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, November 30, 2018

Former hunter and co-author of the ground breaking LANDSCAPE OF FEAR BIOLOGICAL PARADIGM, carnivore biologist Joohn Laundre is once again back with us providing yet another of his thoughtful and well thought out essays questioning whether hunters are truly the conservationists they claim to be............Enjoy the read

Are hunters conservationists…continued

by: John Laundre

I know I have written about this topic before. However, the hunting industry continues to spread the delusion that somehow raising animals to shoot is "conservation" and thus hunters are "conservationists". So, as long as they continue to vomit this dribble, I will continue to pound this subject. This is especially the case as they also continue to insist that their kind of shooting "conservation" is or should be the only way to "manage" wildlife. 


Why do they consider themselves to be conservationists? It seems the only claim they have is that they, according to them, single handedly "saved" a few favored species, deer and ducks, from over abuse by….hunters! And why did they save them? Sothey could hunt them again! I have written on this hypocrisy before and the fact that they, hunters, have done little to help and at times, hindered, the recovery of the many other species in need of help. So, I will not dwell on it here.

Here, rather, I want to write about, detail, the many actions hunters have taken that run counter to what most of the rest of us would normally consider to be conservation. Actions that if any other group took, they surely would not be considered conservationists!
So, let's begin the list.

1) Introducing exotic species: Would conservationists purposely introduce exotic species, especially ones that have extreme negative impacts on ecosystems? Hunters have and the list is long. 

Here I will just name a few exotic species hunters have introduced. Why? To hunt them! 

What conservationist would purposely release MILLIONS of exotic birds, pheasants, Hungarian partridge, chukers, YEARLY? And then advocate killing native predators to protect these exotics? Hunters do! And they consider these to be success stories! Why? Because they have become significant hunted species in many areas.  South Dakota alone, for example has an estimated population of over 8 million exotic pheasantsand release an additional 300,000 a year so that hunters can kill over a million a year! Where do all these birds live? They live on historic native prairie grouse habitat, converted to farmland. Did hunters, as true conservationists do, try to save this habitat from the plow? It seems that rather than to fight to preserve the native prairie chicken's habitat, which once occurred over all the state, hunters are content to hunt exotic birds instead. This is NOT conservation, this is capitulation to the primary threat to all native wildlife…habitat destruction

Exotic ungulates! Again, the list is long, especially in the West. Nilgai antelope, Black buck antelope both from India, several African antelope species, Oryx also from Africa, Fallow deer from Europe, Sika deer from Asia,Barbary sheep from North Africa, Ibex from the Middle East. The list goes on! All of these species were PURPOSELY introduced by… state game agencies!Why? To "enhance" the hunting opportunities of "conservationist??" hunters! I thought wildlife agencies were to manage NATIVE wildlife!?? Instead, they are introducing exotics. And like many exotics, these animals are having impacts on native fauna. Oryx are competing with native deer for the already limited forage in the arid areas of the West. But are hunters concerned? Not really, they are content to hunt oryx, which make a better trophy anyway. 

However, though most, if not all of these exotic ungulates are negatively affecting the ecosystems, their impact is overshadowed by the one exotic that is changing entire ecosystems, the European wild boar. Though domestic pigs are also exotics and occasionally go wild, in the early 1900's Eurasian wild boars were PURPOSELY introduced by… hunters, for…hunting "opportunities"! From then, primarily with the aid of hunter "conservationists" transporting them, wild boars are now found in 45 of the 48 lower states. These boars are prolific and devastating to the environment. As pigs do, they root the soil in search of food, any food. From plants to animals, wild boars are wreaking havoc on native species and whole ecosystems. And what are the hunters doing about it? Other than clamoring that through their "shooting" management, they can control the problem, some hunters were recently caught transporting boars to new areas, so they could hunt them!  

It would seem on this issue alone, purposely introducing exotics, would disqualify hunters of even remotely calling themselves "conservationists" but the list goes on.

