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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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Monday, October 31, 2011

Ralph Maughan's great Wildlife blog reporting on the one Grizzly population where their density approaches carrying capacity in close to the USA and Vancouver(Flathead region just North of Glacier National Park and West of Waterton National Park-Canada)

Grizzly bear populations near Vancouver, B.C....By Ralph Maughan

Recent observation of a grizzly in the Pitt River, a reason for hope-

One look at the forested, very scenic, and deep mountains around busy Vancouver, British Columbia and you would think the woods might be full of grizzly bears. It isn't true, especially close to Vancouver. The Garibaldi-Pitt grizzly bear population unit (GBPU) and the North Cascades GBPU are the most depleted (number of bears compared to available habitat). The farther you get from Vancouver (with the exception of the busy Okanagan area) the more grizzly there are compared to what the country could support.

Not surprisingly the country where the big bears do best is generally the north half of the Province, but with healthy populations extending down the Coast Range as long as they don't get within a couple hundred miles of Vancouver or within about a hundred miles of the U.S. border. One nice exception here is the Flathead GBPU, just north of America's Glacier National Park and west of Canada's Waterton National Park. Here they are at about 70% of the habitat's population capacity.

With these facts in mind, the appearance the appearance of a well fed adult grizzly, feasting on salmon in the upper Pitt River about 12 miles north of Pitt Lake and not far from Vancouver is good news.

Did Dogs emerge from Wolves 32,000 years ago, 12,000 years earlier than most researchers had previously believed?....Are the old theories about how humans domesticated Wolves no longer valid?...... The emerging story sees humans and proto-dogs evolving together....: We chose them, to be sure, but they chose us too, and our shared characteristics may well account for our seemingly unshakable mutual intimacy.....highly socialized wolves and people to form alliances..... It also leads logically to the conclusion that the first dogs were born on the move with bands of hunter-gatherers—not around semi-permanent pre-agricultural settlements.... This may explain why it has proven so difficult to identify a time and place of domestication

From the Cave to the Kennel

What the evolutionary history of the dog tells us about another animal: ourselves. From a cave in France, a new picture has emerged of canines as our prehistoric soulmates.

[DOGS]Ross MacDonald
Chauvet Cave in southern France houses the oldest representational paintings ever discovered. Created some 32,000 years ago, the 400-plus images of large grazing animals and the predators who hunted them form a multi-chambered Paleolithic bestiary. Many scholars believe that these paintings mark the emergence of a recognizably modern human consciousness. We feel that we know their creators, even though they are from a time and place as alien as another planet.

What most intrigues many people about the cave, however, is not the artwork but a set of markings at once more human and more mysterious: the bare footprints of an 8- to 10-year-old torch-bearing boy left in the mud of a back chamber some 26,000 years ago—and, alongside one of them, the paw print of his traveling companion, variously identified as a wolf or a large dog.
Attributing that paw print to a dog or even to a socialized wolf has been controversial since it was first proposed a decade ago. It would push back by some 12,000 years the oldest dog on record. More than that: Along with a cascade of other new scientific findings, it could totally rewrite the story of man and dog and what they mean to each other.
[DOGS jump]Getty Images

For decades, the story told by science has been that today's dogs are the offspring of scavenger wolves who wandered into the villages established by early humans at the end of the last ice age, about 15,000 years ago. This view emphasizes simple biological drive—to feed on human garbage, the scavenging wolf had to behave in a docile fashion toward humans. And—being human—we responded in kind, seeking out dogs for their obsequiousness and unconditional devotion.

As the story goes, these tame wolves bred with other tame wolves and became juvenilized. Think of them as wolves-lite, diminished in strength, stamina and brains. They resembled young wolves, with piebald coats, floppy ears and shorter, weaker jaws. Pleading whiners, they drowned their human marks in slavish devotion and unconditional love. Along the way, they lost their ability to kill and consume their prey.

But it was never clear, in this old account, just how we got from the scavenging wolf to the remarkable spectrum of dogs who have existed over time, from fell beasts trained to terrorize and kill people to creatures so timid that they flee their own shadows. The standard explanation was that once the dump-diver became a dog, humans took charge of its evolution through selective breeding, choosing those with desired traits and culling those who came up short.
DOGS jump
This account is now falling apart in the face of new genetic analyses and recently discovered fossils. The emerging story sees humans and proto-dogs evolving together: We chose them, to be sure, but they chose us too, and our shared characteristics may well account for our seemingly unshakable mutual intimacy.

Dogs and humans are social beings who depend on cooperation for their survival and have an uncanny ability to understand each other in order to work together. Both wolves and humans brought unique, complementary talents to a relationship that was based not on subservience and intimidation but on mutual respect.

It seems that wolves and humans met on the trail of the large grazing animals that they both hunted, and the most social members of both species gravitated toward each other. Several scholars have even suggested that humans learned to hunt from wolves. At the least, camps with wolf sentinels had a competitive advantage over those without. And people whose socialized wolves would carry packs had an even greater advantage, since they could transport more supplies. Wolves benefited as well by gaining some relief from pup rearing, protection for themselves and their offspring, and a steadier food supply.

The relationship between dogs and humans has been so mutually beneficial and enduring that some scholars have suggested that we—dog and human—influenced each other's evolution.

The Chauvet Cave "dogwolf"—the term I use for a doglike, or highly socialized, wolf who kept company with humans—is controversial, but it cannot easily be dismissed. Over the past three years, it has been grouped convincingly with a number of similar animals that have been identified in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and the Altai Mountains in Southern Siberia, dating from 33,000 to 16,000 years ago.

Identification of these early dogs, combined with recent genetic evidence and a growing understanding of animals not as stimulus-response machines but as sentient beings, has broken the consensus model of dog domestication—leaving intact little more than the recognition of the grey wolf, Canis lupus, as progenitor of the dog. Everything else, it seems, is up for grabs.
Border Collie

According to the old view, the dog arose around 15,000 years ago in the Middle East. (Or in China, south of the Yangtze River, an alternate possible origin point added in the last decade in an attempt to reconcile archaeological evidence with emerging DNA evidence.)

The first major challenge to the consensus came in 1997, when an international team of biologists published a paper in the journal Science placing the origin of the dog as early as 135,000 years ago. Their date was based on analysis of mitochondrial DNA, which is passed on to offspring through females and is believed to change little from generation to generation; it allows scientists to calculate the time when populations or species separated genetically. This analysis suggested that wolves could have become dogs wherever in Eurasia they associated closely with early humans, and that even after the split was made, dogs and wolves continued to interbreed.

DOGS jump

In short, because of their natural affinities, wherever and whenever wolves and humans met on the trail, some of them began to keep company. Often, when socialized wolves died, there were no others immediately available to replace them. But sometimes several socialized wolves would mate or a socialized female would mate with a "wild" wolf and then have her litter near the human camp. The pups would stay or go, according to their natures. This kind of arrangement could have continued for a considerable period. Any number of them could ultimately have produced dogwolves or dogs. Most of those lines would have vanished over time.

The DNA evidence remained controversial for years, even as most major studies placed the genetic separation of wolf and dog at earlier dates than those favored by archaeologists. Hard proof was slow to appear. The Chauvet Cave paw print once provided the only physical evidence for the existence of dogs before 15,000 years ago—and it was, at best, an indirect piece of support.

Then in 2008, Mietje Germonpré, a paleontologist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science and the leader of an international team of scientists, re-examined fossil material excavated from Goyet Cave in Belgium in the late 19th century and announced the identification of a 31,700-year-old dog, a large and powerful animal who ate reindeer, musk oxen and horses. The dogwolf from Goyet Cave was a creature of the Aurignacian culture that had produced the art in Chauvet Cave.

Last July, another international team identified the remains of a 33,000-year-old "incipient dog" from the Altai Mountains in southern Siberia. This month, Ms. Germonpr√© confirmed another find, this one in the Czech Republic, of the remains of a 26,000- to 27,000-year-old dog that had been buried with a bone in its mouth—perhaps to fuel it as it accompanied its human companion to the afterlife.

While the old consensus model held that the first dogs were small, these and other recently identified early dogs are large animals, often with shorter noses and broader faces than today's wolves. These early dogs appear in the camps of hunters of horses, reindeer, mammoths and other big game. From all appearances, they were pack animals, guards, hunters and companions. They are perhaps best viewed as the offspring of highly socialized wolves who had begun breeding in or near human camps.

