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Bears, wolves and panthers, oh my: the return of predators to the US
April 8, 2014 8:37 PM   Subscribe

Removing predators from the wild has thrown ecosystems off-kilter, triggering domino effects that scientists are just beginning to understand. In "Wild Predator Invasion," NOVA follows scientists who are trying a simple but controversial solution: returning apex predators—like wolves, bears, and panthers—to their natural environments.

US Fish and Wildlife Service have a lot of information on the reintroduction of panthers to Florida (and Florida PanterNet has additional information), and a even more on the return of gray wolves to Yosemite.

PBS also has a summary of the larger impact of returning wolves to Yosemite, from elk and aspens, beavers and willows, detailed in the documentary In the Valley of the Wolves. The focus of the documentary is the best known pack of Yosemite, the Druids Pack. But even the alpha pack can fall, and in 2010, the Druids were reduced to one final member, and then disappeared all-together.

See also: interview with retired U.S. Wolf Recovery Coordinator on wolves and California.
posted by filthy light thief (47 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh my. Shouldn't it be "tigers", not "panthers"?
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:52 PM on April 8


shouldn't it be "yellowstone," not "yosemite!?" (previously ;)
posted by kliuless at 8:55 PM on April 8 [3 favorites]


Shouldn't we help nature along by coming up with some totally new predators, too?
posted by clockzero at 9:11 PM on April 8 [6 favorites]


The biggest problem with bringing them back is having to explain wildlife management to a bunch of starry-eyed romantics.

Yes, there will be periodic culls. Yes, the easiest way to do those will be to sell licenses and let people hunt. No, predator prey ratios will not just naturally sort themselves out inside the boundaries of a national park.

The backlash about the Idaho hunts has been silly.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:15 PM on April 8 [1 favorite]


Shouldn't we help nature along by coming up with some totally new predators, too?

What's that frantic clicking sound I hear? I think that's Boston Dynamics typing up the funding proposals for the next generation of wildlife management robots to expand the non-military applications of their technology.

I can see it now:

Big Bear - the apex predator of the 21st century that not only offers a human-safe alternative for not only fully autonomous wildlife management, but provides a multitude of additional services, such as environmental and park visitor monitoring, fire detection, search and rescue, as well as the capability of being a wireless signal repeater for both telephone and data communications.
posted by chambers at 9:39 PM on April 8 [6 favorites]


I dunno I think the biggest problem will be convincing people that apex predictors are a good thing and that they need to take responsible for not letting their pets stray too far and become a snack. I can't speak to hunts in ID, but the wolf hunts in MN seem much more about woo we get to hunt wolfs rather than any sort of population management. Hell, the things where barely off the endangered list and people where lining up with their rifles to shoot them because suddenly there are too many wolfs?

FFS, the state of MN fed deer this winter because it was a rough winter. So we feed deer to increase the population but shoot the deer to decrease the population and we must also hunt the wolves who would have decreased the deer population and somehow this is wildlife management? Lets not kid ourselves non-food hunting is primarily about killing things for the sake of killing them, very little of it falls into desires to managing the herd (that's a by product not the motivation) nor is much of it for protection.
posted by edgeways at 9:39 PM on April 8 [11 favorites]


I agree with this all in theory but in practice it makes me kinda nervous when they spot cougar in municipal parks in the region. I spring from a long line of city people, I am unprepared to deal with apex predators of the four-legged variety. Am I supposed to stand very still or wave my arms around and scream? It makes me feel queasy to think about it, and like maybe I should not be hiking in places with trees, because cougar.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:53 PM on April 8 [1 favorite]


I spring from a long line of city people, I am unprepared to deal with apex predators of the four-legged variety. Am I supposed to stand very still or wave my arms around and scream?

How do you currently deal with the apex predators of the four-wheeled variety?

You cede some territory for them to own as their natural habitat, acknowledge that they belong there in some way. You observe them and the natural laws by which they operate to identify your own areas and passage ways of safety. You travel in numbers to keep yourself safe while relying on underfunded and slow responding public safety entities to patrol the wilds and target the most dangerous individual animals. You educate your community to the positives and negatives of the apex predator's presence, while working on strategies to mitigate the negative impact.

In a one-on-one encounter, wave your arms and scream like you really mean it. They might pay attention to that. Or they might not.
posted by peeedro at 10:23 PM on April 8 [7 favorites]


Am I supposed to stand very still or wave my arms around and scream?

You carry a hammer, so that you can whack your hiking partner in the knee or ankle before running to safety. Easy peasy.

