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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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Monday, September 29, 2014

Red wolf video

Red wolf video

L.B is a dedicated reader of this blog and a life long naturalist.................Today, he provides us with his take on the "canid soup" that likely runs through the population of North Carolina Coyotes and remnant Eastern Wolves(The Eastern Wolf Restoration Program is under review currently by the USFW)..........While I have commented previously that the Red Wolf Restoration should continue at least until there is a large enough population that might insulate itself from Coyote admixing, many, including L.B. take the position that the most resilient canid, and one that might persist into the forever despite our human interference very well could be a hybrid "Coywolf"(so named by Massachusetts biologist Jon Way)..............Able to hunt both alone and in groups, the Coywolf(Eastern Coyote) surely has demonstrated a "wily" ability to persist under all type of persecution unlike the Gray and Eastern Wolves whose more social pack nature(once disrupted, chaos and confusion and often death of remaining packmates results) has allowed humans an easier hand at their disruption and extirpation from huge expanses of their former ranges..............Nonetheless, lets get some more of those Eastern Wolves into the southeast and beyond,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,and then let nature take its course producing the most fit canid to both fulfill deer catching ecological functions as well as putting up with us, the ultimate predator on the planet


I work at the N. C. Zoo, where we captive breed Red Wolves, and some pups born here have been successfully placed in wild Red Wolf dens to be adopted and raised wild--both a population boost and genetic diversity boost for the 100 to 150 wild Red Wolves on the coast in N. C. We JUST had one of the programs representatives come and give a lecture at our zoo, updating us on how things are going(GREAT program! I hope it continues--there is an effort afoot to end it, alas!)).

Red Wolf(Eastern Wolf)

 I actually asked if anyone in her program knew of any "coywolf" genes in N. C.--they HAVE been documented as far south as Virginia so far. She didn't have any current knowledge on that, but there IS going to be an URBAN COYOTE study in Charlotte, N. C. starting up, and no doubt they'll be doing genetic tests.

 I'll be VERY surprised if various different elements of the "canis soup" don't turn up! I personally saw a local news segment a few years back where someone got film of a wild canid alongside a highway near Raleigh, N. C. To me, it did NOT look like your typical coyote--the muzzle was much heavier(1st thing I noticed), and it looked to me to be at least part Red Wolf(and regularly observing some of this "old bloodline" of "pure" Red Wolves here at the N. C. Zoo, I'm purty familiar with the differences). No doubt lots of crossbreeding has gone on--an effort is made to try and control this(a WASTE, in my opinion! 

Eastern Coyote(Coyowolf)

I'd personally take those crossbred pups and disperse them elsewhere, to get AS MUCH of that old Red Wolf genetic influence around as possible!), but no way can they get to 100% of the crosses, who then no doubt disperse widely upon maturity. Same thing happened up in the Smoky Mountain National Park back in the 1990's--though "officially" canceled(due to various problems, INCLUDING Red Wolves crossbreeding regularly with the local populous coyotes!), and "officially" reported to have retrieved all the "pure" Red Wolves, MANY hybrids remained and have continued to influence the coyote population there, as well! 

Western Coyote(they bred with Eastern Wolves to create Eastern Coyotes(Coywolves)

So that's at BOTH ENDS of the state of N. C., AND eastern Tennessee, AND these guys can disperse for many miles, so whether officialdom wants to acknowledge it, I personally believe there ARE quite a few wild coy-wolf types out there with some of the old bloodline Red Wolf influence! But remember, that's NOT official(yet...) And I say, power to them! The return of the NEW "Red Wolves"!!!.....L.B.
Red Wolves and Coyotes

Are red wolves and coyotes the same 
species?No, red wolves (Canis rufus) and coyotes
 (Canis latrans) are two separate species. 
However, they are closely related 
evolutionarily and do share a recent 
common ancestor (see Chambers et al.
 2012 for full details).  Red wolves 
are larger; measuring about five feet 
long nose to tail and weighing 45-80
 pounds.  Coyotes are approximately 
 three feet in length, and weigh 25-35
 pounds.  These are averages, and 
 there can be some size overlap between
 the species given individual variation.

Red Wolf:                                            Coyote:
Red WolfCoyote
Photo credits: B.

/USFWS (red wolf), Jerry
 Murray (coyote)

Red wolves are mostly brown and buff

 colored with some black along their 
backs; there is sometimes a reddish 
color behind their ears, on their muzzle,
 and toward the backs of their legs. 
 They have tall pointed ears and long,
 slender legs with large feet. Coyotes 
can be observed with a variety of 
color variations ranging from buff, 
brown, grey, or black. Generally, 
coyotes tend to have a longer, 
narrower muzzle than red wolves.

