20 Jul 2009, 11:55am
Bears Deer, Elk, Bison
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Predation, Not Habitat Loss, Governs Prey Population Dynamics

Most animal population dynamics are governed by predator-prey relations, not “habitat”. For instance, even though 25 million acres were “set aside” for spotted owls 20 years ago, their population has plunged by 60 percent or more. Yes, there have been millions of acres of old-growth owl forests destroyed by catastrophic fire, but not 60 percent. The main reason for plunging owl populations is the rising populations of their predators: great horned owls, golden eagles, peregrine falcons, and other raptors.

“Habitat loss” has been so ingrained into the mass consciousness though, it is difficult to see how that ecobabble nonsense will ever be debunked. Most scientists are brainwashed, even (especially?) wildlife biologists.

But not all. The following article appeared in the Anchorage Daily News last week. It seems that moose population dynamics are governed by predation of moose calves by bears.

Newborn moose calves battle very slim odds

by Ned Rozell, Alalska Science, Anchorage Daily News, July 18th, 2009 [here]

Any moose calf alive in mid-summer is a lucky animal. If the calf was born a twin, it has probably seen its sibling pulled down and eaten by a bear. If the calf was born alone, it probably stood close to its mother as she reared on her hind legs and pounded a predator with her hooves.

In late May all over Alaska, female moose find a secluded spot to birth a calf, twin calves or sometimes triplets. In the weeks that follow, many of these gangly newborns fall prey to bears and wolves. In most areas of Alaska, more moose calves die than survive.

Mark Bertram is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife biologist at Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge. In a study he did more than a decade ago, while a helicopter pilot distracted cow moose from the air, Bertram and others scrambled to birthing sites and attached radio collars to newborn calves. By following radio signals after the calves stopped moving, the biologists were able to find dead calves and determine what killed them.

In the study at Yukon Flats, an area larger than Maryland where Alaska’s longest river reaches north of the Arctic Circle, Bertram has found the remains of a majority of the 29 moose he collared. Fifty-five percent died in one month. Three-quarters of those baby moose were killed by either black bears, which are abundant in Yukon Flats, or grizzly bears. …

“It’s real common for just 30 percent of calves to survive their first year,” Bertram said.

In studies done elsewhere in Alaska and the Yukon, the numbers agree. North of Tok, 25 percent of calves collared survived their first year.

Just 19 percent survived in a study performed in southwest Yukon. Around 30 percent made it through a year in two studies done around Galena and Nelchina.

Terry Bowyer, a biologist formerly with the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Institute of Arctic Biology, collared cow moose in Denali National Park and kept track of her young for four years.

Only five calves out of 44 made it through their first summers. A vast majority of those were killed by grizzly bears. …

Ned Rozell is a science writer at the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

13 Jul 2009, 7:59pm
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Studying Jaguars to Death

by The Rogue Pundit, June 30, 2009, [here]

A century ago, the jaguar was found in the four states bordering Mexico-as far north as the Grand Canyon. However, it has been all-but-extirpated from this country via hunting and habitat loss. Jaguars are still occasionally seen in southern Arizona and New Mexico, but there’s no known breeding population here. Recently, it seems that one of the greatest dangers to jaguars in or near the U.S. is researchers trying to study them.

In the last seven years, biologists have captured four jaguars in the Arizona-Sonora region, in each case intending to put a radio collar on the animal and follow its movements.

June 9, 2002: Nacori Chico, Sonora

The animal never recovered from sedation and died as the warm morning turned hot. Rosas attributed the death to “heat stress.”

Ugh. The animal had been trapped in a leg snare. The first ketamine dart didn’t do the trick, but the second dart-a half-dose, sure did. The researcher was a PhD student from New Mexico State University. … [more]

New Revelations About Reintroduced Wolves

By George Dovel, The Outdoorsman, Bulletin 34, April-June 2009

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:

In the early 1980s the 197-page unpublished research report, “Wolves of Central Idaho,” surfaced. In it, co-authors Timm Kaminski and Jerome Hansen estimated that elk and deer populations in six of the nine national forests in the proposed Central Idaho Wolf Recovery Area could support a total of 219 wolves without decreasing existing deer and elk populations in those forests.

They based this on an estimated 16.6 deer or elk killed by each wolf annually, and on estimated increases in elk and/or deer populations from 1981-1985 in the two-thirds of forests where they had increased.

But even if their estimated prey numbers and calculations were accurate, their report said only 17 wolves could be maintained in the Salmon National Forest, five in the Challis NF, and none in the Panhandle, Sawtooth and Bitterroot Forests. Yet the obvious question of what to do when the number of wolves in any National Forest or game management unit exceeded the ability of the prey base to support them was not adequately addressed.

Relocating “Problem” Wolves in Idaho Wilderness

Although there were increased reports of sightings of single wolves or pairs in Idaho during the late 1970s and early 80s and credible reports of at least two wolf packs with pups, no confirmed wolf depredation on livestock had been recorded for nearly half a century. Realizing that livestock killing would occur as wolf numbers increased, Kaminski and Hansen recommended relocating livestock-killing wolves into the central Idaho wilderness areas.