I've had a few very benign and uneventful run-ins with apex predators and it was scary as fuck. At the same time, ecologically there are such unquestionably positive benefits to having predators (small as well as apex) in an ecosystem that I can't help but be strongly in favor.

It's going to take at least a few decades for us to figure out new ways to live with predators. We've spent about 500 years dealing with predators exclusively with eradication -- outside of a few areas, there's almost nowhere in the continental US where your risk of being turned into a snack is even measurable, much less likely. As that changes, it is going to change our relationship with the landscape in complicated ways.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:29 PM on April 8 [2 favorites]


I dunno I think the biggest problem will be convincing people that apex predictors are a good thing and that they need to take responsible for not letting their pets stray too far and become a snack.

This is really the thing.
They just trapped and shot 3 cougars around here because they (at least one of them) ate some guys unsecured backyard goats.

I mean, leaving aside the wisdom of having goats within city limits to begin with, if you live in the foothills where there are known to be predators, you'd better lock up your livestock else your chickens are going to get et.
posted by madajb at 10:35 PM on April 8 [1 favorite]


They've been doing this with wolves for quite a long time now. They reintroduced wolves into Yellowstone, which had the primary effect of displacing the coyotes (who had taken over that ecological niche).

I think they've reintroduced wolves in Olympic National Park, too.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:41 PM on April 8


They just trapped and shot 3 cougars around here because they (at least one of them) ate some guys unsecured backyard goats.

Broadly speaking, if your pet gets eaten that's your problem. If your livestock gets eaten, the predator will get shot at public expense. That's been a baseline to the centuries of eradication, but is going to have to flex in some ways if we are going to have viable reintroduction. Just like with wildfire, our choice to build tens or maybe even hundreds of thousands of houses spread out at the urban/wild interface is going to really complicate this in ways it wouldn't be if we kept houses clustered in tight groupings. Two- to five-acre ranchettes with a few goats and cows make for prime hunting (and prime wildfires), and have a lot of voters who get on the phone to their representative to demand "someone do something about this problem."

All of which makes it harder to sustain the benefits of having more predators altering ecosystem dynamics in wilder areas.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:49 PM on April 8 [1 favorite]


Broadly speaking, if your pet gets eaten that's your problem. If your livestock gets eaten, the predator will get shot at public expense.

Something I'm sympathetic to, though it is often taken too far in my opinion, especially on cattle ranches.

In this case, however, we're not talking about livestock being raised for food or even a hobby farm. We're talking about someone raising pygmy goats in a half-acre backyard abutting a nature preserve.
These are, for all intents and purposes, pets who should be contained at night lest bad things happen.
posted by madajb at 11:02 PM on April 8 [1 favorite]


I was really excited at the news that someone photographed a grizzly in North Cascades NP for the first time since the '60s. I guess there's still a population in the Canadian Cascades, but the hope is the population is growing and reinhabiting areas they had left.

I really want to see a mountain lion in the wild, but 15 years of all kinds of hiking in their habitat and I've never seen one.
posted by edeezy at 11:47 PM on April 8 [1 favorite]


If your livestock gets eaten, the predator will get shot at public expense.

One of the times I was most proud of my dad is when one of his constituents, a sheep farmer, came to complain about the wolves taking an occasional lamb and wanted him to do something about it.

My dad, to paraphrase: "cost of doin' business, beeotch!"
posted by klanawa at 11:54 PM on April 8 [1 favorite]


Eyebrows: there are mountain lions in central Illinois ? I had no idea. I'd not have been surprised if I found out they were down near Carbondale. Anyway, I'll tell my friends in Normal and Champaign to keep an eye peeled.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 2:13 AM on April 9 [1 favorite]


apex predictors

"That bear said I was going to die! Was...was he right?"
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:17 AM on April 9 [3 favorites]


Eyebrows: there are mountain lions in central Illinois ?

Heck, there are mountains in central Illinois?
posted by eriko at 3:45 AM on April 9


there are mountain lions in central Illinois ?

Mountain Lion is another name for the Cougar. And, yes, it occurs in Illinois. Hell, it can appear damned near anywhere in the Western Hemisphere.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:08 AM on April 9 [2 favorites]


But what do you suppose the odds are of finding a puma there?
posted by mr. digits at 5:10 AM on April 9 [1 favorite]


professor plum with a rope: "Eyebrows: there are mountain lions in central Illinois ? I had no idea."

