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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, February 29, 2012

1st Nations tribes in Canada are suing the Alberta Minister of the Environment and its Attorney General for failing to develop and institute a recovery plan for the plummeting Caribou herd in their region,,,,,,As we continually discuss, "The root cause of the caribou's declining population is "landscape disturbance, for example from seismic lines, roads and well-sites" ......"Disturbed habitat in northeastern Alberta does not generally become suitable for Boreal Caribou for at least 80 years following its disturbance."

Native Americans Seek Help for Boreal Caribou

     VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) - Four Native American bands and two environmental groups say Canada is neglecting its duty to protect threatened boreal caribou herds in Alberta.

     The Athabasca Chepewyan First Nation, the Swan River First Nation, the Beaver Lake Cree Nation, the Cold Lake First Nations, the Alberta Wilderness Association and the Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development sued Canada's minister of environment and its attorney general, in Federal Court.

The plaintiffs say the minister of environment dragged his feet coming up with a recovery strategy for the species. Scientific reviews of boreal caribou populations in Alberta concluded that some herds are dwindling and further disturbance of habitat will compound the threat of local extinction, or "extirpation," within 40 years.

The root cause of the caribou's declining population, according to the complaint, is "landscape disturbance, for example from seismic lines, roads and well-sites."

"[T]he effects of habitat destruction that will eventually lead to a herd's extirpation (local extinction) may take 20 years or more to manifest," the complaint states. "This means that activities that affect habitat now or in the near future can create conditions that will result in the extirpation of a herd, even though the herd's actual disappearance may not occur for 20 years or more. Further, disturbed habitat in northeastern Alberta does not generally become suitable for Boreal Caribou for at least 80 years following its disturbance."

     The plaintiffs claim the government is well aware of the dire assessment of the species and has failed to take appropriate "aggressive" actions to protect the boreal caribou's critical habitat in the face of an "imminent threat" to its survival.

     The environmental groups are represented by Sean Nixon and Melissa Gorrie, of Vancouver. The first nations are represented by Jenny Biem and Jay Nelson of Woodward & Co., of Victoria, B.C.  

Yes, trappers make a living killing Atlanta urban Coyotes,,,,,,,but their rationale that by trapping and killing them, it teaches the remaining Coyotes to stay clear of neighborhoods is plain out wrong..........Coyotes who avoid a trap will learn to stay clear of it when next trotting by,,,,,,,,,,but killing Coyotes simply opens up that now vacant habitat to new Coyotes wandering through........Better to haze and scare the "Coyotes in your midst"...........then they learn and pass on to offspring that being near humans is dangerous and is to be avoided

Coyotes go from predator to prey

Atlanta neighborhoods struggling to deal with coyotes turn to trappersShareThisPrint E-mail .By Mark Davis

Chip Elliott turned the steering wheel sharply to the left. His truck came to a quick stop in a cluster of hardwoods hard on the Chattahoochee River. “There,” he said, pointing.

.Something moved in the morning shadows. It jumped and flipped. It kicked leaves and dirt.
Elliott lowered the tailgate of his Dodge Ram. He retrieved from the pickup bed a 4-foot aluminum pole with a retractable noose. He donned heavy gloves. The thing in the shadows tried to run. A steel trap held its left front leg. In a moment, Elliott slipped the noose over its head and tightened the cord so that the creature understood: It couldn’t get away.  Elliott opened the trap and freed the paw. He carried the unmoving animal to his truck, slid it into a mesh cage and secured its door with a length of twisted wire.

For a moment the captive looked at its captor with wide, gleaming eyes. The eyes of a coyote. It was the 11th Elliott had trapped in two weeks behind homes in the Moore’s Mill community of Atlanta, a five-minute drive from the city’s high rises. “A female,” he said. “You want to catch them before they have their pups.”
He slammed the tailgate shut. This coyote would never have a litter.

Across metro Atlanta, neighborhoods and communities are wrestling with how to coexist with this primarily nocturnal predator. Some put the onus on humans: contain garbage, keep pets indoors at night, leave the coyotes alone.

Those who regard coyotes as a dangerous nuisance hire men like Elliott to trap — and kill — them
Elliott, the owner of Atlanta Wildlife Relocator, has been catching unwanted animals for 24 years, trapping everything from squirrels to geese. For the past five years, he’s focused on coyotes. He’s been busy this month. February is the breeding season for coyotes; the creatures are at large, meeting and mating. Soon, pregnant coyotes will retire to dens to have pups. Their mates, aided by coyotes the mothers birthed a year ago, will bring them food. In spring, the young coyotes will emerge from their lair to join a growing population of Canis latrans.

“Coyotes are everywhere,” said Elliott, 47, a resident of unincorporated Walton County who spent his teen years trapping animals in Gwinnett County. “There are more and more coyotes coming.” That’s not just a sales pitch. In just the past year, officials from Atlanta to Loganville, Grayson to Douglasville, have discussed what to do about the wily intruders. Across the metro area, homeowners have compared notes — coyotes sighted, pets vanished, backyard chickens slaughtered.

The state Department of Natural Resources, which licenses trappers, lists more than 300 companies that remove wild creatures from backyards, golf courses and other places where they’re unwanted. Few, said Elliott, specialize in coyotes: Tracking and trapping them is time-consuming.

He admits that trapping them is a temporary measure; eventually, more will take their place.
“He’s the perfect predator,” said Elliott, who estimates he traps more than 100 in metro Atlanta every year. “He’ll eat anything — a dead squirrel in the road, tomatoes in your garden, berries, your cat.” (just like us;;we will eat anything from a slaughterhouse pig to fruit to trout from our pond---based on the logic put forward in this article,,,,,since wee are truly the ultimate predator,,,,,,maybe we should be trapped, and killed also--blogger Rick)

Western transplants

Coyotes came here from the American West, leaving their traditional arid range for the easy pickings of eastern cities and suburbs. They live in every state in the intercontinental United States, as well as in Canada.
State officials have “no idea” how many coyotes live in Georgia, said Don McGowan, a senior wildlife biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources. Unlike bear or deer, which are protected and subject to annual counts, the coyote is an unprotected species. DNR doesn’t track coyote populations. “They appear pretty evenly distributed,” said McGowan, who regularly fields calls from people reporting coyote sightings. “There may be an even higher density of them in urban and suburban areas.”

State law requires trappers to kill what they catch, or sell them to fox-hunting clubs. Some trappers, Elliott included, keep a few coyotes in captivity long enough to collect their urine, laying down tarps under their cages and bottling the stuff. It smells awful, but is an effective scent to bait coyote traps. Other coyotes he skins, dumping their carcasses in a trench.

Coyote pelts aren’t in great demand in the United States, where faux fur clothing is preferred over the real thing. But other nations aren’t as picky. The fur of a coyote captured in Cobb County may end up lining a parka in China.

Still, some coyotes are worth more than others. An animal fancier recently learned of a black coyote that a Rockdale County deputy killed and buried after discovering the animal in one of Elliott’s traps. Because it was unusual — most coyotes are tawny colored — the collector wanted it mounted. He offered Elliott $150 for the unskinned carcass. Elliott dug it up.

Not everyone thinks the coyote needs to be chased off or killed. In a meeting last year, the Decatur City Commission urged residents to coexist with their shaggy neighbors. In Atlanta, city officials’ plans to trap a coyote family seen at a southwest city park fell apart when a homeowner on whose property the animals were living said she wouldn’t allow “cruel” traps on her land.

Trapping works, said Atlanta resident Jay Smith. Two years ago, he and others in the Mount Paran Road area of Buckhead hired Elliott, who removed eight coyotes. Last fall, Elliott caught 13 more. Suddenly, said Smith, the coyotes were gone. Their pets were safe again.
“If you allow a coyote to remain in your neighborhood, the longer it’s there, the bolder it gets,” Smith said. “It’s just a matter of time ... before these animals will go after larger pets.” Christy Bosarge agrees. Last month, the Decatur resident organized a meeting to discuss trapping the animals. On a misty night, more than 50 people turned out.

Removing a few coyotes from an area teaches the remainder to avoid humans, Bosarge, whose cat, Zaya, died in a mid-day coyote attack last year, told the group. “We’ve got to do something to restore their fear of humans,” she said. “It’s not my goal to make them go away, but we’re their only predator.”

Bosarge didn’t succeed in changing Caroline Ledbetter’s mind. “I am wholeheartedly against trapping and killing coyotes,” said Ledbetter, who suggested removing pet bowls from outside to deter coyotes, as well as keeping pets inside. “It’s not like one is going to attack you.”Attacks are rare but do happen. An urban coyote study under way in Chicago reports 142 coyote attacks on humans in the United States and Canada between 1985 and 2006. It also notes two fatalities — in 1981, when a 3-year-old California girl was killed, and in 2009, when several coyotes in Nova Scotia mauled a 19-year-old hiker.

