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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Monday, November 30, 2015

We can all agree that Governor Chris Christie would be no friend of biodiversity if he was to be elected President in 2016.............Black Bears have been hunted with intense pressure in the Garden State since 2010 causing Bears in the northwestern portion of the state to tumble from 3000 to 2200 .............Yet Gov. Christie's Environmental Protection Unit has the gall to say that there are still 3500 Bears in this region, an overstatement of the poplation even prior to killing off 1600 of the bruins since 2010..............Female Bears reproduce slowly and not every year----Couple this with the diminishing kill levels(from 500+ to 200+ over the past 4 years and in my mind you have a declining not a growing population.................Have we heard Christie dictate that all northwestern Jersey communities should initiate bear proof garbage cans and and not to put out your trash till the morning of pick up?..............NO,,,,,,,,,,just "kill baby kill" rhetoric seeped in B.S.regarding resident safety,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Thus NJ now has an expanded hunting season initiating in October 2016 and an additional 4 days tacked onto next weeks hunt should "weather keep hunters from coming out..........Wow, that is just great wildlife science at play wouldn't you say??????.............Let us hope that Christie gets no traction in the New Hampshire primaries even with the big newspaper up there endorsing him for President

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Following up on yesterdays commentary regarding Western Fishers needing restoration if they are to be found West of the Mississippi over the next 100 years......One of our blog readers supplied me with this excellent update regarding the USFW and Washington state wildlife folks plans to re-introduce Fishers to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in the southwest Cascade Mtns(near Mt. St. Helens)...........In a cooperative effort with British Columbia(Canada) wildlife officials, 40 Fishers will be transplanted from the Province into the Cascades over the next few weeks with subsequent introductions into the northern Cascades in 2017(Note that Olympic National Park had a successful Fisher re-introduction in 2008 with a breeding population now at work in those forests)..............It has been some 65 years of silence in the Cascades as far as Fisher activity is concerned and this rewildling effort gets a big thumbs up from this Blog!

Weasel-like critter, gone from Washington for 20 years, returning to Cascades

 SEATTLE — A weasel-like predator that disappeared from Washington state decades ago will soon be reintroduced to the Cascade Mountains.
State and federal wildlife officials are preparing to re-establish fishers into Mount Rainier and North Cascades national parks and surrounding areas as part of an effort to restore the state-listed endangered animals to their previous range.
The dark brown forest-dwelling mammals historically were found throughout much of the forested areas of the state. But they declined in numbers due to overtrapping in the 1800s and early 1900s and the loss of forest habitats. Fishers are believed to have disappeared from the state in the mid-1900s.

In coming weeks, a team of wildlife officials will take fishers captured from British Columbia and relocate them to the southwest Cascades, including Mount Rainier National Park and Gifford Pinchot National Forest near Mount St. Helens. The plan is to reintroduce 40 fishers a year for two years.
If all goes well, officials will begin relocating additional fishers to the northwest Cascades, as early as fall 2017. Each region would get 80 animals, for a total of 160.
How will you know if you see one? The males weigh about as much as a cat, 8 to 13 pounds, but they're sleeker and lower to the ground and as much as four feet long. Females are smaller, typically 5 pounds, and just shy of 3 feet long. Both have very dark brown fur and big feet in proportion to their legs.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the National Park Service, Conservation Northwest and others are leading the effort to bring them back.
"We have a chance to correct a thing that we didn't manage correctly a long time ago. We can restore a species," said Jeffrey Lewis, a WDFW wildlife biologist.
The first fisher reintroduction in the state was done in Olympic National Park in 2008. About 90 fishers were reintroduced over several years, and those animals have successfully reproduced.
Last May, park officials approved a plan to partner with the state to re-establish the fisher to the two national parks. The goal is to rebuild the population so fishers can survive and reproduce on their own, as well as to improve the ecosystem.
"When biodiversity is lost from an ecosystem, that system is less able to withstand change and can become less resilient," said Tara Chestnut, a Mount Rainier park ecologist.
Fishers belong to a family that includes weasels, mink and otters. They eat small mammals, including snowshoe hares, mountain beavers and porcupines, are found only in North America, in low-to-mid elevation canopy forests.
The state is getting animals from British Columbia because they are closely related to fishers that were historically in Washington, and it's a healthy population close to the state, Chestnut said.
Trapping season began Nov. 1 in British Columbia. Chestnut, Lewis and others are waiting for enough fishers to be captured before traveling north to bring the animals back.
The fishers will be examined to make sure they're healthy and disease-free, and they'll be equipped with radio transmitters so biologists can track them for about two years.
"We will put them in the center of a lot of good habitat," Lewis said.
The first 25 fishers will be relocated in national forest south of Mount Rainier with the final 15 animals to be released within the park. The goal is to relocate them in late fall or early winter to give females time to establish dens.
Fishers were listed by the state as an endangered species in 1998. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last fall proposed listing the West Coast population of fishers as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act.
-- Phuong Le, The Associated Press

