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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Between 2001-03, the Smokey Mountain National Park released 52 Elk into the ecosystem.............Today in 2013, it is estimated that the population of Elk has increased to about 150 animals..........Western Carolina Biology graduate student Elizabeth Hillard is in the midst of a Elk habitat study there,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,seeking to determine how the Elk use the plant life of the Park.............Her vegetation research contributes one piece to the larger puzzle of elk in the Smokies........... Other components include overall animal and herd health, dispersal patterns, disease monitoring and more...........With Hillard's help, the Park Service is trying to get a big picture for everything that's going on regarding carrying capacity for elk in the Smokies,..............When will the Park Service have the cajones to reintroduce Pumas and Red Wolves so as to mitigate the impact of the Elk on the herbivory?

Logging long stretches in the backcountry of the Cataloochee Valley area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Western Carolina University biology graduate student Elizabeth Hillard is performing research that will help park personnel manage resources in regard to the park's growing population of elk.

Elizabeth Hillard, a graduate student in the biology program at Western Carolina University, is researching how the elk population uses Great Smoky Mountains National Park resources, including what they eat and their preferred shelter. (WCU photos)
Hillard's research project has taken place over approximately 50 square miles of park land as part of an ambitious project to improve understanding of how the animals use park resources, including what they eat and their preferred shelter.
"We know that elk populations can swell to unnatural levels that have a negative impact on the environment," said Joe Yarkovich, a park wildlife biologist who focuses on the elk program and who oversaw Hillard's research. At Rocky Mountain National Park, for instance, where the elk have no natural predators, the growing herds have destroyed aspen groves and willow stands, Yarkovich said. "We're trying to get on the front end of it so that we will see those impacts before they take effect and cause much harm to the environment," he said.
The release of elk into the park began in February 2001 with 25 elk imported from Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area along the Tennessee-Kentucky border. In 2002, another 27 of the animals were imported from Elk Island National Park in Alberta, Canada. All were released in the Cataloochee area, where many have stayed, though some have migrated west to Cades Cove – animals like the open grassy areas available in both those locations, Hillard said. The precise number of elk is unknown, although a rough estimate puts the population at approximately 150 animals, including those who have traveled outside the park boundaries, according to Yarkovich. Some elk wear radio-collars and are monitored so biologists can learn more about their movements and life spans.
Hillard developed the elk project with her adviser, WCU biology professor Laura DeWald. While reading the park's environmental assessment of the elk, Hillard saw that future goals included vegetation monitoring and trail mapping. DeWald and Hillard met with Yarkovich and other park personnel and hammered out a role for Hillard, who developed a methodology and project plan that the park approved. Hillard then applied for grant funding from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and in fall 2012 was awarded more than $11,000 for the project.
Hillard's research has taken a three-pronged approach. To shed light on the preferred habitat of the elk, she spent the winter and spring of 2012 calculating elk densities in different forest types, which involved locating, hiking and mapping 78 miles of elk trails. In July and August, Hillard studied a collection of plots with varying habitat and elk densities, collecting information on overstory, understory, shrub level, the herbaceous level, forest floor and litter-soil level. The third component of the study is an analysis of the principal diet of the park's elk. To accomplish this, Hillard collected elk fecal pellets in the spring, summer and fall, which she has frozen in storage. After she completes collecting the winter sample, she will send the pellets to the Wildlife Habitat Nutrition Laboratory at Washington State University for analysis. After she draws conclusions from a mountain of data, Hillard plans to complete her thesis and graduate in time to enter a doctoral program in wildlife ecology and management in the fall.
Hillard has walked 78 miles of elk trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for her research project, always traveling with a GPS device and a park radio. At right is a tree that elk have rubbed, stripping it of bark.
Hillard has walked 78 miles of elk trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for her research project, always traveling with a GPS device and a park radio. At right is a tree that elk have rubbed, stripping it of bark.
Hillard, 30, has professional skills gained from years of experience as a field technician and classroom teacher that have allowed her to perform at a high level. But while Hillard's project was "probably twice as much as a lot of master of science students," DeWald said her advisees routinely take advantage of WCU's geographic location and undertake projects that contribute to the efforts of external agencies including the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and N.C. Cooperative Extension. Another of her current advisees, for instance, is at work on a fire ecology project based in the park.
Such arrangements are mutually beneficial, affording students the opportunity to apply their education in the field and giving strapped agencies high-quality work for minimal financial investment. "Agencies are having to do more with less. This work in the park needed to be done. To have someone like Liz is a godsend to them," DeWald said. "Our students are involved in acquiring knowledge that can be used to inform resource management decisions."
"I'm not one to turn down free research," agreed Yarkovich. "Liz is really taking a load off of my plate. I know the level of work she's doing and I'm really pleased with it."
Not only will Hillard's research inform the park's wildlife biologists about the elks' habits, but it also will establish protocols and methodology for future sampling.
"Five years from now, somebody will come back and do it again so we can track changes over longer periods of time, and I'll hand them this packet and say, 'This is what needs to be done,' and it will be what Liz has done for us. She really is setting it up long term," Yarkovich said.
Hillard's vegetation research contributes one piece to the larger puzzle of elk in the Smokies. Other components include overall animal and herd health, dispersal patterns, disease monitoring and more. "We're trying to get a big picture for everything that's going on regarding carrying capacity for elk in the Smokies," Yarkovich said.
- WCU 

