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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, February 28, 2013

Might the existing 9 wolves in Isle Royale fight their way back from seeming oblivion?..........Researchers are now concluding that genetic analysis of wolf excrement is revealing that up to half of the lobos are females................Will pair bonding and procreation take place?.............Are there other factors prohibiting this from successfully happening?????

4 or 5 female wolves on Isle Royale?
Will breeding take place to stop

 genetic information has identified
 additional female wolves at Isle Royale
 National Park.  The wolf population has 
been the topic of considerable debate in 
the past year.  In early 2012, observations
 from long-running research by Michigan
 Technological University suggested there
 was only one female wolf left on the island,
 raising the question of how soon wolves 
might go extinct on Isle Royale. 

  The need to further understand the
 population issue led to genetic analysis 
to decipher the number and sex of individuals
 in the actual population.   The National Park
 Service funded the majority of the analysis, 
but the popular study also attracted support
 from an internet funding initiative and a 
leading US Geological Survey scientist and 
wolf researcher, L. D. Mech.   Prior inferences
 about the number of female wolves on Isle 
Royale had been made without the benefit of
 genetic study.  The results from the genetic
 analyses, as well as field observations, suggest
 that not one, but four and possibly five females 
were present in February 2012, including some
 that had been born the previous April.

Winter study is currently underway at the Park
 and researchers are updating information on
 trends in the population.  Lead Michigan Tech
 researcher John Vucetich commented, “genetic
considerations and tools, like those used to
 estimate sex ratio, continue to yield considerable
 insights about this population’s  status.”   Isle
Royale National Park Chief of Natural Resources
Paul Brown added, “we are still a ways off from
 making any decisions about the future management
 of wolves on the island, but these results are very
 encouraging.  We remain concerned about the
 overall long-term health of the population and
 this new information paints a very different picture
 than what we thought last year.  The results of this
 year’s winter study will be factored in with the
 genetics information during our on-going
review of the situation. “

The National Park Service is concerned the trends
 generated by climate change have the potential to
 trigger extinctions and isolation of many species
across public lands entrusted into the agency’s care.
  In fact, Isle Royale is in the process of trying to
 establish whether it has lost two species of fish
(Ciscos) that were endemic to deep and formerly
 cold water inland lakes.  A national team facilitated
 by the Park Superintendent has been assembled
to review climate change scenarios and a series of
potential effects on wolves and other species at Isle

 As the team progresses, information about their
work will be available on the Park website, People who are interested in
commenting on this situation can contact the park
via mail or email at
There will be additional opportunities this year
for the public to provide input to the discussion
 of climate change effects and  planning for the
 future of wolves on Isle Royale.

Opponents of the proposed MAINE WOODS NATIONAL PARK are right to point out the many challenges that local residents might face from its creation, but they would help the region if they went further by proposing an alternative that helped the economy at least as much.............. Otherwise they could be caught waiting for a false dream, while the economy continues to disintegrate around them................So when recent studies suggest that a park and recreation area in the Katahdin region would likely create 450 jobs if it attracted just 15 percent of the visitors to Acadia National Park, residents will have to weigh the proposal carefully................ Clearly people should have their specific concerns addressed — such as whether air quality standards for a park could inhibit industrial development or whether the proposal would obstruct the type of outdoor recreational activities enjoyed by many — but the larger economic picture cannot be forgotten............ If not this, then what?.


If not a national park, then what?


Local landowners don't favor a national park in the Katahdin region. Neither do many local officials or members of the congressional delegation who represent the Millinocket area. All of this support is needed for Roxanne Quimby's land-holdings company, Elliotsville Plantation Inc., to create a potential national park and recreation area spanning tens of thousands of acres.

But while the odds appear stacked against the project despite Quimby's generosity to give away her land, and the process of forming a park can be complicated, we'd like to make sure the economic view is clear. The choice cannot be between the park, which could create hundreds of long-term jobs, and some hoped-for but as yet unplanned vision of a new economy. To understand whether the park is worth pursuing, the region — and the politicians who stand in opposition — should offer likely alternatives.

Even if Quimby had not offended people with a 2011 interview in Forbes magazine, she would have still met fierce resistance from snowmobilers who want access to trails, from people of multiple generations being faced with having to change their philosophy of how they make a living and from those who oppose for ideological reasons the idea of government-owned lands. She may have underestimated, in the beginning, the amount of opposition she would encounter from those most affected by the siting of a park — people who have expressed great concern about losing local control.

But residents hold other deep concerns that exist aside from the park: the economy. The number of manufacturing jobs have declined dramatically. Millinocket's unemployment rate in December was 18.5 percent, according to the Center for Workforce Research and Information. East Millinocket's rate was 15.4 percent, and Medway's was 15.5 percent. The state rate was 7.3 percent. The numbers represent real people searching for work who are worried about their own prospects and those for their children. In a 2011 interview with National Public Radio, one high school student in Millinocket said, "It really can't get worse than it is now." The worry, of course, is that it can.

