Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Cougar turf wars in Idaho's wilderness

Sunday, October 29, 2006
The Oregonian

McCALL, Idaho -- Wolf researcher Jim Akenson is riding a mule on an icy mountain trail in central Idaho when he comes upon a dead cougar. Suddenly, a pack of wolves materializes and begins howling.

For one terrifying moment, the 48-year-old biologist thinks his startled mules are going to stampede and carry him off a 200-foot cliff into Big Creek.

"We could not turn around," says Akenson, describing that tense winter episode four years ago in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. "It is the most precarious condition you can imagine, with wolves howling around you."

The crisis ends quickly. Akenson's saddle mule, Daisy, gives the carcass an indifferent sniff, steps over it and proceeds down the trail. Cricket and Rocky, his pack mules, follow, paying the wolves no heed.

Akenson shrugs it off as part of life in the Idaho wilderness.

"There are circumstances when you could be in trouble with wolves," he muses. "But I think they are very rare."

Akenson and his biologist wife, Holly, 48, are in the ninth year of a University of Idaho-sponsored research project on wolf and cougar interaction. They live and work at the Taylor Ranch Field Station, deep inside the largest block of contiguous wilderness in the lower 48 states. The ranch is 34 miles from the nearest road and is believed to be the most remote year-round human habitation in the nation, outside Alaska.

It is hoped their research will deepen the understanding of wolf behavior, as the predators flourish in Idaho and move into Oregon, where they are feared mainly for the damage they can do to livestock. And as wolves limit the territory of a burgeoning cougar population, that could have deep impact in Oregon, where cougars have rebounded to 5,000 individuals.

But the work of this couple is carried out as remotely as the animals they observe.

A bush plane delivers mail and groceries once a week. Their three-room log cabin's amenities include running water, wood heat, a flush toilet and a hydropower unit that provides electricity for lights, computers and a satellite TV. They have no telephone, but they keep in touch with the outside world via Internet e-mail and an FM-band "backcountry radio."

Their closest neighbors are bighorn sheep, moose, elk, deer and three roving packs of Canadian gray wolves.

"They wake us up at night," Holly Akenson says of the serenading wolves.

It's a curiously techno-primitive life that two years ago permitted Jim Akenson to watch the Super Bowl on TV while keeping an eye on seven wolves on a mountain ridge above the cabin.

"I was thinking, 'I bet there aren't very many viewers who are watching the Super Bowl and a pack of wolves at the same time,' " he says.

"It's the opportunity to work hands-on with these animals that's like an addiction," says Akenson, explaining why they stay here.

"For me, it's the immersion in the natural world," adds Holly Akenson. "That day-to-day personal, being part of the natural world, is something you rarely find."

An estimated 750 Canadian gray wolves now roam Idaho in 59 packs, their numbers up from 35 wolves in 1996, say the Akensons. Oregon officially has no gray wolves, but the biologists are certain the predators have crossed the state boundary.

"I saw wolf scat on the Minam River when I was bowhunting in there a year ago," says Jim Akenson, referring to a stream in northeastern Oregon's Eagle Cap Wilderness. "There was no question that's what it was."

Oregonians have little to worry about, the Akensons say. In thousands of days in the field, they've never been threatened by wolves they were researching . But there are precautions:

They can't allow Mica, their 11-year-old golden retriever, to roam unaccompanied. Wolves generally hunt in packs of eight to 12 and almost certainly would make short work of the dog, says Holly Akenson.

And they don't let their horses graze in large pastures. Horses instinctively flee wolves.

"The chase is what gets them excited," Holly Akenson says of wolves. "If the stock are confined, we think they are less likely to attack."

Mules are better adapted to social interaction with wolves, the Akensons say. "Mules look at a wolf and say to themselves, 'Do I need to stomp it?' " says Jim Akenson. "Our mules love to chase bears, too."

Wolves probably will reduce the number of Oregon's cougars, now estimated at around 5,000, they say.

"When there is a pack around, cougars are not comfortable around their kills or raising kittens," says Jim Akenson. "A lot of times a big cougar will kill a wolf, but the pack phenomenon changes the table."

A male cougar's territory averages about 150 square miles, compared with about 45 square miles for a female cougar, say the Akensons. But a typical wolf pack roams across 500 square miles.

The presence of wolves hasn't caused Idaho's elk numbers to drop significantly, they say. But when wolves are around, elk become more wary. They avoid meadows where wolves might see them. That frustrates human hunters, who sometimes mistakenly believe the elk herds are vanishing, he says.

Another change: An elk that gets spooked in wolf country typically plunges into a river or mountain lake, because wolves are at a disadvantage in water, say the Akensons. "That is something you didn't see before wolves."

Wolves occasionally frighten people when they are merely being curious, say the Akensons. Case in point: When Jim Akenson tied up his mules and returned to examine the dead cougar near Big Creek, he was startled to discover that it had died in a fight with another cougar. It hadn't been attacked by the wolf pack, as he first thought.

The wolves merely heard the battle and stopped by to see what was going on, he says. And when he came along, they started howling.

Still, wolves may have been a factor in the cougar's fate, says Jim Akenson. Wolves put the big cats under more stress, and that often causes strife within cougar populations.

"Cougars get jammed into a smaller place with fewer resources" when wolves move in, says Akenson. "So they fight."

http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/ base/news/1161910515266800.xml&coll=7

Florida DOT approves funding for panther crossing

Dear Panther Advocates:

You will recall that in June, Defenders (with agency sponsorship from FWS) submitted a proposal to the Florida Department of Transportation for Transportation Enhancement (TE) funding. We submitted a proposal for a panther crossing in an area in Big Cypress National Preserve that is particularly deadly for panthers and other wildlife at Turner River. On Thursday we learned that FDOT has decided to move forward with the initial phase of the Turner River Bridge project (crossing concepts and design, environmental considerations, public access and involvement issues) in their FY 08/09 work plan.

It looks like the crossing is intended to go in when the bridge is to be replaced in the next 10-12 years with bridge replacement funds and enhancement funds.
These crossings take ages to get put in but at least we will be slated into FDOT work plans, which is essential.

I want to thank you for your support for this project and hope you'll stay involved once the public involvement process is initiated.

All the best,

Elizabeth Fleming
Florida Representative
Defenders of Wildlife
233 Third Street North Suite 201
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701
(727) 823-3888 (Tel)
(727) 823-3873 (Fax)

Cougar advocates invited to Oregon workshop

October 28, 2006

The Oregon Cougar Action Team, part of the Mountain Lion Foundation, invites cougar advocates to free training and a workshop.

The workshop will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Neufeldt's Restaurant, 190 Main St. in Aumsville.

Lynn Sadler, the president and CEO of the Mountain Lion Foundation, will teach people to educate others about coexisting with wildlife and advocating for Oregon cougars.

R.S.V.P. to Jayne Miller at (503) 743-2318.

-- Beth Casper


Monday, October 30, 2006

"Alarming decline" in leopards at Indian national park

Forest department officials say some leopards may have died naturally and some are untraceable

Ravikiran Deshmukh
MUMBAI, Monday, October 30, 2006

The panther population at Sanjay Gandhi National Park is on an alarming decline according to the latest annual census figures. There are only 18 panthers left in the park, compared to 20 last year. In 2002, the number stood at 42.

However, deputy conservator of forests at the park, Dr P T Munde, refused to acknowledge that the numbers are shrinking.

“Some may have died naturally and some are untraceable since this is not a human census where a headcount is possible,” he said.

The forest department has so far trapped 11 man-eating panthers, mostly from Powai and Aarey colony,after public outrage, said a forest department official. The animals are still caged and have not been released into the park.

The 2003 census revealed that the number of panthers in national park and Tungareshwar was 38, followed by 33 in 2004.

In contrast, the number of deer at the national park has increased significantly, according to census figures. There are 32 this year, as opposed to 29 in 2005 and 23 in 2004. However, the number was 79 in 2003.

In the case of chital or axis deer, the number has gone up to 307 from 272 last year. There has been a substantial increase since the previous years — 2001(126), 2002 (162), 2003 (167) and 2004 (273).

The number of monkeys at the national park, too, has reduced to 745 from 819 in 2005.

The numbers for wildcats and foxes is still being processed. Cats were down to 4 in 2005 from 10 in 2004, while the census number for foxes for 2005 is missing.

http://www.mumbaimirror.com/nmirror/mmpaper.asp?sectid=2& articleid=10292006235358281029200623522609&pubyear=2006 &pubday=30&pubmth=10#

Sequoia National Park helps Cambodian park save tigers, other wildlife

San Francisco Chronicle - 10/4/2006
By: Chuck Squatriglia

(10-04) 04:00 PDT Sequoia National Park -- A struggling park halfway across the world has turned to Sequoia National Park for help in preserving a war-torn region that covers thousands of acres of rain forest and is home to some of the last Asian elephants and Asiatic bears on Earth.

Cambodia's Samlaut park was a Khmer Rouge stronghold until 10 years ago, and today its future is threatened by poachers, loggers and public indifference.

On Tuesday, Cambodia's environmental minister, the U.S. ambassador to Cambodia and the superintendent of Sequoia National Park signed a "sister park" accord under which the two parks will exchange expertise on park management, resource protection and wildlife preservation.

Cambodia plans to send a delegation of rangers to Sequoia early next year to learn more about the park's administration, its technology and its volunteer programs. The two parks were paired because both are largely forests and host many endangered species.

The National Park Service has a long history of international collaboration, and at least 32 U.S. parks have "sister park" relationships with 18 nations.

Yosemite National Park signed such an accord with Huangshan National Park in China in May, and Golden Gate National Recreation Area has collaborated with Parks Victoria in Australia for many years.

Park officials said such relationships allow them to share expertise with parks that share similar features, face similar problems and serve similar audiences.

