Human Encroachment on Large Predators
Startribune By T.R. Michels
One of the comments on my last bear blog mentioned the FACT that we humans are encroaching (moving into) habitat that is or was used by large predators. In the past, whenever that happened, the predators lost. While there may have been loses to humans in the form of human lives, or property damage, or livestock loss, which in most cases is or was the reason for our antagonism for and fear of large predators - in the end it was the predators that lost their right to use the habitat - and they lost it by being hunted, trapped and poisoned. They were exterminated, in most cases completely.
We see it now, as more and more human development moves into the once wild land of central and northern Minnesota, where wolves and bears have been the target of humans. We may also have lost mountain lions, but I don't think there were any reliable records on their previous populations. We have undoubtedly lost some otters, fisher, pine marten, weasels, mink and skunks, and possibly wolverines in the far north. We have also lost bobcat and Canadian lynx. But those smaller predators don't receive the publicity that the larger predators do, because they do not cause the damage and fear that the larger predators may do.
It is not only North America where this is happening. Bengal tigers are being poached in India, Indochinese tigers are endangered in Cambodia, China, Laos, Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam. The estimates for this subspecies vary between 1,200 and 1,800, with only several hundred left in the wild. The Malayan tiger is found exclusively in the southern part of the Malay Peninsula. It was not considered a subspecies in its own right until 2004. Recent counts showed there are 600–800 tigers in the wild, making it the third largest tiger population, behind the Bengal tiger and the Indochinese tiger.
The South China tiger, also known as the Amoy or Xiamen tiger, is the most critically endangered tiger subspecies and is listed as one of the 10 most endangered animals in the world. The Chinese government banned the killing of wild tigers in 1977, but it may have been too late, because they may already be extinct in the wild. There are only 59 tigers of this subspecies, all captive animals, all within China. However, they are known to be descended from only six animals. The genetic diversity required to maintain the subspecies might no longer exist. There are breeding efforts to reintroduce the tigers to the wild.
The Siberian tiger is found in far southeast Russia. The last two censuses (1996 and 2005) found that there were between 450–500 Amur tigers (within their single, and more or less continuous range. This makes them one of the largest undivided tiger populations in the world. Genetic research in 2009 demonstrated that the Siberian tiger, and the western Caspian, which was once thought to be a separate subspecies, that became extinct in the wild in the late 1950's, are actually the same subspecies. The separation of the two populations may have occurred as recently as the past century - due to human intervention - again.
Unfortunately other tiger subspecies have not fared as well. The Bali tiger was limited to the island of Bali. They were hunted to extinction. The last Balinese tiger may have been killed at Sumbar Kima, West Bali on September 27, 1937. The Javan tiger was limited to the island of Java. It probably became extinct in thea1980s, as a result of hunting and habitat destruction. The Caspian tiger, also known as the Persian tiger or Turanian tiger was the westernmost population of the Siberian tiger ,was found in from turkey east to Mongolia. It apparently became extinct in the late 1950's.
Both the African Lion ,of Africa, and the Asiatic Lion of India are not faring much better. Most African lions live in eastern and southern Africa now. Their numbers are rapidly decreasing, with an estimated 30–50% decline over the last two decades. The total population may range between 16,500 and 47,000 wild lion in 2002–2004. This is down from the early 1990's when the estimates ranged from as high as 100,000 and possibly 400,000 animals in 1950. The wild population of more than 200 Asiatic Lions may have been derived from just 13 individuals, and it may be highly inbred.
And I have not talked about how grizzly bears have been decimated in North America, especially the United States. They now live almost exclusively in the wilderness regions of Canada and Alaska, where human encroachment has not impacted them as much - so far. Nor have I talked about leopards, jaguars, mountain lions and cheetahs, or wolves around the world.
Here in the United States there is once again a big uproar about the reintroduced wolves of the Yellowstone ecosystem. I recently was sent a link to a video about the wolves of the Yellowstone Ecosystem. It was a well put together video with what appeared to be very knowledgeable and passionate people, stating whereat were supposedly facts and true statements, most of which were negative, designed to sway anyone watching it, into believing what it presented was a reliable presentation of what is or has been occurring as a result of the reintroduction of wolves into the western United States.
I'm willing to bet that by now, most of you could predict that I, as an animal conservation advocate, could find more than a few things wrong with the video. And that I would have more than a few scientific facts to support my own view on the subject - which I will write about in my upcoming blogs.
What this is all leading to is - habitat and wildlife conservation – which I as a professional outfitter, guide and hunter for the last 55 years, believe that all of us who live on the planet, have a responsibility to care about, and do something about, or we are not fulfilling our responsibilities to the planet we live on, and the God that I believe created it - who I refer to as the Judeo-Christian God - Yahweh.
Please - do not bully others, or allow your children and friends to malign, abuse or talk bad about other children. I just learned that two more children from the Kenyon area of southeast Minnesota commited suicide as a result of being bullied.
Please - be aware of anything that might lead to cancer in your family. My wife is currently receiving chemo and radiaton treatments because she has lung cancer, from smoking cigarettes for over 20 years. Smoking can lead to mouth, throat, esophgeal and lung cancer.
My 25 year old daughet just had two moles removed from her back, one of them was cancerous, And the doctor is concerned about one or more other moles, which she has had from birth, and they are not in places where they are affected by the sun. Any large or irregular moles, or ones that change in shape or increase in size should be checked by your doctor - on a regular basis.
I canot tell you how a diagnosis of cancer affects the patient, but it is extremely difficult - both psychologically and emotionally - for the family of the patient and all others who care about them. When you smoke, you may be affecting not only yourself, but also those you love.
May God bless all of you and your families,
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