The two-hour meeting in Decatur ended as it began — with attendees about evenly split on whether they should hire a trapper. “That’s how it usually works,” said Elliott, who attended the meeting and answered questions. “Some [communities] take a year or more to make up their minds. Some never do.”

Elliott charges $1,000 for a two-week contract to remove coyotes. His clients include subdivision homeowner associations, country clubs, golf courses and people with large tracts. He posts signs across the area warning that coyote traps are set. He’ll set as many as 50. They’re typically doused with coyote urine and buried under a light cover of earth. The traps have rounded jaws to keep from breaking skin or bone. Each has a tag with Elliott’s name and phone number.

“I’ve had people call me up saying, ‘You trapped my dog!’ ” Elliott said. “If I do, it’s their fault. They were warned.” Other animals stumble into his traps. On a recent morning, he freed a trapped possum, which hissed once and ran for cover. Deer, he said, also trip his traps, which are engineered so that the animal can yank its hoof free.

Law requires him to check his traps every day. His 4-year-old truck has 199,000 miles on its odometer.
Elliott’s day usually starts at sunup. He likes to be home by dark to spend time with his wife and 4-year-old daughter.

His day often ends with gunshots.

The young female Elliott took near the Chattahoochee was his second catch of the day. Earlier that morning, he caught a mangy old male in a Rockdale County subdivision. “When he saw me,” Elliott said, “he started howling.”

Back in Walton County, Elliott unloaded the cages from his truck. He reached for his .22-caliber pistol.
He fired twice.

We have been following the blog entries of Isle Royale Wolf Leader Joh Vucetich as he observes and reports on a pivotal year in the longest running Wolf/Moose study in North America........Will the dwindling Wolf population(as well as shrinking Moose herd) spring back to its former vitality and population size?,,,,,,Will the Feds step in and relocate additional wolves into this population in an attempt to inject new genes into the existing pack?,,,,,,,,,,,,The remaining 1 pack of Wolves and the Moose who seek to avoid them play out the age old dance of predator and prey,,,,,,in the 36 hours John chronicles, the Wolves come up empty...........They go to sleep simple task downing a 800-900 pound adult Moose!

A Pack of Hungry Wolves


John Vucetich

It is difficult to connect with the mind of another creature. But today, the alpha wolf of the Chippewa Harbor Pack and I are most likely recalling memories of the same event, even if we experienced it from wildly different perspectives.

It’s a windy day, and we fly just enough to find the Chippewa Harbor Pack and to check old kill sites for other wolves. We find two wolves feeding from a kill site just a couple miles northwest of the bunkhouse. The wolves of the Chippewa Harbor Pack sleep beneath the afternoon sun on a south-facing slope near Hay Bay, the farthest that the pack has ventured from its core territory this winter. One can only imagine the memories being recalled by the alpha male as the wolves walked up that ridge overlooking Lake Superior.

One year ago, minus four days, I hiked over this same ridge and then just a quarter of a mile beyond. It was warm and sunny, like today. On a sled behind me, I hauled the 85-pound carcass of the alpha male of the Middle Pack; two days earlier, he had been killed by the alpha male of the Chippewa Harbor Pack.

In the year since, the Chippewa Harbor wolves have not had to defend their territory, as they are the only surviving pack on Isle Royale. You can see why that was a big day for the alpha male of the Chippewa Harbor Pack.
Last night the Chippewa Harbor Pack crossed the Greenstone Ridge to the north side of the island. By morning the wolves were near Little Todd Harbor, traveling northeast back toward their core territory.

We watch them abruptly turn northwest. We can see what they had smelled — a cow moose and calf that had themselves been foraging upwind. It doesn’t look good for the cow and calf. The calf is too far from the cow, and they seem to have different ideas about how to handle the situation. When the wolves rush in, the cow — which is between the wolves and her calf — turns to face the wolves. But only for a second. The calf bolts. If the cow doesn’t do the same, the wolves will run past the cow and kill her calf with relative ease. The cow and calf are also separated by four or five wind-thrown trees, their trunks a crisscrossed mess. The cow hurls herself over the trunks, which are four or maybe five feet off the ground. She catches up with her frantic calf before the wolves do.

Then the chase is on, led by the least experienced of them all — the calf. The cow, capable of running faster, stays immediately behind the calf, no matter what direction the terror-ridden mind of that calf decides to take. Every third or fourth step, the cow kicks one of its rear hooves. One solid knock to the head would kill a wolf.

After a couple of minutes and perhaps a third of a mile, the pace slows. By the third minute, they’re all walking — the calf, the cow and the wolves. The stakes are high for each, but not greater than the exhaustion they share. Eventually they all stop. Not a hair’s width separates the cow and calf, and the wolves are just 20 feet away. She faces the wolves. A few minutes later the wolves walk away.

By nightfall, the Chippewa Harbor Pack has pushed on another six miles or so. As they pass who knows how many more moose, their stomachs remain empty.

The Chippewa Harbor Pack covers only a few more miles through the night. By midmorning we find the wolves traveling northeast through thick, tangled cedars in a drainage just southwest of McCargoe Cove. On at least two occasions in the past month, they tracked and chased the cow and calf that live in this area. Both times, the wolves failed. They almost certainly know half a dozen or more sites where they can find another cow and calf. There must be something about this particular pair. Maybe the mother is inexperienced or old, or maybe the calf is underdeveloped.

Even from the privileged vantage of the Flagship, it is nearly impossible to see the wolves through the dense cedars. Maybe once every third circle, we glimpse one wolf as it passes from one cedar to the next. After quite a few more circles, a moose runs out of the swamp and over an open ridge top. A moment later the wolves appear on the same ridge top, but the moose is long gone. The wolves lie down on the ridge and sleep for several hours. It is entirely possible that the Chippewa Harbor Pack has chased or tested half a dozen moose or more in the past 36 hours. It is not easy to kill an 800- or 900-pound moose with your teeth.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bucking the typical rancher "kill em" mantra, Montana sheep ranchers, Richard and Katy Harjes are full-out users of non-lethal methods as it relates to protecting their sheep from Coyotes and other carnivores.........Co-existance is their mantra with the understanding that there will be up to a 2% attrition of their herd to Coyotes, Pumas and Black Bears........They found that a pack of 5 sheep-guarding dogs reduced their predator losses from 8 to 4 to 1% over a three year period........"The dogs are constantly peeing on things ... and walking along the fences," says Harjes, who figures he's training his local coyote packs as well as the dogs.....One day he stepped out of his house to see a coyote in the pasture.... In the same moment, "the [dog] did a quarter-mile sprint and the coyote took off like a shot and just made the fence.."Harjes says, someday he will have to kill a coyote to protect his sheep..... But it will be as a last resort"..........We tip our hat to the Harjes family.........They are people that should be praised in our town halls and houses of worship.........They truly exhibit awareness that we and all other creatures share this planet,,,,and as the beings with the most intelligence, it is incumbent on us to make sure that all of the life on this planet endures and survives into the millenia

Coyotes Under Fire Predator-Friendly Pioneers

New breed of ranchers prefers nonlethal control to protect sheep

All Animals magazine
by Karen E. Lange

"If we lose 1 or 2 percent, that's the cost of doing business."

Ranchers like Richard Harjes, though, have embraced nonlethal tactics. When he and his wife, Katy, started raising sheep in 2008, their Montana ranch lay in a boxed canyon dense with coyotes. There was a pack to the north, a pack to the east, and a pack to the south. Looking for a way to avoid killing coyotes or the mountain lions or black bears living around their property, the Harjes discovered the type of livestock guardian dogs long used in Europe. The first year, when they had only one dog borrowed from a neighboring rancher, losses were steep—around 8 percent of their 500-animal herd, half from mountain lions and half from coyotes. Harjes would see the carrion birds in the pasture and know, instantly, he'd lost a sheep to a coyote (the mountain lions typically carried the bodies off).

The Harjes might have gotten discouraged and quit. Instead, they bought five dogs weighing 120 to 150 pounds apiece (to the coyotes' average 25 to 30), who were bred and trained to bond with sheep and fiercely defend them. The second year losses fell to 4 percent, the third year to just 1.

"You create this standoff with dogs—the dogs are constantly peeing on things ... and walking along the fences," says Harjes, who figures he's training his local coyote packs as well as the dogs. One day he stepped out of his house to see a coyote in the pasture. In the same moment, "the [dog] did a quarter-mile sprint and the coyote took off like a shot and just made the fence."

Maybe, Harjes says, someday he will have to kill a coyote to protect his sheep. But it will be as a last resort. And so at night he listens, happily, to the coyotes' distinctive yipping and howling. Sometimes, if they're real close, he gets nervous and goes to check his sheep. Mostly, though, he trusts his dogs and enjoys the coyotes' wild songs. "If we lose 1 or 2 percent," he says, "that's the cost of doing business."

