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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, July 31, 2014

Biologist and good friend Cristina Eisenberg dives further into landscape connectivity as a key criteria for the persistence of our native carnivore suite in a world of changing weather, human population and landscape alteration.........Cristina sums up her poignant article saying: "To ensure persistence of large carnivores in an increasingly hotter, more fragmented world, we need to ensure connectivity of metapopulations over very long distances and even international boundaries, such as between grizzly bears in Banff and those in Glacier National Park"............. "This calls for maintaining a permeable matrix"............ "But further, we need to consider resilience when creating endangered species recovery plans"

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Eisenberg, Cristina <>
Date: Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Subject: New blog post on carnivore survival in the matrix!
To: Rick Meril <>

Dear Rick,

I hope you are well. My Arctic field expedition got rescheduled for two weeks from now (the ship had engine failure), so I am around during the first half of August, working on things. Here is the link to my most recent Island Press Field Notes blog post, please share with your readers.

Thanks, Rick, for getting the word out on carnivores.



Wolverine Taking the Bait at a DNA Study Hair Snare to Study Connectivity within the Matrix in Banff. Photo by Anthony Clevenger, Banff National Park. Used with permission.
Wolverine taking the bait at a DNA study hair snare to study connectivity within the matrix in Banff. Photo by Anthony Clevenger, Banff National Park. Used with permission.
Ecological resilience has great bearing on carnivore conservation. In the 1970s, ecologist C. S. (a.k.a. “Buzz”) Holling first defined resilience as the ability of ecosystems to absorb disturbance and still persist in their basic structure and function. With regard to the large carnivores (or any species), ecologists measure resilience by looking at how connected their populations are. They measured resilience via population connectivity, because of the importance of genetics to the health and vigor of populations.
Why is resilience so important? Climate change, widely evident worldwide, will increase habitat fragmentation and shift plant community ranges. Today winters are measurably shorter than thirty years ago, the glaciers disappearing apace. Snow-dependent species like the wolverine (Gulo gulo) will be hit hardest by climate change as they find their habitat shrinking to the highest peaks. Carnivore ecologist John Weaver says, “Nowadays, climate change has put such an exclamation mark on Holling’s breakthrough concept about the importance of resilience. The question is how are these animals going to sustain their resiliency into a very different future? Big, intact, well-connected landscapes offer the best opportunity for animals to move and find their new ‘normal’ in terms of environmental conditions.”
To apply the concept of resilience, corridor ecologists such as Jodi Hilty begin by defining populations at three nested levels. At the smallest scale we find the individualorganism, and at the next scale the local population, also called a deme. At the largest scale lies the metapopulation, also known as a “population of populations.” The space between local populations is the matrix. Resilience accrues from the above three population levels and an organism’s ability to move well within the matrix.
Grizzly Bear and Cubs Using Wildlife Overpass in Banff National Park, Demonstrating Connectivity within the Matrix. Photo by Anthony Clevenger, Banff National Park. Used with permission.
Grizzly bear and cubs using wildlife overpass in Banff National Park, demonstrating connectivity within the matrix. Photo by Anthony Clevenger, Banff National Park. Used with permission.

Using grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) in Banff National Park as an example, a female grizzly is the individual. A female with cubs plus two or three other bears that inhabit the same small valley in the park make up the local population. All the bears in Banff historically formed one population, but the Trans Canada Highway (Highway 1) and related human development has fractured it into two or more populations and diminished the natural movements and exchange of animals and their genes. To ensure genetic connectivity and that species don’t become extinct (called persistence), we need connectivity between populations within a metapopulation. This means having a permeable matrix.
Weaver took a close look at large carnivore resilience in North America, working at the three scales described above. He assessed individual resilience based on the capacity of an individual to switch between foods or habitats should one of these factors decline. He evaluated local population resilience based on mortality rates, which include stochastic (unpredictable) events, such as climate fluctuations and disease. At the metapopulation level, he evaluated resilience based on effective dispersal of young animals—which had to do with connectivity of travel corridors. He added two more dimensions to this resiliency framework: sensitivity to human disturbance and response to climate change.
Taking the above into consideration, he found that some species, such as the wolf (Canis lupus), which has a high reproductive rate and high survival of its young, are far more resilient than others, such as the wolverine, which has a low reproductive rate and low survival of its young. Some species are less resilient because they have very narrow habitat and food needs and are poor hunters. For example, lynx (Lynx Canadensis) can only survive by eating snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) and are such poor hunters that they frequently starve to death.
To ensure persistence of large carnivores in an increasingly hotter, more fragmented world, we need to ensure connectivity of metapopulations over very long distances and even international boundaries, such as between grizzly bears in Banff and those in Glacier National Park. This calls for maintaining a permeable matrix. But further, we need to consider resilience when creating endangered species recovery plans.
Cristina Eisenberg

