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Thursday, January 24. 2013
By 1880, New England had been almost completely deforested. Moose, Wolf, Black Bear, and Wild Turkey were gone or limited to tiny habitat islands. Deer were rare. Then profitable farming moved west to the rich plains of Ohio and Indiana. Good-bye to rocky New England.
With reforestation, Moose and Wild Turkey have rebounded, and Beaver, Bear, and White-Tailed Deer have become pests in some areas. So have the highly-adaptable coyotes, who moved into wolf territory (coyotes were never native to the Northeast) and are now considered pests in New England with generous hunting and trapping seasons for eastern coyotes, coydogs, and coy-wolves if any.
Those critters are all Wolf food, including coyotes. Maybe not the bears.
The new coyotes of the Northeast are larger than those of Western US and Canada, may have a few wolf genes, and a large male is easily mistaken for Wolf or German Shepherd.
There is only one species of Wolf in the world - Canis lupus. The species has - or had - a global reach, with all of its various subspecies (subspecies means races - of which the domesticated Dog is one. The Grey Wolf and the Eastern Wolf are probably the same subspecies, but there is much controversy about wolf subspecies genetics).
All domestic dogs in the world were genetically engineered from the Eurasian Grey Wolf subspecies, including African domestic dogs, beginning around 14,000 years ago. Wolves - dogs - were domesticated before any other animal but your average wild wolf cannot be civilized, even if raised from birth by man. Humans must have found the rare wolf individuals with civilizable genetic flaws as in photo below:
North America's Grey Wolf was an immigrant across the Bering Strait from Siberia and, along with the Cougar, were the dominant predators across the entire US and subarctic Canada.
Dominant predators require large ranges of undeveloped land, preferably without roads and cars. The Cougars will have a tough time repopulating the Northeast, but the Wolves can come down from Quebec. In dribs and drabs, they have been doing so. Probably lone wolves. Visual reports are not reliable, but DNA testing is so the animal has to be shot or trapped to be tested to distinguish the animal from a coydog, a coy-wolf, etc. I don't know why coyotes and wolves can interbreed if they are separate species.
There are no records of confirmed Wolf breeding or pack-forming yet in New England, but these occurences would not be surprising, and would be welcome to many. Wolves remain common enough in Canada to have popular hunting seasons for them. Wolves leave people alone, unlike foolish Cougars who sometimes confuse a jogger with a deer and eat them up.
Here's one report from the Adirondacks
About wolves in Maine
Some reports re wolves in New England
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Almost completely deforested? What from? Firewood or lumber or farming or all of it? Are there lots of old farms that didn't make it and have been reclaimed by new-growth forest?
I've heard that about the Colorado mountains too, deforested, especially near the mining camps. The few pictures from those days are equivocal evidence.
Deforested for farmland, pasturage, lumber, firewood, charcoal-making for early industrial furnaces, etc. NE farmers often kept a small woodlot for firewood.
The farms here are mostly gone now, sheep gone, and dairy cattle now stay in barns, mostly.
Is it economics or politics, that the NE didn't make the transition from the small family farmer, to corporate agribusiness?
In other words, was it never going to be favorable because of economics (e.g. short growing seasons, marginal soils, geography); or was it marginal economics plus a dose of politics that shut down the farms (them ol' small towns with their town meetings didn't trust outsiders and change, and made it more difficult than it needed to be)?
Almost entirely economics, and the geography of New England. Large-scale contiguous plots of suitable land with adequate soil are not to be found in NE, and large scale corporate farming makes no sense with small, widely scattered sites.
Currently there is much more forest in New England than was the case in the late nineteenth century, likewise in New York and Pennsylvania for that matter.
In my hikes along the Appalachian Trail in NY/New England, one can see countless stone walls running off this way and that in the forest, marking the edges of the former fields where the stones were plowed up each spring.
I've seen 18th and 19th century drawings of some of the places that I know, and what seems like deep natural forest now is clearly cleared for pasture and cropland -- as far as the eye can see.
I visited a girlfirends ancestral home in SE Ohio, and was told stories by the grandparents of how they used to be able to see down the hill to the Ohio River, before they stopped farming and let the field grow over. It looked like forest to me, and that's just within a fraction of a human lifetime.