"There's no question there are things we can learn," said Mike Tollefson, superintendent of Yosemite. The park will host a delegation from Huangshan this winter. "There are a lot of opportunities in both directions."

Never before has Cambodia sought such help, and never before has the United States' second-oldest national park mentored another park.

"This provides us with a blueprint for our efforts to protect Samlaut," said Mok Mareth, Cambodian minister of the environment. "We look forward to working with our new partner to make Samlaut a national park."

The National Park Service stressed that the relationship will be mutually beneficial although it clearly favors the country with little experience in environmental preservation and few resources with which to pursue it.

"Samlaut is the little sister, no doubt," said Stephan Bognar, executive director of the Maddox Jolie Pitt Project, the nonprofit organization actress Angelina Jolie founded to preserve Samlaut. "We have so much to learn from Sequoia."

The 148,260-acre park is in Cambodia's Battambang province in the country's northwestern corner. It is hilly, much like Mount Diablo State Park, and coursed by rivers that provide one-third of Cambodia's water. In contrast, Sequoia covers more than 400,000 acres.

Cambodia, which has seven national parks, granted Samlaut some protection in 1993 when it declared the region a "multiple use area," limiting logging and other activities in an area home to elephants, bears, Sumatran tigers and the Javan rhinoceros.

For political reasons, the government has been largely unable to enforce the regulation, and environmentalists said logging, poaching and mining are rampant. The region has already lost 40 percent of its timber, by some estimates, and it is littered with land mines and other ordnance left behind after three decades of civil war.

The Maddox Jolie Pitt Project -- named for Jolie and actor Brad Pitt's adopted Cambodian son -- has hired 30 rangers since 2003, started a survey of the park's wildlife and launched a campaign to educate people about the need to protect the park.

Bognar approached the National Park Service last year to enlist its help.

"We realized that we needed to form an alliance to better secure Samlaut's future," he said. "Sometimes you need to look outside to increase conservation inside."

Sequoia National Park was the obvious partner, park officials said, because the two parks were created to protect valued forests and important watersheds.

Craig Axtell, superintendent of Sequoia National Park, said he is particularly interested in how Samlaut addresses timber poachers, because some of their tactics might be effective in curbing marijuana cultivation within Sequoia.

"We see this as an opportunity to learn from each other," he said, adding that he'd like to send rangers to Cambodia. "We're going to share skills and knowledge."

The two parks also are linked culturally. Some 7,000 Cambodian Americans, many of whom fled Cambodia in the 1970s, live in the communities surrounding Sequoia.

"All of us see this as renewed friendship between our two countries," said Sopheaktra Nou, executive director of the Cambodian Reconciliation Committee, a community nonprofit in Fresno. "This will help our country heal, create a park all the world can see and help us protect and preserve our culture."

http://www.wildaid.org/index.asp? CID=8&PID=331&SUBID=&TERID=279

Cougar Field Workshop for Midwestern and Eastern biologists

The first Cougar Field Workshop is to be held March 19-23, 2007 on Ted Turner's Ladder Ranch in the heart of New Mexico and the heart of cougar country. Organized by Harley Shaw, this first workshop is designed to train biologists working in the midwest and eastern U.S. to recognize the varied sign of the cougar. The workshop is being co-sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Cougar Network.


Bobcat trapping up in Idaho this year

Not only is it the hunting season, but some folks forget that it's also trapping season.

In wild files, it's an adventure to see the life of a trapper.

Trapping has always been a big part of Idaho's history,

"When it comes to trapping in Idaho, that's the reason the first folks came here."

In the case of catching this beaver, the trappers used a live trap, meant to help move the beaver elsewhere, look at it's big tail and hind webbed feet.

Gregg Losinski, Idaho Fish and Game Department says "Trapping is an age old art today. We do it sometimes to relocate animals who are endangered. In the case of Idaho in the wolf reintroduction, it was done by the Federal Government. Those wolves were trapped by trappers in Canada and then brought to Idaho."

But some traps are used to kill for the fur.

To catch a critter like a Pine Martin, Fish and Game helps trappers put rotted meat into this can and then they set a trap in the tree. And after spraying fish juice on the tree, the trap is ready.

"Trapping has been around since man has been around as far as a way to get food and clothing," said Losinski.

Trapping products are still used today, not only to make fur coats, but everyday items like cowboy hats. And that cowboy hat's felt was made of beaver fur.

"In Idaho, we have a lot of different fur bearers. Some of the more common ones would be the beaver, the pine martin, the muskrat, and the bobcat."

Since the price of fur is going up, more than 1,000 people are licensed trappers in Idaho. That number is up from last year. And this year some trappers are going for the valuable bobcat.

"This year, bobcats are up. Right now the average price for a bobcat is $400 dollars per cat."

But this trapper is trying to catch a muskrat, not so lucky this time, his trap with a carrot as bait is empty.

When traps are empty and trappers want to move them they have to be very careful. They poke around with a stick so they don't get their own foot.

"You'd want to keep your dog or kids away from this trap so they don't get hurt," warned Losinski.

If you are interested in learning more about trapping look for fish and game doing trapping seminars next year.

Story Created: Oct 29, 2006 at 7:39 PM MST
Story Updated: Oct 29, 2006 at 11:13 PM MST


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Rare wildcat tests Japan's environmental will

From Associated Press
October 28, 2006 11:53 AM EDT

IRIOMOTE NATIONAL PARK, Japan - The steamy, hazy jungle thrums with trilling insects, singing frogs and the steady gurgle of rushing water as we cut through thickets of head-high ferns.

Prowling out there somewhere in the emerald underbrush is the big prize of our safari - one of the planet's rarest wildcats.

A cat so rare, it was discovered only in 1965. So threatened, only about 100 exist. So singular, it lives only on this 110-square-mile Pacific island. Yet the elusive Iriomote cat is more than just an endangered species.

Heroic efforts to save it from extinction symbolize an about-turn in Japan's long-tortured relationship with Mother Nature. Not only does the struggle underline the country's newfound determination to redress decades of environmental devastation at the hands of unbridled industrialization, it proves just how tough reversing the damage can be.

"The wildcat's barely hanging on," says our jungle guide, Maki Okamura, a scientist at the Environment Ministry's Iriomote Wildlife Conservation Center. "Even if we lose just one, it has a huge impact," she says.

Spotting an Iriomote wildcat will be a long shot, not just because it has nearly died out.

The mottled, dark brown cat with its rounded, club-like tail is only the size of a house tabby, and the jungles of its namesake island are nearly impenetrable. But Okamura knows every fold in the forest and routinely stops to hunt for footprints, scat and other telltale signs as she blazes through the dank mangrove swamps, keeping one eye out for cats, the other for deadly Okinawan vipers.

One of Japan's southernmost points, coral-fringed Iriomote lies closer to the Philippines than to Tokyo and is known as Asia's Galapagos for its primeval tropical forests and one-of-a-kind wildlife.

The wildcat's scientific name - Prionailurus Iriomotensis - certifies its local roots, where it evolved as an isolated offshoot of mainland Asia's so-called leopard cat, another small cat unrelated to the true leopard.

For most of that time, outsiders steered clear of Iriomote's malarial swamps.

But after World War II, sugar cane farmers and cattle ranchers moved in - as did scientists curious about sightings of a strange "yamaneko," or "mountain cat" in Japanese.

The discovery gave Japan a rare chance to redeem a dismal conservation record.

Wolves are one of four mammals to have disappeared in Japan's breakneck industrial development, while the crested ibis and red-crowned crane are all but extinct. Short-tailed albatrosses were nearly hunted into oblivion for their feathers. Then came Japan's commercial whaling binge.

Japan set up an environment agency in 1971, but it still took another 20 years to get an endangered species list. Meanwhile, 47 animals died out for good in Japan. Another 303 are still on the brink.

"Things are getting better, but there's still a long way to go," says Hidenori Kusakari, a lobbyist for the World Wildlife Fund in Japan, whose uphill job is winning nature-friendly legislation from Parliament.

In recent years, however, environmentalists have won more lawsuits against polluters and blocked development plans that threaten sensitive habitats throughout the country.

The Iriomote cat is the big test.

"We still have time to save it," Okamura says.

Designated a "Special Natural Living Monument" by the central government, the cat is now a mascot for thinking green throughout the southern island chain of Okinawa, where its image is emblazoned on everything from city buses and refrigerator magnets to key chains and coffee mugs. There are even wildcat stuffed animals - and chocolates shaped like wildcat poop pellets.

Despite the fact few humans ever see it, the cat's very existence has brightened Iriomote's aura as an unspoiled paradise and helped draw a flood of nature lovers, scuba divers and big-city transplants.

The number of tourists has jumped 14-fold from 1975 to about 700,000 people a year - putting new stresses on an island with only 2,200 permanent residents, one main road, two stop lights and no high school.

Things got even worse for the cat. Habitat loss, interbreeding with house cats, the spread of new diseases, stray dogs and the introduction of crab traps have all pushed up mortality rates. Surging traffic is the No. 1 killer, flattening one or two cats each year.

The island's sprawling national park preserves much of the mountainous interior, but it doesn't cover the cat's prime lowland habitat along the coast - where people are settling in droves.

Okamura's wildlife center is fighting back with a range of innovative projects, including photo traps to catalog each cat, radio tracking to find their ranges and a rehabilitation center with a 24-hour hot line to report cats hurt in road accidents.

The single cat recuperating today is W-48, named for the island quadrant where it was hit by a car. In the island rehab center, it is monitored through a video camera to spare it the tension of human interaction.

"It's really a model program for others around the world," says Jim Sanderson, a small-cat expert at Conservation International who has visited Iriomote.

But perhaps Iriomote's most stunning project is its so-called Eco-Road, the two-lane highway encircling half the island.

