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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, October 31, 2013

Is it possible that aboriginal hunting practices purposely aided in the perpetuation rather than the reduction of species?........While there are many conflicting theories about our ancestral human relatives impact on wildlife extinctions, Australia Aborigines use fire to increase the population of the Monitor Lizards that they hunt for food................Many Native Americans in California believe that policies of fire suppression and the exclusion of their traditional burning practices have contributed to the current crisis in biodiversity and native species decline, particularly in the health of oak woodland communities.......... Incorporating indigenous knowledge and practices into contemporary land management could become important in efforts to conserve and restore healthy ecosystems and landscapes

Aboriginal Hunting Practice Increases Animal Populations — In Australia's Western Desert, Aboriginal hunters use a unique method that actually increases populations of the animals they hunt, according to a study co-authored by Stanford Woods Institute-affiliated researchers Rebecca and Doug Bird. Rebecca Bird is an associate professor of anthropology, and Doug Bird is a senior research scientist.

The study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, offers new insights into maintaining animal communities through ecosystem engineering and co-evolution of animals and humans. It finds that populations of monitor lizards nearly double in areas where they are heavily hunted. The hunting method -- using fire to clear patches of land to improve the search for game -- also creates a mosaic of regrowth that enhances habitat. Where there are no hunters, lightning fires spread over vast distances, landscapes are more homogenous and monitor lizards are more rare.

"Our results show that humans can have positive impacts on other species without the need for policies of conservation and resource management," Rebecca Bird said. "In the case of indigenous communities, the everyday practice of subsistence might be just as effective at maintaining biodiversity as the activities of other organisms."
Martu, the aboriginal community the Birds and their colleagues have worked with for many years, refer to their relationship with the ecosystem around them as part of "jukurr" or dreaming. This ritual, practical philosophy and body of knowledge instructs the way Martu interact with the desert environment, from hunting practices to cosmological and social organization. At its core is the concept that land must be used if life is to continue. Therefore, Martu believe the absence of hunting, not its presence, causes species to decline.
While jukurr has often been interpreted as belonging to the realm of the sacred and irrational, it appears to actually be consistent with scientific understanding, according to the study. The findings suggest that the decline in aboriginal hunting and burning in the mid-20th century, due to the persecution of aboriginal people and the loss of traditional economies, may have contributed to the extinction of many desert species that had come to depend on such practices.

The findings add to a growing appreciation of the complex role that humans play in the function of ecosystems worldwide. In environments where people have been embedded in ecosystems for millennia, including areas of the U.S., tribal burning was extensive in many types of habitat. Many Native Americans in California, for instance, believe that policies of fire suppression and the exclusion of their traditional burning practices have contributed to the current crisis in biodiversity and native species decline, particularly in the health of oak woodland communities. Incorporating indigenous knowledge and practices into contemporary land management could become important in efforts to conserve and restore healthy ecosystems and landscapes.
The study was funded by the National Science Foundation.

""The interpretation that humans drove the Australian mega-fauna extinctions rests on assumptions that increasingly have been shown to be incorrect"............. "Humans may have played some role in the loss of those species that were still surviving when people arrived about 45,000 to 50,000 years ago but it is now increasingly clear that the disappearance of the megafauna of Australia took place over tens, if not hundreds of millennia under the influence of inexorable, albeit erratic, climatic deterioration," ----Professor Stephen Wroe; University of New South Wales..................If this is true for Australia, likely true for North America as well during this period of erratic climate change

Climate Change, Not Human Activity, Led to Megafauna Extinction — Most species of gigantic animals that once roamed Australia had disappeared by the time people arrived, a major review of the available evidence has concluded.

The research challenges the claim that humans were primarily responsible for the demise of the megafauna in a proposed "extinction window" between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago, and points the finger instead at climate change.
An international team led by the University of New South Wales, and including researchers at the University of Queensland, the University of New England, and the University of Washington, carried out the study. It is published in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Saber-Tooth Tiger