So when recent studies suggest that a park and recreation area in the Katahdin region would likely create 450 jobs if it attracted just 15 percent of the visitors to Acadia National Park, residents will have to weigh the proposal carefully. Clearly people should have their specific concerns addressed — such as whether air quality standards for a park could inhibit industrial development or whether the proposal would obstruct the type of outdoor recreational activities enjoyed by many — but the larger economic picture cannot be forgotten. If not this, then what?

There are some developments underway in the region. Cate Street Capital subsidiary Thermogen Industries LLC is expected to open a torrefied wood facility in Millinocket, which aims to create a biomass alternative to coal and employ 20-25 people directly. The plan is to locate the facility at the site of the shuttered paper plant that once housed Great Northern Paper, and Cate Street is looking for a potential operator for the dormant paper machine there. More manufacturing jobs would clearly be welcome, but they are not certain. And it's very unlikely, considering industry trends, that the area will return to the booming economy that sprang from the mills a few decades ago.

Opponents of the park are right to point out the many challenges of siting it, but they would help the region if they went further by proposing an alternative that helped the economy at least as much. Otherwise they could be caught waiting for a false dream, while the economy continues to disintegrate around them.

As George Wuerthner saids below: "Why does MONTANA DEPT. OF WILDLIFE AND PARKS spokesman Ron Asheim feel killing 219 Wolves "is a step in the right direction"? Sound Wildlife Biology no longer exists in "Big Sky Country"

From: George Wuerthner []

Subject: Montana wolf hunt "successful" yippee

See the comment of Ron Asheim of MDFWP. He asserts that the killing of 219 wolves is a "step in the right direction" to address "concerns" of hunters and livestock owners.

Why isn't FWP telling hunters that their "concerns" are ill-founded. The vast majority of all elk management units are over objectives. Or even raising the issue that wildlife does not exist merely for the pleasure of the shooting public. As part of its public trust obligation, it should be giving equal consideration to other members of the public. Quite a few of the public would like to see elk and deer go to sustaining wolves.

Why isn't FWP telling ranchers that worries about wolves are baseless--last year there were only  77 cattle and 42 sheep confirmed wolf kills in 2012--out of millions of domestic animals in the state. Put those losses into a context showing how many died from poisonous plants, birthing, and even domestic dogs. 

How about emphasizing the many benefits to ecosystems that top predators like wolves perform? Countering misconceptions about predators should be the primary job of a wildlife agency.

Is this "professionalism?

Shouldn't a professional organization be providing "context" instead of verifying misconceptions?


Hunters and trappers finish season with record take of gray wolves

Wolf Hunt Yields Higher Numbers

By Dillon Tabish, 2-27-13

Caption: Shutterstock photo
This week marks the conclusion of the highly contentious yet most productive gray wolf hunting season in Montana.

As of Feb. 25, hunters and trappers reported killing 219 wolves during the state's third season and first that allowed trapping, which was 53 more than last year's total. The general rifle season began Oct. 20 and trapping opened Dec. 15. Both seasons close Friday, March 1.

With expanded hunting options and recently modified regulations, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has made up ground in its pursuit of reducing the wolf population.

Hunters shot 128 wolves and trappers caught 91, according to FWP. A total of 42 were killed in the two eastern districts, which reach from Butte and Bozeman to the bordering Dakotas. The rest were taken across Western Montana, including 77 in districts northwest through Kalispell to the corner of the state.

"Certainly it's a step in the right direction," FWP Spokesperson Ron Aasheim said.

FWP plans to release an updated population estimate in March. At the end of last season, the agency said there were at least 653 wolves in 130 verified packs and 39 breeding pairs in Montana. There were believed to be at least 1,774 wolves living in the Rocky Mountain region.

Since the species was delisted in the Northern Rockies, several states have set out to manage recovered populations amid growing concerns among hunters and ranchers who have reported livestock deprivation and decreased big game herds, such as elk.

In Montana's first regulated season in 2009, hunters tagged 72 wolves between Sept. 15 and Nov. 16. FWP closed the season two weeks early to avoid exceeding the quota of 75 wolves.

The 2010 wolf hunt was blocked by a federal court order amid legal opposition. But after review, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy upheld the 2009 delisting, a decision that was further solidified by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in March 2012.

Hunters killed 166 wolves during last year's season, which included an archery season in September and general rifle season from Oct. 22 to Feb. 15. The Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission approved a two-month extension in attempt to draw closer to the targeted quota of 220.

Instead of the wolf count dropping to FWP's goal of roughly 450, the agency said the minimum population actually grew another 15 percent last year. As a result, the FWP commission announced plans to further loosen hunting regulations last spring. The changes included removing a statewide quota and allowing for trapping.