That was written more than 25 years ago …

[Tweny-five years later] Tribal, FWS and State biologists [have] all ignored wolf expert David Mech’s warning that relocating wolves that killed livestock did not stop their killing livestock. Transplanting even more wolves into areas like the Selway and Lolo Zones, with inadequate elk calf survival to support any wolves, guaranteed an accelerated decline in the elk population and the exploitation of alternate prey.

At a Predator-Prey Symposium in Boise, Idaho on Jan. 8, 1999, the featured speaker – North America’s top wild ungulate authority Dr. Valerius Geist – spent two hours explaining to federal, state and university wildlife biologists why wolf populations must be carefully controlled to maintain a healthy population of their prey species. Idaho biologists and members of the Idaho Wolf Oversight Committee appeared to listen carefully – but later invented excuses not to follow his expert advice. …

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12 Jul 2009, 12:55am
Endangered Specious Wolves
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USFWS Reinstates Great Lake Wolves As Endangered

On June 29 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reinstated Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes. In response to a legal challenge from the Humane Society of the United States, the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of Animals and Their Environment, Born Free USA, and Help Our Wolves Live, the USFWS withdrew the April 2, 2009 final rule that delisted the Western Great Lakes population of gray wolves.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service NEWS RELEASE, June 29, 2009 [here]

Statement on Status of Gray Wolves in the Western Great Lakes

Service Will Provide Additional Opportunity for Public Comment

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reached a settlement agreement with plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the Service’s 2009 rule removing Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes. Under the terms of the agreement, which must still be approved by the court, the Service will provide an additional opportunity for public comment on the rule to ensure compliance with the Administrative Procedures Act.

Gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes area have exceeded recovery goals and continue to thrive under state management. However, the Service agrees with plaintiffs that additional public review and comment was required under federal law prior to making that final decision.

Upon acceptance of this agreement by the court, and while the Service gathers additional public comment, gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes area will again be protected under the Endangered Species Act. All restrictions and requirements in place under the Act prior to the delisting will be reinstated. In Minnesota, gray wolves will be considered threatened; elsewhere in the region, gray wolves will be designated as endangered. The Service will continue to work with states and tribes to address wolf management issues while Western Great Lakes gray wolves remain under the protection of the Act. …

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8 Jul 2009, 11:26pm
Homo sapiens Wildlife Agencies
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NYT Gets It Wrong, Again, As Usual

Shut up in their mega-urban hell and subjected to all the insanity therein, it is really no surprise that the editors of the financially reeling New York Times know absolutely nothing about the reality of life in the normal parts of this country.

The madness and profound ignorance of NYT editors was on display again yesterday, in an unsigned editorial that railed against hunting in National Parks. From the defunctifying NYT [here]:

Editorial: Elk Hunting in the Badlands, July 7, 2009

In 1985, 47 elk were released in the southern section of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota. Today, that herd numbers some 900 animals, far more than the park can sustain. The herd needs to be reduced to about 300 in order to bring it into balance with its ecosystem. What to do?

Senator Byron Dorgan’s idea — spelled out in a rider to an Interior Department appropriations bill that the Senate is expected to consider soon — is what he calls a “common sense” public elk hunt. The idea violates both common sense and the very idea of a national park.

To begin with, the proposal would legislate a management issue better left to the secretary of interior and the National Park Service. Worse, it would authorize an activity — public hunting — that is proscribed by the founding legislation for the national parks and their current management policies.

Where did the NYT get that idea? Hunting was one of the founding activities and is not proscribed. Unauthorized hunting in National Parks is not allowed, but authorized hunting is and always has been.

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8 Jul 2009, 8:16pm
Wildlife Agencies Wolves
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Montana Institutes Wolf Hunting Season

First wolf licenses go on sale Aug. 17; $19 for Montanans

From the Clark Fork Chronicle, July 08 2009 [here]

Montana’s Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission set the state’s first regulated wolf hunting season quota at 75 wolves today, leading officials to say the historic decision represents a victory for wildlife conservation in Montana and for the often maligned federal Endangered Species Act.

“Today, we can celebrate the fact that Montana manages elk, deer, bears, mountain lions, ducks, bighorn sheep, and wolves in balance with their habitats, other species, and in balance with the people who live here,” said FWP Director Joe Maurier. “Montanans have worked hard to recover the Rocky Mountain wolf and to integrate wolves into Montana’s wildlife management programs. That’s always been the promise of the Endangered Species Act and we’re pleased so see it fulfilled here in Montana.”

Commissioners approved a harvest quota of 75 wolves across three wolf management units. For northwestern Montana, the commission approved a quota of 41, with a subquota of two in the North Fork of the Flathead River area; a quota of 22 was approved for western Montana; and a quota of 12 in southwestern Montana.

“Montana’s approach is by definition open, balanced, scientific and cautious,” Maurier said. “The quota of 75 wolves is conservative and respectful because it limits the total number of wolves that can be taken by hunters and it ensures that FWP can carefully monitor the population before, during, and after the hunting season to examine how the population responds.”

Wolf hunting-season dates correspond to Montana’s early back-country big game hunting season, which runs Sept. 15 through Nov. 29; and the big game rifle season set for Oct. 25 through Nov. 29. Hunting licenses will cost $19 for residents and $350 for nonresidents. License sales are set to begin Aug 17.

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