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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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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tony Clevenger, a research wildlife scientist at the Western Transportation Institute-Montana State University, recommends Parks Canada continue monitoring the movement of Wolverines in Canada's Banff National Park for the next 10 years.................The .Park is home to six wildlife overpasses and 38 underpasses from the east gate of Banff National Park to the Alberta-B.C. border – the most wildlife crossing structures for any single stretch of highway anywhere in the world.............Wolverines have been detected using the crossing structures only 10 times.................. A wolverine was documented using an overpass – the Wolverine overpass –- for the first time in November 2011...............The utilization of these "culverts" is critical for a wide ranging creature like the Wolverine whose population in the best of time is limited by it's utilizing up to 240 square miles of home territory............With this requirement of a lot of space; the availability and distribution of food is likely the primary factor in determining wolverine movements and home range size................. These home range sizes are large for mammals of the size of wolverines and may indicate that wolverines occupy a relatively unproductive niche making the need for viable wildlife crossings critical to their ultimate survival

Ongoing wolverine research urged
Thursday, Feb 26, 2015 06:00 am
    A wolverine looks out from a perch in a larch tree.
  • A wolverine looks out from a perch in a larch tree.
    Keith Webb PHOTO

Continued monitoring of wolverines in Banff National Park is a key recommendation of a leading wildlife crossing structure expert in a bid to learn more about the wide-ranging animals and their needs.

Tony Clevenger, a research wildlife scientist at the Western Transportation Institute-Montana State University, recommends Parks Canada continue long-term monitoring of underpasses and overpasses on Trans-Canada Highway
To keep a closer eye on wolverines, he said, attention should be paid to Phase 3B crossings west of Castle Junction, noting the highway enters subalpine habitats of prime importance to wolverines as it moves up Banff’s Bow Valley towards the Continental Divide.
Monitoring should be conducted in conjunction with winter roadside surveys to help understand the number of highway crossings by wolverines not detected at crossing structures, breaches in fences and behaviour from snow tracking in the highway corridor.
Clevenger also said Parks should consider snow tracking to collect hair from wolverines that use wildlife structures. Gender information can be used to evaluate different crossing types and determine preferred designs for increasing female movement across the highway.

“It’s really important for Parks Canada to continue monitoring and 10 years is probably what’s required, given the current lack of information on this species,” said Clevenger, a Bow Valley-based scientist who led the crossing structure monitoring from 1996 to 2014.
“The last phase – phase 3B – is going into a completely different ecosystem. We’re really talking about the Continental Divide. We’re talking about wolverines. This is a pretty unique opportunity to start learning about wolverines and how they respond to highways.”
Banff National Park is home to six overpasses and 38 underpasses from the east gate of Banff National Park to the Alberta-B.C. border – the most wildlife crossing structures for any single stretch of highway anywhere in the world.

Animals need to cross the busy four-lane highway to search out mates, food, shelter and, in some cases, to escape predators. The structures are used by bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars, moose, elk, deer, bighorn sheep and, more recently, by lynx and wolverine.
Clevenger led the research and monitoring of Banff’s crossings structures for 17 years on a contract basis until Parks Canada decided to bring the monitoring program in-house last year. A spokesperson for Parks Canada was not available at press time.

Wolverines have been detected using the crossing structures only 10 times. A wolverine was documented using an overpass – the Wolverine overpass –- for the first time in November 2011.

Part of Clevenger’s research aimed to collect information on wolverine occurrence in the Canadian Rocky Mountains and examine whether transportation corridors affect their movements and gene flow.

The study covered an 8,000 square kilometer area of Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks, as well as a part of the Columbia Valley near Golden, B.C.
To sample wolverines, skinned beaver carcasses were nailed to trees and secured with wire, luring wolverines to climb the tree and leave a hair sample. Remote infrared cameras at each site captured snapped thousands of photos of wolverine activity and behaviour.
A total of 2,563 hair samples were collected between 2010 and 2013. A total of 64 unique individuals – 25 females and 39 males – were detected. This, however, is not a population estimate. Seven of those animals crossed the highway.

Clevenger said many female and male wolverines include their home ranges in the study area, but the two sexes were affected differently by transportation infrastructure.
“We detected ample male movement across the TCH and a lack of genetic differentiation,” he said.

“However, we detected relatively strong genetic differentiation in females on either side of the TCH. We detected seven wolverines that crossed the TCH – two females, five males – possibly one of the females at a wildlife crossing structure.”

Clevenger said evidence suggests females may be starting to use wildlife crossings. For example, a female wolverine, F015, may have been the wolverine detected crossing northward at Castle underpass in February 2011.