2) Extermination of native species: The "conservation" history of hunters in this country is not only filled with decimation of preferred game species, e.g. passenger pigeons, Carolina parrot, bison, deer, elk, ducks but with many other less preferred species, e.g. wolves, cougars, grizzly bears, etc... It is the return of a few of the favored species that hunters hang their supposed conservation hats on. However, it is the continued persecution of the less favored, but more ecologically important, ones that make it not a hat of conservation but a dunce cap fueled by ignorantpure self-interest and greed. Even their hunting/conservationist hero, Theodore Roosevelt, advocated the removal of predators to "protect" trophy species. Roosevelt's actions and those of many hunters in his time were not to protect all wildlife or ecosystems but to protect trophy species so he could kill them. Roosevelt was NOT a conservationist, he was a trophy hunter. 

Hunters, who brag about knowing "how nature works" appear to know less about nature than most elementary children! It is amply known in the true conservation community, and by many children, that all native species have a part in ecosystems and that the predators, large and small, probably have the most important part. They are the shepherds of ecosystems, keeping herbivores in their ecological place. Time after time, it has been demonstrated that removal of predators leads to ecological destruction. And returning herbivores without their predators, an ecological crime, a crime, hunters repeatedly commitmost recently, in the eastern U.S.


It started with returning deer to the East, to provide "hunting opportunities" and now the latest and potentially most severe, the reintroduction of elk. As these deer and elk populations continue to explode, an ecological disaster is unfoldingDeer and now increasingly elk, are having devastating impacts on native plants and animals in the eastern ecosystems. Does the "conservationist" hunting industry support or have plans to reintroduce wolves and pumas, the natural predators of deer and elk to control this disaster? Forget it! For them, the more deer, the more elk, the better. They encourage continual growth in deer numbers and look forward to the spread of elk across all the East. They put on their dunce hat, ignoring the vital role of predators and argue that wolves and pumas will not only suppress this growth but "decimate" elk and deer populations. 

Their arguments ring shallow in that they are not concerned with predators eating ALL of the deer and elk, which, if hunters knew anything about nature, they would know predators cannot do that.  No, they are not concerned about "decimation", they are concerned that predators reducing the number of deer and elk to ecologically sustainable numbers will result in LESS animals the hunters could shoot! For hunters, ecological stability is not desirable because it does not lead to more game in the bag. That is not conservation and hunters are NOT conservationists.


What conservation group would purposely hold contests to see who can shoot the most of a native species? Hunters do! These "killing contests" are held widely and proudly by "conservationist" hunters to kill hundreds if not thousands of native animals from prairie dogs to coyotes. Awards are given, proud "hunters" are photographed and posted on the internet.  Is this their concept of how one conserves through hunting? Killing just for the fun of killing? This is not conservation and hunters are NOT conservationists.

3) Poisoning the environment: What conservationist knowingly goes around poisoning the environment with toxic material?hunters do! Most conservationists realize that healthy wildlife populations require healthy environments to live in. An essential part of conservationists' efforts is to fight against pollution, unless you are a hunter. Hunters rarely are active in pollution fights unless it directly affects them. And then, they are on the side of the cause of that pollution! Annually, tens of thousands of tons of lead shot and bullets are spread out onto the environment by hunters. Though its toxic consequences to wildlife are well documented and known non-toxic alternatives are available, hunters have consistently fought to prevent the banning of lead shot. Why? Because to use less toxic alternatives reduces their effectiveness in killing. By their continual refusal to support removal of lead from hunting, hunters have repeatedly demonstrated that they put their hunting pleasure over the health of the wildlife they hunt and the environment they live in. Hunters are NOT conservationists.


4) Societal support for conservation: Conservationists recognize that they need a broad based societal support for conservation efforts. Conservation must be inclusive. Society as a whole must participate in conservation efforts to be successful. Hunters do not recognize this inclusivity. From the very beginning of hunting, hunters have strived to make participation in management decisions to be exclusive not inclusive. Original "management" agencies were set up to be the sole representatives of the hunting industry.  In many states, wildlife commissioners must by law be hunters. Hunters continually resist ANY participation by the non-hunting population though non-hunters make up 95% of the people who OWN the wildlife!The intent is clear. Hunters do not want anyone other then themselves to make decisions, that affect all wildlife, regarding how wildlife are managed. And that management is for excess of favored species over all else. 

