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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, August 31, 2011

If Ranchers in South America are willing to partner with PANTHERA to save and coexist with Cougars and Jaguars,,,,,,,,,,,,then hope remains for the best Country in the World(The "Red, White and Blue") to also take the high road, the right road in learning to coexist with Cougars, Wolves, Bears, Wolverines, Coyotes, Bobcats, Lynx, Fishers and Martens

Cattle Ranchers: Costa Rica's Conservationists

By Panthera's MesoAmerica Jaguar Coordinator, Roberto Salom-Pérez
Contrary to what some people may think about the relationship between ranchers and jaguars in Central and South America, some of Panthera's most trusted partners in conservation are cattle ranchers.

 This is particularly the case in Costa Rica where Panthera is working to protect the jaguar by partnering with local ranchers to mitigate human-jaguar conflicts. Our team's recent work with Marito Umaña, a local dairy farmer, to resolve a calf predation case is a prime example of the collaborative conservation work Panthera is carrying out with local communities in Costa Rica.

As a traditional dairy farmer, Marito (meaning small Mario) gets up very early each morning to milk his cows, and does this again in the afternoon before he travels the 4-5 km home on foot and by motorcycle. Recently, Marito shared with me that on a typical afternoon, as he was walking to his pasture to milk his cows, he noticed that the birds which normally sing so loud were uncharacteristically quiet. Marito explained that at that moment, he remembered that he had left his three young Jersey calves tied up in the pasture to be sure they wouldn't wander away and get lost.
He then adjusted the milk tank on his shoulder and began to walk a bit faster; his dog, always attentive, did the same, but soon stopped and began to bark. As he walked through the pasture, Marito sadly came upon his three calves, then deceased, (photos left and below).
Unfortunately, it is often assumed by local communities that jaguars are responsible for attacks on ranchers' livestock, like this one. However, after Marito contacted Panthera to investigate the scene the next morning, our team concluded that the three calves had been attacked by a cougar, or puma, rather than a jaguar.
Although we couldn´t locate the typical bite marks on the calves, we did find that they were covered with grass, which is a predation characteristic only demonstrated by cougars. Our team then set up camera traps in the area in hopes of capturing images of the responsible cougar if it returned. These images would help Panthera monitor the cougar's movements if other attacks were to occur on nearby farms.
See this Jaguar Predation Technical Manual for more details.

Later, we spoke with Marito to learn more about how he manages his farm and cattle, and details about any cases of predation that occurred in the past. Based on what Marito told me, we knew there were several simple methods that he could use to better protect his cattle. We shared 10 examples of these methods with Marito, taken from this Guide, 'General Recommendations for Coexistence between Wild Cats and Cattle.'
Also provided in Spanish.
As I've heard from many farmers in the area, Marito explained that he did not want to kill the cougar responsible for the attacks, but that because his farm is his livelihood, he cannot afford to sustain any further losses. Since Marito lives far from his farm and cannot move his most vulnerable cattle to a safer area near his home, we agreed that the best solution would be to build a predator-proof enclosure for his cattle, for which Marito would provide the wood and Panthera would supply the zinc roof plates.

Our cat-cattle coexistence team, led by Daniel Corrales, was involved in a similar project last year to help build an enclosure on a farm in San Carlos where a jaguar had been attacking livestock. Since the building of the enclosure, this farm has had no further attacks and our team even found jaguar pugmarks, or foot prints, near the enclosure, confirming that the cat was still alive and unable to breach the corral!
Read the newsletter story about this enclosure, 'Panthera's Guide to Building a Livestock Corral.'

Several days later, we retrieved images from the camera traps and confirmed the identity of the attacker – a cougar, featured in the photo to the left. The other images we obtained gave us a fascinating look at the other species, including coyotes and vultures, that typically scavenge on victims of predation after the attacker has left.
Our team has since showed these images to Marito and advised him to bury or burn any future predation victims in order to help discourage coyotes and other scavengers from attacking his livestock, and to prevent the spread of disease to other cattle.

See additional camera trap photos here.

As we work to build Marito's new livestock enclosure, the Panthera Costa Rica team is testing additional strategies that may prevent further attacks from big cats on livestock, and we hope to soon have successful solutions to share. Regardless, Panthera absolutely needs the help of local conservation-minded cattle ranchers to dually protect their livelihoods and the jaguar with which they share their homes. Marito's efforts to inform and devise a solution to the problem with Panthera, rather than seeking immediate retaliation (potentially on a jaguar), shows that human-jaguar conflicts in Costa Rica can be mitigated.

This case also demonstrates the positive and reliable reputation that Panthera has earned through years of community-based work as the go-to wild cat conservation organization in Costa Rica. The Panthera Costa Rica team would like to give a special thanks to Marito and all the conservationist-cattle ranchers that are working to ensure that ranching and jaguar conservation coexists.

Learn more about Panthera's work in Costa Rica and other jaguar range states through the Jaguar Corridor Initiative.
Visit the Panthera Costa Rica website in Spanish.
Read the Technical Manual - "People and Jaguars: A Guide for Coexistence"

The Cows in British Columbia will not go down without a fight!!!!!!!................Cows 1, Bears 0 in what was an incredible grouping of pics I got to see.................Thanks to my friend, Mr. C for these great shots!

Never underestimate a Canadian Cow!!!
Cows taking on a black bear in B.C., Canada
Now this is some tough beef...Maybe I'll get me a "Watch cow"
Interesting photo from a ranch in the Kettle Valley , BC area where every year they have to deal with some pretty weird stuff.
This year a bear had been bothering the herd and I guess enough was enough. Read on...
A couple of evenings ago, Wayne went out to check the cows and saw a very strange sight and was able to photograph the event.

A black bear approached our cow herd which turned out to be a very big mistake on his part.
The blonde and white Simmental cow we know as I-12 went right for him. She is a very good cow, a very attentive mother and about12 years old. She's in her prime and knows that bears are bad news.She tried her best to mash him into the ground.
Finally, the bear decided to vacate the area. We thought he'd be dead for sure, but there was no sign of him the next day. We'll have to keep an eye out for eagles in the trees or flocks of ravens flying up. We're sure he's got some broken ribs out of the deal at the very least. Wayne couldn't believe his eyes when he witnessed this ruckus.

This is another once-in-a-lifetime photography event to add to all the others he managed to document this summer. It is amazing. Whoever said Cows were stupid are so Wrong....they have a heart and a mind too!

Idaho Wolf hunting season began yesterday, Aug 30,,,,,,,,,,,,,Quotas by region with Map is attached

Idaho Wolf Harvest Information

Telephone 1-855-648-5558 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-855-648-5558 end_of_the_skype_highlighting to find the latest
information about zone closures.

Wolf Zone Harvest Limit Number Harvested Limit Remaining Status Hunting Season Dates

OPENAug 30 - Mar 31
Palouse-Hells Canyon

OPENAug 30 - Mar 31

OPENAug 30 - June 30
Dworshak-Elk City

OPENAug 30 - Mar 31

OPENAug 30 - June 30
Middle Fork

OPENAug 30 - Mar 31
40OPENAug 30 - Mar 31

OPENAug 30 - Mar 31
60OPENAug 30 - Mar 31
Southern Mountains25
25OPENAug 30 - Mar 31
10OPENAug 30 - Dec 31
Island Park30
30OPENAug 30 - Dec 31
Southern Idaho

OPENAug 30 - Mar 31

Wolf season status


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

As we know so well, Wolves, Bears, Cougars and Coyotes account for a small fraction of the livestock deaths that occcur in both Canada and the USA............British Columbia Wolves account for just 55 of the 525,000(0.02%) of the annual cattle mortality in this Province..............The Canadian research echoes American science. A study of livestock mortality which covered 87 per cent of the U.S. beef herd in 2007 and 2008 found that more than one half of the deaths of calves were caused by digestive and respiratory ailments, weather killed another 10 per cent and only 4.7 per cent fell victim to predators.......The REDUCE THE WOLF POPULATION BY 2/3 MENTALITY THAT IS SO PERVASIVE IN THE ROCKY MTN STATES IS PURE MADNESS AND IN MY MIND CRIMINAL............The facts STATE LOUDLY THAT WOLVES ARE A BENEFIT TO THE LAND ............The best science(see wolf impacts lynx population post following this entry) must be the key determinant for determining and implementing sound carnivore management policies at both the State and Federal level going forward.

