Visitor Counter

hitwebcounter web counter
Visitors Since Blog Created in March 2010

Click Below to:

Add Blog to Favorites

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

Subscribe via email to get updates

Enter your email address:

Receive New Posting Alerts

(A Maximum of One Alert Per Day)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The writings of George Wuerthner(Naturalist/outdoor writer/hunter) and the peer reviewed Papers of Rob Wielgus(Biologist who heads up the LARGE CARNIVORE LAB at Washington State U.) have been featured on this blog many times over the past 3 years...............Both men and outdoor peers like Brooks Fahy of PREDATOR DEFENSE, Camilla Fox of PROJECT COYOTE and Linda Rutledge(Trent U. Coyote and Wolf Scientist)have written extensively about how hunting seasons on Carnivores(Bears, Wolves, Coyotes, Pumas, Bobcats, Lynx, Fisher, Marten, Rattlesnakes, etc, etc) should be banned due to the chaos and social disorder such killing reaps on the surviving members of those species.................Like us human Carnivores(Omnivores we are like Bears and to some degree Coyotes) where extended parental care is part of the growing up experience, the loss of family members due to killing is potentially a lifelong debilitating experience for the survivors(think how a human family is devastated by the loss of father,mother, son or daughter to war in the Middle East)................Aberrant anti-social behavior like drinking, drug and domestic abuse often take place following these type devastations................The same holds true for other Carnivores,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,When adult male Pumas are shot and killed, adolescent male Pumas invade the now vacant territory and wreck havoc with female Puma kittens(they kill them so that the female comes back into heat),,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,These young adolescent male "Cats" also take risks attacking livestock and coming in close to human settlements setting up conflicts with people..........................Wolf Packs that are "shot to hell" find surviving members lost and adrift and often eventually dead due to the focus and discipline of the Pack being shattered by hunters bullets and snares..........................As George Wuerthner has heard many a State Carnivore biologist say: "There is no reason to kill predators".............. "It only creates greater social chaos which in turn leads to more unnecessary killing"........... Increasing the kill of predators by hunters—whether cougars or wolves—seldom reduced conflicts"................" If it's good habitat, the vacuum created by killing a cougar or a wolf pack will soon be filled by immigrants"................ "So in the end livestock operators have to learn to discourage predation by practicing good animal husbandry". "Predator killing just doesn't work"................It does not really work toward human goals of less problems with the Carnivores and it certainly does not work in terms of the Carnivores positive trophic impact on the rest of the animal and plant life of the ecosystem that they loom large over.................A lose/lose scenario all around and yet all we hear out of State Game Commissions is "kill baby kill".................As the 70's rock band MANASSAS(featuring Stephen Stills and Chris Hillman sang loud and clear( "Isn't it"t about time we learned"?????????

Unintended results of killing older male predators
Rob Wielgus-Washingotn State University; Large Carnivore Lab

Rob Wielgus, a wildlife ecologist, started monitoring grizzly bears while in graduate school in Idaho in the early 1980s. He determined that when older males were hunted and removed from the ecological system, a social disorder resulted that threatened the survival of the remaining bears.

It didn't take him long to realize the same notion might apply to other large predators. "It looked like it was any solitary carnivore that had extended parental care," he says. He widened his focus to include cougars, black bear, and lynx.

Studying cougars in a specific area from the late 1990s until the early 2000s, Wielgus and his team of students found that while cougar sightings had steadily increased, the population, in fact, had declined at a rate of more than 10 percent per year. Hunters were going after the senior males and causing social disorder.

Hounds cornering Puma as hunter closes in for the kill

Wielgus's findings contradicted the common notion that increased sightings meant an increasing population. In fact, says Wielgus, it's the opposite. An older male will protect his territory, do his best to stay out of view, and preserve a social order that provides his mates the years they need to raise their kittens. If he's gone, juvenile males will move in and kill his kittens, further reducing the population, particularly damaging the female population. Without an older male to keep them in check, in their new territory the juveniles will also chance more human and livestock encounters.