Let us hope the studies that are going to take place in Canada via funding from the Canadian Pacific Railroad and Parks Canada will reveal plans of action that can be put into effect "pronto" so as to begin to mitigate Grizzly deaths that take place due to train collisions(the single biggest cause of Grizzly deaths in parts of Canada due to grain spills on tracks)

CP, Parks Canada announce bear-protection research grants

Canadian Pacific and Parks Canada have awarded grants to research teams at the University of Alberta and the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University to help further mitigate rail-related grizzly bear mortality in Banff and Yoho National parks.

During the next four years, the academic research teams, supported by experts from Parks Canada and CP, will test the effectiveness of grain aversion, determine potential off-site habitat improvements and better identify the causes of grizzly bear mortality along the rail corridor, CP officials said in a prepared statement.

The research projects, which are set to begin in spring pending approval of animal-care protocols, are the latest initiatives in a five-year joint action plan announced by CP and Parks Canada in October 2010.

"These innovative projects will incorporate the best science available to address railway-related bear mortality through shared responsibility," said CP President and Chief Executive Officer Fred Green.

Parks Canada's short-term actions under the plan include a bear GPS collaring and monitoring program, as well as sight-line and sound-line improvements through vegetation management, CP officials said. Also, the researchers will establish an off-site test area to evaluate fence and closure alternatives to assess additional infrastructure that may be necessary to prevent bears from entering the rail corridor.

Maine's black bear population is estimated at 25,000 to 30,000, the largest it has been in 60 years......The population is growing because of an ample food supply, including berries and nuts as well as protein-rich bark...... At the same time, the bear harvest in the fall hunting season has declined to around 3,000, from about 4,000 a decade ago(a 10 to 12% die off due to human hunting allows the bears to multiply.........taking 30 or more % out of the population likely has the bears on the decline)...... That's a reflection of fewer hunters in the field.....Additional studies both at winter den sites as well as through gps tracking of the Bruins will be necessary to help best keep the population healthy and protected...............Many private organizations are pitching in funds to supplement the State Game Commisions outlays for Bear mgmt............A shout out to our friend Wally Jakubus, Mammal Group leader for Maine's Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Wildlife group's black bear cam allows public to watch and learn along with biologists

By Deirdre Fleming

TOWNSHIP 36, MD — Wildlife biologist Kendall Marden walked cautiously toward a mass of boulders deep in the Down East forest, moving quietly with four other biologists nearby.

Lisa Bates and John Wood with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife remove a sedated mother bear from her den in the woods of Washington County to check on her general health, weigh her and replace her radio collar.

Lisa Bates, a biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, carries a tranquilized yearling back to its den earlier this month while doing research on black bears in Washington County. The department typically visits about 100 dens each winter.

The Wildlife Research Foundation is a new nonprofit with the mission of supporting wildlife research, particularly on Maine's black bear.Started by guides Bert and Hank Goodman, owners of North Country Lodge sporting camp in Patten, the foundation placed a webcam in a remote bear den in northern Maine.
To learn more about the foundation or to see the black bear den video, go to
Just as the team reached the boulders, a 50-pound yearling black bear bolted from a small cave the rocks concealed, filling the woods with strangely human-sounding cries.Marden calmly grabbed the critter as it ran past him and planted a tranquilizer in its hide. Biologist Lisa Bates reached into the cave and tranquilized a second yearling and the mother bear. As quickly as that, bruin No. 2580, the mother, was added to Maine's 2012 bear study.

For 37 years, biologists at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife have visited up to 100 dens each winter in the nation's oldest radio-collar monitoring program for bears.Now the bear study has earned a trendy new distinction, courtesy of digital technology. One of the dens in northern Maine has been fitted with a webcam, streaming live images to an Internet website -- including video of Lugnut, a female black bear, giving birth last month to two cubs. The site has logged more than 156,000 page views since it went live Jan. 24.

The Wildlife Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization, created the site as a tool to educate the public and raise money to support the W's bear study program.The foundation is one of a number of private, nonprofit organizations that are raising and donating money to support cash-strapped, taxpayer-funded public agencies that manage wildlife, parks and other conservation lands.

It's too early to say whether the foundation's website will be a success. But the leader of the bear study, IF&W biologist Jennifer Vashon, says the idea is a good one."If nothing else, it already is an educational opportunity," Vashon said. "People are learning about black bear and appreciating black bear. That is a success, whether it's the end or the start."

Vashon said Maine's black bear population is estimated at 25,000 to 30,000, the largest it has been in 60 years.The population is growing, Vashon said, because of an ample food supply, including berries and nuts as well as protein-rich bark. At the same time, the bear harvest in the fall hunting season has declined to around 3,000, from about 4,000 a decade ago. That's a reflection of fewer hunters in the field, due in part to the poor economy.

Maine's bear program involves gathering data from 80 to 100 radio-collared bears, ranging from month-old cubs to mother bears as old as 25. Some of the collars are fitted with GPS devices that provide information on the animals' travels.

At the Down East den last month, the team of biologists weighed the three bears; replaced the mother's radio collar; equipped the two yearlings with radio collars and ear tags; collected genetic samples of hair; and took note of the animals' general health.

The annual den visits are made to three study areas that represent different bear habitats: one in the forests of northern Maine, one Down East near the blueberry barrens of Washington County, and another near farmland north of Bangor.The team periodically takes students, legislators, the media and other interested groups to bear dens for educational purposes.

The breadth of Maine's bear study makes it unique, said former Maine bear study leader Craig McLaughlin, now the terrestrial section manager at Colorado Parks and Wildlife. But Vashon said that with an expanding bear population, more data is needed. She said adding a study area in western Maine or conducting a statewide DNA study would give a more accurate read on the population.

Wally Jakubus, the mammal group leader at IF&W, said the bear study is adequately funded. The program has a budget of $70,000, which does not include the salaries of biologists, he said.
But the founders of the Wildlife Research Foundation, brothers Bert and Hank Goodman, both registered Maine guides, said they were surprised when they went on a den visit and saw the state biologists relying on donated and second-hand materials.

"(The biologist's) gloves were donated, his flashlight was donated, and his two sleds were outdated. It was just terrible," Bert Goodman said.Working with IF&W's biologists, the Goodmans set up the video camera and website, which features the live streaming video, still photos, profiles of the state's bear program members and solicitations to donate.

The brothers also started pitching den tours to the general public -- priced at $5,000. They plan to coordinate those tours with the biologists when they normally visit the dens, between January and March. It's something the state has done for years for education groups -- at no charge.

Holding public tours to raise conservation funds is a new approach to the state's wildlife work, but seeking private funds to support public agencies is not a new mission for nonprofit conservation groups.
For years, nonprofit groups have sought and contributed funds to help state and federal natural resource agencies in Maine.

"I often wondered why there wasn't a bear conservation group," said Robb Cotiaux, president of the National Wild Turkey Federation's Maine chapter.In 2008, Safari Club International gave the state IF&W $5,800 to purchase black bear GPS collars; in 2009, the club's Maine chapter donated another $6,000 to complete the purchase.

The turkey federation raises $20,000 annually to fund state biologists' work growing the turkey population here, Cotiaux said. The program has increased the state population from 10 birds to an estimated statewide population of 61,000."Our goal was to restore the wild turkey to all suitable habitat. The IF&W people saw that and our desire to restore a species. It took a long time to build that relationship. They're the paid professionals. Ultimately, they had the say," said Jim Wescott of Windham, the 2012 recipient of the federation's national conservation award.

Friends of Acadia may be the best example in Maine of a conservation group that partnered with a government agency to successfully fund conservation work.Since 1986, the group has granted more than $17 million to help preserve Acadia National Park's land, said Marla Stellpflug O'Byrne, the Friends president."We look to how we can expand the park's ability to do its job, not replace what it's doing," O'Byrne said.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Spread the word about Canada's plan to kill wolves for tar sands oil.....Sign the Petition below,,,,,,Also for you is a letter to write to Canadian Prime Minister Harper insisting that habitat must be saved to keep Caribou herds healthy.........and that wolf killing is the "lazy mans" approach to a mankind caused problem

From: CREDO Action
Subject: Spread the word about Canada's plan to kill wolves for tar sands oil

Thanks for taking action.

Here are some ways you can spread the word to build pressure on Canadian officials to abandon this cruel plan and stop their rapid expansion of tar sands mining which threatens all of us.

If you are on Facebook, click here to post the petition to your Wall.

If you have a Twitter account, click here to automatically tweet:!

You can also send the following e-mail to your friends and family. Spreading the word is critical, but please only pass this message along to those who know you -- spam hurts our campaign


 --The CREDO Action Team

Here's a sample message to send to your friends:

If you've received this email in error, please correct your campaign subscription information at:
Subject: Stop Canada's planned tar sands wolf killings!
Dear Friend,

If Alberta Canada's tar sands oil fields are fully developed, an area of boreal rainforest the size of Florida will be eviscerated, leaving in its wake only giant ponds of toxic wastewater.