"The interpretation that humans drove the extinction rests on assumptions that increasingly have been shown to be incorrect. Humans may have played some role in the loss of those species that were still surviving when people arrived about 45,000 to 50,000 years ago -- but this also needs to be demonstrated," said Associate Professor Stephen Wroe, from UNSW, the lead author of the study.
"There has never been any direct evidence of humans preying on extinct megafauna in Sahul, or even of a tool-kit that was appropriate for big-game hunting," he said.
About 90 giant animal species once inhabited the continent of Sahul, which included mainland Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania.
"These leviathans included the largest marsupial that ever lived -- the rhinoceros-sized Diprotodon - and short-faced kangaroos so big we can't even be sure they could hop. Preying on them were goannas the size of large saltwater crocodiles with toxic saliva and bizarre but deadly marsupial lions with flick-blades on their thumbs and bolt cutters for teeth," said Associate Professor Wroe.
The review concludes there is only firm evidence for about 8 to 14 megafauna species still existing when Aboriginal people arrived. About 50 species, for example, are absent from the fossil record of the past 130,000 years.
Recent studies of Antarctic ice cores, ancient lake levels in central Australia, and other environmental indicators also suggest Sahul -- which was at times characterised by a vast desert -- experienced an increasingly arid and erratic climate during the past 450,000 years.
Arguments that humans were to blame have also focused on the traditional Aboriginal practice of burning the landscape. But recent research suggests that the fire history of the continent was more closely linked to climate than human activity, and increases in burning occurred long before people arrived.
"It is now increasingly clear that the disappearance of the megafauna of Sahul took place over tens, if not hundreds, of millennia under the influence of inexorable, albeit erratic, climatic deterioration," said Associate Professor Wroe

"Hunting quotas don't consider population fluctuations caused by disease outbreaks, harsh weather and other variables that affect animal abundance from year to year"......... "Hunters and fishermen can work harder to make their quotas when desirable species are scarce"........ "The extra pressure can cause populations to collapse"......... "Setting limits on the amount of time spent hunting could better protect fragile populations"-----University of Minnesota ecologist Craig Packer

Setting Time Limits for Hunting and Fishing May Help Maintain Wildlife Populations — Hunting and fishing quotas limit the number of game animals or fish an individual may take based on harvests from the previous year. But according to a new study co-authored by University of Minnesota ecologist Craig Packer, this strategy may jeopardize wildlife populations.

The authors recommend that wildlife managers rethink policies for sustainable utilization. Setting limits on the number of days allowed for hunting and fishing rather than the number of trophies would be a more effective way to ensure continued supply and to prevent extinction.
Results of the study are published in the May 13 issue of Science."Quotas don't consider population fluctuations caused by disease outbreaks, harsh weather and other variables that affect animal abundance from year to year," Packer explains. "Hunters and fishermen can work harder to make their quotas when desirable species are scarce. The extra pressure can cause populations to collapse." Setting limits on the amount of time spent hunting could better protect fragile populations.
John Fryxell and Kevin McCann, from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, along with colleagues in Norway and the United States, developed a model based on mass action assumptions about human behavior and current hunting and fishing regulations. They tested the model using data from three populations of deer and moose from Canada and Norway over a 20- year period. Packer's work on the impact of trophy hunting on lion populations in Africa and cougars in the United States, helped to inspire the current study.
The problem is exacerbated by the traditional practice of open access, Fryxell noted. Hunters and fishermen tend to choose spots based on word of mouth, which travels slowly. By the time they are well known, popular sites may already have shrinking populations and visitors may need to work harder and longer to reach quotas, which further endanger the species. Once populations are depleted, restoring them is a challenge.
"It can take decades for large animal populations to recover from collapses, as we know from our disastrous experience with cod stocks off the coast of Newfoundland, Fryxell said. "We need to make strategic long-term changes to make a difference.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Our American mink will eat just about any animal that lives in and near water including fish, amphibians, birds, crayfish, eggs, reptiles, grubs, earthworms, mice, and muskrats.......... They will also prey on domestic poultry if given the opportunity............ Natural predators of mink include foxes, owls, bobcats, coyotes and even otters............. For the most part a majority of mink succumb to parasites, disease or are killed by human related activities including automobile strikes...........Mink do not hibernate, nor do they establish mating-pairs............. The males usually defend a territory along a stretch of water where six to seven females occur....Litters of four kits are born between April and June.

N.J. Wildlife: The 

American Mink, one 

of N.J.’s most common

 semi-aquatic carnivore

People are surprised to learn that the American
 mink is actually a 
very common species found along watercourses,
 lakes and swamps
 throughout New Jersey. They are primarily 
nocturnal and solitary 
animals which accounts for why people never
 really encounter them.
People are also often surprised to learn that
the term “mink” actually
 refers to two species of mammal; the American
 mink (Neovision vision)
and the European mink (Muestela lutreola).
 Only the American mink is
 found in North America, where as the
European mink is now only found
in a few small parts of northern Europe
(the American mink is considered
an invasive species in Europe and has
been linked to the European mink’s
 decline). The European Mink is more
 related to “polecats”, where as the
 American mink is more related to
animals, such as skunks, otters, and

And like skunks, the American mink
 can defend themselves by spraying
a foul-smelling liquid. However unlike
skunks, the American mink cannot
 aim their spray.
The American mink with its sleek-
streamlined body has great agility and
flexibility and will pursue its prey on
 both land and water. They are excellent
swimmers and with its dense coat of
 water–resistant fur, mink have been
 known to dive underwater as deep as
16 feet.

