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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, October 31, 2015

The fact that Grizzlies are showing adaptability under stress in Yellowstone(warming temperatures, various food sources evaporating-cutthroat trout, whitebark pine) and not shrinking in population size or significant genetic diversity does not mean that the Federal Government should take them off of the Endangered Species List.......One of the biologists in the recent Yellowstone Griz Study, Pauline Kamath reveals this herself(althought the intent of her comment was to in essence to support delisting) when she recently stated: "Grizzly bears only live in a few places around the Northwest, and the Yellowstone population isn’t connected to any of them"............. "Because of that, there’s no way for fresh genes to be injected into the population, meaning genetic diversity will always be decreasing"..................Before any delisting takes plance,,,,,,,,,,,,,lets connect the isolated populations out west and simultaneously consider reintroducing new populations into the Bitteroots of Montana, Colorado and some other key linkage points from Yellowstone to the Yukon so as to assure long term viability for the Griz once they do get delisted

New study presents good news for Yellowstone grizzly bears

A new study offers another indicator that Yellowstone region grizzly bears are thriving — and they have the potential to thrive a while longer.
The study, published in Molecular Ecology, looked at 729 bears and found that the effective population — the number of bears passing genes to the next generation — in Yellowstone has quadrupled since the 1980s, growing from 100 to about 450. Researchers also found that genetic diversity in the population was stable.
That means gene variations that can help grizzlies evolve and adapt have a better chance of being passed on to new generations of Yellowstone bears. That’s important for their continued survival, especially in the age of climate change.
Pauline Kamath, a geneticist and one of the study’s authors, said the results are good for the grizzlies and highlight their restoration as a “conservation success.”
This study comes as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is said to be mulling a delisting rule for the threatened species. The bear was first listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1975, and has been hailed as one of the law’s biggest successes. The most recent U.S. Geological Survey estimated the total Yellowstone grizzly population at 757 bears, though some guess it’s even higher.
Kamath said the growth in effective population coincided with the growth in overall population, which could be one of the reasons the results came out the way they did.
She also said the stability in genetic diversity is some of the most significant good news in the study.
“As you lose genetic diversity you lose specific gene variants that will allow populations to adapt,” she said. “The less diversity you have, the less you have to work with basically.”
“It’s inevitable that an isolated population will lose diversity over time,” Kamath said.
But, Kamath and the other researchers found, because of the large effective population, the decline in genetic diversity has been gradual.
“There’s a very slow decrease,” she said.”But it’s not significant

President Bush(the younger) blocked this action when he became President

Grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) are a part of America's rich wildlife heritage and once ranged throughout most of the western United States. However, distribution and population levels of this species have been diminished by excessive human-caused mortality and loss of habitat. Today, only 800 to 1000 grizzly bears remain in a few populations in Montana (Northern Continental Divide, Yellowstone, and Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystems), Idaho (Yellowstone, Cabinet-Yaak, and Selkirk Ecosystems), Wyoming (Yellowstone Ecosystem), and Washington (Selkirk and North Cascades Ecosystems). Wildlife species, like grizzly bear, are most vulnerable when confined to small portions of their historical range and limited to a few, small populations. Expansion of the range of the species will increase the number of bears within the lower 48 states and increase habitat size and extent, and further conservation of the species. 

The Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan (USFWS 1982) called for evaluation of the Bitterroot Ecosystem (BE) as a potential recovery area. The best scientific evidence available indicates there are no grizzly bears in the BE at this time (USFWS 1996). Based on the results of a 5-year study (Davis and Butterfield 1991) of the BE, bear scientists estimate that the area could eventually support more than 200 grizzly bears (Servheen et al. 1991). The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) endorses the BE as a grizzly bear recovery area. The IGBC is a group of high-level administrators that represent the federal and state agencies involved in grizzly bear recovery, and coordinate agency efforts in implementing the Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan.

The USFWS, with support of the IGBC, proposes to recover the grizzly bear and restore this component of the BE by reestablishing the species within this portion of its historical range. The recovery of grizzly bears in the BE will allow the return of this prominent native omnivore now missing from this large block of Rocky Mountain wilderness habitat. The USFWS has determined that there are no grizzly bears in the BE at this time, that recovery of grizzly bears in the BE would facilitate conservation and recovery of the species in the lower 48 States, and that recovery of grizzly bears in the BE would require reintroduction of bears from other areas (USFWS 1993, 1996). The action proposed in this DEIS is to reintroduce a minimum of 25 grizzly bears over a 5-year period from which a population could grow over time. 