To make up for the fact that extracting tar sands oil is threatening caribou herds by destroying vast swaths of rainforest habitat in Alberta, the Canadian government has called for strychnine poisoning and aerial shooting of thousands of wolves in areas of tar sands mining.

This plan is both cruel and deeply misguided.

I just signed a petition telling Canada's Prime Minister Harper to Stop Canada's planned tar sands wolf killings. Learn more and add your name here:

An Elk personality study is underway in Jasper and Banff National Parks with the goal of finding a way to keep Elk from becoming habituated to us humans..........University of Alberta biologist Rob Found is of the school of thought that suggests that intelligence is best measured by behaviour rather than the way an animal looks or seems to be..........He hopes that with the information gleaned through this study, wildlife managers will be able to focus their efforts on the particular stimuli and the particular animals with the greatest potential to reduce rates of human-wildlife conflict.......... Ultimately, this will make it possible for humans and other animals to share space with greater harmony, reducing threats to human safety and the need for lethal management of so-called problem wildlife

The elk shrink: With parks under siege, one researcher tries to unravel ungulate personalities

 By Ed Struzik, Postmedia 
University of Alberta biologist Rob Found is conducting a study to determine the personality of elk in Jasper National Park. The idea that elk and other wild animals have personalities is often dismissed as silly anthropomorphism, which is not all that surprising when you consider the science of human personality is just a little over a century old and still fraught with theological, sociological and evolutionary debates.
 University of Alberta biologist Rob Found is conducting a study to determine the personality of elk in Jasper National Park. The idea that elk and other wild animals have personalities is often dismissed as silly anthropomorphism, which is not all that surprising when you consider the science of human personality is just a little over a century old and still fraught with theological, sociological and evolutionary debates.
JASPER NATIONAL PARK, Alta. — University of Alberta biologist Rob Found is in the middle of the forest in Jasper National Park, building something that looks like a performance arts stage.
Inside a crude corral that has been decoratively taped with red ribbon, he carefully places a bright orange traffic triangle and a shiny yellow bicycle frame on top of a wood cage containing alfalfa.
Off the beaten track as we are, it is unlikely that skiers will come by and admire this novel object. But just in case they do, Found staples a notice on the corral post asking people not to disturb anything if happenstance and curiosity tempt them. It is wild elk that he is hoping to attract to this work of art, not people.
Crazy as it sounds and looks to be, a purpose is being served by this madness.

With the help of a motion-sensing camera strapped to a tree nearby, Found is trying to determine how elk will respond when they stumble upon a novel object such as this one. Will they be shy, as some were when he tossed a ball at them in earlier experiments on an elk farm near Edmonton? Or will they throw caution to the wind and play like children, as others have done when he's introduced them to balloons.

The reaction might say something about the personality that Found is trying to identify in each of the animals he is tracking here in Jasper and in Banff national parks. It might also help Parks Canada find a way of preventing elk from becoming habituated to humans, as they have in the Rocky Mountain parks.
"I know it sounds crazy, and I can tell you that some of my colleagues in science can be a bit dismissive when I tell them what I am doing," says Found. "But apart from trying to figure out the personality of elk, there is potentially a management application we could learn to use from this study."In many ways, elk are like people. If can we figure out what makes them tick, we may be able to manage them more effectively."

The idea that elk and other wild animals have personalities is often dismissed as silly anthropomorphism, which is not all that surprising when you consider the science of human personality is just a little over a century old and still fraught with theological, sociological and evolutionary debates.

Is it genetics or nurturing that makes some of us easygoing and others high-strung? Does environment play a role in determining why some people are perky in the dark days of winter while others are vulnerable to depression?

Ask a pet owner and you're not likely to get any argument about where dogs fit into the personality debate. Golden retrievers, they will tell you, are almost without exception, loyal, highly energetic and playful. Some poorly trained Rottweilers, on the other hand, have hair-trigger temperaments that cause them to attack when surprised or provoked. Both breeds, they would argue, get depressed if they are not treated properly.
But does a wild animal such as an elk, which has not undergone generations of breeding to get the personality traits that humans are looking for, have a personality? Or is what we see as traits of intelligence that make up personality simply the reflex response that scientist Ivan Pavlov famously saw in his dog?

The idea that animals have personalities has been growing in leaps and bounds in scientific circles since University of Lethbridge psychologist Jennifer Mather and others started gently poking, startling, feeding and playing with East Pacific Red Octopus more than 20 years ago to see what kind of response they would get. In several scientific journals, she and her colleagues have made the case that the octopus, an animal once labelled as "stupid" by Aristotle, can combine perception with memory to figure out what's happening at the moment.

The key, of course, is how you define or measure the intelligence that is responsible for animal personality. "Stupid is as stupid does," as Forrest Gump would say, suggests that true intelligence is best measured by behaviour rather than the way a person or an animal like the octopus looks or seems to be.
"Animals like elk may not be intelligent in the way we are," says Found. "There is no IQ test we can give them. But they can process complex information and, based on what I've seen in the field, they are not so different from humans."

Found didn't get any argument when he approached elk rancher Herman Bulten to see if he could try some personality-testing strategies on his fenced-in animals before approaching Parks Canada with his plan.
Rather than slamming down the phone, as Found had half-expected when he told him he would be chasing some of them around with hockey sticks, Bulten wanted to hear more.

"Oh yes, elk have personalities," he says. "No doubt about it. I have seen it in the animals I raise."
Bulten's favourite way of illustrating this concerns an elk he never owned. This "bottle baby" was the unfortunate offspring of a mother who ended up choosing to feed his twin brother instead of him.
Too busy to bottle-feed the calf, the owner asked Bulten if he would like to give it a try. "Bozo" as he came to be called, was a handful. But he eventually got so attached to Bulten, his wife, Alice, and his son Brendan that they could count on him to lead other more reticent elk into the barn. All he wanted to get out of it was a reward.

"I could call Bozo's name and he would come running," he says. "The key with him and other elk is that you have to recognize that they have personalities and they need to be treated with respect. It's the same philosophy that the horse-whisperer uses in dealing with so-called problem horses. Bozo would respond positively to my body language, for example, but if you used a quad to try and chase him into the barn, as some elk ranchers did, he would not co-operate."

Bozo was returned to the owner, and was then sold and resold to other ranchers who weren't as patient or empathetic as he was. Like Black Beauty, the fictional colt who descended into despair after he was passed from one cruel owner to another, Bozo became an outcast.

"They thought he was troublemaker," says Bulten. "They didn't understand him,"
Bulten lost track of Bozo. But then one day, when he was visiting a colleague who had recently acquired a bunch of new animals, he had a flashback."Out of curiosity, I asked him if he had an animal with the No. 77 tag in its ear," said Bulten. "That was Bozo's identification number."

"'Oh that one,' the owner said to me. 'I'm getting rid of it. Too much trouble. It can't be handled.' "
Bulten called out Bozo's name to see if he might remember him after all these years. To his delight, and the disbelief of the owner, the animal pricked up its ears and ran across the field towards him.
"He came right up and started licking my face. He couldn't have been happier to see me."

Bulten has owned many other animals that have exhibited the kind of unique personality traits that Found is trying to identify. One particularly affectionate female was so annoyed with him when he gave her a gentle cuff on the snout to get her to back off, she would abruptly turn her rump towards him whenever he tried to approach her afterwards. It took a year for her to forgive him. Another was so distraught when she lost her calf to illness that she went into a deep depression and wouldn't eat for four days. "When you see that kind of behaviour, you can't help wonder if they really are much different than us," Bulten says.

Parks Canada is interested in what Found is doing because elk have become a huge management problem in Jasper and Banff since they were transplanted from Yellowstone National Park between 1917 and 1920.
In the past 30 years, more than 600 people have reported being attacked or chased by ornery elk in those mountain parks. Thirty-six of them had to be treated for serious injuries.

Elk also attract wolves and cougars, which can be a problem when such prey species spend a good part of their time in schoolyards, parks and green spaces along the perimeters of town.Several years ago, Parks Canada tried to deal with this problem by identifying and relocating some of the more troublesome animals away from the townsite. Fifty elk were shipped to the Swan Hills area, 40 to the wildlands around Nordegg, and 10 more to a remote region of the park.

The transplanted elk weren't interested in giving up the good life in town, where there was plenty of food and relatively few predators to worry about. Thirteen of the 50 animals that were transported to Swan Hills quickly decided they'd had enough of the wilderness when they heard the sound of a train heading toward the lights of the town centre, just as trains do when they pass through Jasper. The next day the animals were found huddled up in a schoolyard, munching happily on grass they had dug up beneath the snow. In the end, almost every one of the transplanted animals moved back to the urban life they were taken from.
Nowadays, Parks Canada deals with the elk in Banff and Jasper townsites by sending wildlife conflict specialists out with hockey sticks every morning to drive them off.

"It works and doesn't work," Parks Canada's Mike Dillon told me when I joined him on the early morning patrol in Jasper this winter. "They come to recognize our trucks and our uniforms. As soon as one of the dominant animals see us coming or hears the sound of the truck door open, it heads out of town and the rest follow. By morning, they're all back again.
Entering university in his mid-thirties, Found wasn't exactly green when he got into this field of study.
The seed of interest got planted several years earlier when his sister was studying wolf and coyote movements in Jasper. Found was working as a bellman and kitchen helper at the time when he offered himself up as cheap labour.

"Though she paid me little, sometimes I couldn't believe I was getting paid at all, like when we left a carcass site, returned to the car, and we got surrounded by coyotes," he said. "I wouldn't say this exactly inspired me to a career in biology, because I had hated school since I was five years old and university seemed a stupid thing for me to do, but this did plant the seed."

The decision to go to university evolved serendipitously from a flippant remark Found made to a fellow hotel kitchen employee who had worked and partied to the point of becoming borderline alcoholic.
"I actually quite liked him and we joked a lot," he recalls. "But then one day, when I was explaining my system for keeping organized while serving in the restaurant, he scoffed and told me that he thought it was excessively complicated. I joked, and said, 'Well, I don't like to take the easy way out.'""I'll never forget his response. 'You're working here,' he said. 'You're already taking the easy way out.'"I realized right then and there that he was right and that I could easily end up like him if I didn't take a chance in my life."

Working first with scientist Mark Boyce, who likes to throw his new students into the cold, deep end of the pool, Found went on to do his PhD with Colleen Cassidy St. Clair, who tends to give students life jackets before sending them off into the field. That ying and yang experience in academia put him on a new career trajectory. Several important research grants followed and, in 2010, Found received the prestigious E.O. Wilson award for student research.

St. Clair has no doubt that understanding animal personality has the potential to help people manage wild animals."Any personnel manager would agree that recognizing and accommodating different personality types is essential for avoiding conflict in the workplace," she points out."Yet wildlife managers haven't applied this concept to the problem of human-wildlife conflict at all, probably because it seems hopeless to identify personality in wild animals. Rob's work has shown that it's not nearly as difficult as one might think. He can tell you which elk are inherently bold versus shy and which ones are set in their ways, which psychologists would call proactive versus reactive.

"With this information, managers will be able to focus their efforts on the particular stimuli and the particular animals with the greatest potential to reduce rates of human-wildlife conflict in future. Ultimately, this approach will make it possible for humans and other animals to share space with greater harmony, reducing threats to human safety and the need for lethal management of so-called problem wildlife."
St. Clair isn't entirely right.

In the town of Churchill, the government of Manitoba has developed a unique, world-class wildlife management protocol that uses personality assessment, among other strategies, to deal with hundreds of polar bears that stray precariously close to town in the fall months while waiting for the ice to freeze up in Hudson Bay.

The strategies have succeeded beyond everyone's expectation.
Thirty years ago, conservation officers stationed there routinely tranquillized or shot polar bears that got too close. But through trial and observation, they learned that most of these animals weren't interested in causing trouble. Given a chance, a majority could be easily escorted away with a truck or bear bangers. As a consequence, fewer bears are now shot or immobilized and less damage is done to homes and businesses. Remarkably only one person has been killed by a polar bear in Churchill in the last 40 years.

That doesn't mean that all polar bears can be easily deterred. Every once in a while, conservation officers encounter an extremely aggressive polar bear that isn't interested in gentle persuasion. Usually, it's a big male that isn't used to being pushed around.

Last summer one particularly ornery animal attacked a conservation officer's truck and left a huge dent on the hood before running off into town. In the end, officers had no choice but to destroy it.
Edmonton-based Environment Canada scientist Nick Lunn suspected something like this might happen when he caught and tagged the same bear on land in the western Hudson Bay region in 2004, 2005 and 2007.
The bear was so aggressive — charging and jumping at the helicopter during the immobilization process — that Lunn took the unusual step of recording its behaviour in his field notes. "I remember this bear and made the comment that if I ever came close to people — researchers on the land or near town — that there could be trouble."

Found has had his own share of close calls chasing elk around with hockey sticks to measure flight response times. "In my first week in Jasper, three elk charged me," he recalls. "One time I had to jump behind a comically small pine tree that both me and the elk could look over. She basically chased me around this little tree for 10 to 15 seconds before she got bored, and I got irritated, and we went our separate ways."
Surprisingly, tourists and residents of Jasper don't seem so surprised when they see Found and his technicians chasing elk with hockey sticks to see how aversive conditioning affects their behaviour.
"I think people are surprisingly un-puzzled by the concept of studying personality in elk, particularly locals who certainly have more first-hand experience with the animals," he says. "Every day they wake up to see the sight of wardens hazing elk in order to get them out of town."

Not everyone is as co-operative as Found would like them to be, however.
Flipping through the camera photos one day, he watched with fascination as a young Japanese couple stumbled upon one of his novel objects — several boxes stacked on top of one another in this particular case.

One by one the couple took the boxes down and arranged them so they could be used as a table and chair. Then they sat down and casually ate their lunch."At first, I thought, they're destroying my experiment. But then as I was sorting through the photos, I was relieved to see that once they finished their lunch they carefully restacked the boxes just as they had found them and left."

Early as he is in his research, Found is reluctant to say too much about what he has discovered so far. But there is little doubt in his mind that the animals he is dealing with are intelligent and possess problem-solving skills. "In Banff, Parks Canada uses cattle guards and rail fences in wildlife crossings in order to keep the elk on the north side of the Trans Canada Highway, where there are more predators," he says.
"Elk can enjoy the north side. But once they start feeling the predator pressure, they make the decision to get back to the safe, south side of the highway. To do this they have been known to walk all the way from Banff to Canmore (some 25 kilometres) to get around the fence, then come all the way back to Banff to their preferred grazing grounds."

There are some things about elk that Found still finds strange; the first involves their occasionally walking around on their hind legs to get at the low-hanging branches of a tree. "It just doesn't look normal," he says.
The second relates to some of them getting down on their front knees and crawling around to graze. While they use this posture to nurse, Found can't think of any reason why they would have do it when grazing as adults.

That said, Found has seen humans acting even more strangely. He includes himself in that category.
"I regularly climb into garbage Dumpsters looking for things that elk will find interesting, but rather than being puzzled at the methods behind my elk behaviour project, people who see me seem to just pity the poor homeless man they think they see."

A recent Michigan State University Wolf Survey reveals that nearly 80 percent of residents agreed that science should be used to decide a wolf hunt. This is compared to 56 percent of those surveyed who indicated the issue should be decided through a ballot initiative. This finding shows support for public belief in science, namely in support of science’s role in wildlife management.........All this is good if in fact we find a way to fund the Michigan Game Commission through some other means versus hunter tags..........We have a self perpetuating bias against science being used to determine carnivore hunts based on hunting licenese keep our Game Commisisons "bread buttered"......We need some folks voted into the Govenor ranks who have some understanding of Leopold's "Land Ethic";;;;;;folks who will not be a slave to the hunters rifle and the cattleman's branding iron

Most Michiganders like having wolves in their home state

Contact: Layne Cameron, University Relations, Office: (517) 353-8819, Cell: (765) 748-4827,; Meredith Gore, Fisheries and Wildlife/School of Criminal Justice, Office: (517) 432-8203,

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The overwhelming majority of Michigan residents place value on having wolves in their home state while a small minority would buy a license to hunt them, according to a Michigan State University study.

The survey, which addresses how the state could manage its wolf population now that Canis lupus has been removed from the federal endangered species list, indicates that 82 percent of those surveyed value knowing that there are wolves in Michigan. On the other end of the spectrum, only 14 percent report that they would purchase a license to hunt wolves.

However, it is important to seriously consider the responses of Upper Peninsula residents, some of whom have to live with wolves in their backyards and farms, according to Meredith Gore, assistant professor of fisheries and wildlife.

“Although UP residents placed the lowest value on wolves, still 61 percent said they value them,” she said. “However, they also showed the greatest interest in purchasing a hunting license. In fact, 55 percent of those surveyed said they would.”

The intent of the study, which polled nearly 1,000 residents, was to measure public opinion about hunting before policy changes are proposed. It was designed to give legislators and other policymakers insight about how Michiganders may react to legislation and policies managing the wolf population, which is estimated at approximately 600.

“We asked the questions in such a way to determine how residents felt a decision to hunt should be made,” Gore said. “We wanted to measure how many Michiganders agree that decisions should be based on biological science compared to those who think that they should be handled via a public vote.”

Nearly 80 percent of residents agreed that science should be used to decide a wolf hunt. This is compared to 56 percent of those surveyed who indicated the issue should be decided through a ballot initiative. This finding shows support for public belief in science, namely in support of science’s role in wildlife management, Gore added.

The study was co-authored by Michael Nelson, MSU associate professor of environmental ethics and philosophy, and Michelle Lute, MSU graduate student. Researchers from Michigan Technological University also contributed to the survey. The questions were part of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research’s Office for Survey Research at MSU.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Coyote killing actually encourages survivors to eat sheep: Targeted populations have fewer adults to go out hunting and more young to feed, and sheep serve as a big and easy meal, writes Robert Crabtree of Yellowstone Ecosystem Studies, who's researched the animals in California, Washington state, and Wyoming.

Coyotes Under Fire
Killing coyotes can lead to an increase in their numbers
humane society
by Karen E. Lange

Across much of the country, the coyote is a scapegoat—the only good coyote is a dead one. Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote, calls the species "the most persecuted animal in North America" and estimates a half million are shot, snared, trapped, or poisoned each year in the U.S. by Wildlife Services agents, ranchers, and others.

The killing campaign started in the 1800s, when Western ranchers exterminated large native carnivores to create predator-free grazing land for cattle and sheep. They killed bears, mountain lions, wolves—and coyotes, North America's wild dog, resilient and adaptable predators who leap into the air, legs pulled up and feet neatly curled into their bodies, and land unerringly on their prey.

Eighty-one years ago, Congress passed the Animal Damage Control Act, giving the government broad authority to kill wild animals deemed a threat to agriculture. One favored method: carcasses laced with strychnine. Bounties were offered for dead predators. It used to be that agents would string up dead coyotes on fence posts and hang the ears from rings on their pickups' gun racks. The ears helped prove their kills so they could collect their money. Around 1980, Shaddox remembers, an order came for Wildlife Services agents to stop doing this—it was bad for the agency's image. So, nowadays the corpses are generally piled in a heap on ranchers' land.

Since the 1930s, the gray wolf has been nearly wiped out. The coyote, paradoxically, has thrived. One reason, scientists now realize, is coyote social organization. Coyotes live in groups where only the alpha male and female reproduce. However, if one member of that pair is killed, the group's social structure is disrupted, and the surviving females start to have pups. With fewer coyotes competing for food, more pups are born in each litter, and more of those pups survive. Coyotes from outside the area also move in. The result: Within a year or two, there are as many or more coyotes in an area where the animals have been killed than before. Eric Gese, a Wildlife Services researcher, found that after 60 to 70 percent of the coyotes in an area of southeastern Colorado were killed, pack size and density rebounded within just eight months.
Ironically, coyote killing actually encourages survivors to eat sheep: Targeted populations have fewer adults to go out hunting and more young to feed, and sheep serve as a big and easy meal, writes Robert Crabtree of Yellowstone Ecosystem Studies, who's researched the animals in California, Washington state, and Wyoming.
Coyotes are resilient because they had to be, explains Crabtree; they evolved in the shadow of the gray wolf, a bigger and more aggressive canid. Wolves kept coyotes in check, sometimes by killing them, more often by driving them out of their territories. Professor William Ripple of Oregon State University calls this "the ecology of fear."

As humans altered this ecological balance by killing off the gray wolf, the coyote took over, expanding its range from Mexico, the Southwest, and the Midwest to nearly all North America, from Northern California to Alaska and the East Coast. Yellowstone coyote populations have dropped by half since wolves were reintroduced in 1995; elsewhere, they are limited only by the food supply, says Ripple.
"Having these huge numbers of coyotes is definitely an issue," he says. "But we should question whether killing coyotes is really effective. We should start looking at the ecology and the cause of the problems, rather than work on the symptoms."

In many places, coyotes have replaced wolves at the top of the food chain. They control populations of jackrabbits, rodents, opossums, and foxes. This in turn protects grass that cattle eat and birds who nest or feed on or near the ground.

Yet despite their role in the ecosystem, in much of the country coyotes are treated like "varmints." In most states, they can be legally killed in any manner at any time. In Minnesota, a bill to allow bounties was approved last year; The HSUS helped defeat similar bills in Maine and North Dakota. Contests in at least 200 communities offer prizes for the biggest coyote or the most coyotes killed. Competitors summon the animals using imitations of coyotes in distress, then shoot them using high-powered rifles equipped with telescopic sights.

Elsewhere, in a practice known as penning, hunters release dog packs on coyotes in fenced-in enclosures. "They use them because they last a little bit longer than foxes," says Casey Pheiffer, director of The HSUS's Wildlife Abuse Campaign, which is working to end penning in Virginia, Indiana, and other states. "And nobody cares what happens to coyotes."

The Minnesota Dept of Natural Resources doesn't believe a growing wolf population is responsible for the severe decline of Moos in the State..........They are investing the next two years and committing $600,000 to studying the parasites and diseases that are ravaging the population........We discuss continually the warming temperatures that are spiking winter tick numbers........the growing whitetail herd spreading brain disease,,,,,,,,,,,and the human hunter mortality,,, in synergy, have North Country Moose in a freefall

Survey finds another decline in Minn. moose numbers; researcher fears slide to continue

By Associated Press, Published: February 23

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota's moose population appears to have dropped
again, and a lead researcher for the state Department of Natural
Resources says the state may eventually have none.
Minnesota is one of the few strongholds for moose in the Lower 48
states, but an annual survey of the population found a 14 percent
decline, the Department of Natural Resources reported Thursday. The
reasons aren't clear, but scientists have speculated that disease,
parasites and a warming climate are affecting the animals.

We've basically lost half the moose population in northeastern
Minnesota and unless we see a change in the mortality rates or
improvements in reproduction, this population is going to continue
down that path," Mark Lenarz, leader of the DNR's forest wildlife and
populations research group, said in an interview with The Associated
Press. "We're probably not going to have moose in Minnesota that much

Lenarz led the aerial survey, which estimated Minnesota has 4,230
moose, down from an estimated 4,900 a year ago. Minnesota had nearly
9,000 moose — an iconic symbol of the state's north woods — just six
years ago.

The agency said the continuing decline will affect an upcoming
decision on whether to allow a moose hunt this fall.
The survey showed a couple of positive trends: improved calf survival
and a higher bull-to-cow ratio, indicating more bulls available for
breeding. Still, the cow-to-calf ratio of 36 calves per 100 cows is
well below estimates from the 1990s.

In the U.S., only Alaska and parts of New England and the Rocky
Mountains have large, stable populations. They're also common in
Canada.The state agency cautioned that its aerial estimates have a high
margin of error, but say the long-term trend is clearly downward. Its
estimates are based on data collected by helicopters flying over 49
randomly selected plots across northeastern Minnesota.

The agency said it will evaluate the new data and consult with tribal
biologists before making a decision on a hunting season in coming
weeks.Margaret Levin, state director of the Sierra Club, said the state
should consider not having a hunt.

But the agency, including Lenarz, insists hunting is not driving the
decline. The agency allowed a bulls-only season in the fall and cut
the number of permits in half, to 105. Hunters killed only 53 bulls,
some of which would have died anyway, Lenarz said.

"Even if we stopped hunting moose it would not turn the population
around in any way. We would continue to see this decline," he said.
Under the state's management plan, one trigger for closing the season
is if the bull-to-cow ratio drops below 67 bulls per 100 cows for
three straight years. It was below that last year, but rose this year
to 108 bulls per 100 calves.

The agency said it doesn't believe a growing wolf population is
responsible for the moose's decline. The department plans to begin a
two-year, $600,000 study next year to try to identify diseases and
parasites that might be responsible.

Lenarz said Minnesota's non-hunting mortality rates have been
averaging about 20 percent, compared with about 8 percent elsewhere in
North America. Changing that would require lower death rates among
adult moose and increased survival of calves, he said. That leaves him
pessimistic for the future of the majestic animals.

"In my opinion there is nothing that can be done to turn the
population around," he said.

"I know how many of you feel about the big bear"..... "I've heard grumbling here and there".... "Many of you guide in areas not slated for bear control -- at least not yet-- and maybe you are in a little bit of shock by what's going down"....."You guys know better than most just how cool the grizzly is; the big bear deserves better, we deserve better"..... "I urge you to step up and make a stand"..... "Everyone who loves bears should make a stand"..... "They are easily our most magnificent animals."----Alaska bear hunter and big-game guide Karl Braendel...................As writer Bill Sherwonit goes on to say: Karl is passionate and informed about the fact that snaring of Griz and Black Bears must be banned asap!...........This blogger agrees with carnivore advocates George Wuerthner and Brooks Fahy who do not believe in any form of Carnivore hunting,,,,,And if there is going to be hunts of wolves, pumas and bears, the kills must happen instantly and cleanly, not through chaining a fellow creature to a tree to suffer for hours and even days on end before being dispatched.......The last two Govenor's of Alaska and the Alaska Board of Game have continually pushed the envelope further and further in their quest to destroy larger and larger numbers of Wolves and Bears(in the name of better prey hunting for humans)............When will the folks up North put their foot down and say NO MORE?

Uneasy about new Alaska bear snaring? Time to speak up.

Bill Sherwonit

In an eloquent commentary that he wrote for the Anchorage Daily News
("Predator Control Demeans Us All," Feb. 4), bear hunter and big-game
hunting guide Karl Braendel both sang the praises of the "mighty
grizzly," that "wilderness 'boss of bosses,'" and bemoaned the fact
that his peers in the guiding industry have largely remained silent
since the state of Alaska expanded its predator-control policies to
include the snaring and shooting of grizzly bears.

In a direct appeal to those peers, Braendel wrote, "I know how many of
you feel about the big bear. I've heard grumbling here and there. Many
of you guide in areas not slated for bear control -- at least not yet
-- and maybe you are in a little bit of shock by what's going down.
You guys know better than most just how cool the grizzly is; the big
bear deserves better, we deserve better. I urge you to step up and
make a stand. Everyone who loves bears should make a stand. They are
easily our most magnificent animals."

griz snared to tree

Some might take issue with that last comment, since magnificence, like
beauty, lies in the eyes of the beholder. But it seems to me that
anyone who holds even the slightest amount of respect for "the big
bear" would oppose the brutally inhumane tack that the Board of Game
(BOG) and Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) are now taking to
"control" grizzly numbers in parts of Alaska. To date it's only been
an "experimental" program in Unit 16, across Cook Inlet from
Anchorage. But at its March meeting in Fairbanks, the BOG will decide
whether to expand the snaring and killing of both grizzly and black
bears to other parts of the state. (Though it doesn't seem to have
gained much notice, the BOG has already approved plans to conduct a
brown and black bear snaring effort in Unit 19D, the McGrath area,
beginning June 30.)

Because I don't run in those circles, I can't say what buzz, if any,
Braendel's commentary has generated within the big-game guiding
community (he's told me he hasn't heard much from other guides). But I
do know that others have independently expressed their opposition to
snaring. Terry Holliday, president of Safari Club International's
Alaska chapter, told the L.A. Times, "I personally disagree with the
snaring of the bear.

"If you want a lower bear population, they [state wildlife officials]
can do it in different ways. It's not humane. You shoot something, you
kill it. If it's properly done, it's bang, and it's over, with the
animal not suffering. But when you go out and you start snaring
animals and whoever's doing it, say, the weather's bad and you can't
get back for several days, here's a bear sitting there in a snare with
a bucket on its foot."

And in written comments made to the BOG, Robert Fithian, a master
guide and executive director of the Alaska Professional Hunters
Association, expressed his group's concerns that a proposed expansion
of an existing predator-control program in Unit 19A (within the
Kuskokwim River drainage) would add "brown bears of any age class
[and] the snaring of brown bears."

Because it's a more charismatic animal and greater trophy, the
inclusion of grizzlies in the bear-snaring effort has upped the ante,
increased the opposition to the snaring and killing of bears, but I
and many other Alaskans oppose the snaring of any bear, whether black
or brown (grizzlies and brown bears of course being the same species).
Like Braendel, I've been surprised that Alaskans haven't been more
upset by the state's latest and most extreme policy to kill off wolves
and bears.

 It should be emphasized that never in our state's history
has the BOG allowed snaring to capture and kill bears. One reason for
the lack of public outcry may be the media's inattention. Though I've
written a few pieces about the snaring of black bears and, more
recently, brown bears in that Unit 16 experiment, Alaska's media only
began to pay attention this winter, when a bunch of wildlife
scientists (nearly 80 of them, all with Alaska connections) protested
the practice -- and were joined in that protest by former Gov. Tony

I applaud both Knowles and biologist John Schoen for leading the
current charge, along with a core group of wildlife activists. And
now, at least some voices from the big-game guiding industry and the
Alaska Native community as well. I was heartily encouraged to see a
letter opposing bear snaring from Roy and Charlene Huhndorf, leaders
in the Native community and, like Braendel, life-long Alaskans.
"We believe snaring is cruel and inhumane," the Huhndorfs wrote,
"causing hours and sometimes days of agony for the animal and should
not be used by the state as a wildlife management tool. It is
primitive and uncivilized. . . .

 The cruel destruction of Alaska's
predator population does not have a place in the 21st century."
Another Alaska Native who has taken a strong stand is Maxine Franklin,
who bravely went before the BOG at its January meeting (not an easy
thing to do for those who present different perspectives than the
narrow-minded board). A friend of mine with Athabascan and Yupik
roots, Franklin has shared with me some writings about her Athabascan
grandfather, Peter Matthews, and the great respect he showed to bears
when, on rare occasions, he hunted the animal.

 Besides using adeadfall trap that would kill the bear quickly -- a necessary thing to
do, to limit the animal's suffering -- Matthews would stage a funeral
for the bear, to honor his or her spirit. (Franklin notes that she
never met her grandfather, but learned these stories from her mother,
Isabelle Pete, who at Maxine's insistence told them over and over.)
Now an elder herself, Franklin says, "I believe we're related to the
other animals. . . . We can develop a mature attitude toward our
relations. Sometimes we need to take their lives to continue living,
but restraint should be the rule. They of course deserve to be treated
well, in life and death. Some things should not be done."
Snaring, for example.

Some folks, of course, prefer scientific analysis to indigenous
beliefs. So it's worthwhile adding that science too has found
overwhelming evidence that we humans are "related to the other
animals." The perspective is slightly different, but that truth
remains. And occasionally even scientists will agree that "some things
should not be done."

In January I wrote a story for the Anchorage Press, "Alaska's newest
wildlife experiment: Snaring and shooting brown bears." In working on
that essay, I spoke to several biologists who decried the snaring of
bears, for both scientific and ethical reasons. Larry Aumiller,
long-time manager at the McNeil River brown bear sanctuary, recalled,
"I helped snare bears in the 1970s [for radio-tracking] and it
produced images that I still find in my dreams. When snared, brown
bears go absolutely crazy with fear and tear up everything within

Researchers, another biologist has informed me, go to great lengths to
limit the suffering of bears captured in such a way. But what about
people who only snare bears to kill them? How much care do they take?
Another biologist, who asked to remain anonymous, added, "Any snaring
is cruel. Lethal snaring (neck snares say, or conibears, or drowning
sets) are at least cruel for a shorter time until the animal dies
(sometimes within minutes). The foot snaring means that a wild animal,
used to roaming for hundreds of miles, is held against its will for
hours at a time by a metal band like a handcuff. The band can and will
abrade the tissue the more the animal fights. Imagine you are suddenly
handcuffed by one wrist to a tree, possibly in a standing position,
and never in your life have you ever been restrained. The
psychological shock must be intense."

So, what we have here are Alaskans representing many different
backgrounds, cultures, and belief systems, all agreeing that bear
snaring is cruel and inhumane. And, adding the perspectives of
respected biologists, unscientific to boot.

As I've written elsewhere, Alaska's predator-control system has been
out of control for years and is only getting worse. Many of those
who've battled the state's increasingly extreme policies and methods
have been worn down or grown cynical or they worry that Alaskans,
generally, have grown weary of this battle. What's the point, after
all, when the state goes ahead and does what it wants?
The point, in part, is that it's important to bear witness, even if
change comes slowly (or at the present, not at all). Over the past
nine years (since Frank Murkowski became governor, to be succeeded by
Sarah Palin and now Sean Parnell), the BOG has taken a step-by-step
approach to its predator control programs, as if to see how far it can
go in its war against wolves and bears -- and what else can you call
it, when the aim is to remove ever-larger numbers of predators from
Alaska's wildlands in order to benefit human hunters? If there is no
protest, no push back, things will only get worse. They are getting

What can Alaskans do? For one thing, a petition is circulating, asking
the BOG to end bear snaring. Go online and sign it. Write letters to
the editor. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner would be a good target,
since the BOG meets in Fairbanks in early March. Attend the meeting if
you can, speak out in defense of bears. Let the governor know you're
disappointed, especially if you voted for him.

As Karl Braendel wrote, "There's still time to affect the outcome."
But everyone opposed to the cruelty of bear snaring needs to speak
out, not simply the usual suspects. It's time to say, "Enough is
enough, this has to stop."It's time to raise a little hell.

Bill Sherwonit has contributed essays and articles to a wide variety
of publications (both traditional and online) and is the author of 13
books, most recently Changing Paths: Travels and Meditations in
Alaska's Arctic Wilderness and Chugach State Park: Alaska's Accessible
Wilderness, the latter a collaboration with photographer Carl
Battreall. He has closely followed and written about Alaska's wildlife
politics since the mid-1980s.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Whether it be industrial development, ski trail cuts or snowmobile trails invading previously uncut forest regions,,,,,,,,,,,,,,all contribute to Caribou herd declines by allowing both deer and Wolves to emigrate into their(caribou) homegrounds...........There is some hope that by increasing "no snowmobile" acreage in the South Purcell Mountains in British Columbia and simultaneously tranplanting additional Caribou into the region,,,,,,the herd might be stabilized..............Let us hope that there is some improvement or the human killers will be called in to dispatch and reduce wolf numbers in the region

Snowmobile tracks used by wolves to hunt threatened mountain caribou

e duggan

The Valhalla Wilderness Society says that snowmobilers may be creating
"sidewalks" in the snow that give wolves easier access to the
threatened species

Snowmobilers buzzing through mountain caribou habitat in southeastern
B.C. are giving wolves easier access to the threatened species, a
director of the Valhalla Wilderness Society says.

"Predators have a sidewalk up to that habitat," said Craig Pettitt,
whose concerns arise from a recent B.C. Ministry of Environment report
which says there is rampant snowmobile use in the critical winter
habitat of the south Purcells herd, near Cranbrook.
Mountain caribou, an ecotype of woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus
caribou) are a threatened species in southeastern British Columbia,
and it is believed that the south Purcell's herd's numbers have
dropped to 15.

According to the Ministry of Environment website, government has
closed some areas where mountain caribou are found to snowmobile use
since 1999 to support population recovery, but Pettitt says most of
the closures are only partial, and allow snowmobiles to use roads and
cutblocks in surrounding areas.

"This allows the machines to pack down the snow over extensive areas,
and the packed snow gives wolves easy access to caribou areas,"
Pettitt said, adding that many of the closures are also voluntary.
In January and February — prime snowmobiling months — pregnant caribou
cows could be driven from their territory by snowmobilers during a
crucial time for the herd, says Pettitt.

Planned increases to the legally restricted areas are expected to help
protect the incoming herd, but a lot of the best feeding territory for
caribou hasn't been protected, Pettitt says, with snowmobilers
favouring the same high slopes where tree lichen grows — a
nearly-exclusive staple in the mountain caribou's diet.
In 15 research flights over the south Purcells from 2008 through 2010,
Ministry researchers recorded snowmobile activity in 71 restricted
basins, according to the report titled Winter Recreational Activities
in Mountain Caribou Habitat.

The report comes as the Ministry of Environment is planning to bring
40 Mountain caribou from Dease Lake in northwestern B.C. to the south
Purcell Mountains to boost the south Purcell herd. The hope is that
the new animals brought from the north will give the Purcell herd a
chance at long-term survival.

Twenty caribou are scheduled to arrive by truck in mid-March, followed
by another 20 in 2013, said Steve Gordon, strategic resource manager,
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, which is
leading the $200,000 transfer.

Cooperation with local and provincial snowmobile associations has been
agreeable, Gordon said. "The clubs have stepped up in terms of their
stewardship."However, the ministry report said that in spite of cooperation by the
Cranbrook Snowmobile Club which posted closure signage and promoted
awareness among its members, the problem of snowmobilers using
restricted areas remains.

Conservation officers will issue a ticket to offenders who don't
comply, and planned aerial surveillance by the Ministry should help
convince snowmobilers to stick to the permitted areas, Gordon said.
As well, some of the south Purcells herd will be outfitted with GPS
collars which will notify researchers if they start shifting into
habitat that isn't protected, or if they get killed by predators such
as wolves — which could face culls if they start killing the new
caribou. Some wolves will also be fitted with GPS collars to monitor
the situation.

"We'll know where [the caribou] are going," Gordon said in reference
to the GPS collars, noting that changes can be made to the boundaries
of any restricted areas if "overlap" with snowmobilers becomes a

The province's total population of mountain caribou has dropped from
around 2,500 before 1995, to around 1,850 today, due to a loss of
habitat, food supply, and booming wolf and cougar populations.

Wisconsin has only 1 mammal listed on its Endangered Species List--The American Marten--The marten is a member of the Mustelid family, carnivorous weasels that range in size from the tiny least weasel, to ermine, mink, skunks and otters on up to fishers and wolverines(Gulo gulo also once inhabited Wisconsin).........Habitat alteration and trapping caused the Marten to disappear from the State by 1925,,,,,,there have been 3 reintroductions over the years with the most recent being 32 of the critters being transplanted from Minnesota in 2010...............A new management plan by the Natural Resources Board seeks to enhance the core area habitat and populations and create suitable corridors that allow for population expansion and genetic vitality to flow across the State

Traps collect hair samples to study martens

The sun filters through the balsam and red pine canopy, highlighting a series of prints in the snow.
It's the kind of day that favors a tracker. An inch of snow fell overnight, creating a fresh canvas to record the activities of the wild ones.

And they had been active. In a half-hour of travel down a seldom-used road in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest east of Clam Lake, the signs of gray wolf, coyote, fisher and white-tailed deer had been noted.

But the one Jim Woodford is especially interested in had yet to be seen. That's not unusual - it's the only mammal on the Wisconsin endangered species list.Woodford, a conservation biologist with the Department of Natural Resources, bends over a fresh set of tracks along a snow-covered log and inspects the size, shape and bounding pattern.

"Looks like we've got our first one," Woodford says. "Good to see."The animal - an American marten - traversed the log then tunneled into the snow.Five yards later, it emerged and bounded off in the zigzag manner of a hungry predator open to opportunity.Woodford pulls off his backpack and scrutinizes the trunk of a sloping red pine.

He nods affirmatively and begins to pull items from his pack - a length of PVC pipe, a pair of wire brushes, a piece of raw beaver meat, a bottle of skunk lure, and the pièce de résistance, a bottle of strawberry jam."Martens have a sweet tooth," Woodford says.It's all part of a project to monitor the population size, genetic diversity and distribution of martens in Wisconsin.

If it works correctly, a marten will smell the skunk lure or the beaver meat or the jam and crawl into the PVC pipe, squeeze past the wire brushes, take the meat and jam and leave a few hairs on the brushes.The hair will then be subjected to DNA analysis by Jonathon Paulie at the University of Wisconsin.Partners in the project include the DNR, Great Lakes Indian and Fish and Wildlife Council, U.S. Forest Service and University of Wisconsin.

"Hair traps" are being set in several areas of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest this winter. The DNR, GLIFWC and forest service are conducting the work in designated areas.For the Ojibwe, the marten, known as waabizheshi, holds special significance."It's a clan animal," said Jonathan Gilbert, GLIFWC biologist. "The tribes are very interested in making sure it recovers in Wisconsin."
The marten is a member of the Mustelid family, carnivorous weasels that range in size from the tiny least weasel, to ermine, mink, skunks and otters on up to fishers and wolverines.

The marten weighs 1½ to 2½ pounds and males grow up to 25 inches in length. Martens have plush, lustrous fur and long bushy tails one-third of their total length. They are mostly nocturnal and prey heavily on mice and other small rodents in the forest. They also will eat fruits, birds and red squirrels.

Also called the pine marten, the species was found nearly statewide throughout the forested regions of Wisconsin before European settlement, but their numbers and distribution decreased due to unregulated trapping and habitat loss.They prefer dense forest with lots of downed trees and overhead cover.

The leading cause of natural mortality is predation from other mammals, including fishers, bobcats, red fox and coyotes, as well as from hawks and owls.

Although marten trapping was prohibited in 1921, the species was considered extirpated from the state by 1925.The marten was listed as a state endangered species and a recovery plan was developed in 1986. Three major reintroduction projects have occurred since under the plan to re-establish martens to the forests of northern Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board approved an updated marten management plan at its January meeting. The management plan calls for, among other things, developing a more accurate population estimate of martens in Wisconsin; maintaining the two marten protection areas; developing and implementing forest management guidelines to protect and improve marten habitat; and protecting and enhancing corridors for marten movements between isolated groups of martens.

The state has two marten populations: a northwestern population called the Chequamegon in Ashland and Sawyer counties and a northeastern population called the Nicolet mostly in Forest County.
The Nicolet population has fared much better, Woodford says, and is considered the core area. The marten population there was estimated between 160 and 282 in 2005.

To bolster the northwestern population, 93 martens have been caught in Minnesota and released in the Chequamegon in recent years.The most recent release featured 13 males and 19 females in 2010.
The tracks of one of those animals could be on the log next to Woodford as he secures the PVC trap with a wire.

If it is, the DNA testing will tell the tale. The project has two goals: to estimate the marten population and gauge its recruitment.Wildlife managers hope the introduction of the Minnesota animals will improve the genetic diversity of the Chequamegon population.Woodford has one last touch - a smudge of skunk scent is applied to a cotton ball and hung in a nearby tree."It seems all predators can't resist the smell of a skunk," Woodford says. "They come in to check it out."Hopefully that will include at least one marten that will leave behind a modest hair sample and help researchers plot a course for permanent marten recovery in Wisconsin.


Students in Mercer are participating in the state's American marten management plan by helping researchers trap and track the animals. The students have helped place radio collars on 12 martens near Mercer and regularly perform radio-telemetry work to log the animals' movements. The students are competing in a Samsung project that rewards science-based education. Mercer is among 12 finalists selected from more than 1,500 applicants. Judges will select four grand-prize winners, and online voters will select a fifth. All winners will receive equipment for their school. To view the Mercer school marten video and support their contest entry, visit Voting ends at midnight March 12.