Along its winding stretches, cat-crossing signs punctuate the jungle green and 80 cat underpasses run beneath the pavement.

Shots from camera traps suggest the population has dropped substantially from the estimate of 100 some 12 years ago. But the center says it lacks the funds to carry out a census that would determine whether the conservation effort is working.

A day trudging through the jungle offered its own discouraging testimony.

Early on, Okamura guided us to a remote photo box where a picture of a cat was snapped just a week before. But no sign of cats. Then to a stream where the animals come to ambush birds, snakes and other prey. Nothing.

Next to a cat-friendly rice paddy where delicious frogs abound. Not even a footprint.

Same at a hollow tree, perfect for cats wanting to lounge on a branch and beat the summer heat.

By dusk, a steady downpour had silenced the darkening jungle. That was when we realized that the grainy video images of W-48 dozing in the rehab center would be as close as we ever got to the real thing.

http://my.earthlink.net/article/top?guid=20061028/ 4542d5c0_3ca6_1552620061028-1336198957

Iberian lynx captive breeding plan needs 20 cubs by 2011

Spain - The program for breeding the Iberian lynx in captivity, which was developed in Doñana National Park, will need to incorporate 20 cubs in the next five years, with the goal of maintaining a group of 60 breeding animals in a period of 30 years.


El plan de cria del lince precisa 20 cachorros hasta el ano 2011

Sunday 29 October 2006

El programa de cría en cautividad del lince ibérico, que se desarrolla en el centro de El Acebuche del Parque Nacional de Doñana, necesitaría incorporar 20 cachorros en los próximos cinco años, con el fin de mantener un grupo de 60 reproductores en un plazo de 30 años. Según un informe elaborado recientemente por la bióloga y coordinadora del centro, Astrid Vargas, para alcanzar los objetivos genéticos estipulados se deberían incorporar cuatro cachorros por año durante cinco años consecutivos, por lo que habría que contar, con 20 "cachorros/juveniles" en el plazo de cinco años. Así, para asegurar el mantenimiento de la diversidad genética en un plazo de 30 años se deberá contar con un grupo de 60 reproductores "constituido en principio por los propios fundadores más ejemplares nacidos en el programa de cría".

En el mismo informe, Astrid Vargas analiza los principales preceptos del manejo de los linces en cautividad «que se basa en la aportación de conocimientos multidisciplinarios en los campos de cuidados animales, nutrición, veterinaria, genética, fisiología, junto al uso sistemático del método científico». El programa de cría en cautividad del lince ibérico que se desarrolla en Doñana cuenta ya con 17 ejemplares, diez hembras y siete machos, con los que se prevé garantizar el futuro de esta especie en peligro de extinción, informa Efe.

Del total de ejemplares, cinco -tres hembras y dos machos- han nacido en el marco del propio programa, «demostrando así su eficacia», mientras que el resto han sido recogidos de diferentes puntos y camadas de la geografía andaluza desde que empezó el proyecto, para propiciar la procreación y el sostenimiento de la especie. En cuanto a las hembras, la mayor es Morena, nacida en 1990, que fue recogida en la Sierra de Andújar (Jaén) con tan solo dos meses y actualmente se considera postreproductora; y Aura y Boj, ambas de Doñana y capturadas para formar parte del programa. También se encuentran Adelfa y Aliaga, ambas de 2004, que fueron capturadas de una camada de tres cachorros en noviembre de ese mismo año para ser incorporadas al programa de cría en cautividad.

http://www.abc.es/20061029/andalucia-andalucia/plan-cria-lince-precisa _200610290205.html

Michigan agency will take calls on cougar sightings

Friday, October 27, 2006

Finally, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is coming around to the idea that cougars could be cruising the countryside.

It's high time.

For years, people in the Bay area, Up North and in the western part of the state have reported that they have seen cougars.

The DNR said these country people, woodsmen and rangers didn't know the difference between a house cat or a dog and a real, live cougar.

So why risk an insult by calling the so-called wildlife experts, right?

Never mind the continuing sightings, nor photos of a cougar near Hale that The Times published, nor the report of a Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore ranger who was stalked by one in 2004.

The DNR still insists it doesn't have evidence that the big cats are breeding in the wild here.

But the agency is now open to the suggestion that all these reports, all these years, of cougars in Michigan might be credible, after all.

Three DNR workers will be sent to New Mexico in the spring to learn about these animals.

And, DNR will set up cougar page on its Web site.

The agency is now interested in cougar sightings.

No longer will those who say they ''Taw a big pooty-tat'' be disregarded as panicky little Tweety Birds.

If you see a cougar, call the DNR.

They're listening, now.


SD lion season begins November 1 amid changes

By Ryan Woodard, Journal Staff Writer

A South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks official was surprised at how quickly the state’s first mountain lion season ended, but he will be just as surprised if the second one takes much longer.

“I am still anticipating that the harvest goes very quickly, much like it did last year,” said Mike Kintigh, regional supervisor for the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks.

Last year’s season started Oct. 1 and concluded Oct. 24 after five breeding-age females were shot, the maximum allotted by the GF&P.

This year’s season starts Wednesday and features several changes from last year. The season still has a maximum 25 lion limit, and an unlimited amount of licenses are being sold.

But the season starts a month later than last year, restricts the shooting of any lion that is traveling with another lion and allows the shooting of eight total females before the season is stopped, rather than five “breeding-age females.”

Those changes are designed to protect females with kittens, according to Kintigh, and to diffuse arguments about whether a harvested female has reached breeding age.

One thing he doesn’t believe the new rules will change is the duration of the season, which he expects will conclude before November does.

“Nothing significant has changed that affects my thinking of how the season will go,” he said. “If anything, the hunters learned a little last year on what is effective in getting lions, and the season will go a little faster in '06.”

One of the most effective techniques hunters discovered was the use of deer and elk calls in attracting the big cats, he said. They were so effective, stores sold out of them.

“We saw them being very successful using calls,” he said, “(such as) mouth blowing or electric calls, doe, fawn bleak or elk cow calls.”

Hunters succeeded beyond many people’s expectations in the controversial first season, killing 13 lions -- five of them breeding-age females n in less than a month after the season started.

Kintigh said the number of lions shot in such a short period of time was surprising because GF&P had prohibited the use of dogs.

“A lot of people doubted whether or not we would harvest any lions without using dogs,” he said. “Then, to have the season start October 1 and end the (24th) without using dogs -- that showed us that the boot hunter, the guy that’s out on foot without dogs, can harvest lions.”

Many hunters specifically targeted lions, which Kintigh expects to happen again. By midweek last week, 2,634 lion tags had been sold so far this year, including 179 landowner tags -- those given out in the Prairie Unit for landowners to hunt big cats on their land.

That’s already more than the 2,597 tags sold all of last year -- tags that Kintigh believed were mostly going to deer hunters.

“We actually had anticipated that a deer hunter or an elk hunter would incidentally take a lion,” he said. “But we saw a tremendous number of people going out last year specifically for lion.”

Rapid City resident Don Sartorius was one of those “boot hunters,” and he ended up getting the season’s largest lion, a 141-pound male, toward the end of the season.

Sartorius shot the cat minutes after he began calling it.

This year, he will again be specifically targeting lions, and he will also look for them while deer hunting.

“I’m not really going to go at it gung ho as far as Nov. 1. But I’m definitely going,” he said, “While I’m deer hunting, I’ll be mountain lion hunting also.”

Sartorius, whose first lion kill is mounted in his basement, says he believes that he has a pretty good shot at harvesting another big cat.

“My odds are probably pretty good. I know where there is probably a few,” he said. “I believe I’ve got the knack for persistence in achieving it, if need be.”

But Sartorius doesn’t believe the season will end as early as Kintigh does. .

“I don’t think it’s going to probably go as quick, because the deer hunters aren’t out calling like the elk hunters were last year,” he said.

He said elk hunting involves much more call and response -- and calling in general -- than deer hunting, which largely amounts to stomping through the woods.

Having a large number of deer hunters will increase the odds of a deer hunter stumbling upon a lion, he said.

Regardless of when the season concludes -- either when eight females are shot or 25 total lions -- Kintigh and GF&P officials hope the changes will help quell some of the controversy from last year, which centered on killing mothers with kittens.

By pushing the start date back to Nov. 1, the GF&P is hoping to “allow some of these kittens to be of an age to survive on their own if their mother was harvested,” Kintigh said.

The rule against shooting lions in pairs has similar logic, he said

“That again was geared towards trying to prevent impact to dependent kittens,” he said, although he added that the two controversial cases last year involving kittens couldn’t be avoided by such a law because the mothers came out from the den by herself.

If a lion with kittens is shot, Kintigh said, the GF&P’s approach is “probably going to be identical to last year.”

He said that if a hunter brings in a cat that had apparently left behind kittens, the GF&P “would probably capture them and try to get them to a zoo, much like we’ve done last year.”

But he said the GF&P was lucky to capture those kittens.

“Last year, we had two cases of that. I’m still amazed that we were able to find the kittens in those two cases,” he said.

The second rule change regarding paired lions pleases Sharon Seneczko, a Custer veterinarian and president of the Black Hills Mountain Lion Foundation.

“They changed it, and we applaud that. That’s a really good move,” she said.

However, Seneczko believes that moving the season back, in addition to simply having a season on mountain lions, is a mistake.

“Basically, I view this thing as a recreational event, yet hunting lions is wrought with inherent problems. You can’t identify males from females, and (you) orphan a lot of young out there,” she said.

She believes that more hunters will be out during deer season, increasing odds that the female subquotas will be overshot.

Seneczko believes that aggressive management without hunting is the best idea.

“It’s still more effective to aggressively take problem lions and aggressively educate people,” she said.