A public survey conducted in 1995 (Duda and Young 1995) indicated that 64% of local, 74% of regional, and 77% of national respondents were supportive of reintroducing grizzly bears into the BE. The two most popular reasons given by respondents for supporting reintroduction were the desire to save the grizzly bear from extinction, and to return this species as a missing component of the ecosystem. 

The BE is one of the largest contiguous blocks of federal land remaining in the lower 48 United States. The core of the ecosystem contains the Selway-Bitterroot and Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Areas. Together these two wilderness areas make up the largest block of wilderness habitat in the Rocky Mountains south of Canada. Of all remaining unoccupied grizzly bear habitat in the lower 48 States, this area in the Bitterroot Mountains has the best potential for grizzly bear recovery, primarily due to the large wilderness area. As such, the BE offers excellent potential to recover a healthy population of grizzly bears and to boost long-term survival and recovery prospects for this species in the contiguous U. S. The potential for grizzly bear recovery will be enhanced in the lower 48 States by inclusion of the BE because habitat will be increased by almost 10,000 square miles or almost 25% (including the wilderness area and outside buffer zones). In addition, any new or additional populations of grizzly bears will add to the known populations and therefore provide for a higher recovery potential for the species as a whole, decreasing the amount of time the species is on the Endangered Species List and the regulatory burden placed on the public. Other outcomes of reintroduction of the grizzly bear to the BE include its potential delisting and eventual return to state management where human uses could include hunting. The recovery of the grizzly bear in the BE would also aid in restoration of Nez Perce Tribe cultural and spiritual values
 related to the grizzly.


Biological. A metapopulation can be defined as a set of spatially disjunct populations, among which there is some potential immigration (Wells and Richmond 1995). Given understanding of population biology and metapopulation dynamics, the chances of survival of grizzly bears south of Canada increase as more populations are added to a grizzly bear metapopulation. Each additional population decreases the overall total number of grizzly bears that are necessary for long-term survival of the metapopulation. Also, each additional population reduces the number of bears that are necessary in each individual population within the metapopulation. This suggests that for grizzly bears to survive in the lower 48 States, each additional population with potential linkage to other populations increases the probability of survival. Therefore, one way to achieve recovery of grizzly bears in the lower 48 States and assure survival is to establish several smaller populations of grizzly bears. The ability of the Yellowstone population to contribute to a metapopulation has been questioned because of geographic distance to other populations and habitat fragmentation, although evaluation of this possibility is continuing (USFWS 1993). The addition of the BE to the grizzly bear recovery effort will increase long-term survival probabilities and conservation of grizzly bears within the lower 48 States.

For thousands of years, grizzly bears lived in a variety of habitats throughout most of western North America. An estimated 50,000 grizzly bears roamed the American West prior to European settlement (USFWS 1993). Due to loss of habitat and excessive and intentional killing by people, grizzly bears have been eliminated from all but approximately 2 percent of their historic range in the lower 48 States (USFWS 1993).

Historically, the grizzly bear was a widespread inhabitant of the Bitterroot Mountains in central Idaho and western Montana. When Lewis and Clark traveled through the Bitterroot country in 1806, grizzly bears were abundant. They killed at least 7 grizzly bears including 1 female and 2 cubs while camped near present-day Kamiah, Idaho (Thwaites 1959). Grizzly bears were common in central Idaho until the early 1900's (Wright 1909, Merriam 1922, Burroughs 1961). Wright (1909) wrote of killing dozens of grizzly bears over several years in the Bitterroot Mountains. A major influx of hunters, trappers, and settlers at the turn of the century, and later sheepherders were responsible for direct mortality and elimination of grizzly bears from the BE. Conservative estimates indicate trappers and hunters killed 25 to 40 grizzly bears annually in the Bitterroot Mountains during the early 1900's (Moore 1984, 1996). The last verified death of a grizzly bear in the BE occurred in 1932 and the last tracks were observed in 1946 (Moore 1984, 1996). Although occasional unverified reports of grizzly sightings persist in the BE (Melquist 1985), no verified tracks or sightings have been documented in more than 50 years.

the Bitterroot Grizzly Bear Primary Analysis Area (PAA) and includes USDA Forest Service lands potentially affected by grizzly bear recovery in the BE of Idaho and Montana (Figure 1-1). The heart of the PAA is centered around Wilderness Areas of central Idaho, while a small portion extends over the crest of the Bitterroot Mountains into western Montana.