The state lifted more regulations this month when an updated management program received overwhelming bipartisan support in the Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Steve Bullock. The changes, which went into effect on Feb. 13, allowed hunters to purchase up to three tags instead of one; lowered the nonresident license price from $350 to $50; authorized the use of electronic calls; removed the requirement to wear hunter's orange after big game season ended; and allowed hunters to use a license 24 hours after purchase instead of five days.

The legislation was amended to prohibit FWP from banning wolf hunts near Glacier and Yellowstone national parks.

"This legislation leaves management of the gray wolf where it belongs, in the hands of scientists, not politicians," Gov. Bullock said afterward.

Mike Leahy, the regional director for the nonprofit wildlife advocacy organization Defenders of Wildlife, described the expanded regulations as unnecessary and damaging to the species. Leahy remains concerned about other legislation, particularly a proposal to give management control to local counties instead of FWP.

"Counties don't have the resources or expertise to manage wildlife. It's a state function and should be kept at the state level," he said.

Nevertheless, Leahy remains staunchly opposed to the state's current methods.

"We disagree with the whole framework of wolf management right now," he said. "We think the population should be managed and that can include a sustainable level of hunting. But most of the changes are aimed at trying to drive the wolf population down."

While the effect that wolves have had on big game herds remains up for debate, the amount of livestock killed has shrunk since 2009. Residents filed 122 claims for lost livestock on ranches across Montana in 2012, including 77 cattle and 42 sheep, according to data from the state's Department of Livestock.

In 2009, the first full year that the state investigated and gathered claims, a total of 370 claims were filed. The state paid out $144,995. There were 175 claims in 2010 and 95 in 2011.

Bullock has asked FWP to improve education outreach to discourage hunters from killing collared wolves being studied near national parks.

There were 11 collared wolves killed in Montana this season, according to FWP.

Bullock has also expressed support for reconvening the state's wolf advisory council, which in the past helped steer management decisions.

Before this year, Montana was one of only three states that managed wolves, along with Idaho and Alaska. This winter three other Western states launched hunting seasons with the prospect of a fourth.

Minnesota held its first wolf season, which included trapping, this fall and winter. That state's Department of Natural Resources closed the season on Jan. 3 after hunters killed 413 wolves. The DNR estimates the state's population to be "stable" at 3,000.

Wisconsin similarly held an inaugural wolf hunt and closed the season Dec. 24 after all quotas were met with a total of 117 wolves.

Hunters in Wyoming killed 43 wolves, nine shy of the quota, in the first hunt since the federal government reintroduced wolves to the Yellowstone ecosystem in the early 1990s.

Idaho, which allows hunters to shoot up to five wolves and trap up to five wolves, is in the middle of its second hunting season. Hunters and trappers have taken a combined 232 wolves so far. The season closes March 31.

Wildlife advocates in Michigan are collecting signatures to stop a proposed hunting season. In December Gov. Rick Snyder signed a law giving the state's Natural Resources Commission the ability to decide whether to install a game season. Opponents are trying to gather more than 160,000 signatures to place a referendum on the 2014 election ballot that could overturn the law. The state's wolf population is estimated to be roughly 700.

For a final count from Montana's wolf hunting season, visit

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Owls generally elicit positive feelings from us humans............The "wise old owl" is an image that was burnished into our brains from the time we were little kids........In the Western imagination, the owl surely vies with the penguin for the position of Favorite Bird................... “Everyone loves owls,” said David J. Bohaska, a paleobiologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, who discovered one of the earliest owl fossils"........Researchers have discovered, for example, that young barn owls can be impressively generous toward one another, regularly donating portions of their food to smaller, hungrier siblings — a display of altruism that is thought to be rare among nonhuman animals, and one that many a small human sibling might envy............. Their ability to fly silently through the night in pursuit of prey has scientists evaluating how their broad and curved wings might be imitated in airplane wings to provide smoother and more fuel efficient flights

The Owl Comes Into Its Own

Matt Cardy/Getty Images

An Avian Tribe Apart: Scientists and bird lovers delve into the subtle and surprising world of owls.

WASHINGTON — The day after a frigid, star-salted night spent tromping through the Alexandria woods with David Johnson of the Global Owl Project, and listening to the stridently mournful cries of wild barred owls that remained hidden from view, I stopped by the National Zoo around sunset to take visual measure of the birds I had heard.
Amir Ezer
Barn owls communicate through a complex, rule-based series of calls, trills, barks and hoots, says Alexandre Roulin of the University of Lausanne. The two barred, or Strix varia, owls were just rousing themselves in the outdoor enclosure, and they looked bigger and more shaggily majestic than I expected, with capes of densely layered cream-and-coffee plumage draped on their 17-inch frames and pompous, Elizabethan feather ruffs encircling their necks. Like any good royalty, they ignored me. That is, until I pulled out my phone with the birdcall app and started playing the barred owl song. The female’s languid eyes shot wide open. The male’s head spun around in its socket by 180 of the 270 degrees an owl’s head can swivel.
With the distinctive forward-facing gaze that can make owls seem as much human as bird, the barred pair stared at me. I played the call again, the male grew bored, and I was about to put the phone away when suddenly the female — the larger of the two owls, as female birds of prey often are — pitched her body forward on her perch, lifted up her heavy, magnificent wings and belted out a full-throated retort to my recorded call.

