Oregon legislature fails to resurrect hunting practice banned by Oregon voters in 1994-
Cougar hunting bill dies in Senate committee. Ashland Daily Tidings.
Cougar hunting interests say they will try again in 2012.
Cougar hunting bill dies in Senate committee. Ashland Daily Tidings.
Cougar hunting interests say they will try again in 2012.
Wild, rare and beautiful. Editorial in the Lincoln (NB) Journal-Star
Fish and Game looking for culprit who shot lion. Rexburg Standard Journal. By Joyce Edlefsen.
Call of the cougar long gone from the East. Big cats extinct despite reports of sightings, federal officials say. By Brian Nearing. Times Union Staff Writer, OR not
The Eastern Cougar: Dead or Alive? By Felicity Barringer. New York Times.
Eastern catamount may be extinct, but they’re still very much with us. By Tim Johnson, Burlington Free Press Staff Writer
For those who want to track the restoration of the cougar The Cougar Network is a website with a sightings map right on the front page. The Cougar Network shows one confirmed sighting that is clearly in the East. (note, after checking this site more carefully, it looks like it is no longer current. . . RM). There is some useful information.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week said the eastern cougar was extinct, and said it should be taken off the endangered species.
However, it turns out most think the Eastern cougar was a distinction that made no difference because there never was a kind of cougar or mountain lion in the East any different from the increasingly common cougar of the Western United States which is reclaiming its territory in the Midwest and the East at a pretty good rate.
The debate between “lumpers” and “splitters” has been common among biologists studying species and sub-species. A lumper would say the so-called “eastern cougar never did differ significantly from other cougar in the United States. A similar controversy has of course been part of the restoration of the gray wolf to the Western United States, the Great Lakes and the red wolf of the Carolinas. The latter is very similar to the wolves of eastern Canada in Quebec Province.
U.S. Declares Eastern Cougar Extinct, With an Asterisk. By Felicity Barringer. New York Times.
Several factors probably explain how 8 cougars, very territorial animals, came together
to feed on a dead cow on a cliff near Soap Lake, Washington. The first is that it is winter. Prey are concentrated into a small area and in this case most of the cougars were probably closlely related (both indicated in the article). It isn’t know how often this happens, but it is probably uncommon.
We saw these photos about 2 weeks ago. Wish we had permission to be the first to post them.
Rare photo shows 8 cougars on game trail. “Using a camera triggered by a motion-sensor device, a hunter captured a rare sight: eight cougars huddled together on an Eastern Washington trail as if attending some big-cat block party.” By Craig Welch. Seattle Times environment reporter
Vladimir Putin has been making quite a name for himself in recent years as a man of outdoor activity, and one not afraid of large carnivores. He hopes to save the tiger from extinction. The International Tiger Forum hopes to raise an astonishing $350-million for tiger conservation with his help and others such as head of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick.
Perhaps the weenies of the West (politicians in the interior Western United States) might emulate him when it comes to powerful impressive animals.
The article above says Russia sees the tiger as a symbol of national strength. Around here it seems to be the cow, or, more likely, the sheep.
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Update: Russia, China pledge to save the tiger. By Alissa de Carbonnel. News Daily
This is a very important decision for the future of the lynx, which had been added to ESA protection.
Molloy rules lynx plan arbitrarily excluded possible ‘critical habitat‘. By Michael Jamison. Missoulian.
This is the second go round on the size of the lynx habitat . Politics played a critical and unlawful role in keep the designation of habitat smaller than needed.
An interesting story of a lynx that was translocated into Colorado from B.C. only to return there 8 years later. I don’t think, however, that the lynx really “wanted to die close to home”
BC-03-M-02 | 2001-2010
by Kate Lunau – Macleans.ca
Ron Kearns, a frequent commentator on this site and retired wildlife biologist of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, was recently interviewed for a story about mountain lion management on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona. The refuge has set a policy which requires mountain lions which have killed more than two bighorn sheep in a 6-month period be lethally removed. Meanwhile bighorn hunting is allowed on the refuge.
Jaguar trapper guilty. Arizona Daily Star
I’ve had this blog on the blogroll for over a month. It’s still small, but the webmaster has the talent to put it simply with interesting video. You might want to check it out.