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Fishers are much like Pumas isofar as males allowing several females to share their territory..........As males defend their territory against other male Fishers, the females are afforded a more favorable habitat to hunt prey and care for their kits............Unlike Wolves and Coyotes that have about a 60 day gestation period prior to pup birth, female martens carry for 10 or 11 months before birthing..........Both males and females are promiscuous during a roughly 45 day period mid March through the end of April..........Strictly carnivorous, Fishers are the one sure predator of porcupines and have been purposely reintroduced into many forest habitats to create a rough equilibrium with Porkies so that various tree regeneration can take place..............Kits disperse in late Summer and Fall through a process called squabbling, aggression that takes place am among the kits and perhaps their mother as well---In essence,a behaviour paradigm kicks into Fisher families with the theme being: "we have supported you ling enough, go make it on your own"................Note that while eastern fishers are on the rebound, the western fisher has yet to recover from forest removal and other human land altering activity..........Re-introductions of the Western Marten will likely be needed to ensure long term persistence of the species

Fisher Families Fall Out In Fall
Illustration by Adelaide Tyrol
Along with the crisp mornings and crimson colors that signal summer’s slide into fall, there are changes occurring in the forests that go mostly unnoticed.  Among them is the dispersal of fisher kits from their mother’s territory into their own. Little is known about the process of fisher families breaking apart, except that it generally starts in late summer or early autumn and unfolds gradually.
What is known is that fishers (Martes pennanti) are born in March, blind, helpless, and dependent on their mothers. It takes nearly three weeks for fisher kits to grow fur and nearly two months for their eyes to open. Despite the burden of caring for her helpless kits, the mother will wander off for short periods within a week or two of giving birth in search of new mates.
From late March through April, the female will mate with several males – ovulation is induced by copulation – and then carry the fertilized zygotes-turned-blastocysts  for the next 10 or 11 months. The change of day length in late winter acts as a trigger for the embryos to implant in the uterus. Thus the female is technically pregnant for all but maybe 10 days of the year, even though her active pregnancy is only around 50 days.
Males do not play a direct role in the rearing of the young, but they do allow adult females to overlap onto their territory, said Chris Bernier, Furbearer Project Leader for the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. This sharing of space can have a positive effect on litters. “Because males exclude other adult males from their territory, but not adult females, the foraging opportunities for the females [are increased], and hence, their kits’ survival is likely enhanced,” said Bernier.
Young fishers spend the spring and summer under their mother’s care, learning to hunt and forage. They are primarily carnivorous, eating a variety of animals, including mice, moles, snowshoe hares, and woodchucks. Fishers are one of the few animals to successfully prey on porcupines.
Sometime in late summer or early autumn, the family dynamic starts to shift. “During this period, kits and their mothers start to squabble,” said Roger Powell, a professor of applied ecology at North Carolina State University and author of a book on fishers. “They stop sharing resting sites and start doing more foraging on their own.”
Exactly how the squabbling, known as inter-familial aggression, starts and what it looks like is not well understood. Rebecca Green, a doctoral student studying fishers at the University of California, Davis said that photos taken with remote cameras suggest that the fighting may occur more often between kits, as opposed to between a mother and her kits. While the interactions are “rough and tumble,” they don’t seem to be overly aggressive. “It looks largely playful and is probably good practice for interacting with other fishers and prey,” said Green.
Bernier, however, noted that studies done on fishers taken by trappers in the fall show that adult females and juveniles of both sexes tend to have more injuries than adult males. This suggests that inter-familial aggression may include mothers. Bernier agreed with Green that the dynamic is not well documented, and noted that he has never observed it firsthand.
The size of fisher territories can vary, depending, in part, on the abundance of food. Females tend to have smaller territories, around five square miles on average, while males may occupy a space twice that size. According to Powell, most kits travel less than 12 miles before finding a space unclaimed by another fisher, though some have been known to travel up to 30 miles before settling down.
While the distances traveled and the particulars of inter-familial aggression may vary, the results do not. By the time autumn winds down, fisher kits have struck out on their own and are no longer under the protective watch of their mothers

by: Carolyn LoriƩ , Thetford, Vermont.