The recommendations were part of the Trans-Canada Highway Wildlife Monitoring and Research final report by the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University and Miistakis Institute

The wolverine and lynx part of the research project was branded “Highway Wilding” and partners included Parks Canada Agency, Western Transportation Institute – Montana State University, Miistakis Institute, Woodcock Foundation, and Wilburforce Foundation.
Wolverines are fierce and feisty and live in some of the most extreme alpine and subalpine environments. Federally, the wolverine is listed as a species of special concern, while in Alberta it is listed as data deficient.

Loss of habitat and barriers to movement, along with continuing warming climate, are recognized as threats that further diminish and fragment the critical landscapes wolverines need.

In both B.C. and Alberta, wolverines are under pressure from recreational activities, transportation, and oil and gas development.

“Recent research in central Alberta suggests that national parks may be a source population for unprotected areas in British Columbia and Alberta,” according to the final report on crossing structure monitoring.

Eastern Wolves last graced the Forests and fields of New Jersey in 1850,,,,,,,,,,,,With the Wolf and the Puma gone, the Eastern Coyote is doing a great job of inhabiting one of our most densely human populated states..................The first recorded coyote sighting in New Jersey was in Hunterdon County in 1939................ The species spread slowly through the state, but numbers have increased significantly since 1980............... Coyotes have now been documented in 400 towns from all 21 counties with likely some 3-5000 of them inhabiting the Garden State.....................Below is one of the more "fair and balanced" newspaper articles you will ever read about our Eastern Songdogs...............

Coyotes right at home in N.J. suburbs

FEBRUARY 28, 2015, 4:27 PM    LAST UPDATED: SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2015, 10:58 PM

Two coyotes in Tappan, N.Y., with a freshly killed deer in January of last year. Many have been spotted in North Jersey.

Two coyotes in Tappan, N.Y., with a freshly killed deer in January of last
 year. Many have been spotted in North Jersey

A lone coyote.
Wolf-like, with a long snout and bushy, black-tipped tail.
Two coyotes in Tappan, N.Y., with a freshly killed deer in January of last year. Many have been spotted in North Jersey.
During their long migration east, coyotes mated with wolves to create the larger eastern breed that is seen in New Jersey.
The staff at Upper School in Englewood Cliffs first spotted it several weeks ago walking through the school parking lot. It has also been seen ambling across a back field. The coyote got close enough to be recorded by the school’s security cameras.
County animal control officers set up traps. The local police advised that students be kept indoors during recess.

The children have not been outside since.
In the past few years, coyotes have appeared on the ice-bound shores of Lake Tappan, in some woods in Hackensack, and at the reservoir in Woodland Park. One attacked a dog last spring in Elmwood Park. Residents of Trenton report that coyotes are roaming the streets of the state capital at night. So many have made Princeton their home that the town debated — but ultimately dismissed — the idea of hiring sharpshooters to cull the population.
And in Englewood, residents report hearing the eerie howls of coyotes at night.
The number of coyotes living — and thriving — in suburban New Jersey continues to rise. As one expert said, “They are here to stay.”

“Suburbs and urban areas have plenty of their prime food source — small mammals,” said Anthony McBride, supervising biologist with the state Division of Fish and Wildlife. “We have landscapes that harbor small mammals — woodpiles, brushy areas that attract rabbits. We have cat colonies. They’re opportunistic feeders. That’s why they’re there.”
Coyotes, a species of wild dog once confined to the West, has made a long, slow move through the Canadian Great Lakes region and down into Ohio, Pennsylvania and New England. Along the way, they mated with wolves, creating a new variety of coyote, one that is larger than its western cousin. Eastern coyotes weigh 20 to 50 pounds and look like a small German shepherd.

The first recorded coyote sighting in New Jersey was in Hunterdon County in 1939. The species spread slowly through the state, but numbers have increased significantly since 1980. Coyotes have now been documented in 400 towns from all 21 counties.

“They’ve been able to spread because we killed off the wolves and cougars, and most of the agriculture left the East Coast and forest grew back,” said Chris Nagy, director of research and land management with Mianus River Gorge, a non-profit nature preserve and conservation group in Westchester County, N.Y. “This is one of the few species doing quite well despite everything we’ve thrown at them.”

Though naturally leery of humans, coyotes can thrive in developed areas.
“Suburbs are a good habitat; they can switch their diet to whatever’s plentiful,” Nagy said. “They are flexible in diet and behavior. They learn quickly to look both ways and cross streets.”