Wolves are getting a bad rap

Predatory wildlife being blamed for livestock deaths, but more die from disease and other factors

For example, The Vancouver Sun's Larry Pynn reports that last year the provincial government paid compensation to ranchers province-wide for 78 head verified as being killed by wild predators.
If the breakdown of livestock mortalities by predator species from 2009 - the most recent provincial analysis available - can be applied to 2010, then assume wolves killed 55 head across B.C.

B.C. Cattlemen's Association website cites a Statistics Canada report that there were 525,00 head of cattle on B.C. farms and ranches at the beginning of 2010. So 55 wolf-caused losses to B.C.'s total cattle herd would amount to slightly more than 0.01 per cent.

Last year, 45,000 beef cattle went to the abattoir for slaughter. En route, according to SPCA statistics, about 0.02 per cent normally die in transit or arrive so injured they must be euthanized.

In other words, truck transport from ranch to slaughterhouse is just about as serious a threat to livestock survival as wolves.

Meanwhile, a rancher from the Williams Lake area was charged following an SPCA investigation which found 40 of his cattle had starved to death and 130 were severely emaciated - that's about 0.03 per cent of B.C.'s cattle herd. Unfair to blame all ranchers for the behaviour of one individual, ranchers reasonably argue. Exactly. And it's equally unfair to blame wolves for livestock mortalities on the basis of unverified claims, anecdotal evidence and generalizations which arise from old prejudices.

The last time I wrote about this, ranchers complained that provincial statistics underestimated predator kills. In many cases, they said, ranchers didn't seek compensation for dead livestock because it was too difficult to satisfy provincial authorities that wolves had actually killed the animal. How did they know, then, that wolves were responsible? Well, they just knew, and you had to be a rancher to know, and if you weren't a rancher you shouldn't venture an opinion. Mind you, a press release from the B.C. Cattlemen's Association praising the arrest of a rustler acknowledged that many missing cattle which aren't reported may well have fallen victim to thieves not predators.

Furthermore, apparent predator kills can easily involve animals which died of other causes and were scavenged by wolves, bears or other animals.

How prevalent is death from other causes? Far more prevalent than predator kills, it seems. A benchmark study published in the journal of the Canadian Veterinary Association found that over the 17-year period examined, the annual death rate for cattle was consistently around 14 per thousand for older animals and 32 per thousand for calves.A subsequent study of mortality in beef cattle in western Canada, including B.C., published in the same journal, found that aside from slaughter, the predominant cause of death was disease. "Hardware disease (traumatic reticuloperitonitis), malignant neoplasia (cancer), calving-associated injury, rumen typany (bloat), mytopathy and pneumonia accounted for 56 per cent of the animals where a cause of death was determined," the researchers found. "Factors relating to cow nutrition accounted for 25 per cent of the deaths." The remaining mortalities were attributed to 23 other causes, of which predator deaths were a tiny proportion.
The Canadian research echoes American science. A study of livestock mortality which covered 87 per cent of the U.S. beef herd in 2007 and 2008 found that more than one half of the deaths of calves were caused by digestive and respiratory ailments, weather killed another 10 per cent and only 4.7 per cent fell victim to predators.

So, what the veterinary science tells us is that better than 80 per cent of livestock mortalities are caused by disease or nutrition issues. Government records tell us that the rate of mortality for beef cattle dying in transit is about the same as the rate of wolf killings. But the anti-wolf lobby claims on hearsay and folklore that wolves are to blame for excessive livestock mortalities.
If this were a court case, it would be dismissed as not proven. B.C.'s wolves deserve a reprieve unless those backing a wolf slaughter can provide credible and verifiable evidence justifying it.

Wolves as a stabalizing trophic predator: Keeping coyotes in check and therefore leaving more snowshoe hare on the ground for lynx............"Bill Ripple and John Laundre's "THE ECOLOGY OF FEAR" paradigm again and again plays out successfully when "all the cogs and wheels" are at play in natural systems............As we remove or greatly reduce top trophic carnivores from the system, waves of disruption all the way down the food chain take place

Wolves may aid recovery of Canada lynx, a threatened species

In research published today in Wildlife Society Bulletin, scientists suggest that a key factor in the Canada lynx being listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act is the major decline of snowshoe hares. The loss of hares, the primary food of the lynx, in turn may be caused by coyote populations that have surged in the absence of wolves. Scientists call this a "trophic cascade" of impacts.

The increase in these secondary "mesopredators" has caused significant ecosystem disruption and, in this case, possibly contributed to the decline of a , the scientists say. "The increase in mesopredators such as coyotes is a serious issue; their populations are now much higher than they used to be when wolves were common in most areas of the United States," said William Ripple, a professor in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at OSU. "Before they were largely extirpated, wolves used to kill coyotes and also disrupt their behavior through what we call the 'ecology of fear,'" Ripple said. "Coyotes have a flexible, wide-ranging diet, but they really prefer rabbits and hares, and they may also be killing lynx directly."

Between the decline of their central food supply and a possible increase in attacks from coyotes, the Canada lynx has been in serious decline for decades and in 2000 was listed as a threatened species. It also faces pressure from habitat alteration, the scientists said, and perhaps climate change as lower snow packs further reduce the areas in which this mountain species can find refuge.

In numerous studies in recent years, researchers have documented how the presence of wolves and other large predators helps control populations of grazing ungulates including deer and elk, and also changes their behavior. Where wolves have become established, this is allowing the recovery of forest and stream ecosystems, to the benefit of multiple plant and animal species.

Lacking the presence of wolves or other main predators in both terrestrial and marine environments, populations of smaller predators have greatly increased. Other studies have documented mesopredator impacts on everything from birds to lizards, rodents, marsupials, rabbits, scallops and insects. This includes much higher levels of attacks by coyotes on some ranch animals such as sheep, and efforts attempting to control that problem have cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Scientists have concluded that exploding mesopredator populations can be found in oceans, rivers, forests and grasslands around the world. "In the absence of wolves, coyote densities and distributions generally expanded in the U.S., into the Midwest, to the northeast as far as Newfoundland, and as far northwest as Alaska," the researchers wrote in their report.

Where wolves recovered, as in Yellowstone National Park, coyote populations were initially reduced by 50 percent, Ripple said. Although more sampling will be required, early evidence indicates that a snowshoe hare recovery may be taking place.

As these issues are factored into decisions about how to manage , the researchers said, it's also important to maintain what they call "ecologically effective" , the researchers wrote in their study. The full value of these top predators, and the numbers of them it takes to achieve a wide range of ecological goals, should be more thoroughly researched and better understood, they said.

Yesterdays Post on alleged "Black Panthers" as well as Cougar sightings in New Hampshire elicited the following comments:

To: Rick Meril
Re: The Dakota Cougar who wandered to Connecticut
 Wild, native cougars have been known in the Catskills & Adirondack State Parks since the late 1800s, according to sources who send us clippings.

 We continue to believe its nothing but a joke, the Milford Cougar walked from S.D., when there are multiple cougars just up the road in the Catskills, Adirondacks & across eastern Canada. The Milford Cougar's route, backtracked too many times according to data released by Ct DEP....that NO decent, self-respecting wild cougar would do.  A released pet might do so.....but NOT a wild puma.