Center for biological diversity statement on eastern versus western fishers as it relates to potential for long-term persistence

 In the eastern United States, the fisher recovered much of its range, as a result of strict trapping regulations, return of forest from abandoned farmlands and reintroductions.

 In the western United States, however, the fisher has not successfully re-inhabited the majority of its range, despite cessation of trapping (Aubry and Houston 1992, Zielinski et al. 1995a and 1997). The fisher is reduced to two native populations on the West Coast—one in northern California and another in the southern Sierra Nevada (Zielinski et al. 1995a and 1997)—and a reintroduced population in the southern Oregon Cascades (Aubry et al. 1996, Aubry and Lewis in litt.)  All three populations are threatened by continued habitat loss to logging, development and other anthropogenic factors, and population isolation and demographic stochasticity (Lamberson et al. 2000, Truex et al. 1998).

 Reestablishing the fisher in a larger portion of its range, including the central and northern Sierra Nevada and portions of Oregon and Washington, may be necessary to ensure the long-term survival of the fisher on the West Coast. 

coyotes and fawns penn

Do coyotes kill deer regularly?
Coyotes do kill deer - both adults and fawns - and will feed on deer remains from highway accidents and gut piles left by hunters. A fawn study conducted in 2000 and 2001 on the Quehanna Wild Area and in Penns Valley - near State College - concluded that predators accounted for almost half of all fawn mortalities in the study. Black bears and coyotes were nearly equal in the number of fawns they killed and together, black bears and coyotes, accounted for two-thirds of all predator mortalities. Nonetheless, the fawn survival rates established for the two study areas were comparable to geographic areas similar to our state in the northern reaches of the white-tailed deer range and did not adversely impact the deer population's ability to replenish annual losses caused by hunting, predators and other limiting factors. In addition, we have not seen evidence that coyotes are killing a significant number of healthy adult deer in Pennsylvania. Being opportunists, they tend to spend more time patrolling the shoulders of state highways to consume deer killed in collisions with vehicles than stalking mature whitetails.

We have previously reported on the longest-running Puma research in North America--THE TETON COUGAR PROJECT run by the advocacy group, PANTHERA.............Over the past 5 years, their research in the Greater Yellowstone has revealed lifestyle aspects of Puma life never before known or accepted as scientific fact.........The Teton Cougar Project has firmly established that "adults of both sexes will gather together to share a meal without any fighting or spilled blood"............. "Cameras have revealed that males accompany females with cubs—both of their own siring and not—without even a hint of infanticide"......... "And they’ve found that the cats will even sleep together near a carcass for days on end, showing a social side that had never been seen or studied before"...............And like all trophic carnivores(wolves, Griz and Black Bears, Coyotes, Bobcats, Lynx, Martens, Fishers, Hawks, Eagles, etc, etc, etc), "we’re only just starting to learn what crucial and often unexpected roles these predators play in maintaining the health of ecosystems"............. "There’s evidence that the presence of mountain lions can affect everything from plant diversity to the abundance of butterfly populations"............ "Whether pumas allow themselves to be glimpsed or not, we can, it seems, see their influence on the forests they inhabit" ..............Watch the National Geographic Special about this study on National Geo Channel this coming December 3,,,,,,,,,,,check your local listings for times





A new documentary 

reveals that mountain

 lions are not the solitary 

killing machines 

we’ve always thought.

TA mountain lion wears a radio collar as part of the Teton Cougar Project.