The question about whether or not jaguar scat was placed at the trap site or not is the focus of the article. One former employee says she placed the scat at the trap site on the orders of her boss while the employee who was fire recently says she is lying.
Some have suggested to me that the use of a snare may have greatly contributed to Macho B’s death. There are photos of his paw which show it being swollen and that this may have caused much stress as well as caused infection.
Accounts conflict on how jaguar was trapped
Tony Davis Arizona Daily Star
I saw this story but was too busy to post it when it was published last month. I’m posting it now because I think it is an important story and also because we’ve been covering the saga of Macho B, the last wild jaguar in the US.
He was captured in February of 2009 in Arizona, tranquilized, and given a gps radio collar. Shortly afterwards it was noticed that his movements became limited so he was recaptured and then euthanized. Investigators say that his death was hastened by capture related stress.
There have also been allegations claiming that jaguar scat was placed at the trapping sites in an attempt at capturing him while trapping cougars for an ongoing study. The worker fired by AZGF has said as much.
“One federal agency, the U.S. Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General, concluded earlier this year that the capture by state workers was intentional and that the evidence points to criminal wrongdoing.”
G&F worker is fired for alleged lying, cover-up in jaguar capture
Tony Davis Arizona Daily Star
Top predators such as wolves, lions, and jaguars play very important roles in the ecology. From control of mesopredators like coyotes and hyenas to control of ungulate populations and how they use the land.
Why top predators matter: an in-depth look at new research
In his NYT op-ed piece yesterday, “Jaguars Don’t Live Here Anymore,” Alan Rabinowitz, head of Panthera, is not thrilled that USFWS has finally decided to start the ESA process of designating critical habitat for the jaguar in the United States. It is now possible there are no more jaguar here.
Rabinowitz argues that the United States has never been more than marginal jaguar habitat and the money should be spent recovering and protecting the real, and large, but declining jaguar population of Mexico, Central and South America.
It is true that money spent in the U.S. may be pretty marginal to conserving the species, but it’s not like there is one pot of money for the jaguar and designating critical habitat siphons money out of protecting the true jaguar population.
I would say that if USFWS completely ignored any protection for American jaguar, not an extra dime would be generated for south of the border efforts. On the other hand, efforts at jaguar restoration where Americans live will likely generate interest and support for jaguar conservation in general.
Arizona Intentionally Snared Last Jaguar, Inquiry Finds. By Leslie Kaufman. New York Times.
Capping a 13-year battle to save the American jaguar from extinction, this week the Center for Biological Diversity won a decision from the Obama administration to develop a recovery plan and protect essential habitat for North America’s largest and most endangered cat.
The Bush administration had twice declared that it would not recover, reintroduce, or do anything to protect jaguars in the United States. Twice the Center’s legal team filed suit and struck down the illegal decisions. This left the final decision up to Obama, but until the last moment, we were uncertain he would do the right thing as he has not made endangered species a priority to date.
Now that the Obama administration has committed to developing a federal recovery plan and mapping out the jaguar’s critical habitat, the long, hard work of saving the American jaguar can begin.
Read more in the Arizona Daily Star.
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Earlier we had reported bad news. U.S. Fish and Wildlife misses deadline on jaguar recovery plan
Well-known female cougar dies from plague. Carcass found in Grand Teton National Park. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.
The plague is generally carried by rodents. I wonder how common it is among the rodents of the Greater Yellowstone.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife misses deadline on jaguar recovery plan. By Susan Montoya Bryan. Associated Press.
And Idaho Fish and Game doesn’t seem to need a better count of cougars or locations like they do wolves (not that I really want them collaring cougars too).
Mountain lions on the prowl. Feline killed in Alta, man jumped by cat near Jackpine Loop. Published: Thursday, December 31, 2009 12:16 AM MST. By Rachael Horne. Teton Valley News Staff.
For those not familiar with the Teton Range. This is on the “Idaho side” of the Tetons, most which is, nevertheless, still in Wyoming.
Park City, Utah (up in the mountains). Cougar shot after killing Utah family’s dog. AP.
This event is so common. People build in cougar habitat and stock their yards with tasty morsels.