The PAA includes about 16,686,596 acres (26,073 square miles) of contiguous national forest lands in central Idaho and western Montana (see Figure 3-2 in Chapter 3). These include all or parts of the Bitterroot, Boise, Challis, Clearwater, Nez Perce, Payette, Sawtooth, Salmon, and Panhandle National Forests in Idaho, and the Bitterroot and Lolo National Forests in western Montana.

scattered parcels of

Monday, October 26, 2015

Ecologist George Wuerthner is "spot on" in his WILDLIFE NEWS article stating in regard to the 295 bears killed in the recent 2 day Florida Black Bear hunt--"Hunting of predators makes no sense in today’s world"................The so-called "nuisance" bears that get into peoples garbage are seldom the ones killed by hunters bullets as no one is hunting around housing developments.................."Whether it is hunting of black bears in Florida, or the recent announcement by Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife to increase cougar hunting, wildlife agencies across the country tend to ignore predator social ecology".............. "In effect, by having indiscriminate hunting and trapping of predators, these state wildlife agencies create a self-reinforcing loop"............... "Predators are killed, resulting in a younger population, which in turn is more likely to create human conflicts, that are then used as an additional justification for more killing"

Florida just held its first bear hunt in several decades, targeting 300 of the bruins for death. Just three years ago, the black bear was listed as threatened, and the state’s bears had not been hunted since 1994.
The proximate reason for the hunt is that bears, according to representatives of the Florida Wildlife Commission, is that a growing bear population is contributing to greater conflicts between humans and bears. Hunters and the Wildlife Commission like to portray the issue as “problem bears”, but the reality is that there are no problem bears, only problem humans.
Most of these conflicts are due to human negligence. People leaving food attractants like unsecured garbage cans which train bears to forage near humans.

Ironically, indiscriminate hunting is not likely to reduce conflicts. For one thing, most hunters do not hunt immediately next to subdivisions where most conflicts are occurring. Rather they are most likely to the larger parcels of public or private lands. So the animals that hunters are killing, are not likely to be the ones that are wandering the edges of communities.
The second problem with indiscriminate hunting is that it’s difficult for a hunter to determine the sex of a bear. Many females with cubs are killed, leaving the young bears orphaned. Orphaned bears are inexperienced at foraging and desperate to eat, are more likely to be attracted to human foods.
So in effect, hunting only exacerbates the problem that the Florida Wildlife Commission seeks to solve.
The worse part of the hunt is that it ignores the social ecology of predators. Fish and Game agency always talk about maintaining populations. The problem with this kind of management is that it ignores the demographics of wildlife. Hunting tends to skew populations towards younger animals. So even if you maintain the same “population” if the population consists of many young inexperienced animals, you automatically create conflicts. Young animals are less likely to know the location of natural food resources, and are less successful as hunters. As a consequence, they are the very animals most likely to seek out garbage, livestock, and other human food resources.
Whether it is hunting of black bears in Florida, or the recent announcement by Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife to increase cougar hunting, wildlife agencies across the country tend to ignore predator social ecology. In effect, by having indiscriminate hunting and trapping of predators, these state wildlife agencies create a self-reinforcing loop. Predators are killed, resulting in a younger population, which in turn is more likely to create human conflicts, that are then used as an additional justification for more killing.
I see no evidence anywhere that state wildlife agencies are using the latest ecological science in their attitude and management of predators. It suggests that wildlife agencies cannot be trusted to manage predators. Keep in mind, that predators numbers will not grow indefinitely. They are self-managing, primarily by the availability of prey and food, as well as social interaction. Except perhaps for very specific surgical removal of individual animals, there is no good justification for killing predators. Even the argument that “I’m feeding my family” used by some hunters seldom applies to most predators which are not usually consumed.
Predators serve an important ecological function. Bears, for instance, move seeds of some plants around—think of the huckleberry that may be deposited in their droppings. Cougar can thin elk and deer herds to reduce their herbivory on favor plants like aspen and willow. Wolves can remove the injured and sick from a population.
Hunting of predators makes no sense in today’s world.