Instead of thinking the killing of a Carniovre as an accomplishment, it should be seen as a felony

This work has changed hunting and wildlife management policies in the United States and Canada. At one time governments allowed for more hunting when there was an increase in human-cougar or human-bear encounters. Now in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia the hunting of these large predators has been restricted. Based on Wielgus's findings, British Columbia has created seven grizzly bear preserves.

These hunters have to be reindocrinated to come to see that Carnivore killing 
should not be part of the "gun & bow" mission each Fall

Wielgus directs the Large Carnivore Conservation Lab at WSU with the mission of helping maintain healthy predator/prey communities in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. He and his students and post-docs have studied cougars in the Washington, grizzlies in British Columbia, and brown bears in Europe. Now his students and other researchers who have studied his work are noting how this same behavior applies to large predators world-wide, including leopards, tigers, and cheetahs.

Predator management by state wildlife agency biologists questioned.


I recently had encounters with three state wildlife agency biologists. All of them were quite open with their criticisms of their agencies predator policies.  I can't reveal their names and I will change a few details to hide their identities.

The first biologist told me there was no reason to kill predators. He said it only creates greater social chaos which in turn leads to more unnecessary killing.  He told me that increasing the kill of predators by hunters—whether cougars or wolves—seldom reduced conflicts. If it's good habitat, the vacuum created by killing a cougar or a wolf pack will soon be filled by immigrants. So in the end livestock operators have to learn to discourage predation by practicing good animal husbandry.  Predator killing just doesn't work.

"Fladry(red flagging) is one of the tools to keep Wolves from livestock

Another reason predator control fails is that most hunters pursue animals that live on the larger blocks of public land, while most of the conflicts occur on the fringes of towns or on private ranch lands. In other words, the majority of cougars and wolves killed by hunters are animals that are not causing any conflicts.

He went on to say that hunting predators had no benefits. Period.
The second biologist told me that wolves were not harming elk and deer herds. Rather elk and deer populations have increased in the state since wolves were introduced. He pointed out that wolves were also not destroying the livestock industry though he did acknowledge that individual ranchers might be challenged by wolf depredations.

Fladry keeping Wolves from sheep

He also reiterated that hunting predators was indiscriminate. The specific predator killing a rancher's livestock is often not the animal killed by hunters so arguing that killing predators will reduce conflicts is at best a half truth.

The third biologist told me that his agency missed the boat by not responding to the misinformation from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Toby Bridges of Lobo Watch. By not countering the distortions put forth by these organizations, fabrications and half-truths were widely distributed by the media.

He also acknowledged that wolves could not increase indefinitely. They expand their range into new territories but their densities are socially maintained.  In other words, you will not get more and more wolves living in the same basic area.  He said people have to learn to live with natural processes which include predation.
What these encounters demonstrate to me is that many biologists working for these state agencies are sympathetic to predator supporters.  They are muzzled by their agencies and unable to speak the truth. Still it is refreshing to know that supporters of predators have some friends within state agencies—biologists who are hoping that legal attempts to stop unnecessary and indiscriminate hunting and trapping will succeed.

Guard Dogs is another Wolf and Puma deterrent in livestock protection

This also means that citizens and those who support predators have to create the political space where these biologists can feel free to speak their minds. Keep up the pressure, there are some in these state wildlife agencies who know the score, and are as devoted to wildlife as anyone.

About George Wuerthner

Mr. Wuerthner is an ecologist, writer and  photographer who also teaches field ecology classes, photo workshops and guides natural history tours through his company, Raventrails.

George has researched and written a number of books on mountain ranges, wilderness areas and parks, exploring hundreds of ranges from New Mexico to Alaska. He has visited more than 380 wilderness areas and hundreds of national parks. In particular, he is very knowledgeable about Alaska and has visited all the national parks, preserves and major wildlife refuges in that state.

