Visitor Counter

hitwebcounter web counter
Visitors Since Blog Created in March 2010

Click Below to:

Add Blog to Favorites

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

Subscribe via email to get updates

Enter your email address:

Receive New Posting Alerts

(A Maximum of One Alert Per Day)

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Stone Walls that you see today in the Northeast and New England woodlands are a unique American architectural "masterpiece that were created by 17th and 18th century colonists as they felled the forest on their farms and homesteads for crops and husbandry...............The rocky soils that were left behind as the last glacier rolled back north 10,000 years ago provided the perfect material for the 100,000 miles of stone wall that still blanket these woodlands(down from the estimated 250,000 miles of wall originally built)............The colonists used the stone to delineate their fields for various crops and grazing as well as marking the boundaries of their property........................."These Stone walls parse the land into finer pieces, creating diverse microclimates and ecosystems and opportunities for creatures of all types, said Robert M. Thorson, a University of Connecticut geology professor, the founder of the Stone Wall Initiative"................"The base of stone walls might be cool and moist, the crevices like tiny caves"................ "The top might be a desert, dry and barren"................. "On one side of a wall might be woods, the other field"...............“Walls sort of divide, create and enforce differences"................... "Every stone in every wall is animated with life"..............."They act as a barrier, collecting fallen leaves and debris which provide stock piles of food and shelter for many small woodland fauna such as mice, chipmunks, squirrels, weasels, spiders, worms, snakes, frogs and salmanders...............And where these creatures are, their predators also abound.............Foxes, Coyotes, Bobcats, Lynx and even Black Bears use the walls as travel lanes, taking advantage of the the extra elevation to help them spot their prey..............."If we do not do all we can to preserve these living stone walls, if they were to disappear, a surge of physical and biological changes would ripple through the landscape"............ "Woodlands would blend together, soil erosion would increase, and billions of creatures would die"..........."Stone walls create a landscape in which history and natural history are one in the same"

Stone Walls
Illustration by Adelaide Tyrol
When you think about the iconic landforms of the Northeast, what comes to mind? The mountains, of course. The lakes. Of course. Rivers? Probably.
But there’s another. Stone walls. An estimated 100,000 miles of them. They might not be as impressive as the Presidential Range or Moosehead Lake, but collectively they make a big impact on the landscape and the creatures who live there.
Stone walls parse the land into finer pieces, creating diverse microclimates and ecosystems and opportunities for creatures of all types, said Robert M. Thorson, a University of Connecticut geology professor, the founder of the Stone Wall Initiative, and the author of three books about New England’s stone walls: Stone by Stone: The Magnificent History in New England’s Stone Walls;  Exploring Stone Walls: A Field Guide to New England’s Stone Walls and Stone Wall Secrets (co-authored with Kristine Thorson.)
In Exploring Stone Walls, he wrote that “when we encounter a stone wall in the deep woods, we instinctively think of the place as being desolate. This is an illusion. Every stone in every wall is animated with life.”

Stone walls literally change things from the soil level on up, Thorson told me in an interview. “Think about shade and sunlight and wind and the implications of that for moisture and temperature. Think about the structure of the wall and the conductivity of the stone relative to the ground. They’re heat pumps and ventilators.”
The base of stone walls might be cool and moist, the crevices like tiny caves. The top might be a desert, dry and barren. On one side of a wall might be woods, the other field. “Walls sort of divide, create and enforce differences,” Thorson said. If you have a wall on a slope it might be capturing soils on the upside, while the soils on the downside might be poorer. “That makes shade or not shade. You have upslope and downslope,” he said.
Animals of all types utilize stone walls — from foxes to chipmunks to salamanders. Cats and foxes use them as travel lanes, while the extra elevation could help them spot prey, or predators. When my friends at Northern Woodlands brought in their game cameras last fall, they had some great shots of a bobcat and a black bear on a stone wall. Yes, a black bear.