There is a similar story in the Bitterroot Valley (actually foothills) of Montana. It seems a cougar killed a pooch on a porch in a Bear Creek dispersed subdivision that is (I looked on Google Earth) hard up against the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, which with the Frank Church Wilderness, is the largest (save one dirt road) Wilderness area in the lower 48 states. That story full of twists and turns and neighborly conflict.
First posted on Feb. 28, 2007
The cougar has not been confirmed in Virginia since 1882, but there are increasing signs they have returned to the state. Motion-sensitive infrared cameras have been deployed near Appalachian Trail to try to determine whether cougars are back.
Thursday, April 21, 2005. Mountain Lions are back, maybe. By Bill Cochran. The Roanoke Times.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008. Mountain Lions in Virginia: How They’re Here and Why It’s Denied. The Locavore Hunter
Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries web site on the eastern cougar.
Hunter kills cougar in Iowa. By Bob Eschliman. World-Herald News Service.
Florence, MT man rescues dad from mountain lion. By Brett French. Billings Gazette. 64 year old father probably saved when his 41 year old son shot the cougar.
Earlier this month the Montana Standard reported a cougar stalking an adolescent boy who was hunting with his father southwest of Butte. The 14-year old boy shot the cougar. Story from the Montana Standard.
Here is something you don’t read about very often, especially in Idaho. A predator kills an animal on a ranch, and the owner or manager is not drooling for revenge.
Mountain lion kills 2 alpacas. Ranch manager declines offer to kill predator. Idaho Mountain Express.
Talks over tiger extinction fears. The Press Association
Maybe they think cropland is just plain ugly?
When the last known jaguar to consistently roam in the U.S. died of kidney failure after being captured and collared, many questions about the legality of the permit to collar Macho B were asked, including a call for a federal investigation.
Now, the Center for Biological Diversity is doing something about it, suing the Arizona Game and Fish in an attempt to get a judge to stop the Department from capturing and collaring imperilled jaguars again.
Arizona Game and Fish sued over death of jaguar Macho B – Arizona Daily Star
Third-generation cats mark milestone for state wildlife program. Bob Berwyn. Aspen Times.
This is a happy uptake in the number of lynx kittens.
While there seem to be a lot of bobcats in the United States, the population size is pretty much a guess. Most of the concern over trapping increase is in the Western states. Bobcat fur coats raise trapping concern in West. By Martin Griffith. Associated Press.
How much of this kind of thing actually happens? I’ve definitely heard of cases where wolves were shot at and injured by WS.
AP EXCLUSIVE: Wildlife whistleblower case in NV
Scott Sonner, Associated Press
The recent designation of more critical habitat for the recovery of the lynx was another response to Julie MacDonald’s political meddling during the Bush Administration.
The major remaining point of contention is the desired addition of Colorado where a state-funded lynx restoration project that brought lynx in from Canada, began with big success, but has since faded out due to increasingly poor reproduction.
Lynx critical habitat challenged in court. By Susan Gallagher. Associated Press Writer
The study was based on what 185 people did who were attacked by mountain lions. The data was from 1890 to 2000. It came from the U.S. and Canada. I can see from the abstract on which the article below is based that additional information is in the original which is not reported below.
Should You Run or Freeze When You See a Mountain Lion? By Sushma Subramanian. Scientific American.
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Why don’t they do this for wolves? Probably because predatory attacks are so few, analysis of figures would be meaningless.
U.S. Opens Criminal Inquiry Into Death of Arizona Jaguar. By John Dougherty.NYTimes.com
I baited jaguar trap, research worker says
Arizona Daily Star
This could mean that critical habitat for the jaguar will have to be established in the United States and even a reintroduction.
U.S. District Court judge orders new review for jaguar habitat. By Arthur H. Rotstein. AP in the Arizona Republic.
News release from the Center for Biological Diversity.
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Earlier on this blog. Whither a recovery plan for the jaguar?
An interesting article today in Demarcated Landscapes.
Update. Jaguar may have experienced ‘capture myopathy’. Necropsy by zoo inconclusive, two outside vets say. By Tim Steller. Arizona Daily Star
Update 4/2. I baited jaguar trap, research worker says. Attorney general opens investigation into capture. Biologist denies telling worker to use scat to lure cat. State claimed Macho B’s capture was inadvertent. By Tony Davis and Tim Steller. Arizona Daily Star.