There are 1,000,000 deer in Minnesota and the annual deer hunting season only removes 19% of the herd,,,,,,,hardly enough to maintain the biological integrity of the state's woodlands.........Why is it necessary to have a wolf hunting season when these carnivores are clearly not putting the deer into a freefall situation?

Minnesota Deer

 harvest drops 4 percent in 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota hunters
184,649 deer during the 2012 season, down 4
 percent from the previous year  according to numbers
Monday by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources 
The decline was expected because the 2012 season was 
designed to help stabilize and increase populations, said 
Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader. "We 
expected the reduction," she said.
 in Minnesota, which
 represents a stabilization of the 
population as numbers 
had been trending down just a 
few years ago.
“The Minnesota DNR went through
 an extensive deer
 goal setting process from 2005-2007
 and the recommendations
 were to lower deer populations throughout 
most—but not all—
of the state,” said Lou Cornicelli, big game
 program coordinator
 for the Department of Natural Resources
. “Aggressive harvest
 strategies were implemented and the
 population trended down 
towards the established goals. Currently, 
there is an interest in 
slightly increasing deer populations, so
 the trend for the next few
 years may be on the upswing.”
A lack of anything like a normal Minnesota
 winter should also
 help that “upswing.”
“Most of our [deer] problems come
 from winter severity in 
northern Minnesota and the associated 
mortality, of which
 there really wasn’t any this year,” 
Cornicelli said.
So, the does entered the spring in
 excellent condition, strong
 and healthy, plus the earlier-than
-normal green up provided
 plenty of high-quality vegetation.
 Cornicelli expects that fawns
 had high survival rates.

How does killing more Black Bears in Vermont teach the bears that aren't killed to stay away from human settlements??????????????I When I hear this argument it just does not ring true for me..............You may kill more bears with a longer hunting season(Vermont extending their season by 4 days this year), but I do not think it teaches the bears that stay alive to stay away from people

Vermont takes aim at black bears

By Steve Bottari ;
FAYSTON, Vt. - Vermont's population may be shrinking in terms of people, but that's certainly not the case when it comes to bears. "People know, it's no secret in Vermont we've got a growing bear population. They're showing up everywhere over the state," said Mark Scott, the director of wildlife at Vermont Fish and Wildlife.
Biologists say there are at least 6,000 bears in Vermont-- a number that has doubled in just two decades. More bears mean more bear encounters. From the campus of the University of Vermont to a neighborhood in Essex to a governor who had a "bare" encounter, in multiple senses of the word.
"It was seven feet from the door when I slammed it and I thought, that bear's coming right through," Gov. Peter Shumlin said in April 2012.

As the population has doubled, so, too, have the number of human interactions, the number hit by cars and the number bagged by hunters. And Scott says more of the animals than ever before are living near people.
"Bears can live and thrive well in Vermont as long as they're not living in someone's backyard all the time," Scott said.

To get the black bear numbers down, Fish and Wildlife is making some changes to the upcoming hunting season, trying to force the bears away from people and back into the woods. For hunters that means an extended bear hunting season-- four more days during the November deer season. Also new-- early-season bear hunters will have to get a $5 tag that biologists will use to gather data. The goal is to bag an additional 50-100 bears and to get a better sense of how to handle the increase.

"Hunting is a real deterrent to keep bears wild, keep them away from people," Scott said.
So close encounters with a growing bear population don't become a growing trend.
Despite all these changes, the annual black bear bag limit for a hunter still remains at one. Fish and Wildlife says it is considering raising that limit in the future.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

While the eastern Fisher has made a solid comeback in the northeast(now even inhabiting the forests of northern New Jersey,,,,,,,,,the Western Fisher has found it more difficult to stem its population slide in the wake of degraded habitat........A recent study by the U.S.F.W service has determined that the 250 or so Fishers residing in the Southern Sierra Nevada in California are for now holding their own.........These creatures thrive in late successional forests which are harder and harder to find due to short term forestry practices in the Western USA.......

