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Mexican wolf Canis lupus baileyi Aletris M. Neils & Geoffrey H. Palmer Natural History History of Decline Until recently the Mexican wolf ranged throughout.

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Presentation on theme: "Mexican wolf Canis lupus baileyi Aletris M. Neils & Geoffrey H. Palmer Natural History History of Decline Until recently the Mexican wolf ranged throughout."— Presentation transcript:

1 Mexican wolf Canis lupus baileyi Aletris M. Neils & Geoffrey H. Palmer Natural History History of Decline Until recently the Mexican wolf ranged throughout the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts from Mexico, east to western Texas, and west to Arizona. Trappers eradicated the Mexican wolf by the 1950s in the United States. Reintroduction In 1998, a reintroduction program began releasing Mexican wolves back into the wild in Arizona. Today approximately 300 Mexican wolves exist in the wild and captivity. Wolves Today Did you know? - Today killing a Mexican wolf is a violation of the Federal Endangered Species Act, and invokes a fine up to $50,000 and/or 1 year in prison. Wolf Encounters * Just in case! - If a wolf should approach you, raise your arms to look as large as possible. Throw rocks and yell to scare the animal away and back away slowly. Never, ever run! The Mexican Gray Wolf is the rarest, most genetically distinct, and smallest subspecies of the gray wolf in North America.  Males are up to 5.5’ long (around the size of a German Shepherd dog), with females slightly smaller  Adults weigh 50 to 80 lbs.  Mexican wolves live in packs consisting of one adult (alpha) pair, pups, and related yearlings  Howling is an important form of wolf communication  Breeding occurs in February, and litters of up to 8 pups are born in mid-April  Diet includes deer, elk, pronghorn, small mammals, and livestock Figure 1. The Mexican Wolf Running Figure 4. Mexican Wolf Range Map. Figure 3. The release of a wolf.Figure 2. Dead wolf carcasses. Figure 5. Mexican Wolf Tracks. Figure 6. Female Mexican Wolf.

2 Mexican wolf Canis lupus baileyi Aletris M. Neils & Geoffrey H. Palmer Natural History History of Decline Until recently the Mexican wolf ranged throughout the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts from Mexico, east to western Texas, and west to Arizona. Trappers eradicated the Mexican wolf by the 1950s in the United States. Reintroduction In 1998, a reintroduction program began releasing Mexican wolves back into the wild in Arizona. Today approximately 300 Mexican wolves exist in the wild and captivity. Wolves Today Did you know? - Today killing a Mexican wolf is a violation of the Federal Endangered Species Act, and invokes a fine up to $50,000 and/or 1 year in prison. Wolf Encounters * Just in case! - If a wolf should approach you, raise your arms to look as large as possible. Throw rocks and yell to scare the animal away and back away slowly. Never, ever run! The Mexican Gray Wolf is the rarest, most genetically distinct, and smallest subspecies of the gray wolf in North America.  Males are up to 5.5’ long (around the size of a German Shepherd dog), with females slightly smaller  Adults weigh 50 to 80 lbs.  Mexican wolves live in packs consisting of one adult (alpha) pair, pups, and related yearlings  Howling is an important form of wolf communication  Breeding occurs in February, and litters of up to 8 pups are born in mid-April  Diet includes deer, elk, pronghorn, small mammals, and livestock Figure 1. The Mexican Wolf Running Figure 4. Mexican Wolf Range Map. Figure 3. The release of a wolf.Figure 2. Dead wolf carcasses. Figure 5. Mexican Wolf Tracks. Figure 6. Female Mexican Wolf.

3 Jaguar & Mountain lion Panthera Onca & Puma concolor Aletris M. Neils & Geoffrey H. Palmer History of the Puma The Mountain Lion is also known as a puma, cougar, and panther. Perhaps the most adaptable of all apex predators in the new world, mountain lions occur in a wide variety of habitats and probably survived the past predator eradication campaigns because of their highly cryptic and solitary nature, as well as their natural propensity to inhabit some of the most rugged terrain around. Although mountain lion populations are decreasing, of all the large carnivores in Arizona, it is the only species that currently has any probability of long term persistence. Cat Encounters * Just in case! - If you come across a mountain lion in the wild, do not corner or provoke it. If you feel threatened, try to look larger than you are. Give it plenty of room to leave the area without feeling threatened by you. Slowly back away, DO NOT RUN, and if attacked fight back! If you ever want to see a mountain lion up close, go to the zoo. Figure 2. The Mountain Lion or Puma. Figure 1. The Jaguar. Natural History Jaguar Mountain Lion  The 3rd largest cat in the world  The largest and most powerful feline in the western hemisphere  Weighs between 100 and 250 lbs.  Adults are 6’ to 8’ long  Has a rosette spotted coat  Dense forest is the preferred habitat  Solitary  Stalk and ambush predator  Can travel distances of over 500 miles  The 5 th largest cat in the world  Males are over 2’ tall at the shoulder and can be over 8’ long  ♂ weigh lbs/ ♀ are slightly smaller  Can purr, but cannot roar  Only eat fresh meat. Diet includes: deer, elk, bighorn sheep, javelina, and livestock  Ambush hunter and stalks its prey  Solitary animal  Territory size depends on the amount of prey History of the Jaguar Jaguars historically ranged as far north as the Grand Canyon, but were never common in AZ. Persecution and a high market value for jaguar fur led to the extirpation of the jaguar from the US in the 1930s. Despite this, jaguars continued to have an intermittently low population in southeastern AZ. Jaguars are currently listed as an endangered species and the closest breeding population of jaguars is approximately 200 miles south of the US border in Mexico. Jaguars do still occasionally enter southern AZ, and have the potential to rebound given the proper protection, however the completion of the US- Mexico border fence will prevent re- colonization. Figure 4. Puma Range in North America. Figure 3. Deer trying to get though the US- Mexico boarder fence.