Thorson said Blanding’s turtles migrate to breeding sites along stone walls, where the leaf litter is moister and there’s more protection from predators.
“It’s a wall, but it’s also a corridor,” Thorson told me. “You get wet and dry, shady, moist, windward and leeward. It introduces a vertical billboard to the landscape and increases habitat diversity.”
The immensity of the stone wall landform — New England’s stone walls are at least two times the length of the Interstate Highway System — means that is a lot of habitat.
While a single pile of rocks might attract a few chipmunks or white-footed mice, imagine that rodent-friendly habitat chained together for miles. Then think about the minks and snakes, the foxes and owls that prey on those rodents and you see how the effect is multiplied up the food chain. Stone walls can, literally, make our landscape come alive.
“I just think they’ve made the landscape much more interesting…because of the power of plant and animal communities to adapt to the changes they impose,” said Thorson.
When talking about the power of stone walls to attract animal life, Thorson likes to use us as an example. Take a bunch of second graders and assemble them in a field between a pond and a woods edged by a stone wall. Tell them to go find nature and they’ll head for the pond because, well, that’s where they’ve been taught that nature exists. Tell them to go explore, he said, and they’ll head right for the stone wall.

Many of us take stone walls for granted. But they are as vulnerable as anything else to human activity. While there are still an estimated 100,000 miles of them in New England, it’s worthwhile noting that, in 1939 mining engineer Oliver Bowles estimated their combined length at 259,000 miles, according to the Stone Wall Initiative.
If the rest of them were to disappear, “a surge of physical and biological changes would ripple through the landscape,” Thorson wrote in the epilogue to Exploring Stone Walls. Woodlands would blend together, soil erosion would increase, and billions of creatures would die, he wrote. What’s more, we would have lost a part of who we are.
New England is a place, Thorson wrote, where “human activities are so thoroughly blended into the otherwise natural landscape that the distinction between them is moot and meaningless.” Stone walls create, “a landscape in which history and natural history are one in the same.”
Joe Rankin writes on forestry, nature and sustainability. He lives in Maine.

Take Me Outside(to look at the Stone Walls)
Saturday, December 31, 2016; Ruth Smith
The majority of New England’s stone walls were built within a 30- year period from 1810-40. During this time, agriculture was a driving force and most residents were farmers. These intrepid farmers and their ancestors had spent earlier decades cutting down trees to build homes, barns and other structures and opening up land for planting crops and pasturing livestock. Early fences, used to contain cattle and sheep, were made of wood and stumps from the downed trees.

In the early 1800s, Merino sheep were brought into New England and things changed. The great sheep boom began. A worldwide market for Merino wool provided subsistence farmers with a flush of cash. More land was cleared and pastures were created, bordered by sturdy stone walls.
The stone structures were usually as high as a man’s thigh. Then, wooden fences were added on top to bring the barriers to the height necessary to keep sheep from escaping. Census records indicate that in 1840, New Hampshire was home to 600,000 sheep. Surrounding states were part of this movement as well, and it is estimated that over 250,000 miles of stone walls were built in New England and New York during this period of time. The mass of these meandering rock piles is said to be greater than that of the pyramids of Egypt.
It is remarkable to think that the product all of that work of hauling rocks and laying walls, was only used for a few decades. By 1850, New England farms were being abandoned. The great exodus to the west had begun. Farming in deep, rich, rock-free soil of the mid-western prairies was much easier. Thanks to the Erie Canal and expanding railroads the products from those farms could be easily shipped back east. New England’s open farm fields, up to 80 percent of the landscape, began to grow back to forests. Today when we see walls crisscrossing through the woods, it’s interesting to reflect on the fact that the land was not forested when the walls were built.
In addition to being an artifact of our agricultural past, New England stone walls provide a rich habitat for wildlife. They act as a barrier, collecting fallen leaves and debris which provide stock piles of food and shelter for many small woodland fauna. Most stone walls were built without mortar, using gravity and the shape of the stones to hold them together. As a result there are miniature caves and tunnels created in the spaces between the stones that provide ideal shelter for small creatures.
Even in winter when snow covers the ground, the walls are noticeable as they rise above the forest floor. It is worth taking a close look to see what tracks and signs are left as clues of the current residents or visitors. Look for little footprints of mice, chipmunks, squirrels or weasels coming in and out of the crevices. Larger mammals will use the walls as a trail system, leaving tracks along the top of the partition. You may even find signs left by foxes using the old farmer’s boundary wall to declare the boundaries of their territory by depositing scat.