After a brief pause, she hooted the eight-note sequence once more, at which point an astonished zoo-goer nearby burst into applause. In the Western imagination, the owl surely vies with the penguin for the position of My Favorite Bird. “Everyone loves owls,” said David J. Bohaska, a paleobiologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, who discovered one of the earliest owl fossils. “Even mammalogists love owls.”

Owls are a staple of children’s books and cultural kitsch — here wooing pussycats in pea-green boats and delivering mail to the Harry Potter crew, there raising a dubiously Wise eyebrow in the service of snack food. Yet for all this apparent familiarity, only lately have scientists begun to understand the birds in any detail, and to puzzle out the subtleties of behavior, biology and sensory prowess that set them apart from all other avian tribes.

Researchers have discovered, for example, that young barn owls can be impressively generous toward one another, regularly donating portions of their food to smaller, hungrier siblings — a display of altruism that is thought to be rare among nonhuman animals, and one that many a small human sibling might envy.
The scientists also discovered that barn owls express their needs and desires to each other through a complex, rule-based series of calls, trills, barks and hoots, a language the researchers are now seeking to decipher.

“They talk all night long and make a huge noise,” said Alexandre Roulin of the University of Lausanne, who recently reported on barn owl altruism in the journal Animal Behaviour with his colleague Charlene A. Ruppli, and Arnaud Da Silva of the University of Burgundy. “We would never put our nest boxes in front of a farmer’s bedroom, or the person wouldn’t be able to sleep.”

Other researchers are tracking the lives of some of the rarer and more outlandishly proportioned owls, like the endangered Blakiston’s fish owl of Eurasia. Nearly a yard high, weighing up to 10 pounds and with a wingspan of six feet, Blakiston’s is the world’s largest owl, a bird so hulking it’s often mistaken for other things, according to Jonathan Slaght of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Russia program. It could easily look like a bear in a tree or a man on a bridge.

Or maybe Ernest Hemingway. This powerful predator can pull from the river an adult salmon two, three or more times its own weight, sometimes grabbing onto a tree root with one talon to help make the haul.
Ferocity is essential for a bird whose frigid, spotty range extends across northeastern China, the Russian Far East and up toward the Arctic Circle, one that breeds and nests in the dead of winter, perched atop a giant cottonwood or elm tree, out in the open, in temperatures 30 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Dr. Slaght’s colleague Sergei Surmach videotaped a female sitting on her nest during a blizzard. “All you could see at the end was her tail jutting out,” Dr. Slaght said.

Researchers have discovered, for example, that young barn owls can be impressively generous toward one another, regularly donating portions of their food to smaller, hungrier siblings — a display of altruism that is thought to be rare among nonhuman animals, and one that many a small human sibling might envy.

Owls are admired for their ability to fly through the night silently in pursuit of a meal.
Researchers have traced that silent flight to several features. The bulk of the wing is broad and curved — the ideal shape for slow gliding — and is abundantly veined with velvety down plumage to help absorb sound. Moreover, the feathers at the edge of the wing are serrated to effectively break up and smooth out air turbulence as a comb disentangles knots. At a meeting of the American Physical Society last fall, researchers from Cambridge University proposed that well-placed perforations in an airplane wing could have a similar smoothing effect on turbulence, leading to quieter and more fuel efficient flights
Owls date back 60 million years or longer, and they’re found in nearly every type of habitat: tropical, tundra, desert, Central Park. Some 229 species are known, and the list keeps growing: last summer, two new species of hawk owl were discovered in the Philippines, and earlier this month researchers reported on a new species of screech-like owl from the island of Lombok, Indonesia.

The birds own the night, although some hunt at dusk and dawn and even during the day. And hunt owls tirelessly do. By one estimate, a group, or “parliament,” of 10 owl families living in a barn in Central Florida cleared the surrounding sugarcane fields of about 25,000 cotton rats a year.
Owls were long thought to be closely related to birds of prey like hawks and eagles, which they sometimes superficially resemble — hence the names hawk owls and eagle owls. But similarities of beak or talon turn out to be the result of evolutionary convergence on optimal meat-eating equipment, and recent genetic analysis links the owls to other nocturnal birds, like nightjars.

Through the Global Owl Project, Mr. Johnson is working with researchers in 65 countries to compile a vast database and celebration of all the world’s owls, with descriptions, natural history, genetics, vocalizations, rough population estimates, owl myths and legends.