About Cristina Eisenberg

Dr. Cristina Eisenberg is a conservation biologist at Oregon State University, a Smithsonian Research Associate, and a Boone and Crockett Fellow who studies how wolves affect forest ecosystems throughout the West. She is the author of The Wolf's Tooth and the new book The Carnivore Way.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Buckeye state of Ohio is staging a wildlife comeback with Coyotes, Black Bears and Bobcats increasingly calling the state home.............Since 1970, 86 of Ohio's 88 counties have had verified Bobcat sightings with 2013 marking 4 consecutive years of 200 of the cats being seen................Ohio, once known as the "old Northwest during the French and Indian War(1756-63) and at that time a cornucopia of Wolves, Pumas, Black Bears, fishers, Martens and perhaps even some Wolverines is now once again proving that if we provide habitat, and have some nearby source populations,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, the expression "build it and they will come" becomes reality

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 8:35 AM

ODNR Division of Wildlife biologists verified 200 bobcat
 sightings in Ohio in 2013. This is the fourth consecutive
 year more than 100 verified sightings were recognized 
in Ohio, and the first time sightings increased to 200.

• Of the 200 verified sightings, 113 were recognized
 from photographs or videos. Additional sightings 
were verified through road kills, incidentally trapped 
animals (then released) and sightings by qualified

• Noble County continues to have the most verified
 sightings, with 32. An additional 106 sightings were
 confirmed in the counties immediately surrounding 
Noble (Guernsey, Belmont, Monroe, Washington, 
Morgan, and Muskingum).

• Bobcats were confirmed in 36 counties during 
2013, and have been verified in 49 counties since 

• The division collected an additional 226 unverified 
bobcat sightings in 2013. Most unverified sightings 
were reported through species observation cards. 
Unverified sightings have occurred in 86 of Ohio’s 
88 counties since 1970.

• Bobcats once roamed across Ohio, but they were
 extirpated around 1850 as more people settled within 
the state. A handful of unverified bobcat sightings in
 the 1960s announced the return of the species.

• The bobcat was recently removed from the Ohio 
Endangered and Threatened Species List, but it 
remains protected in the state.

Baiting Grizzlies with food to collar them for research purposes is one thing.................Allowing baiting to make it easier to hunt Griz or Black Bears violates the spirit of the North American Conservation Ethos and Fair Chase

Biologists to extend grizzly bear research in Madison Range


U.S. Geological Survey bulletin

POSTED: 12:46 PM Jul 25 2014   UPDATED: 2:47 PM Jul 25 2014

As part of ongoing efforts required under the Endangered Species Act to monitor the population of grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem, the U.S. Geological Survey, in conjunction with Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, is working to inform the public that pre-baiting and scientific trapping operations are ongoing within the Gravelly and Madison Ranges of Montana.  Biologists, with the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST), began work in southwest Montana on June 21st and will continue trapping efforts through August 15th.  Trapping operations can include a variety of activities, but all areas where work is being conducted will have major access points marked with warning signs.  It is critical that all members of the public heed these signs.

