22 - North Countryman • Adirondack Outdoors
No cats, no dogs T
he Great North Woods continue to become a little less wild, following another announcement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In March 2011, the agency removed federal protection for the eastern cougar, after extensive reviews revealed no evidence of an existing breeding population in the eastern United States. Researchers believe the Eastern cougar subspecies has been extinct since a trapper in Somerset County, Maine, killed the last confirmed eastern mountain lion in 1938. More recently, on May 5, 2011, the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed a new rule to eliminate federal protection for wolves throughout the central and eastern U.S. According to the USFWS proposal, the special regulation for the Eastern Distinct Population Segment (DPS) was based on research indicating the gray wolf is no longer considered a native species in the northeast. The agency now recognizes the
eastern wolf (Canis lycaon) as the only wolf native to the northeast, and the agency will evaluate it “for possible protection under the Act in the near future.” The special regulation for the Eastern Distinct Population Segment (DPS) applies to wolves in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The persecution of wolves by human is the primary reason for the decline of wolves across North America, Humans are the largest single cause of wolf mortality and the only cause that can significantly affect wolf populations at recovery levels. Studies indicate that wolves require remote wild areas, with
a wide range of prey animals. In the northeast, whitetail deer have historically filled this role. However, in a study conducted in Minnesota, researchers determined that road density also plays a significant role in the ability of wolves to establish a presence. The study discovered that wolves require a road density that does not exceed .9 miles of highway per square mile of land, the current road density of the Adirondack Park. Road density is not an indicator of potential road kill, rather it is an indication of the ease at which humans can access wolf habitat to harass, trap or shoot them. Research indicates that wolves were primarily extirpated from the northeastern United States by 1900. However, there have been a number of credible observations of wolves reported in the Northeast throughout the 20th century. According to various reports, a single female wolf was killed in western Maine in 1993, and in 1996 a second wolf was trapped and killed in central Maine. Another wolf-like caned was mistaken for a coyote and killed in 1997 in northern Vermont, and in 2001, a coyote hunter shot and killed a male wolf (85 lb.) in Day, NY.
May 28, 2011
In early 2002, an Adirondacks, conducted apparent wolf (64 lb.) in 1999, revealed the habiwas killed by a traptat was suitable for susper in southeastern taining a small population Quebec, less than 20 of gray wolves. miles from the New However, due to the Hampshire border, park’s fragmented nature, and in October 2006, and the lack of wild corria male wolf (91lb.) dors linking occupied was shot in southern wolf areas to the north; it Quebec, near a lowas determined that cation where a wolf wolves would not be able On May 5, 2011, the F ish and Wildlife Service propack had been estabto establish a viable, posed a new rule t o eliminate federal protection for lished. breeding population withwolves throughout the central and eastern U.S. These incidents, out periodic human interfrom southern Quebec and Onalong with similar observations vention. The study concluded tario into the northeastern and physical evidence of large, that ecological conditions dicUnited States found that suffiunidentified ‘dogs’ in the tated against the successful cient suitable wolf habitat is northeast over recent years, has reintroduction of gray wolves. led some to believe wolves may Yet, stories and reports of available in the Adirondack actually be dispersing into the wolves persist and continue to Park region of New York and in northeastern United States circulate. Despite evidence to Maine and northern New from habitat in southern Canathe contrary, we want to believe Hampshire. da. them. We want to believe there Although there remain a Many of these unidentified are still wolves and cougars out number of potential dispersal ‘dogs’ have exhibited characthere; we want our woods to recorridors connecting existing teristics consistent with an animain dangerous and mysteriwolf populations north of bormal that ranges in size someous. der with the expansive wolf where between the eastern coyIn some manner, this belief habitat in Maine, New Hampote and the gray wolf. makes us brave, strong and darshire and New York, there are Although it remains uncering. If there are still wild anialso significant physical barritain at this time, increasingly mals stalking the local woods, ers to such a dispersal, includthe scientific evidence suggests our forest forays are no longer ing the St. Lawrence River, sevthe historic wolf of the Northjust a simple walk in the park; eral four lane highways, rail east was more closely related to they become an adventure. We lines, and dense human develthe red wolf than to the gray all need the excitement. opments that may prohibit the wolf. movement of a sufficient numAccording to reports, a reber of wolves from Canada into Joe Hackett is a guide and sportscent Geographic Information Maine. man residing in Ray Brook. Contact System analysis that evaluated A study on the feasibility of him at email@example.com the potential for wolf dispersal wolf reintroduction in the
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