Westerners love owls, he said, a tradition that dates back at least to the ancient Greeks and the association of owls with the wise goddess, Athena, and her gray “shining eyes.” In some countries, though, owls are seen as bad omens and harbingers of death — perhaps, Mr. Johnson proposed, because owls often nest in cemeteries, where trees are left to grow undisturbed and the nesting cavities are comfortably large.
Would that owls might lend us their ears. Species like the barn, barred, screech and horned have some of the keenest auditory systems known, able to hear potential prey stirring deep under leaves, snow or grass, identify the rodent species and even assess its relative plumpness or state of pregnancy, based on sound alone.

Again scientists attribute that to a consortium of traits. Prof. Tim Birkhead of the University of Sheffield points out in his new book, “Bird Sense,” that the owl cochlea is “enormous” and densely packed with sensory cilia. The barn owl, for example, has three times the number of hair cells expected for its body size. The paired ear openings are also exceptionally large and asymmetrically placed on either side of the skull, the better to help localize a sound’s origin; the super-swively neck further enhances the power to sample the ambient soundscape.

Then there is the owl’s famously flat face, also called the facial disk — pie-shaped in some species, heart-shaped Kabuki in the barn owl. The facial disk serves as a kind of satellite dish, to gather sound waves, which are then directed to the owl’s ears by stiff, specialized feathers along the disk circumference.
Even the owl’s forward-facing eyes may have as much to do with hearing as with vision. Graham Martin of the University of Birmingham has proposed that with so much of the lateral real estate on the owl’s skull taken up by the giant ear openings, the only place left to position its eyes is in the middle of the face.
Here’s looking at you, Strix. Will you please call again? 

The Large Carnivore Lab at Washington State University(headed up by Dr. Rob Wielgus) has done some outstanding research on the effects of human hunting on Puma populations. Our friend Helen McGinnis has supplied us with Dr. Wielgus'' outstanding video presentation on this subject...........Click on the link below to watch the full presentation

From: "Helen McGinnis"  
Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2013 10:56:52 -0500
To: Rick Meril
Subject: Rob Wielgus' presentation on effects of cougar hunting in Washington State


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

In Texas, The objective of the Trans-Pecos pronghorn restoration project is to restore Trans-Pecos pronghorn populations that have reached historic lows through translocations from burgeoning herds in the Panhandle............. Pronghorn numbers and population trends are assessed through aerial surveys conducted each summer........The animals are captured from healthy populations around Dalhart and moved to an area near Marathon to supplement severely declining populations..............This relocation process is coordinated by the Borderlands Research Institute at Sul Ross State University, Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Working Group, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), and USDA-Wildlife Services

Animal Attraction: Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Restoration Effort Continues
Animal Attraction:  Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Restoration Effort Continues

by Stacy Fox

The continuation of the Trans-Pecos pronghorn restoration project took another step forward with the successful relocation of 130 pronghorn recently.

The animals were captured from healthy populations around Dalhart and moved to an area near Marathon to supplement severely declining populations.

The relocation process was coordinated by the Borderlands Research Institute at Sul Ross State University, Trans-Pecos Pronghorn Working Group, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), and USDA-Wildlife Services.

The objective of the Trans-Pecos pronghorn restoration project is to restore Trans-Pecos pronghorn populations that have reached historic lows through translocations from burgeoning herds in the Panhandle.  Pronghorn numbers and population trends  are assessed through aerial surveys conducted each summer.

During the initial phase of the restoration project in 2011, about 200 pronghorn were captured and released on ranches near Marfa. TPWD estimates about 15-20 percent of the transplanted pronghorn remain.

"The historic drought that occurred in the Trans-Pecos shortly after transplanting the pronghorn was the primary reason for the high mortality rate," said Shawn Gray, TPWD Mule Deer and Pronghorn Program Leader.  "However, in the area where the transplanted pronghorn were released they, and their offspring, currently compose a bulk of the local pronghorn population."

The 2013 relocation/release near Marathon occurred under significantly improved range conditions.

"The release area had favorable precipitation during the summer, as well as good winter moisture," said Gray. "We also spent six months working to prepare the release site, including fence modifications and predator management, all with landowner cooperation. Trans-Pecos field staff, headed by the local District Wildlife Biologist Mike Janis was instrumental in this effort."

Joachim Treptow, TPWD District Wildlife Biologist stationed in Dalhart spent endless hours coordinating with local landowners in the Dalhart area to obtain trapping permission and working on trap site logistics.

"Without his hard work and local landowner support this project would not have happened" said Gray.

At the capture site, workers took each animal's temperature to monitor stress, along with blood and fecal samples for disease surveillance. The pronghorn also received a mild sedative and other injections to minimize stress related to capture and transport. Ear tags were attached for identification, and 59 of the captured pronghorn were fitted with GPS radio collars to monitor movements. The collars will provide one GPS location per hour.

After processing, the pronghorn were transported by trailer to the Marathon release site.  Dr. Louis Harveson, BRI director and Sul Ross professor of Natural Resource Management, said that "The pronghorn were in excellent shape and traveled really well."

During the next year, the BRI and TPWD will monitor the translocated pronghorn to determine survival, reproductive productivity, fawn survival, habitat utilization, and movements.