 Mark Elbroch (left) and a colleague examine a mountain lion kitten.PHOTO: ANNA PLACE/BBC

Mountain lions share a meal.PHOTO: JEFF HOGAN/HOGAN FILMS

Mountain lion hunts take place in the winter.
A mountain lion takes cover in a tree.PHOTO: DUNCAN PARKER

Thursday, November 26, 2015

In 1621, the bounty of our eastern woodland forest (as understood and utilized by the Wampanoag Indians) was shared with the Pilgrims in what was later to become the state of Massachusetts......"The 3 sisters"(corn, beans and squash) along with venison, fowl, peanuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, peppers, tomatoes, avocados, chestnuts, artichokes, cranberries, various fish, green beans, lima beans, pumpkins(winter squash and pumpkin pie), maple syrup and walnuts graced that first Thanksgiving table..........Talk about a cornucopia of foodstuffs and yes, a big thank you to those Wampanoags(and other indians) for fostering a biodiversity regimine that all of us Americans should incorporate into our current land use policies as we give thanks during this Thanksgiving week...........Best to all of you blog readers on the best and uniquely American holiday, THANKSGIVING


Native Foods On The Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving-BrownscombeThe winter of 1620 nearly wiped out the Pilgrims, who were woefully unprepared for life in the New world. Many historians feel they would all have perished if not for food provided by the Wampanoags, on whose land they settled. The following spring, the Wampanoags provided the Pilgrims with seeds to plant, as well as a tutorial (possibly an App, but we can’t be sure) on the production, storage and preservation of food crops such as corn, beans, and squash.
That fall – we’re not even sure if it was October or November – the Pilgrims gave thanks for Native American agriculture, and feasted upon its bounty for three days straight. The Wampanoags probably gave thanks that there wasn’t another ship full of Pilgrims on the horizon just then.
If the Pilgrims had only known what a big deal Thanksgiving was going to become in America, they would undoubtedly have taken some pictures, or at least invited the press. As it was, the exact menu is lost to history, but Wampanoag oral history, as well as some brief written accounts, indicate that there was indeed – surprise – corn, beans and squash, in addition to fowl and venison. Beyond that there may have been chestnuts, sun chokes (Jerusalem artichokes), cranberries and seafood.
Barley was the one European-sourced crop that the Pilgrims managed to raise in 1621. Unfortunately, they seemed unaware it could be eaten. The up side of that, though, was that there was beer that Thanksgiving.The "three sis
While corn, beans and squash, “The Three Sisters,” were (and are) grown by many Native peoples in the Americas, other indigenous crops will grace our Thanksgiving tables this year. Maybe you’ll have appetizers out for company before dinner. Mixed nuts, anyone? Peanuts are a big-time Native American crop. Pecans and sunflower seeds, too. And everyone likes corn chips with dip, right? Those hot (and sweet) peppers and tomatoes in the salsa are Native American foods. Prefer avocado dip? Yep, another native food.
Of course turkeys are indigenous to the New World, but so are a lot of the “fixings.” Pass the (New World) cranberry sauce, please. How about some mashed potatoes to go with that gravy? It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without potatoes. White (“Irish”) potatoes are a New World crop, as are sweet potatoes. We can thank Native American agronomists for green beans, and Lima beans too. Pass the squash – Native peoples developed many varieties of squash, including Hubbard squash and pumpkins, which are technically a winter squash.
Which brings us to dessert. Specifically to the iconic Thanksgiving pumpkin pie – I think just about everyone is thankful for that treat. But wait, there’s more. Let’s have ice cream with our pie (provided we don’t have serious cholesterol issues). Maple-walnut, perhaps? Those two indigenous flavors go well together. Vanilla is from the Americas, and so is chocolate. If you add some toppings like strawberry, pineapple or blueberry sauce, you’ll be having more Native American foods for dessert.
I hope you have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving filled with family and gratitude. Among other things, we can be grateful to native peoples and their crops. But please, don’t blame them if you eat a little more than you had intended.
Illustration: Part of painting “The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth,” by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe (1914).

Paul Hetzler is the Horticulture and Natural Resources Educator at
 Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County
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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ecologist George Wuerthner is second to none when it come to explaining in undeniably clear prose why the hunting and killing of carnivores is "dead wrong!"...........His op ed piece in the OREGONIAN newspaper tells us in no uncertain terms why the Wolf Delisting decision by the Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife is wrought with aberrant science and political monkey-wrenching by livestock groups in the state..............As George states: "Out of 1.3 million cattle and 195,000 sheep in the state, only 114 domestic livestock have been confirmed killed by wolves since the first wolves appeared in the early 2000s"................ "Comparisons between Montana and Oregon are often made by ODFW"............."Using Montana, in 2014, the state's 600 or so wolves killed 35 cattle and six sheep out of a total of 2.5 million cattle and 220,000 sheep respectively"..............., "By comparison, non-wolf losses accounted for 89,000 deaths"........... "And though six sheep were killed by wolves, some 7,800 sheep died from other causes, like weather" .........."Wolves are simply not a threat, or even barely a factor in the economic viability of the livestock industry"........."If, hypothetically, elk were the species under consideration and were protected under the state's Endangered Species Act, I can almost guarantee you ODFW would want way more than 100 individuals(estimated maximum number of wolves in Oregon today) before they would recommend delisting". .............."They would want to see elk restored across the state"