That food supply can on occasion include cats and small dogs. Besides the attack in Elmwood Park, coyotes killed a Chihuahua in Ringwood in 2013 and a 20-pound dog in Kinnelon in 2010. A few years back, authorities put up signs at Garrett Mountain Reservation in Woodland Park warning pet owners about coyotes in the area.
Coyote attacks on humans are rare. There have been two recorded fatalities in North America, the most recent in 2009 in a national park in Nova Scotia.

In New Jersey, a child was bitten in 2007 in Middletown. Last October, a rabid coyote attacked a bow hunter in Black River Wildlife Management Area in Morris County. The hunter, from Cliffside Park, killed it with a knife, said Larry Hajna, a spokesman with the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Flat Rock Brook Nature Center in Englewood received a flurry of calls in early January from neighbors who reported seeing a coyote in their yard, said Steve Wiessner, the center’s executive director. Some thought the animal was a wolf — but wolves haven’t been seen here since the 1850s.

People in the area have also heard coyotes calling at night — which makes sense, given that January through March is their mating season. Coyote pups often stay with their parents for a year, so the uptick in sightings might be related to a yearling or two seeking new territory after being pushed out of the fold, Wiessner said. The latest sighting came early Friday morning, when a coyote was seen at Witte Memorial Field in Englewood Cliffs.

Englewood Cliff’s Upper School and Memorial Field are situated between two large natural areas — Flat Rock to the west and the Palisades Interstate Park to the east — so the coyote or coyotes are likely just using the school or park to pass between those areas.
“We’ve kept the students inside,” said Englewood Cliffs Superintendent Robert Kravitz, in part because of the coyote, in part because of the cold. “I’m taking the recommendations of the Police Department and animal control into consideration.”

The cautious reaction, while understandable, runs counter to what experts advise. “Coyotes have a natural fear of people and they can lose that when they see people always retreating from them,” McBride said.Air horns and flash lights can be used to scare away coyotes. “Throw rocks towards them, spray them with a hose, yell,” Nagy said. “Some people install motion-sensitive exterior lights or sprinklers.”

One way to keep coyotes away is to reduce their food supply. That means not putting out garbage until the morning of pickup, and clearing yards of brush that attracts rabbits. Experts say dogs should be kept in fenced areas, and cats — and their food — should be inside. “Coyotes will feed on the cat food and the cats,” McBride said.

If there’s trouble with an aggressive coyote, the state Division of Fish and Wildlife will respond. “If a coyote seems comfortable coming within 10 feet of a human, we’ll try to catch and remove it,” McBride said. But trapping coyotes is not very effective, experts say, because removing one might just open the territory to another with even less fear of humans.

Humans can actually benefit from the presence of coyotes in the landscape, said John Maguranis, a Massachusetts animal control officer with Project Coyote, a coalition that promotes “compassionate conservation.” “They are free rodent control,” he said. “Without a top predator, rats, mice and rabbits start getting out of control. Coyotes can do a lot of good for us as long as we let them know to give us space.”

In Englewood Cliffs, the school superintendent ultimately hopes to turn the coyote sightings into a teaching moment. Seeing more wildlife in the suburbs, such as wild turkeys and coyotes, is “just a part of nature,” Kravitz said.

“It’s an opportunity to learn from this where natural habitats are all around us and how they’re changing,” he said. “It’s a natural approach to learning.”
Twitter: @JamesMONeill1

Friday, February 27, 2015

We are pleased to have a 2nd consecutive day with our friend and Ecologist Cristina Eisenberg............., Today we are introduced to her recent Huffington Blog Post which reveals how the Yellowstone Park Lamar Canyon Wolf Pack has fared since 2012 when wolf hunting seasons resumed in the Northern Rockies after Wolves went off the Endangered Species List......... As we have discussed time and time again, in social pack animals like Wolves, even if only a small % are killed by human hunters, the Pack can fall into disarray, become splintered and implode when one or both of the breeding pair is killed off..................Cristina's detailed account below for you to absorb and soak in...............

Wolves in Paradise? Yellowstone's Wolves in Transition

Posted: Updated: 

When Congress listed the gray wolf as endangered
 under the Endangered Species Act in 1974, it set the
 stage for a famous ecological experiment. The federal
 government began to create a recovery plan, which
 called for wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone National
Park and Idaho.

In 1995, the reintroduced wolves hit the ground running
. Scientists carefully documented the ecological effects
 wolves sent rippling throughout the northern Rocky
 Mountains. Wolves restored this ecosystem from
 top to bottom. The subsequent recovery of willows
 and aspens that elk had been eating to death in the
absence of wolves offered a powerful ecological lesson.