Kintigh maintains that the season helps control the lion population n a population that is healthy and one that the hunting season doesn’t endanger.

The season is scheduled to conclude Dec. 31 if the harvest or female limit is not met.

Hunters are responsible for staying informed about the status of the season.

Similar to last year’s season, hunters must report mountain-lion kills to GF&P officials within 24 hours.

Kills made in the Black Hills Unit must be reported to the regional office in Rapid City, and hunters who take lions in the Prairie Unit must contact agency personnel within 24 hours. Licenses are available at the licensing office in Pierre until the end of the season.

Contact Ryan Woodard at 394-8412 or ryan.woodard@rapidcityjournal.com

http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2006/10/28/ news/top/news01a.txt

Friday, October 27, 2006

Cat killed by car was bobcat, not panther

Englewood Editor

ENGLEWOOD -- The report of a Florida panther being hit and killed on Gasparilla Road Thursday morning turned out to be, if not greatly exaggerated, at least somewhat off base.

Once again, what someone took to be a rare panther turned out to be a much-less-rare bobcat.

So said Lt. Brian Jones of Charlotte County Animal Control Thursday afternoon.

Jones said he happened to be on his way to Englewood when a call came in at 10 a.m. that a motorist had struck a panther on Gasparilla Road at the intersection of San Domingo Boulevard.

When he got to the scene, Jones found it was just as he suspected: A motorist had struck a bobcat.

"Ninety-nine percent of the time we get a call about a panther it turns out to be a bobcat," Jones said. "I dare say it's 100 percent."

Jones said in the 10 years he's been on the job he has never seen a panther in these parts.

"We're received Florida panther calls, but they all turn out to be bobcats," he said.

"This one just apparently ran out in front of the lady. She was pretty distraught about it," he said.

The animal was about 30 pounds, what Jones said was a medium size for a bobcat. It was dead, in the middle of the road, when he arrived at the scene, which was a good thing considering that it's a much nastier bit of business when the animal is seriously injured and must be put down.

"The car was fine. But that thing was dead as a doornail when we got there," he said. "I just pretty much just bagged him up."

Jones said it is not unusual to see bobcats -- and other wildlife -- in the residential areas around here.

"Deep Creek, Harbor Heights. Rotonda is a hotbed for Florida wildlife," Jones said.

He said he has seen many wild pigs in Rotonda. "They'll come in packs and uproot your lawns. They're huge and cause a lot of frustration."

He's even seen what was said to be wild goats in Rotonda Circle.

"There were six goats, a pack of goats, and they just took off when we got there," Jones said. But not wild, he surmised, just some wayward domestic goats.

And definitely not panthers.

Do panthers and bobcats look alike?

"Not really," Jones said. "If you had a picture of a panther and a bobcat, you'd see they're night and day."

Jones said people should be aware that development in Florida is encroaching on the habitat of the wildlife population.

"It always important to remember that we live among the wildlife. People live among these creatures, and even if you're driving down the road, they're there."

You can e-mail Stephen Baumann at sbaumann@sun-herald.com.

http://www.sun-herald.com/NewsArchive2/102706/ ew4.htm?date=102706&story=ew4.htm

Thursday, October 26, 2006

CA: Mountain lion presumed dead

Sylvie Belmond

National Park Services officials believe that an unknown mountain lion roaming in the Santa Monica Mountains killed P8, the last young male offspring of the local dominant cougar labeled P1.

P1 and his family were tracked via radio collar for several years. The 9-year-old male killed his mate and two of his youngsters in recent months, but tracking records show he wasn't anywhere near the site of the latest incident when it occurred on Sept. 25.

"P8 was confirmed dead and we suspect that he was killed by another mountain lion," said Raymond Sauvajot, chief of planning, science and resource management for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

An autopsy showed that P8 had a broken leg and several major puncture wounds. The lions have monitoring collars that indicate P8 and P1 weren't in the same area when the incident occurred.

"Thus we are nearly certain that another mountain lion, probably a male, is in the Santa Monica Mountains," Sauvajot said. Biologists are still waiting for genetic test results to see if they can learn anything about the other lion.

"Our hopes for P8 dispersing outside of the mountains are now eliminated. P1 is still alive and well, as is P6 (a young female and the last surviving offspring of P1)," Sauvajot said. He hopes the other lion that is apparently out there will be found so it can be fitted with a radio collar for monitoring purposes.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Participants in Snow Leopard Trust programs share experiences

By Dr. Tom McCarthy
Science and Conservation Director, Snow Leopard Trust

With research and conservation programs to keep up with in several snow leopard countries, my visits to each individual conservation site are sadly infrequent. So earlier this summer, when my plane dropped between the rugged peaks of the Hindu Kush and landed in Chitral, a small town in the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan, it had been nearly three years since my last visit. A pity, since it is one of the most beautiful sites in all the snow leopard’s range, and its people could not be more welcoming. On this visit I was not disappointed, as villagers took me into their homes, spoke passionately about snow leopards, and asked that I carry a simple message back to our supporters—Thank You.

Herders near Chitral rely heavily on livestock for their livelihood, and stock losses to depredation and disease make life very hard. So here the Trust uses a two-pronged approach to ease the burden of poverty though handicraft development and livestock vaccinations.

Sitting under a flowering apricot tree in the mountain village of Kuju I listened to a number of elders tell me why the Trust's work is important and how it is helping conserve snow leopards. In their own words:

"As disease decreases in livestock, our poverty too is less, so the vaccination program has been extremely important to us. The trained extension workers help the entire village so now we see nearly 90 percent less losses than before," one villager told me.

Another said, "Because of the handicraft project the women of our village can stand on their own feet and make money for their families. The vaccination program has helped a lot as well, and many diseases are not seen here anymore. We are quite satisfied with the work of the Trust, as there have been many benefits, and we want to maintain our good relations."

An ancient but beaming man added, "We are very proud of this project, we are selling handmade napkins in America! Our story is in the news across Pakistan and now everyone knows of Kuju. Your project has helped make us proud to protect snow leopards."

And the last to speak sent me with this story: "Two snow leopards and their children have visited us here for many years, for a long time we were against these leopards because they killed our livestock. But now we are friends. The snow leopard is a masterpiece of nature and the Snow Leopard Trust has taught us to protect it. Please go back to America and tell your members Thank You!"


Humans living far beyond planet's means: WWF

By Ben Blanchard Tue Oct 24, 6:29 AM ET

BEIJING (Reuters) - Humans are stripping nature at an unprecedented rate and will need two planets' worth of natural resources every year by 2050 on current trends, the WWF conservation group said on Tuesday.

Populations of many species, from fish to mammals, had fallen by about a third from 1970 to 2003 largely because of human threats such as pollution, clearing of forests and overfishing, the group also said in a two-yearly report.

"For more than 20 years we have exceeded the earth's ability to support a consumptive lifestyle that is unsustainable and we cannot afford to continue down this path," WWF Director-General James Leape said, launching the WWF's 2006 Living Planet Report.

"If everyone around the world lived as those in America, we would need five planets to support us," Leape, an American, said in Beijing.

People in the United Arab Emirates were placing most stress per capita on the planet ahead of those in the United States, Finland and Canada, the report said.

Australia was also living well beyond its means.

The average Australian used 6.6 "global" hectares to support their developed lifestyle, ranking behind the United States and Canada, but ahead of the United Kingdom, Russia, China and Japan.

"If the rest of the world led the kind of lifestyles we do here in Australia, we would require three-and-a-half planets to provide the resources we use and to absorb the waste," said Greg Bourne, WWF-Australia chief executive officer.

Everyone would have to change lifestyles -- cutting use of fossil fuels and improving management of everything from farming to fisheries.

"As countries work to improve the well-being of their people, they risk bypassing the goal of sustainability," said Leape, speaking in an energy-efficient building at Beijing's prestigous Tsinghua University.

"It is inevitable that this disconnect will eventually limit the abilities of poor countries to develop and rich countries to maintain their prosperity," he added.

The report said humans' "ecological footprint" -- the demand people place on the natural world -- was 25 percent greater than the planet's annual ability to provide everything from food to energy and recycle all human waste in 2003.

In the previous report, the 2001 overshoot was 21 percent.

"On current projections humanity, will be using two planets' worth of natural resources by 2050 -- if those resources have not run out by then," the latest report said.

"People are turning resources into waste faster than nature can turn waste back into resources."


"Humanity's footprint has more than tripled between 1961 and 2003," it said. Consumption has outpaced a surge in the world's population, to 6.5 billion from 3 billion in 1960. U.N. projections show a surge to 9 billion people around 2050.

It said that the footprint from use of fossil fuels, whose heat-trapping emissions are widely blamed for pushing up world temperatures, was the fastest-growing cause of strain.

Leape said China, home to a fifth of the world's population and whose economy is booming, was making the right move in pledging to reduce its energy consumption by 20 percent over the next five years.

"Much will depend on the decisions made by China, India and other rapidly developing countries," he added.

The WWF report also said that an index tracking 1,300 vetebrate species -- birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals -- showed that populations had fallen for most by about 30 percent because of factors including a loss of habitats to farms.

Among species most under pressure included the swordfish and the South African Cape vulture. Those bucking the trend included rising populations of the Javan rhinoceros and the northern hairy-nosed wombat in Australia.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20061024/ts_nm/ environment_wwf_planet_dc

Cougar predation important in wildland ecosystems

Media Release, Oregon State University

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The general disappearance of cougars from a portion of Zion National Park in the past 70 years has allowed deer populations to dramatically increase, leading to severe ecological damage, loss of cottonwood trees, eroding streambanks, and declining biodiversity.

This “trophic cascade” of environmental degradation, all linked to the decline of a major predator, has been shown in a new study to affect a broad range of terrestrial and aquatic species, according to scientists from Oregon State University.