As a carnivore the American mink
will eat just about any animal that
 in and near water, including fish,
 amphibians, birds, crayfish, eggs,
 grubs, earthworms, mice, and
muskrats. They will also prey on
poultry is given the opportunity.
Natural predators of mink include
owls, bobcats, coyotes and even
otters! For the most part a majority
 of mink
 succumb to parasites, disease or
 are killed by human related activities
including automobile strikes.

Adult mink are about 14 to 20 inches
 long, which includes a 5- to 9-inch
 tail, weigh between two to four pounds
 and sport a dark brown coat with
 a white to cream colored underside.
 Mink do not hibernate, nor do they
establish mating-pairs. The males
usually defend a territory along a
of water where six to seven females
occur. They make “galleries” which are
resting spots in their territories within
hollows of logs or abandoned animal
 borrows and line them with hair,
feathers and grasses. They typically
in hollow logs or stumps near water,
or in bank dens dug by other animals.

Mating occurs in the spring with litters
 of four kits born between April
 and June. The kits are weaned after
five weeks and stay with their mother
 until becoming independent in the fall.
 Mink can live as long as 10 years.

This story is a weekly feature that runs 
with the cooperation of New
 Jersey Audubon. For more information
 about NJ Audubon or how
 to perform conservation efforts on your 
property, contact John 
Parke of NJ Audubon at john.parke or visit

The Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources has confirmed 16 mountain lions in Iowa since 1995 with most of them in the southern half of the state............Only three have been confirmed since 2005 which many biologists feel is due to a stepped up Puma kill order in South Dakota where the easternmost breeding population resides.............A great picture below of the Oct 13 Puma photographed in Winterset, Iowa

Mountain lion spotted

 near Winterset

This photo of a young mountain lion was take Oct. 13 by a farmer's game camera north of Winterset. The photograph was given to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, which confirmed the cat is a mountain lion and released the photo to The Des Moines Register.
This photo of a young mountain lion was take Oct. 13
 by a farmer's game camera
 north of Winterset. The photograph was given to the
 Iowa Department of Natural
 Resources, which confirmed the cat is a mountain lion.

the mountain
 lion appears
 to be a 2- to
 that likely trekked into
Iowa from the west
 in search of new territory.

 sightings are expected 
to become rarer
 in  future as South Dakota,
 where many
 of Iowa's mountain lions
 are believed to
 originate, issues more
 hunting permits
 in an effort to curtail its 
mountain lion
 population, he said.
The DNR has confirmed
 16 mountain
 lions in Iowa since 1995.
 Most of them
 were in the southern half
of the state.
 Only three have been
 confirmed since 2005.
Unconfirmed sighting
are common. Since
 2010, the DNR has
received more than 
2,000 reported mountain
 lion sightings.
 Most of those are believed
 to be an 
incorrect identification of
a bobcat or
 another animal, Baskins

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

94 black Bears were killed by Maryland hunters as the season just closed............Once statewide, today the recovering population exists in the 4 western counties bordering Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia where there is good interchange between the populations................The mid 1700's saw bounties established to encourage killing the Bruins and land clearing finished off the Bears by mid 20th century........1972 saw Officials grant the Black Bear ENDANGERED STATUS..............The regrowth of forests enabled the Bears to scramble back into some form of breeding population and by 1980, their ENDANGERED status was modified to 'NON GAME; SPECIAL CONCERN....................In 1985, status changed to FOREST GAME SPECIES BUT hunting of the bears did not again take place until 2003 when an estimated 227 Bears were estimated to live in the Western mountains............Biologists now feel that 700 Bears now call Maryland home with State Biologists allowing about 13-14% to be killed this season......As in every State, quota numbers always seem to revolve around "hunter pleasure" and "ease of getting your own bear" rather than ecosystem carrying capacity and top down ecosystems services that the Bears provide Maryland's woodlands

Bear Hunters' Guide to Hunting Black Bears in Maryland 2013

Maryland Black Bear History and Management

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another population estimate was then conducted across Garrett and Allegany counties in May and June 2005.  The results of this population study yielded an estimated population of 326 adult and subadult black bears in the same area (from Cumberland west).  This population estimate revealed a bear density of 39.2 bears per 100 square miles.  In May and June 2011, DNR completed the fieldwork necessary to establish Maryland's most recent population estimate.  In 2011, 701 adult and subadult bears were estimated in Garrett and Allegany counties.  This study revealed an estimated bear density of 64.5 bears per 100 square miles in the study area


Black bear season fails to reach quota

94 animals killed; Department of Natural Resources had set goal of at least 95

Harry Spiker
Harry Spiker attaches an ear tag to one of four cubs in Green Ridge State Forest. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources uses microchips to tag bear cubs so that they can monitored with a scanner. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun / March28, 2006)

By Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun

Maryland's annual black bear hunt went into overtime Saturday, and some might look at the outcome as a moral victory for the hairy, soon-to-be hibernating creatures.
For the first time since the hunt was revived in 2004 after a 51-year hiatus, hunters who spent part of the past six days in Garrett and Allegany counties failed to meet the quota set by the state Department of Natural Resources' Heritage and Wildlife Service.
According to Harry Spiker, the state's bear biologist, 94 bears were killed as of Saturday night — one shy of a quota that had been raised from last year with hopes of taking between 95 and 130. A year ago, 92 bears were killed with the quota between 80 and 110.
But Spiker considered the event a success, particularly for the fact that there was a "major increase" in the number of bears taken in Allegany County.
"We had 22 this year, and I don't think we've ever had more than 10," Spiker said.
The increase in the number of bears taken in the eastern part of the hunt corresponds with what Spiker sees as a migration of bears in that direction — as far east as Montgomery County.
The hunt was slowed this year by bad weather. After a record 41 bears were taken Monday in perfect conditions on the first day of the hunt, a combination of rain, snow and cold temperatures hit Western Maryland and contributed to a significant decline in the number of hunters as well as the amount of time they spent hunting.
It's not the first time the bear hunt has been hampered by weather. After the state reached its quota of 30 bears in 2004, the year the hunt was resumed, a foot of snow fell the following year on the first day. It took four days for the quota to be reached.

The hunt is held annually in hopes of reducing the state's bear population, estimated at about 700 adult and sub-adult bears in the most recent survey.
"Our ideal is to reach the quota, but if we don't, next year is another year," Spiker said Friday night. "We'll hunt again. It's just a blip on the radar."
Spiker said 748 hunters (32 fewer than last year) took part in the six days of hunting after a record 380 were issued permits from the more than 3,500 who applied.
The average weight of the bears killed was 148 pounds, with the biggest being a 392-pound male. It was taken Tuesday near Oakland by Mark Martin, 20, who lives in the area.
Joe Lamp was rooting for the quota not to be reached. A longtime opponent of the hunt who is a former member of the state's Wildlife Commission, Lamp sent a letter to Gov. Martin O'Malley on Saturday asking him to shut down the hunt.
Told by a reporter earlier in the day that the quota had yet to be reached, Lamp said: "I'm thrilled they didn't. It's the best news for the bears."
10 Year Impact of Black Bear Hunting in Maryland
With the 10th year of the modern Maryland bear hunt approaching, state bear biologist Harry Spiker, who has managed the hunt since its return after a 51-year absence, reflected in an interview with The Baltimore Sun on what happened when the hunt returned, whether he feels it has accomplisted its goals, and where the hunt — and the bears — will be going in the future.

BS: With the 10th year of the bear hunt coming up this week (Oct. 21-26), what do you remember of the hunt back in 2004?
HS: What I remember is the attention that we got from around the world. We had interest in it from England and Japan and people commenting in the United States from as far away as California. I just remember all the controversy and the fear that some people had that we were going to wipe bears out and that they wouldn't be around. Since then, the population has continued to grow at a more controlled rate, and 10 years later, we're basically following the same model.

BS: How big is the current bear population, by your estimation, and if there was not a bear hunt, how big would it be?
HS: Our last population estimate was in 2011 and, based on that, I can comfortably say that there were more than 1,000 bears in our four western counties, more than 700 adult and sub-adult bears in Garrett and Allegany counties, which is where the hunt takes place. To be honest, I don't know if I could give a point estimate of what it would be if we had not had this hunt for the last 10 years, but I can say that it would be much, much larger than what it is.

BS: Do you think the bears would have migrated more into more populated areas such as Frederick, Montgomery and Howard counties?
HS: We're definitely seeing a range expansion of bears. We don't consider Montgomery County occupied because for us to consider a county occupied, you have to have evidence of sows giving birth to cubs there. We have so many sightings in Montgomery County. I expect they are there, we just don't know it. But I expect to color Montgomery County in on our map [as occupied] very soon. Our bear population has recolonized, moving like a wave from west to east, and I do believe we have absolutely slowed down that wave so that the eastern part of our state is minimized because of the hunt.

BS: Do you see a day when the bear hunt itself would expand to those other counties?
HS: Bears are tough to collect data on because of their large home ranges and the fact that they typically avoid people. As the populations grow there — and we're monitoring the population in Washington and Frederick counties — I can see it being expanded in the future. I don't think it's there yet. I can definitely see it happening in the future. We don't have a specific criteria set up, but we will continue to watch the expansion and the population. That's not a discussion we've had at this point. … We also will see how people respond to the bears. We do a lot of education on how to live with bears, and how people react to bears is just as important.

BS: As you mentioned, there was a lot of controversy leading into the first bear hunt, including a lawsuit the week before, trying to stop it. Do you feel as if those who were opposed then will be opposed regardless of how controlled the hunt is, or do you see the opponents beginning to understand what the intent is?
HS: I think you'll probably see both. Some people are opposed to hunting in general and will never accept hunting of any species. I can see a shift in our urban areas that people seem to be more willing to allow deer hunters into their properties now than they did 15 years ago. That's more a sociological question than a biological question.
BS: In terms of the bear population, has it changed at all?
HS: Absolutely, it's changed. Our stated goal is to slow the growth, to have a more controlled growth of the population. Our goal was not to turn the population down the other way. That's what we have done. In fact, before the first hunt, if memory serves me right, we had a ballpark figure of 330 sub-adult bears here in Allegany County. In 2011, it was over 700. I say adult [18 months and older] and sub-adult because the methods we use totally ignore the cub class. We know that's a minimum, conservative estimate.

BS: Ten years into the hunt, is there is still a lot of enthusiasm in the state for bear hunting?
HS: Interest has grown. The number of applications we've seen has climbed. A few less this year than last year — last year was our peak, at just over 4,000 applications for 340 permits. This year, we had just around 3,600 people apply for 380 permits. That first year was just over 2,000 people applied. We've definitely seen an increase in interest from the public.

BS: That first year, I read that the bear quota was taken in one day. What are expectations for this year's hunt?
HS: That's the only year we reached quota in one day. Since then, most years, it's been a four-day hunt. One year, it was a two-day hunt, and two years where it was a five-day hunt. I think we'll reach the quota of 95 to 130 bears in four to five days.

Bill Ripple who along with fellow biologist John Laundre who authored the LANDSCAPE OF FEAR paradigm regarding the impact that trophic carnivores have on their prey species has now written about what I call the DANCE OF THE TITANS, the age-old interlocked relationship that Gray Wolves and Grizzlies have with each other in Yellowstone, and at one time all over the Western USA and Canada...............Though Ripple has studied Yellowstone wolves since their reintroduction in the mid-1990s, he decided he needed to make a closer and more detailed investigation of the relationship between wolves and grizzlies due to federal delisting of Wolves and potentially soon-to-be delisted Grizzlies......... What he discovered turned out to be very old news........... The symbiotic relationship between the wolf and the grizzly was documented in petroglyphs on cave walls........... These two beasts of the Northern wild have been engaged in a fascinating survival dance that began at the end of the last Ice Age.........."As wolves reduced the size of the elk herd in the Yellowstone ecosystem, chokecherry, serviceberry and huckleberry flora began to rebound and flourish in a long-term phase of "passive restoration"......."In time, and as other (Grizzly)food sources decline(whitebark pine and cutthroat trout), berry production might become more and more important as a source of nutrition in the grizzly bears' diet".............."t's humbling, Ripple added, to realize that the cascading effects of wildlife management, or mismanagement, roll in both directions"....... "If too many wolves are killed, the consequences could affect many other species(including the Griz)"

Fresh look at the wolf-grizzly relationship

An essay on the Yellowstone study that shows these predators' fascinating survival dance.
paul vandevelder;
Document Actions
    OP-ED - October 23, 201
A study by Oregon State University ecologist Bill Ripple has, for the first time, linked the welfare of wolves to the welfare of grizzly bears in the Yellowstone National Park ecosystem. This was big news when the story broke in August, which means that either the story hit during the doldrums of the 24/7 news cycle, or that grizzly bears and wolves have been promoted to front-page fodder by the mainstream press.
My guess: It was probably a bit of both. My reaction to the stories about this new study was a resounding, "Duh."  I've been reading and writing about wildlife recovery for a very long time, so this kind of biological symbiosis seemed a given.
Wolves pursuing Elk

I reached Bill Ripple about a week after the study was published in the Journal of Animal Ecology, just as the newspapers began reacting to his findings. Most treated the story as if Bigfoot had been caught on a security camera stealing candy bars from a 7-11 store, i.e., as a huge and unexpected surprise.
Wolves and grizzlies: How could this be news? I asked Ripple. Weren't these creatures top predators that coexisted on the American High Plains for thousands of years? Yes, he said, adding that his study's findings have as much to do with politics and the courts as they do with critters in the wild. How so? I asked.
The impetus for Ripple's study came in 2011, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the wolf from the endangered species list.  Wolf killing resumed immediately after an 85-year hiatus; 1,500 wolves have already been killed in Idaho alone. At the same time, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to delist Yellowstone's grizzly bears, though the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals wasn't buying it. The court ruled that the federal agency had not adequately explained how the demise of the whitebark pine, a principal high-country food source for the bears, would not threaten their already precarious existence. These concurrent events prompted a "green fire" moment for Ripple  –– a reference to Aldo Leopold, the father of the modern conservationism, who described the light he saw in the eyes of a dying mother wolf. That green fire led Leopold to the realization that predators were intrinsic to the natural world.

Though Ripple said he had studied Yellowstone wolves since their reintroduction in the mid-1990s, he decided he needed to make a closer and more detailed investigation of the relationship between wolves and grizzlies. What he discovered turned out to be very old news. The symbiotic relationship between the wolf and the grizzly was documented in petroglyphs on cave walls. These two beasts of the Northern wild have been engaged in a fascinating survival dance that began at the end of the last Ice Age.
Ripple's findings stand on the shoulders of his earlier work on the ecological effects of wolves and elk, which found that the re-introduction of wolves to Yellowstone reduced the size of the elk herd, and, in turn, relieved foraging pressure on berry-bearing shrubs that comprise a critical food source for other species, including grizzlies.  Surprise #3,474: All of these relationships come back to food and how one species impacts the food sources of another.
"We developed four different data sets to show that the re-introduction of the wolf to Yellowstone has had much deeper and more far-reaching effect on the flora and fauna of that ecosystem than we realized," said Ripple.
As wolves reduced the size of the elk herd in the Yellowstone ecosystem, chokecherry, serviceberry and huckleberry flora began to rebound and flourish in a long-term phase of "passive restoration," Ripple said. In time, and as other food sources declined, berry production might become more and more important as a source of nutrition in the grizzly bears' diet.
It's humbling, Ripple added, to realize that the cascading effects of wildlife management, or mismanagement, roll in both directions. If too many wolves are killed, the consequences could affect many other species.
"But if we let passive restoration run its course, we might just see some remarkable things happen," said Ripple. The riparian environment could once again become vibrant nurseries for birds, beaver, and a number of smaller critters.  If you kill too many wolves in Yellowstone, however, their population could drop below the threshold essential to maintaining a vigorous and resilient ecosystem.
If that happens, we might as well paint over the petroglyphs, cage the animals, pave the parks, dam the last free-flowing rivers, turn the last old-growth forests into toothpicks and stop pretending that we cherish the wild.
Paul VanDevelder is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News. The author of Savages and Scoundrels: The Untold Story of America's Road to Empire thru Indian Territory, he lives in Oregon.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Coyotes are one of the most monogamous mammals on the planet, never straying, staying loyal to one partner over the course of it's lifetime..........One of the reasons that Coyotes are able to raise large litters of pups successfully is due to the familial diligence of the breeding male to his offspring............No way that the female breeder could raise up to 12 pups in a given litter by herself...............Thanks to Chicago Coyote Study Chief, Stan Gehrt for his significant research into this aspect of Coyote biology

Urban Coyotes Never Stray: New Study Finds 100 Percent Monogamy

 Coyotes living in cities don't ever stray from their mates, and stay with each other till death do them part, according to a new study.

The finding sheds light on why the North American cousin of the dog and wolf, which is originally native to deserts and plains, is thriving today in urban areas.
Scientists with Ohio State University who genetically sampled 236 coyotes in the Chicago area over a six-year period found no evidence of polygamy -- of the animals having more than one mate -- nor of one mate ever leaving another while the other was still alive.

This was even though the coyotes exist in high population densities and have plenty of food to eat, which are conditions that often lead other dog family members, such as some fox species, to stray from their normal monogamy.
To cat around, as it were.
"I was surprised we didn't find any cheating going on," said study co-author Stan Gehrt, a wildlife ecologist with Ohio State's School of Environment and Natural Resources. "Even with all the opportunities for the coyotes to philander, they really don't.
"In contrast to studies of other presumably monogamous species that were later found to be cheating, such as arctic foxes and mountain bluebirds, we found incredible loyalty to partners in the study population."
The study appears in a recent issue of The Journal of Mammalogy.
The loyalty of coyotes to their mates may be a key to their success in urban areas, according to Gehrt.
Not only does a female coyote have the natural ability to produce large litters of young during times of abundance, such as when living in food-rich cities, she has a faithful partner to help raise them all.
"If the female were to try to raise those large litters by herself, she wouldn't be able to do it," said Gehrt, who holds appointments with the university's Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and Ohio State University Extension. "But the male spends just as much time helping to raise those pups as the female does."
Unlike the males of polygamous species, a male coyote "knows that every one of those pups is his offspring" and has a clear genetic stake in helping them survive, Gehrt said.
The research was done in Cook, Kane, DuPage and McHenry counties in northeast Illinois. All are in greater Chicago, which is home to about 9 million people and is the third-largest metropolitan area in the U.S.
It's also home to an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 coyotes. Gehrt has previously said he "couldn't find an area in Chicago where there weren't coyotes."
"You've got lots of coyotes in this landscape," said senior author Cecilia Hennessy, who conducted the study as a master's degree advisee of Gehrt and is now a doctoral student at Purdue University in Indiana. "You've got territories that abut each other. And coyotes can make long-distance forays. So you'd think, based on previous investigations of dog behavior, that cheating would be likely.
"But to find nothing, absolutely nothing, no evidence whatsoever of anything that wasn't monogamy, I was very surprised by that," she said.
The finding came through a wider study of Chicago-area coyotes that Gehrt has led since 2000. As the largest study ever on urban coyotes, it's a long-term effort to understand the animals' population ecology, how they adapt to urban life and how to reduce their conflicts with people.
"A powerful part of the new paper is that we have long-term field work, behavior observations, to accompany Cecilia's genetic work," Gehrt said. "So many genetic studies only analyze samples but know very little about their subjects, whereas we follow these individuals nearly every day and often to the completion of their lives. It's a nice mesh of lab and field work."
The scientists used live traps -- either padded foothold traps or non-choking neck snares -- to catch the coyotes for the study, although pups were simply dug from their dens and held by hand. Small blood and tissue samples were taken from all the animals. The adults, which were anesthetized, also were fitted with radio-collars for tracking their movements and ranges. Afterward, all the coyotes were released where they were caught.
Later, Hennessy, who previously was a plant genetics technician and biology major at the University of Cincinnati, used genetic techniques in the lab to test the animals' DNA and determine their family trees.
Coyotes maintain monogamy through long-term pair bonding, a term meaning an animal stays with the same mate for more than one breeding season, and sometimes for many.
A male coyote, for his part, practices diligent mate guarding -- keeping other males away from the female.
During estrus, which is the time when the female can become pregnant, the pair "will spend all their time together -- running, finding food, marking their territory. They'll always be right at each other's side."
"We've been able to follow some of these alpha pairs through time, and we've had some of them stay together for up to 10 years," Gehrt said. "They separate only upon the death of one of the individuals, so they truly adhere to that philosophy, 'Till death do us part,' " Hennessy said.
Funding was provided by the Cook County Animal and Rabies Control and by the Cook County Forest Preserve District, and by the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sick Wolf Killers in the Rocky Mountains...........They posted this picture on Facebook bragging that they are "Patriots" -------Are they not more like KLU KLUX KLAN haters?


Massachusetts Coywolf(Eastern Coyote) biologist Jon Way(Eastern Coyote/Coywolf Research ( commenting on last weeks Study revealing that Coywolves in a specific section of Algonquin National Park in Eastern Canada have been preying on adult Moose.............As Jon states through his communication with Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources chief Brent Patterson, the hybrids they refer to are hybrids between eastern coyotes/coywolves and eastern wolves. He says that these hybrids (essentially hybrids of hybrids) are only found in this small band around Algonquin and are bigger than the typical eastern coyote/coywolf. So certainly more research needs to take place with "eastern coyotes" in the Northeast to see if they really do prey on moose to any extent.

To: Rick Meril
From: Jon Way

Agreed Rick and adding eastern wolves, despite hybridization, would get us closer to a wolf-sized animal. Agreed...
To: Jon Way
From: Rick Meril

The"canid soup" continues to "add ingredients",,,,,,,Jon,,,,,,,if Eastern Wolves were rewilded into NewEngland,,,,likley the same admix would ultimately occur,,,,,,Eastern Wolves and Coywolves(eastern coyotes) mating to create even larger bodied hybrids......just like in humans when the already taller daughter who comes from a nordic(taller) dad and a japaneese(smaller) mom,,,,,,then has kids with another nordic manI--thenext generation are likely even taller

Let this happen with wolves and coytotes in. The eastern usa and ultimately the "wolf" ecosytem top down functions on beaver,moose, elk and deer will once. Again be fulfilled

Tjanks for the article!

Keep me posted and thanks

Hi Rick,

Thanks for this. I have been following it this weekend and got the journal article (attached) for your interest...

I have also talked with Brent Patterson and he is saying that the hybrids they refer to are hybrids between eastern coyotes/coywolves and eastern wolves. He says that these hybrids (essentially hybrids of hybrids) are only found in this small band around Algonquin and are bigger than the typical eastern coyote/coywolf. So certainly more research needs to take place with "eastern coyotes" in the Northeast to see if they really do prey on moose to any extent.

best, Jon

Please visit my websites: (1) Eastern Coyote/Coywolf Research ( where you can purchase my books Suburban Howls and My Yellowstone Experience, read peer-reviewed Publications, and support creating a wildlife watching refuge in the town of Barnstable; (2) My Yellowstone Experience which details my experiences viewing the spectacular hydrothermal features, scenery, and wildlife within Yellowstone National Park; and (3) Coywolf which focuses on describing the hybrid origin of eastern coyotes/coywolves.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A new study by Norwegian University of Life Sciences is concerning as it relates to the long term impacts of humans hunting and killing large trophic Carnivores like Wolves, Pumas and Bears.........These animals’ natural ecological function as predators is to instill “the landscape of fear” in their prey(thank you John Laundre for that theory!)............................ But they become victims of that landscape instead, spending more time and energy being vigilant, and less out hunting............... That means they may not be as effective at controlling numbers of prey species like moose or elk............... And that can lead in turn to overgrazing and a cascade of other effects on the habitat................. Over the long-term, persistent hunting may also make the predators themselves less big and bad.................... I am with Outdoor writer and ecologist George Wuerthner and PREDATOR DEFENSE Chief Brooks Fahy who are calling for an end or limit to trophy hunting................And State Game Commissions need to halt Carnivore hunts based on traits like the lion’s mane or the Kodiak bear’s size.............These traits---- social dominance, size, and raw ferocity—are the very things that enable these animals to function as effective "ecological services" predators in the first place

The Surprising Fallout 

From Trophy Hunting 

for Wolves and Bears

A top predator that must constantly look over its
 shoulder for fear of human hunters, may not be a
top predator any more.

Humans have probably been hunting big, scary
 predators for as long as we have been human,
 and for the obvious reasons: They are big. They
 are scary. And they are competition. The fear
goes deep in our culture— the Big Bad Wolf was
 appearing in folk tales in the early middle ages.
 When I spent a little time on foot in lion habitat a
 few years ago, the fear felt even more deeply 
rooted, down somewhere in my gut. Hunting helps
 restore our precious illusion of control. Even today,
 and even among people who may privately practice, 
trophy hunting of top predators can seem like a useful
 tool. The theory is that trophy fees—$10,000 for a lion
, say—help pay to protect habitat and keep out poachers. 
These fees can also provide economic benefits to local

Large Lynx killed for sport

 In theory, that
tolerance among
 people who still 
live with large, dangerous animals outside
 their garden gates.
Hunting some species may thus serve as the
 means to increase
their numbers— killing predators in order to
 save them.As 
hunters tend to know too well, even 
white-tailed deer or Canada
 geese know what to do and where to avoid
 when hunting season
 starts. It’s the same for predators, according
 to the new study: 
Brown bears tend to shift their daily foraging
 and resting routines
 when human hunters arrive. So do lions.
 Wolves may actually
 relocate their breeding sites. 

 These animals’ natural ecological function
 as predators is to
 instill “the landscape of fear” in their prey. 
But they become 
victims of that landscape instead, spending 
more time and 
energy being vigilant, and less out hunting.
 That means they 
may not be as effective at controlling numbers 
of prey species 
like moose or elk.  And that can lead in turn
 to overgrazing 
and a cascade of other effects on the habitat.
 Over the long-term,
 persistent hunting may also make the 
predators themselves
 less big and bad. The long history of hunting
 and persecution
 in Europe may be one reason, the study 
suggests, that European
 brown bears are not nearly as fierce as
 grizzlies in North America,
 though they are the same species, Ursus arctos

“Long-term, human-caused selection may
 explain the reduced
 aggression of brown bears towards people, 
their nocturnal
 behavior, and their higher investment in 

 .Hunters’ preference for large male trophies
 can have 
dramatic and destructive social effects, too.
 When a big 
brown bear is shot, for instance, infanticide 
increases over 
the next two years as other males move in
 to court the female.
 The same thing happens with lions.

Wolf shot from airplane

Craig Packer
 of the University
 of Minnesota’s
 Lion Research 
Center told me several years ago, when I 
interviewed him about his 
research in Tanzania. A young male may
 take the place of a hunting

 victim long enough to begin a new litter, 
said Packer, who is not
 connected to the study. That new father then 
needs to stick around 
to protect those cubs for another two years. 
But a lot of younger males 
lack the moxie to hold off challengers. Social
 upheaval often ensues, 
with one male after another fathering cubs,
 but faltering as their
 protector, and none of the litters ever
 reaching maturity. 

The new paper does not advocate a hunting 
ban. Controlled, licensed
 hunting of predators may still be a better
 alternative than leaving a 
habitat open to poachers,  Instead, the paper
 urges conservationists 
to start thinking beyond mere predator numbers,
 to larger ecological

 The authors also make recommendations for
 managing large
 predators more thoughtfully. Among them: 
Establish core areas
 or large-carnivore reserves where predators 
can be predators,
 without fear of hunting. In places where hunting 
is allowed, limit 
it by space and season to minimize the
 ecological effects. And 
end or limit trophy hunting based on traits
 like the lion’s mane or
 the Kodiak bear’s size.These traits—
status symbols, social 
dominance, size, and a little raw ferocity—
are the very things
 that enable these animals to function as
 big, scary predators
 in the first place.