Monitoring of grizzly bear distribution and other activities are vital to ongoing recovery of grizzlies in the Yellowstone Ecosystem.  In order to attract bears, biologists utilize natural food sources such as fresh road-killed deer and elk.  Potential trapping sites are baited with these natural foods and if indications are that grizzly bears are in the area, culvert traps or foot snares will be used to capture the bears.  Once trapped, the bears are handled in accordance with strict protocols developed by the IGBST.
Whenever bear trapping activities are being conducted for scientific purposes, the area around the site will be posted with bright warning signs to inform the public of the activities occurring.  These signs are posted along the major access points to the trapping site.  It is important that the public heed these signs and do not venture into an area that has been posted.  For more information regarding grizzly bear trapping efforts call the IGBST hotline at 406-994-6675.

Irks me everytime I see States allowing baiting of animals...........In this case, Maine allowing hunters to use food baits to lure in black bears for easy "target practice".............Maine voters almost banned baiting a decade ago but the "bait advocates" won out by a small margin............With the outlook on environmental issues so much more polarized now, hard to predict if the argument that the state economy will be hurt if we make hunters actually stalk bears rather than "peanut gallery" them will win out again.

Maine bear hunters set bait 

for perhaps last time

By PATRICK WHITTLE, Associated Press | July 26, 2014 | Updated: July 26, 2014 2:52pm

Beginning Saturday, hunters can start luring bears by setting bait — typically, sugary high-calorie human food. But a November ballot question, if approved by voters, could prohibit hunting bears while using bait, dogs or traps. Hunting without the three methods, which supporters of the ban call "fair chase," would remain legal.
Supporters of the ban say bear baiting is cruel and habituates bears to humans. Opponents contend that a ban would wield a devastating blow to the state's tourism-dependent economy.
State Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife officials oppose the ban, saying bear hunting — and bear baiting — is necessary to manage the state's bear population. Daryl DeJoy, executive director of the Wildlife Alliance of Maine, says bear baiting has actually increased the state's bear population, which is about 30,000, a 30 percent increase from a decade ago.

"We're putting all these millions of pounds of junk food in the woods, sending these bears to sleep with a lot of high-calorie food, increasing their reproductive capabilities," DeJoy said.
The state's bear hunting season begins Aug. 25 and ends Nov. 29. Maine is the only state that allows all three of the hunting methods that the ban would eliminate. Baiting, which accounts for 80 percent of the state's bear hunt, must take place at least a quarter-mile from any dwellings.
Chad Deabay of Oxbow, owner of Oxbow Lodge and a bear hunt outfitter, says this year's bear season is attracting keen interest from hunters who are aware of the upcoming referendum. Meanwhile, hunting outfitters, he said, are in "panic mode" over the possibility of losing the use of bait — and the fear is shared by hotel owners, taxidermists and local restaurants, who all benefit from the influx of tourists. More than 1,700 of the 2,845 bears harvested in Maine in 2013 were caught by out-of-state residents.
"Some folks are coming this year because they're scared that they might not get to do it again," Deabay said.
The vote is coming in a year that has seen an increased amount of nuisance bear complaints from residents. An average year yields about 500 complaints of bears destroying property, stealing food or wandering close to a residential area, but this year's number is already 538, state officials said.
Whether the bears take the bait depends on the presence of natural food sources, said Jennifer Vashon, a state bear biologist. The availability of natural food appears moderate this year, she said. Bears tend to go after bait more aggressively when their natural food is scarce.
The vote will come 10 years after Maine voters narrowly rejected a similar measure

Monday, July 28, 2014

Praise for the BATTLECREEK ENQUIRER newspaper's Editorial staff coming out in favor of letting the people of Michigan decide whether wolves should be hunted and trapped.............Here is their take on a Wolf ballot initiative----"We’re not big fans of making policy through ballot initiatives — a blunt instrument that rises and falls less on substance or merit than it does on emotion, and few issues are more emotional — and polarizing — than the debate over wolf management"......... "Yet it’s unseemly — and undemocratic — for an elected body to so blatantly ignore the will of its citizens, particularly absent a compelling public interest that might justify taking an unpopular stand"................"The Republican-controlled Legislature’s zeal to appease a vocal minority — even if it means circumventing voters — only fuels that war"......................"There is no imperative — no pressing public interest — to establish a wolf hunt, certainly not against the will of the majority of Michigan voters, all of whom share an equal stake in the preservation of our natural resources"............ "If lawmakers give a lick about the rights of its citizens and the democratic process, they will let voters decide this issue"