The research was just published in the journal Biological Conservation and – like recent studies outlining similar ecological ripple effects following the disappearance of wolves in the American West – may cause land managers to reconsider the importance of predatory species in how ecosystems function.

The findings are consistent, researchers say, with predictions made more than half a century ago by the famed naturalist Aldo Leopold, often considered the father of wildlife ecology.

“When park development caused cougar to begin leaving Zion Canyon in the 1930s, it allowed much higher levels of deer browsing,” said Robert Beschta, an OSU professor emeritus of forest hydrology. “That set in motion a long cascade of changes that resulted in the loss of most cottonwoods along the streambanks and heavy bank erosion.”

“But the end result isn’t just loss of trees,” he said. “It’s the decline or disappearance of shrubs, wetland plants, amphibians, lizards, wildflowers, and even butterflies.”

Until recently, ecologists had a poor understanding of how the loss of an important predator, such as wolves or cougar, could affect such a broad range of other plant and animal species. But the evidence is now accumulating that primary predators not only have direct effects in influencing the population sizes of native grazing animals such as deer and elk – they also have indirect effects in changing their foraging behavior, in what has been called “the ecology of fear.”

That phenomenon, the scientists say, has been shown as vividly in Zion National Park as any other location they have ever studied. In Zion Canyon, which since the early 1900s has been a popular tourist attraction, cougars are virtually absent, mostly just scared off by the huge influx of human visitors.

With their natural enemy gone, growing and ravenous deer populations ate young cottonwood trees almost as quickly as they sprouted, robbing streambanks of shade and erosion protection.

As a result, the soils and vegetation of floodplains began to erode away. Other types of vegetation and the animal species dependent on them suffered. And unless something is done, cottonwoods in Zion Canyon may ultimately disappear in areas accessible to deer, the researchers said.

By contrast, a nearby roadless watershed has similar native ecology but is sufficiently remote that it still has an intact cougar population and far fewer mule deer. In contrast to Zion Canyon, streambanks in this watershed have nearly 50 times more young cottonwood trees as well as thriving populations of flowers, lizards, butterflies, and several species of water-loving plants that help stabilize stream banks, provide food-web support, and protect floodplains for use by many other animal species.

“The documentation of species abundance that we have in this study is very compelling,” said William Ripple, a professor in the OSU Department of Forest Resources and lead author on the study. Researchers did a systematic survey of channel dimensions, streambank condition, vegetation and species presence along each study site.

“These two canyons, almost side by side, have a similar climate and their ecosystems should be quite similar,” Ripple said. “But instead they are very different, and we hypothesize that the long-term lack of cottonwood recruitment associated with stream-side areas in Zion Canyon indicates the effects of low cougar and high deer densities over many decades.

"It's a great research setting and a great opportunity to assess the potential importance of a key predator,” he said. “We hope to conduct additional research in Zion National Park to further explore the findings of this initial study."

It’s important to remember, the researchers said, that the ultimate driver behind all of these changes is humans – in the case of Zion Canyon, simply by their presence. That canyon receives nearly three million human visitors a year, the adjacent North Creek a stray handful of hikers. Cougars in Zion Canyon were not intentionally killed or removed, they just left due to the increased presence of humans.

As findings such as this – the way cougars affect deer and wolves affect elk – continue to mount, land managers may have to acknowledge the potentially enormous impact of these grazing animals on other ecosystem processes, scientists say. This could open the way to new management options once the role of herbivores such as deer, elk, or other grazing animals is more fully understood.

In systems with wild ungulates, the sustainability of riparian habitats and biodiversity may require both predation on these herbivores as well as the fear of predation to further affect their behavior, the researchers concluded.

Ripple and Beschta considered other factors that may have played a role in loss of cottonwood trees in Zion Canyon, such as climate fluctuations or human interventions to stream channels, but concluded that those impacts could not have caused the enormous loss of trees and associated impacts to other biota that were found in the canyon.

The findings of this study may be relevant to other ecosystems in the U.S. and around the world where key predators have been removed, the researchers said, and high populations of native herbivores such as deer or elk – or domestic grazers such as cattle or sheep – affect native biodiversity.

This research was funded by the National Park Service.


Big cats in Scotland?

Reports have been few and far between in recent years but it appears the fabled Beast of Buchan may be back on the prowl.

The shredded carcase of a black sheep was discovered in a field near Cruden bay last week - prompting suggestions that there could indeed be something out there.

Farmer Jim Cantlay (77), who owns Nether Broadmuir Farm near Cruden Bay, has looked after sheep most of his life, but admits that he had never seen anything like it in more than 50 years of farming when he spotted the carcase as he routinely checked his sheep last Monday.

"I thought it was just a lump of muck when I first saw it, but when I moved in closer I got a bit of a shock," said Mr Cantlay.

"All that was left was the rib cage which had been completely stripped of all flesh, with its partly chewed head still attached.

"All of the other sheep in the field were huddled in a corner, so there must have been something that frightened them.

"I don't think it could have been dogs that had come into the field, as the sheep would have been scampering, but they were quite still.

"I've never seen anything like it in my life," he added.

Sightings of the Beast of Buchan, believed to be a black, panther-like animal, are rumoured to have been made in the North-East over the last few years.

And Mr Cantlay revealed there have been sightings in the past in the Cruden Bay area.

"A few folk have said that they have seen it, and I wouldn't have believed it at all up until now, but now I'm not so sure," said Mr Cantlay.

The savaged lamb, which was around six-months old, had been dragged 27 yards from where it had been killed, according to a neighbour who had gone to the field after Mr Cantlay told him about what had happened.

It is believed that black cats could have been prowling the Buchan countryside for around 35 years, after the Dangerous Wild Animals Act was introduced in the 70s, stopping people from owning animals such as lions and tigers without proper permission.

Many people then decided to release their wild animals into the countryside - which wasn't an offence at the time - in order to avoid getting into trouble for keeping them, or to avoid the high costs of getting the proper licences to keep them.

Commenting on the latest incident an SSPCA spokeswoman said that wild cats could possibly have been living quietly in the Buchan countryside ever since.

"The habitat and climate is good for wild cats to live in, and they could live on rabbits and other small rabbits, so it is possible that such an animal would exist," she said.

"There is a concern that these big cats are using farm animals, like lambs, as food, although they are of little danger to humans because they tend to shy away from them.

"There is a danger that the public can over react to something like this, although this does seem like a very unusual case, and I can understand the farmer's concern.

"It is likely that a big cat would have taken a carcase back to its lair, so it's difficult to say what might have done this, although it is entirely possible that this could have been the work of some sort of a big cat'" she added.

http://www.buchanie.co.uk/archived/2006/week_43/ news/beast_of_buchan.asp

Urban Jungle: When development meets nature

By Joe Baird The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated:10/22/2006 09:11:45 AM MDT

When nature meets rapid development:
First of two parts

Ty Harrison can point to all manner of wildlife on the 40-acre farm his family has owned for four generations. A small herd of mule deer has taken up residency. Elk have wandered in and out over the years. Even the occasional cougar pays a visit. And that doesn't count the dozens of critters and birds that den or nest on the property.

"They make it here because they're not harried," says Harrison, a biologist. "This is a place that has been managed for wildlife. It's good habitat."

Such a menagerie wouldn't rate a second glance in a place like Escalante or Tabiona, where living with wildlife has been the historical norm.

But Harrison's family farm isn't in rural Utah - it's smack in the middle of Salt Lake County's booming southern suburbs. And, though it's nestled among nearly 1 million people, it's hardly unusual in the Salt Lake Valley and its periphery.

It's an urban jungle out there.

Deer. Moose. Elk. Mountain lions. Coyotes. Bobcats. Bears. Badgers. Beavers. Porcupines. Bats. Rattlesnakes. Raccoons. Rabbits. Skunks. Eagles. Hawks. Owls. Geese. Turkeys. Cranes. That's just a portion of the vast spectrum of wildlife that either resides in the valley or wanders in time to time from what is known as the "urban interface" - the place where the densely populated Wasatch Front suddenly meets the mountain ranges and water bodies that surround it.

The Salt Lake Valley is ringed not only by national forests and wilderness areas, but also by three large swaths of land - the vast, privately held west bench and west slope of the Oquirrh Mountains, City Creek Canyon and Red Butte Canyon - where public access is either restricted or excluded, and where wildlife consequently flourishes. Directly to the north is one of the planet's premier stopovers for millions of migratory birds.

But such a large community of humans and wildlife does not exist without winners and losers, says a prominent Utah wildlife expert. And there is little doubt about which side has taken the brunt of the defeats. A glimpse of the roadkill along Wasatch Boulevard or Redwood Road near Camp Williams is all it takes.

The cost of development: Nonstop urban growth, particularly residential expansion that climbs ever higher on the hillsides and into the canyons and onto the ridge tops, has forced many species out and isolated others, cutting them off from their traditional migration routes and nesting areas. It's a human world. And only the hardiest species have been able to adapt.

"It's a double-edged sword," says Michael Conover, a Utah State University biologist who specializes in human-wildlife conflict. "We're really blessed to live in such a unique place, where large, densely populated cities sit right next to wilderness areas that are abundant with wildlife.

"But having an abundance of wildlife also means wildlife conflicts. At the same time it enhances our lives, it also creates problems. And it's a problem we have to address because both the human and wildlife populations are going to continue to grow. We've got to figure out how to live together."

Historically, this issue has been given short shrift in the West. One look at the east bench of the Salt Lake County - or Davis, Utah or Weber counties, for that matter - reveals urban growth that gave little or no consideration to the native residents.

The Salt Lake Valley and benches were prime winter range for deer, elk and bighorn sheep before the arrival of the Mormon pioneers. As the valley grew, though, that range gradually shriveled to the point where only fragments of it now exist.