Update 4/2. Grijalva calls for federal investigation of jaguar’s death. B. POOLE and RYN GARGULINSKI. Tucson Citizen
Jaguar court fight centers on habitat. By Tony Davis. Arizona Daily Star
Can the jaguar be recovered in the United States or must efforts be focused further to the south?
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Michael Robinson on the lawsuit for a recovery plan and critical habitat for the jaguar. Center for Biological Diversity video.
One especially relevant passage . . . “When you feed pets outside in a rural setting, other things often show up for dinner.”
Caturday Big Cat Blog. By Steve Howe. Backpacker.
Cougar found cattin’ around
Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel
Captured jaguar 1st in US to get collar for tracking
By Tony Davis and Brady McCombs
Arizona Daily Star
When wildlife like elk or deer numbers decline, that is usually indicative of something. Often it can be a temporary decline – a response to a natural event such as a fire, drought, or really cold winter – the natural ebb and flow of things. Sometimes it’s symptomatic of something else, like diminishing habitat or a game department that issued too many tags in a region. Mostly, it’s likely a combination of many variables.
Whatever the reasons, one gets the lion’s share of the blame – and the retribution. Predators are the proverbial ‘whipping-boy’ of wildlife managers (and livestock producers). Much like the irrational management that is promised for wolves in Idaho, cougars are subjected to political decisions made by state wildlife managers. And when state managers decide to abate hunter’s competition, they call Wildlife Services.
Unfortunately, it is often more politically expedient to call for ‘control’ of wildlife that competes with hunters than to restrict the number of tags issued to hunters – by far the largest variable reducing elk and deer numbers – or to call for the patience it takes to put a decent amount of resource into habitat restoration – whether active or passive (passive restoration involves removing human causes of habitat degradation – such as livestock grazing, ORV access, fencing, etc.).
The Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners told agency staff last week to employ the help of sport hunters and contract employees from the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Wildlife Services for the state wildlife department’s new “program of intensive, sustained predator reduction.”
There will be more predators in the Big Wood River Valley because snows have pushed elk and deer right into town.
Story: Cougar attacks dogs in Gimlet. Fish and Game officers relocate big cat after confrontation. By Jason Kaufman. Idaho Mountain Express.
Notebook: Exotic cat killed in Pennsylvania. By John Hayes, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Sighting of cougars and black panthers in the East may often be real cats, but not of North American origin.
One the posts on this blog that has had the most comments over time is the one about a cougar sighting in Virginia. People find it and have been posting comments for well over a year now.
The cougars haven’t harmed anyone, but, of course, their presence on campus worries people.
The following announcement came over Idaho State University email Nov. 4.
Idaho Fish and Game officials have set a cougar trap on campus after a possible sighting Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 4. The trap is set in the area of the sighting, above the jogging trail on Red Hill above Davis Field. Public Safety is advising people to be careful in the secluded areas of campus between Red Hill, the cemetery and other areas.
Any sightings should immediately be reported to ISU Public Safety at 282-2515.
Cougars were in other parts of Pocatello last winter.
I have a pretty good idea. If you travel to the Caribou National Forest and the BLM lands that directly adjoin the city, with the exception of a “beauty zone” along Mink Creek, these public lands have been increasing abused by livestock grazing. There is little for the deer to eat, they come into town (indeed they sleep next to my house) where there is some pretty good forage. Of course the cougars follow.
I am increasingly of the view that we need a major push at change on range on these public lands. If any friends in Pocatello, Chubbuck or Inkom want to help with bringing grazing under control on your public land please contact me. Ralph Mauighan firstname.lastname@example.org
Some are saying that Oregon’s strategy of killing cougars to reduce complaints about cougars (whether it be in urban interfaces, to increase elk calf survival, or for fear of loss of livestock) isn’t working… In fact, it may be counter-productive, destabilizing the cougar population by encouraging younger, less experienced cougars to move into areas formerly
Wielgus’ lab monitored the results, and in a peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Wildlife Biology, concluded that, “increased hunting could actually result in increased cougar complaints because of the younger age structure of the cougar population and the higher proclivity of young animals to encounter humans and cause complaints.
Here’s a fun story.
With homeowner in doghouse, bobcats move in. LA Times.