Yellowstone Wolf Reintroduction, Photo Credit National 
Park Service

By 2002, wolves had reached recovery goals of 300
individuals and 30 breeding pairs in Idaho, Montana,
and Wyoming for three consecutive years. Since 2011,
wolves have been delisted and hunted annually in much
of the northern Rockies.

Because wolves don't abide by political boundaries,
 Montana implemented a buffer zone around
Yellowstone where wolves couldn't be hunted.
 However, the state quickly succumbed to pressure
 from hunters and removed this buffer, leaving
Yellowstone wolves vulnerable.

The 2012/2013 wolf hunt, combined with other causes
 of mortality, caused a 12 percent drop in their population
. While this level of mortality is biologically sustainable
 in a species as resilient as the wolf, the impacts of the
 wolf hunt go far beyond numbers.
The Lamar Canyon pack, formerly one of the most
stable and viewable park packs, is a case-in-point.
 When the gun smoke cleared from the 2012/13 wolf
 hunt, this pack's story provides a cautionary tale
about the unintended consequences of hunting
 wolves immediately outside national parks.


Lamar Canyon pack,
 photo by
 Doug McLaughlin

Before the 2012/13 hunt, an illustrious pair led the Lamar
 Canyon pack: wolf 832, called the '06 female (for her
birth year) and wolf 755M. Pack leadership also
included wolf 754M, the beta male (755M's brother),
who'd vied for 832F's admiration and then helped the
alpha pair care for their pups. This trio engendered
tremendous public affection. Capable of taking down
 an elk by herself, '06 quickly became a legend. She
ranged widely through the Lamar Valley, yet she
 seldom left the park.


The '06 Female, photo
 Doug McLaughlin

Tragedy struck in November 2012, when 754M met a
 hunter's bullet in Wyoming, outside the park. The next
month, the '06 female also went down in the wolf hunt.
 Their entirely legal deaths played out publicly and
created public outrage. But that was only the beginning
 of the trouble.


754M, photo by
 Doug McLaughlin

When breeding season began in late December, one of
 '06's daughters became the new alpha. However,
because she was the alpha male's daughter, she
 wouldn't breed with him. And so now 755M, the
 alpha male, a great hunter with the most social
experience, went looking for a mate. This left the
Lamar Canyon pack unstable and leaderless.

By late January, the Lamar Canyon pack was going
through major changes. Two of 755M's daughters had
attracted mates from other packs. Meanwhile, 755M,
who'd been wandering, had found a mate, 759F from
 Mollie's pack, and returned to his pack with her. But
pack dynamics had shifted in his absence, so what he
returned to was actually partly his old pack with some
 new wolves. The new males turned on 759F, killed her,
 and ran 755M off. By April 2013, 755M's daughters
 were both pregnant and preparing for birth, and the
 pack was spending lots of time outside the park.

Eventually '06's daughters had their pups. While at
 first this seemed an example of wolf resilience, further
 events demonstrate how '06's and 754's deaths
disrupted this pack's social stability. In August 2013,
 wolf 820F, '06's two-year-old daughter, left the
 pack under hostile pressure from her older sisters.
 That she'd spent her entire life in the park and was
 very used to people led her to make a foolish choice.
She started hanging out in Jardine, Montana. When
 she turned to raiding chicken coops for food,
 Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks killed her.

In wolf society, each spring begets new beginnings.
 In spring 2014, the Lamar Canyon pack denned
 and produced pups. That fall, people often saw
 926F romping with her pups, her playfulness
notably different from the '06 Female's intensity.
And as the seasons turned yet again, around
Valentine's Day 2015, people observed 755M
 mating with his new alpha female.
The Lamar Canyon pack's response to the wolf
 hunt demonstrates both resilience and instability
in the face of challenges. A reinstated buffer would
 return these and other wolves to being a protected
 research population and fully realizing their
ecological role. In the meantime, scientists are
 actively studying the impacts of the hunt on wolf
 behavior to help inform wolf policy.