In warmer months, countless invertebrates – insects, worms and spiders – make their homes in the gaps of stone walls. Reptiles such as common garter snakes and wood frogs may also use them for shelter and hibernate beneath them during the winter.
South facing walls, where the snow melts more quickly, absorb the sun, retain the heat of the sun and provide warmth to animals within or near the walls. Snow free stones also reveal a wide variety of lichen and moss that grows on these mineral surfaces.
The farmers who built the great walls of New England are long gone. But their legacy lives on as the remnants of their efforts continue to provide boundaries for territories, shelter for animals and miniature green pastures and add to the diversity of wildlife habitats.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

"From an evolutionary standpoint,it doesn't usually make sense for wildlife to have fewer offspring and care for them over a long period of time".............. "When facing high hunting pressure, it's logical that brown bearsz(Grizzlies) would have as many cubs as possible to keep populations as stable as possible".............. "However, a recent Université de Sherbrooke(Quebec,Canada).research study over a 22 year period(1993-2015) in Sweden blows holes in that long standing theory"............."Before 2005, it was determined that about 7% of Scandinavian brown bear mothers kept their cubs for a year and a half"............ "Between 2005 and 2015 as hunting pressure on the bears increased, the study found that more than 36 percent of females kept their cubs for an extra year"........."A single female Brown Bear in Sweden is four times more likely to be shot as one with a cub",......... Bears, being extremely intelligent, learned that staying in family groups provides a win-win situation for females to lead safer lives protected from hunters while allowing them more time to care for their young"............"In addition, caring for the cubs by their mother for a longer time has the added bonus of giving them a better chance of survival long-term".......... "The researchers found that female cubs that received extended parenting survived their second year of life"............ "But 22 percent of cubs that were cut loose after a year and a half didn't make it to three years"............... "In addition to being hunted by humans, all cubs that mothers let go of early were more likely to be killed by other bears over brawls for territory or resources"



Bears Are Caring for Their Cubs

 Longer in 

Response to Hunting

Results from a new study could

 have implications

 for brown bear evolution

Ntl Geographic;By Elaina Zachos

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Just like with human animals doing the "mating-dance" thing at a bar or club on a Friday night, the female animal,in this case a female Lynx in Alberta, Canada, ultimately chooses who to go home with-----Click on the link below to watch a truly fascinating video depicting the screaming match and "pawing"mating encounter between a male and female Lynx..........Neither one is hurt in this "flirtatious skirmish" with the male being rebuffed as he makes multiple amorous advances toward the female


Grande Prairie photographer captures 'unreal' fight between lynx

"The screaming was just ... chilling"- Amos Wiebe

Andrea Ross, CBC News; 3/26/18

Witnessing dramatic mating quarrel was one of the most amazing experiences of his life, Amos Wiebe says

Male Lynx(below) seeking to mate with female(above),,,,,She
was not receptive to his advances and they scream and paw
at each other

The Female Lynx remaining high up in a tree after male
several male lynx seek to mate with her

Amos Wiebe was driving down a logging road near Grande Prairie on the evening of March 21 when he noticed something in the trees.
GRAND PRARIE, ALBERTA, CANADA(brown shaded region in central western Alberta

The hobby photographer was out looking for owls, but what he saw was somewhat more ferocious: two lynx, chasing each other up a tree.
He slammed on the brakes and decided to get a little closer.
After walking through about four feet of snow for half an hour, he finally reached the tree. By then, the lynx that he figured was a male had walked away.
But he stayed and shot some photos of the female as she remained sitting in the tree. She seemed distracted, staring past his head.
"All of a sudden I heard screaming behind me and then two more lynx came running right about seven to 10 feet behind me," Wiebe said.

a "tree-top" Lynx mating encounter with male(right) seeking
to couple with female(left)

"I had two cans of bear spray and pulled the valves just for safety reasons. They just went running right by me. And the one cruises right back up the tree and starts chasing her again. She's just swinging and screaming, it was pretty wild.
"Those trees were huge and how they just ran up them like there was nothing to it. It kind of puts a fear into you."
As the lynx duked it out around 100 feet above him, Wiebe caught it all on camera. Eventually, the male lynx gingerly stepped down from the tree and walked away with the female that had been following him.
He stayed until dusk watching the remaining female lynx in the tree, then walked back to his truck.
He later posted the photos and video to his Facebook page, Famous Amos Photography.

Male Lynx9below) seeks to make female(above) receptive to
his mating advance

Wiebe, who manages a storage facility in Grande Prairie, doesn't want to say exactly where he spotted the lynx. He wants to ensure they aren't bothered.
He says there have been a lot of rabbits in the Grande Prairie area this year, so he's seen a lot of lynx around.
But this sighting was different — he says witnessing the lovers' quarrel was one of the most amazing experiences of his life.
"They were obviously in heat," he said. "But the screaming was just ... chilling. It was just, make your hair stand on edge. The excitement was just unreal."