Missing lynx? Reintroduced cats suddenly stop breeding. By Dave Buchanan. Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.
Ten years ago lynx were reintroduced to Colorado. For a number of years there was a release of lynx each year, and it took a while for survival rates to grow and reproduction to begin. However, for the last 4 years large numbers of lynx kittens have been born and survived. However, the production of kittens has suddenly stopped.
Man Killed by Cougar, Officials Confirm. By Rene Romo. Albuquerque Journal Southern Bureau.
This is near the country where they do all that worrying about Mexican wolves.
Group sues, says fence impedes jaguars. JJ Hensley. The Arizona Republic
The fence has doomed jaguar recover in the Southwest unless there is an organized reintroduction like the wolf to the Northern Rockies.
If you are not familiar with Kofa, it is huge, almost 700,000 acres.
However, the bighorn have been struggling there, but their numbers are now increasing, a fact the AZ F & G ignored as they announced, but may not honor, a one-year moratorium on removal of desert cougars in the area (perhaps 3 are left).
Cougars in chaos. How a state hunting policy pushed Washington’s big cats to the brink. April 14, 2008. By Liza Gross. High Country News.
Earlier I posted. Special Washington cougar hunt backfires
Other states like Idaho and Oregon are headed down the same path.
Wyoming: Cougar mom adopts pair of orphaned male kittens. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.
It’s almost like a pack of cougar now! Is part of it protection from wolves?
Three mountain lions were spotted on the Idaho State University campus the night of March 28-9.
There are a lot of deer in Pocatello, Idaho right now due to the prolonged winter.
Story in the Seattle Times. Is cougar hunting breeding chaos? By Sandi Doughton. Seattle Times science reporter.
Hunting large carnivores does not have easy, predictable effects; and a recent law passed and signed in Washington state due to increasing cougar attacks on livestock and pets in NE Washington appears to have had the opposite effect and was based on false assumptions (increasing cougar population). The result of the emergency hunt has been even more attacks (young, inexperienced, and not-too-bright cougars), and a big drop in the cougar population in the Selkirk Mountains.
Actually Washington has had a cougar hunt. It was a particular method of hunting that was banned years ago by the citizens. The method of hunting probably has as much of effect as the mere fact of hunting.
I should add that governor Gov. Christine Gregoire (Democrat) just signed a bill to expand the unsuccessful program. She is not wise about these issues. She is also behind letting livestock operators into state wildlife areas in NE Washington to graze (often for free!!!). These areas are mostly formerly private land purchased by taxpayer and ratepayer money. Western Watersheds Project has sued over the program.
I have posted a number of stories in the past about her “graze-the-wildlife-areas-for-free” program.
This is a great improvement over their first proposal, which was pathetic, and, once again, this new proposal was strongly influenced by the effect of disgraced Julie MacDonald, the deputy assistant secretary of Interior who was far too friendly with industry lobbyists.
So many species have advanced, although not yet to the final stage since she was sent packing, that it almost seems like a good thing she was in her position, eventually serving to make the courts look into the corruption.
Story: Proposal would increase critical lynx habitat. By John Cramer of the Missoulian
There are elk farms, and now a tiger breeder wants to build a facility in Eastern Idaho. Unlike elk, to which Idaho’s Department of Agriculture hands out permits like politicians hand out brochures, the Dept. is fighting this and the proponent fighting the denial of a permit in court.
Tiger breeder eyes Idaho. Jackson Hole Star Tribune.
Jaguar recovery efforts lack support from federal agency. By Staci Matlock. The New Mexican
More from National Geographic News. Added 1-23-2008. U.S. Jaguar Plan Foiled by Border Fence, Critics Say. H. Josef Hebert. Associated Press
There are a fair number of mountain lions in the mountains around Pocatello (where I live) and nearby. There is a story like this about every 3 or 4 years.
Update Jan. 31. This action has not gone down well. There have been a lot of LTE against it in the Pocatello paper (these not on-line) and here in the Idaho Statesman. Letters to the Editor: Cougars
On Dec. 31, a cougar’s houndsman’s dogs ran into a wolf pack and one ended up dead and one injured, but that is not the end of what has been a fairly common story.