"If you look around, there are pockets of winter range, but they are fast disappearing. And the animals that use that range will either decrease or go someplace else," says Ray Loken, a conservation officer for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

As the range for the deer, elk and bighorns disappeared, so did the large predators that followed. And that, environmentalists charge, has significantly impaired the overall ecosystem.

"The carnivores - the grizzlies, the wolves, the cougars, the wolverines - have all been expatriated. And those are all good-habitat indicator species," says Kirk Robinson, director of the Salt Lake City-based Western Wildlife Resources. "When they're not here helping keep the whole thing in balance, the habitat suffers. The watershed suffers."

Then there's the Jordan River, which during pre-settlement was "comparable to any international wildlife area in the world," according to the Audubon Society's Wayne Martinson.

"It was a riparian area in a desert that connected one of the largest freshwater lakes west of the Mississippi and the largest saline lake in the Western hemisphere," he says. "What we've lost on the Jordan is something we don't even think about anymore. I can appreciate all the restoration that's going on now, but it's just a remnant of what was."

Ultimate survivors: Yet, in spite of that, many of these species still endure in the urban interface, if in reduced or scattered numbers. A few, such as moose, have actually increased in population in recent years. And some still find their way down into the valley itself and make a living here - in larger numbers than most people probably realize.

Harrison's family farm, located between South Jordan and Sandy, might be Exhibit A. Situated between two sections of the Jordan River Parkway, the Westminster College professor calls the farm - which dates to the 1880s - the largest privately owned open space left in the river's corridor. And he plans to keep it that way.

"You can see what's happening all around us," Harrison says. "The preservation of corridors like this is really important. People want to see wildlife. It's the politicians who never listen. They're all either developers or pro-development."

Though surrounded by subdivisions and commercial development on all sides, there isn't much mystery about how the wildlife gets there. The Jordan River is an animal version of Interstate 15, and the creeks and canals that feed into it provide a virtual road map for species navigating the valley. But most of the traffic flows late at night and early in the morning, when the human population sleeps.

Harrison and his brother-in-law, Richard Nielsen, who lives on the property, are pretty sure the deer migrate back and forth from the Wasatch, via Dimple Dell Park in Sandy, while the elk come from the Oquirrhs by way of Camp Williams. The cougar Nielsen found napping under a tractor this summer also likely came from the Oquirrhs.

Yet, wildlife officials say other deer herds in the valley are full-time homebodies who never see the mountains. And they are here for the same reason that raccoons, skunks, beavers and other smaller mammals have carved out an existence in the urban environment - life is good. Food, water and cover are abundant.

"It's nirvana for them," says Conover, the USU biologist.

Blessings to some: But for residents who live in closest proximity to the wildlife - particularly those who live on the benches - it is a mixed bag.

Many embrace the experience. Salt Lake City resident Mimi Green, who has lived near the mouth of Emigration Canyon for three decades, has received regular visits from deer, moose and rattlesnakes over the years, as well as the odd badger and porcupine. She has also heard and seen enough coyotes that she knows when the family dog needs to stay inside - lest it be snatched and turned into a meal for the neighborhood pack.

"We've enjoyed it all," Green says. "Do people complain? Sure. Everybody worries about the rattlesnakes. But we've always had rattlesnakes. You adjust. You learn pretty quickly not to plant tulips because the deer love them. You plant daffodils instead."

But as often as not, wildlife officials say residents are at least initially unprepared for life on the interface.

"People will say 'I had no idea. I've never seen anything like it,' '' says Loken, the Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officer, of the moose, coyote or, more rarely, cougar sightings he responds to. "And I'll say, 'Well, look where you live. You're on a mountainside.' ''

Others have embraced the native wildlife to the extent that they have made it work for them.

At Salt Lake City International Airport, officials have welcomed the emergence of red fox colonies on the airfield. The foxes discourage birds from nesting on the grassy expanses between runways. For an operation that is constantly working to negate airstrikes with higher-flying migrating birds, having the foxes police the grounds translates into one less worry.

"We didn't introduce them; they just kind of evolved. And we've never controlled them," says Gib Rokich, airport duty manager. "They do a very good job of keeping certain bird species, like ducks and pheasants, in check."

Planning for wildlife: Certainly, urban planners today do a better job than their predecessors of assessing the effects on wildlife and how to address them as they move projects forward. Newer developments include migration corridors, riparian areas and more stringent slope restrictions on the benches. Transportation planners are increasingly incorporating wildlife bridges and underpasses into road projects.

But that all has to be done with great care, notes Envision Utah planner Tim Watkins. And once again, it's a matter of balance.

"On the one hand, it's fun to imagine starting over and preserving all the greenways and drainages, but we might not want all the different varieties of wildlife that would come with that," he says. "At a certain point, we have to decide which species we want to attract to an urban area and which species we want to keep on the edge."

But at this point, as a U.S. Wildlife Service biologist notes, the onus is really on people who are living and moving into the urban interface to figure out how to get along with the native species.

"If people really want to avoid conflicts with wildlife, they need to figure out how they fit in this larger system," says Stewart Breck, who is studying bear behavior around the ski towns of Colorado. "Don't leave your garbage out. Don't leave birdseed all over the place. If we can get them to understand that, we can learn how to live more harmoniously with these species."



Cougar group builds first lion-proof livestock pen in SD

Sep 29 2006 7:39AM
Associated Press

CUSTER, S.D. (AP) Members of the mountain lion Foundation were in Custer this week to build a predator-proof livestock enclosure on a farm where sheep and llamas are raised.

The landowner say she loses about ten sheep a year to various predators.

It's the first-such project by the Mountain Lion Foundation in South Dakota, but the group is hoping to build many more predator-proof pens in the effort to promote peace between livestock owners and hungry lions.

On a side note, the 2006 big-cat season begins November first in South Dakota.

The season will end on December 31st or whenever 25 lions or eight female lions have been killed.


Police hunt 'puma' in England

Last Edited: Wednesday, 25 Oct 2006, 5:01 AM CDT
Created: Tuesday, 24 Oct 2006, 8:00 PM CDT

Police are searching a country park after what may have been a puma was spotted.

A deer is reported to have been found dead in the park in Essex and several members of the public told police they had seen a large black cat.

An Essex Police spokeswoman said: "We are conducting various area searches.

"We would ask anyone who has lost a large cat to get in touch and we will be making the usual inquiries with wildlife parks and so on."

Police said anyone who saw the animal in the park in Brentwood should not approach it and they advised dog walkers to keep their pets on leads.

"We have had reports of large cats in Essex from time to time before," added the spokeswoman.

"However, we have had a number of reports about this animal...."

http://www.myfoxstl.com/myfox/pages/News/Detail?contentId= 1274083&version=1&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=TSTY&pageId=3.4.1

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

NY bobcat trapping pilot project

Starting Nov. 1 and running through Feb. 15, 2007, New York will conduct a three-year experimental research trapping season for fisher and bobcat through special permits issued to trappers.

There will be an extended trapping season for fisher in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 6A, 6C, and 6H, which include northern parts of Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence and Franklin counties. Under this program, trappers who obtain a special permit for bobcat trapping season will be able to trap bobcats in WMUs 4F, 4N and 4O, which include parts of Delaware, Otsego, Schoharie, Broome and Chenango counties.

The bobcat season has been closed for more than 20 years in the three WMUs that DEC is proposing to open for trapping this year. An increased incidence of road kills and incident captures over the last 10 years led to the rethinking of the issue.

During the research seasons, bobcat hunting will not be allowed in the three experimental WMUs. The 2007 and 2008 seasons will begin on Oct. 25 and run until Feb. 15.

Trappers who wish to participate in the experimental bobcat trapping seasons must obtain a free special permit from DEC, agree to keep a daily trapping log of their activities and, if successful, provide the entire skinned carcass to DEC. Trappers may keep the animal pelt.

The season for fisher in WMUs 6A, 6C, and 6H will run from Oct. 25-Jan. 10. Permits are free, but trappers will be required to maintain and submit a daily trapping diary log book and submit the lower jaw of each fisher taken in these WMUs. A log book and jaw submission tags will be mailed to trappers with their permit.

Trappers may obtain permits by phone or mail from their regional DEC Wildlife office. They will need to provide their name, address, phone numbers, e-mail address (if applicable) and trapping license ID number.

The experimental season is a part of a research project to collect biological harvest data and measure trapper effort to evaluate furbearer management.

Henderson's outdoors columns appear in the Press & Sun-Bulletin on Tuesday and his Field Notes columns on Sunday. Write to him at Henderson Outdoors, 202 Prospect St., Endicott N.Y. 13760 or fax information to 785-8337 or via e-mail through his Web site at www.HendersonOutdoors.com.

http://www.pressconnects.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/ 20061024/COLUMNISTS16/610240347/1003/

Monday, October 23, 2006

Colorado neighbors spot mountain lion in back yard

Mountain Lion Makes Rare Appearance In Gunbarrel Neighborhood

POSTED: 12:15 pm MDT October 22, 2006
UPDATED: 1:41 pm MDT October 22, 2006

GUNBARREL, Colo. -- It was an exciting weekend for some Boulder residents who spotted a mountain lion hopping from one back yard to the other Saturday morning.

Colorado's Division of Wildlife officers were in the Gunbarrel neighborhood hoping to track the mountain lion down.

They said they found tracks in one back yard.

"They don't hibernate so unlike bears, they could be out anytime feeding," said Claire Solohub of the Division of Wildlife.

"He just kind of marched across here (and) hopped up on the fence. We were standing right by the window watching him," said neighbor Bob Wientzen. "We could've practically reached out and touched him."

Wientzen said the mountain lion was larger than his dog and probably weighed 100 pounds or so.