 Estimating trend in occupancy for the Southern Sierra fisher Martes pennanti population
Author: Zielinski, William J.; Baldwin, James A.; Truex, Richard L.; Tucker, Jody M.; Flebbe, Patricia A.
Date: 2013
Source: Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 4(1):xx–xx; e1944-687X. doi: 10.3996/012012-JFWM-002
Description: Carnivores are important elements of biodiversity, not only because of their role in transferring energy and nutrients, but also because they influence the structure of the communities where they occur. The fisher Martes pennanti is amammalian carnivore that is associated with late-successional mixed forests in the Sierra Nevada in California, and is vulnerable to the effects of forest management.
 As a candidate for endangered species status, it is important to monitor its population to determine whether actions to conserve it are successful. We implemented a monitoring program to estimate change in occupancy of fishers across a 12,240-km2 area in the southern Sierra Nevada. Sample units were about 4 km apart, consisting of six enclosed, baited track-plate stations, and aligned with the national Forest Inventory and Analysis grid. We report here the results of 8 y (2002–2009) of sampling of a core set of 223 sample units. We model the combined effects of probability of detection and occupancy to estimate occupancy, persistence rates, and trend in occupancy.
 In combined models, we evaluated four forms of detection probability (1-group and 2-group both constant and varying by year) and nine forms of probability of occupancy (differing primarily by how occupancy and persistence vary among years). The bestfitting model assumed constant probability of occupancy, constant persistence, and two detection groups (AIC weight = 0.707). This fit the data best for the entire study area as well as two of the three distinct geographic zones therein. The one zone with a trend parameter found no significant difference from zero for that parameter. This suggests that, over the 8-y period, that there was no trend or statistically significant variations in occupancy. The overall probability of occupancy, adjusted to account for uncertain detection, was 0.367 (SE = 0.033) and estimates were lowest in the southeastern zone (0.261) and highest in the southwestern zone (0.583). 
Constant and positive persistence values suggested that sample units rarely changed status from occupied to unoccupied or vice versa. 
The small population of fishers in the southern Sierra (probably ,250 individuals) does not appear to be decreasing. However, given the habitat degradation that has occurred in forests of the region, we favor continued monitoring to determine whether fisher occupancy increases as land managers implement measures to restore conditions favorable to fishers.
Keywords: fisher, Martes pennanti, monitoring, occupancy, population estimation, Sierra Nevada, California
Publication Notes: 
  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
  • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication. (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

So many conflicting reports coming out of Montana relating to the size of the Elk herds there.......Pumas and Wolves constantly under the gun of hunters and trappers claiming that these carnivores are dropping Elk to precarious population levels.......Yet here is a report from Montana State biologists suggesting that the Elk herd in the Missouri River Breaks is doing just fine........FWP is now conducting a study there to determine if increased hunting of Elk will push the animals onto private lands that are off limits to hunting...........Unfortunately, every study of carnivores seem to stem from the so-called needs of hunters..........rarely does the study focus on the health and carrying capacity of the land and whether to increase the carnivore suite to ensure only the healthiest Elk roam the land

Biologists to collar elk to study movements

EVE BYRON, Independent Record;
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — State wildlife biologists plan to radio collar 50 cow elk in the Missouri River Breaks and track their movements for two years as part of an effort to find out where they go during hunting season.
Officials with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks say that elk populations have been greater than objectives set by the Missouri River Breaks Elk Working Group, which is composed of hunters, landowners and FWP. Even with issuing a "liberal" number of cow elk licenses, their numbers have only slightly decreased in recent years.

During last winter's aerial elk survey in Hunting Districts 621 and 622, 1,935 elk were sighted. Scott Thompson, FWP's Malta-area biologist, said objectives for HD 620, 621 and 622 are between 1,400 and 1,650 elk."We have been as high as 3,000 elk at times, so it's come down some but not enough," Thompson said. "Our primary tool to manage elk is with cow rifle hunters."He noted that while the Missouri Breaks are renowned for their big bulls, there's also a lot of interest in cow elk hunting.