Monday, March 26, 2018

Ecologist George Wuerthner sent me this article about Gray Wolves in northern Minnesota preying on fish(likely Northern Pike and White Suckers)...........This is the first documentation of Wolves dining on freshwater fish outside of northwest Coastal Alaska and the British Columbia Islands of Canada................Researchers reported that two Wolves in Vogageurs National Park spent 1/2 of their hunting day mid April-mid May 2017 hunting fish rather than Elk, Deer, Beaver, their historical dietary staples in this part of the world


Do wolves hunt freshwater fish in spring as a food source?



In April-May 2017 we documented GPS-collared wolves (V034 and V046) from the same pack in northern Minnesota responding to a spring fish (northern pike and presumably white suckers) run, which to our knowledge is the first description of wolves outside of coastal British Columbia and Alaska using fish as a seasonal food source.

During this period, we opportunistically observed V046 hunting and consuming fish along a single creek, and documented a substantial number of wolf-killed fish in this area. We estimated V034 and V046 spent 43–63% of their daily time budget from mid-April to mid-May hunting and consuming fish at the same creek.

Based on visual observation and the concentration of GPS locations, it appears the wolves targeted shallow, narrow areas along the creek to capture fish. Although short-term responses to alternate foods, such as fish, can be infrequent and challenging to document, they provide valuable insight to the flexibility of wolf hunting and foraging behavior.


Let them eat fish

Wolves, powerful pack hunters who take down elk, moose, and deer,
would rather feast on salmon if given the option.
Scientists knew wolves enjoyed the occasional fillet 
(Wildlife News 2004), but assumed they turned to salmon only 
when their usual prey — big, hoofed mammals — were scarce.
 But a study in Monday’s BMCEcology suggests that when the
 salmon are running, wolves prefer finned food.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Co-author of THE LANDSCAPE OF FEAR ecological paradigm(being a 20 year ecperienced carnivore biologist by training and former hunter with rural roots), our good friend John Laundre is back with us today with his always passionate, highly logical and fact filled opining on the #1 Wildllife Mangement question we face today in America--"WHY DO HUNTERS THINK THEY ARE MORE ENTITLED THAN WILD PREDATORS TO KILL DEER AND ELK?"

Why do hunters think they are more entitled than wild predators to kill deer and elk?

by: John Laundre

If you ask most big game hunters how they feel about large predators such as wolves and pumas, they will be more than eager to express their loathing of these species. They describe them as wanton killers, as "weeds in the garden", as "decimating" deer and elk populations.

Should we be hunting Pumas?,,,,,,,,,,,Should
we be hunting them with dogs?

 Since pretty much ALL the science shows and common-sense dictates, that 1) predators are not wanton killers, 2) are not weeds in an ecological garden,and 3) cannot kill all their prey, what is the REAL reason hunters hate wolves and pumas? That real reason is that hunters feel wolves and pumas are killing deer that they, the hunters, are more entitled to. To hunters the math is simple: every deer or elk a predator kills is one less out there for them to killSo wolves and pumas are bad…period.

Basically, then, the whole problem hunters have with large predators is that they somehow think that they, the humans, are more "entitled" to kill deer and elk than the predators. Let's analyze this concept of supposed entitlement to wild deer and elk by hunters and ask the question: Do hunters have more "right" to the deer and elk than wolves and pumas?

First let's look at it on a need basis. Who NEEDS to kill deer and elk more… predators or hunters? Let's see, if a wolf or a puma does not kill deer or elk, it…DIESTheir family dies! I would propose that is a pretty strong justification for need on the part of the predators. In fact, they can be considered to be the only true "subsistence hunters". On that basis alone, it would seem that wolves and pumas are "entitled" to their fair share of the elk and deer out there!

How about the hunters? In speaking of entitlement out of necessity, we need to ask: Do hunters truly NEED that deer, that elkWe constantly hear about how hunting provides needed meat on the table. As if, indeed by not getting that deer or elk, a hunter and his family will go hungry.  What happens to a hunter and his family if he does not bag a deer or an elk? Will they starve? Will they at least experience hunger? How about even a tummy rumble? I doubt it! They will just go to the local grocery store!