 Tracks of a Mountain Lion were found near Swinging Bridge Reservoir in Sullivan Co, NY in May 2009...Tracks of another mountain lion were found near Corbett, Delaware Co, NY in June 2010...NOT a word from NY DEC as to why they haven't claimed the Milford Cougar was seen in above 2 locationsin 2009 & 2010...or were these OTHER wild cougars from S.D., eastern Canada or up the road in Adirondack National Park???
John A. Lutz
Eastern Puma Reserach Network
To: Meril, Rick
Subject: Re: Coyotes,Wolves,Cougars..forever!
A solid black cougar has never been documented.  The photo shows three gray Florida panther kittens.  Mark Lotz told me that when they were older, they grew into ordinary tan colored panthers.  One of them was killed on a highway recently.
Black bobcats definitely exist.  In Florida for sure, and probably elsewhere.
To: Rick Meril 
Re:" Black Panthers"
 I can shed a lot of light on these black panthers.
The 2 kits shown held by the FW officer, if I remember correctly one of them did not survive to adulthood, but I do know that at least one of them as an adult had a normal pelt, buff colored coat. It did not turn into a Black cat. You can review these kits information on the Florida Panther network site FWC.
Hard to tell from the photo of the black cat in the field, its body was very broad. If it was in fact a large cat more likely a black leopard-- (Escaped animal) 
If your not up on them or catch them in the right light you cannot tell the larger black cats have spots - could be either leopard or Jaguar.
Native Tales could in fact be referring to a Black jaguar as apposed to a cougar, jags used to inhabit this country. The cougars when in shadow can also look black/dark in color.
Bobcats can be melanistic, My husband & I actually saw a very dark brown bobcat cross the road in front of us near the Sawgrass rec park Fl.

- Carmel.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Is this the Summer that New England Cougars become a reality?,,,,,,First the prospector from The Dakota's walks into Connectitcut,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,A 2nd confirmation in New Hampshire or just a "hoped for" sighting?

test4Cougar spotted in Keene?

Cougar spotted in Keene, New Hampshire? 

Kyle Jarvis

Two months after a cougar was killed in Connecticut, could Keene have its own big cat?
Mountain lions, also known as cougars, were declared extinct in the east by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this year. Despite sightings reported throughout New England, including the Monadnock Region, wildlife biologists say the animals aren't known to trek the thousands of miles from lands where their populations currently thrive, such as the western U.S. and Canada.
But in June, a cougar hit and killed by a motorist in Milford, Conn., was later determined to have traveled 1,500 miles from South Dakota to New England, stunning wildlife biologists.

The debate hit a bit closer to home last week, as Swanzey resident Bruce Bohannon had an encounter with what he believes was a cougar Thursday morning in Keene.
While crossing through the gate on the rail trail by Route 101 on his bicycle at about 7:45 a.m., Bohannon saw something unusual.

"I looked up, and I saw this big cat," he said. "I've seen a bobcat, and this was no bobcat. It had a long tail, two to three feet, not a bobtail.

"I saw it right in front of me," Bohannon said. "What surprised me was it was right in the periphery of Keene. But there's a lot of deer down there. If it was looking for something to eat, that's a good place to look."Bohannon said the animal was 18 to 24 inches tall at the shoulder, and was dark tan and light brown. "It was only for a moment," he said. "He sort of stopped and looked over his shoulder, and when he saw me he took right off."

This was not Bohannon's first experience with the cat, having crossed paths with what he now believes was a cougar while grooming snowmobile trails last year off Route 12 in Westmoreland, although he wasn't sure about what he'd seen until his second sighting last week. "I saw one last winter," he said. "It ran right out in front of me and ran down the trail."

Bohannon reported his most recent sighting in Keene to Arthur I."Bud" Winsor, assistant director of the physical plant at Keene State College and head of the school's grounds crew, because his sighting was so close to campus. "My guys went to check it out but they didn't see it," Winsor said. "You never know. Never say never, they just found that (cougar) in Connecticut.

"Bruce is a very reliable person, I wouldn't doubt him for a second," Winsor said. Amanda G. Warman, director of campus safety at Keene State, issued a campus-wide warning Thursday afternoon, advising people not to approach such an animal and to report any sightings to N.H. Fish and Game.

Ted W. Walski, a wildlife biologist with Fish and Game in Keene who fields dozens of reported cougar sightings each year, believes it would be tough to track a cougar in that area. "It's difficult to look for tracks in that grassy environment,"said Walski, who believes most sightings can be attributed to misidentification or cases of escaped pets. "You're not going to find droppings in that kind of habitat unless you have 100 people with their noses to the ground."

Even so, the cougar believers have a new member of their community."I don't have any doubt in my mind what I saw was a cougar,"Bohannon said. "Now that I'm convinced of what I'm seeing, I'm going to get out and look for tracks."

CLICK ON LINK BELOW TO SEE AND READ ABOUT ALLEGED "BLACK COUGARS AND BLACK BOBCATS" IN FLORIDA AND MICHIGAN AND SOUTH CAROLINA......Can I ask my friends from COUGAR REWILDING to provide their thoughts on the authenticity of these claims and reports please

Timber Rattlesnakes are endangered across New England and the Middle Atlantic States.........Extirpated in Maine and Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire have remnant populations which are severely endangered by roads and cars...........When snakes enter a road, their response to the vibration of an on-coming vehicle is to freeze,,,,,,,,,,,,,Therefore, they have a zero chance of avoiding death...............Colony expansion is also limited by the fact that snakes tend to congregate and hibernate in small home territories with limited dispersal in Summer Months..............Inbreeding, deformity and further extirpation will occur unless researchers restore additional colonies and bring in snakes from outside locations to "freshen up" the gene pools of exisitng colonies

Where the Rattlesnakes Meets the Road
by Kent McFarland

No one has been bitten by a rattlesnake in Vermont in over 50 years. But that streak ended last year when a man in Fair Haven was struck between the thumb and index finger by a snake as he was attempting to move it off the road with a stick.

Game warden Don Isabelle told the Rutland Herald, "I think it's important to get the message out that snakes aren't necessarily lying in wait to ambush people. It's actually the opposite — they're very timid and docile. This individual was just too close. Doing what he did, that's not a wise move."

If the man was trying to help the snake off the road, he had one thing right: rattlesnakes and roads don't mix. Recent research across the border in New York found that rattlesnake populations are severely limited by roadways.

Originally found across much of New England, timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) are now extirpated in Maine and Rhode Island. They may vanish soon from New Hampshire. Historically, there were about 20 den sites in Vermont. Now, biologists know of just two, and estimate there are perhaps just a few hundred snakes left. Most people considered them vermin until relatively recently. Vermont paid a bounty of a dollar a tail until 1971 and then turned around and listed them as an endangered species in 1987, making it now illegal to kill or harass them. Despite their timid nature, rattlesnakes are still feared and loathed by many.

Northern populations of timber rattlesnakes are concentrated around their hibernacula, traditional winter dens found in areas of loose rock. They spend nearly eight months deep within, where they are able to crawl below the frost zone. The locations of good hibernacula limit the snakes' distribution, and they can't repopulate depleted sites quickly. Timber rattlesnakes are long-lived and reproduce slowly. A female doesn't reach sexual maturity until nearly a decade old, and then she will only reproduce at three- to five-year intervals. Only a few live to reproduce more than a handful of times.

When they emerge in the spring, the adults disperse into the surrounding forests to forage and mate. Big males leave first, then non-breeding females and young. Pregnant females stay near the hibernacula and bask. Males often move twice as far as females, over four miles, sometimes mating with individuals from other hibernacula. But what happens when they reach a roadway?  Biologists from the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory in Georgia released timber rattlesnakes near roadways to help understand their behavior. Over 70 percent of the snakes chose to remain in the forest rather than cross the roadway. When a few individuals did choose to cross, they moved very slowly. When they sensed the vibration or movement of traffic, they paused for long periods.

Stopping in the middle of a busy highway is often deadly. The biologists estimated that a road with a traffic density of just 2,000 vehicles passing per day would amount to about an 80 percent chance of mortality for rattlesnakes. At 9,000 cars per day, the chance of death is near 100 percent. Biologists from Cornell University and Skidmore College teamed up to examine the impacts of roads on the genetic variation within and between populations of rattlesnakes in New York. Snakes from hibernacula isolated by roads had lower genetic diversity and higher genetic divergence than those in contiguous forest. These roads have only been in place for 7 to 10 generations of rattlesnakes, indicating just how negative roads are to spring dispersal.

Whether directly persecuted by people or indirectly by roadways, timber rattlesnakes in the Northeast are in trouble, and there may be no better example than the slow demise of New Hampshire's last known hibernacula. With just 20 snakes left, biologists recently reported that the population is genetically depauperate and inbred with high rates of abnormalities. Some of the litters had piebald coloration – white patches on the head and body. One was found with a spinal deformity. Adults have been seen with pink rather than normal, dark-colored tongues. In 2006, the wettest year on record, many of them had infected skin lesions, and one died from a severe oral fungal infection. None of this was observed at any other hibernacula in the region. This isolated population appears to be spiraling toward extinction.