"The drawing rate for cow licenses is 30 percent, so a lot of folks who put in don't get a license," Thompson said. "We've issued as many as 1,100 cow tags between the two districts in the past."
The study will be done in southern Phillips and Valley counties in the eastern portion of HD 622 in the Larb Hills, in HD 621 on the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge (CMR) and in the western portion of HD 631 on public lands and private property where permission has been granted.

Thompson said while HD 622 has a fairly high proportion of private land that's off limits to hunters, HD 621 is almost entirely open. Still, elk seem to seek out secure habitat where they won't be shot during hunting season, and Thompson said the study should show their movements and help to better understand if they're being harbored on private property or just more difficult to find on public lands.
"Any time you start putting more hunters out there it's affecting the way elk move around," Thompson said. "We are trying to find what percentage are seeking secure habitat or land off limits to hunters."
He added that their elk surveys are done in the winter after hunting season, so this study should also help them better understand where elk are in the fall.

"Comparing these elk movements to private and public land access, open roads, hunting district boundaries and habitat characteristics will shed some light on what the primary factors are that determine elk distribution in the fall," Thompson said. "This information will greatly help us determine management recommendations for future license quotas and hunting seasons."

The plan calls for using a contract helicopter crew to net-gun the cow elk from the air in late January and early February. After the animal has been captured, FWP biologists will check its condition and collect blood samples for pregnancy rates and possible disease exposure. They'll then place both a monitoring collar and ear tag in each elk before releasing it.

Thompson won't be tracking their movement daily. Instead, the radio collars will collect the animal's location every hour in a store-on-board global positioning (GPS) unit. At the end of the study period, biologists will be able to look at elk movements in this part of the Breaks and Fort Peck Reservoir over two years, including two full hunting and calving seasons.

"There's a lot of interest in this in the front end, but the meat of it is at the end when we get the collars back," Thompson said. FWP will provide project updates through the Missouri River Breaks Elk Working Group and the agency's Region 6 Citizens Advisory Council, both of which meet regularly to discuss elk management.

Nick Gevock, a spokesman for the Montana Wildlife Federation, said on Tuesday that he hadn't heard about the study, but supports the work if it aids in science-based wildlife management.
"If this helps them better manage elk up there and better understand seasonal patterns, we are in favor of it," Gevock said. "We're in favor of good, sound science."

Monday, January 28, 2013

We need several more years of non interference with the Pumas of the Pine Ridge in northwest Nebraska so that they can continue to fill all the available habitat of this newly colonized region........NO HUNTING ANYTIME SOON !

Resident mountain lion population grows slightly
Nebraska's resident mountain lion population has grown slightly, staff told the Nebraska Game and Parks Commissioners at their meeting Jan. 18 in Omaha.

Sam Wilson, Game and Parks' furbearer and carnivore program manager, estimated the reproducing population of mountain lions in the Pine Ridge of northwest Nebraska in 2012 was 22, compared to 19 in 2010. The estimates were derived from studies in which dogs were used to detect mountain lion scat, which were then analyzed through DNA fingerprinting.

The scat detection survey identified the presence of a female mountain lion in the Niobrara River Valley of north-central Nebraska - the first documented female mountain lion outside of the Panhandle. It is not known if this is a resident animal or a disperser that may have moved on to other areas, Wilson said.

Colorado Division of Wildlife successfully reintroduced Lynx into the state in 1997,,,,,,,,,15 years later, a viable breeding population is slowly rebuilding itself........The two cats captured via photo on the Molas Pass between Silverton and Durango are a sight for any wildlifers eyes!

Rare Lynx sighting in Southwest Colorado
Lynx sighting in San Juan Mountains (Photo Reddit)
DURANGO, Colo. – A rare sighting of two Canadian Lynx was captured in Colorado.
The photo was taken on Molas Pass between Silverton and Durango on the weekend of Jan. 20 by retired National Park Service employee Steve Chaney.

The rare mammal found mostly in northern forests of Canada and Alaska has been commonly mistaken as a bobcat and satirically described by many online readers as their house cat on a protein trip.
Finding two in the Western slopes of Colorado is incredibly rare.

The animal became extinct in Colorado in 1970. According the Colorado Division of Wildlife, a program to reintroduce the lynx population began in 1997, but took over a decade to reach success. An article published in 5280 magazine in 2007 discussed a problem with poachers in Colorado going after the lynx for their fur.