Considering that over 50% of the big game hunters in the U.S. make over $50 thousand dollars a year (, it can be argued that for most big game hunters, they don't NEED to kill a deer or elkThey CAN go to the grocery store and that extra 20 (deer) to 150 (elk) pounds of meat can easily be replaced by beef, pork, or chicken. And, I might add, at a much cheaper price! At an average expense of $1,500 to hunt, deer meat runs around $30 a lb and even elk meat is over $10 a lb, iF the hunter is successful. 

If not, then that is $1,500 spent for…nothing! IF feeding your family is of importance, that fifteen hundred dollars can buy a lot more chicken! Also, considering that over 50% of the hunters are over 45 years old, it can be argued that they don't need the meat to feed their children, most of whom would be grown and on their own! Consequently, for a majority of the big game hunters in the U.S., that meat is not a necessity but a luxury. The myth of subsistence hunting in the U.S. is just that…a myth.

Admittedly, approximately 8% of the big game hunters (0.4% of total U.S. population) make less than $20,000 a year. Surely, it can be argued that maybe, just maybe, those extra pounds of deer or elk meat might come in handy. Again, IF they bag that deer or elk. It could be argued then that wolves and pumas are reducing the chances of these hunters getting that deer or elk, those extra pounds of meat. However, I argue that these hunters are not competing with wolves and pumas for that meat but with the other +50% of the hunters that DON'T need the meat! It is these over 6 million hunters that are reducing the chances of hunters that might truly need the meat from getting a deer or elk.

 If subsistence hunting is such an honored reason for hunting, then hunting should be put on a per need basis! There should be a split season, those hunters that need the meat the most get tohunt first! If they did that, there would be plenty of deer and elk for predators and those who hunters who really need the meat! The rest don't really have a claim on those deer and elk based on necessity and should be last in line. 

Another argument we hear is that hunting is this honored "tradition" that defines who we are, our "heritage", our relationship with nature, our relationship with family, blah blah blah. Having been raised on a farm and participated in big game hunting for many years I have hear all of those reasons.  Makes one believe that hunting must go way back in the history of the majority of big game hunters. Something  great, great grandpappy did! 

Just how far back does this hunting tradition run in the majority (94%) of the American hunters who are of European heritage? Surely it did not exist in Europe! There, only the privileged hunted (ironically, kind of like it is here today!) and it was obviously not for subsistence. The rest of the people, our ancestors, had the long tradition of eating domestic meat and even that not very often as meat in general was the food of the gentry.  

So much for the hunting tradition extending back to our European roots!

How about since colonization? Did it start then? Do we have a 400+ year tradition of hunting to fall back on? After all, did not our laws of wildlife belonging to all stem from those European abuses by the royalty? Admittedly, upon landing on shore, many colonialists initially relied on wild game. However, as it turns out, the reliance on wild ungulates actually did not persist long after colonization. For example, the first colony in Rhode Island, Providence, was established in 1636 and already by 1646, a mere 10 years later, they established the first closed season on deer in response to dwindling deer numbers. 

By the 1700's, the idea that hunting wildlife in the East provided any level of subsistence, let alone being part of an honored tradition was a myth. As we know, this pattern of overuse repeated itself all across the country with the hunting "tradition" not lasting more than 20 years in any location. If anything, this early "tradition" of hunting is more one of abuse and excess killing that not only decimated deer and elk populations but eliminated them! Is that the tradition hunters refer to…one of wanton killing, abuse and overuse? 

How about modern hunting, the one where abuse and excess should not exist, except of course for predators and "varmints"? That "tradition" in the Eastern U.S. did not rekindle until deer herds returned in the late 1970's, after a mere 400 years of the "tradition" of not hunting of ungulates!  Again, not much time to justify hunting as a long-standing hallowed tradition. The myth of hunting as an honored tradition among the majority of big game hunters in the U.S. today is just that…a myth.

Now the wolves and pumas. Let us see, these predators have been hunting deer and elk for subsistence, since…FOREVER!Their whole way of life, their survival is defined by hunting these animals. Hunting defines who they are, their relationship with nature! I would argue that as traditions go, predators have a greater claim on hunting as a hallowed, I dare say, necessary tradition than we humans. Who then should have more entitlement to those deer and elk?

Why else do hunters feel that they, more than wolves and pumas, are entitled to those deer and elk? Let's see oh yes, those billions of dollars hunters brag about spending in pursuit of their quarry!

 Citing economic benefits, trickle down theories etc. they tout that as reason alone entitling them to the majority of the elk and deer. For sure more than those wolves and pumas who pay nothing! They don't buy licenses, they don't buy guns, they don't stay in hotels, etc. etc. What a bunch of freeloaders! 

