Cougar comeback in the USA


This is a mountain lion video.

From Animal Blog:

New Evidence Shows How American Big Cats Are Reversing 100 Years Of Decline

Posted on June 14, 2012

American mountain lions, or cougars, are re-emerging in areas of the United States, reversing 100 years of decline. The evidence, published in The Journal of Wildlife Management, raises new conservation questions, such as how humans can live alongside the returning predators.

“The cougar population declined dramatically from 1900, due to both hunting, and a lack of prey, leaving the remaining population isolated to the American west,” said Michelle LaRue from the University of Minnesota. “Here we present the hard evidence that the western population has spread, with cougar populations re-establishing across the Midwest.”

Three main cougar populations exist in the Midwest centered around The Black Hills in South Dakota, however, cougars are venturing far outside of this range. One male cougar from the Black Hills was found to have traveled 2,900 kilometers through Minnesota, Wisconsin and New York, before ending up in Connecticut.

“While the distance the Connecticut cougar traveled was rare, we found that cougars are roaming long distances and are moving back into portions of their historical range across the Midwest”, said LaRue. ”Our study took in over 3,200,000 Km² of territory, confirming the presence of cougars from Texas, Arkansas and Nebraska, to the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba.”

Working alongside scientists from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and The Cougar Network, LaRue and Principal Investigator Dr. Clay Nielsen analyzed cougar sightings which have been reported since the 1990′s to characterize confirmed sightings over time, assess habitat suitability and confirm where cougar populations are being re-established.

Aside from confirmed sightings, the team’s evidence included carcasses, tracks, photos, video, DNA evidence and cases of attacks on livestock across 14 states and provinces of North America. Only sightings which were verified by wildlife professionals were included, while sightings of animals known to be released from captivity were excluded to ensure only natural repopulation was analyzed.

The results reveal 178 cougar confirmations in the Midwest with the number of confirmations steadily increasing between 1990 and 2008. Approximately 62% of confirmed sightings took place within 20km of habitat that would be considered suitable for cougar populations.

When cougar carcasses were recovered 76% were found to be male. As the Connecticut example shows, males are capable of traveling long distances and this finding suggests males are leading a stepping-stone dispersal of the cougar population.

“This evidence helps to confirm that cougars are re-colonizing their historical range and reveals that sightings have increased over the past two decades,” concluded LaRue. “The question now is how the public will respond after living without large carnivores for a century. We believe public awareness campaigns and conservation strategies are required across these states, such as the Mountain Lion response plans already in place in Nebraska and Missouri.”

This research was conducted in partnership with Southern Illinois University Carbondale and The Cougar Network.

See also here.

World’s largest bear discovered


This video from the USA says about itself:

The Mammoth Site – Hot Springs, S. Dakota

The fossil bones of Columbian and woolly mammoths are found scattered throughout the sinkhole displayed in the now dry pond sediments for an “in-situ” exhibit. Walkways allow the visitor a close-up perspective of the fossils. To date, 53 mammoths have been identified, along with the remains of a giant short-faced bear, camel, llama, prairie dog, wolf, fish, and numerous invertebrates.

From Discovery News:

World’s Largest Known Bear Identified

This giant was larger than the average bear, easily dwarfing the polar bear, the largest species living today.

By Jennifer Viegas

Tue Feb 1, 2011 07:00 AM ET

THE GIST

* The world’s largest known bear was a male South American giant bear that was 11 feet tall.
* The bear likely evolved such a large body size due to the absence of other large carnivores.
* The elderly male bear sustained numerous serious injuries during its lifetime, possibly due to fighting with other males or saber-toothed cats.

A male South American giant short-faced bear has just broken the record for world’s largest bear, according to a paper in this month’s Journal of Paleontology.

Standing 11 feet tall and weighing in at about 3,500 pounds, the bear, which lived in Argentina during the Pleistocene Ice Age, would have towered over the world’s largest individual bear from an existing species. That distinction belongs to a male polar bear that weighed in at 2,200 pounds.

Huge body size benefited the South American giant short-faced bear (Arctotherium angustidens) during the species’ existence from two to half a million years ago.