In the summer of 2010, the population was said to have been successfully reintroduced thanks to the continued effort of the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Flying Squirrels are residents of the Eastern forests and in Vermont and New Hampshire both the smaller Southern and the larger Northern Flying Squirrel is in residence......A nocturnal mammal, the Northern is a dweller in conifer forests where the Southern is adaptable in any type woodland(preferring mast producing hardwoods) .....The two species can hybridize, as they often mate when sharing a roost to stay warm on cold winter days..........A parasite common(but not deadly) to the Southern Flying Squirrel is now playing deadly havoc on Northern Flying Squirrel populations as the two species come into contact........The Northern Species has no immunity against this parasite and these squirrels are now endangered in Pennsylvania with serious declines occurring in the Virginia's and North Carolina......It would seem that continued global warming will push the Southern Flying Squirrel northward setting up a potential extinction event for the Northern Flying Squirrel

Flying Squirrels: North vs. South

by Madeline Bodin | Northern Woodlands Magazine

The calls come in all winter, said Paul DeBow of DeBow Wildlife Service in Plymouth, New Hampshire. If there is no snow, the peak will be in January or February, when it's the coldest. Some people think the animals they hear partying in the attic are chipmunks, he says. Chipmunks in the attic in the middle of winter. But they are not.
Chipmunks, DeBow explained, hibernate in winter and what homeowners are probably hearing are flying squirrels. Because flying squirrels are nocturnal, few people ever see them.
There are two species of flying squirrels in our area, the northern flying squirrel and the southern flying squirrel. John Litvaitis, professor of wildlife ecology at the University of New Hampshire, said that the southern flying squirrel is the smaller of the two, often weighing just two or three ounces. "The northern flying squirrel [at three to five ounces] may be half again or may be twice as big as the southern," he said.
But even the northern flying squirrel is smaller than a red squirrel. The southern flying squirrel is about the size of, yes, a chipmunk (which is a ground squirrel). Both species of flying squirrels can be distinguished from other squirrels by their patagium, the membrane between their front and rear legs that allows them to glide (not fly).
For all their similarities, the northern and southern flying squirrels are in a conflict that sounds a lot like war. "There was one paper that was titled something like, 'The South Advances, While the North Retreats," said Carolyn G. Mahan, professor of biology and environmental studies at Pennsylvania State University, Altoona, and a squirrel researcher.

Northern flying squirrels are creatures of conifer (cone-bearing tree) forests. "We know that northern flying squirrels depend on fungi that are associated with conifer forests," she said. But southern flying squirrels can live anywhere. When conifers are cleared from a mountainside and homes are built, southern flying squirrels are happy to move in, bringing several more threats to the northerns. It's not that the two species don't get along; it's that they get along too well. Squirrels of both species will pile into the same tree cavity on a cold winter night. Hybrids between the northerns and southerns follow.
The southern flying squirrels carry an intestinal parasite, unknown in northern squirrels in places where there are no southern flying squirrels. Where the two species overlap, the parasite may be harming the northerns directly, or, as Mahan's research shows, the parasite may be altering the northern squirrel's internal ecosystem, allowing other, previously harmless parasites to join forces with the newly introduced parasite.
The northern flying squirrel is in serious decline in the higher elevation forests of Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. It is a state-endangered species in Pennsylvania. The Carolina flying squirrel, a subspecies, is federally endangered.
As the many phone calls to DeBow Wildlife Services suggest, northern and southern flying squirrels seem to be doing just fine in New Hampshire and Vermont, although it would be hard to tell if the southerners were overtaking the northerners as they are in other places. That mystery is the only reason both northern and southern flying squirrels are "species of greatest conservation need" in Vermont's 2005 Wildlife Action Plan.
Litvaitis did studies of flying squirrel habitat in the 1990s in New Hampshire. Southern flying squirrels are dominant along the seacoast and the southern 20 percent of the state, he said – basically anywhere you find acorns and hickory nuts. "As you get inland and northern, it flips to northerns," he said. He assumes the pattern is similar in Vermont.
One of the more recent studies on flying squirrels done by Litvaitis' students focused on the animal's energy use. That patagium, or gliding membrane, exposes a lot of a flying squirrel to the elements. "Once the temperature got below freezing, they buddy up," he said, for warmth. "There are real benefits."
That buddying up can mean up to 50 flying squirrels in your attic during the winter, explained DeBow. "You can't trap them out," he said. "It's like bailing a leaky boat." Instead, he uses exclusion, using either a one-way door or a cone that discourages them from re-entering.
These are the same tools DeBow uses for bats, but when it comes to control, he likes flying squirrels better for a few reasons. One is because, unlike the region's disease-decimated bats, flying squirrels seem to be thriving, at least in the region's attics. He thinks the popularity of improperly screened ridge vents may be one reason.
The other reason is that they are so boisterous and noisy. DeBow never has to guess when he's gotten the last flying squirrel to leave the party.
Madeline Bodin is a writer living in Andover, Vermont.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Jaguar biologist and Panthera Exec. Dr Alan Rabinowitz signed an agreement with the government of Guyana to strengthen the effectiveness of the country's Protected Areas System for wildlife.....This agreement(the 5th such handshake with a South American Country) begins the discussion to outline the most effective initiatives to conserve the nation's jaguars.............Rooted between Venezuela to the north, Brazil to the west and south, and Suriname to the east, has established Guyana's pristine forest and savanna landscape system as a critical connecting block for jaguar populations in northern South America.........Conceptualized by Dr. Rabinowitz, the Jaguar Corridor Initiative is the backbone of Panthera's Jaguar Program, which seeks to connect and protect jaguar populations ranging from Mexico to Argentina to ensure the species' genetic diversity and survival..........WE continue to call on Panthera and Dr. Rabinowitz to extend their work into the American southwest, where critical Jahuar habitat is in the process of review with the USFW