* * *
Learn more about Yellowstone's wolves and the
 impacts of the wolf hunt by readingThe Carnivore 
Way: Coexisting with and Conserving North
 America's Predators, by Dr. Cristina Eisenberg.
Learn more about wolf and large carnivore
conservation by signing up for the Rewilding
 Adventure sweepstakes, offered by Island Press,
 or by joining Cristina afield on her Earthwatch
expedition, Tracking Fire and Wolves through
 the Canadian Rockies.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cristina Eisenberg checked back in today with her latest Post about her experience coexisting with Bears in Canada's 21 million acre British Columbia Rainforest.........In Cristina's own words: "Was coexistence once very different than how we experience it today?"............ "Was the calm communion I experienced with her(Mother Grizzly with cub) how our relations with bears once were?"......... "And if so, when did our relations with bears and the other carnivores go so wrong?".........."While we can't quite recreate the close relations we may once have had with living things, such as what I experienced in the Great Bear Rainforest, we can envision a world in which we base our relationships with carnivores and other animals on respect, rather than fear"........... "A world where we allow carnivores to fulfill their ecological roles as much as possible"........... "A world where we give them room to roam, so that their benefits cascade through whole ecosystems"

Here is my recent Dodo blog post, about coexistence with bears:


A couple of autumns ago, I ventured into the Great Bear Rainforest to learn new lessons about wildlife. Word was that humans in this place had returned to a much older way of living with animals. This remote Canadian temperate rainforest covers 21 million coastal acres along coastal British Columbia. Five million acres of it are protected and closed to development as well as hunting bears and wolves. Only accessible by boat or seaplane, these conservancies lie scattered like emeralds flung from a giant's fist across 250 miles of ragged coastline.

I sailed into this rainforest on the Ocean Light II, a seventy-one-foot ketch. My companions included Jenn Broom, who owned the boat, Captain Chris Turloch, and biologist Jim Halfpenny. Along wave-scoured islands and in estuaries where the mouths of rivers met the sea we looked for bears — and found them.
On the sixth day of our journey, Chris took us to the Khutze Bay estuary. At first light, we left the sailboat in a small Zodiac inflatable boat. Keeping the outboard engine purring on low throttle to avoid disturbing the wildlife, we cruised slowly up an inlet. Chris stopped the boat against a seagrass-covered shore, and waited. It didn't take long.
Two figures emerged from the mist, walking toward us: a huge, beautiful grizzly bear mother and her tiny cub of the year. They stopped at the shore, thirty yards from us, where the bear mother immediately got down to business. She put her face into the water and swiftly pulled out what must've been a twenty-pound Coho salmon, its silver body flopping around, and passed it to her cub. The cub chewed on it a bit, and then dropped the slippery fish. She found the cub two other equally hefty salmon, which the cub promptly fumbled. The third one threw the cub off-balance, and both salmon and cub ended up in the water, where the fish swam off.

Grizzly mother teaching cub to fish. Photo: Cristina Eisenberg
Before joining her cub in the water for more fishing lessons, the bear mother's eyes met mine, mother to mother, a classic "What's a mother to do?" expression on her face. I know how it is, I thought, returning her look, I'm a mother too. This was a very different bear in her body language, especially in the relaxed eye contact she made, than any I'd experienced in Katmai and my wild Montana home. And she made me think about what coexistence really means.

Until now, while peaceful, my hundreds of meetings with bears typically consisted of both of us consciously trying to minimize conflict.

These accidental meetings often occurred while working as a scientist, collecting data afield, or while walking in the forest on my land. In these meetings, the bears usually didn't face me, passing me in profile without overtly acknowledging my presence, the better to avoid trouble. The Khutze bear mother brought up things beyond the pale. Was coexistence once very different than how we experience it today? Was the calm communion I experienced with her how our relations with bears once were? And if so, when did our relations with bears and the other carnivores go so wrong?

The bear mother. Photo: Cristina Eisenberg

The bear mother showed me how it once was between us and wild creatures sharp of tooth and claw, long before we thought we knew everything and could grow forests and elk like we grow cabbages, to paraphrase Aldo Leopold badly. When he wrote, "To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering," he was referring to the importance of saving large carnivores. While we can't quite recreate the close relations we may once have had with living things, such as what I experienced in the Great Bear Rainforest, we can envision a world in which we base our relationships with carnivores and other animals on respect, rather than fear. A world where we allow carnivores to fulfill their ecological roles as much as possible. A world where we give them room to roam, so that their benefits cascade through whole ecosystems.
Learn more about carnivore coexistence with the Island Press Rewilding Adventure sweepstakes, a once in a lifetime chance to join Cristina Eisenberg in Yellowstone National Park as part of her Yellowstone Association Institute course "Carnivores and Corridors." Experience what it means to have carnivore species roaming across the park's vast landscapes. Prize includes air travel, accommodations, rental car, course fees, and a complimentary copy of Eisenberg's "The Carnivore Way."
Cristina Eisenberg, PhD
Lead Scientist
Earthwatch Institute
114 Western Ave, Boston, MA 02134
T: +1-978-450-1210 X 210 |
Fax: +1-978-461-2332
Mobile : 406-270-5153
Skype: cristina.eisenberg