The article describes how those who run hounds in extreme NW Montana have changed their tactics and communicate with each other if they see wolf sign in an area. These wolf/hound incidents are on the decline . . . hunters adapting — the way things should be.
Story in the Daily InterLake. Wolves kill hound on a hunt near Kalispell. By Jim Mann.
Rare lynx photographed in Yellowstone. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette.
A “scrawny” coyote bit two people at Old Faithful within 15 minutes. It was later shot. Story: Coyote killed in park after biting 2. by The Billings Gazette Staff.
How come wolves seem to be the only predatory large animal that don’t bite anyone?
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Update: I was surprised to find a very similar incident reported Dec. 31 at Death Valley National Park in the Park Services daily “morning report.” Ralph Maughan
THE MORNING REPORT
Lion pounces on hunter. By Jim Mann. Daily Inter Lake. Backpack saves man from more serious injuries.
This is said to be the first mountain lion attack in many years in Montana.
Enviros: northern Arizona could be home to jaguars. By Cyndy Cole. Arizona Sun Staff Reporter.
This certainly makes sense from the perspective of climate change, as the topics extend further and further north.
After several years of rising success in the lynx restoration in Colorado, the Colorado Division of Wildlife said they haven’t found single kitten this year.
Nevertheless, it might part of the natural cycle of lynx. The cycle of abandance and then scarcity of snowshoe hare and lynx is well known by even those with most meager information about animal population dynamics.
However, it might not be natural. That’s another possibility. Colorado’s not Canada and don’t recall the Colorado lynx rely so heavily on snowshoe hare.
Story in the Durango Herald Tribune.
In Idaho and Wyoming it’s wolves, but in Oregon the state legislature has focused on cougars (oh, they’ll do that in Idaho too, soon enough).
Here is the sad story as told by George Wuerthner. Oregon’s Cougar Slaughter: A Return to the Dark Ages. New West.
Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildfire is using the same tactics as the anti-wolf forces . . . Oh my God, you are going to be killed!
Will these people stop it!!? They tell us to fear terrorists, fear wildlife, keep the kids indoors because there is a sexual predator on every street corner, drug dealers are everywhere. So stay home, shut up, let us handle it.
Oh, and while you’re indoors, safe from exercise and fresh air, be sure to worry about getting fat.
Note: People asked if the governor of Oregon signed this into law. Yes he did. He is a Democrat, and he has also supported letting the timber industry kill thousands of bears because they damage young conifers on the tree farms of the Oregon timber industry.
Update July 26: Wyoming wants to increase its cougar “harvest.” Jackson Hole News and Guide. State raises hunting pressure on Wyo. cats. Cougar Fund says Teton County hunting quotas are not based on science.
This story in the Tooele (TA will a) Transcript Bulletin brings some perspective on the Utah bear attack.
The same is true in Idaho where there are also wolves.
Bear maulings in the form of grizzly bear reactions and bison gorings change the equation a bit in Wyoming.
The most dangerous large animal by far is the dog.
This is from the Carnivore Conservation blog. Panther-vehicle fatalities.
Eighteen national forests across the West are adopting “management direction” to protect the Canada lynx. I got a copy of this decision on Friday. The maps shows the “core” lynx habitat to be pretty much the same as the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear and Northern Continental Divide grizzly bear habitat.
Except for two tiny areas, Idaho is classified as “secondary” or “peripheral habitat,” although the map shows huge areas on Idaho national forests that are “unoccupied lynx habitat,” which is a bit puzzling to me.
Here is the story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. Lynx decision. By Cory Hatch.
The major impacts on human use will be on the type and areas where forest thinning takes places and a prohibition of new snowmobile routes (but not on open snowmobiling). Packed snowmobile trails give a winter advantage to coyotes and bobcats, animals that have relatively smaller feet than lynx.
Utah man sentenced for poaching Nevada bobcats. The Ely (Nevada) Times.
Here is a good article about the benefits of cougar populations in Zion National Park. The deer have nearly eliminated cottonwood reproduction in Zion Canyon, the main tourist attraction. It is full of people and deer. The large number of people in this congested canyon have scared away the cougar. There are a huge number of tame deer, which anyone who has been there has seen. There are no cottonwood seedlings, few flowers, and not many other species either except wild turkeys.