But there is still hope. Biologists are identifying roadway crossings near hibernacula for construction of underpasses for snakes and other wildlife that will help reconnect populations. There's even hope for the small New Hampshire population by introducing rattlesnakes from other populations in the region to restore genetic variation. With a bit of respect from us and a lot of work by biologists, the chill of late August nights may keep luring rattlesnakes back to their dens for years to come.

Kent McFarland is a biologist with the Vermont Center for Ecostudies.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Often referrred to as the "FORGOTTEN EXPEDITION", The Dunbar-Hunter expedition was one of only four ventures into the Louisiana Purchase commissioned by Thomas Jefferson. Between 1804 and 1807, President Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark into the northern regions of the Purchase; Zebulon Pike into the Rocky Mountains, the southwestern areas, and two smaller forays; Thomas Freeman and Peter Custis along the Red River; and William Dunbar and Dr. George Hunter to explore the "Washita" River and "the hot springs" in what is now Arkansas and Louisiana......... It provided Americans with the first scientific study of the varied landscapes as well as the animal and plant life of early southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana. In fact, the expedition resulted in arguably the most purely scientific collection of data among all of the Louisiana Purchase explorations....In fact, Because this trip ended well before Lewis and Clark's, the journals of Dunbar and Hunter became the first reports to Jefferson describing the landscapes and people within the new territory.........Their 5-month investigation(October 1804-March 1805) provided Americans with the first extensive description of the flora and fauna of the Washita River region of Northern Louisiana and Southern Arkansas with up close and in person diary accounts of buffalo, red wolves, mountain lions, swans, whooping cranes and the other prodigious wildlife of this beautiful section of North America

William Dunbar was fast becoming one of the finest Naturalists of his era when President Jefferson appointed him to co-head the expedition with George Hunter, a prominent chemist-apothecary.
They led 13 enlisted soldiers, Hunter's 13 year old son, two of Dunbar's slaves and his personal servant on this Expedition which  started just North of present day Baton Rouge, Louisianna and followed the Washita River(which empties into the Mississippi River) North passing adjacent to what is now Shreveport, La. and concluding in the Hot Spring Region of what is now present-day Arkansas.
Dunbar and Hunter described an extremely active and vibrant interaction between the European and the Native American population. Hunter and Dunbar also reported many encounters with European trappers, hunters, planters, and settlers as well as fellow river travelers plying the waters of the Red, Black and Ouachita rivers. Their copious notes also portray a region in which these European and Indian inhabitants harvested the abundant natural resources along the rivers and in the lands beyond.
The reports from both men show that the Hot Springs(just West of current day Little Rock) had become an important site for people seeking relief from ailments and infirmities.

Following in quotes are the Dunbar-Hunter journal entries of wildlife they encountered with elaborations(in brackets) on their encounters by Trey Berry, Pam Beasley and Jeanne Clements who edited the book: THE FORGOTTEN EXPEDITION, 1804-1805; THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE JOURNALS OF DUNBAR AND HUNTER

-"saw many Cormorants and the stately Hooping Crane, Geese and Ducks not yet abundant"(October)

-"found on the bank a young fawn just killed by a Panther, the throat being tore very much"-October-
(The Cougar was abundant in Arkansas, but by the late 19th century, it had declinded drastically due to hunting and loss of habitat. Sporadic reports of sightings continued in Arkanasas and Louisiana into the mid 20th century)

"We arrived at the Military Post originally called Ft. Miro. The Canadian French living here have little ambition(about 5000 inhabitants at the time). they are supplied from the woods during the hunting season with Venison, Bear, Bufflo, wild Ducks, Geese, Swans Turkies, Brandt in greadt abundance"(November)

"The river here spreads out forming ponds which attracts multitudes of wild Geese, Brant, Teal and Ducks"

"Last night a band of Wolves howled in our neighborhood a good part of the night"(December)(plentiful populations of Red Wolves inhabited Arkansas and Louisiana forests prior to the 1830's. Bounties began to be placed on wolf pelts in Arkansas and their decline began to take place. The rapid drop in Wolf populations occurred during the 1920"s and 30"s. By 1930, with wolves gretly depleted, Coyote-Wolf hybridizing began to threaten the existance of Wolves and the pure Red Wolf species was thought to be extinct in Arkansas by the middle to late 1970's)

"One of the men killed a Deer and a Racoon. Plenty of Wild Geese and Ducks, but very shy"

"November 17-The Deer is now fat and their skins in perfection; the Bear also is now in his prime with regard to the quality ofhis fur and quantity of fat which he yields, he has been feeding on pirsimmons, grapes, pawpaws, walnuts, packawns, hickory nuts, chinquapins, beech nuts and acorns"

"In the afternoon, saw the first Swan, which was shot by one of our hunters"(Trumpeter Swans were abundant in Arkansas prior to the 1820's..........By the Civil War, overhunting had dwindled their the 1990's, a few pair returned to Cleburne County..........In 2003, 52 to 55 birds were counted in this area)

"Bears do not confine themselves to vegetable food; he is particularly fond of hogs flesh, but no animal excapes fromhim that he is able to conquer; sheep and calves are frequently his prey and he often destroys the fawn when he stumbles upon it, although he cannot smell the fawn despite his excellent sense of smell; Nature has protected the helpless young by denying it the property of leaving any effluvium upon its tract"(The Black Bear was once so abundant that Arkansas received the nickname "the Bear State"....By the turn of the 20th century, only small number of bears survived in remote areas such as along the lower White River.............note that they are now rebounding in #'s).....(The white tail Deer was also abundant in the State prior to the 20th century.............the last 100 years has seen it restored to former abundance)

"Between 11a and noon, saw an Alligator, which surprised us this late season and this far North"(November 21)

"Ducks, Geese and Turkey are often seen"(The Wild Turkey saw great shrinkage in population during the 19th and early 20th century, but it has been restocked throughout the Arkansas/Louisiana region)

"This afternoon our hunters shot twice at a Buffalo and wounded him severely, the blood flowing as he run; nonetheless he got away"

"Turkeys become much more abundant and less difficult of approach than below, our hunters generally kill some every day(December)

"Some Venison and Turkey were procured by the hunters; altho we have frequently seen tracks and other marks of Buffalo, we are hitherto disappointed in killing any of them"(The Buffalo was plentiful in Arkansas until the late 18th century. As trapping and hunting increased along the rivers, these animals were some of the first to experience decline. The last Buffalo herd in Southern Arkansas was killed in the Saline River bottoms around 1809. Smaller herds survived in remote areas of eastern Arkansas until they were destroyed during or just before the Civil War)

"The great strength(of the Buffalo) enables him to carry off on many occasions several shots without falling; it is necessary to shoot him through the heart to make him fall speedily; we are told that a rifle bullet is by no means certtains of penetrating through the scull into the brain, of if it does, provided the ball reaches into the front or fore part of the brain, the animal will not fall; some even assert that the thickness and strength of the skull with the immense quantity of hair which covers the head will resist the penetration of an ordinary rifle bullet."

"Saw many signs of Deer, Bear, Buffalo and wild Turkies this day(December) but could not get a shot at any of them"

"Our hunters are tolerably successful, bringing in every day abundance of venison and turkies"(January)

"We dined under the shade of some pine and osak trees, upon the wild game of the forest and the reiver such as venison, wild Turkey, bear, cygnet, etc"(January)

"Much game on the river, such as Geese, Ducks, Swans, etc"(January)

"Passed a party of Canadians who been a hunting for Bears of which they had killed about 40 and a couple of Panthers up the Little Missouri River"(January)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Norman Bishop(reviewer of the 1990 and 1992 reports to Congress, “Wolves for Yellowstone?” well as contributing to the 1994 Environmental Impact Statement, “The Reintroduction of Gray Wolves to Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho”) and Chris Colligan of THE GREATER YELLOWSTONE COALITION rebutting biologist Val Geist's errant commentary on the ability of people being able to coexist with wolves .............(I inadvertently left these comments off of the Friday August 26 Post on this apologies!)