MOU with Panthera Launches Guyana's First Jaguar Conservation Framework
New York, NY - The jaguars of Guyana gained significant ground yesterday with the establishment of the country's first official jaguar-focused agreement by the government of Guyana and wild cat conservation organization, Panthera.
Gathering in Georgetown, Guyana's Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, the Honorable Robert M. Persaud, presided over the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Ministry's Permanent Secretary, Mr. Joslyn McKenzie, and Panthera's CEO, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz. Serving as Panthera's fifth jaguar conservation agreement with a Latin American government, this MOU marks an official commitment by both parties to collaboratively undertake research and conservation initiatives that ensure the protection of Guyana's national animal, jaguar conservation education among its people, and mitigation of human-jaguar conflicts in the country.
Launching this agreement provides a framework through which Panthera, in partnership with Guyana's Protected Areas and National Parks Commissions, can strengthen the effectiveness of the country's Protected Areas System for wildlife, and outline the most effective initiatives to conserve the nation's jaguars. Several initial activities to be undertaken through the agreement include mapping of the presence and distribution of jaguars across Guyana, and implementing a human-jaguar conflict response team that helps ranchers in livestock husbandry techniques and assesses conflict hotspots to better focus mitigation efforts and reduce conflict.
At the ceremony, the Honorable Robert M. Persaud stated, "We are proud of our new partnership with Panthera to secure the continuity of our sustainable development efforts while conserving our national symbol, the jaguar."
Panthera's CEO and jaguar expert, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, continued, "Historically, Guyana has achieved incredible success in sustainably balancing the country's economic development, natural resource management, the livelihoods of its people, and the preservation of its unique wildlife and wild places. The signing of this jaguar conservation agreement demonstrates the government's continued commitment to its legacy of conservation alongside economic progress and diversification."
Panthera's CEO, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, with Guyana's Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, the Honorable Robert M. Persaud, the day of the signing of an historic jaguar conservation agreement between Panthera and the government of Guyana - Jan 2013
Unlike most other Latin American and developing nations rich in natural resources, Guyana has maintained an exemplary model of habitat preservation, assisted by sparse human populations in the southern half of the country and a strong ethic for sustainable development, aided by important regulatory frameworks.

 In recent years, Guyana has implemented a Low Carbon Development Strategy to protect its 16 million hectares of rainforests and adhere to the United Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD).

Additionally, in 2011, Guyana committed to the establishment of the national Protected Areas Act, providing a framework for the management of the country's preserved landscapes, including those within the Jaguar Corridor.
Such dedication to environmental conservation, along with its unique placement rooted between Venezuela to the north, Brazil to the west and south, and Suriname to the east, has established Guyana's pristine forest and savanna landscape system as a critical connecting block for jaguar populations in northern South America, and through the Jaguar Corridor. Conceptualized by Dr. Rabinowitz, the Jaguar Corridor Initiative is the backbone of Panthera's Jaguar Program, which seeks to connect and protect jaguar populations ranging from Mexico to Argentina to ensure the species' genetic diversity and survival.
Today, Guyana represents one of 18 Latin American countries that is home to the jaguar, and one of 13 countries in which Panthera is conducting jaguar conservation science. In fact, the signing of this MOU comes at the heels of a ten-day exploratory expedition of Guyana's Rewa River by Panthera's jaguar scientists, including Vice President and legendary biologist Dr. George Schaller, Northern South America Jaguar Program Regional Director Dr. Esteban Payan, and grantee, Dr. Evi Paemelaere.