Delisting wolves 

was a mistake 


Follow on Twitter
on November 24, 2015 at 3:00 PM, updated November
 24, 2015 at 3:02 PM

By George Wuerthner
The recent decision by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife
 Commission to delist wolves from the state's
Endangered Species Act protection was based
 on faulty science and political expediency. The
 biggest problem is with the department's criteria
 for delisting — more than four breeding pairs of
 wolves for three years in a row— is that it fails to
ensure full restoration of the wolf across the state.
 Many outside scientists, including myself, feel the
 small population of 80 to perhaps as many as 100
 wolves statewide is hardily sufficient to guarantee
a robust and speedy restoration of the species

A hundred or fewer wolves may preclude the 
extinction of the species, but it does not restore 
the ecological function of the wolf. And restoring
 the ecological function of the species should be 
the prime goal of any conservation effort. Precluding 
extinction is a very low bar and does not serve the 
people of Oregon, the wolf or our ecosystems.
I did an analysis of the potential for wolf restoration
in Oregon back in the 1990s and concluded that the
 state could easily support 1,500 to 2,000 wolves.
 Others have reached similar conclusions. Restoring
 wolves across the state so that they are functional
 members of the wildlife community should be the
 goal of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
If, hypothetically, elk were the species under
 consideration and were protected under the
 state's Endangered Species Act, I can almost
guarantee you ODFW would want way more than
100 individuals before they would recommend
 delisting. They would want to see elk restored
 across the state.

Wolves are in a sense a "keystone" species that
 influences ecosystem health. Having a token 
population of wolves is not the same as having a
 functioning ecosystem member. Wolves not only 
eliminate weaker prey individuals but can shift
use; for instance they can reduce elk and deer 
on aspen, willows and other browse species in
areas. Wolves can also affect the distribution and
 numbers of other species. Where wolves are
 there are often fewer coyotes. Coyotes kill the 
 Sierra Nevada red fox that is just hanging on 
in the
 Cascades. Restoration of wolves could thus 
assist the
 recovery of the red fox.
The rush to delist wolves is driven by false perceptions
 of wolf impacts on livestock and big game populations.
 Out of 1.3 million cattle and 195,000 sheep in the state,
 only 114 domestic livestock have been confirmed killed
by wolves since the first wolves appeared in the early
2000s. Comparisons between Montana and Oregon
 are often made by ODFW. Using Montana, in 2014,
 the state's 600 or so wolves killed 35 cattle and six
sheep out of a total of 2.5 million cattle and 220,000
 sheep respectively, By comparison, non-wolf losses
 accounted for 89,000 deaths. And though six sheep
 were killed by wolves, some 7,800 sheep died from
other causes, like weather.

Why do so many Ranchers demonize Wolves?

Wolves are simply not a threat, or even barely a factor,
 in the economic viability of the livestock industry.
The idea that hunting will be negatively affected across
 any significant portion of the state is also unlikely.
Between 2009 and 2014, all wildlife management
 units (WMUs) of northeastern Oregon with established
wolf packs had increasing elk populations, and two of
the four (Imnaha and Snake River) were above the
established management objectives for elk since
 wolves became established (ODFW data).
A similar situation exists in Montana, where elk
numbers grew from an estimated 89,000 animals
 in 1992 (Montana Elk Plan) to 167,000 elk today
 (Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks,
 2015). If this is what you get with wolf predation,
 I think most reasonable hunters would agree we
 could use more wolves in Oregon!

In the end, ODFW capitulated to mythology and
 false fears of hunters and ranchers without
 providing context and did not meet its wildlife
 responsibilities under the public trust doctrine
 to work diligently for full restoration of the
 ecological function of the wolf.
George Wuerthner bio: