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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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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Ocelot and Margay are sympatric southwestern carnivore scrub habitat dwellers, barely clinging to life in Texas(and perhaps) Arizona...........Ocelots hunt ground dwelling mammals(Armadillos) whereas Margays hunt those mammals like rats and squirrels that make their living in the tree tops...........100 or so Ocelots are confirmed in two southern Texas locales whereas the Margay might be functionally extinct in the USA....................Only 1% of Texas remains in brush and thorn habitat so the chances for expansion of these populations is very slim...............Note that pre 1850, Arkansas and Louisiana in addition to Arizona was the USA range of the Ocelot............

click on link above to read full article

Haemig PD  (2012)  Ecology of
and Margay.



Margaykat Leopardus wiedii.jpg

Ecology of 



and Margay


The Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) and
Margay (Leopardus wiedii) are two 
small spotted cats that live in 
neotropical forests. They are more
 closely related to each other than to 
ncestor (Slattery et al. 1994; Masuda 
et al. 1996; Eizirik et al. 1998).  In 
this report, we compare the ecology
 of these two cats, noting similarities
 and differences.

Although similar in appearance, the
 Ocelot and Margay can be told 
apart by many small characters 
(Emmons 1990). For example,
the Margay's tail is longer than
 its hind leg, while the Ocelot's 
tail is shorter than its hind leg 
(Emmons 1990).  In addition, 
the Ocelot is larger and more 
robust than the Margay 
(weighing about 3 times as
 much), and hunts for food mainly
 on the ground (Goldman 1920;
 Emmons 1988).

In contrast, the Margay forages 
for food mainly in trees 
(Guggisberg 1975, Konecny 
1989), and shows many 
adaptations for arboreal living.
 For example, the smaller size
 of the Margay enables it to 
walk further out on branches 
than the Ocelot, and its longer 
tail enables it to more easily
 maintain balance.  It also has
 superb leaping ability
 (Petersen 1977) and its claws
 are proportionately longer 
than the Ocelot (Leyhausen 
1963; Konecny 1989).  In 
addition, the Margay is the 
only New World cat with joints
 that rotate sufficiently for it 
to climb headfirst down trees 
with hind feet turned facing
 the trunk, like a squirrel 
(Leyhausen 1963; Emmons 1990).

 and Habitat
The Margay ranges from the
 Mexican state of Sonora and
 the Lower Rio Grande Valley
 of Texas to Uruguay and
 Argentina (Gallo-Reynoso 
and Navarro-Serment 2002)
. Only one specimen is known 
from the historic period of Texas:
 an adult male collected at Eagle
 Pass and entered into the U.S.
 National Museum collection in 
1852 (Hollister 1914).
Because the Margay is generally
 less abundant than the Ocelot 
throughout its range (Goldman 
1920; Leopold 1959), and is
 secretive in its habits, it is
 unknown whether or not 
Margays still roam south Texas. 
 However, the extensive deforestation
 and brush clearing that has 
occurred there does not inspire
 much hope, particularly the 
destruction of most of the tall,
 gallery forests of Montezuma 
Bald Cypress (Taxodium mucronatum)
 and Sabal Palm (Sabal texana) along
 the Lower Rio Grande River. 

The Eagle Pass specimen differs
 from Mexican Margays in that its
 fur is longer, with solid or nearly 
solid black dorsal spots, instead 
of enclosed lighter areas (Goldman
 1943). For this reason, the Margay
 specimen from Eagle Pass was 
classified as a unique subspecies
 and given the scientific name
 Leopardus wiedii cooperi
 (Goldman 1943).

Although many people assume that
 the Margay is found only in lowland
 tropical forests, Nelson and Goldman
 (1931) collected an adult male 
specimen of this cat at an altitude 
of over 3000 meters near the summit
 of Cerro San Felipe, Oaxaca, Mexico
 in 1894.  While it is possible that
 this and the Eagle Pass specimen
 were just individual cats that wandered
 outside their normal haunts, both
 demonstrate that we have much to learn
 still about the Margay.
In this regard, prehistoric records are
 especially interesting because they 
suggest further penetration of this 
species into what is now the United 
States of America.

  For example, a sub-fossil specimen
 of the Margay dated 2,400 BC has 
been collected from a shell midden 
in a tidal marsh near the mouth of 
the Sabine River, Orange County, 
Texas (Eddleman and Akersten 1966). 
 This locality is just a short distance
 west of the Texas-Louisiana border.

The Ocelot currently ranges from 
south Texas and Sonora to northern
 Argentina and Uruguay.  However, 
its range in historic times was 
considerable greater. In the 1800's,
 the Ocelot occurred throughout
 the state of Texas and also in 
parts of the states of Arkansas,
 Louisiana and Arizona (Hall 1981).
  The disappearance of the Ocelot
 from most of its United States 
range was a great loss for, as 
Audubon noted, it is the most
 beautiful of all cats found in
 North America (Audubon &
Bachman 1846).

Studies of the remaining U.S.A.
 Ocelots (i.e. those in south Texas)
 have found them restricted to
 dense thorn shrub and forest 
habitats with over 75% canopy
 cover (Shindle 1996, Shindle &
 Tewes 1998; Harveson et al. 2004; 
Horne et al. 2009).  Unfortunately,
 because of extensive brush clearing
 and deforestation by humans, less
 than 1% of south Texas now supports
 these kinds of habitats (Tewes &
 Everett 1986).  The result is that the
 last surviving Ocelots in the U.S.A. 
(approximately 100 in number) are
 now endangered because their 
brush and forest habitats are 
almost gone (Mora 2000; Haines et al.
 2005; Janecka et al. 2007, 2008).

Monday, March 30, 2015

LIke in so much of the USA, Black Bears were virtually gone from Oklahoma at the turn of the 20th century.............In the late 1960s, the bears began making a comeback in Oklahoma after the successful reintroduction of 250 black bears in the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains of Arkansas..... That initial rewilding from northern Minnesota and Manitoba, Canada grew to several thousand bears in the mountains of Arkansas, which then expanded into southwest Missouri and eastern Oklahoma.......It is estimated that Oklahoma now houses some 500-1000 bruins with a hunting season that has been in effect since 2009...............Oklahoma State University has been studying the Bears and was excited to announce that female to male sex ratio of the bears has tilted female which suggests a stable population forming in the state

  • OSU graduate 

  • students conduct

  •  black bear

  •  population studies

    • emailprint

    • By Sean Hubbard
      Posted Mar. 30, 2015 at 3:00 PM
      Updated at 6:57 PM 

      As the weather warms and vegetation begins to grow,

      the black bears living in southeastern Oklahoma will

      begin to come out of their dens.
       Before they do, however, graduate students in

      Oklahoma State University’s Department of Natural

      Resource Ecology and Management, went to the

      known locations of several bears to gather some

      information. Morgan Pfander, doing her graduate

      research on the bear population in and around

      the Ouachita Mountains, recently led a crew of

      nearly 20 to check on a momma bear and her cub.

      “We record weight,

      chest girth, sex

      and distinguishing

      marks for the cubs,”

      Pfander said. “We

      also give it a PIT

      tag, a passive integrated transponder, which we

      can scan for identification purposes if we ever

      catch the cub again.”
       To date, the researchers have 66 bears

      marked with the central objective of

      determining the current population status of

      American black bear in southeast Oklahoma.
       “I am in the field throughout the year, running

      trap lines in the summer to capture bears for

      the mark/recapture portion of my study,

      tracking collared bears to their dens in late

      winter, and visiting dens in late spring to

      collect reproduction data and vegetation

      measurements at the den sites,” Pfander said.
      Oklahoma black bears were all but eliminated

      by the early 1900s, but recent decades have

      seen bears recolonize in portions of their old

      stomping grounds. After initial studies on

      the species’ demographics and range, the

      Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

      opened a hunting season on the bears in 2009.

      Questions soon arose regarding the effects

      of the hunting season on the population, leading

      to the funding of several graduate projects,

      including Pfander’s.
      “Although we only have preliminary data,

      we are finding a female-biased sex ratio,”

      she said. “Ten years ago they didn’t find

      that the sex ratio was statistically different

      from 1-to-1.”

      Female-biased sex

      ratios have been noted in other core habitat

      areas of well-established black bear

      populations, so the thought is the population

      has “settled in” a bit more since the early

      studies, when the bears were just beginning

      to reestablish themselves in the state. 
      “There are not many places where a large

      carnivore species has been able to naturally

      recolonize part of its former range, but

      it has here in Oklahoma,” Pfander said.

      “The timeline of this recolonization and

      the implementation of a hunting season

      presents us with a unique combination of

      demographic influences, as well.”
      It will not be long before the bears come

      out of hibernation and start their cycle all

      over again. Females will breed in the

      summer, but delay the implantation of

      the blastocyst until the fall, allowing

      them to give birth in late winter during


    Sunday, March 29, 2015

    The American black bear once occurred throughout the state of Texas..................... The were virtually all extirpated by the end of World War II because of unregulated hunting and habitat loss................... For nearly a century(1830-1925), the bears were hunted and killed for their meat, fat for cooking and hides for tanning, as well as for the sport of competitive hunting............... Their last stronghold of the bears in East Texas were in the swamps and thickets of the Big Thicket Region............. Little by little,, the bears have been making a slow comeback to this region and the rest of east Texas since 1984. ........... There was a resurgence of sightings in this region that followed a release of 161 black bears into neighboring Louisiana(1964-67)............ Texas Parks and Wildlife officials think most of the bears that have made their way to Texas from Louisiana are young males..........A Study is now underway to determine the breeding status of a potential permanent population in the Lone Star State with biologists already determining that there is 1 million East Texas acres that will easily support the bears return............

    Chester Moore column: A look back at the return of bears to Texas

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    Posted: Saturday, March 28, 2015 6:16 pm

    There has been an increase in bear sightings in East Texas, the Hill Country along with an expanding population in the Trans-Pecos region. It has been going on for the last 10-15 years and today I thought it would be a good time to look back on their expansion.

     “The black bear is a part of Texas’ natural heritage and forest ecology, the Louisiana black bear is on the federal threatened species list and is thus the focus of an ongoing restoration effort in Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma, and black bears appear to be poised for a slow return in East Texas,” said Nathan Garner, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) regional director in Tyler.
    Garner was the first person I ever interviewed about bears in East Texas and he has been on top of the issue for many years.
    A possible obstacle the bear’s return in the region is poaching, which still looms large in some areas. Shooting a Louisiana black bear (which all bears in East Texas are considered) is a state and a federal crime and since they come under auspices of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), fines could be as high as $25,000 and come with six months jail time.


    Another potential problem is misidentification since bear and feral hogs can look similar at a distance especially when someone is not expecting to see a bear.    

    That is why it is important for people entering bear country to get educated about these great animals. Their comeback is happening right now. A few years ago I helped create black bear educational posters that were distributed as digital downloads to hundreds of individuals, teachers, scout leaders and church groups. If you would like one, email me at and I will get you a copy.

    Bear sightings were giving people in the Texas Hill Country a shock in 2011 during the prolonged drought. So much so they sent out a press release noting that wildlife biologists were advising hunters, ranchers and rural residents that black bears appear to be roaming longer distances and may approach people or houses in search of food and water because of the drought.

    “If conditions remain dry, people could see more bears, said Mike Krueger, district leader of the Edwards Plateau Wildlife District for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.


    East Texas Black Bear Task Force meets in Lufkin to discuss future bear population

    By Caleb Beames
    The East Texas Bear Task Force held their winter meeting Thursday at the Ellen Trout Zoo. The meeting was to discuss the progress of a future Black Bear population in East Texas.

    "The Louisiana Black Bear is native to East Texas," task force Chairman Nathan Gardner said. "East Texas is the perfect spot for the bears to be." 

    Gardner told the crowd that East Texas was home to the bears but after World War II researchers started to notice a decline. 
    "They disappeared due to over hunting and destruction of their habitat," Gardner said.

    Gardner also said there is plenty of room in East Texas for the bears to have a livable area.

    "We have nearly a million acres across East Texas that have good bear habitat," Gardner said.
    The Louisiana Black Bear is native to environments found along the Angelina, Neches and Sabine Rivers. The population has dwindled in Texas but researchers claim other states nearby are experiencing growth.

    "Louisiana has a lot of bears," Gardner said. "So does Arkansas and Oklahoma."

    Gardner told the crowd that 30 years ago, Oklahoma did not have any bears and now the state has between 400-600 bears. 

    The task force uses research from SFA Professor Christopher Comer. Comer has been studying to find out the best places for the bears to re-populate. Comer believes the bears and humans can co-exist.

    "There are rather large in states that are densely populated like Pennsylvania, New York State, New Jersey where they have hundreds of bears living in close proximity to people," Comer said

    Comer said it is only a matter of time until the bears return to East Texas.
    They do eventually, naturally re-colonize these areas but it will take a lot of time," Comer said.

    Sarah Fuller said the bears do get a bad reputation. 

    "These are not Grizzly Bears," Fuller said. "These bears like to hand out and hide in the woods. They are omnivores but mostly eat plants."  

    Early 20th century Black Bear killed in Teas

    Fuller also said the re-introduction of black bears into East Texas will be a long process. 

    "It is a long way away because the black bears are returning naturally, so it is going to take some time," Fuller said. "We are in this for the long haul. This is likely a multi-generational effort."

    one of the last Black Bears killed in Texas-mid 1960's

    Ben Lily, a Big Thicket Black Bear Hunter




    • Start Info
      Founded on December 1, 2005
    • Short Description
      The ETBBTF supports the
    • restoration of the black bear in its historic range of 
    • east Texas through education,
    •  research, and habitat management.
    • Company Overview
      Black bears (Ursus americanus)
    •  are a part of the natural heritage of Texas and were
    •  historically widely distributed
    •  throughout... See More
    • General Information
      We invite Texans - landowners, 
    • educators, students, wildlife biologists, law enforcement
    •  officials, 
    • conservationists, and al... See More
    • Mission
      The ETBBTF will strive

    • to accomplish its mission of restoring Texas' native black bear 
    • population through partnerships among... See More
    • Phone
      903-566-1626 ext 209

    For more information on the group's effort, click here.


    Historical accounts of Black Bear 
    Hunting in the Big Thicket of East 
    Texas 1830-1925

    The Big Thicket Bear 

    Hunters Club of Kountze

    “They Dream Of Killing the Bears”

    By W. T. Block

    The old bear hunters of Hardin County had two things
    in common - they hunted bears until their youth
    gave way to old age, and they became windy raconteurs,
     talking each other to death about the big bear that
    got away. In fact around 1925, a half dozen or so
    old bear hunters met each Saturday morning under
     the big beech tree beside the Nona-Fletcher sawmill
     office in Kountze. They played “42” dominoes and
     swapped bear-hunting yarns for three hours before
     dozing off to sleep and snoring in their hide bottom chairs.

    Old John Kilrain, known locally as “Old Kil,” often
     passed by the mill office, exercising his dogs,
    while the bear hunters were playing dominoes. Kilrain,
     an old Negro, had been born a slave in 1864 before
     emancipation, and had led many of the bear hunts
    after 1890, his dogs always sticking to a bear’s trail
    until the latter was cornered. Kil always had a little
    ditty, which he sang as he passed the dozing bear
     hunters, as follows:
    “The old
    in the
    And the old
    men doze
     in their chairs,
    The old guns
     hang there
    While they dream
     about killing
     the bears.”1

    Strangely almost
     nothing was
     written about
    hunting in Southeast
     Texas prior
     to the Civil War
    although an occasional
    tale about
    black panthers was
     published. About 1830
    James Barnes,
     the pioneer
    patriarch of that family
    in Northwest
     County, killed
    14 panthers in one day,
    winning for him
     his lifetime
     appellation of “Panther Barnes”
    among his
    friends. However,
     bear-hunting stories were
    principally non-existent
     prior to the 1870s.

    In 1878 an article noted that some Southeast Texans made
    almost a profession of slaying ‘Old Bruin’ if he came
     within rifle range. Yet it was well-known that those earliest
     bear hunters ate every bear that they killed, killing for
    sport being wholly unknown to them. Galveston Weekly
    News reported in 1878 that:  “Mr. A. Stephenson, the old
    bear hunter of Southeast Texas, killed 33 bears last season,
    and so far this season, has killed 49 bears...”2

    A story about the Sour Lake Hotel in 1878 reported that
     the surrounding forests were filled with bears, panthers,
     deer, and bobcats. A Galveston Daily News reporter
     noted that while he was there, two hunters and their
    dog were trailing a bear near the hotel, when suddenly
    old bruin turned on them, killed one man and the dog
     before the reporter added:3

    “...The other man came up and rushed after
    Old Bruin with his knife. Bruin rose upon his
     hind legs, gave him a hug, and then crushed
     his skull in his mouth like an egg shell...
    when a man named Steele arrived and
    shot the bear dead...”
    “The two men killed by the bear were
    named Scott - father and son. The senior,
     old John Scott was a chief of the Alabama
     Indians living in that country...”

    Another story was labeled “The Hunter’s
     Elysium,” and first appeared in the Liberty
     Vindicator in 1889. Judge Hightower and his
     friends were hunting bears in the Big Thicket
    when suddenly they heard a yelp from Old
    Statler, the judge’s favorite hunting dog. The
     bear found an opening in the jungle, where he
     chose to stand and fight off the dogs.
    Old Bruin, fighting fiercely with every claw
     and fang he could muster, soon killed Old
     Statler and was seen attacking another dog
     when Hightower, his hunting knife drawn,
     jumped up on the bear’s back. The judge
    stabbed the bear twice in the animal’s heart
     before Old Bruin sank slowly to the ground.
     Hightower had saved the rest of his dogs,
     while his companions stood by too terror-
    stricken to move.4

    The passing of the black bears from the
     Big Thicket marked the passage of an era,
     leaving the surviving bear hunters with
     nothing to do except doze in the shade
    of the beech tree and dream about killing
     the bears that were about extinct. And
    now the Big Thicket bear hunters are as
    extinct as the Big Thicket bears they
    once hunted. Luckily the black bears are
     far from extinct elsewhere in the United
     States and perhaps some day a few of
    them will be released once more to restock
     the area. At present it is sad there are none
     left to browse on the mayhaws in the
     baygalls or gather the acorn mast left in
     the creek bottoms.
    1 “Pioneer Hunter Recalls Olden

    Days,” Beaumont Enterprise, April 6

    , 1924.
    2 Galveston Weekly News, Jan. 28,

    3 N. A. Taylor, “More About

    Sour Lake,” Galveston Weekly

    News, March 15, 1878.
    4 Lois W. Parker, “Legends

    of the Big Thicket,” Texas

    Gulf Historical and Biographical

    Record, X, Nr. 1 (Nov. 1974), 30-40.

    Louisiana Black Bear History

    The Louisiana black bear once ranged throughout LA
    and parts of MS, AR, and TX. The black bear was
     common at the time of early colonization, serving
     as food both for Indians and white settlers. More
     than 80 percent of prime Louisiana black bear
     habitat in the Mississippi River floodplain had
     been lost by the early 1990’s primarily due to
     clearing land for agriculture.  Quality of the
    remaining habitat has been reduced by
    fragmentation and human activities.
     An 1890 record shows 17 parishes containing
     bears, all of them in the Mississippi-Atchafalaya
    region.   It was reported that the most extensive
     areas of bottomland hardwoods in the state have
     “at least a few bears”, with the greatest number
     found in the denser woodlands along the Tensas
    , Red, Black, and Atchafalaya Rivers.  In the late
     1950s, bears occupied habitat in the Tensas-
    Madison area in northeast Louisiana and in the
    lower fringes of the Atchafalaya Basin.  The bear
     population in Louisiana at this time was reported
     as “sparse” with an estimated 80 to 120 bears.
     Although there were few bears in the state,
     hunting was still permitted.  It was believed
     that if bear populations increased significantly,
     predation and crop damage would become

    Black bear could be legally hunted in parts of 
    Louisiana through the late-1980s, but there 
    was little interest due to low bear numbers
     and hunts were uncommon.  One of the last
     organized bear hunts in Louisiana occurred 
    December 15, 1955.  During this hunt, 5 bears 
    were harvested in the Lake Providence area. 
     It was recommended to the Wildlife Commissio
    n that the bear season be closed. Bear hunting 
    was closed the following season and remained
     closed until 1961.  The season was opened
     again from 1962-1965 with hunting permitted
     only in northeast Louisiana and in the coastal
     parishes.  The hunting season was again 
    closed from 1966 to 1974.  It was reopened
     in 1975-1987 with hunting restricted to the 
    Atchafalaya Basin.  The Louisiana bear hunting
     season has remained closed since 1988. 
    From 1964 through 1967, 161 black bears
     were live-trapped in Cook County, Minnesota
     and released in the Mississippi and Atchafalaya
     River bottoms of Louisiana in an effort to restock
     black bear to the state.  By 1968 there was 
    evidence that the translocated bears were 
    reproducing.  However, most of the relocated
     bears were killed on roads, as nuisance
     animals, or during recapture.  

    Perhaps 400 to 600 bears are believed to roam
    Louisiana as of 2015

    -Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries:source