Hunters argue that money talks and so they have a greater right to deer and elk than those ne'er-do-well wolves and pumas!
But are wolves and pumas the freeloaders hunters accuse them of being? How much do wolves and pumas contribute to the economic wellbeing of an area? It is true they don't spend money out of their pockets…they don't have pockets! BUTother people do have pockets and do spend money because of wolves and pumas. The whole area of wildlife watching, people wanting to see wildlife ALIVE, greatly exceeds hunting on all levels(

 In 2016, big game hunters numbered 9.2 million, wildlife watchers 86 million, over 9 times more. Big game hunters spent $20.5 billion a year, wildlife watchers spent $75.9 billion, more than 3 times as much! Makes the money hunters spend sound like chump change! 

And what are they watching? Over 26 million of them go to watch large mammals! This means that almost 3 times as many people want to see large mammals alive as those who want to kill them! And what are their favorite large mammals to watch? Hands down, people who want to see large mammals want to see large predators! The added revenue to the Yellowstone National Park area because people wanted to come and see and hear wolves greatly exceeded what hunters spent trying to kill elk and deer in surrounding areas

 So, wolves and pumas may not spend money but DO bring in money, a lot more than hunting! And maintaining healthy populations of both, by not killing them, more than justifies their "entitlement" of the elk and deer out there! Again, let the money talk and the myth that big game hunters are THE major economic driver in rural areas is just that…a myth.

Lastly, hunters, for some reason that escapes me, really believe they know best when it comes to "managing" elk and deer populations! The greatest myth they perpetuate is that somehow one needs to be able to hunt a species to best manage it. What do they base this on? The fact that they helped bring back deer and elk populations from past abuse, not from predators but from…human hunters! Why? So they could kill them! 

The reasoning goes that to best manage elk and deer we need to manage their numbers to provide enough animals for hunters to kill so that hunting can be used to manages their numbers so there are enough for hunters to kill, etc. etc. etc. What has this type of circular self-interested management brought us? As, according to hunters, the more deer and elk the better, it has lead to managing for excess.

 For example, there is no doubt we have too many deer in the Eastern U.S., as a result of managing for human hunting. There is no doubt that we are well on our way to excess numbers of elk in the East for the same reasons. There is no doubt that managing for hunting to use hunting as a management tool is destroying the Eastern ecosystem. Thus, the myth that hunting is the best way to manage deer and elk populations is just that…a myth. 

How should deer and elk populations be managed? Considering that probably 99% of other wildlife populations, from butterflies to mice are NOT managed by humans for humans to hunt to manage them for hunting and that those species are doing fine,we need to ask just how are these other species so well managed? The obvious answer is…by predators! 

As we now abundantly know from science, predators ARE the regulators of ecosystems. They are the shepherds that keep prey populations from excess. They are the gardeners that keep prey in their ecological row. But because they are pure subsistence hunters, their numbers are also kept in check by a feedback system that has been honed over eons of co-existence. Any predator or prey that becomes too efficient in either killing prey or surviving predator doomed that relationship to extinction eons ago. This produces the ECOLOGICAL balance necessary to manage not just elk and deer but whole ecosystems. THAT is how nature works!

Specifically, how good are wolves and pumas at regarding elk and deer? Again, considering that they have coexisted for eons and where humans have not interfered, are ecologically stable,they are pretty good at itThere are many examples but I will give just one here…Yellowstone National Park. Almost everyone agreed, except hunters of course, there were too many elk in Yellowstone before wolves were brought back. With wolves present, there are now thousands less elk in the Park. Now hunters would argue: Ah Hah! that reduction indicates reintroducing wolves was a disaster…based on their perspective of excess. As if a LOT fewer elk to keep them from destroying the Park was a bad thing!  Is it a disaster? Are all the elk gone now from the Park? No, they are still there, just not as many!

 Wolves have reduced elk numbers through a variety of ways to an ecologically sustainable level. Is that not what we, except for hunters, wanted? Through an ecological lens, the reintroduction of wolves not only in Yellowstone but across the West is a resounding success! A success repeating itself as wolf populations spread. Based on this and the many other examples,I argue that on sound ecological management principles alone, wolves and pumas do a better job at managing deer and elk and thus are more entitled to their prey, than human hunters are!