Our view of domestication as a process has also begun to change, with recent research showing that, in dogs, alterations in only a small number of genes can have large effects in terms of size, shape and behavior. Far from being a product of the process of domestication, the mutations that separated early dogs from wolves may have arisen naturally in one or more small populations; the mutations were then perpetuated by humans through directed breeding. Geneticists have identified, for instance, a mutation in a single gene that appears to be responsible for smallness in dogs, and they have shown that the gene itself probably came from Middle Eastern wolves.

All of this suggests that it was common for highly socialized wolves and people to form alliances. It also leads logically to the conclusion that the first dogs were born on the move with bands of hunter-gatherers—not around semi-permanent pre-agricultural settlements. This may explain why it has proven so difficult to identify a time and place of domestication.

Taken together, these recent discoveries have led some scientists to conclude that the dog became an evolutionary inevitability as soon as humans met wolves. Highly social wolves and highly social humans started walking, playing and hunting together and never stopped. The dog is literally the wolf who stayed, who traded wolf society for human society.

Humans did wield a significant influence over dogs, of course, by using breeding to perpetuate mutations affecting their shape, size and physical abilities. Recent studies suggest that the dog has unique abilities among animals to follow human directions and that its capacity for understanding words can approach that of a two-year-old child. To various degrees, humans appear to have concentrated those and other characteristics and traits through selective breeding.

Since the advent of scientific breeding in the late 18th century, humans have altered the look and temperament of the dog more than they had over thousands of preceding years. A team of gene-sequencers at the Broad Institute of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimated that the dog lost 4% of its genetic diversity during its initial separation from the wolf. Much greater losses have occurred as a result of modern breed formation, one result of which is the more than 400 inheritable diseases to which purebreds are uniquely vulnerable.

Recent genetic evidence has confirmed that certain basic types—pariah dogs, sight hounds, mastiffs, spitz-type dogs and small dogs—arose very early in the transformation of wolf to dog. These dogs adapted to their homelands and often had special talents as hunters, guards and eventually herders. These characteristics were often perpetuated over time.

Scientific breeders believed they could improve on nature by consolidating several similar types into one breed or isolating a few prize specimens from a larger population. In both cases, they relied on inbreeding to create and perpetuate the look and talents they wanted. With the advent of kennel clubs in the mid-19th century, the pace of breed creation picked up.

Breeders began to create dogs to fit the needs of the wealthy—from sporting dogs that could point and retrieve fowl, to little puppy-like lap dogs. The dog proved to be a wonderful animal for testing the skill of breeders, since it could be stretched in size from two to 200 pounds.

Purebred dogs were expensive commodities until after World War II, when they became symbols of arrival in the middle class. Increased demand led to increased breeding, often in puppy mills. The resulting dogs had health and behavior problems from bad breeding and the poor care of pregnant females and newborn puppies.

In some cases, the traits that breeders desire are inherited along with unwanted, debilitating conditions—such as when blindness and epilepsy accompany particular coat styles and eye colors. In many regards, the original, naturally occurring breeds were healthier and better at their appointed tasks than their purebred heirs.

But this is just the most recent chapter of a long tale. The tableau in the mud of Chauvet Cave is a stark reminder that dogs and humans have traveled together for tens of thousands of years, from ancient hunting camps to farms, ranches cities and suburbs—from the tropics to the poles. The relationship has endured not because dogs are juvenilized wolves but because they are dogs—our faithful companions.

—Mr. Derr's most recent book is "How the Dog Became the Dog: From Wolves to Our Best Friends."

Like in so much of our developed East, juvenile bobcats in Central Florida that are looking to disperse and set up new home territories are forced into marginal marshland habitat that are crisscrossed by roadways.............The "Bobs" often are hit by cars, thus limiting rewilding expansion and spread of the gene pool throughout the State......Bobcats prefer forested habitats. Marshes are not optimal as they generally lack sufficient cover and are frequently too wet. Furthermore,,,,, Bobcats are most fit when they have access to abundant rabbits and cotton rats...... Though the marshes contain these prey items, they are more abundant in drier habitats.....Bobcats help maintain natural balance and their loss can induce the loss of other species..... Such is the nature of cascading degradable effects associated with the disappearance of top predators from the biosphere...... This is a theme that has already occurred in Florida.... With the extirpation of the panther, red wolf, and black bear from east central Florida, raccoons have increased in numbers and so has their rate of depredation on sea turtle eggs..... This increased depredation is likely one of the causes that sea turtles are now endangered...... One can easily guess what will happen to rabbit and rat populations when the bobcat disappears and can only imagine what ecological problems will follow..... The bobcat is also an umbrella species...... Because bobcats require lots of forested land, efforts to maintain them automatically umbrella the preservation of the many other species that need less land to thrive and multiply

Bobcats, Corridors, and the Eastern Florida Flatwoods Ecoregion
The Regional Effects of Habitat Loss in Brevard County
By Tim Mallow

When one looks out across the marshes of the St. Johns River, one might think that this large protected system meets the needs of wildlife in east central Florida. This is true - if you are a marsh species. Indeed, along some of the roads that cross the watershed, observations of wildlife depict a different picture: a disproportionately high frequency of bobcat (Lynx rufus floridanus) road deaths near the edges of the marshes.

What is additionally disconcerting is the sequence of events leading up to these deaths. Making use of landscapes that have been subjected to intense habitat loss as a result of development, some adults do manage to defend severely fragmented or smaller than typical home ranges and find each other to mate. Within a year of birth, juveniles will disperse in search of space in which to establish their adult ranges. However, vacant ranges are rare in the severely fragmented landscape.

 As a result, juveniles will range widely, exploring hostile terrain - often being harassed by larger and more experienced resident adults that occupy the landscape at or near carrying capacity, or being shot at as a nuisance. These factors force these younger cats into areas that are used less by bobcats, but areas that are also less suitable - the watershed marshes. There they frequently travel along a highway because it is one of the few available dry areas that possess appreciable cover - the shrubby vegetation adjacent the road. Unwarily, they wander onto the paved road where they are frequently killed by an automobile.

That the watershed is a cure-all for the needs of wildlife is a notion that fails to consider the life history traits and ecology of the bobcat. Bobcats prefer forested habitats. Marshes are not optimal habitat. They generally lack sufficient cover and are frequently too wet. Furthermore, bobcats are most fit when they have access to abundant rabbits and cotton rats. Though the marshes contain these prey items, they are more abundant in drier habitats.

Unfortunately, uplands in Brevard County, like anywhere else, are the targets of development. Brevard County is one of the fastest growing counties in Florida. Close proximity to many attractions and industry make it an idea area for growth. The Kennedy Space Center, high technology industries, seaside attractions, and nearby Orlando collectively act to increase residential and commercial developments in the county. As a result, Brevard County has experienced intensive habitat loss resulting in the loss of a significant amount of suitable bobcat habitat as shown in Figure 1 below.

 Should the remaining uplands be developed, bobcat numbers will further decline and those remaining will be forced to exclusively occupy the less suitable habitats in the watershed. As these habitats are unsuitable for bobcats, population viability will probably decline. This is because poor quality habitats tend to decrease reproductive success and general individual health.

This situation presents a significant problem on a regional scale. Brevard County probably acts as a vital link for terrestrial wildlife populations to the north and may be considered the only avenue for gene flow into that area. That area is the northern part of the Eastern Florida Flatwoods Ecoregion - the area defined by the St. Johns River, the intracoastal waterway, Jacksonville, and Brevard County as shown on Figure 2 below.

 Brevard County could be viewed as the only link into that area because the St. Johns floodplain probably acts as a virtual barrier to any significant immigration from the west. Thus, that block is vulnerable to genetic isolation. Should natural areas in Brevard County be developed to the extent that wide-ranging species such as the bobcat are no longer able to make a passage through the county from south to north, then gene flow could cease to occur from areas south of the county into that northern habitat block.

Though its natural areas are currently sufficiently large and continuous to promote bobcat population viability, future development in that northern area will likely fragment and shrink those populations. As a result, populations could genetically drift toward monomorphism - the loss of genetic variability. This is because population reduction can lead to an increase in the rates of inbreeding - matings between individuals of similar genetic make-up. A lack of genetic variation can lead to an expression of lethal recessive genes and a loss of genes important for survival and adaptation to changing environmental conditions. A host of biomedical problems can subsequently occur: a decrease in reproduction, an increase in physiologic impairments (some are fatal), and a decrease in immunity to diseases. These anomalies tend to weaken a population's demographic stability. Numbers decline and age and sex structures are skewed. The process tends to feed on itself and contributes towards increased biomedical problems and further population reduction. The end result is that bobcats in those eastern counties could eventually disappear in an extinction vortex associated with small populations.

The bobcat is the only large Florida carnivore remaining at population status in Brevard County. If bobcats disappear from this area, it will lose yet one more component of the food web and its old wild Florida heritage. It must be decided if this can be afforded. The bobcat is a keystone species and its absence as a top predator can induce erosion in animal community stability. This means that its presence determines what other species exist in the food web, as well as their abundance's. Its absence as a keystone predator can cause prey populations (rabbit and rodent) to increase, over-forage and deplete their own food sources.

This food depletion can increase competition between species that use the same foods. Some species may dominate the dwindling food supply and cause others to disappear.

Thus, bobcats help maintain natural balance and their loss can induce the loss of other species. Such is the nature of cascading degradable effects associated with the disappearance of top predators from the biosphere. This is a theme that has already occurred in Florida. With the extirpation of the panther, red wolf, and black bear from east central Florida, raccoons have increased in numbers and so has their rate of depredation on sea turtle eggs. This increased depredation is likely one of the causes that sea turtles are now endangered. One can easily guess what will happen to rabbit and rat populations when the bobcat disappears and can only imagine what ecological problems will follow. The bobcat is also an umbrella species. Because bobcats require lots of forested land, efforts to maintain them automatically umbrella the preservation of the many other species that need less land, without duplicated cost.

 Finally, people benefit from their presence. As a symbol of old Florida that enhances the aesthetic quality of an area, its exciting to see a bobcat and habitat protection provides natural areas for people to enjoy and travel back in time. To prevent local extinction of the bobcat and these cascading effects, Coryi Foundation, Inc. is conducting radio-collar and biomedical research on bobcats to determine how habitat loss and fragmentation have effected bobcat populations in Brevard County and the ecoregion. With the use of radio-telemetry, the Foundation is also identifying the corridors and core tracts they use.

The Foundation will use this information to develop a corridor-core reserve network habitat conservation plan that can be used to promote ecoregion-wide connectivity. This connectivity will insure that freedom of movement is retained throughout Brevard County and the ecoregion so that genetic links stay open. It will insure that a metapopulation network of population cores exist, possess sufficient protected habitat, and are connected with each other via corridors. These measures will insure genetic variability and a viable persistence of the bobcat and its community throughout the ecoregion. The plan will target corridor and core lands that are deemed essential for long term persistence as priorities for conservation. The plan will be used as a vehicle to encourage organizations involved with land acquisition and habitat protection to work towards preserving the targeted lands.

Related Material:
Bobcat Metapopulation Research and Conservation Project Summary of Goals
Bobcat Population Dynamics in Fragmented Landscapes Research
The Potential Threats to Bobcat Population Viability in Brevard County

Figure 1. Map of Current Suitable Bobcat Habitat in Brevard County.
The map reveals that north-south connectivity in Brevard County is minimal at best.


This map merely shows what currently exists as suitable bobcat habitat. It does not provide information about how bobcats are actually using the landscape. Because of this, the map cannot be used by itself to develop habitat conservation plans. What is needed is real-time scientific evidence of how bobcats are actually using the landscape. This evidence is currently being obtained through the research being conducted by Coryi Foundation, Inc.

A Habitat Conservation Plan for the landscape depicted in the map below is of little value without direct evidence of what locally works for animals in terms of landscape patterns. Landscape patterns vary from locale to locale. Patterns strongly influence habitat selection. Even if a parcel of land contains preferred habitats, it may never be used by a certain species if it does not fit into the landscape in a pattern that the species favors. What looks good on a map that merely depicts all preferred habitats does not necessarily reflect how animals will actually use the landscape. Furthermore, models, extrapolations from literature, etc., need to be tempered with local field-derived research data because they are either largely theoretical or applicable to other landscapes or populations. The direct evidence can only be obtained from radio-telemetry research. Likewise, reserve network design factors in a habitat conservation plan can only be obtained from radio-telemetry. These factors include the appropriate size and shape of corridors, the range of tolerated spatial habitat heterogeneity, the effects of roads and other anthropogenic structures, etc. As such, a habitat conservation plan and any simple map of preferred habitats in this case is generally useless until the scientific evidence obtained from radio-telemetry produces the real data on how animals actually use the particular landscape. This evidence is currently being obtained through the research being conducted by Coryi Foundation, Inc.

Coryi Foundation, Inc. will be developing the Habitat Conservation Plan based on the research findings and other criteria

GREEN - SUITABLE HABITATS - upland forests, wetland forests (nongrass stages of the sere), limited agriculture, etc.
WHITE - UNSUITABLE HABITATS - urban development, agriculture, barren lands, non-forested wetlands.

county.jpg (33826 bytes)

Figure 2. The Eastern Florida Flatwoods Ecoregion.

eco1.jpg (168907 bytes)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

When I read myopic articles like the one below about how allegedly there is a "SURPLUS" of Cougars in South Dakota, it stirs my juices............The entire midwest and eastern USA have seen Cougars extirpated and South Dakota should be the "feeder" point for further eastward expansion...........Researchers in the State need to develop the "LONG VIEW" and not be so narrow focused and feeling that it all begins and ends in South Dakota for our Cougars

Mountain Lions: From nearly gone to a huntable surplus

Steve Griffin remembers that lion back in the 1990s. It was the first he had ever seen in the Black Hills.
But it wouldn't be the last. Far from it.As a wildlife biologist for the state Game, Fish & Parks Department in Rapid City, Griffin has watched over the last 20 years as the mountain lion went from a startling novelty to a daily fact of life in the Black Hills.

"Back when is started, it was unusual. We'd get a report here and a report there," said Griffin, who began his GF&P career in Rapid City as a resources specialist in 1991. "I remember I saw one from a helicopter during an elk survey. And that was a really big deal. We circled around to look again."

Fast forward 15 or 20 years and there are lions crossing roads, lions in people's yards, lions walkingdown streets in the middle of Rapid City.Not all the time. Not every day. But regularly.
Now, there is even a hunting season on lions, one that last winter killed 49 of the big cats.
What a difference a couple of decades can make
From a protected creature covered under the state's threatened species law 20 years ago, the lion has become a relatively common inhabitant of the Black Hills. It has gone from a rarity to being reclassified as a big-game animal hunted and killed by the dozens each year.

GF&P Commissioner John Cooper of Pierre, who served as GF&P Department secretary from 1995 to 2007, also watched the progression of lions in the Black Hills from a shadowy piece of history to a reality of modern life. When Cooper was appointed by former Gov. Bill Janklow to lead GF&P early in 1995, one of his first stops was at the agency's regional office in Rapid City.
There he learned from staff members that lions were a developing issue.

"The staff there said they were getting more lion reports and more confirmation by trappers and our officers of lion tracks and lion kills on deer and prey," Cooper said. "That was the first indication I had that we were going to have to manage a species that had basically been extirpated from the Black Hills region, and from South Dakota for all practical purposes."

Lions had indeed been rare in the Black Hills since early in the 1900s. There were stories. There were tracks. There were occasional sightings. But the big cat's status for most of the 1900s appeared deserving of the threatened rating it finally received in state law in 1978.

After that, the change came relatively quickly in terms of rebounding wildlife species. John Kanta, regional wildlife manager for GF&;P in Rapid City, said the lion recovery occurred through western states during the last 20 or 25 years.

South Dakota was a bit late in providing protection to the mountain lion, which was the target of unregulated hunting and even bounties, which existed until 1966."If you look back on that period around the turn of the century, we pretty much wiped them out," Kanta said of lions. "Here in South Dakota, we didn't protect the lion until 1978. Farther west of us, that protection occurred earlier, in the 1960s. And those states were already seeing lion numbers rebound when we placed the lions on South Dakota's threatened species list."

As lion populations increased in states to the west, "surplus" animals above the carrying capacity of given lion range migrated. Some ended up in the Black Hills, Kanta said.The eventual establishment of home ranges by female lion here is what allowed the population to begin building.
"So you go along with basically no lions, then a few start popping up, then you see a pretty significant increase in the growth curve," Kanta said.

"When you see the females establish, you also see that exponential growth in breeding activity. That's where it takes off."It took off here in the hills. And Cooper got to watch a lot of it happen as GF&;P secretary. He also led the department in asking state legislators to remove the lion from the protected list, allowing the GF&P Commission to establish a limited lion season in 2005.

That process survived court challenges from those who feared hunting would again wipe out the local lion population. Cooper said he never believed that would happen under modern wildlife management policies. Neither did he anticipate a lion season that would kill 49 cats, as the 2011 season did earlier this year.

Cooper, who retired as GF&P secretary in 2007, now serves on the citizen's commission that oversees the GF&P Department. He was one of two votes earlier this month against a commission decision to set the 2012 mountain lion season kill quota at 70 lions overall or 50 female lions.