This is not conservation and hunters are not conservationists.

5) Killing endangered species: What conservationist in her or his right mind would advocate killing individuals of a threatened or endangered species…to save them?  Hunter do! Hunters say the best, and to many, the only way to manage wildlife is by hunting them, that is killing them…for sport. Their lame argument goes that if a person can hunt an animal, he will somehow care about that species and it will somehow benefit. Again, they point with pride to the few success stories of deer and elk recovery. Again, failing to mention that what they saved these species from was…hunting.  They also fail to mention that many species are hunted specifically to reduce their numbers or better still eliminate them. I need not only mention native predators again and ongoing efforts by these "conservationist" hunters to decimate wolf populations both in Alaska and in the western states. Apart from predators, there are literally hundreds of native species of "varmints" that hunters kill, not to manage their numbers or "care" about them but to kill as many as they can, just like the good old days.  If one adds up all the species that are listed as "fair game" for hunters to kill, only a small percent of them, ducks and deer, would remotely benefit from hunter "management". Hunters are not concerned about these other species nor are these species "benefitting" from management by the gun.  

Lastly, to argue that hunting is THE way to manage wildlife, then by default, should it not be THE way ALL wildlife are managed? IF hunting ducks and deer has been so beneficial to their populations, surely it should benefit the probably 99% of all wildlife (from insects to mammals)that are NOT hunted!  Should not we have a season on butterflies, on song birds? On field mice? Should there not be contests to see who can bag the biggest monarch, the biggest robin, the biggest chipmunk?

But wait…it seems most of these species are doing fine…without hunting! 

6) Illegally killing game animals: How many conservationists illegally kill the animals they are conserving? Hunters do! Though it is hard to get estimates of just how much poaching occurs in the U.S., rough estimates put the number of hunters that kill illegally in the hundreds of thousands. This ranges from commercial style poaching to hunters "pushing the limits" of the regulations their own agencies established! This poaching results in millions of wildlife being killed illegally by hunters! Sure, they and their agencies feint shock and outrage at it. Afterall, these are less animals for them to kill legally! But deep down, many of them who don't poach envy the poacher. And many of them know who they are, family, friends, acquaintances, and don't report them. Hunters don't have the will nor the desire to police themselves and so are not conservationists nor is hunting a conservation technique

I guess that is a long enough of a list for now. I am sure many of you could add to it to further demonstrate that hunters ARE NOT conservationists. To call themselves this is self-deluding and a lie. Furthermore, sport hunting is NOT a conservation technique and to espouse that it is demonstrates a clear lack of knowledge of how nature works. Only when hunters truly espouse genuine conservation practices, e.g. reintroducing wolves and pumas to the Eastern U.S., can they begin to even think their actions have any conservation value. Until then, they and the style of hunting "management" they espouse is not conservation.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

“Most ecologists say it will take 10 to 20 years for the Santa Monica Mountains to look the way they did before the Woolsey fire came through".............“Of course, that depends on rainfall and drought”............... "When it comes to native species, “this fire means they are going to struggle, some more than others”............"One of the largest mountain lion populations in Southern California is confined within 275 square miles in an around the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area"................"Studies begun in 2002 suggest the pre-fire landscape may have reached capacity with about 15 to 20 mountain lions".............."Inbreeding is a serious problem among these big cats, which have extremely low genetic diversity".............."The males will fight and kill others for territory(and the right to mate), which is vastly more limited after the Woolsey fire"............."Hopefully the planned wildlife overpass at the Liberty Canyon/Chesbrough Canyon interchanges on the 101 Freeway will get the necesssary funding to be built by 2021 to alleviate this population bottleneck"..............."For now, and in the years ahead, biologists will focus attention on how the mobile, efficient predators at the top of the area’s food chain are faring as well as their impact on recovering plant and animal populations"

It will take '10 to 20 years' before Santa Monica Mountains look like they did before Woolsey fire

Louis Sahagan 11/18/18

Two dozen biologists with binoculars
 and telemetry equipment fanned out
 across the smoldering gulches and 
slopes of the Santa Monica Mountains
 National Recreation Area on Friday 
to take a preliminary accounting of 
the damage caused by wildfire to 
prime mountain lion country.
It was arduous, dusty work, traipsing
 through shrub lands reduced to piles
 of white ash and denuded canyons. 
But the data they gathered were cause 
for cautious optimism.

