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Major Wildlife Attrition

New postPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 9:36 pm
by mike
Back in the 1600's the Catskill Mountains had more animals per square mile then anywhere in the United States. This attracted trappers in record numbers. There seemed to be no end to animals. By the 1900's most of the animals were wiped out from the Catskill Mountain. After they stripped the trees from the mountains, there was massive erosion problems, and the loss of most wildlife. In the early 1900's it was considered a very rare event to even see a deer. When the Forest Preserve became the law, this began the recovery of animals to the Catskill Mountain. Almost 100 years later the recovery has been slow. Mainly because rodent populations have never recovered or been reintroduced.

But, larger animals did make a comeback. But, not close to the population density of the 1600's. Deer were introduced during a 100 acre fenced preserve at the bottom of Slide Mountain. When they finally reached 100 deer some were released to the Catskill Mountains. The deer you see today are decedents of those deer.

A month ago, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey received up to 10' of snow in some areas. This immobilized most animals and caused them to die of starvation. It is estimated that 90% the animals died this winter due to the snow.

Now that the Catskill Mountains have received a similar amount of snow, it is expected that the Catskill Mountains will lose almost all of the ground animals in the next week or two. Over the past week, some people have searched for the existence of animals and have found NO tracks. No deer, coyotes, rabbits, foxes, etc. Our only hope is that as hikers snowshoe into areas, they will create a causeway for the few survivers.

This will be a major blow to the wildlife of the Catskill Mountains.

Re: Major Wildlife Attrition

New postPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:02 pm
by dave
In Acra we have lots of animals around us. I have not seen a single track in the past week. We have a bobcat that visits every night. Have not seen him. Not rabbit tracks. Absolutely nothing.

Re: Major Wildlife Attrition

New postPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:57 am
by mtnclimber
thanks for the insight. Hadn't thought about this yet. for sure, there will be deer wondering in the road. Wonder if car-deer impacts will increase.

Re: Major Wildlife Attrition

New postPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:33 pm
by Joooles_M
I saw a dead and decaying coyote along the Long Path heading up toward KHP. I wondered what had killed it -- never seen such a thing before. Guess I confirmed what I suspected, that it had starved. What if anything is the solution to this issue?

Re: Major Wildlife Attrition

New postPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 5:09 pm
by kkayaker8
There was a supposed sighting of a mountain lion in lexington early this week....but I wouldn't think a cat would leave its kill to decay.....

Re: Major Wildlife Attrition

New postPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 12:58 am
by mike
Mountain Lions, like bobcats, will cover up their prey for future meals. Last year, we had reports of a Mountain Lion on the Devils path. Lexington wouldn't surprise me. Do you know exact where it was located?

Re: Major Wildlife Attrition

New postPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 10:05 pm
by mike
We have been going to multiple locations in the Catskill's looking for animal prints. Some of the healthy coyotes have survived, but they are having a problem finding food. We have seen prints from one fox, which was being pursued by multiple coyotes. But, we are not seeing any animals.

I don't know how many years it will be until the animal populations recover, but I suspect it will be a long time.

The death rate in Pennsylvania was around 90%. The death rate in the Catskills will be even higher.

One concern is how hungry the coyotes are. I suspect that we might have a conflict with humans.

Re: Major Wildlife Attrition

New postPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 10:44 pm
by mike
We have been searching from WHP-to-Blackhead-to-Hunter-to-Bearpen for the last four weeks. The first animals we saw were coyotes and one fox. Then last week we started to see more animals. There are some surviver, but very few. Here is a list of what we have found:

Coyotes - Larger and healthier survived. They actually did the best\
Foxes - We have seen several
Rabbits - They showed up in several areas last week.
Deer - one located. May have been migratory. Several dead ones found.
Mice & voles - Starting to show up.
Porcupine - We were told of one that survived. We believe that one on Bearpen might have survived.
Bobcats - none found
Fishers - non found
Bears - Hibernating. Several showed up this week.
Birds - They survived. Probably some loses.

Re: Major Wildlife Attrition

New postPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2010 4:20 pm
by mike
Surveys show that some of the deer on the mountaintop moved down into the valleys during the Feb 2010 storm. This increased the deer population in the valley 400-500%. During the last week of March and the first week of April, deer started to move back up to the mountaintop. There have been several reports of herds of deer running up Rt 23 in the steeper sections. Serveys on the mountains show that deer are starting to move back in to the low snow regions. Two deer were seen near Acra Point. Four more deer were seen near Silver Lake and High Peak Road. At lower elevations in Cairo and Acra, there are many deer moving up. Some believe that some of the deer will move up to the mountains to get away from the coyotes. The deer in the field on the NYS Thruway in between Catskill and Coxsackie normally had 5-10 deer in the field this winter. People have reported between 25-50 deer. This appears to be consistent with other surveys.

One concern is Lyme Disease. Deer ticks are heavily infested in the valley. Last year the heavy deer ticks ran up into Palenville, Cairo, and Acra. This line might move quickly thru the mountaintop. Up until now very few deer ticks have been seen by hikers in the Catskill Mountains. There is a concern that deer ticks will move up into the mountain region at an accelerated rate. On the good side, attrition of ground dwelling animals was very high after the Feb storm that left 50-100 inches of snow in the region. One observer said that several of the deer he saw had significant deer tick infestations on it's ears. Certainly not a good sign.

Re: Major Wildlife Attrition

New postPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2010 10:58 am
by mtnclimber
We saw about 7 deer running up Rt 23 yesterday. They ran past High Peak Road and then disappeared into the woods.