From: Chris Colligan
To: Norman Bishop

 Re: Comments on notes from Dr. Val Geist.


Thank you for sending this along.  I think you would also appreciate
the article in the below link.  Here's an excerpt: "Their assumptions
raise the possibility that they were interested in providing evidence
for a hypothesis they considered self-evident, perhaps because of a
biopolitical perspective (cf., Urbigkit 2008, Patterson 2010), or
affiliation bias (Murphy 2001).

 Unfortunately, these approaches often
reinforce rather than reduce human–wildlife conflict (Dickman 2010).
This may sound like harsh criticism, but given the controversy
surrounding carnivore–livestock conflicts, reliable knowledge is
needed and studies must be able to withstand scientific scrutiny to
guide management." Thanks!


Hebblewhite, M. 2011. Unreliable knowledge about economic impacts of
large carnivores on bovine calves. Journal of Wildlife Management. In


 Norman Bishop response to Val Geist's errant comments on Wolves:

Dr. Geist's first paragraph under "The North American Paradigm" sets the

tone for his diatribe.  If Kenton Carnegie was indeed killed by wolves, it

was because they, like the local bears, had been allowed continual access to

human foods, with no hint of aversive conditioning.  It is no surprise that

food-habituated carnivores occasionally kill humans.  The wolves that

apparently killed the teacher at Chignik Lake, Alaska, were similarly


Reviewing Dr. Geist's second paragraph under "The North American Paradigm,"

I offer these notes.................

Barry Lopez, in his classic Of Wolves and Men (Pp. 70-71) reports on
Clarke's story of the Beasts of Gevaudan.  To anyone who has read it,
Geist's take is ludicrous.  No, of course Clarke did not think the Beasts of
Gevaudan were rabid.  He concluded that the beasts were hybrids, based on
their size and coloration.  He also concluded that most reports of a wolf
attacking a human could be attributed to a rabid animal or a hybrid.  Any
veterinarian acquainted with the very quick demise of any wolf that
contracts rabies would guffaw at the notion that the beasts of Gevaudan were
rabid, because their killing spree lasted from June 30, 1764 to June 19,
1767.  No rabid wolf would last anywhere near that long.

   Lopez notes that"Between 1740 and 1773, about two thousand wolves were killed in the region
of Gevaudan, mostly in attempts to kill the Gevaudan pair. With reference to Dr. Geist's "The North American Paradigm," paragraphs 3-5 on wolf propaganda by the Russians, quite a different picture is offered by Professor of zoology Dmitry I. Bibikov, Institute of Animal Evolution, Morphology and Ecology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, member of the IUCN Wolf Specialist Group, and his colleague, Dr. of zoology Nikita Ovsyanikov, also a member of the IUCN Wolf Specialist Group.

  They responded to an October 22, 1993 letter from Steven H. Fritts, Ph.D., Northern Rocky
Mountain Wolf Coordinator, in which Dr. Fritts enclosed a letter of comment on the wolf EIS from Will Graves to Ed Bangs, noting that Mr. Graves cites no literature to back his arguments against restoring wolves.  He asked Prof. Bibikov if the information from Mr. Graves was correct.  Dr. Fritts'
letter and Prof. Bibikov and Dr. Ovsyakikov's December 28, 1993 response are included as Appendix 14. Information on wolves in the former Soviet Union, on Pp. 6-97 to 6-99 of the 1994 Final Environmental Impact Statement, The reintroduction of gray wolves to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho.

 From their response, a snippet:  "We should note, that there were a lot of speculations and incorrect reports on harmful role of wolf in Soviet and Russian hunting magazines and books supported by former Ministry of Agriculture, but very few true research on that subject in Russia.  Reading
Mr. Graves' letter we have formed an impression, that his opinion is based mainly on highly speculative hunting magazine publications and/or on popular hunting books (Pavlov's for instance)."

The Banff National Park officials are still claiming that Cougars are doing well within its borders despite two of the cats having to be put down due to attacks on people and dogs

Cougar population healthy

By Larissa Barlow

A brother and sister cougar pair were captured and collared by Parks Canada in June after exhibiting curious behaviour on Tunnel Mountain. They soon left the park and showed aggressive behaviour — on July 18, the female cornered cyclists and attacked a dog near Canmore and two weeks later the male attacked a six-year-old girl in Bow Valley Provincial Park.
But despite their deaths, there are still a number of mountain lions roaming the Banff landscape. Parks Canada human-wildlife conflict specialist Steve Michel said it's difficult for them to pinpoint the exact number of cougars that live in the park, but through the use of remote cameras in the summer, and snow tracking in the winter, there's enough cougars making Banff their home that they're not worried about the animals.

"The cougar population in the Bow Valley appears to be healthy," he said. From an ecosystem standpoint, the loss of two young cougars isn't significant, but "obviously we like to maintainpredators in the Bow Valley because we have an abundance of elk in the townsite.
"From that standpoint, the more predators to prey on the ungulates, the better."Michel said they don't expect to see a surge in elk and deer populations in town because of the loss of the two.

Young predators like these two cougars face a number of challenges when they leave their mother's side and become independent."It's certainly not unusual for young cougars not surviving into adulthood, but obviously this was a human intervention," Michel said."But these animals might not have survived on their own anyway."

Young cougars can become victims of other, larger predators, or could starve after failing to find food in the wilderness. But Michel said none of that means the Bow Valley can't support a healthy cougar.
"We do have an abundant prey population. Anywhere you have a healthy ungulate population, you can expect to have a healthy cougar population."

Environmental groups are again seeking protection for the Alexander Archipelago wolf (Canis lupus ligoni) which is a rare subspecies of the gray wolf with a limited worldwide range confined to the old-growth forests of Southeast Alaska.... "We already know what it will take to save Alexander Archipelago wolves: It's a simple matter of not building new logging roads in areas where wolves are already getting hammered and of ending unsustainable logging practices," said Rebecca Noblin, Alaska director of the Center for Biological Diversity. "Unfortunately, the Forest Service seems more interested in kowtowing to the timber industry than in preserving our forests for future generations."...........The Center for Biological Diversity and Greenpeace have now petitioned the USFW Service to give this wolf endangered species status as standards that USFW specifically stated were crucial for the wolf's survival have not been adhered to

Protection Sought Again for Rare Alaskan Wolf

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service considered protecting the rare Alexander Archipelago wolf several times in the 1990s. The agency chose not to do so, based on new standards for protecting the wolf that the Forest Service included in its 1997 Tongass Forest Plan. The petitioners said Wednesday that unfortunately, the Forest Service has not held up its end of the bargain and has not adequately implemented these standards.

The group's 103-page petition is a detailed review of the science and status of this imperiled species exposing a number of threats to Alexander Archipelago wolves, including the U.S. Forest Service's unsustainable logging and road-building practices in the Tongass National Forest. "This unique wolf is a symbol of America's rapidly dwindling wilderness" said Greenpeace forest campaigner Larry Edwards of Sitka. "We've got clear evidence that the Alexander Archipelago wolf is in trouble. This wonderful creature is a key part of Alaska's natural environment and it deserves official protection."

Heavily reliant on old-growth forests, the Alexander Archipelago wolf dens in the root systems of very large trees and primarily hunts Sitka black-tailed deer, which are dependent on high-quality, old-growth forests of the region, in particular for winter survival. A long history of unsustainable clearcut logging on the Tongass National Forest and private and state-owned lands has devastated much of the wolf's old-growth habitat on the islands of Southeast Alaska. The ongoing scale of old-growth logging imperils the wolf by further reducing and fragmenting the remaining forest stands, to the detriment of the wolf and its deer prey.

Logging operations on the Tongass also result in more road-building, which makes wolves vulnerable to hunting and trapping said the petitioners. As many as half the wolves killed on the Tongass are killed illegally according to the petitioners, and hunting and trapping are occurring at unsustainable levels in many parts of the region. Despite scientific evidence showing that Alexander Archipelago wolf populations cannot survive in areas with high road density, the petitioners say the Forest Service continues to build new logging roads in the Tongass National Forest. Road density is especially a concern to the Center for Biological Diversity and Greenpeace on heavily fragmented Prince of Wales Island and neighboring islands, home to an important population of Alexander Archipelago wolves.