Florida Called Off Its Big Black-Bear Hunt After It Became a Black-Bear Massacre

Florida decided that something had to be done to reduce the number of black bearsinteracting with humans, who have increasingly been encroaching on their traditional settlement areas, with sometimesunfortunate results.
The state took the measured response of initiating a weeklong statewide bear hunt for the trash-hungry omnivores. It doled out more hunting permits (3,779) than the last known count of the bear population (3,300). The first weekend of bear bloodbath was such a success that officials had to call off the hunt after only 48 hours. The bear body count by that point had already reached 295.
The wildlife commission had set a cap of 320 bears, nearly 10 percent of the state's bear population.

Biologists with Florida's wildlife commission say the high numbers point to a robust and fully recovered bear population.
Just three years ago, the black bear was on the state's endangered-species list. The population was bouncing back from a low of around 300 in 1970, down from 11,000 at its mid-century peak. Hunting was suspended in 1994.
One reason for the "success" of the hunt, besides the zealousness of men in camouflage (approved weapons: shotguns, bows, pistols, revolvers, and crossbows; Ted Nugent also joined in), is, as one official put it, the sheer naïveté of Florida's wild black-bear population. Having not been hunted in two decades has left the population a bit soft in the stomach. "The bears haven't been hunted in 21 years, so they're relatively naive," said one wildlife official to the Tampa Bay Times. In fact, humans are largely to blame for bears being so "meh" about humans, as another official told National Geographic: "If an animal receives food enough so that it loses its fear of people, becomes used to people [...] Bears did not become this way without people's help."
Activists throughout the state were inflamed by the Fish and Wildlife Commission's decision to authorize the hunt. The commission was flooded with 40,000 public comments and letters during the public comment phase. Nearly 75 percent of respondents pleaded with the commissioners to vote no on the culling. But many sportsmen decried the activism as effete urbanism. As one prominent land developer told the Orlando Sentinel, "They [protesters] can't rule what everybody else wants. The protesters, in my opinion, are the vast minority of people. They're not hunters. They live in the city. They probably wouldn't even want to go out in the woods, you know?" 
Groups opposed to the hunt offered simple alternatives to the hunt like trash management and reducing the odors of human food, along with bear-proof receptacles to curb bears from roaming near houses and developments. But that would be no fun for the hunters, said one Central Florida hunter to CBS News, "They do a lot of damage on the property," he said. "It's nice being able to take this one out."
The apparently eager desire to kill bothers conservationists the most. “Florida’s strategy to allegedly reduce human-bear conflicts [through hunting] is predicated upon attracting trophy hunters and it’s akin to a crime control strategy that involves shooting generally into a crowd,” the president of the Humane Society of the United States recently told National Geographic.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Justin Trudeau, the new Prime Minister of Canada hopefully agrees with Sean Nixon (a lawyer with Ecojustice) regarding the DEAD WRONG British Columbia Wolf killing/Caribou mitigation paradigm.............. “This looks like the forest industry in B.C. is either directing the government’s policy on species at risk where that might affect timber harvesting, or at a minimum the provincial government is running the policy by the forest industry to make sure that it’s okay with them"............. "Either is troubling"..... "If a provincial government does not effectively protect any endangered species listed under SARA, Ottawa can impose regulations on provincial land".......... "Given B.C.’s approach so far(kill wolves to save Caribou rather than expanding forest habitat to protect Caribou) which seems more concerned about logging interests than the needs of caribou, the federal government may have to do just that"............Prime Minister Trudeau----BALL TO YOU SIR on this issue!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

There is a growing group of Historical Ecologists who reject the PRISTINE THEORY that saids the Americas were an "untouched wilderness prior to European colonization, lightly populated by a mere 1,000,000 Indians north of Mexico.........., They reject the "romanticized view of other researchers who claim North America was a place where a squirrel could race across the treetops from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River without needing to touch the ground..............These ECOLOGICAL REVISIONISTS postulate that the landscape of 1750 was more "pristine" (less humanized) than that of 1492..............Why?.........., Because European disease and military aggression had decimated a once a significantly large population of some 3.8 million Native Americans in what we now call the USA by AD.1750,,,,,,,,,,,,,,As a result of this depopulation, wildlife numbers grew and reached their largest densities and numbers in historical times............... Many biologists estimate that as George Washington led British troops to the Forks of the Susquehana River to reconnoiter the French military just prior to the start of the French and Indian War in 1750, that in virtually every 10 square miles(6600 acres) of Eastern Woodland Forest east of the Mississippi River, there were 5 black bears, two or three pumas, two gray wolves(and/or eastern wolves), two elk, nearly 3 dozen red foxes, 200 wild turkeys, 400 whitetail deer and 20,000 gray squirrels(among other forest dwellers)--source Colonial America in 1763, almanacs of American Life Series(NY Facts on File, 1999)........So common was the trade of deerskins between French, English and Indians that a single deerskin gained a monetary value equal to one Spanish dollar---thus giving rise to the term used for the American dollar today---"A BUCK"

The Pristine Myth: The Landscape of the
Americas in 1492
William M. Denevan
Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706

Abstract. The myth persists that in 1492 the Americas were a sparsely populated wilderness, -a world of barely perceptible human disturbance.- There is substantial evidence, however, that the Native American landscape of the early sixteenth century was a humanized landscape almost everywhere. Populations were large. Forest composition had been modified, grasslands had been created, wildlife disrupted, and erosion was severe in places. Earthworks, roads, fields, and settlements were ubiquitous. With Indian depopulation in the wake of Old World disease, the environment recovered in many areas. A good argument can be made that the human presence was less visible in 1750 than it was in 1492.
Key Words: Pristine myth, 1492, Columbus, Native American settlement and demography, prehistoric New World, vegetation change, earthworks.

'This is the forest primeval ..."Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie (Longfellow, 1847).
What was the New World like at the time of Columbus?-" Geography as it was," in the words of Carl Sauer (1971, x). The Admiral himself spoke of a 'Terrestrial Paradise," beautiful and green and fertile, teeming with birds, with naked people living there whom he called "Indians." But was the landscape encountered in the sixteenth century primarily pristine, virgin, a wilderness, nearly empty of people, or was it a humanized landscape, with the imprint of native Americans being dramatic and persistent? The former still seems to be the more common view, but the latter may be more accurate.
The pristine view is to a large extent an invention of nineteenth-century romanticist and primitivist writers such as W.H. Hudson, Cooper, Thoreau, Longfellow, and Parkman, and painters such as Catlin and Church! The wilderness image has since become part of the American heritage, associated *with a heroic pioneer past in need of preservation' (Pyne 1982, 17; also see Bowden 1992, 22). The pristine view was restated clearly in 1950 by John Bakeless in his book The Eyes of Discovery:

There were not really very many of these redmen ... the land seemed empty to invaders who came from settled Europe . . . that ancient, primeval, undisturbed wilderness . . . the streams simply boiled with fish ... so much game . . . that one hunter counted a thousand animals near a single salt lick ... the virgin wilderness of Kentucky ... the forested glory of primitive America (13, 201, 223, 314, 407).

But then he mentions that Indian "prairie fires . . . cause the often-mentioned oak openings ... Great fields of corn spread in all directions ... the Barrens ... without forest,' and that 'Early Ohio settlers found that they could drive about through the forests with sleds and horses" (31, 304, 308, 314). A contradiction?
In the ensuing forty years, scholarship has shown that Indian populations in the Americas were substantial, that the forests had indeed been altered, that landscape change was commonplace. This message, however, seems not to have reached the public through texts, essays, or talks by both academics and popularizers who have a responsibility to know better.

Kirkpatrick Sale in 1990, in his widely reported Conquest of Paradise, maintains that it was the Europeans who transformed nature, following a pattern set by Columbus. Although Sale's book has some merit and he is aware of large Indian numbers and their impacts, he nonetheless champions the widely-held dichotomy of the benign Indian landscape and the devastated Colonial landscape. He overstates both.
Similarly, Seeds of Change: Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy, the popular book published by the Smithsonian Institution, continues the litany of Native American passivity:

pre-Columbian America was still the First Eden, a pristine natural kingdom. The native people were transparent in the landscape, living as natural elements of the ecosphere. Their world, the New World of Columbus, was a world of barely perceptible human disturbance (Shetler 1991, 226).

To the contrary, the Indian impact was neither benign nor localized and ephemeral, nor were resources always used in a sound ecological way. The concern here is with the form and magnitude of environmental modification rather than with whether or not Indians lived in harmony with nature with sustainable systems of resource management. Sometimes they did; sometimes they didn't. What they did was to change their landscape nearly everywhere, not to the extent of post-Colonial Europeans but in important ways that merit attention.

The evidence is convincing. By 1492 Indian activity throughout the Americas had modified forest extent and composition, created and expanded grasslands, and rearranged microrelief via countless artificial earthworks. Agricultural fields were common, as were houses and towns and roads and trails. All of these had local impacts on soil, microclimate, hydrology, and wildlife. This is a large topic, for which this essay offers but an introduction to the issues, misconceptions, and residual problems. The evidence, pieced together from vague ethnohistorical accounts, field surveys, and archaeology, supports the hypothesis that the Indian landscape of 1492 had largely vanished by the mid-eighteenth century, not through a European superimposition, but because of the demise of the native population. The landscape of 1750 was more "pristine" (less humanized) than that of 1492.

Indian Numbers
The size of the native population at contact is critical to our argument. The prevailing position, a recent one, is that the Americas were well-populated rather than relatively empty lands in 1492. In the words of the sixteenth-century Spanish priest, Bartolomé de las Casas, who knew the Indies well:

All that has been discovered up to the year forty-nine 115491 is full of people, like a hive of bees, so that it seems as though God had placed all, or the greater part of the entire human race in these countries (Las Casas, in MacNutt 1909, 314).
Las Casas believed that more than 40 million Indians had died by the year 1560. Did he exaggerate? In the 1930s and 1940s, Alfred Kroeber, Angel Rosenblat, and Julian Steward believed that he had. The best counts then available indicated a population of between 815 million Indians in the Americas. Subsequently, Carl Sauer, Woodrow Borah, Sherburne F. Cook, Henry Dobyns, George Lovell, N. David Cook, myself, and others have argued for larger estimates. Many scholars now believe that there were between 40-100 million Indians in the hemisphere (Denevan 1992). This conclusion is primarily based on evidence of rapid early declines from epidemic disease prior to the first population counts (Lovell, this volume).

I have recently suggested a New World total of 53.9 million (Denevan 1992, xxvii). This divides into 3.8 million for North America, 17.2 million for Mexico, 5.6 million for Central America, 3.0 million for the Caribbean, 15.7 million for the Andes, and 8.6 million for lowland South America. These figures are based on my judgment as to the most reasonable recent tribal and regional estimates. Accepting a margin of error of about 20 percent, the New World population would lie between 43-65 million. Future regional revisions are likely to maintain the hemispheric total within this range. Other recent estimates, none based on totaling regional figures, include 43 million by Whitmore (1991, 483), 40 million by Lord and Burke (1991), 40-50 million by Cowley (1991), and 80 million for just Latin America by Schwerin (1991, 40). In any event, a population between 40-80 million is sufficient to dispel any notion of "empty lands." Moreover, the native impact on the landscape of 1492 reflected not only the population then but the cumulative effects of z growing population over the previous 15,000 years or more.

European entry into the New World abruptly reversed this trend. The decline of native American populations was rapid and severe, probably the greatest demographic disaster eve; (Lovell, this volume). Old World diseases were the primary killer. In many regions, particularly the tropical lowlands, populations fell by 90 percent or more in the first century after the contact. Indian populations (estimated) declined Hispaniola from 1 million in 1492 to a few hundred 50 years later, or by more than 99 percent in Peru from 9 million in 1520 to 670,000 in 1620 (92 percent); in the Basin of Mexico from 1.6 million in 1519 to 180,000 in 107 (89 percent); and in North America from 3.8 million in 1492 to 1 million in 1800 (74 percent). An overall drop from 53.9 million in 1492 to 5.6 million in 1650 amounts to an 89 percent reduction (Denevan 1992, xvii-xxix). The human landscape was affected accordingly, although there is not always a direct relationship between population density and human impact (Whitmore, et al. 1990, 37).

The replacement of Indians by Europeans and Africans was initially a slow process. By 1638 there were only about 30,000 English in North America (Sale 1990, 388), and by 1750 there were only 1.3 million Europeans and slaves (Meinig 1986, 247). For Latin America in 1750, 56nchez-Albornoz (1974, 7) gives a total (including Indians) of 12 million. For the hemisphere in 1750, the Atlas of World Population History reports 16 million (McEvedy and Jones 1978, 270). Thus the overall hemispheric population in 1750 was about 30 percent of what it may have been in 1492. The 1750 population, however, was very unevenly distributed, mainly located in certain coastal and highland areas with little Europeanization elsewhere. In North America in 1750, there were only small pockets of settlement beyond the coastal belt, stretching from New England to northern Florida (see maps in Meinig 1986, 209, 245). Elsewhere, combined Indian and European populations were sparse, and environmental impact was relatively minor.
Indigenous imprints on landscapes at the time of initial European contact varied regionally in form and intensity. Following are examples for vegetation and wildlife, agriculture, and the built landscape.

The Eastern Forests
The forests of New England, the Midwest, and the Southeast had been disturbed to varying degrees by Indian activity prior to European occupation. Agricultural clearing and burning had converted much of the forest into successional (fallow) growth and into semi-permanent grassy openings (meadows, barrens, plains, glades, savannas, prairies), often of considerable size.' Much of the mature forest was characterized by an open, herbaceous understory, reflecting frequent ground fires. "The de Soto expedition, consisting of many people, a large horse herd, and many swine, passed through ten states without difficulty of movement" (Sauer 1971, 283). The situation has been described in detail by Michael Williams in his recent history of American forests: "Much of the 'natural' forest remained, but the forest was not the vast, silent, unbroken, impenetrable and dense tangle of trees beloved by many writers in their romantic accounts of the forest wilderness" (1989, 33).' "The result was a forest of large, widely spaced trees, few shrubs, and much grass and herbage . . . Selective Indian burning thus promoted the mosaic quality of New England ecosystems, creating forests in many different states of ecological succession" (Cronon 1983, 49-51).

The extent, frequency, and impact of Indian burning is not without controversy. Raup (1937) argued that climatic change rather than Indian burning could account for certain vegetation changes. Emily Russell (1983, 86), assessing pre1700 information for the Northeast, concluded that: "There is no strong evidence that Indians purposely burned large areas," but Indians did "increase the frequency of fires above the low numbers caused by lightning," creating an open forest. But then Russell adds: "in most areas climate and soil probably played the major role in determining the precolonial forests." She regards Indian fires as mainly accidental and "merely" augmental to natural fires, and she discounts the reliability of many early accounts of burning.

Forman and Russell (1983, 5) expand the argument to North America in general: "regular and widespread Indian burning (Day 1953) [is] an unlikely hypothesis that regretfully has been accepted in the popular literature and consciousness." This conclusion, I believe, is unwarranted given reports of the extent of prehistoric human burning in North America and Australia (Lewis 1982), and Europe (Patterson and Sassaman 1988, 130), and by my own and other observations on current Indian and peasant burning in Central America and South America; when unrestrained, people burn frequently and for many reasons. For the Northeast, Patterson and Sassaman (1988 ' 129) found that sedimentary charcoal accumulations were greatest where Indian populations were greatest.

The indigenous impact on wildlife is equivocal. The thesis that "overkill" hunting caused the extinction of some large mammals in North America during the late Pleistocene, as well as subsequent local and regional depletions (Martin 1978,167-72), remains controversial. By the time of the arrival of Cortéz in 1519, the dense populations of Central Mexico apparently had greatly reduced the number of large game, given reports that "they eat any living thing" (Cook and Borah 1971-79, (3) 135, 140). In Amazonia, local game depletion apparently increases with village size and duration (Good 1987). Hunting procedures in many regions seem, however, to have allowed for recovery because of the 'resting" of hunting zones intentionally or as a result of shifting of village sites.

On the other hand, forest disturbance increased herbaceous forage and edge effect, and hence the numbers of some animals (Thompson and Smith 1970, 261-4A). "Indians created ideal habitats for a host of wildlife species . . . exactly those species whose abundance so impressed English colonists: elk, deer, beaver, hare, porcupine, turkey, quail, ruffed grouse, and so on" (Cronon 1983, 51). Mite-tailed deer, peccary, birds, and other game increases in swiddens and fallows in Yucatán and Panama (Greenberg 1991; Gordon 1982, 96-112; Bennett 1968). Rostlund (1960, 407) believed that the creation of grassy openings east of the Mississippi extended the range of the bison, whose numbers increased with Indian depopulation and reduced hunting pressure between 1540-1700, and subsequently declined under White pressure.