 Along with assessing the state of biodiversity and threats facing this watershed, Panthera's team made a milestone sighting of the notoriously elusive 'forest jaguar' during the trip, indicating the potentially healthy condition of the riparian forests bordering the Rewa River.
"Being able to have a forest jaguar sighting in 10 days in the river is a testament to the good health of this forest. Sometimes years pass without seeing a jaguar in a perfectly sound forest environment," commented Dr. Payan.
Since 2011, Dr. Paemelaere has led Panthera's jaguar conservation initiatives in southern Guyana, concentrating on the Karanambu and Dadanawa Ranches of the Rupununi savannas. Traversed by the Rupununi River, these savannas serve as an extraordinary hotspot of biological diversity and an essential element of the Jaguar Corridor, potentially connecting Guyana's jaguars with those of the Amazons.
A male jaguar on Karanambu Ranch in Guyana's Rupununi savanna. This jaguar was observed swimming across the Rupununi River on multiple occasions. 2011.
Panthera's partnership with the Karanambu Trust and Lodge - a former cattle ranch emblematic of historic Guyana turned eco-tourism operation - established the country's first jaguar monitoring site and first mammal-focused biodiversity survey in the country. Often working on horseback, Panthera's jaguar scientists conducted surveys on both Karanambu and Dadanawa ranches using camera traps and interviews to determine jaguar density, and assess the extent of human-jaguar conflict and unique threats facing the species.
"A jaguar density of three to four individuals per 100 km2 for the Rupununi savannas means these habitats are as important as rainforests for the conservation of the jaguar," said Dr. Payan. In partnership with the Karanambu Trust and WWF Guyana, Panthera has also contributed to capacity-building with local Amerindian communities.
In 2013, Panthera is working to assess the state and presence of jaguars inside a logging concession between the Iwokrama Reserve and Central Suriname Nature Reserve, also embedded in the Jaguar Corridor.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources wildlife Biologists(and our friends) Ashley Mclaren and Brent Patterson have been involved in a multi-year study evaluating the EFFECTS OF HARVEST PRESSURE ON EASTERN COYOTE POPULATION DEMOGRAPHY in Prince Edward County, Ontario(Canada).................Ashley and I have been communicating and she has been gracious enough to answer some of my questions about their findings to date on how Coyotes in this region can withstand high levels of human persecution, impacts of Coyote depredation on sheep and the control options that might foster coexistence with ranchers and farmers.............Ashley will keep us further informed as this study continues----Her insightful answers to my questions as you scroll through the Post

Canid and Ungulate Ecology Lab
Effects of Harvest Pressure on Eastern Coyote (Canis latrans) Population Demography

Coyotes range across the majority of North America and are considered the archetypal generalist, able to adapt and thrive in a variety of environments. Coyotes exhibit much variation in diet, habitat use, activity patterns, and demography, making them an interesting animal to study, but often a difficult one to manage. The continued persecution of coyotes remains generally ineffective in controlling their numbers. Given the perceived increase in coyote numbers and conflicts with humans, we are undertaking this study to learn more about coyote life history in southern Ontario and better inform management of these animals.

· understand how coyotes are able to withstand such high levels of persecution without any visible decline in numbers
· quantify the spatial and temporal aspects of coyote depredation on livestock in agricultural areas of southern Ontario
· based on the above, assess efficiency of common control options employed against coyotes in response to depredation concerns
Study Area
· Prince Edward County (PEC), located in southeastern Ontario on a large irregular headland on the northeastern shore of Lake Ontario. The area is mostly agricultural and supports a large livestock industry—factors that are favourable to coyotes. With reports of high coyote numbers, high coyote harvest, and increasing cases of livestock depredation, PEC is an ideal area to conduct this study.

Project Updates

—JANUARY 14, 2013—
             Our third and final year of live-trapping and collaring coyotes is now complete. There were 47 coyotes collared in our final field season. In total, 147 coyotes were collared for the project. Although the majority of field work is now complete, this winter will we conduct track-count surveys when snow conditions are adequate. 

—NOVEMBER 30, 2011—
             We live-trapped and radio-collared 61 coyotes this field season. Since the project began in 2010, we have radio-collared 100 coyotes in total: 67 males + 33 females. Of these individuals, 39 were pups and 61 were yearlings/adults.