"We sincerely appreciate all the cooperation and support from the Dalhart and Trans-Pecos communities, because of their continued teamwork our state's pronghorn resource and all Texans are greatly benefited," said Gray. Without the many partnerships involved, this monumental project would have not occurred."

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Monday, February 25, 2013

It all comes back to large protected open spaces with viable inter-connected corridors linking them up.............This, as we all have come to learn is the key for biodiversity of the highest order to exist in any section of the world.............Vancouver based FOREST ETHICS has just issued a report saying that British Columbia falls woefully short in creating this type of land paradigm...........Just as the Harvard University Forest in Massachusetts is calling on the New England States to protect 50% of its remaining open space through it's WILDLANDS AND WOODLANDS INITITATIVE, so is FOREST ETHICS calling on British Columbia to protect half of it's land base so that biodiversity can be maintained and optimized

B.C. land protection


 to conserve species

 biodiversity: report

B.C. land protection insufficient to conserve species biodiversity: report

B.C. landscape diversity includes this 0ld-growth Coastal Douglas fir forest in Metchosin

 on southern Vancouver Island.Just over 15 per cent of B.C. has designations granting the highest level of protections. TJ Watt photo

Environmental protection of B.C.'s landscapes is fragmented, inconsistent and falls woefully short of what scientists say is
 needed to conserve species biodiversity, according to a
comprehensive land-use review released Thursday by

The report by Vancouver-based ForestEthics Solutions
 with assistance from West Coast Environmental Law,
says 15.55 per cent of the B.C.'s land base (including
 private property and water bodies) has been placed
 in the highest categories of protection. That includes
 14.4 per cent as parks and protected areas, and 1.15
 per cent as wildlife management areas and municipal

Another 13.16 per cent has been given moderate
 a rating that may allow one form of resource
 while restricting others, 20.57 per cent of land
 has a few
 limitations on resource extraction, and 50.72 per
 cent of land has no specific conservation or
 resource-restricted designations.

The existing amount of conservation and resource
 extraction-restricted lands "fail to protect biological
 diversity and ecological integrity at the provincial scale,"
the report says.

ForestEthics recommends a provincewide conservation
 network that connects legally-designated protected
 areas and conservation lands; augmentation of land-use plans
 by all governments using the best available climate-conservation science and cumulative impacts assessments; and updating of
 laws and policies to better protect biodiversity and help B.C.
 transfer to a "clean, green economy."

WCEL executive-director Jessica Clogg said the report
 does not provide specific targets for protection, because
 "ultimately the answer to how much conservation is enough
should be informed by the best available science and
 indigenous knowledge."

The global Nature Needs Half initiative suggests "protecting
 and interconnecting at least half of the planet's land and
 water is necessary to sustain the health, function and diversity
 of all life." Supporters include Joel Holtrop, former deputy
chief of the U.S. National Forest System and now on the board of directors of the Wild Foundation.

Jim Pojar, a former forest ecologist with the B.C. government, recommended in a 2010 report for a coalition of environmental
 groups that half of B.C.'s land base should be managed to
 maintain biodiversity and locked-in carbon, noting "natural
 forests store carbon dioxide better than do industrial forests."

New land designations and tenures will likely be required to
 guide management of the expanded conservation network
outside of existing parks and protected areas, his report
 stated. Only activities "compatible with the long-term
objectives of biodiversity conservation and adaptation"
should be allowed in these new areas, his report said.

B.C. is home to three-quarters of Canada's mammal and
 bird species, 70 per cent of its freshwater fish, 60 per cent
 of its evergreen trees, and thousands of other animals and
 plants, that report noted.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The up and down "stock curve" ride of the Obama Administration as it relates to the environment is truly frustrating,,,,,,,,,,,The President did up the gas mileage requirements of vehicles(abeit 10 years from now).........However, he has the worst record of any modern President in terms of open space preservation and now has stated that greenhouse gas regulation is outside the scope of the Endangered Species Act, barring "green groups" from using these poison gases as a reason to designate critical habitat and endangered listing for animals like the Polar Bear that are clearly adversely impacted by the global warming that the gases precipitate..............A failing grade for Obama!

Obama Legislation Prevents Polar Bear Preservation

jericho espinas
polar bears
Photo via USFWS Headquarters
On February 19ththe Obama administration officially declared that greenhouse gas regulations are outside the scope of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), stating that activities outside of the bear's natural habitat should not be regulated. In particular, the ruling is meant to point out that coal plants from, for example, central US should not be under regulation by the ESA despite the fact that the coal plant's emissions are directly contributing to global warming. This new ruling by the Fish and Wildlife Service will have a direct impact on polar bears since global warming and shrinking ice caps are the animal's major cause of death. This ruling stems from a court-ordered review by the US District Court for the District of Columbia. Ultimately, the court agreed with the ruling that the ESA is not an appropriate piece of legislature for regulating greenhouse gases.
Despite being listed as threatened in 2008, and despite comments by the Obama administration stating concern for the polar bear's survival, it seems that the new ruling will ultimately render the ESA useless in protecting the polar bear from extinction. Without stricter regulations that protect the bear's natural habitat, more than two-thirds of the planet's polar bears will be gone by 2050. In 2012, the area of sea ice across the arctic reached a record low – a mere 1.32 million miles, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Centre. By comparison, the average size of summer ice between 1979 and 2000 was almost 3 million miles, double last year's area. To recall, polar bears depend on arctic ice as a natural habitat and as a means for hunting. The rapid reduction of arctic ice due to global warming translates into rapid ecosystem changes, in turn sending polar bear populations into abrupt decline.
With greenhouse gas regulation playing such a crucial role in maintaining the world's polar bear species, many eco-activists have responded strongly against the recent rulings. One of the major voices is Brendan Cummings, a spokesperson from the Centre of Biological Diversity. "Global warming is triggering an Arctic meltdown that threatens the bear's place on the planet," said Cummings in an official statement. "These amazing animals need the Endangered Species Act's full protection — not this hollow half-measure that ignores the mortal danger that polar bears are in from greenhouse gas emissions."
While I do share the disappointment over the lack of proper polar bear legislation, I agree with the courts that the ESA is not an appropriate medium for greenhouse gas regulation. New and more specific legislation needs to be created in order to reduce emissions instead of tackling the issue through polar bear preservation. Hopefully, the Obama administration will keep its promise to create progressive environmental legislation – if not for the polar bear's survival, at the very least for our own.

We know the story of the Sonoran Pronghorn,,,,,,,,,,,,,Virtually extinct after severe drought and habitat deterioration in 2002..............Now up to 150 animals, the U.S. Military plays an active role in ensuring their perpetuation on the Barry M. Goldwater Range

Pronghorn continue to thrive

Teresa Walker
56th Range Management Office;

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- An estimated 85 percent of the U.S. population of Sonoran pronghorn died during a severe drought in 2001 and 2002. They inhabit the Barry M. Goldwater Range, an active military range.

Drastic measures were taken to sustain the remaining 21 animals and recover the species. These measures included provision of emergency water sources, developing forage enhancement plots, and building two semicaptive breeding pens, one on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge built in 2004, and another in King Valley, on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, built in 2011.

The Sonoran pronghorn is federally listed as an endangered species in 1967, is the fastest land mammal in North America, clocking speeds up to 60 miles per hour. A desert sub-species of the antelope family, the Sonoran pronghorn is smaller and lighter in color than other pronghorn subspecies and is uniquely adapted for survival in harsh desert conditions.

The Sonoran pronghorn population is currently estimated at more than 150 animals, due to the specific actions of many state and federal agencies to bring the animal back from extinction.

Aaron Alvidrez, 56th Range Management Office wildlife biologist said it's been a long road to recovery but the results of all the labor are coming to fruition.

"A lot of hard work and teamwork is needed to implement pronghorn recovery actions," Alvidrez said. "Through teamwork and persistence, we are beginning to see our efforts pay off."

To minimize operational impacts and gain a better understanding of the animals, the 56th RMO goes to great lengths to ensure the safety of the animals.

Contracted biologists are used to survey and monitor for Sonoran pronghorn in known habitat areas prior to any missions taking place on the range. The pronghorn monitors establish the proximity of the animals to target arrays to ensure their safety.

When pronghorn are present, targets are closed based on their type and proximity to the animals; training and inert ordnance targets within 1 kilometer of sightings are closed for the day; and high explosive hills within 1.5 kilometers of sightings are closed for the day. Typically, scheduled missions are diverted to other targets if available, or canceled if no alternate targets are available.

The RMO employs a modified range maintenance schedule to further reduce potential effects on the Sonoran pronghorn during fawning season.

The annual Sonoran pronghorn capture and release operation in December 2012 was a success due to assistance from many agencies including Arizona Game and Fish, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Luke Air Force Base, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma; the Ajo, Yuma, and Wellton Border Patrol Sectors; Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and the Phoenix Zoo.

According to Alvidrez, the pronghorn capture and release process has evolved and the team continues to improve each year.

"For me, the captures are an exciting event with a lot of moving parts," he said. "The use of two helicopters and a large veterinary staff helped to transport multiple animals in a relatively short time. During the three-day event, we handled more than 60 animals and reached our goal of relocating 22 target animals."

The United States and Mexico are currently engaged in an international effort to capture and breed the Sonoran pronghorn for reintroduction into suitable habitats. Capture-breed-transplant actions are considered essential to the survival of the Sonoran pronghorn (commonly referred to as 'antelope') as they are one of the most endangered mammals in the world.

The BMGR is primarily used to train pilots but over the years has expanded its scope to allow some limited ground training. In land mass, the range encompasses more than 1.7 million acres, with the Air Force retaining land management responsibilities for more than a million acres on the eastern portion and the Marines approximately 700,000 acres on the western side. The range stretches from Yuma to beyond Gila Bend and from Interstate 8 south to the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.
Portions of this article were contributed by Arizona Game and Fish Department.