Red Wolf:                      Coyote:
Red WolfCoyote
Photo credits: 

B. Bartel/USFWS

Do red wolves breed with coyotes?The short answer is yes, they can.
 Red wolves (Canis rufus), gray 
wolves (Canis lupus), coyotes 
(Canis latrans), and domestic dogs 
(Canis lupus familiaris) and are 
capable of interbreeding and 
producing fertile offspring.  
While social structures and
 territoriality usually prevent 
such interbreeding, the 
combination of a small red 
wolf population, a large coyote
 population, and limited space
 in the recovery area can result
 in a breakdown of the natural

During the initial site selection 

process for the red wolf 
restoration program, the
 northeastern North Carolina
 (NENC) Red Wolf Recovery
 Area was uninhabited by
 coyotes.  However, coyotes
 have expanded their range 
eastward; individuals were 
observed in NENC beginning 
in the early-1990s.

  As a result, an adaptive 
management plan was needed
 to eliminate the threat of 
hybridization.  Research has 
 demonstrated that sterilized
 coyotes remain territorial and 
continue to defend space. It is 
this concept of holding space 
that is being applied to manage
 hybridization by providing 
managers time, information, 
and a higher degree of control
 over the recovery landscape, 
while simultaneously providing
 reproductive advantage to the 
red wolf.

   Ultimately, sterilization is a 
method that allows territorial 
space to be held until that animal
 can be replaced naturally or by 
management actions. Sterile 
 “placeholder” coyotes are then 
naturally replaced when the larger 
red wolves displace or kill the 
coyote.  Occasionally, we may
 remove a coyote from an area 
when we have the opportunity 
to insert a wild or translocated
 red wolf into that territory or 
if we have a red wolf dispersing
 into that area.

The bottom line is that space is 

limited in the recovery area.
 Ideally, within the restored red
 wolf population in NENC, that
 space is initially best occupied 
by breeding pairs of red wolves, 
non-breeding mixed (red wolf/
coyote) pairs, and non-breeding
 coyote pairs.  By sterilizing 
 coyotes, introgression of non-
wolf genes will be controlled 
and territories will be unavailable
 for colonization by breeding 
coyote pairs or red wolf-coyote 
pairs.  As the red wolf population
 grows, having space available for
 dispersing red wolves becomes 
 increasingly important, and this
 space is provided through natural 
 interspecific competition and/or 
management actions.

Coyote being fitted
A coyote being fitted for a radio-telemetry collar. 
Photo by B. Bartel/USFWS.

Currently, in addition to the ~70+ radio-
collared red wolves, we are actively 
tracking and monitoring 60+ sterilized, 
placeholder coyotes.  They are captured,
 processed, and released similar to red
 wolves (with the additional step of 
sterilization at a local veterinary hospital).

Last Updated: 9/23/14

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Frequent contributors to this blog and good friends Christopher Spatz and John Laundre have devised a way to overcome the hunter bias that has thwarted scientific focused wildlife management by state wildlife agencies, and has instead caused these Agencies to implement a "wildlife farm husbandry" paradigm that bloats the land with hoofed browsers like deer and limits the number of critical ecosystem trophic carnivores like Wolves and Pumas..................Currently, Hunter and fishermen license tag fees along with Federal fees(Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson) fuel the state wildlife Agency coffers.................................In a 2009 High Country News editorial entitled Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, outdoor journalist Hal Herring sums up the sniveling complaints by conservationists to this paradigm---- “Meanwhile, year after year, anti-hunting and allegedly pro-wildlife groups bemoan hunters’ influence over wildlife management, and celebrate the decline in hunter numbers".................. "Yet they offer no methods to replace the lost wildlife and habitat revenues that result from those declines"..........Chris and John agree it is time to stop complaining and instead time to put forth a constructive alternative source of wildlife funding that would counterbalance the influence of hunters regarding the wildlife matrix on the land-----They state:"Let's start scaring the capri off outdoor recreation industry executives making billions from wildlife watchers while complaining about wildlife management but refusing to fund wildlife"............ "If the producers and sellers won't support a wildlife excise tax, it's high time that outdoor gear consumers demand that a piece of our gear-purchase taxes get reinvested in our wildlife"................And finally, the Big ten conservation non-profits(so-called Gang of Green) like THE NATURE CONSERVANCY/SIERRA CLUB/WILDERNESS SOCIETY,, ET AL also need to step up and focus on creating a federal non-game funding answer to the current hunter focused system................Chris and John are full disclosure and reveal the truth of the current wildlife funding dilemma in saying that "Predator and wildlife advocates have no one to blame but ourselves"



Wildlife Recreation 

   A Novel Formula for

 Dedicated Wildlife Funding

Christopher Spatz and John Laundre'