I could go on and on but hopefully you see my point. Hunters are NOT more entitled than wolves and pumas to deer and elk! We have been able to support ourselves without subsistence hunting for survival for most of the 400+ years humans of European ancestry have been hereConsequently, we really don't NEED to kill elk and deer. This does not argue that we should no longer hunt them but should recognize that human hunting today is a luxury and as such, has the lowest entitlement to deer and elk. Additionally, managing deer and elk primarily for human hunting is ecologically wrong and, as it turns out, economically short-sighted!

 We should manage deer and elk for ecological stability. Managing for excess to provide luxury hunting opportunities to less than 5% of the U.S. population does NOT maintain, but actually disrupts, that ecological stabilityOn the other handpredators, who do need to subsistence hunt and have evolved stable relationships with their prey, are the best adapted at maintaining an ecological balance of predator AND prey

 Because of the important role they playin that balance, wolves and pumas have the highest entitlement to deer and elk so they can do their job! As such, a certain percent of deer and elk populations should be dedicated to supporting these traditional subsistence hunters, the predators, as an investment in ecosystem stability. What is left can then be allocated to the luxury hunters…humans

The Landscape of Fear: Ecological Implications of Being Afraid 

John W. Laundré*,1, Lucina Hernández1 and William J. Ripple2 

1 Department of Biological Sciences, SUNY Oswego, Oswego, NY 13126, USA 2 Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, College of Forestry, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA 


"Predation risk" and "fear" are concepts well established in animal behavior literature. We expand these concepts to develop the model of the "landscape of fear". 

The landscape of fear represents relative levels of predation risk as peaks and valleys that reflect the level of fear of predation a prey experiences in different parts of its area of use. We provide observations in support of this model regarding changes in predation risk with respect to habitat types, and terrain characteristics.

 We postulate that animals have the ability to learn and can respond to differing levels of predation risk. We propose that the landscape of fear can be quantified with the use of well documented existing methods such as givingup densities, vigilance observations, and foraging surveys of plants. We conclude that the landscape of fear is a useful visual model and has the potential to become a unifying ecological concept.

Phantoms of the Prairie
The Return of Cougars to the Midwest;
“The return of the American lion to the Great 
Plains and Midwest is 
a riveting tale. With the eye of a detective, the 
mind of a trained 
scientist, and the heartfelt passion of a 
conservationist, cougar 
biologist John Laundré deftly sets its stage, 
giving voice to this
 fascinating—and absolutely necessary—
predator. The successful 
return of this long lost species to Middle 
America, and hopefully
 beyond, will be tribute not just to the cat’s
 remarkable adaptability 
and resiliency, but to human tolerance and
 understanding as well.”
—Jay Tischendorf, veterinarian, founder and 
director of the American 
Ecological Research Institute

Last seen in the 1880s, cougars (also known
 as pumas or mountain lions)
 are making a return to the plains regions of 
the Midwest. Their comeback, 
heralded by wildlife enthusiasts, has brought 
concern and questions to many 
regarding the possibility of having these large 
predators in our midst once
 more. Will the people of the region make 
room for cougars? Can they survive
 the highly altered landscape of the Midwest? 
Is there a future for these 
intrepid pioneers if they head even farther east?

Using GIS technology, and historical data,
 among many other methods, 
Phantoms of the Prairie takes readers on a
 virtual journey, showing how 
the cougar might move over the landscape 
with minimal human contact. 
Drawing on his years of research on cougars, 
John W. Laundré offers 
an overview of what might be regarding the
 return of cougars to their
 ancestral prairie homeland.

John W. LaundréJohn W. Laundré has
studied cougars for more
than twenty years in both
 the United States and Mexico.
As vice president of the
Cougar Rewilding Foundation,
he advocates the return of
cougars to their former territorial range. 

“Dr. John Laundré has tackled 
an extremely timely and 
complicated subject. His 
assessment of cougar re-
 into the Midwestern and 
eastern United States is based
 latest research, as well as his 
own biological expertise and
 long field experience. Once
 he spells out the biological
however, Laundré boldly 
speculates regarding the
 future of 
and human responses to
 this amazing current
 His commentary will
 alternately please and 
rankle readers.”
—Harley Shaw, author of Soul 
Among Lions and Stalking the Big Bird

“Professional wildlife 
biologists, naturalists, 
as well as hunters,
 trappers, and wildlife
 enthusiasts will be 
interested in 
Phantoms of the Prairie.”
—Adrian Wydeven, mammal
 ecologist for the State of