George has written 35 books on the national parks, conservation issues, wilderness areas, mountain ranges and wildlife issues, including titles for the National Park’s Visitors Companion Series on the Rocky Mountains, Oregon’s Wilderness Areas, Yellowstone National Park, Mount Rainier, the Grand Canyon and the Great Smoky Mountains. He is also the author of Thrillcraft: the Environmental Consequences of Motorized Recreation, and has released numerous books of his wilderness photography.

Mr. Wuerthner worked as a wilderness guide and instructor for the University of Montana Outdoor Program, as a river ranger/biologist on the Fortymile River in Alaska, as a backcountry ranger in the Gates of the Arctic National Park, a surveyor for the Bureau of Land Management in Alaska, a botanist/biologist for the B.L.M. in Idaho,  He also regularly guided wilderness trips in the Rocky Mountains and in Alaska.


"Isn't It About Time"

Don't look now, don't heed the warning
It's really of no concern
Don't hear the sound, they're only just bombing
Anything left to burn
Isn't it about time
Isn't it about time we learned
Isn't it about time
Isn't it about time we learned

Fire, flood, familiar, famine
The jungle so far away
Blood baked into blackened soil
How many tons a day
Isn't it about time
Isn't it about time we learned
Isn't it about time
Isn't it about time we learned
Isn't it about time
Isn't it about time we learned
Isn't it about time
Isn't it about time we learned
Why, does it take so long
Is it easy not to care
Seems to me that enemies are fantasies
Somebody else's living nightmare
Who gonna live, who gonna die
Do you want to know
Does it give you a sense of power
To say yes or no
Isn't it about time
Isn't it about time we learned
Isn't it about time
Isn't it about time we learned
Isn't it about that time
Isn't it about time we learned
Isn't it about time
Isn't it about time we learned
Isn't it about time
Isn't it about time we learned
Isn't it about time
Isn't it about time we learned

Down The Road 1973   


Our friend Frand Vincenti who heads up WILD DOGS FOUNDATION commented this week on the plethora of Red Fox sightings occurring out in the Great South Bay section of Long Island, NY....................""You need to enjoy them from a distance"............ "They're not conducive to interacting with humans and they need to be kept as wild as possible to survive"............. "If people feed foxes or begin to treat them like some sort of pet, the foxes run the threat of getting conditioned to the human environment and that will hurt their survival capacity and skills such as hunting"..............After decades of decline due to habitat destruction, Red Foxes are rebounding on the "Island" and this is a good thing as both Foxes(and Coyotes) prey on lyme disease carrying mice, voles, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels and other small mammals.

The Fox Files: Why Red Fox Sightings are a Positive Phenomenon

Expert: There is no reason to panic and no reason to feed the fox.
A fox has even been spotted at a high school   football stand in Sayville.
A fox has even been spotted at a high school football stand in Sayville. Sayville is a beautiful hamlet with sandy beaches bordering the Great South Bay of Long Island, New York

One thing many residents between Blue Point and West Sayville seemingly have in common these days, besides loving their communities, is a furry four-legged visitor to their yard, street or neighborhood: the red fox.

As Patch's map of red fox sightings reveals, the big question may just be who hasn't seen the species laying in their driveway, sitting on a garage roof, drinking from a backyard pool or lounging on a deck. Over 70 residents shared sighting information for the map's creation.

The numerous sightings, according to one wild dog expert, isn't uncommon as many may think and doesn't present any threat to humans. That is as long as residents don't feed the foxes and don't start treating them like a neighborhood dog that roams."The big thing is not to feed these fox and also not worry about them as a predator. There are no man-eating foxes out there," Frank Vincenti, who runs the Wild Dogs Foundation, told Patch in a phone interview. 

Foxes consume mice and other Lyme Disease carrying rodents

"You need to enjoy them from a distance. They're not conducive to interacting with humans and they need to be kept as wild as possible to survive," he added. If people feed foxes or begin to treat them like some sort of pet the foxes run the threat of getting conditioned to the human environment and that will hurt their survival capacity and skills, such as hunting, explained Vincenti, who held a talk on red fox and other wild dogsWednesday night at the Sayville Library. The talk was a success, he noted, with over two dozen attendees interested in the red fox population.

What residents should know is that their yard or barn or garage is part of a red fox's territory so they will be seen roaming at times. There's very little danger to household pets such as cats and dogs, added Vincenti.
"Foxes are not these powerful dogs preying on pets," he noted.

Sayville is a town on Long Island, NY(the sliver of white jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean on map)

The fact that nearly 80 local residents shared sighting information for Patch's map is an indicator that the fox species is rebounding after many decades of being in decline, according to Vincenti. Land development as well as diseases, such as Lyme, have hurt the species for many generations, he explained."Foxes eat mice which carry the disease, rodents are the primary host for ticks who carry Lyme. So the prevalence of fox, that eat mice and other rodents, is a good thing in terms of keeping the disease down," he added.

In relation to the many sightings in Sayville, West Sayville, Blue Point and  Bayport, Vincenti noted that one fox could likely be responsible for many of the reports as they roam for food. "They are very mobile, in some cases one fox could be the same one that many neighbors in an area are seeing as they hunt for hours and can sometimes roam a few miles a day," he explained.

The one thing many people may not know about foxes is how committed they are once they mate, he added.
"They are monogamous and form a longtime bond once they mate, just like many other dog species," Vincenti said.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

15 minutes from my home in the Santa Monica Mountains that ring Los Angeles, one of the 6 to 10 Pumas that still roam Greater Los Angeles was photographed the other day during daylight hours making a deer kill on regularly traveled Mulholland Highway, a widely traveled 2 lane road winding between the 101 Freeway and the Pacific Coast Highway......................What a fantastic sight in our 2nd largest city in the USA!.................And as some of you know, Pumas are protected by State Law in California and are not hunted or trapped................By not persecuting the "Cats", they rarely cause problems for humans(they do not take as many risks as persecuted populations who often come in close to human settlement and get into tangles with livestock and pets) as they patrol their territories hunting deer and the occasional small game.......................The National Park Service has continually been studying the LA Puma population for the past decade and has identified the challenges they face in terms of traversing highways to find mates and establish new territories................Inbreeding due to constricted space is a huge problem for these Pumas and there has been all kinds of talk about installing more wildlife crossings(underground culverts as well as above ground overpasses) so as to allow a healthy gene flow across the SoCal region..................Additional key threats to all Carnivores(including Pumas) that call Los Angeles home is the rampant use of rodenticides by homeowners who seek to kill rats and mice...................When carnivores consume the semi poisoned rodents, secondary infections like mange and internal bleeding end up killing the Carnivores..................But at least for one day, my spirits are lifted to know that a few of the Pumas in Los Angeles are still healthy enough to carry on their age old dance with the deer that are their mainstay dietary foodstuff

Mountain Lion Makes Rare Appearance on Mulholland Highway

The mountain lion, known as Puma-23, dragged a deer off the road into the dense brush in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Credit: Irv Nilsen
Credit: Irv Nilsen

A female mountain lion made a rare appearance on Mulholland Highway in a remote part of the Santa Monica Mountains this week.The mountain lion, identified by the National Park Service as Puma-23, recently left her mother.
The sight was captured by Irv Nilsen for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

A lion on top of a deer on Mulholland Hwy! This is P-23, a young female who has recently dispersed from mom. Of the 400+ kills our biologists have hiked in on, this is the only one they've seen right on a road, so it's quite a rare sight! She dragged the deer into the dense brush shortly after this photo was taken for a little more privacy.
The SMMNRA posted on itsFacebook page:

The National Park Service has beenstudying mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains since 2002.

Lions in the Santa Monica Mountains?

Female puma is seated in wildland close to Los Angeles.
In a place where urbanization is on the edge of wildlands, it is hard for a mountain lion to find a place to rest.

Many people are surprised to hear that mountains lions still live in the chaparral-covered mountains so close to urban Los Angeles.
Since 2002 the National Park Service has been conducting a scientific project to learn more about the habits of these mountain lions in and around Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. An important part of this project is to help scientists understand how human development and urbanization is impacting the large cats.
So far, National Park Service biologists have monitored 22 mountain lions with GPS radio-collars, enabling them to learn a lot about the animals' ecology and behavior. The biggest threat to lion persistence in the Santa Monica Mountains is the loss and fragmentation of habitat by roads and urban development. Another threat is poisoning from rodenticides (rat poisons), which is likely acquired secondarily from feeding on poisoned rodents, or from feeding on other animals like coyotes that have consumed poisoned rodents. The monitored lions are elusive, staying away from people, and behaving "naturally" despite all the urban development that surrounds them. The size of a mountain lion's home range in the Santa Monica Mountains is not particularly different from those in areas with little or no urban development. A typical home range is around 200 square miles for adult males and 75 square miles for adult females. As for feeding habits, mountain lions typically eat about one deer per week, along with other smaller prey, and the animals in the Santa Monica Mountains are no exception.
Biologists have also been monitoring the movements of mountain lions to identify wildlife corridors, areas that link the Santa Monica Mountains to other large natural areas and allow the lions to move between them. Genetic analyses indicate that the Santa Monica Mountains mountain lions have low genetic diversity relative to mountain lions in the rest of the state. The long-term survival of a mountain lion population here depends on their ability to move between regions to maintain genetic diversity and overall population health.
The National Park Service and its partners use information on wildlife movement to develop management plans that protect landscapes critical to wildlife. This promotes the long-term health of our native animal populations, including mountain lions, the ecosystem's top carnivore.
To find out more about these large cats, visit the following websites:

Seagrass meadows which provide coastal protection and important habitat for fish are declining worldwide in large part due to excessive nutrients entering coastal waters in runoff from farms and urban areas................U. of Santa Cruz researchers have concluded that the rewilding of Sea Otters reverses this decline by acting as top down predators of crabs....................Crabs are voracious consumers of invertebrates like Sea Slugs....................Slugs feed on algae................The more Slugs in an estuary, the healthier the Sea Grass as Algae does not build up to toxic levels.......................The healthy Sea Grass provides fish with cover and food sources and thus their populations increase........................So once again it is revealed how "top down" trophic carnivores like Otters work in concert with "bottom up" habitat factors in optimizing the health of ecosystems

Sea Otters Promote Recovery of Seagrass Beds Scientists studying the decline and recovery of seagrass beds in one of California's largest estuaries have found that recolonization of the estuary by sea otters was a crucial factor in the seagrass comeback. Led by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, the study will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of August 26.

Seagrass meadows, which provide coastal protection and important habitat for fish, are declining worldwide, partly because of excessive nutrients entering coastal waters in runoff from farms and urban areas. The nutrients spur the growth of algae on seagrass leaves, which then don't get enough sunlight. In Elkhorn Slough, a major estuary on California's central coast, algal blooms caused by high nutrient levels are a recurring problem. Yet the seagrass beds there have been expanding in recent years.
"When we see seagrass beds recovering, especially in a degraded environment like Elkhorn Slough, people want to know why," said Brent Hughes, a Ph.D. candidate in ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz and first author of thePNAS study. His coauthors include Tim Tinker, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, and Kerstin Wasson, research coordinator for the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, who are both adjunct professors of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCSC.
Hughes and his colleagues documented a remarkable chain reaction that began when sea otters started moving back into Elkhorn Slough in 1984. The sea otters don't directly affect the seagrass, but they do eat enormous amounts of crabs, dramatically reducing the number and size of crabs in the slough. With fewer crabs to prey on them, grazing invertebrates like sea slugs become more abundant and larger. Sea slugs feed on the algae growing on the seagrass leaves, keeping the leaves clean and healthy.
"The seagrass is really green and thriving where there are lots of sea otters, even compared to seagrass in more pristine systems without excess nutrients," Hughes said.
In addition to the sea slugs, small crustaceans known as Idoteaare also important grazers on the algae, and they too increase in number when sea otters control the crab population.
This kind of chain reaction in a food web is known to ecologists as a "trophic cascade." Scientists have long known that sea otters have a big impact on coastal ecosystems. Their importance in maintaining kelp forests by preying on animals that graze on kelp is especially well documented. The new study shows sea otters play a slightly different but equally important role in estuarine ecosystems like Elkhorn Slough, according to Tinker.
"This provides us with another example of how the strong interactions exerted by sea otters on their invertebrate prey can have cascading effects, leading to unexpected but profound changes at the base of the food web," he said. "It's also a great reminder that the apex predators that have largely disappeared from so many ecosystems may play vitally important functions."
The sea otter population in Elkhorn Slough has had its ups and downs, reflecting trends in the ongoing recovery of California's sea otters. The slough's initial recolonizing population of about 15 declined in the late 1980s, then grew to nearly 100 in the 1990s before declining again, followed by a recovery over the past decade. These fluctuations in the otter population were matched by corresponding fluctuations in the seagrass beds, Hughes said. Even within the slough, he said, sea otter density varies among the different seagrass beds, and those with more otters have fewer and smaller crabs and healthier seagrass.
The researchers used a combination of field experiments and data from long-term monitoring of Elkhorn Slough to study these interactions. "We used multiple approaches, and they all came up with the same answer," Hughes said.
Eelgrass (Zostera marina) is the dominant seagrass in Elkhorn Slough and elsewhere in the northern hemisphere. Seagrasses in general provide important nursery habitat for juvenile fish, and eelgrass beds along the west coast are especially important for species such as Pacific herring, halibut, and salmon. In addition, seagrass beds protect shorelines from storms and waves, and they soak up carbon dioxide from seawater and from the atmosphere.
"These are important coastal ecosystems that we're losing, and mostly that's been associated with bottom-up effects like nutrient loading. This study shows that these ecosystems are also being hit by top-down forces due to the loss of top predators," Hughes said.
The findings in Elkhorn Slough suggest that expansion of the sea otter population in California and recolonization of other estuaries will likely be good for seagrass habitat throughout the state, he added.
According to Wasson, the study has important management implications, suggesting that to restore valued coastal habitats, it may be necessary to restore entire food webs. "That is a new perspective for us," she said. "Most estuarine managers focus on the bottom-up approach, bringing back marshes and eelgrass and hoping the rest comes along with it. But in this case, it's clear you need to focus on the top and bottom of the food web at the same time."
In addition to Hughes, Tinker, and Wasson, the coauthors of the study include Ron Eby and Eric Van Dyke at the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve; Corina Marks at California State University Monterey Bay; and Kenneth Johnson at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. This work was supported by the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the U.S. Geological Survey's Western Ecological Research Center.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Marshall University's Rattlesnake biologist Jayme Waldron is about to embark on a research study at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in South Carolina to evaluate the impact of military land practices on the Diamondback Rattlesnake.................The Eastern Diamondback ranges from North Carolina down to Florida and across the Gulf Coast and is on our Federal Endangered Species list due to loss of habitat................................The Military has become a partner in conservation across it's land holdings, working in concert with both Federal and State Conservation Officials to simultaneously protect land and wild creatures while still preparing soldiers for the rigors of combat...........................

Biology Professor Receives Grant to Study Rattlesnakes


 Dr. Jayme Waldron gets a close-up look at a rattlesnake as it crosses a road. She has spent much of her career tracking the eastern diamondback rattlesnakes to learn more about how and where they live, and how far they roam.

Dr. Jayme Waldron gets a
look at
 a rattlesnake
 as it crosses a road. She has spent
much of
her career
 tracking the eastern diamondback
rattlesnakes to
learn more about how and where they
live, and
 how far they roam.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va.- Dr. Jayme Waldron often can be found crawling through dense brush in search of the largest venomous snake in North America - the eastern diamondback rattlesnake.
An assistant professor of biology at Marshall University, she has spent much of her career tracking the snakes to learn more about how and where they live, and how far they roam.
Waldron's newest research project will take her to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in Beaufort County, S.C., where she will be leading a study to examine the effects of common military land use practices on the snakes. The research is being funded through an $87,800 grant from the U.S. Department of the Army.
According to Waldron, the eastern diamondback is found in the southeastern part of the U.S., along the coasts of North Carolina down through Florida and along the Gulf Coast, including on several U.S. Department of Defense installations. Due to declining numbers and widespread loss of habit, the species is currently under review for possible protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Biology Professor Receives Grant to Study Rattlesnakes
Waldron said that ultimately the military's goal is to make sure their habitat management practices both ensure the success of their training operations and address the conservation of at-risk species. She said Parris Island provides an ideal setting for the study, given a history of eastern diamondback rattlesnake research at the facility and recent changes to the habitat.
"Recently, they've implemented new land management activities at Parris Island, including prescribed forest thinning and fire, to improve their training operation," she said. "These activities have significantly modified the habitat structure, and potentially changed the amount of suitable diamondback habitat." She added that Parris Island also is located in a coastal area that has faced rapid development pressure from an expanding human population, including in popular vacation and retirement destinations like Hilton Head Island. "Increased human-wildlife conflicts are expected as species redistribute in response to shifting climatic changes and habitat loss," she said.
"These effects are particularly important for DOD training installations along the southeastern coast, where projected changes in sea-level will interact with current coastal erosion and severe storms to accelerate the rate and magnitude of coastal habitat loss," she said.
For the study, she and her team, including Dr. Shane Welch, research assistant professor, and graduate student Brad O'Hanlon, will conduct mark-recapture surveys and use radio telemetry to monitor free-ranging diamondbacks over a period of two years. They also will be monitoring the vegetation associated with the new land use treatments.
Waldron said the results will be applicable to the region's other military installations that may employ similar land use practices, including Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C., Eglin Air Force Base in northwest Florida and Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center near Hattiesburg, Miss.
She said, "At the end of the study, we will be providing the Department of Defense with an objective, preliminary assessment of the snakes' response to the new land management practices in the training areas, as well as regionally applicable home range maps and habit use models for use by natural resource managers.
"These natural resources managers play a critical role in maintaining long-term access to training facilities, particularly when imperiled species like the diamondback occur within training areas. Studies like ours can provide them with a degree of confidence needed to employ adaptive policies for species conservation. It's fulfilling to think that our results will be used to decrease the likelihood that diamondback imperilment will conflict with military training activities."

We have discussed previously how Colorado's Moose herd seems to be bucking the trend of their brethren in the Midwest and New England, seemingly "ignoring" the potentially the "big three death agents that global warming, winter ticks and deer brain disease normally engender on Moose populations................. 2300 Moose occupy the State and biologists feel that favorable weather and habitat have thus far favored the Moose there

Moose Population

 Healthier Than Ever

 in Colorado

Unlike other Western states, Colorado's
 moose population is growing. It's healthier
 than ever with an estimated 2300 moose 
across the state. While other states are
 grappling with why their herds are shrinking,
 Colorado is studying the population's fast

 "Moose populations in Colorado are one 
of our success stories. Moose populations
 have been increasing pretty steadily in this
 state," says Brad Petch.

 helps manage moose in the northwestern
 part of the state. It's unclear whether moose 
are native to Colorado. Moose were first 
introduced in the 1970's. Since then, their 
growth has exceeded expectations.

"To some extent it's taken us a little bit by 
surprise, at least a couple of our more recent
 transplants have reached the objective we 
want to maintain much more quickly than 
we anticipated," he says.

Part of the reason moose are multiplying 
quickly is because of habitats in good 
condition and favorable weather. It's not
 the case in other parts of the country.
 population there dropped so steeply, moose
 hunting season was canceled this year. 

Climate change, disease, parasites and a 
changing habitat have been cited as possible
 reasons for the decline. Meanwhile, in the
 Rocky Mountain West, Montana and 
Wyoming have also seen shrinking
 numbers of moose.

One herd in southwestern Colorado has
 seen a lower rate of growth relative to the
 more northern herds. But, overall, Colorado
 is escaping the trend of declining moose.

While the headline of the article below on Wolves migrating from Mexico into Arizona is confusing and unclear, the article itself reveals some of the most positive news about the potential for expanded rewilding of Wolves that I have heard in some time.............The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will stop relocating Mexican Wolves that wander into Arizona back into the current reintroduction boundaries in the Apache and Gila National Forests .........The bottom line is that any Wolves that make it across the border into the USA from Mexico will have a chance to naturally recolonize as much of Arizona as they can............Hopefully there is enough unwalled habitat for those Wolves to make it up North...........FANTASTIC!

Agreement limits relocation of wild wolves

PHOENIX — Federal officials have agreed not to try to capture and relocate wolves entering Arizona from Mexico.
In a deal approved Monday in federal court, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will consider wolves found wandering outside the current reintroduction boundary areas to be wild. The agency is, in essence, revoking the permission it gave itself to capture and relocate the animals.
Michael Robinson of the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity said the settlement is a crucial step in helping reintroduce the wolf population to its natural habitats in Arizona.
Robinson said the issue arose two years ago when Mexico began reintroducing wolves into its northern regions, a few dozen miles south of the area where Arizona and New Mexico meet.
What happened, he said, is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on its own, then gave itself a permit — without public notice — to capture any wolf that might cross the border and cause problems with livestock.

The agency already has the power to capture and relocate those wolves being reintroduced into Arizona and New Mexico in an effort to keep them from preying on cattle. That is because the whole reintroduction program is being conducted under rules that specifically consider the wolves in the program to be a “nonessential population.’’
But Robinson said there is no reason to unilaterally decide wolves that wander into Arizona on their own should be treated in a similar fashion.
More to the point, he said it’s illegal. Robinson said the rules that govern the domestic reintroduction program, including relocation, do not apply to wolves that were not placed by the United States government but instead wandered into this country on their own.
“These wolves, under the law, are fully protected’’ as an endangered species,’’ Robinson said. “And you can’t simply sacrifice them under the law for special interests, in this case, the livestock industry.’’
Robinson said it is impossible to determine whether any of the wolves released by the Mexican government have, in fact, made their way into the United States.
In essence, the lawsuit settlement recognizes the rules require that if a wolf is found outside the reintroduction area — or other areas where the animals have been welcome — it is required to presume the animal is “of wild origin with full endangered status.’’ And that can be overcome only with other evidence the wolf is of domestic origin and reintroduced, like a radio collar or identification mark.
Robinson said the settlement may actually help wolf reintroduction in this country.
He said the latest report shows there are 75 wolves in the program, including 37 in Arizona. But that includes only three breeding pairs.
Robinson said inbreeding results in smaller litter sizes. He said wolves released in Mexico that manage to make their way across the border could help diversify the population.
The current wolf reintroduction area includes the Apache and Gila national forests as well as lands where the owners have said they are welcoming the animals. Robinson said that includes the Fort Apache Reservation as well as property owned in New Mexico by media mogul Ted Turner