When I was a kid growing up in South Carolina (70s - 80s) my Dad would often point out, while we were quail hunting, wooded places that were pasture or cropland when he was a kid (40s - 50s). He griped about it because the relative lack of fence lines running through open fields had made it harder to find quail out in the open, the birds liking to run up fence lines using brush growing around them as cover.
In the '80s you had to go out into the woods to find a deer or turkey; now deer are backyard pests and turkeys a commonly seen close to town in the morning and late evening. Heck I've seen a wild turkey in the middle of Atlanta, in the neighborhood just southwest of Emory Law School. Plenty of creek beds running down into Atlanta from north of town they can travel along.
Of course, we've also got Coyotes now in Atlanta and over in South Carolina, and Armadillos, and don't forget the giant feral domestic / wild pig hybrids roaming southern Georgia and Alabama. . . .
Not just NE, but here in the Mid Atlantic as well. There is more heavily wooded land, esp. just West of DC, than there was a century ago, and the wildlife has done a remarkable job of reclaiming it.
The deforistation happened during the day when we were building the railroads, we almost ran out of wood until coal based creosote was invented, which extended the life of the sleepers I think they are called.
I read an interesting artical the other day, how the non-native cayotes are eating the native foxes, which eat the rodents, which carry the ticks which carry Lime Disease. And how native wolves could put a stop to that. Mother Nature is fickle.
You do not want wolves. Read any news story about what wolves have done to the West, and you will change your tune. Wolves are a menace. Increase hunting opportunities and you are good to go. Man is a better steward of game animals than wolves.
I wouldn't mind wolves.
They'd control our deer and coyotes better than people can.
Make no mistake bd wolves live to kill for sport, most generally when sport killing they eat the cow elk, or deer's fetus, then move on to their next kill leaving the barely consumed carcase for blow flies and ravens: sounds like a wonderful solution to your current dilemma if you use maggots for fishing.
Black Bear populations have dropped in some areas where wolves are found. It appears wolves are digging out and killing hibernating bears.
you especially don't want any of those capitoline wolves around, or we'll end up with an autocratic dictator who ends all civil liberties and ....
There are a number of places in my NE hometown which were meadows when I was growing up, but are now forested.
When I was in high school, we took care of a coy-dog for 6 months until it died.
Can't remember the name of the "wolf" guy who ran a habitat on an island off Lake Superior, but he had good documentation (better than Al Gore's climate change stuff) that killing the wolves in Montana affected the delta in New Orleans. It's a food-chain and might take generations to impact the economy.
Isle Royale? From what I've read, the moose were wrecking the place until a pack of wolves were shipped over.
Vicki Hearne says you can train a wolf, and your wolf may love you, but you can't trust him to distinguish your friends from your enemies.
A dog makes sense of such things.
Wolves, coyotes and dogs are the same species in the sense that they can interbreed, resulting in fertile offspring. The folks who classify animals do not always draw the line between species at the ability to interbreed.
The main difference between dogs, coyotes and wolves is that dogs retain much of the thinking of pups as they mature into adulthood.
We have tons of feral hogs and coyotes here in South Texas.
I never saw a deer once, growing up in the NE in the 50's. And neither did anybody I know. If anybody said they saw a deer, nobody would have believed them. Never saw a wild turkey either, and never saw or heard a coyote. Foxes were around, but rare.
Amazing how quickly it changed. It's not just a reforestation. It's a re-invasion of many animals.
And I'll bet no scientist or government official predicted it.
The Eastern Coyote has a streak of wolf in it. Unlike their western counterparts they will take down a deer. Granted they look for weak or wounded, but they take them.
What determines what a species is, and even more so what a "subspecies" is -is of great argument in the sciences. With the genomic analyses we have discovered that sometimes the phylogeny of observed traits was "way off" . Anyone who observes dogs, wolves and other canids will see obvious differences; how to categorize all that into a defining speciation continues to make great argument. Konrad Lorenz, a noted ethologist thought dogs evolved from either the jackal out of the desert, or the wolf of the forest. A great book discussing speciation is Erst Mayr's "What Evolution Is"