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    Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife: “Conniff is a splendid writer–fresh, clear, uncondescending, and with never a false step; one can’t resist quoting him.” (NY Times Book Review)

    The Species Seekers:  Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff is “a swashbuckling romp” that “brilliantly evokes that just-before Darwin era” (BBC Focus) and “an enduring story bursting at the seams with intriguing, fantastical and disturbing anecdotes” (New Scientist). “This beautifully written book has the verve of an adventure story” (Wall St. Journal)

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time by Richard Conniff  is “Hilariously informative…This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.” (Outside magazine) “Field naturalist Conniff’s animal adventures … are so amusing and full color that they burst right off the page …  a quick and intensely pleasurable read.” (Seed magazine) “Conniff’s poetic accounts of giraffes drifting past like sail boats, and his feeble attempts to educate Vervet monkeys on the wonders of tissue paper will leave your heart and sides aching.  An excellent read.” (BBC Focus magazine)

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Tough Love for Bambi?

Posted by Richard Conniff on March 7, 2011


The last eastern cougar shot in the state of Vermont

A week or two back, when the snow was a foot deep and food was scarce, I had 18 white tail deer in  my yard on the Connecticut coast.  So what’s the answer to deer overpopulation in the U.S. Northeast?

Sorry, it’s now officially extinct.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has just removed the  eastern cougar from its endangered species list, says Mark McCullough, a biologist there, because years of searching have turned up no evidence of its survival:

A breeding population of eastern cougars would almost certainly have left evidence of its existence, he said. Cats would have been hit by cars or caught in traps, left tracks in the snow or turned up on any of the hundreds of thousands of trail cameras that dot Eastern forests.

But researchers have come up empty.

The private Eastern Cougar Foundation, for example, spent a decade looking for evidence. Finding none, it changed its name to the Cougar Rewilding Foundation last year and shifted its focus from confirming sightings to advocating for the restoration of the big cat to its pre-colonial habitat. The wildlife service said it has no authority under the Endangered Species Act to reintroduce the mountain lion to the East.

The promising news is that the eastern cougar may actually be genetically identical to its western siblings, and they are rapidly expanding their range back eastward.  If it happens, that could make running in the woods a lot more interesting for the deer (and maybe for us, too) and it might help restore a more natural balance of species.  It may sound a little tough on poor Bambi.  But scientific evidence demonstrates that species–and entire ecosystems–are better off when top predators are around to do their regrettable business.

One Response to “Tough Love for Bambi?”

  1. A discovery of a breeding population would be a nightmare for USFWS. Critical habitat would have to be designated, recovery plan created, lawsuits would follow… No wonder they declare it extinct just as its existence in Canada has been proven, and records in the East are getting too numerous to ignore. Here are two good links:

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