Commissioners who voted for 70-lion quota, which is 20 more than this year's combined quota, did so in part because of concern among hunters that lions are killing too many elk and deer.Cooper understands that concern but preferred the GF&P staff's recommendation of 60 lions or a sub quota of 40 female cats. And he worries a bit that South Dakota's quota of 70, when added to a season in the Black Hills of Wyoming that could kill 40 lions, will result in a sport-hunting kill of more than 100 lions.

"To me, that seems like a significant amount of lions," Cooper said. "So we'll see."
Cooper doesn't worry about wiping out the lion. But the commission should be prepared to adjust numbers in the future if indications are that the quota was set too high.But whether the quota is 50, 60 or 70, Cooper remains amazed at how high it has become."That's not something I would ever have imagined when we started managing lions," Cooper said. "I wouldn't have figured on more than 20 or so a year."

Over the past five years, the government of Alberta has spent more than $1 million poisoning wolves with strychnine and shooting them from the air...... In all, more than 500 wolves in the Little Smoky River region have been destroyed in a controversial effort to save woodland caribou, whose numbers have plummeted as the oil, gas, and logging industries have increasingly carved up Alberta's boreal forest in recent decades...........Instead of improving and saving habitat, Resource managers are taking what seems to be the "lazy mans" approach to protecting Caribou by killing the Wolves..................Lu Carbyn, scientist emeritus with the Canadian Wildlife Service and adjunct professor at the University of Alberta, has been studying wolves in North America for more than 40 years....... While he is not a big supporter of predator control programs, he says they can be a very effective way of reviving ungulate populations that are under stress........... But Carbyn believes there is no sense killing wolves if habitat is not restored in highly disturbed oil and gas regions

Killing Wolves: A Product of
Alberta's Big Oil and Gas Boom

by Ed Struzik
The development of the tar sands and other oil and gas fields in Alberta has carved up the Canadian province's boreal forest, threatening herds of woodland caribou. But rather than protect caribou habitat, officials have taken a controversial step: the large-scale killing of the wolves that prey on the caribou.
In the spring of 1995, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service captured several wolves from west central Alberta and set them loose the next year in Yellowstone National Park, hoping they would fill in the missing link in the park's complex system of predator-prey relationships.

Wolves hadn't been seen in Yellowstone in 70 years. Beyond anyone's wildest expectations, and despite fierce opposition of some local ranchers and hunters, these and other wolves brought in from Alberta and British Columbia adjusted extremely well. Today, 11 packs, with nearly 100 wolves,are thriving in Yellowstone.

The fortunes of wolves in west central Alberta, however, have moved in a completely different direction. Over the past five years, the government of Alberta has spent more than $1 million poisoning wolves with strychnine and shooting them from the air. In all, more than 500 wolves in the Little Smoky River region have been destroyed in a controversial effort to save woodland caribou, whose numbers have plummeted as the oil, gas, and logging industries have increasingly carved up Alberta's boreal forest in recent decades.

The killing of wolves in Alberta is not going to end any time soon. Indeed, if some wildlife managers get their way, the predator control program could be expanded to include several other areas of the province, including the heavily mined tar sands region, where four caribou herds are beingsqueezed by the massive, multi-billion dollar oil mining operations. Two of those herds are already at risk of disappearingif their habitat is not restored soon, according to the Alberta Caribou Committee, which is charged with helping recover caribou populations. All told, tar sands deposits in Alberta underlie 54,000 square miles — an area the size of New York State — and while only a small portion of this is currently being developed, the continued expansion of the tar sands will further destroy caribou habitat.

In its latest report, the Alberta Caribou Committee notes that three of the province's 18 herds are at immediate risk of disappearing because of loss of habitat. Six are in decline, three are stable, and not enough is known about the remaining six to determine how well they are doing. Scientists are confident, however, that they are in decline as well, further fueling efforts to protect caribou by eradicating wolves.

"Wolf control can be an effective way of conserving dwindling caribou numbers," says Stan Boutin, a University of Alberta biologist who has spent more than 20 years trying to prevent caribou from disappearing in the province. "But the province is kidding itself if it thinks that wolf control alone is the answer. It's not."

The answer, according to nearly every scientist involved in the debate, is habitat protection — something that has not been high on the list of the Alberta government as it has pushed energy development in the tar sands region and throughout the province.

In the last five years, Alberta has spent more than $1 million poisoning wolves and shooting them from the air. Alberta officials have defended the killing of wolves in regions where woodland caribou numbers have plummeted, yet these officials acknowledge that preserving habitat is essential.
"Scientists recognize that wolf control is a legitimate means of managing caribou populations that are in trouble," said Darcy Whiteside, spokesman for the Alberta Sustainable Resources Department. "This is definitely needed to save that [Little Smoky River caribou] population. It has definitely stabilized that population. However, we also recognize that it is only a short-term solution and that habitat protection is key to saving caribou in the long run."

Wolves have long been used as scapegoats for wildlife management problems. For much of the 20th century, the U.S. and Canadian governments systematically targeted wolves. Initially, wildlife managers used bounties to encourage people to kill wolves. Then they used poison, leghold traps, and marksmen from helicopters to wipe out the predators. In extreme cases, such as in northern Minnesota, men were sent to dig out dens and strangle wolf pups.

Sometimes, these predator control programs worked too well, as in Yellowstone and Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies, where wolves also were completely extirpated. (They have since come back to Banff, albeit in small numbers). Most times though, the programs failed because biologists underestimated just how quickly a wolf population can rebound as long as there is prey for them to exploit.

These heavily criticized wolf eradication programs were discontinued almost everywhere in North America — except in Alberta and Alaska. TheScientists have long warned about the consequences of fracturing old growth forest.only difference now is that wildlife managers think they have a better handle on how to make wolf control programs work: Kill at least 60 percent — 80 percent is preferable — of the wolves in an area, according to the formula that most predator control experts rely on, and you begin to see a rebound in prey species after several years, as long as there is suitable habitat in which the species can recover.

The issue in Alberta is much different than in Alaska, where wolf control is done largely to enhance hunting opportunities for caribou. Because of intense logging and oil and gas development in Alberta, there is too much good habitat for wolves and not enough for caribou. That may sound strange, but in the unprotected areas of Alberta the old growth forest that used to support moderate numbers of wolves and caribou is increasingly being carved up. At last count, 34,773 wells, 66,489 kilometers of seismic lines, 11,591 kilometers of pipelines, and 12,283 kilometers of roads had been built in caribou country in west central and northern Alberta. That doesn't include the vast areas of forest that have been logged.

 Open areas such as these favor moose, elk, and especially deer. As the number of these creatures expand, so do the number of wolves. More often than not, caribou, which rely on old growth forests for lichen and predator protection, are nothing more than passing targets as wolves move easily from one clear cut to another through the shrinking old growth forest.

For more than two decades, scientists have been warning the Alberta government about the consequences of fracturing old growth forest in this way. The latest to weigh in on this issue was a team of 30 boreal forest scientists commissioned by the Canadian government to review the data and habitat conditions of caribou in Alberta. In 2008, they recommended that cut lines, well sites, and roads that favor wolves need to be reforested if caribou are going to have a chance of surviving in oil and gas country.

The Canadian government, which is ultimately responsible for the country's endangered species, deferred taking action, claiming that not enough is known about the "spatial distribution" of caribou to warrant identification

Wildlife experts say killing wolves makes no sense if habitat is not restored.of critical habitat. But then last August, the federal government came up with a recovery plan that opened the door for the wolf control program in Alberta to continue. Noting that "human-induced habitat alterations have upset the natural balance between boreal caribou and their predators," the report said that wolf eradication programs "will be required... to stabilize individual local populations in the short term." In the long term, the report said, caribou populations can only be self-sustaining if their habitat is preserved.

Lu Carbyn, scientist emeritus with the Canadian Wildlife Service and adjunct professor at the University of Alberta, has been studying wolves in North America for more than 40 years. While he is not a big supporter of predator control programs, he says they can be a very effective way of reviving ungulate populations that are under stress. But Carbyn believes there is no sense killing wolves if habitat is not restored in highly disturbed oil and gas regions.

University of Alberta biologist Boutin notes that no matter how many wolves have been killed in the territory of the Little Smoky caribou herd, the wolves keep bouncing back. "They're spending an awful lot of money killing a lot of wolves in order to keep a handful of caribou calves alive," said Boutin. "Sooner than later, this strategy is going to fail them."