In nearby, unvisited canyons the biodiversity is much greater due to the indirect effects of the presence of cougar.
The hypothesis, called the “Ripple effect” is still controversial. It is named after OSU Professor William Ripple’s hypothesis that the presence of large predators creates a “landscape of fear” among ungulates, serving to keep them from eating so much in riparian zones. The improved conditions in riparian zones ripples throughout the ecoystem leading to many important secordary and third level changes.
Wolves have been reported to be having a similar effect in Yellowstone on aspen, willows, and cottonwood.
Large carnivores promote healthy ecosystems by keeping browsers on edge From Terra, the world of research at Oregon State University.
You might have seen them on the Internet — photos of cougars stalking deer in North Woods of Wisconsin or looking at Michigan children through the windows. At least that’s what the captions to them say.
Sometimes things like a stray sagebrush in the photo reveal the truth that the photos were taken in usual cougar country in the West or even photo-shopped. Every once and a while, however, a photo seems genuine and makes scientists think a few have re-inhabited the Great Lakes states.
Read cougar photo intrigues experts. Green Bay Press-Gazette. Column by Pat Durkin.
Related. Are cougars back in Michigan? Scientists say they’re here but don’t know how many, where from. By Jeff Kart. Kalamazoo Gazette.
The Cougar Network is the best place to find out about these reports and which are credible.
This article is in the Jackson Hole News and Guide today. Although it isn’t firmly established, changes in cougar territory in the area near the Teton Wilderness may be due to pressure from wolves.
Jim and Holly Akenson have already found this to be the case in central Idaho (in Big Creek, deep in the Frank Church Wilderness). They found that wolves occupied the best habitat and cougars moved to the more rocky country. Read “Winter Predation and Interactions of Wolves and Cougars in the Central Idaho Wilderness” One caveat, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, was compounding the difficulty cougar were having by encouraging a very high human “harvest” of cougar.
Anti-wolf folks don’t take into account the competition between carnivores and assume that all more wolves means is more elk or deer killed as prey in almost direct proportion. This is just plain wrong, especially when other predators are present.
This kind of review is required by the endangered species act t0 see if the the Eastern Cougar is truly extinct.
Some of the many sightings have no doubt been of escaped captive cougars. Cougars from the West are also claiming the territory.
I would not be surprised if the the Service concludes that any cougars found are domestic releases or escapes and deserve no protection.
People who keep buy wolves, cougars and other such animals on the underground market are not the species or the animal any favors. A good example is the uproar over the sheep-killing, domestic wolf that was released and lived in NE Montana for several years.
This story is from the carnivore conservation blog. It seems like shooting animals in an enclosure and calling it “hunting” is a growing problem all over the world, with ethically challenged entrepreneurs in South Africa just like in Idaho. Fortunately, people are taking action against this practice.
South Africa bans hunting caged lions. Carnivore Conservation
A ten year old female mountain lion was recently accidentally trapped in North Dakota. The mountain lion is now making a comeback in the state, and she might have played a very large role.
. . . More on the story. The cougar was trapped in a bobcat snare. There was a major effort to save the cougar’s life.
Effort to save cougar unsuccessful. by Blake Nicholson, Associated Press
Look at these amazing details.
Look and see if you can detect the effect of wolves. Remember wolves were reintroduced in 1995. At first there were just a few, and at the end of 2005 about 600 wolves, so the evidence of their effect should increase each years after 1995.
Link to the figures.
Wolves have nailed some cougar-tracking hounds again.
Somehow it is hard to cry for these cry-baby hunters. Where is their sense of adventure and that a hunt should be a risk to hunters too?
Related. This was in Ed Bang’s report that came in this evening.
It seems the high elevation Lake Como Pack from inside the Selway-Bitterroot wilderness got into a fight with some lion tracking hounds.
“On Feb. 5th, a lion hunter reported that his hounds had gotten in a fight with wolves near the Tin Cup drainage near Darby, MT. He reported that his dogs were injured but would be OK and he thought 2 wolves were involved. Bradley [MFWP] was incidentally in this same area on the 4th and had cut tracks of several wolves presumably from the Lake Como pack.”
There are about 650 wolves in Idaho. To hear some tell, this “incredible” number is devastating the big game herds, menacing people, and driving farmers from their lands.