"We already know what it will take to save Alexander Archipelago wolves: It's a simple matter of not building new logging roads in areas where wolves are already getting hammered and of ending unsustainable logging practices," said Rebecca Noblin, Alaska director of the Center for Biological Diversity. "Unfortunately, the Forest Service seems more interested in kowtowing to the timber industry than in preserving our forests for future generations."

In August 2011, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned four decisions by the US Forest Service to allow logging in Alaska's Tongass National Forest, the nation's largest national forest. At issue was the assessment of deer habitat, the primary prey of the rare Alexander Archipelago wolf, or "Islands Wolf."

Friday, August 26, 2011

As we all know, a very harsh and snowy Winter blanketed the Intermountain West this past year resulting in challenging conditions for Mule/ White tail Deer as well as Pronghorns in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho..............The ebb and flow of life,,,,, with nature as a key lever on that process.............Biologists have to stand up and not take retalitory actions to reduce Wolves, Cougars and Bears after these type Winters..............Predator and Prey have co-existed for millenia through these type weather anomalies and equilibrium returns after a period of time has passed with Carnivore #'s dropping in response to lowered prey availability

Record wildlife die-offs reported in Northern Rockies

  • 18
Snow and frigid temperatures in pockets of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming arrived earlier and lingered longer than usual, extending the time that wildlife were forced to forage on low reserves for scarce food, leading more of them to starve. Based on aerial surveys of big-game herds and signals from radio-collared animals, experts documented high mortality among offspring of mule deer, white-tailed deer and pronghorn antelope.
This came as big-game animals entered the last stretch of a period from mid-March through early May that is considered critical for survival.
Wildlife managers estimate die-offs in the tens of thousands across thousands of square miles that span prairie in northeastern Montana, the upper Snake River basin in Idaho near Yellowstone National Park and the high country of northwestern Wyoming near the exclusive resort of Jackson.

Brimeyer said the estimated death rate doubled among deer fawns in the Jackson area this year, rising to 60 percent or more from 30 percent. Many thousands more elk have crowded the feeding grounds of the National Elk Refuge near Jackson, yet another sign of the toll winter is exacting.

The trend also is pronounced in a wildlife management area near McCall in the mountains of central Idaho, where the estimated mortality rate among mule deer fawns is 90 percent this winter, compared with an average annual rate of 20 percent.

Mike Scott, regional wildlife biologist in McCall for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, said how animals fare during the lean months of winter – when snow blankets the woody shrubs and wild plants they favor -  is tied to fattening in fall.

Fawns born in early June are more resilient than fawns born as late as July since older offspring have more time to add to their body mass. Pronghorn antelope have been hit hard in eastern and northeastern Montana, where wildlife managers say nothing akin to this season's die-offs has been seen in 30-plus years.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Howard Burt said pronghorn in winter seek to migrate to areas of less snow.
This season, that migration turned deadly for 700 or more antelope in northeastern Montana after the animals traveled along plowed railroad corridors and were killed by trains.

Scientists said their aim is to mitigate the effects of the die-offs by reducing pressure placed on herds by such activities as hunting and by delaying opening of wildlife habitat areas to people and vehicles.
As Idaho wildlife biologist Bret Stansberry put it: "We can't do anything about the weather, we can only deal with the aftermath."

We have published commentary from Biologist Dr.Val Geist previously.......His perspective on Wolves and their place in 21st Century America runs 360 degrees counter to that of the majority of respected mainstream wolf biologists in North America.........Anti-Wolf Groups often cite Dr. Geist's positions when putting forth erroneous statements about the need to eliminate or sharply curtail the small wolf populations that exist in the USA.................... Geist's erroneous conclusions often have tremendous influence on mis-informing the public about wolves and making the task of informed and truthful wolf education to the general public very difficult........Norm Bishop(who contributed to the Environmental Impact Statement, “The Reintroduction of Gray Wolves to Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho") refutes Dr. Geist below(scroll to bottom of text)

Subject: Fw: From Dr. Val Geist.
To: Jim and Barbara

Re: wolves. There are three issues that one needs to be aware of and provide guidance in, in the short term, the taxonomy of wolves, to clarify especially if there are one or two species of wolves in the mid-west. I consider the latter unlikely, in fact highly unlikely, but there needs to be discussion and consensus as there are legal implications involved. This is an unhappy topic in which we have to be aware of potential advocacy masquerading as science.

Secondly, we need to be involved fostering an understanding of American wolves, as there is currently a paradigm shift underway, bringing our recent North American experiences with wolves into line with historical evidence as well as the global experience with this predator. We need to foster a new general understanding about wolves to counter deliberate political misrepresentations and promote effective wildlife conservation let alone management.

Thirdly, as wolves are not compatible with settled landscapes, there needs to be a fundamental re-assessment of wolf conservation. How, for instance, can we protect wolves in such a fashion, that they retain their genetic integrity, as in close proximity to humans they are bound to continually hybridize with dogs and with coyotes. Wolves need a large amount of diverse prey to thrive away from human contact. How can such be best provided?

The North American Wolf Paradigm

The cherished North American conception about wolves began to unravel with the death of Kenton Carnegie, a 22 year university old honors student, killed by wolves on November 8th 2005 at Points North in Saskatchewan. It led to thorough investigations as well as a coroner's hearing, in which the jury determined unanimously that wolves had killed Kenton Carnegie. Unfortunately, the coroners inquiry would not deal with policy, and consequently it did not become public knowledge that Saskatchewan's legislation pertaining to wolves was in good part responsible to Kenton Carnegie's death. Under British Columbia legislation, so my conclusion, this tragedy would not have happened. Legislation affecting wolf management and conservation, in addition to a scholarly understanding of wolves, is thus not irrelevant to any positions on this subject.

Flaws in the then current North American conception are that wolves are utterly harmless to people, although a rabid wolf might be dangerous, that wolves killed pretty well only the old, sick and lame and thus acted to sanitize prey populations, that wolves killed only what is needed, that territoriality by wolf packs prevented wolves from seriously depleting game herds, that diseases carried by wolves are too insignificant to warrant attention, and that all historical evidence could be safely disregarded as it arose for primeval prejudice and ignorance, unsupported by modern science, as illustrated in the Brothers Grim fairytale of Little Red Riding Hood. This was advanced by highly respected senior scientists, based in good part on enthusiasm over limited new findings, an inability to read other languages, a limited understanding of historical scholarship, and an over rating of personal experiences with wolves as reported on in North America. Highly influential proved to be a then unpublished manuscript by a renowned Canadian wildlife scientists C. H. Doug Clarkei which examined wolf predation on humans in France focusing on the famous case of a pair of Gevaudan wolves in the 18th century. Clarke concluded that wolf attacks were all done by rabid wolves, and falling back on his own experience with wolves in the Canadian wilderness, concluded that healthy wolves were harmless. I must hasten to state here that reading the subsequently published essay in full shows peculiar contradictions which should have been picked up by his colleagues. For instance the wolves of Gevaudan were not rabid. In short, Clarke's conclusions are thus open to questioning.

A second source of misinformation about wolves was the deliberate cultivation of an image of harmless wolves by the Communist Party of Russia. It censored information about wolf attacks on humans in order to suppress demands for arms by people affected, as well as to cover up hugely embarrassing matters happening during the imposed Ukrainian famines of 1921-23 and again 1932-1933, when packs of wolves and dogs consumed the dead and dying. This was abetted in East and West by the hugely popular book of a gifted Canadian author, Farley Movat, Never Cry Wolf. I consider it a literary prank, the very best of the 20th century, a prank that fooled the literary establishment completely, despite competent book reviews and exposure by Canadian scientists. It continues to cause mischief.

The Russian Communist party deception was exposed by the Russian academician (senior scientist) Mikhail P. Pavlov in his 1982 book The wolf in Game Management, in Chapter 12 "The Danger of wolves to Humans". A Norwegian translation of this chapter caused environmentalists to to rise in boiling opposition, in which they succeeded having the translation withdrawn and destroyed. Illegally, I might add. The translator, riled by events, made a Swedish Translation and published it a s bookii. An English translation by Valentina Baskin, wife of well-known Russian biologist Leonid Baskin and Alaska biologists Patrick Valkenburg and Mark McNay, found none willing to publish till it was made Appendix A in Will N. Graves 2007 Wolves in Russia. Please note that American scientists meeting Russian scientists at international meetings could have heard only the party line from the Russians.

The problem with the conventional North American conception of wolves was that it had failed to take into account and critically integrate the global experience with wolves. In the meantime publications to the contrary, old and new, were accumulatingiii, including a book on the Russian experiences with wolves as compiled by an American intelligence officers stationed in Moscow. I edited his manuscript and brought it into publication with a Canadian publisher. It's Will N. Graves 2007 Wolves in Russia (Detselig, Calgary). This book was quickly translated in Finland, where, with additional information it is on it's second edition. I also wrote a number of essays which were published, except that they lacked the vital reference sections. I hasten to add that the original versions and other information about wolves can be obtained by contacting me via e-mail at

Of interest is the fact that European environmentalists adopted the flawed American position and pushed through legislation protection wolves on that basis. That mirrors North American legislation based on false assumptions.

Here are a number of conclusions

  1. Wolves are not compatible with settled landscapes, as they destroy wildlife, then habituate, and focus on livestock and pets, and eventually on humans. Simultaneously they spread diseases such as hydatid disease (dog tape worm, Echinococcus granulosus), Neopspora caninum (which brings about abortions in cattle) and rabies (which in wilderness areas appears to periodically bring down wolf populations). This is not merely a matter of wildlife management, or livestock protection, but also one of public health.
  2. The introductions of wolves into Yellowstone and Idaho, heralded as a conservation success, I consider a serious failure in wildlife conservation. It exposed flaws in conservation legislation and – Judge Molloy's latest ruling not withstanding - is mired in a morass of legal matters, daunting, so I understand, even for legal minds.
  3. Wolf introductions have hit some individual ranchers severely, well documented, for instance, by Jess Carey ( and his lawyer Ron Shortes in Catron County, New Mexico. An important development: ranchers which have been hit by wolves, and which want to sell their ranches, cannot find buyers as long as there are wolves on the property. And we are dealing with only 50 wolves! What can we do to generate some justice to individuals affected by wolf introductions?
  4. The direct and indirect effect of wolves on ranching have been compiled, but need to be brought together. Similarly, the effects on wildlife populations, and on public health.
  5. Intolerable is the spread of hydatid infected wolf feces on lawns, driveways etc within suburbs and hamlets by wolves hunting deer and elk who have taken refuge in human proximity. That was something I did not anticipate in my address (appended) to a committee of the Montana legislature.
  6. We need to understand the disease issue. In my judgment this matter has been handled in a less than satisfactory manner by Idaho and Montana authorities. The bottom line: what needs to be prevented is the spread of hydatid disease to dogs, which would defecate infective feces all around homes (ditto for infected wolves and urban coyotes) where the infective eggs can be carried indoor on a continuous basis leading to multiple infections of the residents. Mark well: hydatid disease is a dreadful disease, and the medical costs are staggering. In Idaho a lady was recently billed $63,000 to remove a large hydatid cysts from her liver. Multiple infections of children from hydatid eggs being transported into the house by shoes or by sticking to the fur of dogs would lead in about a decade to nightmarish consequences. Please see my appended presentation to a committee of the Montana legislature.

I regret that I cannot be with you. I have a large number of files stored electronically pertaining to above. Consequently, do not hesitate to contact me should this be desirable (e-mail:;

I wish you success in your deliberations.


Valerius Geist
Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science

There are enlightened Washington State Ranchers who have the "cajones" to stand tall and declare: "I'm not afraid of these wolves and I'm not afraid of them being here and I'm not afraid for my stock," says Twisp ranch hand Michael Rothgeb...... There are those who feel ranching and wolves are not necessarily exclusive of each other, and that wolves are being blamed for things they've never done."They are not going to wipe out the deer population. They're not going to attack people, it's very unlikely," says another rancher..............A tip of the hat to these guys............Takes guts in a small Community to take a contrarian position to your neighbors............Makes one feel that "enlightenment" one day might come to others in these environs and that a sane, scientific based carnivore policy would become the rule of law

Wolfpacks of North Cascades, though elusive, very divisive
TWISP, Wash. -- The excitement over the first wolf pack to move into Washington's northern Cascade Mountains has died down with the deaths of several of the animals. Three members of a Twisp-area ranching family are under indictment in connection with the killing of two or more of the wolves.
It's enough to make just the topic of wolves force whole communities to choose sides.

In the Twisp River Canyon, biologist and predator expert Scott Fitkins finds close encounters. A year ago, Fitkin's twilight howls would be answered by the Lookout Mountain wolfpack. But with two or more of the wolves now gone, allegedly at the hands of poachers, there is no response. The once promising pack lost its alpha female and other productive members. "We're in a low spot for the Lookout pack," said Fitkins. "Certainly we don't think we've got any breeding this year, but territories tend to remain occupied over time. So we're optimistic over time this area will persist, maybe with new members.
But for others, a dead wolf is a good wolf. And the disappearing Lookout pack is a relief.
The vast Okanogan valleys were settled by ranchers a century ago. A lot has changed for them over the years. But while they are reluctant to talk to strangers about some of their own being charged with killing federally protected wolves, there are some conspiracy theories.

State and federal biologists believe the wolves naturally migrated to the deer-rich region. Ranchers and others have their doubts, and some suspect the wolves were planted there."Wolves, spotted owl, wolverine, it doesn't matter. My opinion is, these are just tools that they're using to close up more access to public property," says one rancher.

Rules to protect endangered species have generated a sort of friendly friction between government agencies and some land owners."I think it's a love-hate relationship," laughs a local man. "We love to hate each other."It's a very thin line that separates the government and private landowners in the North Cascades. Because they absolutely have no problem going through these fences, the wolves cross the line into the single most important issue for the region -- property rights."I think we're real uncomfortable with the wolves here," says rancher Vic Stokes. "You know as a rancher I'm real uncomfortable, it's something totally foreign to what I grew up with."

The culture in the area has always been protect the property, protect the herd. It's created a united but not a unanimous opposition to the wolves. "I'm not afraid of these wolves and I'm not afraid of them being here and I'm not afraid for my stock," says Twisp ranch hand Michael Rothgeb.There are those who feel ranching and wolves are not necessarily exclusive of each other, and that wolves are being blamed for things they've never done."They are not going to wipe out the deer population. They're not going to attack people, it's very unlikely," says another rancher.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

THE COALITION TO PROTECT THE ROCKY MTN FRONT is seeking to limit the amount of Wilderness that can be designated there.............They want most of the FRONT to be put into the category of CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT AREAS, where motorized vehicles,logging and grazing would continue to be permitted.........Disappointing this all is as the "the Rocky Mountain Front wildlands received some of the highest wilderness quality ratings of all federal lands outside of Alaska during the RARE11 (Roadless Area Review Evaluation) in the 1970s. These are among the best wildlands left in the lower 48 states, and to allow a small group of self appointed local folks to degrade wildlands values that belong to all Americans by allowing continued logging, motorized use, and livestock grazing is an affront to Americans and future generations"--George Wuerthner

Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act Misses on Weeds and Wilderness
A coalition claims it wants to protect Montana's Rockies by supporting the proposed Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act, but is it a wolf in sheep's clothing?

By George Wuerthner
The Coalition to Protect the Front supports the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act as a means of "protecting the Front". It justifies the legislation by the "threat" noxious weeds make to the native plant communities of this magnificent landscape. Weeds, by displacing native plants, reduce the carrying capacity of the Front for native wildlife—which everyone agrees is one of the special attributes of the Front.

Unfortunately, the Heritage Act only proposes a paltry 67,000 acres as wilderness. While any new wilderness on the Front is welcome, the Heritage Act misses an important opportunity to protect the bulk of the wildlands that exist here, including the Badger Two Medicine and other important roadless lands.

Indeed, on its web page, the Coalition describes the threat of more wilderness as one of the reasons for supporting the plan. So to prevent the "threat" of wilderness, locals want to designate the majority of land along the Front as "Conservation Management Areas." What a misnomer that name is.

Conservation Management would permit logging, livestock grazing and motorized use in some areas. All of these activities have been recognized time and again as destructive to native ecosystems, and biodiversity and ironically all are among the major sources for the spread of weeds.

Yet the participants supporting the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act either do not know, or more likely, have agreed to ignore the well-documented role that logging, motorized use, and most especially livestock grazing have in the spread of weeds and for creation of the disturbed soil habitat that favors weed establishment to garner support from these constituencies.

It's like a coalition made up of tobacco companies agreeing that lung cancer is a serious threat to American health without mentioning that cigarette smoking is a major contributor to that cancer.
Instead of dealing directly with the cause of weed spread, the Coalition wants to treat the symptoms. It's analogous to promoting cigarette smoking while advocating for more hospitals to treat cancer victims. This never works, and will only result in more weeds, and greater tax payer subsidies of these industries and activities.

The best way to slow and prevent the spread of weeds is to eliminate motorized access, logging, and cattle grazing. Designation of wilderness is by far the best solution (other than it unfortunately allows cattle grazing to continue—thus guarantees more weed spread).

If people are truly concerned about the spread of weeds, then we need to recognize that livestock (also an exotic species that displaces native species) grazing, motorized use and logging are incompatible with that goal. And the silence on this issue by the Coalition to Save the Front makes them all the more culpable in the spread of these unwanted plants.

What makes the Heritage Act even more disappointing is that the Rocky Mountain Front wildlands received some of the highest wilderness quality ratings of all federal lands outside of Alaska during the RARE11 (Roadless Area Review Evaluation) in the 1970s. These are among the best wildlands left in the lower 48 states, and to allow a small group of self appointed local folks to degrade wildlands values that belong to all Americans by allowing continued logging, motorized use, and livestock grazing is an affront to Americans and future generations.

The best way to save the Heritage of the Front is to eliminate these degrading uses and designate all the remaining roadless areas as wilderness. The Coaliton to Protect the Front Heritage Act is nothing more than a wolf in sheep's clothing designated to permanently protect activities known to degrade and destroy public values.

George Wuerthner is an ecologist, former government botanist, and author of 35 books.

USFW extending the comment period regarding Federal delisting of Wolves in the Great Lakes region............The Feds are allowing more information to be presented about whether the States would have to manage Gray wolves......(or).....both Gray wolves and Eastern Wolves.....(or) manage gray wolves with the Feds still managing Eastern Wolves.......The debate continues on whether one or two species of wolves exist in this part of the world...................We have suggested that it is unwieldly for the States and/or the Feds to manage two nearly identical looking wolf species(if it turns out there are two species)..............We want the States to manage the Wolves not by reducing populations by 2/3 as is the goal of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.............but rather to manage the wolves with all stakeholders involved and with ecosytem health as top priority,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Manage for the health of the land, not just for farmer/hunter needs

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What is the status of gray wolf protection?

 The U.S. Fish andWildlife Service is giving the

public additional time to comment on a plan to

drop gray wolves in the western Great Lakes

region from the federal endangered species list.
The agency has proposed removing federal
 protections for wolves in Michigan, Minnesota

 and Wisconsin. 

 A public comment period ended July fifth, but

 officials have decided to give scientists

andothers more time to provide information on

the possibility that the region has two distinct

species of wolves...gray wolves and Eastern

timber wolves.

The new comment period will run from August
 26 to September 26.  Spokeswoman Georgia

Parham says the agency still plans to make a
 final decision on whether to remove the gray
 wolf from the endangered list by the end of the


450 acres of sub-alpine Forest surrounding the BRECKENRIDGE SKI RESORT in Colorado is targeted for further resort expansion.........Lynx love this type terrain and the Forest Service has acknowledged this but still has stated that they are in favor of proceeding with the development.............Contradictory statements by Forest Service Officials first stating that lynx can sustain the expansion impacts and then turning around and making other statements that suggest anxiety about Lynx ability to persist in mixed developement regions............Your head begins to spin when you read the article below............So much "used car salesmen" b.s. in these type discussion..........Talk about political mumbo jumbo and slide of hand and deception...........Nauseating it is and representative of the ANYTHING BUT SCIENCE BASED DECISION MAKING that should be at play in managing for long term persistance of the just recovering and restored Colorado Lynx population

Ski Resort Expansion Threatens Lynx Habitat

Plans for Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado could affect the elusive cat, among other environmental consequences.

By Janice Kurbjun
Editor's Note: The famed Breckenridge Ski Resort is planning an expansion that has Colorado residents worried. A proposal to incorporate an area called Peak 6 threatens wildlife habitat, an ecologically valuable watershed, and spruce and fir hundreds of years old. The proposed expansion would include a six-person, detachable lift and 450 acres of terrain. The first draft of an environmental impact statement (EIS) was released June 10 by the Forest Service for 45 days of public comment......

Summit County has a few lynx living in the area, having moved northward from the 1999 reintroduction area of the San Juan Mountains. By 2005, more than 200 lynx had been released, and monitoring was beginning to show success. In September of last year, the Colorado Division of Wildlife announced the reintroduced population was self-sustaining. They've since switched their monitoring to another focus area.

"The lynx is found in dense sub-alpine forest and willow-choked corridors along mountain streams and avalanche chutes, the home of its favored prey species, the snowshoe hare," the Division of Parks and Wildlife website states. Those dense, sub-alpine forests are what comprise the terrain for Breckenridge Ski Resort's Peak 6 proposed expansion—meaning the project's effect on lynx has come under significant public scrutiny.

The Forest Service issued an amendment that allows the project to move forward despite being "likely to adversely affect" lynx and despite the project being situated in primary lynx habitat.
 "Most of the Peak 5 and 6 habitat block below treeline is an intact, continuous, second-growth, spruce-fir dominated forest block that is little-used by humans," the Forest Service's draft environmental impact statement states. "Most of the Peak 5 and 6 block also supports a multi-layered understory with . . . relatively high snowshoe hare track abundance."
The statement adds that there is high-quality habitat along with low-quality and non-habitat in the area. There's also highly suitable habitat for lynx south of the ski resort. Lynx have been known to coexist with the ski resort operations in order to cross the Tenmile Range to connect with southerly habitat, the document states.

White River National Forest Service supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said previously that the lynx habitat in Breckenridge is already so fragmented that making the waiver shouldn't have a dramatic impact. On the other hand, he said, there are collared lynx known to be living near Copper Mountain, making it a more sensitive area.

"We're still learning about them, too," said Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton. "How they adapt in Colorado, circa 2011, is not always consistent to what we know about lynx circa 1950," he said, adding that some behaviors are unexpected — like appearing under ski lifts, and next to highways. Indeed, according to the environmental impact statement, Colorado lynx have maneuvered across broken habitat, and have bedded down in areas proximate to human activity.  But the environmental impact statement also says that Colorado's lynx habitat is already patchy and discontinuous.

"Maintaining landscape-level habitat connectivity may be paramount to maintaining a viable population," the document states. "Colorado lynx habitats are not only constrained by broad alpine zones and non-forested valleys, but also by towns, reservoirs, highways and other human developments that fragment and isolate montane and subalpine lynx habitats." It adds, "Any continuously forested corridor between mountain ranges supporting lynx habitat that is relatively free of human development has the potential to be an important landscape linkage. Large tracts of continuous forest are the most effective for lynx travel and dispersal."

Nonetheless, research and analysis seem to show that ski areas and lynx can coexist, primarily through the day-time uses of on-snow operations versus nighttime uses of the lynx, which are primarily nocturnal. Officials claim there's a difference between habitat connectivity and the ability of a lynx to move through portions of the landscape.

Forest Service spokesman Pat Thrasher said Peak 6 is within the Forest Service's larger lynx study area, but is a relatively small portion from an acreage standpoint. He added that all data collected from the area so far is raw and unanalyzed, including the lynx population of the area.

Breckenridge Ski Resort chief operating officer Pat Campbell said she and her mountain operators defer to the experts when it comes to their project's impact on lynx. "They determine the project design criteria and mitigation based on potential impacts," she said. "We trust them to manage those public lands appropriately. It's their say."

Lynx were reintroduced to the area because biologists felt there was still good habitat for them to thrive. They are said to have disappeared from the area around 1973.