Yep. There were four confirmed, photographed sightings in central Illinois fall of 2012; one shot dead in fall of 2013. And don't worry -- when there's a sighting, it leads the local news ALL WEEK complete with experts telling you to carry mace or whistles or act really small or wave your arms around -- I obviously don't listen that well to the part where they tell you what to do, just the part where it's scary. (And yes, we do call them cougars around here, which is both what they were traditionally called and because "mountain lion" sounds silly where there's no mountains.)

I don't dispute the right of the cougars to be here, and indeed it's a sign of a healthy(er) ecosystem and a large part of the point of nature preserves, and that's all a very good thing. But there is, for example, a local urban forest preserve where I like to hike with my two small children, and when the cougar sightings start up for the year and the forest preserve posts instructions about how to act if you run into a cougar, I always think, "... maybe I should just not be doing this, this seems dangerous." Which in the grand scheme of things is not so great a loss, but it does a) make me sad and b) worry me on a more meta level, because people need exposure to nature to understand why it's valuable and worth preserving, and possibly it will be harder to convince people of the need for preservation if these little oases of nature in urban areas become dangerous due to apex predators. (And while gigantic national parks are great, well-preserved "stepping stones" of natural parks in urban and suburban areas are also really important for migratory species, including birds and butterflies, and for species that have to disperse to find mates.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:53 AM on April 9 [2 favorites]


The only time I've ever seen a mountain lion it was walking down a bike path in San Jose, half a mile from a suburban housing development. It was terrifying but amazing and I saw the city differently afterward.
posted by gerstle at 6:40 AM on April 9 [2 favorites]


Here in Indiana, mountain lion/cougar reports pop-up occasionally, especially in the southern half of the state, where things get hilly. I've seen a couple over my lifetime.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:45 AM on April 9 [1 favorite]


The first confirmed sighting of a cougar in Illinois since 2012 resulted in a conservation officer killing that animal, though in reviewing the scenario, some thought the animal posed no real threat.

At least in Florida, the revitalization of the panther population was because panthers can eat a lot of hog, and if the population is unchecked, omnivorous feral hogs pose a number of problems.

Here in New Mexico, one community built "wolf-proof" bus shelters to keep their kids safe from the recently re-introduced Mexican gray wolf. The Daily Mail has some photos of people inside these shelters, and here's a blog with recent photos of the shelters, now disused and partially broken.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:25 AM on April 9


Here in New Mexico, one community built "wolf-proof" bus shelters to keep their kids safe from the recently re-introduced Mexican gray wolf.

Wow. Just... That is truly, breathtakingly ignorant.
posted by The Bellman at 7:38 AM on April 9


And really, why would you need to protect human children with shelters when the wolves are so civilised:
A structure built to protect children from wolves waiting at a school bus stop.
posted by pickles_have_souls at 7:43 AM on April 9 [2 favorites]


What's that frantic clicking sound I hear? I think that's Boston Dynamics typing up the funding proposals for the next generation of wildlife management robots to expand the non-military applications of their technology.
File photo of proposed apex predator
posted by Mayor West at 7:53 AM on April 9 [1 favorite]


The only time I've ever seen a mountain lion it was walking down a bike path in San Jose, half a mile from a suburban housing development. It was terrifying but amazing and I saw the city differently afterward.

Just wait for the coyotes. They're even more adaptable to semi-urban spaces.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:52 AM on April 9 [1 favorite]


there are mountain lions in central Illinois ?

There are also mountain lions in Iowa! We know because a man shot one that was up in his business. Here's how the shit went down. A man is out to hunt on Dean Kinzenbaw Jr.’s land five miles southwest of Marengo. Here he was out with friends, but most of the friends are off elsewhere and now the man is sitting on a stump.

"Holy crap," he says, according to news accounts. "Is that what I think it is?" He thinks it is a mountain lion. He asks another hunter what he sees when he sees at the animal.

"Holy crap," says the new seer, "They kill people. I’m going to the truck."

With two "holy craps", it's probably a mountain lion. But the only way to be sure is to kill it. Everyone with a brain hopes it's legal.

It's good to be responsible. So the man picks up his cell phone. Ringle-dingle, baby; he calls another hunter. "Friend, I'm about to spill the blood of a hell-beast," he says in my imagination, "and I require heavy legal counsel." It was probably phrased differently and better in real life.

Good news: Legal as sea salt. He pops off two shots.

The first shot misses, and he says, "Damn."