"It's not something that happens everyday, though, and a lot of people will go their whole lives and not see a mountain lion," said Solohub.

While it was a little too close for comfort to have a mountain lion in some people's back yards, for the most part, neighbors said they were amazed they had the chance to see it in person.

"I've never seen a mountain lion before (and I) always wanted to," said Wientzen.

"It's the most exciting thing that's happened in Gunbarrel since I've lived here," said neighbor Dee George.

Many neighbors said any mountain lion sightings from a distance are well worth it.

"It's mountain lion country and they were here first, so we just need to be aware of them," said Wientzen.

Wildlife officials said this is the second mountain lion sighting in the area in the past two weeks.

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/ 10131815/detail.html

Colorado lynx reintroduction subject of talk

Published: Monday October 23, 2006

Watching a newly released lynx bound through the snow, huge tracks in its wake, is a thrill not soon matched.

So says Mark Rickman, a local anesthesiologist and a board member of the carnivore-protection group Sinapu, who was invited to watch the release of four lynx in April in the San Juan Mountains. Colorado Division of Wildlife invited about 70 people who'd been involved in reintroduction programs over the years.

"It was really something," Rickman says. "It was awesome."

Rickman will talk about the lynx release and the biology and politics behind lynx reintroduction at 7 p.m. Thursday at Mountain Park Environmental Center in Beulah.

With this year's release completed, a total of 218 lynx have been released into the Colorado mountains since 1999, according to an article Rickman wrote for Sinapu's Wild Again! newsletter. DOW biologists estimate there are 150-200 lynx in Colorado, 93 of which have radio collars to help track them. Over the past three years, 105 kittens were born Ñ 50 of them in 2005.

"Natural reproduction is beginning to offset natural and accidental mortality," Rickman writes. "For the first time, female lynx born in Colorado are now old enough to breed."

The largest core lynx population is in the San Juans, and a second core group lives in the central Colorado mountains in an area roughly bordered by Buena Vista, Leadville, Vail and Aspen. The lynx moved to this area from their release sites in the San Juans in Southern Colorado.

Rickman said in a phone interview that the cats are capable of going long distances but typically stay pretty close.

More releases are planned in 2007 and 2008.

Rickman says the biology is the easy part of reintroduction. What's more difficult is the politics surrounding the issue.

"If there is a proper prey base, things will work out. The lynx is fine in Colorado, but the minute it steps into New Mexico in some places, it can be shot. Our willingness to coexist with predators will determine how well it will be tolerated."

People also must be willing to leave enough land undeveloped to allow adequate habitat for the animals, he says.

The lynx has fared better politically than the gray wolf, the reintroduction of which has generated lots of controversy.

"I don't think they (lynx) are perceived as a threat," Rickman says. "People have a born like or dislike of wolves; maybe it comes from their European ancestors. It doesn't sit with other carnivores like the lynx."

Lynx also are less likely to bring down livestock Ñ their primary prey is the snowshoe hare Ñ though lynx have killed a couple of sheep in Arizona and the rancher was reimbursed for them, Rickman says.

Rickman and his wife, Carol, have spent many hours observing gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park, where the wolves were reintroduced starting in 1995. They've shared their observations with a wolf biologist who's studying the success of the park's reintroduction program.

Rickman's talk is free and open to the public, though donations are appreciated. Call 485-4444 for more information.

Mountain Park Environmental Center is located in Pueblo Mountain Park in Beulah.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Bo Derek speaks on ending wildlife trade

Oct 19, 2006 5:00 AM (3 days ago)

SAN FRANCISCO - Bo Derek pushes to lower demand for exotic animals

American consumers contribute more to the global $10 billion to $20 billion illegal wildlife trade than any other nation except China — posing the threat of extinction for some endangered species, actress Bo Derek said in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Around the world, tigers, elephants, rhinos and exotic birds are bought and sold as trophies, rare edible delicacies and traditional medicines.

The actress, for years an animal rights activist, visited San Francisco as part of a mission to stop the vast illegal trafficking in wild animals. In the United States, the sale of wild tigers as exotic pets, the use of animal parts for medicines and the use of exotic snakeskins to make boots are relatively common, the actress said.

“Demand is so high. We’ve got to reduce demand,” Derek said.

Derek, along with Claudia McMurray, the U.S. State Department’s assistant secretary for oceans, environment and science, visited with local Asian-American leaders Wednesday morning in The City to discuss the use of products such as ground-up tiger bones, in the making of traditional

medicines. They also planned to speak at the World Affairs Council while in The City.

Many buyers are not aware they are purchasing illegal items that contribute to animals’ demise, Derek said.

There are about 5,000 tigers in the wild globally, down from 100,000 roughly a hundred years ago, McMurray said.

Derek, perhaps best known for the 1979 film “10,” has joined forces with the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking, an International private-public partnership aimed at saving the endangered creatures.

“There’s only so much we can do [alone],” Derek said. “The global community must decide [how to stop it].”

So far, nations including Australia, India and the United Kingdom and several animal organizations such as World Wildlife Fund and WildAid, have joined the U.S.-led coalition.

About $1 million in federal funding has been allocated to the coalition, which is designed to focus public attention on the matter, ramp up enforcement and facilitate international cooperation.

A wild tiger fetches about $90,000 in India, a nation where the per capita income is less than $4,000, according to U.S. government data from 2005.

One way to create economic opportunities other than selling the animals is to foster eco-tourism, McMurray said. Another way to combat the illegal wildlife trade is enforcement, the State Department official said.

One possible way to combat the trade is to increase the number of customs officers who check packages, crates and luggage as they make their way into the United States, McMurray said.

McMurray told the story of a smuggler who was bringing rare bird eggs into the country until one of them hatched during his plane ride. The smuggler summarily flushed the young bird down the toilet, she said.


http://www.examiner.com/a-351218~Movie_star_to_ speak_on_ending_wildlife_trade.html

Military bases, labs serve as refuges for cougars, other wildlife

Scripps Howard News Service

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The missing cameras posed an amusing mystery for wildlife biologists at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Designed to take pictures at night of wildlife moving through the area, most cameras on the lab's 36-square-mile property are in pristine condition.

But at one site, cameras kept vanishing. All that remained were scattered scraps of camera.

"We finally salvaged one with a little bit of film in it, and there was this bear staring right into the camera with this hungry look on his face," wildlife biologist James Biggs said with a laugh.

Wildlife is not something most people associate with national labs and military bases, but restricted access and high security make them ideal spots for conservation, said Corry Westbrook, a legislative representative for the National Wildlife Federation.

Across New Mexico, wildlife flourishes on some of the state's most heavily guarded facilities.

"It's an interesting concept on wildlife management when military bases are some of the safest places for animals to live," Westbrook said. "It seems counterintuitive."

At Sandia National Laboratories, wildlife biologist Stephanie Salinas has seen a host of interesting creatures, including mountain lions, bears, bobcats and mule deer.

"My favorite thing I see on our site is badgers," Salinas said, sitting in her small office next to a pair of signs that say "Do Not Disturb: Raptor Roosting Area."

Rattlesnakes are quite common at the labs. They like to sunbathe on the roads; Salinas often has to go out and shoo them away.

The area offers a safer spot for creatures to hang out than the land surrounding Sandia, she said.

"It's great because we don't have the recreation that we see at other sites -- we have this great conservation area," Salinas said.

Los Alamos, Sandia, Kirtland Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range, among others, are prime spots for migrating birds, said Carol Finley, natural-resources manager at Kirtland.

"One thing we have is the state-threatened gray viero," Finley said. "It's a little songbird. They're real safe here because there's no activity going on in the area where they reside."

Burrowing owls, once common in Albuquerque, have moved to Kirtland and Sandia land, where their habitat remains undisturbed, Salinas said.

The owls don't like the city environment or pavement.

"That's probably one of the animals we'll see more of on site as Albuquerque continues to grow," Salinas said.

Activities at the labs can sometimes get loud, but generally, they don't disturb the animals, she said.

If scientists plan an experiment for a particular area, biologists build roosts in another spot and try to encourage birds and other creatures to move, Salinas said.

White Sands Missile Range has its share of strange animals. Roaming freely and posing a population problem are African oryx, brought to New Mexico in the 1950s by big-game hunters.

Most government sites don't let hunters onto their property, but White Sands does control the oryx population, said Patrick Morrow, a wildlife biologist at the range.

"It's very widespread throughout our 2 million acres," Morrow said. "We're in control mode. We're trying very diligently to reduce the population. People come from all over the country to apply for those hunts."

The oryx threaten another rare species -- the desert bighorn sheep, a native animal that is being outgrazed by the oryx, Morrow said.

In 1997, the bighorn population at White Sands had dropped to "less than a handful," he said.

Since then, the state has traded Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep -- which aren't threatened in New Mexico but are in Arizona -- to Arizona in exchange for desert bighorn sheep -- which thrive in Arizona, Morrow said.

http://www.casperstartribune.net/articles/2006/10/21/news/ regional/16e54e0c0388db908725720d006437d6.txt

SD mountain lion hunting season starts November 1

Mountain lion season changes designed to protect female cats.

The mountain lion season will start slightly later this year in an effort by state officials to make it easier for deer hunters to get a shot at the cats.

Black Hills deer and mountain lion seasons will start simultaneously Nov. 1, according to a news release from the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks.

As a result of the change, not only will deer hunters have a better chance at getting a lion, but females will be better protected, according to GF&P officials.

“The later season means more cubs will be old enough to be traveling with their mother cats since the peak time for birthing is late summer,” Tony Leif, game program administrator for the GF&P, said. “The accompanying cubs will render the mother cats off limits to hunters.”

Hunters may not harvest lions accompanied by any other mountain lion and may not shoot spotted mountain lions.

The harvest limit remains the same as last year n 25. However, the subquota of has changed from five breeding-age female lions to eight females, which Leif said “removes the vagueness in the rules about when a female is of breeding age.”

The Black Hills season ends immediately if the harvest limit or the female limit is reached. If neither limit is reached, the season ends Dec. 31. Hunters are responsible for staying informed on the status of the season.

Similar to last year’s season, hunters must report mountain lion kills to GF&P officials within 24 hours.

Kills made in the Black Hills Unit must be reported to the GF&P regional office in Rapid City. Hunters that take lions in the Prairie Unit must contact GF&P personnel within 24 hours.

Licenses are available at the licensing office in Pierre until the end of the season.

http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2006/10/21/ news/top/news01d.txt

New train puts snow leopards on fast track to extinction

By Peter Simpson in Beijing
Last Updated: 11:34pm BST 21/10/2006

Sa Bei Long swung his large canvas sack of illegal goods over his shoulder and disembarked at Beijing's main train station after his long journey from Tibet.

The world's highest railway was intended to foster closer economic links between China's capital and the disputed mountain province, but it is also proving a fast, safe and cost-effective route to the country's richest market for fur smugglers such as Sa.

Until the railway was opened in July, the 19-year-old trader would have had to transport his wares by road, a long and hazardous journey along a route on which fatal crashes are common.

Now, for just 780 yuan (£52) return, Sa – a Han Chinese – can carry his precious cargo of exotic animal pelts on the 2,500-mile train ride from Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, in just 48 hours. "I sell mainly to rich Chinese. My last customer was a Taiwanese businessman," he said, as he set off on foot to hawk his illegal goods on the streets of Beijing. "The train is easy to use, safe and cheap. Many people are using it to sell stuff all over China."

When the railway opened, critics warned that it would hasten the cultural destruction of Tibet by making it more accessible to Han Chinese settlers. They did not foresee the threat it would pose to some of the world's most endangered species.

Many of Beijing's new rich have developed a taste for exotic animal hides to adorn their homes. Now, thanks to fast rail access to the distant Himalayan wilderness, they are easier to obtain – as are rare plants that are sought after for herbal medicine.

advertisementSa nervously scans the streets for danger as he seeks potential customers. Beijing's many security officers are notoriously fickle, turning a blind eye one day, demanding bribes the next.

He uses a wolf skin, tucked under one arm, to lure prospective customers before offering them a discreet look inside his sack at the more exotic furs. Last week, he had rare snow leopard skins for sale at 48,000 yuan (£3,250) each, several black bear furs for 2,600 yuan and wolf pelts for 600 yuan.

An estimated 6,000 snow leopards remain in the wild and their numbers are falling rapidly. China's black bears are also threatened, but tigers are most at risk from the rising demand. Their skins are mostly brought into Tibet from India and sold to smugglers eyeing the lucrative trade in Beijing.

"Yes, I can get you a tiger skin for 200,000 yuan," Sa boasted to The Sunday Telegraph. "It will take 10 days to order and bring from Tibet by train."

Believing he was talking to a potential buyer, Sa agreed to a private showing of his wares at a Beijing hotel. On arrival, he nervously spread two snow leopard skins and a black bear pelt on the bed. A pungent, musty smell filled the room.

"The leopards were shot and the bullet went in here," he said, pointing to two small stitched incisions in the white, supple leather, "and came out there. But the fur is in good condition. The poachers are good shots."

Sa, one of an increasing number of fur vendors in Beijing, is paid a 10 per cent commission on each item sold. "If you want a tiger skin, I will try and catch the next available train," he said.

He agreed to a bigger deal of five leopard skins at "a bargain" 30,000 yuan each. Payment could be made in cash or transferred to a bank account, he said. A brief handshake sealed the deal and he agreed to return the next morning after picking up the order from a secret warehouse.

The Sunday Telegraph later cancelled the appointment with the smuggler and alerted conservation organisations to the illegal trade.

"We were not aware that fur traders were using the train link to sell in Beijing," said Zhu Chun Quan, head of conservation operations for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in China. "This has the potential to quicken the extinction of tigers, snow leopards and other endangered species. We will alert our officers in Lhasa and use the evidence you have provided to lobby the Chinese government to enforce strict checks on passengers and their luggage." Convicted smugglers would face long prison sentences.

Endangered plants used in Chinese medicine are also in demand through the new supply chain. Dr Jane Goodall, a British conservationist who is touring China, said widespread corruption among railway officials and police made laws ineffective.

"It is horrific to learn that this train is speeding up the extinction of these magnificent animals and other endangered species," she said. "It is up to the Chinese government to educate its citizens that buying such furs and plant medicines has irreversible consequences."

Publishers wishing to reproduce photographs on this page should phone 44 (0) 207 538 7505 or e-mail syndication@telegraph.co.uk

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/ 2006/10/22/wtibet22.xml

India: Leopard falls into well, rescued by Forest Dept.

Daijiworld News Network - Karkala (GA)
Saturday, October 21, 2006 3:29:03 PM (IST)

Karkala, Oct 21: A leopard which had fallen into a well while chasing a dog was rescued and sent back to the forest by the forest department staff with the help on locals on Friday October 20 morning.

The leopard had fallen into the well of one Venkappa Moolya of Ninjur on Thursday October 19 night. But it was only on Friday morning that it was known to the people. They immediately informed the forest department. However, it was quite difficult to take out the leopard from the well which was 25 feet in depth.

Though they made all the arrangements for this, the presence of hundreds of people who had come to see the leopard made it quite impossible. Finally a basket was lowered into the well with the help of a rope. Once the leopard got into the basket, it was pulled up. Soon the leopard came out of the well and vanished into the deep forest area.

http://www.daijiworld.com/news/news_disp.asp?n_id=27103&n_tit=Karkala%3A+Leopard +Falls+into+Well+at+Ninjur+-+Rescued+by+Forest+Dept

European Commission appropriates millions for Iberian lynx

Saturday 21 October 2006

La Comisión Europea aprobó hoy formalmente la aportación de 9,8 millones de euros para cofinanciar el nuevo plan para la recuperación de las poblaciones de lince ibérico en Andalucía, según informó en un comunicado. El proyecto cubrirá el periodo entre el uno de agosto de este año y el 30 de julio de 2011 y su montante total ascenderá a unos 26 millones de euros, de los que la Comisión aportará el 38 por ciento, es decir, 9,8 millones. El programa de reintroducción del lince tiene por objeto contribuir al mantenimiento y estabilización de este felino -considerado el más amenazado del planeta-, y fomentar también la recuperación de su principal presa, el conejo.

Los resultados esperados con la iniciativa son la recuperación de los ejemplares en Sierra Morena y Doñana, la reducción de la mortalidad no natural (incluida la debida a los atropellos), seguir manteniendo el centro de cautividad en Acebuche y concienciar a la sociedad sobre los peligros que amenazan a la especie. En particular, 'se centrará en la estabilización y mantenimiento de las especies existentes, el incremento de los ejemplares, la expansión del área donde se encuentra repartido y el establecimiento de conexiones entre subpoblaciones aisladas', indica el comunicado de la Comisión.

Además, propone por vez primera la reintroducción en la naturaleza de ejemplares aislados criados en cautividad. Del lince ibérico se calcula que sólo sobreviven unos 200 ejemplares, la mayoría -unos 115 animales- concentrados en las sierras de Andújar y de Cardeña, en Sierra Morena. Además hay otros 50 ejemplares en Doñana, a los que hay que sumar los que se encuentran en cautividad: una veintena en el centro de Acebuche, cinco de ellos, hembras reproductoras, y 11 en el zoológico de Jerez de la Frontera. El proyecto fue presentado a Bruselas el pasado marzo por la Junta de Andalucía.


VIDEO: Mountain lion shot by ND hunter examined by biologists

Oct 19 2006 7:33PM

Video clip of news story available at: http://www.kxmb.com/video.asp?ArticleId=56739&VideoId=2441


North Dakota Game and Fish biologists examined the lion this morning.

They want to find out everything they can about these animals.

That's a reason for the experimental mountain lion hunting season.

Donnell Preskey reports on what biologists learn about this cat.

It's Dorothy Fecske's job to examine mountain lions taken in North Dakota from head to toe.

(Dorothy Fecske / ND Game & Fish) "Feeling for porcupine quills... that's one of the things they feed on."

Fecske's determined this cat killed near Lansford is a female between three and four years old.

(Fecske) "Age determined on combination of tooth wear and fur color characteristics."

(Donnell Preskey / KX News) "So what happens next to the Mountain Lion? It goes back to the hunter. A taxidermist will remove the hide and send the carcass to game and fish for more examination."

(Fecske) "We're going to determine what the animal ate, the nutritional condition or how healthy she was but again based on her weight I'd say she's a healthy girl."

(Randy Kreil / ND Game & Fish) "You need to understand them and the habitats they like and what they eat and how they distribute themselves in the landscape as you develop a long term plan for dealing with lions in ND."

And that's the purpose of the experimental hunting season.

They know more cats are showing up in North Dakota they're moving out of South Dakota and Montana because it's getting overcrowded.

Five cats last year were killed in the badlands area,

All were about 40 miles from Grassy Butte.

This cat taken near Lansford - almost 200 miles away.

(Kreil) "We've had reports over the last year or so of people sighting mountain lions in the Lansford area having this animal taken confirms those reports."

After several mountain lion seasons biologists may be able to tell if this was a random cat that moved into the Lansford area or, if it's the habitat that attracts them.

The mountain lion hunting season opened September first and goes through March 11th or until the fifth cat has been taken.

Last year the limit was filled by mid January.

There are some changes to this years season.

Hunters are not allowed to pursue or kill lions with kittens.

Also hunters can't use dogs until January first.