The extraction industries and their political allies can yell that wolves are the caribou problem,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,As we know, dwindling unboken habitat is the key to Caribou survival.............This need was identified in Aldo Leopold's day-----Alberta biologists as early as 1929 warned that the primary threat to Caribou was degraded habitat----------Below are the list of broken Province of Alberta "treaties" to protect Caribou since 1977

Caribou protection promises made and broken by Alberta's Conservative Government since 1977 to Feb. 2013

caribouSince 1929 it was recognized that Alberta's caribou would soon need some protection and that their range was becoming limited. (Alberta Forestry Lands and Wildlife. 1986. Woodland Caribou Provincial Restoration Plan.
74pp.) Since then many promises have been made and broken. These are just some of the documents:
1. 1977. A Policy for Resource Management of the Eastern Slopes. Alberta Energy and Natural Resources. July. 18pp.
  • Critical wildlife habitat will be protected to maintain those species presently found in the Eastern Slopes.
  • The resources of the Eastern Slopes will be utilized and developed, consistent with principles of conservation and environmental protection".
2. 1978. Caribou management outline for Alberta Recreation, Parks and Wildlife Division.. Recreation, Parks and Wildlife Division. 4 pp.
  • 8.Establish Wildlife Sanctuaries, Preserves, Reservations, and Management Areas to Ensure Caribou Survival
3. 1981. The Strategy of Today for Fish and Wildlife Tomorrow. Fish and Wildlife Division.Goals:
  • To protect and maintain all present caribou populations and their habitat
  • To protect and manage the current and historically important caribou ranges so as to increase the total provincial caribou population to a minimum of 5,000 animals with a projected goal of 10,000 animals.
4. 1984. The Status of Fish and Wildlife Resource in Alberta. Government of Alberta. Edmonton, AB.
  • Protect currently occupied habitat of about 166,000 square kilometers (64,000 square miles) within the current range.
  • Maintain historically important caribou ranges."
5. 1986. Woodland Caribou Provincial Restoration Plan Alberta Forestry Lands and Wildlife.. 74 pp.
  • Habitat protection is a key factor in maintaining viable caribou populations and is of primary importance for managing caribou in Alberta.
6. 1993. Strategy for Conservation of Woodland Caribou in Alberta. Alberta Fish and Wildlife Services. Edmonton, Alberta. Draft for discussion. 32 pp.
  • "Woodland caribou in Alberta declined during the 1970's and 1980's. Concern for the welfare of the remaining populations resulted in a provincial policy classification of threatened in 1985 and a provincial restoration plan in 1986. The plan recommended inventory of caribou, public education to reduce man-caused mortalities and habitat protection measures."
7. 1996. Alberta's Woodland Caribou Conservation Strategy Alberta Woodland Caribou Conservation Strategy Development Committee.. 58 pp.
  • The tools associated with habitat supply and sustainability, predator management, access management, protected area designations and other limiting factors assessments will be used to develop specific caribou management plans.
8. 1996. National Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk Environment Canada..
  • In 1996 the National Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk in Canada was signed by Alberta. It committed provincial governments to provide protection for the habitat of threatened and endangered species.
9. 2005. Alberta Woodland Caribou Recovery Plan 2004/05 – 2013/14. The Alberta Woodland Caribou Recovery Team. Alberta Species at Risk Recovery Plan No. 4 woodland-caribou-recovery-plan-200405-201314-albertaspecies-risk-recovery-plan-no
  • The recovery plan goals are linked to the rationale for listing the species in Alberta, and focus on: 1) achieving self-sustaining woodland caribou herds; 2) maintaining the distribution of caribou in Alberta; and 3) ensuring habitat requirements are met for woodland caribou over the long-term throughout caribou ranges in the province.
10. 2009. Athabasca Caribou Landscape Management Options Report [For the tar sands region] Athabasca Landscape Team (ALT)..
  • The ALT determined that there is insufficient functional habitat to maintain and increase current caribou distribution and population growth rates within the Athabasca Landscape area. Boreal caribou will not persist for more than two to four decades without immediate and aggressive management intervention. Tough choices need to be made between the management imperative to recover boreal caribou and plans for ongoing bitumen development and industrial land-use.
  • The ALT's analyses show that the time for management action in the Athabasca Landscape area is now. Risk of extirpation increases yearly, and further delays in management action implementation will compound the current challenges.
  • Maintaining caribou habitat is the immediate priority.
  • Restoring disturbed habitat is a critical component of caribou habitat management.
12. 2012. Alberta Government's Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (LARP) Alberta Government -  The framework will be developed by the end of 2013 and will:
  • Set targets for selected biodiversity indicators (vegetation, aquatic and wildlife); and
  • Address caribou habitat needs in alignment with provincial caribou policy