The second shot hits, and he will later say, "I wish it would have got up and ran away." But somehow this is apparently not an expression of regret. I think it is like a cool nature mystic thing. At least twice he will tell a reporter that it is a beautiful animal. He will also observe that the animal was going to die anyway. This too can be nature mystic philosophy, if you understand.

But back to the scene.

He takes two more shots and misses both. It doesn't matter, though, because the lion is already like, "Auuughhhh, I been shot, I'm getting woozy," and falls out of the tree like a goddamn Ernest Hemingway novel.

Flash forward to the inevitable fallout. Now there are all these mooks with zero nights experience laying in bed awake, staring at the ceiling while they wonder what could kill their killable things. These mooks are worked-up. Angry. And they're running around with a big dumb thesis called "Why did you kill this killer of killable things that was only going to die anyway."

They don't know what the newspapers will say. That young male mountain lions will drift east to "find their own turf". That nothing good can come from a drifter.

Those are just facts, though. The truly heavy stuff is on a different plane. The hunter does not kill for the sake of killing itself. "I'm eating the meat and having it stuffed," he says. Possibly this is also a nature mystic philosophy. Having your meat stuffed with other ingredients is one thing, but to do so while eating it is outer-limits Zen Country.
posted by compartment at 9:02 AM on April 9 [7 favorites]


Removing predators from the wild has thrown ecosystems off-kilter

The humanoid species has spread like wildfire. I think it will take Mayor West's creature, powered by Google's artificial intelligence to create some balance.
posted by eye of newt at 9:17 AM on April 9


I haven't been backpacking in a few years since the group I normally hike with now have small children in their homes. I really, really want to go to Yellowstone though and I've been thinking about doing a solo trip. The only thing stopping me is my fear of being dragged off by a bear or wolves. For all of my encounters with bears (and once with a mountain lion) I was with a group of at least five people so I always felt safe.

That said, I fully support re-introducing these animals. We humans have more than enough territory of our own and if anything we should be reducing our own numbers at a faster pace.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 9:51 AM on April 9 [2 favorites]


filthy light thief: "Just wait for the coyotes. They're even more adaptable to semi-urban spaces."

You know, and that's part of it. The coyotes in Chicago (& suburbs) don't bother me one bit because I've had 20 years to get used to them ... don't leave your pets outside overnight like an irresponsible dingus and you won't have a problem. They don't want to interact with humans, they just want to slink around and eat your garbage and mice and sometimes your sandwiches. Similarly, we've had red foxes move back into urban and suburban neighborhoods in Illinois and at first everyone was really nervous about it because "what if they bite the kids? what if they damage the house? what if they carry disease?" But now that they've been around for 20 years, we know they stay out of sight, eat backyard rabbits and rodents, and don't really bother anyone unless they have their babies near your door and don't want you walking past the den. It's not much more notable than raccoons -- occasionally a nuisance but mostly just doing their thing.

Probably in 20 years we'll be used to cougars hanging around the fringes of suburbia controlling nuisance deer populations and not really bothering anybody, but for right now I'm pretty convinced they're waiting in the trees to drop on me ... just like when we first got backyard foxes, I was convinced that getting within 10 feet of one would cause it to leap up and eat my face off.

(Big felids are scarier than canids, though ... when a fox or a coyote or even a wolf looks at you, they've got such a doggy look about them, like they're curious, and they seem to be thinking, "Huh, a human, wonder if it might drop some garbage." A cougar looks at you with those flat angry hunter's eyes and seems to be thinking, "IF I SIT VERY STILL MAYBE IT WILL COME CLOSE ENOUGH FOR ME TO EAT ITS FACE OFF.")
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:09 AM on April 9 [2 favorites]


They just trapped and shot 3 cougars around here because they (at least one of them) ate some guys unsecured backyard goats.

To be fair about this, it was pretty much in the middle of town with lots of kids and college students really close by.

Cougars are dangerous in ways that coyotes/foxes aren't. Mostly because they weight 200 lbs, not 50lbs like a coyote (and that is a BIG coyote). And they are heartless, stealthy and really effective predators (ever seen a housecat play with a mouse?-its like that except your kid is the mouse).

Here in New Mexico, one community built "wolf-proof" bus shelters to keep their kids safe from the recently re-introduced Mexican gray wolf.

Wow. Just... That is truly, breathtakingly ignorant.


I think maybe you are mistaking remote New Mexico for Central Park. This is in Catron County which is more remote than anything east of the Mississippi. The big road through the COUNTY is small narrow state highway. Most the roads in the two notable towns (Reserve and Glenwood) are not paved and outhouses are still a thing. The county is bigger than some states in New England and has about 3000 people living in it, mostly along two small rivers (the Gila and the San Antonio I think) that anywhere but the desert southwest would be called small dry creeks. So a pack of wolves deciding supper is ready at the bus stop when the closest other human might be 10 miles away isn't too far fetched.

Most humans (especially in the US) are really far removed from nature and its grim realities. Hiking along a carefully manicured trail isn't the same thing as living in a area that paved roads are a novelty and worthy of comment.
posted by bartonlong at 10:38 AM on April 9 [2 favorites]


I think maybe you are mistaking remote New Mexico for Central Park. This is in Catron County which is more remote than anything east of the Mississippi.

Here's Catron County on Google Maps, which depicts no cities or communities at the linked resolution. As bartonlong noted, the population is low - as of the 2010 census, the population was 3,725 in the 6,929 square mile (17,946 km2) county. Here's Reserve on Google Maps, zoomed out to give you some context of where this is.

I was going to say wolf attacks on humans are rare, but from the Wikipedia list of wolf attacks in North America and the larger wolf attacks on humans article, such attacks are not unheard of all-together, with records of non-rabid wolves killing adults. Cougars, most likely due to lower numbers, are attributed with fewer attacks on humans in North America. Clearly the apex predator is still the four-wheeled type.


eye of newt: The humanoid species has spread like wildfire.

But wolves kill people! Won't someone think of the people?!
posted by filthy light thief at 11:13 AM on April 9 [1 favorite]


more people die from vending machines falling on them then from wolf attacks, and we seem to be just fine with vending machines.
posted by edgeways at 12:26 PM on April 9 [4 favorites]


I agree with this all in theory but in practice it makes me kinda nervous when they spot cougar in municipal parks in the region. I spring from a long line of city people, I am unprepared to deal with apex predators of the four-legged variety. Am I supposed to stand very still or wave my arms around and scream? It makes me feel queasy to think about it, and like maybe I should not be hiking in places with trees, because cougar.

I'm surprised no one has answered this seriously.

Whatever you do, don't freeze and go quiet. And DO. NOT. RUN. Running animal just triggers a prey instinct. Make yourself as big as possible, put your backpack over your head if you have one, yell and stomp and throw rocks and sticks. Think of an angry housecat vs. an angry domestic dog. Cats are more likely to run away if you threaten them; dogs are more likely to stand their ground, if not charge. Fight back with a cat, play dead for a dog.

I lived in Montana for four years, and I never saw a mountain lion, but I was way more afraid of bears anyway. (Make noise when hiking so you don't surprise a bear. If you're attacked, play dead. Again, never ever run.)
posted by desjardins at 12:47 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


edgeways: more people die from vending machines falling on them then from wolf attacks, and we seem to be just fine with vending machines.

Vending machines: probably deadlier than sharks.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:19 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


I really, really want to go to Yellowstone though and I've been thinking about doing a solo trip. The only thing stopping me is my fear of being dragged off by a bear or wolves.

I don't know about Yellowstone, I've heard a lot of the bears there are really accustomed to humans, but when I hiked alone in northern Montana I carried bear spray. At least one study I read says it's a very effective deterrent and as a bonus it doesn't harm the bears at all.
posted by edeezy at 1:28 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


A deterrent? How? It's not like bears can read the side of the can. The downside to bear spray is that it will completely fuck you up if you get it in your eyes and nose, so you have to be aware of which way the wind's blowing and have good aim.

I wouldn't be too worried about wolf attacks in Yellowstone unless you've got a dead elk slung over your shoulder. Wolves are more active in winter and they don't really give a shit about you unless they're super hungry or you get between them and their pups. I think you're pretty much fucked if you get attacked by a wolf. Playing dead seems to be your best option.

If I were going to camp overnight in places where there are lots of bears and wolves, I'd bring a gun (no idea if this is legal in Yellowstone).
posted by desjardins at 2:00 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


more people die from vending machines falling on them then from wolf attacks, and we seem to be just fine with vending machines

And considerably more people die from what's in vending machines than from vending machines themselves.

Vending Machines: Successful predators of the modern human.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:48 PM on April 9 [2 favorites]


A deterrent? How? It's not like bears can read the side of the can. The downside to bear spray is that it will completely fuck you up if you get it in your eyes and nose, so you have to be aware of which way the wind's blowing and have good aim.

I carry bear spray in grizzly territory. Brown bears are well-known for their bluff charges. Bear spray works as a deterrent in the sense that it discourages bears from coming any closer. I went a day or two at a time without seeing another person in Montana, and my habit of letting out a shout every 15 minutes or so probably kept me much safer than carrying spray (I saw one bear in several weeks of hiking, and it was from a long distance).

The studies I based my decision to carry spray on were two studies of human-bear conflict in Alaska: Efficacy of bear deterrent spray in Alaska and Efficacy of firearms for bear deterrence in Alaska. Both methods are effective but an interesting finding in the firearms study was the rate of injury was the same whether the person fired their gun or not; other factors are more important in deciding the outcome of a bear encounter. They found that bear spray was more effective than guns.
posted by edeezy at 2:52 PM on April 9 [2 favorites]


Removing predators from the wild has thrown ecosystems off-kilter

Of course it's worth remembering that "kilter" was arrived at in the first place fairly randomly, and tended to shift radically over time depending on factors like weather, disease and migration.

That said, the coyotes did an admirable job of stepping up to fill the top tier predator role left open by wolves in Idaho, and have done a surprisingly adept job at downgrading back to a secondary predator/scavenger role now that the wolves are back. The biggest problem they've caused has been the decimation of the ground-nesting bird population.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:00 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


Both methods are effective but an interesting finding in the firearms study was the rate of injury was the same whether the person fired their gun or not

A while back I took a hike down a dry riverbed in a very empty part of Botswana. (less than 500 people in an area the size of Switzerland). I had been viewing lions in the immediate area for the last three days and shortly after we started we ran across a leopard larder.

My guide was carrying a one shot hunting rifle and said he would aim it in the general direction of a hostile animal, but the important thing was the noise. Animals that don't run when rifles go off are in short supply in Africa apparently, their ancestors having been wiped out.

Of course he was pretty laid back about the whole thing anyway. Conversation after we found the larder:

Bashi: "From here we must be extremely quiet."
Me: "Why?"
Bashi: "If we make noise we will offend the leopard."
Me: "Annnnd... what happens if we offend the leopard?"
Bashi: "It will run away!"
Me: "Can we offend the leopard? Please, can we offend the leopard?"

It is definitely a surreal feeling knowing that you are not at the top of the food chain.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:19 PM on April 9 [2 favorites]


Trekking in the Footsteps of a Lone Wolf for Coexistence
posted by homunculus at 5:29 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


I can't speak to hunts in ID, but the wolf hunts in MN seem much more about woo we get to hunt wolfs rather than any sort of population management.

Missed this earlier. The hunters in ID are equally woo we get to hunt wolves. The management part comes with how many licenses are issued and any conditions set on the hunt.

I assure you that U.S. Fish and Wildlife did not go through all this trouble just so wolves could be over-hunted again. Although to be fair the various State Fish and Wildlife agencies -- particularly in the ranching states -- are a little less keen on the whole thing. Up until recently they had been forced to send yearly reports to the Feds showing how things were going along; I expect things will slip a bit now that there's no oversight.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:14 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


I and my younger sister stalked by a large, golden, tawny feline in Los Angeles. My parents, in a DIFFRENT part of Lis Angeles, observed a pregnant cougar raiding our garbage in the wee hours. We girls were awakened. The telephone, a big black, Bakelite rotary dial was placed on the kitchen table, as was our Chihuahua puppy, in a re-purposed bird-cage. (My brilliant idea btw)
The kitchen closed off from the rest of the house. No windows.
Our parents went to our bedroom and watched the pregnant cougar until she decided to leave.
She never came back.

One reason dogs attract cougars is they think puppies are delicious, especially new puppies which are still nursing.

They think adult dogs are only mildly less scrumptious.

If you want to see a dog terrified, imitate a cougar's cough.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 7:02 PM on April 9


Probably in 20 years we'll be used to cougars hanging around the fringes of suburbia controlling nuisance deer populations and not really bothering anybody, but for right now I'm pretty convinced they're waiting in the trees to drop on me ... just like when we first got backyard foxes, I was convinced that getting within 10 feet of one would cause it to leap up and eat my face off.--Eyebrows McGee

People are pretty much used to them around the SF Bay Area. They are in most hiking areas and, other than reading the warning signs at the start of trails, most people don't think about them. Unlike gerstle, though, I have never personally seen one (though I see the occasional coyote).

So it may take less than 20 years for Chicago.
posted by eye of newt at 7:51 PM on April 9


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