also known as cougars, since November. MDC verified three of those sightings – in Platte, Linn and St. Louis counties – with photos. MDC obtained hair from the cat photographed in Platte County, but DNA tests on the hair were only able to confirm that the animal was a mountain lion. "We already knew that," said Beringer. "The gentleman who saw it got photos that conclusively proved it was a mountain lion. We hoped DNA from the hair would enable us to learn where the animal came from, but hair is a poor source of DNA, and there just wasn't enough to tell us more."
    Two confirmed sightings involved mountain lions that were shot by hunters, one on Dec. 31 and one on Jan. 15. With ample tissue for testing on these two animals, the DNA results were more revealing. Both had DNA consistent with mountain lions from South Dakota or northwestern Nebraska. Beringer said mountain lions from northwestern Nebraska and the Black Hills region of South Dakota are so closely related, it is almost impossible to distinguish between them.
    Beringer said MDC uses other physical evidence to learn about mountain lions when their bodies are available for examination. Based on the condition of teeth and residual dark barring on their legs, the two male cougars shot by hunters were identified as being young animals. "That is consistent with the theory that the cats we are seeing in Missouri are subadult males dispersing from their original home areas," said Beringer.
    Examination of the bodies of the two hunter-killed cats showed no evidence of them having been held in captivity. The stomach of the 115-pound cougar from Ray County was empty. The 128-pound cat from Macon County had eaten a rabbit. Both were in good physical condition.
    The most recent confirmed sighting occurred in Oregon County March 9. That cat left a tuft of hair on a barbed-wire fence after crossing the road in front of a motorist. MDC retrieved the hair, and testing at the University of Missouri confirmed it as a mountain lion. Further testing is planned to learn more about the Oregon County cougar's relationship to mountain lions from other areas.
    One of the more intriguing but still unexplained twists to Missouri's recent mountain lion sightings is the fact that a cougar photographed with a trail camera Dec. 29 in Linn County appears to have been wearing a radio-tracking collar. The shape of the collar's antenna suggests that it is a VHF transmitter, rather than one of the newer GPS collars that enable wildlife researchers to track animals' movements continuously via satellites. "I have made a lot of calls to other states trying to identify that animal, but so far my only lead is a missing, collared, subadult male from Utah. That would be one heck of a move – but not impossible," said Beringer. He noted that collars of the type the Linn County mountain lion was wearing have a short range, and their batteries eventually wear out. The transmitter might have been out of service before the cat left the area where it was collared, leaving the researcher who was tracking it unaware of its departure.
    The March 9 sighting brings the number of verified Missouri mountain lion reports to 16. The first of these modern-day sightings was in 1994. Prior to that, the last confirmed sighting dates back to when the species was extirpated, in the early 20th century. Confirmed cougar sightings have been infrequent in recent decades. The spate of six confirmed sightings in four months surprised even experts like Beringer. He said the uptick in sightings could be a hint of things to come.
    "Nebraska went from where we are now – having occasional verified sightings of dispersing animals – to having a breeding population in the space of 10 years. Young male mountain lions are the ones that most often leave their home areas, but I think it is realistic to expect that females will arrive here eventually. We need to be thinking about what we will do if mountain lions establish a breeding population here at some point in the future."
    Beringer noted that what is happening with mountain lions today is similar to what has been happening with bears for several decades. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission restored black bears (Ursus americanus) to that state starting in 1958. As bears filled up suitable habitat in Arkansas, a few individuals began dispersing north into Missouri. Today, the Show-Me State has a breeding population of bears, and MDC is developing strategies for managing the species.
    MDC's current policy regarding mountain lions, approved by the Missouri Conservation Commission in 2006, is not to encourage the establishment of a breeding population of mountain lions. The state's Wildlife Code protects mountain lions. However, it also allows people to kill any mountain lion that is attacking or killing livestock or domestic animals or threatening human safety. Anyone who kills a mountain lion must report it to MDC immediately and turn over the intact carcass, including the pelt, within 24 hours. The same applies to wolves and bears.
    "The return of these long-absent predators is exciting to many Missourians," said Beringer, "but it is frightening to others. Much of the fear is simply due to unfamiliarity. These animals are naturally shy of people and seldom cause problems, even in states that have thriving breeding populations." Beringer said contrasting the frequency of mountain lion attacks with more familiar dangers helps put the risk in perspective. For example, more than 50,000 people die in automobile accidents in the United States annually, and 86 people are killed by lightning. In contrast, deaths from mountain lion attacks have averaged one every seven years since 1890.
    "Having mountain lions around again seems scarier than it really is because it's new," said Beringer. "But it would be a terrible pity if people let that keep them from enjoying the outdoors. We don't let fear of traffic accidents or lightning keep us indoors. We shouldn't let fear of predators scare us unnecessarily either." The Conservation Department set up the Mountain Lion Response Team in 1996 to track cougar sightings and investigate those instances where physical evidence – such as photos, video, footprints, scat or hair – exists. To report a sighting, contact any MDC office or conservation agent, or send email to

    Oregon is now wrestling with how to manage(read kill) their resurgent wolf population...... The Cattleman Association is "willing to live with wolves" as long as they can "protect themselves" from the critters...................Better that bills be readied that require ranchers to learn the best husbandry practices possible to discourage wolf depredations.............The bill below that I have real trouble with is #3561 that states that after just 4 breeding pairs of Wolves are established ,,,,,,,,,,,,Lobos can be delisted from State protections............4 Pairs..............Geez Louise, are you guys kidding?..........Shall we only allow 4 families of humans in all of Oregon and delist all other people and allow for their removal?????????????