“During its time, this bear was the largest and most powerful land predator in the world, so we think it lived free of fear of being eaten,” co-author Leopoldo Soibelzon told Discovery News.

Soibelzon, a researcher in the Vertebrate Paleontology Division at the La Plata Museum, and colleague Blaine Schubert of East Tennessee State University made the determinations after analyzing fossilized remains of the bear. The fossils were unearthed during a La Plata City construction project. They were donated in 1935 to the museum there, where the bones have been ever since.

Extensive prior work conducted by the authors looked at other extinct and living bear species. The research found that the most reliable predictor of body size in bears is based on seven particular bone measurements. Soibelzon and Schubert calculated the giant bear’s size using these measurements of leg bones, along with equations for estimating body mass.

The scientists think the bear evolved to become so huge due to the absence of other large carnivores in its habitat. The saber-toothed cat was also high up on the Argentina food chain at the time, but it was still much smaller than the South American giant short-faced bear.

A variety of big herbivores additionally lived in the region at the time, providing plenty of dinner options for the enormous bear.

“A. angustidens probably had an omnivorous diet composed of a great variety of components, but with a predominance of animal remains,” said Soibelzon. “Among them, probably the bones and flesh of large mammals were very important in its diet.”

The particular male bear individual that the scientists studied reached old age despite sustaining serious injuries during its life. The fossilized remains still retain signs of those injuries.

The researchers aren’t certain what caused the physical damage, but Soibelzon said that “certainly male-to-male fighting would be a possibility.”

“Other possibilities include hunting megafauna, like giant ground sloths,” he added, “and disputes with other carnivores, such as a saber-toothed cat, over a carcass.”

Schubert said the bear was part of a group of bears known as the tremarctines that has only one living representative: the spectacled bear. This modern bear is a relatively small species, reflecting selection pressures that have occurred over the years. During the Pleistocene, however, huge bears lived in both South America and North America. Europe was also home to a gigantic cave bear.

American Pleistocene lion: here.

Record number of whooping cranes in Texas, USA


This video from the USA is called Whooping CranesInternational Crane Foundation at Baraboo.

From BirdLife:

Whooping Crane record broken in Texas

02-01-2008

Texas is the winter home of the only self-sustaining wild population of Whooping Cranes Grus americana in the world and this winter record numbers have completed their migration and returned to the southern state.

Whooping Cranes have been on the endangered species list since 1970, when only 56 birds survived in the wild in the world. These birds nested in Canada and migrated south to spend the winter in Texas.

Since then, habitat conservation and protection of the birds has enabled the wild population to increase and in 2007 there were a total of 73 pairs which produced 80 chicks, of which 40 survived to the autumn migration.

So far 257 Whooping Cranes have reached the Coastal Bend area of Texas, breaking the previous count of 237 in winter 2006/07. National Whooping Crane Coordinator, Tom Stehn, said: “I estimate that more than 97 per cent of the flock has completed the migration so far. We know of four birds that are still in migration, so that raises the estimated flock size to 261.”

See also here.

Increase in Whooping crane deaths leads to population decline – Starts alarm bells: here.

Eastern Whooping Cranes Migrating South: here.

Wild Whooping crane chicks hatch at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge: here.

Whooping Cranes – A letter to National Geographic: A story that needs to be told Nat.Wind Watch: here.

September 2010: The Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP) is celebrating another success in its efforts to reintroduce a wild migratory whooping crane population in eastern North America. Two wild-hatched whooping crane chicks have recently fledged. This is only the second time in over a century that whooping cranes have fledged in the wild in the Midwest: here.

18/01/2011 23:04:04: INVESTIGATION: Three endangered whooping cranes were shot dead. US Fish and Wildlife Service Offers $12,500 reward for information: here.

February 2013. The International Crane Foundation (ICF) is very pleased and relieved that an appropriate sentence was issued to the man who shot an adult male Whooping crane in South Dakota last April. The migrating adult crane was one of fewer than 300 individuals remaining in the Aransas/Wood Buffalo population, the only self-sustaining wild population of Whooping cranes in the world: here.

Rare whooping cranes could be coming back to Louisiana: here.