“How many do you want. When will the “wolf-lovers” ever be satisfied?”
I’m a friend of the wolf, and its prey. I’m a friend of the cougar too, and its prey (which is approximately the same as the wolf’s). Likewise with the bear.
It seems odd that no one ever asks how many cougar or bears are their in Idaho? Now we have an approxmimate answer. Idaho Fish and Game indicated they estimate 20,000 black bears and 1500-2000 cougar in Idaho. Oh, and each cougar eats more than a wolf.
Sometimes there’s nothing like relative numbers, rather than absolute numbers to bring controversies into perspective. You can bet the anti-wolf crowd will do nothing to put the number of wolves into perspective. It’s up to you to do it.
It is expected that lots of data has been collected that will allow management more by science and less by barroom and rumor from coffee at the diner.
It seems that people can think more rationally about cougars than they can about wolves.
This story is from the Reno Gazette Journal. By Jeff DeLong
The cougar may be preying largely on the foals of wild horses in the Virginia Mountain range of extreme Western Nevada. It has been fitted with a radio-collar to see if this seemingly rare kind of predation is taking place.
Bob Caesar called my attention to this story story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide.
Cougars die from Plague by Cory Hatch.
A mother cougar and her kitten died of plague. Two other cougars were found dead of the plague. This is rare in Wyoming, plague being more of a threat in the Southwest, but it not as uncommon as thought. Five people have died of plague in Wyoming since 1978, according to the article.
There is always breaking news about cougars in the mid-West and east, and can be found at the Cougar Network.
Story about the Missouri mountain lion in the Missouri paper. Mountain Lion Sighting Confirmed. Chillicothe Constitution Tribune. Tuesday, December 12, 2006
An interesting, lengthy cougar story from the Santa Monica Mountains near L.A. appeared the other day in the LA Times (By Amanda Covarrubias)
This issue has been very controversial, and the Service’s designation is very small. It is only 10% of what was first proposed, and it is almost entirely inside national parks where the designation hardly matters.
Story from the Daily InterLake (Kalispell, Montana).
Two radio collared lynx have been shot in the last two weeks on southwestern Colorado. A $5000 reward is being offered for information
Wild Again has the full story.
University of Idaho researchers Jim and Holly Akenson have been living at Taylor Ranch Field Station, deep in the Frank Church Wilderness, since at least 2000. It was in 2001 that I heard them present their first research results at our annual North American wolf conference.
While this article does not cover all of their research, it tells how they found wolves have changed elk behavior in the vast central Idaho Wilderness. Wolves have not decimated the elk. The elk are more wary now, and they don’t come out on the meadows as much.
With all of the recent burns in central Idaho, I would expect that the place to find elk is in the partial burns where, as in Yellowstone, the elk can see out but the progress of wolves is noisier and impeded by all the burned, deadfallen logs.
Hunters need to use new tactics and maybe move to another place in the wilderness. For example, a drainage that has a near total burn (no hiding cover for elk) may seem too dangerous for the elk to hang out in unless there is really a lot of new forage.
Here is the AP article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
The post on the lack of cougars resulting in damage to the ecology of Zion National Park has prompted a lot of comments.
I thought I’d post a photo I took of the Virgin River in Zion Canyon last March. The streambanks are trampled and bare or are calving off where the silt is deep. Some of the erosion is human, but the deer follow the human trails and vice versa.
Those high scenic photos you see of the Virgin are taken up in “The Narrows” where the walls close, leaving little riparian zone.
I always wondered why the Virgin River looked so oddly entrenched and actively eroding in Zion NP. It may be an indirect effect of the loss of the cougar. As any visitor will attest, the deer are everywhere.
Carnivore conservation has a great story on the slow and threatened return of the jaguar to the American Southwest.
If the border fence is built, I think part of the plan should be a reintroduction of jaguar.
Note that President Bush recently signed an authoization to build a 700 mile fence along the Arizona/Mexico border, but authorizations require appropriations. These are often not forthcoming, and the whole thing might be an election year stunt. In the next Congress conservationists should lobby for jaguar money.
I found a better list of mountain lion attacks than the one I posted the other day. It is maintained by a wildlife ecology professor. Cougar Attacks on Humans in the United States and Canada