    Right to kill wolves before House panel

    The right to kill wolves
    Natural Resource News Note:
    The wolf issue is expected to take center stage in an Oregon Legislative House Committee that plans to have a hearing on four wolf related bills.    Oregon Cattlemen's Association President Bill Hoyt,  said to the Associated Press, "It appears that the political and cultural will of the state of Oregon is to have wolves, and we have no problem with that.  We don't want to kill every wolf that walks. We simply want to get along as well as we can. But if there is a conflict, we need to be able to defend ourselves.
    Here are the four bills.
    House Bill 3013:
     Directs State Fish and Wildlife Commission to establish wolf depredation compensation and cost-sharing program for purposes of compensating persons who suffer loss or injury due to wolf depredation and providing financial assistance to persons who implement livestock management techniques or nonlethal wolf control techniques designed to discourage wolf depredation of livestock. Creates Wolf Management Compensation and Proactive Trust Fund and continuously appropriates fund moneys for purpose of providing compensation and financial assistance under program. Appropriates moneys from General Fund for purposes of program. Declares emergency, effective on passage.  Read HB 3013.
    House bill 3561 Directs State Fish and Wildlife Commission to update Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management Plan to establish population objective of four breeding pairs of gray wolves for state. Specifies that when population objective is met, commission may not list gray wolf as threatened species or endangered species. House bill 3561
    House Bill 3562
    Provides that person may take gray wolf in certain situations.
    Read House Bill 3562
    House Bill 3563
    Allows person to take gray wolf in certain situations without cause and without permit from State Fish and Wildlife Commission.
    Read House Bill 3563

    Alberta, Canada seeking multi-year protection for it's declining Grizzly population and Griz in the Cabinet-Purcell Mountains spanning Northwest Montana and British Columbia might get additional protection through a critical 258 acre wildlife corridor purchase by Environmental Groups

    Alberta Wilderness Association calls for 5-year suspension on grizzly bear hunt

    CALGARY – The Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) is asking the Alberta government to once again suspend the hunting of grizzly bears to protect the threatened species. Alberta's spring grizzly hunt was stopped for three years beginning in 2006 but since that it has been suspended on a year-by-year basis. No decision has been announced for 2011.
    AWA is asking the province for the hunt suspension to be extended for a further five years at minimum. "The fact that Alberta even considers hunting its endangered species each year is startling," says Nigel Douglas, AWA conservation specialist.  "Even if the bears get a reprieve this year, it is frustrating to know that this 'Will they? Won't they?' game is going to be played out next year and the year after that and year after that."Grizzly bears were designated as a threatened species in 2010.
    AWA says grizzlies in Alberta continue to die at an unsustainable rate due to factors outside of hunting, including motorized vehicle access to their habitat. An estimated 29 bears died in 2010, equalling approximately 4.2 per cent of the total population in Alberta. According to the province's 2010 report, Status of the Alberta Grizzly Bear in Alberta, a 2.8 per cent mortality rate is considered 'sustainable.'AWA says allowing the grizzly hunt will make an already difficult problem even worse.

    In brief: Groups seek funds for grizzly habitat

     Conservation groups are trying to raise $1.5 million to secure grizzly migration corridors in the Cabinet-Purcell Mountains. The groups have purchase options on two parcels, totaling 258 acres, near Troy and Noxon, Mont. The parcels were identified as critical grizzly use areas based on wildlife studies and computer modeling done by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Trans-border Grizzly Bear Project, said Ryan Lutey, lands director for the Vital Ground Foundation, which would manage the lands. Both parcels are located in valley bottoms.
    About 35 to 45 grizzly bears are believed to remain in the Cabinet-Purcell Mountains, which span 2,600-square miles in northwest Montana and southern British Columbia. Protecting migration routes will help grizzlies avoid conflicts with people and survive in an era of climate change, Lutey said.
    Vital Ground is collaborating with the Alberta-based Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative on the project.

    Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    In the issue of Forest and Stream of June 14, 1888, Dr. R. W. Shufeldt, in an article entitled "The American Buffalo," relates a very interesting experience with buffaloes which were pronounced to be of the "mountain" variety.........The North American wood buffalo, Bison bison athabascae, commonly exceeded its plains cousin in size, with bulls exceeding twenty-five hundred pounds and cows weighing in at sixteen hundred pounds. Formerly, the wood buffalo inhabited much of the montane regions of North America. The wood buffalo's traditional habitat ran from the Great Slave Lake in Canada south along the spine of the Rockies into northern Mexico. From East to West, the wood buffalo roamed the foothills of the Front Range, spilling over into the great river valleys of the Rockies, across the Continental Divide, and into the varied habitats of the Great Plateau, the Southwest, the Great Basin, and the Pacific Rim states. In 1872 the territorial legislature enacted legislation to regulate the hunting of mountain bison (i.e. wood buffalo), however, the animal was, by that time, all but extinct in Montana. Today, many authorities argue that the wood buffalo as a unique sub-species is extinct, as the last pure-bred population, the herd at Canada's Wood Buffalo National Parks, was cross-bred with plains bison in the 1920s......Following are historical diary accounts of the Wood Bison...........

    The "Wood," or "Mountain" Buffalo.
    Having myself never seen a specimen of the so called "mountain buffalo" or "wood buffalo," which some writers accord the rank of a distinct variety, I can only quote the descriptions of others. While most Rocky Mountain hunters consider the bison of the mountains quite distinct from that of the plains, it must be remarked that no two authorities quite agree in regard to the distinguishing characters of the variety they recognize. Colonel Dodge states that "His body is lighter, whilst his legs are shorter, but much thicker and stronger, than the plains animal, thus enabling him to perform feats of climbing and tumbling almost incredible in such a huge and unwieldy beast."

    The belief in the existence of a distinct mountain variety is quite common amongst hunters and frontiersmen all along the eastern slope the Rocky Mountains as far north as the Peace River. In this connection the following from Professor Henry Youle Hind] is of general interest:

    "The existence of two kinds of buffalo is firmly believed by many hunters at Red River; they are stated to be the prairie buffalo and the buffalo of the woods. Many old hunters with whom I have conversed on this subject aver that the so-called wood buffalo is a distinct species, and although they are not able to offer scientific proofs, yet the difference in size, color, hair, and horns, are enumerated as the evidence upon which they base their statement. Men from their youth familiar with these animals in the great plains, and the varieties which are frequently met with in large herds, still cling to this opinion. The buffalo of the plains are not always of the dark and rich bright brown which forms their characteristic color. They are sometimes seen from white to almost black, and a gray buffalo is not at all uncommon. Buffalo emasculated by wolves are often found on the prairies, where they grow to an immense size; the skin of the buffalo ox is recognized by the shortness of the wool and by its large dimensions. The skin of the so-called wood buffalo is much larger than that of the common animal, the hair is very short, mane or hair about the neck short and soft, and altogether destitute of curl, which is the common feature in the hair or wool of the prairie animal. Two skins of the so-called wood buffalo, which I saw at Selkirk Settlement, bore a very close resemblance to the skin of the Lithuanian bison, judging from the specimens of that species which I have since had an opportunity of seeing in the British Museum.

    "The wood buffalo is stated to be very scarce, and only found north of the Saskatchewan and on the flanks of the Rocky Mountains. It never ventures into the open plains. The prairie buffalo, on the contrary, generally avoids the woods in summer and keeps to the open country; but in winter they are frequently found in the woods of the Little Souris, Saskatchewan, the Touchwood Hills, and the aspen groves on the Qu'Appelle. There is no doubt that formerly the prairie buffalo ranged through open woods almost as much as he now does through the prairies."


    Mr. Harrison S. Young, an officer of the Hudson's Bay Fur Company, stationed at Fort Edmonton, writes me as follows in a letter dated October 22, 1887: "In our district of Athabasca nearthe Salt River, there are still a few wood buffalo killed every year; but they are fast diminishing in numbers, and are also becoming very shy."
    In Prof. John Macoun's "Manitoba and the Great Northwest," page 342, there occurs the following reference to the wood buffalo: "In the winter of 1870 the last buffalo were killed north of Peace River; but in 1875 about one thousand head were still in existence between the Athabasca and Peace Rivers, north of Little Slave Lake. These are called wood buffalo by the hunters, but diner only in size from those of the plain."
    In the absence of facts based on personal observations, I may be permitted to advance an opinion in regard to the wood buffalo. There is some reason for the belief that certain changes of form may have taken place in the buffaloes that have taken up a permanent residence in rugged and precipitous mountain regions. Indeed, it is hardly possible to understand how such a radical change in the habitat of an animal could fail, through successive generations, to effect certain changes in the animal itself. It seems to me that the changes which would take place in a band of plains buffaloes transferred to a permanent mountain habitat can be forecast with a marked degree of certainty. The changes that take place under such conditions in cattle, swine, and goats are well known, and similar causes would certainly produce similar results in the buffalo.

    The scantier feed of the mountains, and the great waste of vital energy called for in procuring it, would hardly produce a larger buffalo than the plains-fed animal, who acquires an abundance of daily food of the best quality with but little effort.

    We should expect to see the mountain buffalo smaller in body than the plains animal, with better leg development, and particularly with stronger hind quarters. The pelvis of the plains buffalo is surprisingly small and weak for so large an animal. Beyond question, constant mountain climbing is bound to develop a maximum of useful muscle and bone and a minimum of useless fat. If the loss of mane sustained by the African lions who live in bushy localities may be taken as an index, we should expect the bison of the mountains, especially the "wood buffalo," to lose a great deal of his shaggy frontlet and mane on the bushes and trees which surrounded him. Therefore, we would naturally expect to find the hair on those parts shorter and in far less perfect condition than on the bison of the treeless prairies. By reason of the more shaded condition of his home, and the decided mitigation of the sun's fierceness, we should also expect to see his entire pelage of a darker tone. That he would acquire a degree of agility and strength unknown in his relative of the plain is reasonably certain. In the course of many centuries the change in his form might become well defined, constant, and conspicuous; but at present there is apparently not the slightest ground for considering that the "mountain buffalo" or "wood buffalo" is entitled to rank even as a variety of Bison americanus.

    Colonel Dodge has recorded some very interesting information in regard to the "mountain, or wood buffalo," which deserves to be quoted entire.

    "In various portions of the Rocky Mountains, especially in the region of the parks, is found an animal which old mountaineers call the 'bison.' This animal bears about the same relation to a plains buffalo as a sturdy mountain pony does to an American horse. His body is lighter, whilst his legs are shorter, but much thicker and stronger, than the plains animal, thus enabling him to perform feats of climbing and tumbling almost incredible in such a huge and apparently unwieldy beast. "These animals are by no means plentiful, and are moreover excessively shy, inhabiting the deepest, darkest defiles, or the craggy, almost precipitous, sides of mountains inaccessible to any but the most practiced mountaineers.

    "From the tops of the mountains which rim the parks the rains of ages have cut deep gorges, which plunge with brusque abruptness, but nevertheless with great regularity, hundreds or even thousands of feet to the valley below. Down the bottom of each such gorge a clear, cold stream of purest water, fertilizing a narrow belt of a few feet of alluvial, and giving birth and growth, to a dense jungle of spruce, quaking asp, and other mountain trees. One side of the gorge is generally a thick forest of pine, while the other side is a meadow-like park, covered with splendid grass. Such gorges are the favorite haunt of the mountain buffalo. Early in the morning he enjoys a bountiful breakfast of the rich nutritious grasses, quenches his thirst with the finest water, and, retiring just within the line of jungle, where, himself unseen, he can scan the open, he crouches himself in the long grass and reposes in comfort and security until appetite calls him to his dinner late in the evening. Unlike their plains relative, there is no stupid staring at an intruder. At the first symptom of danger they disappear like magic in the thicket, and never stop until far removed from even the apprehension of pursuit. I have many times come upon their fresh tracks, upon the beds from which they had first sprung in alarm, but I have never even seen one.

    "I have wasted much time and a great deal of wind in vain endeavors to add one of these animals to my bag. My figure is no longer adapted to mountain climbing, and the possession of a bison's head of my own killing is one of my blighted hopes."Several of my friends have been more fortunate, but I know of no sportsman who has bagged more than one.3

    "Old mountaineers and trappers have given me wonderful accounts of the number of these animals in all the mountain region 'many years ago;' and I have been informed by them, that their present rarity is due to the great snow-storm of 1844-'45, of which I have already spoken as destroying the plains buffalo in the Laramie country.

    "One of my friends, a most ardent and pertinacious sportsman, determined on the possession of a bison's head, and, hiring a guide, plunged into the mountain wilds which separate the Middle from South Park. After several days fresh tracks were discovered. Turning their horses loose on a little gorge park, such as described, they started on foot on the trail; for all that day they toiled and scrambled with the utmost caution-now up, now down, through deep and narrow gorges and pine thickets, over bare and rocky crags, sleeping where night overtook them. Betimes next morning they pushed on the trail, and about 11 o'clock, when both were exhausted and well-nigh disheartened, their route was intercepted by a precipice. Looking over, they descried, on a projecting ledge several hundred feet below, a herd of about 20 bisons lying down. The ledge was about 300 feet at widest, by probably 1,000 feet long. Its inner boundary was the wall of rock on the top of which they stood; its outer appeared to be a sheer precipice of at least 200 feet. This ledge was connected with the slope of the mountain by a narrow neck. The wind being right, the hunters succeeded in reaching this neck unobserved. My friend selected a magnificent head, that of a fine bull, young but full grown, and both fired. At the report the bisons all ran to the far end of the ledge and plunged over.

    "Terribly disappointed, the hunters ran to the spot, and found that they had gone down a declivity, not actually a precipice, but so steep that the hunters could not follow them.

    "At the foot lay a bison. A long, a fatiguing detour brought them to the spot, and in the animal lying dead before him my friend recognized his bull-his first and last mountain buffalo. Hone but a true sportsman can appreciate his feelings.

    "The remainder of the herd was never seen after the great plunge, down which it is doubtful if even a dog could have followed unharmed."

    In the issue of Forest and Stream of June 14, 1888, Dr. R. W. Shufeldt, in an article entitled "The American Buffalo," relates a very interesting experience with buffaloes which were pronounced to be of the "mountain" variety, and his observations on the animals are well worth reproducing here. The animals (eight in number) were encountered on the northern slope of the Big Horn Mountains, in the autumn of 1877. "We came upon them during a fearful blizzard of heavy hail, during which our animals could scarcely retain their feet. In fact, the packer's mule absolutely lay down on the ground rather than risk being blown down the mountain side, and my own horse, totally unable to face such a violent blow and the pelting hail (the stones being as large as big marbles), positively stood stock-still, facing an old buffalo bull that was not more than 25 feet in front of me. Strange to say, this fearful gust did not last more than ten minutes, when it stopped as suddenly as it had commenced, and I deliberately killed my old buffalo at one shot, just where he stood, and, separating two other bulls from the rest, charged them down a rugged ravine. They passed over this and into another one, but with less precipitous sides and no trees in the way, and when I was on top of the intervening ridge I noticed that the largest bull had halted in the bottom. Checking my horse, an excellent buffalo hunter, I fired down at him without dismounting. The ball merely barked his shoulder, and to my infinite surprise he turned and charged me up the hill. Stepping to one side of my horse, with the charging and infuriated bull not 10 feet to my front, I fired upon him, and the heavy ball took him square in the chest, bringing him to his knees, with a gush of scarlet blood from his mouth and nostrils.

    "Upon examining the specimen, I found it to be an old bull, apparently smaller and very much blacker than the ones I had seen killed on the plains only a day or so before. Then I examined the first one I had shot, as well as others which were killed by the packer from the same bunch, and I came to the conclusion that they were typical representatives of the variety known as the 'mountain buffalo,' a form much more active in movement, of slighter limbs, blacker, and far more dangerous to attack. My opinion in the premises remains unaltered to-day. In all this I may be mistaken, but it was also the opinion held by the old buffalo hunter who accompanied me, and who at once remarked when he saw them that they were 'mountain buffalo,' and not the plains variety.

    "These specimens were not actually measured by me in either case, and their being considered smaller only rested upon my judging them by my eye. But they were of a softer pelage, black, lighter in limb, and when discovered were in the timber, on the side of the Big Horn Mountains."

    The band of bison in the Yellowstone Park must, of necessity, be of the so-called "wood" or "mountain" variety, and if by any chance one of its members ever dies of old age, it is to be hoped its skin may be carefully preserved and sent to the National Museum to throw some further light on this question

    The longest studied Wolves in the world, the Mt. Isle Royale National Park Wolves in Lake Superior are in danger of blinking out......Perhaps only two adult females of breeding age are left on the island.....Do we do what was done in Florida where some Texas Cougars were imported into the Gator State to improve the gene pool of our wild cats.............Or do we hope that a natural rebound effect kicks in with the remaining female adult wolves which enables them to produce larger broods of pups?.......Nature versus Nurture..........what would you do?

    Female Shortage Endangers Wolves

    TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — After surviving a parvovirus epidemic, bitter winters, hunger and warfare between packs, the gray wolves that roam Michigan's Isle Royale National Park may go extinct because of what amounts to an unlucky roll of the biological dice: They're running out of females as the overall population slides.
    The number of wolves on the Lake Superior island chain dropped to 16 over the past year, according to a Michigan Tech University tracking report obtained by The Associated Press. Scientists who study the predator-prey relationship between wolves and moose say the number of wolves is the lowest since 1998, when it hit 14 following a huge moose die-off that left the wolves short of food. Earlier that decade, the parvovirus-decimated total was a dozen after peaking at 50 in the early 1980s.
    They've always bounced back from such calamities since their ancestors migrated to Isle Royale across an ice bridge from Canada more than six decades ago, producing new generations that defied tough odds imposed by the harsh climate and geographical isolation. But this time, their prospects for reproduction are in serious doubt. Genetic analysis of their droppings, which scientists have dutifully collected and preserved, suggests the 16 remaining wolves include just one or two adult females.
    "If both of them were to die before successfully raising pups, that would be the end," John Vucetich, a Michigan Tech wildlife biologist, said Tuesday. "The population would persist for a few years but its fate would almost certainly be sealed." Random chance appears to be the only reason for the gender imbalance, Vucetich said, adding that researchers believe the long-term ratio has been fairly evenly split. Animal populations that remain small for many years can go through periods when the male-female ratio is skewed. The Isle Royale wolf population has averaged about 23.
    Their plight resurrects a question that has been debated over the years: whether to bring in more wolves from the mainland. Vucetich and Michigan Tech colleague Rolf Peterson say it's time to consider the matter more seriously in view of a recent discovery: A male wolf made its way to the island from Canada in the late 1990s, sired offspring and reinvigorated the gene pool. Previously, it was believed that the wolves' only migration to Isle Royale happened in the late 1940s.  The park is 15 miles from the Ontario shore, far enough to prevent other species such as deer and coyotes from arriving and complicating the wolf-moose relationship. But it's just close enough for moose to have swum to the island around the turn of the last century.
    Moose give wolves a steady food source. Wolves help prevent moose from starving themselves by over-browsing vegetation at the park, which consists of one 45-mile-long island and 450 smaller ones.  Scientists began observing their interactions in 1958. Vucetich and Peterson now lead what has become one of the world's longest-running studies of a relationship between predator and prey species in a closed environment.
    Wolves that survive to adulthood usually live only four to six years. Even so, Peterson and Vucetich say, things now are especially dire. Only two pups appear to have been born this winter and their condition is unknown.
    A couple of years ago, there were four packs. Two died out in 2010. This year, the strongest remaining pack — dubbed Chippewa Harbor — killed the alpha male of the rival Middle Pack, scattering its remaining members.
    That leaves just one well-organized pack for the first time in four decades. Because only the alpha male and female in a pack tend to mate, the outlook for replenishing the population is grim. "It's as precarious as it was during the parvovirus days — or more so," Peterson said.
    He and Vucetich said any decision about importing wolves from the mainland would be made by the National Park Service. The subject has come up before because inbreeding is believed to be shortening the wolves' life span and hampering reproduction.
    Some scientists have argued that because Isle Royale is a federal wilderness area where human influence is kept to a minimum, nature should take its course — even if the wolves become extinct. Others say their disappearance would harm the ecosystem. The moose population, currently estimated at 515, probably would explode if their only natural predator on the island died off, leading to depletion of vegetation such as balsam fir on which the big herbivores thrive. Peterson and Vucetich said the case for intervening may be bolstered by their research on the surprise arrival of the Canadian male wolf, discussed in an article being published Wednesday by the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.  In the paper, they say observation and genetic analysis of collected wolf droppings, or "scat," pinpoint the male's arrival to 1997. Larger and lighter-colored than the others, he became an alpha and eventually sired 34 offspring before dying in 2006. More than half the genes in the current wolf population trace back to him.
    Vucetich and Peterson had noticed the wolf during their annual winter study observation flights and dubbed him "Old Gray Guy," but hadn't realized he was a migrant until a colleague examined his preserved feces collected years ago. His positive influence suggests that introducing new members to an inbred population — which scientists call "genetic rescue" — can improve succeeding generations, although any individual's benefit probably will be short-lived, their paper says.  That's an important finding because scientists are considering genetic rescue of other species, said Phil Hedrick, an Arizona State University biologist and co-author of the paper. The importation of Texas pumas to Florida in the 1990s is regarded as a success story, helping save endangered Florida panthers. "These immigrants that come in on their own like at Isle Royale or are brought in can really change the whole population dynamic for the better, as long as it's done carefully to avoid unintended consequences such as bringing in diseased animals," Hedrick said.

    Frequent contributor to this blog, Massachusetts Eastern Coyote(Coywolf) Biologist Jon Way weighing in intelligently and passioantely on the "kill baby kill" mentality of so many Fish & Wildlife Agencies(in this case Maine) as it relates to killing Coyotes in the name of producing larger deer herds(perhaps)............I throw my vote behind limiting the undue influence the hunting community has on decisions made by FWS.............. We have to find another way of financing FWS Agencies..... If all Americans had a say in how Biologists "managed" our woods, prairies, streams, deserts and chaparral lands, perhaps we would get rewilding done based on objective Science rather than "science" governed by the "I have to be able to shoot a deer easily" mentality that is so clearly determining how many carnivores are allowed to "patrol" any given open space landscape in North America

    To Bangor Daily News
    Coyote killing plan rooted in politics not science
    As a wildlife biologist studying the eastern coyote (or coywolf, a term I better prefer for this coyote x red/eastern wolf hybrid living throughout the Northeast) I am disgusted by Maine's plan to slaughter "coyotes" in the name of deer population augmentation. I wonder if any of Maine's biologists have a scientific background when accepting this plan – or better yet, have they been muzzled by Governor LePage's new plan to "save the deer".
    Coywolves are territorial, and prevent their own numbers in a given area. They live at low densities; a couple/few for every ten square miles in Maine. Killing coyotes/coywolves immediately opens up available territories for nomadic individuals, who are constantly looking for just these type of home range openings. Thus, killing coyotes in deer yards will create a vacant area that may actually invite more coyotes to come in and kill deer than if no coyote control (i.e., killing) took place in the first place.
    Sadly, there is no science in the deer plan and no apparent mention of documenting the effects of the "aggressive, targeted coyote control". In other words, are there even protocols to monitor the effects of their actions or is Gov. LePage they just flying in the night hoping it will work. If deer do not recover, and Maine does not document the effects of slaughtering one species to supposedly save another, then shame on them to rely on politics to run wildlife management without any document science to justify this needless killing.
    It is very disturbing that this so-called deer plan seemingly involves only hunters, like George Smith, that appear through his comments to think that they own the wildlife in this state. Yet, they are a minority of the population and I bet not even all hunters support this plan. I vacation in Maine yearly and spend much of my hard earned money to see all wildlife, including predators. In fact, wildlife watching contributes more money to the state than hunting does, but hunters have all of the say because they directly fund wildlife management – this is the most undemocratic form of government that I know of. Folks like Mr. Smith should realize that many people and their dollars contribute to Maine's economy, not just deer hunters.
    Meanwhile, all state wildlife agencies seemingly ignore that coyotes (out west) and coywolves (here in the Northeast) are highly intelligent, social animals that live in family groups much like humans do. They have evolved into a perfect predator to live in the modern Northeast and its immense human population. The fact that the ethics of this "coyote" slaughter has not even been mentioned makes many, including myself, question how well thought out this politically-driven plan really is. Moreover, the state continues to deny the fact that occasional pure wolves (with no coyote genes) make it to the state and are effectively killed on sight since it is difficult to distinguish coywolves from wolves (Maine allows a year-round legal slaughter of "coyotes").
    Given the way that Maine sees their wild canid friends, not as a natural part of the environment that deserves a right to coexist with their prey, but rather a nuisance that needs to be controlled even with no scientific justification or plans to monitor, I can't help think that they are stuck in the 1950s and haven't read about the importance of all parts in a system - not just the game that a minority of Mainers hunt.
    Jonathan Way has studied eastern coyotes/coywolves in Massachusetts for over a decade and has wrote a book, Suburban Howls, documenting his research. More information can be found on his website:


    Monday, March 28, 2011

    Washington State Black Bears are emerging from their Dens...Essential to take down your bird feeders to keep these hungry Bears out of your residential neighborhoods and maintain the peace between human and Bear..............It all comes down to food..........and Garbage disposal for coexistance with wild creatures to become a reality.......

    Black Bears in Washington: Black bears are waking from their winter naps and soon will be foraging. Here are some tips for keeping the bears at bay.

    By Annie Archer
    So spring is here, trees are opening their leaf buds, bulbs are sending up shoots and the birds are heading for the feeders people so thoughtfully provide. You may want to rethink that practice. Consider this: animals much larger than birds are gorging on that seed. For black bears just waking after a long winter's nap, bird feeders are an easy, nutritional snack."The calories they can get from a bird feeder can last them five to six hours, for a meal they can get in five minutes," said Rich Beausoleil, cougar and bear specialist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. "If I could do anything it would be to get bird feeders out of people's yards."
    It's a common misconception that migrating birds need the seed, Beausoleil said. The birds need the seed during fall and winter when the bears aren't around. In spring there are plenty of natural foods for birds to snack on as plants send out new growth and berries."We put out those feeders because we want to see the birds," he said. "Well, if you're getting bears in your yard it's because you're doing something wrong, like putting out seed and hummingbird feeders."
    Bears lose half their body weight as they snooze most of the winter away. Come spring, they head out to forage, having only five months to pack on enough weight to see them through to the following spring, Beausoleil said.
    If a bear does wander into a residential area, the best recourse is to stay far away from the animal and clap your hands or blow a whistle."It'll scare the hell out of them. Those are very human sounds, foreign to a bear," Beausoleil said.
    If that doesn't get rid of them, call 911, he suggested.
    Here is a list of bear facts from WDFW:
    Bear Encounters
    Bears tend to avoid humans. However, human-habituated bears are bears that, because of prolonged exposure to people, have lost their natural fear or wariness around people. Human-food-conditioned bears are those that associate people with food. Such bears can become aggressive in their pursuit of a meal.
    Do everything you can to avoid an encounter with any bear. Prevention is the best advice. If you are recreating in bear country, always remember: Never travel alone, keep small children near you at all times, and always make your presence known—simply talking will do the trick. Most experts recommend carrying pepper spray when recreating in areas of high bear density. A pepper spray that has pepper content between 1.3 percent and 2 percent can be an effective deterrent to an aggressive bear if it is sprayed directly into the bear's face within 6 to 10 feet.
    Here are tips should you come in close contact with a bear:
    • Stop, remain calm, and assess the situation. If the bear seems unaware of you, move away quietly when it's not looking in your direction. Continue to observe the animal as you retreat, watching for changes in its behavior.
    • If a bear walks toward you, identify yourself as a human by standing up, waving your hands above your head and talking to the bear in a low voice. (Don't use the word bear because a human-food-conditioned bear might associate "bear" with food. People feeding bears often say, "Here, bear."
    • Don't throw anything at the bear and avoid direct eye contact, which the bear could interpret as a threat or a challenge.
    • If you cannot safely move away from the bear or the bear continues toward you, scare it away by clapping your hands, stomping your feet, yelling and staring the animal in the eyes. If you are in a group, stand shoulder-to shoulder and raise and wave your arms to appear intimidating. The more it persists, the more aggressive your response should be. If you have pepper spray, use it.
    • Don't run from the bear unless safety is very near and you are absolutely certain you can reach it (knowing that bears can run 35 mph). Climbing a tree is generally not recommended as an escape from an aggressive black bear, as black bears are adept climbers and may follow you up a tree.
    Bear Attacks
    • In the unlikely event a black bear attacks you (where actual contact is made), fight back aggressively using your hands, feet, legs and any object you can reach. Aim for the eyes or spray pepper spray into the bear's face.
    Preventing Conflicts
    • State wildlife offices receive hundreds of black bear complaints each year regarding urban sightings, property damage, attacks on livestock and bear/human confrontations.
    • The top reason for conflict (95 percent of the calls to offices) is the result of irresponsibility on the part of people: Access to trash, pet food, bird feeders, and improper storage of food while camping make up the majority of the calls.
    • Secondarily, young bears (especially young males) are not tolerated by adult bears and they wander into areas occupied by humans. Food may also be scarce in some years—a late spring and poor forage conditions may be followed by a poor berry crop, causing bears to seek food where they ordinarily would not.
    • If you live in areas where black bears are seen, use the following management strategies around your property to prevent conflicts:
    • Don't feed bears. Often people leave food out for bears so they can take pictures of them or show them to visiting friends. More than 90 percent of bear/human conflicts result from bears being conditioned to associate food with humans. A wild bear can become permanently food-conditioned after only one handout experience. The sad reality is that these bears will likely die, being killed by someone protecting their property, or by a wildlife manager having to remove a potentially dangerous bear
    • .
    • Manage your garbage. Bears will expend a great amount of time and energy digging under, breaking down, or crawling over barriers to get food, including garbage. If you have a pickup service, put garbage out shortly before the truck arrives—not the night before. If you're leaving several days before pickup, haul your garbage to a dump. If necessary, frequently haul your garbage to a dumpsite to avoid odors.
    • Keep garbage cans with tight-fitting lids in a shed, garage or fenced area. Spray garbage cans and dumpsters regularly with disinfectants to reduce odors. Keep fish parts and meat waste in your freezer until they can be disposed of properly.
    • If bears are common in your area, consider investing in a commercially available bear-proof garbage container. Ask a local public park about availability or search the Internet for vendors.

    Michael Kellett at RESTORE THE NORTH WOODS sent me this article on Roxanne Quimby's outstanding offer to donate 70,000 acres of her land in Maine to create a Maine Woods National Park..............Roxanne is a self made millionaire and founder of cosmetics giant BURT'S BEES which she recently sold to Clorox for $350 million.............. Roxanne is largely using these funds for land conservation...............Every State and Province in the USA and Canada should have a Roxanne Quimby.............Rewilding is her goal and we salute her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Burt's Bees Founder Wants To Donate National Park

    Map shows Maine property that owner wants to donate for a national park
    Associated Press
    Map shows Maine property that owner wants to donate for a national park

    Enlarge Associated Press
    In this photo made Jan. 28, 2011, signs welcome foot traffic but prohibits snowmobile and ATVs on land owned by Roxanne Quimby in Township 2, Range 8, Maine. Quimby, the founder of Burts Bees, wants to donate 70,000 acres to the federal government with the aim of creating a Maine Woods National Park,
    In this photo made Jan. 28, 2011, signs welcome foot traffic but prohibits snowmobile and ATVs on land owned by Roxanne Quimby in Township 2, Range 8, Maine. Quimby, the founder of Burts Bees, wants to donate 70,000 acres to the federal government with the aim of creating a Maine Woods National Park,
    Associated Press

    In this Jan. 28, 2011 photo, clouds hide the summit of Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park, in this view from land owned by Roxanne Quimby in Township 3, Range 8, Maine. Quimby, the founder of Burts Bees, wants to donate 70,000 acres east of Baxter to the federal government with the aim of creating a Maine Woods National Park.
    Associated Press
    In this Jan. 28, 2011 photo, clouds hide the summit of Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park, in this view from land owned by Roxanne Quimby in Township 3, Range 8, Maine. 
    In this March 14, 2011 photo, conservationist Roxanne Quimby poses in Portland, Maine. Quimby, the founder of Burts Bees, has been buying up land in Maine for what she hopes will one day become a national park.
    Associated Press
    In this March 14, 2011 photo, conservationist Roxanne Quimby poses in Portland, Maine. Quimby, the founder of Burts Bees, has been buying up land in Maine for what she hopes will one day become a national park.