4 Grizzly bear & Black bear Ursus arctos & ursus americanus Aletris M. Neils & Geoffrey H. Palmer The Black Bear The American Black Bear is currently the only bear species found in Arizona. The extirpation of the grizzly bear led to the ecological release of the American black bear to fill the grizzly’s ecological niche. Prior to 1929, black bears, like most carnivores, were considered to be “predatory” animals and were given no legal protection in the state of Arizona. The same ranchers and government agents who eliminated the grizzly bear sought to do the same to its smaller relative. Bears were poisoned, trapped or shot on sight under the semblance of protecting livestock. In 1924 it was estimated that only 1,500 black bears remained in all of the Southwest. Today, bear populations have rebounded and they are found throughout the state.. Figure 1. The Grizzly Bear. Natural History Grizzly Bear Black Bear  Solitary  Females produce 1 to 4 cubs (usually 2)  ♂ weigh lbs./ ♀ weigh lbs.  Longer claws than the black bear  Omnivorous, diet consists of plants & animals  Have a characteristic “hump” on their shoulder differentiating them from black bears  Grizzly bears are always brown in color  Black bears are shy, curious and intelligent  Diet primarily consists of berries, roots, insects, cactus fruit, and sometimes vertebrates  Males weigh from lbs./ Females weigh from lbs.  Cubs are born in January & stay with the mother for ~ 1.5 years  They can live up to 20 years of age in wild  Habitat – primarily found at elevations between 4, ,000’  Generally “hibernate ” from November through March  Vary in color from black, to brown, to blond and cinnamon. History of the Grizzly The Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos arizonae) was the largest apex predator found in Arizona. Grizzlies were once found throughout the Western United States, including most of eastern Arizona. This species was extirpated from Arizona in 1923 due to trophy hunting and persecution from ranchers. All grizzly bears south of the Yellowstone population have been eradicated. Bear Encounters Grizzly Bear Black Bear  *Just in case! - Grizzly bears normally avoid contact with people. Even so, they can be extremely dangerous. If you see a bear, try to back away slowly and if you are being attacked it is best to play dead.  *Just in case! - Black bears normally avoid contact with people, although they can be attracted to our trash. If you do encounter a bear, do not corner or provoke it. If you feel threatened, try to look larger than you are. Back away slowly and if you are being attacked, fight back! Figure 1. The Black Bear.

5 What is a trophic level?  A trophic pyramid represents the energy flow through an ecosystem.  Each step up the pyramid is accompanied by a roughly 90% reduction in energy.  Because of this loss of energy, there is a limit to the number of levels, and also accounts for the number of individuals of each species in a single trophic level.  In the example above, imagine that there must be many more individual deer and raccoons available to a single bear than depicted. Conserving Top Carnivores in Ecosystems: Preventing an Environmental Collapse Aletris M. Neils & Geoffrey H. Palmer What is an apex predator?  An apex predator is an animal that is not prey to other animals and is at the top of the food chain.  In the diagram below, the wolf and lynx both act as apex predators in the ecosystem. What happens when an apex predator is removed from an ecosystem?  The ecosystem undergoes a systematic collapse, a trophic cascade where primary consumers negatively impact primary producers  The diagram below represents the impact a cougar has on an ecosystem. Without the cougar, deer proliferate, consuming all of the vegetation they can reach.  As a result, resources are no longer available to other animals, and the soil begins eroding. What can be done to save ecosystems where the apex predators have been extirpated (made locally extinct) by humans?  Re-introducing the species that acted as the apex predator back into the ecosystem has been shown to restore control over the over- populated primary consumers.  Over time, the rest of the ecosystem begins to recover as primary producers (plants) are able to regenerate and provide food and shelter for the entire suite of animals initially found in that ecosystem.  The reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park is one example of how this restoration can be successful in renewing an ecosystem.

6 1890s1970s Eradication efforts begin Extinct in the wild Listed as endangered Reintroduction begins Currently 52 in the wild


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