Saturday, September 27, 2014

With hunters and homeowners noticing what they perceive to be an increase in Bobcat sightings, the Connecticut Dept. of Environmental Protection is looking to conduct field studies sometime next year to get a more scientific read on the "Bobs"................DEEP’s Wildlife Division currently averages more than 200 bobcat reports per year across the state compared to 65 such calls 20 years ago, 75 calls annually during the 90's and 115 at the turn of the century.............According to Peter Reid, the assistant director at WILDLIFE IN CRISIS in Weston, one likely reason for the apparent population increase is that bobcats have been moving their dens closer to humans to avoid contact with Coyotes, which are known to displace Bobcats to the fringes of Coyote territory....However, if this is occurring, then Connecticut Bobcats are indeed showing themselves to be adaptive as historically they shunned in-close living to humans.................."Close-in" denning in human dominated neighborhoods is very much practiced by foxes, who also are sympatric with Coyotes and who definitely make their optimum living on the perimeters of Coyote territory....................As it relates back to how man and Bobcats have historically co-existed in Connecticut,. it is a fact that they were not protected and were viewed as a threat to agriculture and more desirable game species, such as deer............ In addition, the dramatic deforestation that peaked in the 1800's greatly reduced the habitat available to bobcats................... While Bobcats do not prefer mature forest, they do flourish in areas with thick horizontal and vertical understory vegetation................... In the 1970's, a large increase in the value of bobcat pelts raised concerns that they could be extirpated from the state.......... At that time, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection reclassified the bobcat as a protected furbearer with no hunting or trapping seasons.............Even with this type protection, , housing and commercial development decreased the amount of suitable habitat confining the remnant Bobcat population to the northwestern corner of the state..................If the Bobs are indeed making a comeback, it is good to see that state Environmental Officials are stating that "Bobcats are a part of our ecosystem" and therefore a live and let live management model is what is going to be practiced......... “Our yards are part of their habitat and it’s important for people to understand that they’re here and they’re not dangerous"

Bobcat increase triggers population study

ber 27, 2014 in Latest Local NewsLead News · 0 Comments

Friday, September 26, 2014

Natural Resources Defense Council Blogger Christine Wilcox reporting on how the increase in livestock grazing in the Upper Green River area of Wyoming is causing a population sink for Grizzlies to occur there.......Conflicts between Ranchers and Griz have increased in frequency over the past decade with the USFW Service deciding not to seek a co-existence paradigm with the bruins but rather to up the number of females that can be killed in this region................Christine goes on to say-------"The Forest Service estimates that female grizzly bear survival has declined on all but two of the public grazing allotments in the Upper Green area"............ "This means that removing female grizzlies from these allotments is negatively impacting the overall Greater Yellowstone population"............... "State and federal agencies only expect female grizzlies to use this area more and more in the future, so the challenges to female (and cub) survival are only expected to increase"..............Our friend and Range Expert, George Wuerthner feels that Christine and the NRDC are approaching this BEAR SINK problem too timidly and he boldly declares that "the problem isn't finding ways for livestock and bears to co-exist, but to get rid of welfare ranching in places like the Upper Green River"............"NRDC half way measures are like saying we should keep dams on salmon streams and put in more fish ladders instead of advocating that dams be removed"
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Christine Wilcox’s Blog

Grizzly Bear Conflicts in the Greater

 Yellowstone Ecosystem: It's Time

 for More Solutions and Less Killing

Christine Wilcox
Posted September 5, 2014 in Saving Wildlife and WIld Places
Recent reports say conflicts with grizzly bears
 in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem were
down in 2013. That may be true for the region
as a whole (which is great news), but it’s
 definitely not the case in the Upper Green
River area of Wyoming, just southeast of
Grand Teton National Park.
UG prints.jpg   

  Grizzly bear prints near Green River 
Lakes, Upper Green River area, Wyoming

The Upper Green has been a hot spot for
 conflicts with grizzlies for more than ten
 years now. Why? Because the Upper
Green has naturally prime grizzly bear
 habitat and a yearly food source provided
 by people in the form of unprotected
livestock. This combination has led to
an increase in the number of grizzly
bears using the Upper Green area,
despite the fact that the population at
 large is no longer growing very much
 and may even be declining.
Earlier this week the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service issued a new biological 
opinion with its recommendations and
requirements for managing conflicts in
the Upper Green area. This is the third
 time in five years that the Service has
had to change the biological opinion
 because of the increasing number of
 grizzlies being killed for attacking
 livestock. It is also the third time in
five years that the agencies have
 had a chance to change the way
they address conflicts.