A deer lies where it fell, trying to outrun flames
 from the Woolsey fire, in the Solstice Creek
 bed below Corral Canyon Park in Malibu.
 (Reed Saxon / AP)

Of 13 mountain lions with radio collars they had 
been tracking before the Woolsey fire broke out,
 scientists confirmed that 12 were alive and
 moving outside of the burned areas in the
 vicinity of Point Mugu to the west, and from
 Malibu east to the 405 Freeway, scientists said.
One lion, a sub-adult known as P-74, remained
 unaccounted for.
Though Southern California’s urban mountain
 lions have become a fixture in popular
 imagination, they are an imperiled breed 
living at the very limit of what is ecologically 
possible. Now biologists are watching, unsure
 of what’s next in the area where many of the 
creature comforts that the large predators 
need to breed, hide and hunt deer were lost 
after the Woolsey fire roared through.

The 96,949 acres burned during the Woolsey Fire,

“The national recreation area has become
 an immense natural experiment,” Seth
Riley, a National Park Service ecologist,
 said. “The big question now is this: What
 happens when a huge wildlife refuge
hemmed by freeways and development
abruptly loses more than half of its
 habitat to wildfire?”
For miles and miles in the Santa Monica 
Mountains, from ridgeline to ridgeline in
 all directions, the Woolsey fire exacted a 
heavy toll, burning 100,000 acres — 88%
 of the area’s federal parkland.
It is a huge loss for an unlikely wilderness 
that has persisted for decades through
 dogged conservation despite surrounding
 urban sprawl.

Burnt up Liberty Canyon

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Public access to the range was hard 
fought by a bipartisan coalition of 
conservation and civic groups starting
 in the 1960s. Their goal: a unique
 combination of city, county, state 
and federal land, together with
 beaches, trails and scenic corridors 
that would run from Griffith Park to 
Point Mugu in Ventura County.
In 1978, Congress awarded their 
efforts by authorizing the Santa
 Monica Mountains National
 Recreation Area to provide
 open space in one of the nation’s
 most congested, polluted and
 park-poor regions.
Over the past 40 years, its trails
 have become a destination for 
hikers, mountain bikers,
 bird-watchers and equestrians, 
its roads a fixture for car 
commercials and motorcycle 
clubs and its creeks a draw for 
busloads of schoolchildren from 
throughout the region.
Today, the chaparral highlands 
and sandstone peaks offer 
panoramic views of stubble and 
ash. Entry is restricted to people
 credentialed to work in fire zones.
The fire burned the life out of 
hiking trails some say rank with
 such iconic paths as the John Muir
 Trail in the Sierra Nevada range 
and the Appalachian Trail in the
 East. Completed in 2016 after a 
half-century of hard work and 
altruism, the Backbone stretches 
through 67 miles of sycamores, 
chaparral and sandstone peaks
 between Point Mugu State Park
 and Will Rogers State Historic
 Park. Officials said segments of
 the Backbone trail within the 
Woolsey fire’s footprint remain
Emily Pruitt, a spokeswoman for
 the National Park Service, said it
 is too early to know when burned
 sections of the recreation area will reopen.
“The fire destroyed at least 616 
structures within the park,” she
 said, “and there are still a lot of 
potential hazards to be assessed.”
Properties with links to show 
business were destroyed. Among 
them were Paramount Ranch and
 sets used for HBO’s hit series
“Westworld” — both popular
 destination points for day trippers
 who used the background for 
family photos and Instagram posts.