Boutin; Richard Schneider, executive director of the Alberta Center for Boreal Research; and University of Alberta natural resource economists Vic Adamowicz and Grant Hauer have estimated that it would be possible to preserve half of Alberta's caribou habitat while giving up less than 1 percent of potential revenues from resource development.

The Crucial Role of Predators:
A New Perspective on Ecology

Scientists have begun to understand the vital role played by top predators in ecosystems and the impacts that occur when those predators are wiped out. Now, authorCaroline Fraser writes, researchers are citing new evidence that shows the importance of lions, wolves, sharks, and other creatures at the top of the food chain.

Recently, criticism of wolf eradication programs has come from an unexpected source — Bob Hayes, a biologist who led the Yukon government's wolf control programs in the 1980s and 1990s. By his own count, Hayes has killed 851 wolves and sterilized many others in the name of science and conservation biology. Despite sharp professional disagreements, hate mail from environmentalists, and threats from eco-terrorists, Hayes says he has never doubted that he was doing what needed to be done to protect caribou, moose, and other prey species in the Yukon Territory.

But Hayes, author of Wolves of the Yukon, now believes that wolf eradication programs merely buy time and do little to address the real reason why ungulates are in decline. "I spent 18 years studying the effects of lethal wolf control on prey populations," says Hayes. "The science clearly shows killing wolves is biologically wrong... When we kill wolves, we're killing the very thing that makes the natural world wild."

North Carolina State Bobcat Research to determine abundance and habitat use in the Eastern wetlands of the State..........Also, researchers will determine what other mammals are coexisting with "bobs" in this region

Bull Neck Swamp Bobcat Research
North Carolina State Researchers are conducting a project on Bull Neck Swamp to determine homerange, movement patterns, and dispersal of bobcat (Lynx rufus) using satellite collars.

The objectives of this research are to:

1. Determine the most efficient survey technique that can be used in wetland habitats of North Carolina for estimating abundances and distributions of mammals.
2. Develop a model of habitat use by bobcats in Eastern N.C. wetlands.
3. Using GPS collars, determine seasonal use by bobcats of areas with different landcovers in a wetland.
4. Using data from bobcats at BNS, test my model and other pre-existing, landscape level models.
5. Develop a global database of bobcat tracks that will aid in non-invasive survey techniques used to estimate populations through the cooperation of Wildtrack (
bobcat and 2 kits at BNS
Objective 1: As land managers it is important to have a thorough understanding of species diversity, species richness, population size, and habitat use of all species occupying BNS. A study was completed by Hutchens (2007) that provided detailed information on herpetofauna species richness and habitat use. Although this study provided important management information for BNS, data on mammal diversity, abundance, and habitat use is lacking.

 By conducting survey techniques for mammals at BNS we can develop population abundance and distribution indices and determine the most efficient technique that may be effective in Eastern N.C. wetlands. Mammal survey techniques implemented on BNS include spotlight, scent station and camera monitoring, predator calling, hair sampling and fecal line transects.

 An example of one months results for tracks located at scent stations are shown here and include black bear (Ursus americanus), bobcat (Lynx rufus), gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), American beaver (Castor canadensis), muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus), common raccoon (Procyon lotor), and virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana). Preliminary field work conducted in the summer of 2007 estimated at least 6 individual bobcats on the track through photo identification. In March 2008, bobcats were trapped and radio-collared to monitor habitat use and movement.
coyote seen at Bull Neck Swamp Signs of coyote (Canis latrans ) are rare on the track.
Objective 2: Habitat-relation models may be useful to monitor indicator species and their habitats. Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) models have been used since the early 1980's and were initially developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service based on expert opinion, empirical data, or both. The HSI for bobcat was developed in 1987 for application in the Southeastern United States (Boyle and Fendley 1987). Understanding specific habitat requirements at BNS are essential to planning land management activities on bobcat population size adn distributions.

Over 200 vegetation surveys were conducted in Summer 2008 throughout BNS. Measurements taken include; ground cover, visual obstruction, canopy cover, basal area, low shrub species and abundance, nearest tree/species and temperature. Supervised classification on high resolution aerial photography along with more extensive ground truthing will be conducted to determine habitat variation at BNS.

Objective 3: Landcover use by bobcat has been studied in a few areas of the United States but varies by region and by sampling technique used (click here for details). Currently, bobcat landcover use and selection at BNS is unknown. Based on work of Lancia et al. (1982) and King et al. (1983), variation in landcover use and techniques presented in the peer reviewed literature, and on pilot research, we hypothesize that in the fragmented landscape of BNS bobcat will select early successional and upland landcovers. In March 2008, 6 bobcats were trapped and GPS collared with the help of USDA Aphis. Preliminary results show use of much of the habitat at BNS.
GPS points from bobcat at BNS
Objective 5: Wildtrack is an organization that specializes in non-invasive population monitoring techniques. Wildtracks' protocol derives an algorithm by using images of 20 left hind tracks from 20 individuals (in our case 20 bobcats, below left image). Digital photographs are taken from known bobcats of prints noting the species, date, location, and track number. The images are uploaded into a software program where landmark points are placed on reference points on the footprint (below right image). Measurements are taken of distances and angles between these points. A resulting geometrical profile is analyzed using JMP software making it possible to identify individual animals. Wildtrack has successfully applied this technique to white rhino (Ceratotherium simum) and the Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris) and is in the process of building databases for black rhino (Diceros bicornis), the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus), polar bear (Ursus maritimus), and bobcat.
bobcat track ready for Wildtrackblack rhino track with landmark points
For more information on this project, please contact Aimee Rockhill at

Saturday, October 29, 2011

cascadia Wild's Wolverine Tracking Project in the Mt. Hood National Forest is seeking to determine if the Woverine still calls this part of the world home ...........The project teaches volunteers animal-tracking skills as part of a long-term survey designed to detect signs of rare carnivores............ Classroom and field training is followed by daylong trips geared toward volunteers' various skill levels and physical abilities............. The data volunteers gather is forwarded to the U.S. Forest Service to guide management decisions

Cascadia Wild's wolverine trackers get closer to nature near Mount Hood

trackers1.JPGVolunteer trackers are trying to determine whether the far-ranging wolverine is still active in the Cascades.

 Here, Cascadia Wild tracking students study animal tracks at Oxbow Park.
Dylan Schertz likes being out in nature -- in the dead of winter -- with a clear purpose.
"It's the ultimate dream to get some definite proof of a wolverine on Mount Hood," the 18-year-old said.

Dylan and his father, Paul Schertz, are among the volunteers who will venture into the Mount Hood National Forest this fall and winter in search of a wolverine, the fierce, elusive scavenger that's a candidate for the federal government's endangered species list.

For the Schertzes, the quest began several years ago when Paul Schertz was looking for a way to foster his son's interest in the outdoors. He looked into Cascadia Wild 's Wolverine Tracking Project, and as it turned out, the program has proved deeply satisfying for both of them.

"I've camped, off and on, all my life, and it's never quite as rich of an experience (as tracking)," Paul Schertz said. He added that the program allowed his son "to follow his interest and really cultivate a passion."

Wolverine tracks
What: Cascadia Wild's Wolverine Tracking Project
When: Training started Oct. 19 and runs every other week through early December; tracking trips are held mid-December through March 2012
Who: People of all ages are encouraged to volunteer and no experience is necessary; though participants must be able to snowshoe
Cost: Fees vary; $50 for new participants, with limited work-trade opportunities available
More information: To learn more, visit
Dylan Schertz has become a tracking project trip leader and board member of Cascadia Wild, the Portland nonprofit. And he's considering a college degree in wildlife management.

"It has definitely been a way to continue to explore my desire to connect with nature," Dylan Schertz said.

The project teaches volunteers animal-tracking skills as part of a long-term survey designed to detect signs of the rare carnivore. Classroom and field training is followed by daylong trips geared toward volunteers' various skill levels and physical abilities. The data volunteers gather is forwarded to the U.S. Forest Service to guide management decisions.

Natural connection

The tracking project, Cascadia Wild's flagship program, also helps people "slow down and pay attention to the world around them," said Teri Lysak, chairwoman of Cascadia Wild's board.

"We want to inspire a personal connection with nature," she said. "People won't protect things unless they care about it. We want to instill that sense of caring and belonging to a place."

Wolverines, the largest land-dwelling members of the weasel family, are in decline primarily because of habitat destruction. Adults average 50 pounds, and they need areas of deep snow until spring in order to den and raise their young. Questions abound about their existence in the Cascades; wolverines have been sighted recently around Mount Adams, as well as in the Sierra Nevada.

Wolverines are ferocious and powerful animals. Their name in at least one Native American language translates as "devil of the woods," according to Cascadia Wild. Despite their disposition, wolverines avoid humans.

"Whenever humans move in, wolverines move out," Lysak said.

wolv.JPGWolverines are known for their ferocity and strength, though much remains to be learned about them.
Much to learn

Known for their endurance, wolverines can travel more than 30 miles in a day. They also are loners and have a vast home range estimated from 60 to 200 square miles.

"That makes them really hard to detect, which means we know very little about their biology and the habitat they prefer," Lysak said. "We don't know if they are even still here (in the Cascades)."

Since 1999, Cascadia Wild's volunteers have sought that answer via 15 to 20 tracking trips each winter. Kim Hack, a 22-year-old from Portland, volunteered for the first time last year in the hopes of becoming a better naturalist and to spend time outdoors. Hack, who does not have a car, also likes how participants carpool to the flanks of Mount Hood for tracking trips to help lighten the project's environmental footprint.

"Just being out there and learning more about all the animals that are present is a treat, with the hope that some day (wolverine) tracks will surface," said Hack, who is working on becoming a trip leader.

In the classroom, volunteers learn to identify various animals by their tracks, studying things such as heel pads, claws, and the number and configuration of toes. Because conditions aren't always ideal for identifying animal tracks in the snow, participants also study the gait and footprint patterns of wolverines and other animals.

"The technique used to identify the difference between a bobcat and coyote is super valuable in being able to distinguish a wolverine from something else," Paul Schertz said.

Volunteers then converge on Oxbow Regional Park, along the Sandy River near Troutdale, where they learn to measure actual animal tracks and consult field manuals. They also learn outdoor safety.

trackers2.JPGStudent trackers learn to navigate using a map and compass as they hunt wolverine tracks.
Paul Schertz said the opportunity to identify animals by their tracks, and to follow those tracks through wilderness and piece together what they were doing, is a big part of the project's attraction for him. In addition to wolverines, volunteers track marten, coyote, cougar, bobcat and red fox.

Schertz recalled following a bobcat trail in fresh snow on a clear, calm morning. Though he and other volunteers never saw the bobcat, they deduced from the animal's tracks and depressions in the snow that it stopped at a ridge overlooking the Hood River Valley, rolled on its back, sat down on its haunches and wagged its tail, making a kind of snow angel.

"What really gets me going about it is the discovery," Schertz said of animal tracking. "It's a little bit puzzle, a little bit story. It adds an element altogether different than just hiking up a trail."

by- Barry Finnemore

"The Not So Green Mountains"(Vermont) is the title of an Op Ed piece that the former Commissioner of Vermont Fish & Wildlife(Steve Wright) penned in the New York Times................Steve is right in line with my feelings that we are stupidly going from one destructive energy technology to another, cloaking it in the "name of green".............459 foot windmills spanning the peaks of our Mountaintops..............Industrial Solar farms covering thousands of acres of desert-----WAKE UP PEOPLE,,,,,,THE GENERAL ELECTRIC'S OF THE CORPORATE WORLD ARE LAUGHING ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK AS THEY PROMOTE THEMSELVES "GREEN" WHILE RAPING OUR LAST WILD PLACES...........Wind and Solar farms should only be located where we have already "blown up" the land..............Existing industrial zones and brown acreage only, for windmills and solar panels!!!!!!!

BULLDOZERS arrived a couple of weeks ago at the base of the nearby Lowell Mountains and began clawing their way through the forest to the ridgeline, where Green Mountain Power plans to erect 21 wind turbines, each rising to 459 feet from the ground to the tip of the blades.

This desecration, in the name of "green" energy, is taking place in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom on one of the largest tracts of private wild land in the state. Here and in other places — in Maine and off Cape Cod, for instance — the allure of wind power threatens to destroy environmentally sensitive landscapes.

Erecting those turbines along more than three miles of ridgeline requires building roads — with segments of the ridgeline road itself nearly half as wide as one of Vermont's interstate highways — in places where the travel lanes are now made by bear, moose, bobcat and deer.

It requires changing the profile of the ridgeline to provide access to cranes and service vehicles. This is being accomplished with approximately 700,000 pounds of explosives that will reduce parts of the mountaintops to rubble that will be used to build the access roads.

It also requires the clear-cutting on steep slopes of 134 acres of healthy forest, now ablaze in autumn colors. Studies have shown that clear-cutting can lead to an increase in erosion to high-quality headwater streams, robbing them of life and fouling the water for downstream residents, wild and human.

The electricity generated by this project will not appreciably reduce Vermont's greenhouse gas emissions. Only 4 percent of those emissions now result from electricity generation. (Nearly half come from cars and trucks, and another third from the burning of heating oil.)

Wind doesn't blow all the time, or at an optimum speed, so the actual output of the turbines — the "capacity factor" — is closer to about one-third of the rated capacity of 63 megawatts. At best, this project will produce enough electricity to power about 24,000 homes per year, according to the utility.

Still, wind does blow across Vermont's ridgelines. The Vermont Public Interest Research Group, for instance, has suggested that wind power could provide as much as 25 percent of the state's electricity needs, which would require turbines on 29 miles of ridgeline.

 Other wind advocates, notably David Blittersdorf, the chief executive of a wind and solar power company in Williston, Vt., has urged that wind turbines be placed along 200 miles of ridgeline in the state.

But it is those same Green Mountain ridgelines that attracted nearly 14 million visitors to Vermont in 2009, generating $1.4 billion in tourism spending. The mountains are integral to our identity as the Green Mountain State, and provide us with clean air and water and healthy wildlife populations.Vermont's proud history of leadership in developing innovative, effective environmental protection is being tossed aside.

 This project will set an ominous precedent by ripping apart a healthy, intact ecosystem in the guise of doing something about climate change. In return, Green Mountain Power will receive $44 million in federal production tax credits over 10 years.

Ironically, most of the state's environmental groups have not taken a stand on this ecologically disastrous project. Apparently, they are unwilling to stand in the way of "green" energy development, no matter how much destruction it wreaks upon Vermont's core asset: the landscape that has made us who we are.

The pursuit of large-scale, ridgeline wind power in Vermont represents a terrible error of vision and planning and a misunderstanding of what a responsible society must do to slow the warming of our planet. It also represents a profound failure to understand the value of our landscape to our souls and our economic future in Vermont.

Steve E. Wright, an aquatic biologist, is a former commissioner of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.



65 bears are taken as Maryland Black Bear hunt is now closed........This # is a good 15 bears north of the prior 7 year average

Maryland Black Bear Hunt Closed
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Oakland, Md. --( The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) closed the 2011 black bear hunting season at 9 p.m. today with hunters reporting 65 bears to mandatory check stations in Western Maryland. DNR opened the season Monday, October 24 in Garrett and Allegany counties.
"Maryland's black bear hunters enjoyed another safe and successful hunting season," said Harry Spiker, Game Mammal Section Leader for DNR's Wildlife & Heritage Service. "The cool, mild weather during the first two days kept hunters in the woods and helped DNR meet its management goal in four days."
The average live weight of the bears taken this year was 154 pounds. Colton Lucas, 12, of Kitzmiller, Md., took the largest bear of the season, a 376 pound male.
The hunt by the numbers:
  • 65 bears taken
  • 59 from Garrett County, 6 from Allegany County
  • 154 lbs. average weight
  • 69% of the bears were taken on private land
  • 533 hunters participated in the hunt and 3,915 hunters applied for a permit
  • 55% of the successful hunters were residents of Garrett and Allegany counties

Friday, October 28, 2011

55 to 80 Black Bears are targeted for removal from the Maryland population as the State's hunting season got under way this week..........This is the 8th year of Bear Hunts in Maryland since the ban on hunting the bruins was lifted in 2004..........Roughly 50 bears(15% of the estimated population) have been killed in each of the last 7 hunts......In 2005, there was an estimated population of 326 adult and subadult black bears in the same area (from Cumberland west)............ This population estimate revealed a bear density of 39.2 bears per 100 square miles............... In May and June 2011, DNR completed the fieldwork necessary to establish a more recent population estimate........ This time, field work was conducted in all four western counties where the bears reside (Garrett, Allegany, Washington, and Frederick)....... The results of this research should be available sometime in 2012

Black bear hunt kicks off in Maryland

Hundreds of hunters will try to kill a black bear when Maryland's hunting season opens this week. (Stu Skerker - AP)
Black bear hunting resumes in Maryland on Monday, with hundreds of hunters in Garrett and Allegany counties expected to kick off the five-day hunting season.

The hunt is scheduled to last until Saturday, but will be stopped early if the harvest quota of 55 to 80 bears is reached before then, according to state gaming officials.

This year, 260 black bear hunting permits were awarded. Each hunter can go out with a partner, but they can only snare one animal between them.

"For a hunter to take a wild black bear is a true achievement," according to the state's hunting guide. The challenge, according to the guide, stems from the bears' being "a master of their environment ... moving through their surroundings with incomparable caution."

There was a moratorium on bear hunting in Maryland for 50 years before the practice recommenced in 2004.
This year's is the eighth hunting season since the moratorium was lifted. More than 340 bears have been killed in the seven hunts since 2004.

Maryland Black Bear History and Management

The black bear (Ursus americanus) is the largest terrestrial mammal native to Maryland. Currently, Maryland has a resident, breeding black bear population in the 4 westernmost counties (Garrett, Allegany, Washington, and Frederick), with the highest bear densities in Garrett and western Allegany Counties. Maryland shares this thriving regional population with its surrounding states of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The black bear is a species native to Maryland that was once distributed statewide. Bears were historically abundant because of the excellent habitats provided by Maryland’s native woodlands, meadows, swamps, and coastal plain. The black bear population suffered, though, as European settlers colonized Maryland.

The quality of Maryland’s forests was degraded as early settlers cleared the forests to harvest timber and expand agricultural land during the 1600s and 1700s. As a result, the quality of bear habitat was also greatly degraded. In addition, settlers considered bears to be a threat to their own existence and treated them as vermin. In fact, in the mid 1700s, a bounty was established in Somerset and Worcester counties encouraging people to kill bears. Bears were indiscriminately killed throughout the 1800s and into the early 1900s. This indiscriminate killing, combined with large-scale habitat loss through uncontrolled timber cutting and a lack of conservation laws, eliminated black bears and other forest wildlife species from many parts of the state.

By the early 1900s, loss of habitat had restricted black bears to the western portion of the state. Maryland’s last black bear hunting season took place in 1953. By the mid 1960s, the black bear population was nearly extirpated and was restricted to the more remote mountainous areas of Allegany and Garrett counties. In 1972, the status of the black bear was changed from that of a “forest game” animal to being listed on the state “endangered species” list.

As Maryland’s second-growth forests have matured into a healthy and productive ecosystem, the black bear population responded by returning to parts of Maryland that had long been void of bears. Throughout the mid 1970s and 1980s, the Wildlife and Heritage Service (WHS) noted an increase in bear sightings and bear damage complaints. As a result, the black bear was removed from the state “endangered species” list in 1980 and listed as a “nongame species of special concern”. In 1985, the status of the black bear was once again changed from a nongame species to a forest game species. Hunting seasons remained closed, however, as WHS developed a research and monitoring program for Maryland’s recovering black bear population.

Thanks to the current healthy and productive condition of Maryland’s forests and the conservation measures taken throughout the mid-Appalachian region, the western Maryland landscape is now home to a healthy, thriving black bear population. DNR research and population monitoring have shown an increasing trend in the black bear population since the 1980s.

DNR monitors the population through a variety of annual surveys (Scent Station, Mortality, and Reproduction Surveys), all of which demonstrate an increasing trend in the population. Additionally, DNR periodically conducts population studies, estimating the size of the bear population. A 1991 population study estimated 79 bears in Garrett County (12.0 bears per 100 sq. mi.). In 2000, DNR conducted another population study that estimated 227 adult and subadult bears (27.3 bears per 100 sq. mi.) in Garrett and western Allegany counties. The 2000 study demonstrated a higher density of bears than was found in the adjacent Pennsylvania counties where 21.7 bears per 100 sq. mi. were reported at that time.

Another population estimate was then conducted across Garrett and Allegany counties in May and June 2005. The results of this population study yielded an estimated population of 326 adult and subadult black bears in the same area (from Cumberland west). This population estimate revealed a bear density of 39.2 bears per 100 square miles. In May and June 2011, DNR completed the fieldwork necessary to establish a more recent population estimate. This time, field work was conducted in all four western counties (Garrett, Allegany, Washington, and Frederick). The results of this research should be available sometime in 2012.

Two new sightings of Cougars; one in New Hampshire and another in Connecticut.........A photo of a mountain lion was given to New Hampshire Fish and Game last Friday, according to Patrick Tate, a wildlife biologist for the agency..... He could not confirm where the sighting occurred."In the picture, it's certainly a mountain lion," Tate said.......The connecticut Cat, if verified, would be the 2nd Cougar to have patrolled the Nutmeg State this year, with East Haddam's Animal Control Officer claiming the sighting!!!!!!

Mountain lion claim is investigated

By Christina Braccio

The N.H. Fish and Game Department is investigating a claim that a mountain lion was spotted in the Monadnock Region sometime last week.

In the past, N.H. Fish and Game has received pictures of mountain lions supposedly spotted in New Hampshire, but that were taken out of state, Tate said.
"We're working with the person who submitted the photo to get an original, high-resolution photo and to show us where it was taken," Tate said. "We need to match the vegetation in the picture to the reported location to prove that the picture is verifiable."

Every year, about 100 people in the state report seeing mountain lions, but no verifiable evidence has ever been found to confirm a sighting, Tate said.

If the photograph does prove to be real, it would be the first confirmed sighting of a mountain lion in the state since Fish and Game began investigating claims of sightings in 1940.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared Northeastern mountain lions extinct, saying there hasn't been a credible sighting in several decades.

In June, a mountain lion was killed by a car in Connecticut; however, through genetic testing, officials found the animal was a Western mountain lion that had traveled to New England from South Dakota, Tate said.

"The closest we've had to documenting a sighting in New Hampshire was in 2009 when another Fish and Game employee witnessed what they believed to be a mountain lion in the Barnstead area," Tate said. However, no physical evidence of a mountain lion was found.

A Swanzey man reported seeing a mountain lion near Keene State College in late August, prompting the college's campus safety office to issue issued a campus-wide warning advising people not to approach such an animal and to report any sightings. After an investigation, N.H. Fish and Game found no evidence of a mountain lion in the area

Mountain Lion Reported In East Haddam, Ct.

EAST HADDAM — The town's animal control officer spotted a mountain lion near Route 149 and Creek Row this week. Michael Olzacki was responding to a citizen's call when he saw the animal, he said. He identified it by its markings, and he found footprints that could have been from a lion, he said. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection sent a conservation officer to the scene. The prints were inconclusive because they were in mud, and there was no other physical evidence such as scat, but the agency will continue to investigate.
The DEEP maintains that the state does not have a breeding population of mountain lions.
A mountain lion was killed on the Wilbur Cross Parkway in Milford earlier this year. It was later learned that it had traveled here from South Dakota.

WHY DO WE HATE THE ORIGINAL DOG?....Animal Activist, Karen Wallo speaking passionately about why she feels Wolves and all wild animals merit a place on this planet

Dogs as a species are estimated to be approximately 15,000 to 20,000 years old.

Critics argue that gene substitution speeds up, then slows down—making the estimates rough at best.
The first dogs were just tame wolves. Some researchers believe wolves were first attracted by the garbage produced by early human settlements. Those canines brave enough to approach humans got fed. Eventually, they no longer needed the strong jaws and sharp teeth of their feral counterparts. Their noses got smaller as well.

Dogs' characteristics can change a lot in just a few generations. After this initial process of "self-domestication," humans started breeding dogs to help with hunting, herding, standing guard, and carrying loads. Humans also deliberately bred dogs to be more affectionate, which in turn made them great companions.

Here is where I get frustrated with those who are slaughtering wolves and yet have a dog as a pet. They clearly do not realize or care to realize that wolves are just wild dogs. And, dogs are just domesticated wolves!

Dogs are revered, loved, kept in warm homes, and provided with constant food. Of course, there are the exceptions—humans who abuse or neglect their dogs. But generally, dogs are probably the most loved domesticated animals on the planet. Wolves, on the other hand, are thought of as killers ready to eat your children! When, in fact, wolves are afraid of humans and avoid us like the plague.

The grey wolf has been brought to the brink of extinction multiple times in history, and it is all happening again, right now. This year, wolves in America were removed from the protection of the Endangered Species Act. This action was not based on what is best for the animal or the eco system. Instead, it was based on cattle ranchers, trophy hunters and dirty politicians.

A rider was slipped into the must pass budget bill delisting the grey wolves from the ESA permanently, leaving 'management' to the states. Sadistic hunting techniques like aerial gunning, poisoning and arrowing are being used on both adult wolves and puppies. The anti-wolf sentiment is so strong in the Northern Rockies that certain individuals are suggesting illegal poaching practices and deliberately shooting a wolf in the gut so that they die a long, slow, torturous death. This is what the Northern Rockies means by 'management!' Before long, your children and grandchidren will only see the majestic wolf in a text book if the massacre is allowed to continue.

Photo: Mike Ely

Perhaps wolves are so hated and misunderstood by some because of an inaccurate fairy tale called "Little Red Riding Hood." That was the beginning of the fear and loathing of the grey wolf. Mix that misconception and insanity with the greed of the cattle ranchers and trophy hunters, and you have a recipe for disaster in the lives of wild wolves.

This loathing and desire to destroy wolves is a worldwide phenomena. Wolf advocates like myself are fighting a war to change the ingrained beliefs that are erroneous. There is even apathy among many animal advocates who work tirelessly to help other species, yet neglect the cry of the wolf.
Although I love dogs tremendously, it is my view that it was arrogant for humans to attempt to domesticate wolves for their own needs in the first place.

 God created wolves, not dogs. Man created dogs for their own needs and desires. By nature, man is selfish and only a fraction of the population even thinks about how other sentient, living creatures are feeling or being treated.

We are such an unevolved race of beings when you think of what we do to our animals and to one another. Until I take my very last breath, I will dedicate all of my work, my art, my music to saving animals, especially the magnificent and persecuted grey wolf.

I feel a kinship and love of other human beings who have the same admiration and respect of the original dog. God bless you all for every action you ever take to save them from endless suffering and extermination.
 Karen Wallo is a second generation Czech-Slovak and comes from a long line of artists originating in Prague, Czech Republic and Smolenice, Slovakia. As a child growing up in New Jersey, Karen's imaginative mind lead to creative natural talent. When she was ten years old, she won her first gold medal for a drawing of a dog. Currently Karen lives in Colorado and New York City and is an animal rights advocate, particularly for endangered wildlife like wolves, wild horses and burros. You can check our her website at

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The current Teton Park(Wyoming) continues to generate controversy,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Critics say it is no longer needed because wolves are killing elk and 300 dead elk barely affect the Wyoming population of more than 100,000 elk............ They also say the dead elks' gut piles attract grizzly bears, and grizzlies have become habituated to this food source.......... This increases the danger of human-bear encounters that could result in grizzly bear deaths and human injuries

Grand Teton's elk hunt running Oct 8 thru Nov 6

GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK — The park will issue 750 hunting permits and park managers hope at least 300 elk will be killed. Just 10 percent of the permits are for bull elk.

It's a controversial program for several reasons. Critics say it is no longer needed because wolves are killing elk and 300 dead elk barely affect the Wyoming population of more than 100,000 elk. They also say the dead elks' gut piles attract grizzly bears, and grizzlies have become habituated to this food source. This increases the danger of human-bear encounters that could result in grizzly bear deaths and human injuries.

People who oppose the hunt want the National Elk refuge south of Grand Teton to stop artificially feeding elk and bison. The feeding program began in 1912. Opponents say it attracts elk to the refuge that would have spread out to other areas for the winter, and having thousands of elk close together on the refuge cold be devastating if diseases like chronic wasting disease were to strike.

In August, a federal appeals court confirmed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's obligation to phase out artificial winter feeding of elk and bison at the refuge. The ruling responds to a lawsuit brought by the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Wyoming Outdoor Council, National Wildlife Refuge Association and Defenders of Wildlife challenging a 2007 refuge management plan that allowed the indefinite continuation of winter feeding on the refuge despite overcrowding and the threat of diseases.

The court did not order the Fish and Wildlife Service to set a firm deadline for ending the feeding program as the conservationists had requested, but the ruling made it clear that the harmful practice must stop to protect the refuge and the elk.

Under its 1950 enabling legislation, Grand Teton is mandated by federal law to conduct an elk kill program when necessary "for the conservation of the elk population in Jackson Hole," according to a park news release.

The park develops the program with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and the Wyoming governor and Secretary of the Interior approve the plan each year.Wyoming-licensed hunters receive limited quota permits in Wyoming hunt areas 75 and 79, which are both inside the park east of the Snake River.

The news release states: "The park's elk reduction program is an important management tool that differs somewhat from other elk hunting programs in the region. The use of archery, handguns, or other non-center fire ammunition rifles is not permitted, nor is the use of artificial elk calls. In addition, hunters, regardless of age, are required to carry a hunter education card, and to carry and have immediately accessible bear pepper spray as a non-lethal deterrent for use during potential bear encounters.

Information packets accompanying each permit advise hunters of the risk of bear encounters and how to minimize the probability of human-bear conflicts. For the past three years, packets have also contained information encouraging hunters to use non-lead ammunition. In 2011, park hunters can receive free non-lead ammunition through a program sponsored by Craighead Beringia South in Kelly, Wyoming in collaboration with the park, National Elk Refuge, and Wyoming Game and Fish Department."
Park officials recommend that visitors wear hunter orange or other bright colors or recreate west of the Snake River.

My friend, biologist Jon Way of Massachusetts, reiterating what he and fellow coyote biologists state time and time again(with conviction thru peer reviewed research),,,,,,,,,,,Killing coyotes only generates the potential(and actuality) of more coyotes occupying a given region.......Listen to what Jon saids here:......."My personal opinion is that the North American model(hunting model) doesn't really apply to predators, especially canids, given the negative (non-preservationist) opinion that many people have toward this ecologically important family. We have talked at length about this with wolves coming off the ESA but here we have an abundant canid, the coyote, that is literally allowed to be slaughtered for little reason other than either (1) "tradition", (2) "that is what we have always done", or (3) "their numbers will bounce back no matter how many are killed"

Biological mechanisms for why killing coyotes/coywolves doesn't work


This post is in response to 2 scientific publications that have recently been published in the journal Canadian Field-Naturalist. Essentially, these two papers describe two different scenarios where the killing of coyote(s) eventually led to more coyotes in a local area. Many people, especially hunters that I have talked (or argued) with over the years, are confused by this seeming contradiction. Many might logically think that "a coyote killed is a deer saved" (a very common saying in Maine, among other places) – however, nature is not so clean cut.

Way, J. G., B. C. Timm, and E. G. Strauss. 2009. Coywolf (Canis latrans x lycaon) Pack Density Doubles Following the Death of a Resident Territorial Male. Canadian Field Naturalist 123(3): 199-205.
Way, J. G. 2010. Double-litters in Coywolf (Canis latrans x lycaon) Packs Following the Death or Disappearance of a Resident Territorial Male. Canadian Field Naturalist 124(3): 256-257.

My personal opinion is that the North American model doesn't really apply to predators, especially canids, given the negative (non-preservationist) opinion that many people have toward this ecologically important family. We have talked at length about this with wolves coming off the ESA but here we have an abundant canid, the coyote, that is literally allowed to be slaughtered for little reason other than either (1) "tradition", (2) "that is what we have always done", or (3) "their numbers will bounce back no matter how many are killed".

 However, there are many important benefits of coyotes including ecological, aesthetic, ethical, and potentially economical (pest control) that are seemingly ignored while scores of coyotes are killed everywhere including by our federal government (i.e., Wildlife Services) – I eventually will elaborate on many of these positive attributes, with scientific documentation, during a different post to this site.

Additionally, many on this blog might wonder what a "coywolf" is. This is the name that I would prefer the "eastern coyote" to be called. I have previously co-published a paper on this genetic uniqueness of the eastern coyote (living in Northeastern North America: mostly in New England and New York) and am working on publishing a second paper further recommending the term coywolf. This term is still controversial and while some still prefer the term coyote for the canid living in the Northeast U.S., I am hoping this second paper provides further support for the coywolf nomenclature. Stay tuned…

While attaching a link for this genetic paper (below) leaves this post up for 2 different types of comments (1; genetics and 2; increase in density in populations following killing), I share that here too:
Way, J.G., L. Rutledge, T. Wheeldon, and B.N. White. 2010. Genetic characterization of eastern "coyotes" in eastern Massachusetts. Northeastern Naturalist 17(2):189-204.
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About The Author

Jon Way

Jonathan Way is the author of Suburban Howls, an account of his experiences studying eastern coyotes/coywolves in eastern Massachusetts. He also has a business Eastern Coyote Research ( and is currently seeking an institution that will support him and his research. He currently works seasonally for Cape Cod National Seashore, is a part time post-doctoral researcher with the Yellowstone Ecological Research Center, and is a frequent traveler to the Yellowstone area. He is currently seeking a publisher for 2 different book projects: "My Yellowstone Experience" and "Coywolf", both of which are nearly completed including with pictures.