—DECEMBER 10, 2010—
             During the spring-fall 2010, 39 coyotes were live-trapped and fitted with radio-collars. In addition to sexing and estimating the age of each animal, blood and hair samples were taken, which will be used in disease screening and genetic analysis to determine pack composition and genetic-relatedness of the family groups. Using data from the GPS-collared coyotes, we have been able to assess movements of transient and territorial individuals and get preliminary estimates of the number of territories and average territory size of coyotes in Prince Edward County. Depredation cases were investigated throughout the field season to collect potential coyote DNA from puncture wounds on the livestock animal.

             This winter, we will continue to monitor survival of the collared coyotes, conduct track-based surveys, and initiate genetic analyses. Additional trapping will commence in Spring 2011.



Prince Edward County is located in 
  southern Ontario on a large irregular headland or littoral at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, just west of the head of the St. Lawrence River. This headland (officially named Prince Edward County in 1792[3]) is surrounded on the north and east by the Bay of Quinte. As the Murray Canal now connects the bay to Lake Ontario across the only land connection, the county is technically an island.


The county's relatively mild climate due to the influence of Lake Ontario has led to the establishment of about 50 vineyards and close to 30 wineries; as a result Prince Edward County is one of Ontario's newest designated viticultural areas.[4] The lake effect from Lake Ontario results in heavier snowfall than in neighbouring counties.

-From: McLaren, Ashley (MNR)
Sent: January 17, 2013 6:43 PM
To: Meril, Rick
Subject: Answers to your questions-
Hi Rick,

Below you will find the answers to your questions. Please note that our study took place in Prince Edward County in Ontario, not Prince Edward Island. Easy mix up of words, but very different areas of Canada ☺

1. Any speculation or hypothesis as yet as to what % of coyotes can be killed in a given region each year and still have the population not nosedive?..............many say up to 70% can be killed.

Our preliminary results suggest the coyote population of Prince Edward County experiences >50% mortality each year and the population has been relatively stable (or declining slightly, but certainly has not taken a “nose-dive”). Interestingly, mortality is highest among sub-adults and males.

2. Are there specific regions of Prince Edward County where more depredations take place?.................If they are agricultural regions, are there other agricultural regions in the county where sheep and livestock depredation is minimal?

Prince Edward County is mostly an agricultural landscape and supports a large livestock industry, factors that are favourable to coyotes, and therefore favourable to potential coyote-farmer conflicts. We haven’t examined whether there are specific regions of the county with more (or less) depredations, but generally, sheep producers have more reported predator losses than other livestock producers in Prince Edward County. The prevalence of depredation on any farm will be dependent on several factors as stated below.

3. If there are such low depredation farming sectors, what if anything are those farmers/herders doing differently than their counterparts in high depredation areas?

Several factors can contribute to the likelihood of depredations on livestock including individual farm practices (e.g. fencing, guard animals, proper handling of deadstock, vigilance over the herd, etc.), neighbouring farm practices, and the behaviour of the coyotes in the area (i.e. their desire to predate livestock), as well as their food supply. The interaction of these factors can make certain farms and areas more susceptible to depredations than others. Kaiti Nixon (MSc candidate in our lab) is looking into this issue as part of her thesis.

4. Besides livestock, what is the primary diet of coyotes in the county?............If deer, are they killed outright or are they scavenged?..................

We have assessed the diet of coyotes in Prince Edward County through scat and stomach content analyses. From this, we have determined that mice, voles, cottontail rabbits, and fruit (apples and berries) make up the majority of the diet of coyotes in the county. Coyotes in our study area seem to make very little use of deer as a food item throughout the year. Similarly, livestock does not appear to be a primary component of the diet.

5. Are farmers ranchers willing to concede any benefits to coyotes in the county?,,,,,,,,,,,,,,rodent control?

Produce farmers in particular have told us that they like having the coyotes around their property, because they keep the rodent population under control, which in turns provides benefits to their crops. Other farmers have also acknowledged the benefits of coyotes keeping rodent numbers to a minimum around their grain sheds.

6. Are any ranchers and farmers modifying their age old practices of letting livestock wander, not be watched, not moved into enclosures at days end?

Yes, we are aware of a few sheep producers in the area that bring their flocks up to the buildings at night, particularly during lambing season. They also state that they increase their vigilance of the flock during this time. Many producers also have livestock guarding animals or dogs as another measure of depredation control.

Hope this helps contribute to some useful discussion on your blog.


Ashley McLaren
Wildlife Research Biologist
Wildlife Research & Development Section
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Trent University, DNA Building
2140 East Bank Drive
Peterborough, ON, K9J 7B8
Phone: 705-755-2279
Fax: 705-755-1559