A sign near the entrance to the Corral
 Canyon Park
 recreation area stands amid a landscape 
charred by 
the Woolsey fire in Malibu. 
(Reed Saxon / AP)

“Most ecologists say it will take 
10 to 20 years for the Santa 
Monica Mountains to look the
 way they did before the Woolsey 
fire came through,” said Mark
 Mendelsohn, a National Park
Service biologist. “Of course, 
that depends on rainfall and 
When it comes to native species,
 he said, “this fire means they are
 going to struggle, some more than
One of the largest mountain lion 
populations in Southern California
 is confined within 275 square miles 
in an around the Santa Monica 
Mountains National Recreation Area, 
which is bordered by the Pacific
 Ocean, major freeways, housing 
and commercial developments and 
agricultural fields.
Studies begun in 2002 suggest the 
pre-fire landscape may have reached 
capacity with about 15 to 20 
mountain lions. Inbreeding is a 
serious problem among these big 
cats, which have extremely low 
genetic diversity. The males will
 fight and kill others for territory, 
which is vastly more limited after 
the Woolsey fire.
A charred sign just west of Liberty
 Canyon Road and a stone’s throw 
from the 101 Freeway in Agoura
 Hills still stands in a critical 
wildlife corridor where 
conservationists hope to build a 
wildlife bridge. It would allow
 safe passage and help diversify
 the gene pool among the groups 
of mountain lions remaining in 
the Santa Monicas south of the
 freeway as well as in the Simi 
Hills and Santa Susana
 mountains to the north.
Now, the site of what aims to 
be one of the most ambitious 
predator restoration projects
 in the United States is 
surrounded by miles of charred
 hills and mountains.
Whenever conditions change,
there will be winners and losers.
 Mendelsohn has witnessed 
plenty of heartbreaking
 evidence of both during recent 
surveys of the still-smoldering 
“Some animals didn’t make it,” 
he said. “But it was encouraging 
to see a deer in a completely
 charred forest, a tiny wren tit 
hunkering down in one of the 
few shrubs left standing, and 
a woodrat leap out from under 
a rock near where its nest had 
It didn’t take long for Mendelsohn
 to find the natural sounds he was
 searching for as he strode along 
a creek edged with singed reeds 
and brush in the Upper Las 
Virgenes Canyon Open Space 
Preserve area of Agoura Hills.
It was home to an isolated 
population of federally 
threatened red-legged frogs 
discovered in 1998, and a 
place where biologists gather
 eggs used in reintroduction
 programs elsewhere in the 
recreation area.

The GPS collar of P-74, a young 
male mountain lion who lives in
 the area burned by the Woolsey 
fire, has not transmitted data in
 days. (National Park Service)

“Five plopping sounds in the
 water gave me a sense of
 cautious relief,” he said.
Federal biologists are discussing
 proposals to capture the frog
 population, if necessary, in t
he event a large storm threatens
 to bury one of the species’ last 
outposts in Los Angeles and 
Ventura counties in mud and 
There was good news in Topanga
 Canyon, where firefighters 
avoided dropping retardant 
that would have decimated a 
Malibu Creek habitat that’s 
home to frogs, newts and 
protected fish such as 
Arroyo chubs and federally
 endangered southern steelhead trout.
“Topanga Canyon was spared,”
 biologist Rosi Dagit said. “I 
recently stood on a roadside
 pullout overlooking the stream
 and shouted, ‘Thank god, 
you didn’t burn!’ ”
For now, and in the years
 ahead, biologists will focus 
attention on how the mobile, 
efficient predators at the top 
of the area’s food chain are
 faring, and their impacts on
 recovering plant and animal
The surprise is that nearly
 all of the mountain lions 
with radio collars turned 
up outside of the fire’s 
“It is not clear whether 
one or more of those
 mountain lions outran
 the fire to safer conditions, 
or just happened to be 
there by some amazing
 coincidence when the
 fire broke out,” said Riley,
 the National Park Service 
Questions remain
 about how these 
big cats — already 
living closer to their 
peers than they are 
predisposed to — 
will endure in even
 tighter confines.
There may be 
repercussions, and 
not just for the 
mountain lion 
population. “People 
really need to protect 
their animals,” Riley
 said, “now that there
 are fewer deer on the