But rather than requiring measures to
improve coexistence with grizzly bears
 and reduce conflicts with them, the Fish
and Wildlife Service again increased the
 number of grizzly bears that it anticipates
 will be killed due to livestock grazing.
Even more alarming is the Service’s
decision to more than double the
 number of females that can be killed.
What we are left with is more grizzly
bear deaths and virtually no changes
 to address the ongoing conflicts with
 livestock. But there are effective ways
 to reduce conflicts that are good for
 livestock and good for bears. Range
 riders, electric fencing, and guard dogs
 could be used to protect livestock.
Alternative grazing practices like
keeping cattle bunched together,
 and ensuring that mothers and
calves stay together, could reduce
the chance of bears attacking cattle.
 Since calves are often targeted when
 bears attack cattle, eliminating calves
 on the Upper Green grazing allotments
 could also prove to be effective in
 reducing conflicts.

For those familiar with the area, there
is no question that implementing some
coexistence measures to reduce
conflicts with livestock would be more
difficult in the Upper Green than on other
 landscapes. The Upper Green is filled
 with steep terrain and many areas that
are harder for people to access than
 bears or livestock. But that does not
mean that we should just give up
 because solutions are more difficult
or costly.
If we want to reduce conflicts in the
Upper Green, we need to think outside
 the box. NRDC and other conservation
groups have been encouraging the
 agencies to consider creative solutions.
 For instance, stakeholders could
 work together to secure funding for
 research that would help implement
 more coexistence measures. This
would also provide information on
which coexistence practices work
best in the Upper Green area.
Wildlife Services is already researching
 some of these coexistence practices
 on other landscapes. We applaud this
work and hope that it can serve as a
 model and perhaps even a resource
 for much needed research in the Upper
Green area.

The Forest Service
 estimates that female 
grizzly bear survival has 
declined on all but
 two of the public grazing
 allotments in the 
Upper Green area. This means
 that removing
 female grizzlies from these 
allotments is 
negatively impacting the
 overall Greater 
Yellowstone population. State
 and federal
 agencies only expect female grizzlies
 to use this
 area more and more in the future, so
 the challenges
 to female (and cub) survival are only 
 to increase.
Something must change if we want to ensure continued
 recovery of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population.
Managing conflicts between grizzly bears, livestock
and people is critical to the long-term success of the
bruins -- not only in the Upper Green area but
throughout the entire Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Solutions exist. What we need is the resources and
 the will to implement them. Turning a blind eye to the
problem, as the Service has done here, is not the way
to go.
Photo credit: Sublette County Emergency
 Management, Jim Mitchell

GEorge Wuerthner — Sep 6 2014 01:44 PM

The problem isn't finding ways for livestock and
 bears to co-exist, but to get rid of welfare
ranching in places like the Upper Green River.
The proposal put forth demonstrates an
 ecologically ignorant perspective on how
livestock destroys grizzly habitat--as well as
 a lot of other wildlife.
For instance, livestock destroy riparian areas
 which are among the most important foraging
 areas for grizzlies in the spring and early summer.
Livestock display elk and other native herbivores
 which leave areas with livestock--in essence
 creating the conflict one is trying to address.
 It also reduces the fitness of elk herds in general
 meaning less natural food for grizzlies.

Livestock also are the center of controversies
 on brucellosis. So we are killing bison and elk
in staste like Montana which are a critical and
 important food resource for grizzlies.
These are only a few of the ways that the
 presence of livestock negatively impacts
Chasing grizzlies from places where livestock
 are grazing also reduces the overall habitat
available to them, as well as the security cover
 they require.
IT's a shame that groups like NRDC aren't bold
 enough or ecologically informed enough to state
 the obvious. NRDC half way measures are like
 saying we should keep dams on salmon streams
and put in more fish ladders instead of advocating
that dams be removed

Two male Southern Pacific Rattlesnakes fighting it out for the attention of a female--What looks like courtship is actually a heavyweight boxing match---Check it out below

This Is How Rattlesnakes Throw Down

Although often mistaken for a mating ritual, these guys are not in love.
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This Is How Rattlesnakes Throw Down
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Beautiful and deadly.  A volunteer from the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area snapped these photos of two male Southern Pacific Rattlesnakes in the Sycamore Canyon area of Southern California.
Although often mistaken for a mating ritual, these guys are not in love. Experts say these movements are males fighting for dominance.  It’s no surprise that a female is usually nearby.
The snake fight blocked a trail in both directions for over five minutes. Then each one slithered to opposite sides of the path and disappeared.  
Be sure all humans and pets stay far away from these bad boys.  The Southern Pacific rattlesnake has highly toxic venom that attacks nerve endings and the snake can easily give a fatal bite. Because the venom is so strong, bites require a much higher dose of antivenin than used with other poisonous species.