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Cornell researches black bear boom in New York
by Staff Writers
Ithaca NY (SPX) May 17, 2017

Reward offered for info on 'White Lady' wolf shot at Yellowstone
Los Angeles (AFP) May 16, 2017 - A conservation group on Monday more than doubled a reward for information on who was behind last month's shooting of a rare white wolf at Yellowstone National Park.

The severely injured female wolf dubbed "White Lady" was found by hikers on April 11 near Gardiner, Montana, and had to be euthanized.

Park officials last week offered a reward of up to $5,000 for information on who shot the animal described as "one of the most recognizable wolves and sought after by visitors to view and photograph."

An advocacy group in Montana said on Monday it would more than match the award offered by Yellowstone officials.

"We are receiving more money and I suspect the award we are offering is getting up to $5,500," Marc Cooke, president of the Montana-based Wolves of the Rockies, told AFP.

"There is an outcry on the part of wildlife enthusiasts to get the individual that is responsible for this."

Cooke said he suspects hunters angered by the presence of wolves in Yellowstone were behind the shooting.

"What's going on is because of the individuals that make a living in that area off of hunting, the wolves have disrupted their ability to acquire or to hunt trophy elk," he said.

"Somebody is taking matters into their own hands and doing their own form of private wildlife management -- in other words poaching wolves."

The wolf that was shot was 12 years old -- twice the age of an average wolf in the park -- and had 14 living pups, park officials said.

It was one of only three white wolves in Yellowstone.

Wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone in 1995, in part to manage the rising elk park population.

Officials say the number of wolves in the park has fluctuated between 83 and 104 since 2009.

The black bear population in southern New York has grown and expanded its range since the early 1990s, which has led to increased encounters with humans. But details about bear populations in the state have remained understudied.

New Cornell University research, published in the March issue of the Journal of Wildlife Management, estimates the densities of black bears in southern New York and examines how bears are distributed relative to the amount of forest, agricultural lands and human development across the study area.

The researchers estimate that the average density of black bears in the southern New York area was about 13 bears per 38.6 square miles or about one bear for every 3 square miles. Bear densities decreased slightly farther north in the study region, supporting the idea that black bear ranges have been expanding northward.

The findings will help inform New York State Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife managers as they look for ways to effectively manage bears now and in the future.

"Black bears are encountering human populations more now than they ever have before," said Catherine Sun, a doctoral student in the Department of Natural Resources and the paper's lead author. "Our study shows how bears are distributed on the landscape at the edge of their range and provides clues for how bears might continue to use landscapes farther north."

"There might be limited constraints to bears continuing to move northward because they are using a diversity of land cover types," said Angela Fuller, an associate professor of natural resources, leader of the New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and a co-author of the paper.

New York has three historic bear ranges: the Adirondack, Catskill and Allegheny mountain regions. But the Catskill and Allegheny ranges have expanded and now are jointly considered a single range that covers the entire Southern Tier region of New York. The researchers focused on a 40-mile-by-40-mile square in this region, choosing this area because it included both historic and expanded ranges. "That's where a lot of the population growth has been so that's where we wanted to put our research efforts," Sun said.

The researchers set up close to 200 research sites, with lines of barbed wire used to snag hair samples from passing bears over two summers. They extracted DNA from the hair samples, and using genetics, identified which bear left each particular sample. Sun collected some 2,000 hair samples from 257 bears.

"We are using a noninvasive genetic approach, an important new method that wasn't available 15-20 years ago," said Fuller. "In the past, we had to go out and capture and then physically tag each bear."

"It's likely there is going to be further expansion of bear populations northward, which reaches into areas that have higher human populations," Fuller added. A citizen science project called iSeeMammals is underway to collect data on bears across upstate New York, in which hikers, hunters and other naturalists contribute information on the presence and absence of bears and bear signs.

Research paper

The first microbial supertree from figure-mining thousands of papers
London, UK (SPX) May 17, 2017
While recent reports reveal the existence of more than 114,000,000 documents of published scientific literature, finding a way to improve the access to this knowledge and efficiently synthesise it becomes an increasingly pressing issue. Seeking to address the problem through their PLUTo workflow, British scientists Ross Mounce and Peter Murray-Rust, University of Cambridge and Matthew Will ... read more

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