To view the contents on, go to:

EDITORIAL: Lawmakers should allow voters to settle debate on wolf hunt

Jul. 26, 2014   |  
The state Legislature has a
reputation for not just
cherry-picking battles,
but choosing winners
 and losers, as well.
We still hold out hope,
 however, that lawmakers
 will do the right thing and
 sit out the pitched battle
over the hunting of
wolves in the Upper Peninsula.
The Board of Canvassers
 on Thursday unanimously
 approved a third wolf petition
 for the November election,
 teeing up an opportunity for
lawmakers to nullify two
 other proposals already on
 the ballot.

The third ballot proposal
 comes courtesy of Citizens
 for Professional Wildlife
Management, which turned
 in nearly 300,000 valid
 signatures, easily
surpassing the required 258,088.
The Legislature has 40
days either to pass the
 initiative, come up with
 a competing proposal,
reject it, or do nothing.
This is one case in which
 doing nothing, which our
 Legislature has been
 known to do on far more
 pressing issues, is the only
 decent alternative.

Were the Legislature to
 pass the initiative — and
 it’s already voted twice
 in the past two years to
 support a wolf hunt —
 it automatically becomes
 law. If they reject it or
 do nothing, the initiative
will appear on the
November ballot along
with two other anti-wolf
 hunting proposals
 that have already been
 approved for the ballot,
 leaving the whole issue
up to voters.
We’re not big fans of
making policy through
 ballot initiatives — a
 blunt instrument that
rises and falls less on
 substance or merit than
 it does on emotion, and
 few issues are more
 emotional — and polarizing
 — than the debate over
wolf management. Yet it’
s unseemly — and
 undemocratic — for
 an elected body to so
blatantly ignore the will
 of its citizens, particularly
 absent a compelling publi
c interest that might justify
 taking an unpopular stand.

Strictly speaking, we do
 not oppose the hunting
of gray wolves. Those who
 do have legitimate objections
 about the haste in which the
Legislature cleared the way
for A hunt, basing its decision
 not on science but on the
discredited ravings of a few
zealots whom it seems would
like nothing better than to see
 the gray wolf again disappear.
Neither are we impressed,
however, with anti-hunting
crowd’s vitriol toward those
 they disparagingly refer to
as “trophy hunters,” as though
 the only legitimate hunters
 were those who did so for
 sustenance and some
spiritual connection to
our lost wilderness.
Wildlife management
isn’t romantic nor, for
many, is hunting, but
hunters play an integral
 role in the states’
management of the wild,
 and those states, including
Michigan, have an excellent
 track record of managing
other formerly rare species
 such as deer, elk, mountain
 lions and black bears. What's
 more, wildlife management
 experts and biologists
understand that wolves are
good for the ecosystem and
 are highly motivated to see
 the species succeed. So are we.

Forget hunting. A far greater
threat to the future of the gray
 wolf in North America is the
vicious cultural war that puts
this beautiful predator species
 — demonized by myth and
ignorance — in the middle of
 a zero-sum game that
 marginalizes efforts to
educate the public and
create consensus-based policies.
The Republican-controlled
Legislature’s zeal to appease
 a vocal minority — even if i
t means circumventing voters
 — only fuels that war.There is
 no imperative — no pressing
 public interest — to establish
 a wolf hunt, certainly not against
the will of the majority of Michigan
 voters, all of whom share an
equal stake in the preservation
 of our natural resources. If
lawmakers give a lick about
 the rights of its citizens and
 the democratic process, they
 will let voters decide this issue.

Are Pumas more social than historically thought to be?......................Using GPS location data from 18 Jackson Hole-area Pumas and DNA tests from 68 animals, the Kelly-based Teton Cougar Project crunched the numbers and affirmed that local lions were social...................... But their associations with one another were not at all driven by the presence of wolves, less food or the proximity of siblings or offspring...............Unrelated male and female cats associated most of the time, followed by females rubbing shoulders with other females.......Lead Researcher Mark Elbroch said the following about the "spatial associations" that he and his team were documenting-----"Associations were nearly seven times more frequent during the breeding season — February 1 to July 31 — compared with the rest of the year"............... "That seasonal rise is not just because of male and female lions are canoodling"........... "It can also be attributed to fluctuations in the whereabouts of prey"...........What exactly is going on in these associations is being studied further------As Elbroch goes on to say-----“No one knows what these guys are doing".......... “It really creates a mythology".............”“What I’m excited to do is address this mythology directly"......... “What are they doing?".......... "Are they fighting?".......... "Are they mating?"

 the Jackson Hole News & Guide-- click here ( --READ FULL STORY

Cougars not so solitary, Teton researchers find
Jackson Hole’s lions hang out together more than expected.
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For years there has been talk around Jackson Hole of mountain lion “prides” that has run against the grain of the conventional belief that the large felines are a purely solitary species.
Perhaps, researchers with the Teton Cougar Project pondered, lions were teaming up to better defend themselves against wolves. Or maybe it was because elk and deer were falling off in numbers, forcing cougars to share finite food sources. Possibly, the biologists hypothesized, the social behavior was because the cats’ home ranges were near those of siblings or parents, and they were associating with their own blood.

It turns out that all of those hypotheses were flat wrong, Cougar Project team leader Mark Elbroch said.
“What’s really exciting about science — when it actually works — it’s that you can test these ideas,” Elbroch said. “I thought of [the study] as a wonderful example of science at work.”
Using GPS location data from 18 Jackson Hole-area cats and DNA tests from 68 animals, the Kelly-based Teton Cougar Project crunched the numbers and affirmed that local lions were social. But their associations with one another were not at all driven by more wolves, less food or the proximity of relatives.

The results were recently published in the academic journal Acta Ethologica.
“In fact,” Elbroch said, “what we found is that interactions occur between the least-related individuals most often.”
Some years back, two mother lions with kittens tracked by the Cougar Project — F51 and F61 — were seen “plainly hanging out” with each other consistently for months.
“Every time one of them made a kill, the other one would show up,” Elbroch said. “The assumption and the story was that they must be sisters.”
Instead genetics tests proved that the two female felines were as “unrelated as they could be,” he said.

Over the course of an eight-year period, the Cougar Project detected 92 “spatial associations” between GPS-collared cats, defined as any time when two animals were within 200 meters of each other for four hours or less. Another 190 “spatial overlaps” were documented, defined as a period when cats were within 200 meters of each other for between four hours and two weeks.
Male and female cats associated most of the time, followed by females rubbing shoulders with other females.
Males were tracked within 200 meters of one another just six times in eight years, a rate of association that was “statistically insignificant,” the Acta Ethologica paper said.
Associations were nearly seven times more frequent during the breeding season — February 1 to July 31 — compared with the rest of the year. That seasonal rise is not just because of male and female lions are canoodling, Elbroch said. It can also be attributed to fluctuations in the whereabouts of prey.
“Winter’s a big deal here,” he said. “There’s deep snow, serious ungulate migrations, large congregations of elk.

“This changes everything for mountain lions, including where they are.”
The Acta Ethologica paper uses the word “associations” rather than “interactions” because of some limitations that Elbroch is up front about.
The Cougar Project study relied only on hard data acquired from GPS collars and did not attempt to weave in observations made via remote video camera.
But an analysis of cougar relations from the video feed, which includes 50 adult cat interactions, is coming soon, Elbroch said.
“No one knows what these guys are doing,” he said. “It really creates a mythology.”“What I’m excited to do is address this mythology directly,” Elbroch said. “What are they doing? Are they fighting? Are they mating?”