    In this Jan. 28, 2011 photo, land purchased by Roxanne Quimby shows the scars from a logging operation under a the previous owner in Township 2, Range 7, Maine. Quimby, the founder of Burts Bees, wants to donate 70,000 acres to the federal government with the aim of creating a Maine Woods National Park,
    Associated Press
    In this Jan. 28, 2011 photo, land purchased by Roxanne Quimby shows the scars from a logging operation under a the previous owner in Township 2, Range 7, Maine. 
    , Wassataquoik Stream flows through Township 3, Range 8, MaineIn this Jan 28, 2011 photo, Wassataquoik Stream flows through Township 3, Range 8, Maine, on land owned by environmentalist Roxanne Quimby. Quimby, the founder of Burts Bees, wants to donate 70,000 acres to the federal government with the aim of creating a Maine Woods National Park,
    Associated Press

    TOWNSHIP 3, RANGE 8, Maine Maine sportsmen were outraged when Roxanne Quimby, the conservation-minded founder of Burt's Bees cosmetics, bought up tens of thousands of acres of Maine's fabled North Woods — and had the audacity to forbid hunters, loggers, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles on the expanses.

    Quimby confronted the hornet's nest she'd stirred up head-on — calling one of her sharpest critics, George Smith, then-executive director of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine. Smith couldn't believe his ears. The back-to-the-earth advocate who made millions with her eco-friendly line of personal care products was calling him at home, on a Saturday morning? "I thought someone was playing a joke on me when she called," Smith recalls. "She said, 'Hi, this is Roxanne Quimby. I said, 'Oh yeah, sure.'"
    That call in 2006 opened a face-to-face dialogue with some of her biggest critics over the land she's bought — more than 120,000 acres of woodlands.

    Quimby wants to give more than 70,000 wild acres next to Maine's cherished Baxter State Park to the federal government, hoping to create a Maine Woods National Park. She envisions a visitor center dedicated to Henry David Thoreau, the naturalist who made three trips to Maine in the 1800s.The park would be nearly twice the size of Maine's Acadia National Park.

    In a giveback to sportsmen, her vision is to set aside another 30,000 acres of woodlands north of Dover-Foxcroft to be managed like a state park, with hunting and snowmobiling allowed.
    "There's enough land that we can all get what we want," said Quimby.

    The multi-millionaire disarmed her critics, who thought they'd have to deal with a patchouli-scented eccentric. What they found was a woman who thinks big, but is a pragmatic problem-solver; someone who has strong ideals, but is willing to compromise; a self-made businesswoman who's willing to put up her own millions to achieve her conservation goals. Smith, for one, came to respect and admire her. "I was one of her harshest critics, so it's really rather remarkable," he said. "In the end, it's her land and she'll do whatever suits her. But at least she's listening."

    If she can win support, Quimby wants to time her donation in five years to the 100th anniversary of the creation of the National Park Service. It would be her gift, her legacy. The Park Service is intrigued by Quimby's idea, especially since it believes the Northeast is underserved. The last time a large national park was created was in Alaska in the 1980s during the Carter administration.

    "The National Park Service would like to see additional opportunities for preserving these beautiful places and creating recreational opportunities in the Northeast," said spokesman David Barna. "The proposal would be exciting for the National Park Service to evaluate."

    The proposed national park land occupies a wild sprawl east of Baxter State Park. Much of it is covered with saplings as it recovers from logging operations that ended five years ago. Mountain ridges offer breathtaking views of Mount Katahdin, Maine's tallest mountain and the northern end of the Appalachian Trail. At the eastern boundary is the East Branch of the Penobscot River, on which Thoreau enjoyed a ride in a flat-bottomed bateau on his last visit to the region in 1857.
    Animal tracks crisscross the snow-covered land, evidence that it's teeming with wildlife, even during Maine's harsh winter. Moose have made figure-8's in the snow during their playful jousting. Smaller tracks indicate snowshoe hares, fisher cats and coyotes. Endangered Canada lynx also prowl the area.

    A native of Massachusetts, Quimby was the black sheep of a family in which her father was an engineer and a salesman, and her sisters both earned their MBAs. Foregoing the business track, she went to art school in San Francisco, where she joined the "good life" back-to-the-land movement led by Helen and Scott Nearing.With $3,000 in savings, she and her boyfriend ended up in Maine in 1975 — not because of the state's rugged natural beauty but because the land was cheap.

    They bought 30 acres in Guilford and built a cabin with an outhouse. They cut their own firewood. What staples they didn't grow, they bought in 60-pound bags.Eventually, Quimby met beekeeper Burt Shavitz, the namesake whose bearded face appears on the labels of Burt's Bees lip balm, moisturizers and shampoos.Quimby used Burt's beeswax to create candles she sold at craft fairs in 1984. In the first year, her company made $20,000. The candles gained popularity in boutiques and specialty stores and within five years, there were 40 employees. In 1991, Burt's Bees introduced what remains its most popular product — lip balm made from beeswax.

    As the business grew, Quimby did something that stabbed at the heart of Mainers: She moved her business out of Maine, which she said was a punishing place to do business. She relocated to a windowless, climate-controlled building the size of a small Wal-Mart in a North Carolina industrial park. She eventually bought out Shavitz's shares.Quimby made plenty of money without an MBA, moving easily between the business world and her passions for art, wildlife, conservation and the environment.

    As Burt's Bees grew, she began buying land for conservation. Once again, she chose to buy in Maine.
    "It was like putting money in the bank, as far as I was concerned. I had always had the feeling this land was really priceless. You know, forestland or any kind of undeveloped land. It just seemed like, 'What a bargain. They're selling it for $200 an acre? You gotta be kidding me. It's priceless.'"

    In 2003, she sold 80 percent of Burt's Bees for $170 million, she said. The investor group told her she'd make that much again, when the remaining 20 percent was sold. And indeed, she made another $180 million when she sold her remaining stake four years later to Clorox, which now owns Burt's Bees.

    All of that money — roughly $350 million — will buy a lot of land.

    Quimby, now 60, says she always felt Maine tugging at her and later learned why. It is her spiritual home, where her forebears had settled. The Quimby name runs deep in Maine. But to many Mainers, she'll always be "from away" — Maine's expression for an outsider — because she wasn't born here. And her vast land purchases continue to make some sportsmen uneasy because she's personally opposed to hunting, and the use of noisy and oil-consuming snowmobiles and ATVs.

    Paul Reynolds, an outdoorsman and editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal, was particularly alarmed late last year when Quimby was named to the National Park Foundation, which raises money to assist park service programs and acquisitions. The post could give her influence with the Park Service.
    Reynolds believes that despite her concessions to sportsmen Quimby shouldn't be trusted because at her core she's opposed to hunting and motorized recreation. He's described her as a "clever tactician" and "a shrewd, self-made businesswoman" who knows how to get her way.

    "I'm not convinced that she's had a turn of heart," Reynolds said.Bob Meyers of the Maine Snowmobile Association sees things differently. He credits Quimby for opening a discussion with sporting groups and other stakeholders and for working to accommodate others' needs."The door kind of swung both ways. We have a pretty good relationship with her now. I think she feels the same way about us. We communicate on a regular basis. That's the way it should be," he said.

    Things have changed since Quimby first started buying land.The state's mighty paper mills have continued to struggle, and unemployment remains high. Vast tracts of land are changing hands. Seattle-based Plum Creek Timber Co. plans the largest subdivision in Maine history, smack dab in the Moosehead Lake region, part of the wilderness where Thoreau tromped.Plum Creek's development plan reminded all that large, unspoiled tracts that aren't conserved could be turned into housing tracts by private landowners.

    Quimby says a new national park would conserve land and create jobs by drawing millions of additional visitors to the region to stay and spend.It remains to be seen whether Quimby is one day mentioned in the same breath as Percival Baxter, who donated the land that became Baxter State Park, or George Dorr, whose efforts helped create Acadia National Park.

    These days, she lives most of the year in a home built by the Baxter family in Portland, where one of her philanthropic organizations is creating an "artist-in-residence" program. Others distribute millions of dollars each year in Maine. "I have a big imagination and I'm an artist and I went to art school, so I've fostered that sort of big-picture stuff. But I'm really interested in getting things done," she said.
    Eugene Conlogue, town manager in Millinocket, said many outdoorsmen remain incensed over her restrictions on land they're accustomed to using for recreation, and for professional logging. But he sees a multi-faceted person.

    "You can trust her word. She's one of these folks that if you shake her hand on a deal, then it's a deal," Conlogue said.

    In just 40 years, Vermont and New Hamsphire have gone from extirpated Wild Turkey States to a rewilded environment that has roughly 40,000 birds "gobbling" in each State......Truly a success story in putting the bird that Ben Franklin initially proposed as our National Bird(instead of the Bald Eagle) back into the woods.......Reforestation, grain left in farmers fields after harvest and mider winters has been the recipe for TURKEY SUCCESS in New England

    Why Did the Turkey Cross the Road?

    by Thomas K. Slayton
     We've all seen them, picking their way thoughtfully across a cornfield or lurking quietly in an abandoned pasture. Wild turkeys seem to be everywhere now. In one field near my home in central Vermont, a flock of nearly 30 turkeys seems to congregate just about every afternoon.
    Wild turkey sightings, once a rarity, have become so commonplace in the last couple of years that we hardly look up as we pass a flock gleaning a field, moving slowly across it like a dark flotilla of land-ships. Estimates suggest there are now more than 35,000 of them living in Vermont and 40,000 in New Hampshire.
    Why are there suddenly so many wild turkeys? They seem to be a force of nature itself. And to a certain extent they are. But the amazing resurgence of wild turkeys in the last 40 years is testimony both to the changing landscape of northern New England and to successful game management.Though native to New England, wild turkeys were extirpated region-wide by the 1840s through a combination of over-hunting and the clearing of our forests. By mid-century, Vermont was roughly three-fourths deforested, and New Hampshire was almost completely deforested outside of the White Mountains. Farmers looking for more pasture for their huge flocks of sheep had cut down as many trees as they could, to open land, any land, for pasture. Much of the landscape was stripped bare, right to the hilltops.Wild turkeys make use of a wide variety of habitats, ranging from forests to fields, but they rely primarily on forested habitat for everything from nighttime roosting to reproduction. Consequently, when the early farmers cut down the forests, they unknowingly removed a critical element of wild turkey habitat.
    Over the course of a century and more, with the agricultural boom long over, the forests returned to most of New England's hillsides and mountains. But the turkey did not.With proper turkey habitat restored, however, people began to think about returning the big birds to the forest. The first attempt to reintroduce them in Vermont was made in the 1950s by a consortium of private fish & game clubs. It failed, probably because the restorers, well-meaning, but ill-informed, simply released game-farm turkeys that were ill-prepared for life in the wild.Then, in the winter of 1969 – '70, the Vermont Department of Fish & Game worked with the New York State Conservation Department to trap 17 turkeys. Those birds were released in Pawlet, Vermont. The following winter, 14 birds were trapped in New York and released in Hubbardton, Vermont. Both towns are in the heart of the turkey's former range.
    The birds not only survived, they thrived, and soon a breeding population was established. By 1973, those 31 initial turkeys had successfully reproduced, and the Vermont population was estimated at some 600 birds. A turkey-hunting season, established in the spring of 1973, marked the first time turkeys had been hunted in New England in more than a century.
    Across the river in New Hampshire, restoration efforts took hold in 1975, when Fish and Game released 25 wild birds. As turkey numbers expanded in both states, the game biologists began to relocate turkeys to other parts of the state and region. In Vermont, turkeys were relocated to Grand Isle County in the 1990s in the far northwestern corner of the state."We really underestimated how well they would do," said John Hall, spokesman for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. "It's really one of the most successful game-restoration stories we have had."In the past three or four years, turkey numbers seem to have climbed steeply. Large flocks of the birds are now being seen regularly throughout both states.Wildlife expert Bryan Pfeiffer suggests that the surge in turkey numbers is probably due to several factors – the return of forests to northern New England, milder winters, tightly regulated hunting pressure, and grain available in farm fields."The main reason for the current surge in numbers may have something to do with milder winters," Pfeiffer said. "It's probably a combination of all those factors."