Historical Gray Wolf geographic range maps.

For Those that didnt think that Gray Wolves ever resided in Alabama ūüėČ Wolf habitation from the old days is largely taken from Trapper stories or the like. Without the ability for anyone today to have been there, they realistically can not say that wolves never inhabited states like Alabama. According to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundations page, prior to the takeover by their current director, RMEF stated that 2 million Wolves once resided in North America and Ungulate herds were healthier then than they are now.

CALIFORNIA FISH AND GAME
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California Fish and Game 93(4):224-227 2007
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INCONSISTENCIES IN HISTORICAL GEOGRAPHIC
RANGE MAPS: THE GRAY WOLF AS EXAMPLE
STEPHANIE L. SHELTON1 AND FLOYD W. WECKERLY
Department of Biology
Texas State University
San Marcos, TX 78666
Correspondent email: stephanie.shelton@gmail.com
Range maps depicting historical distributions of wildlife may be inconsistent.
Different maps can be based on diverse sources of evidence which may vary in
reliability (e.g., specimens in Natural History Museums, trapper and hunter journals, conversations recorded in dairies) and the effort expended locating evidence may differ among map makers (Young and Goldman 1944, Seton 1953, Hall 1981).
Despite these limitations, maps depicting historical distributions are useful to individuals and institutions concerned with maintenance of biodiversity or restoration of native species to areas where they were extirpated. In this note, we used maps of the historical distribution of the gray wolf, Canis lupus, to exemplify such inconsistencies.
Once found throughout much of North America, gray wolf populations within the contiguous United States were almost extirpated, but some populations in Canada, Alaska, and Mexico have remained largely intact (Young and Goldman 1944, Leopold et al. 1981). Similar situations exist with other mammalian species in the United States, particularly large, charismatic herbivores and carnivores such as bison, Bos bison, elk, Cervus elaphus, mountain sheep, Ovis canadensis, and grizzly bear, Ursus arctos (Hall 1981). Available historical distribution data can assist in restoration efforts for these mammalian species in particular.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
We selected historical range maps of North American gray wolves that were
developed independently of one another (Fig. 1). Historical was defined as the time period around 1500, the time before extensive colonization by Europeans. We considered distribution maps to be independent if the authors did not state their distribution maps were based on findings from other studies. We used range maps from (Fig. 1) Young and Goldman (1944), Seton (1953), Hall (1981), and Nowak (2002). The chosen sources present their gray wolf range maps as common knowledge of the distribution of the gray wolf in North America. No explicit details on how these maps were created appear in any of the sources.
Each independent North American source range map was overlaid onto a base map of the continental United States by heads up digitization using ArcMap 9.0
(Environmental Research Institute, 2004). This final ranked map depicted the agreement and differences among the four maps in the historical range distribution of the gray wolf in the United States. Rankings were shown on the final map from 0-4. Areas with 0 1
Current address: Stephanie Shelton, 12610 Live Oak Lane, Buda, TX 78610
NOTES 225
indicated all source maps showed the absence of the gray wolf, whereas areas with 4 represent all source maps showed the historical presence of the gray wolf. Fig. 1 Historical gray wolf range maps obtained from available literature. The grey area on each source range map denotes gray wolf distribution according to the author.
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RESULTS
A majority of the gray wolf historical range where the four maps are consistent
occurs in the northern, central, and northwestern United States, inconsistencies
are in the western and southeastern portions of the country (Fig. 2). The
southeastern portion of the United States follows a pattern of agreement among maps ranging from four to two from North to South, respectively. Three or more maps agreed in the Northeast, but agreement decreased in the east-central part of the country in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. Disagreement among source range maps is most pronounced in California and Arizona, followed by Washington, Oregon, Utah, and Nevada (Fig. 2). Small parts of Idaho and Wyoming have inconsistencies ranging from four to two maps in agreement. Part of California and a small portion of southwest Arizona are the only two states with rankings of 1, meaning only one of the maps suggests the historical presence of gray wolves.
Fig. 2 The ranked map agreements for the presence of the gray wolf in the United States based on four independent historical range maps.
NOTES 227
DISCUSSION
Correspondence of range maps in the southeastern states was lacking, probably
due to unresolved species relationships among the gray wolf, coyote, Canis latrans, and red wolf, Canis rufus (Nowak 2002). Most discrepancies among historical gray wolf range maps occurred in the western states, especially in California. Range maps used in our analysis indicate gray wolves rarely occupied the central, coastal, or southern portions of the state. Young and Goldman (1944) postulated that wolves were rarely found in deserts; but some of their results indicated that gray wolves did inhabit those regions. Early records document wolves in the Sacramento Valley, and near the San Joaquin River in Madera County (Young and Goldman 1944). In 1918, a wolf was killed
in Los Angeles County and in 1922 a gray wolf was trapped in the Providence
Mountains, San Bernardino County (Young and Goldman 1944:58, Hall 1981). Young and Goldman (1944) and Hall (1981) report wolves probably inhabited areas near Mono Lake and Mount Dana in Mono County in 1930.
Information for many historical range maps came from diaries of trappers, settlers,¬†and explorers. Some range boundaries may be questionable because they were based¬†on historical records or erroneous descriptions of specimen locations. Revisiting¬†original records of gray wolf distribution may help to produce more meaningful and,¬†perhaps, accurate range maps but many descriptions are cursory or may reflect¬†inaccurate location data. Schmidt (1991:84) suggested that further research of artifacts,¬†historical documents, and other ‚Äúpaleontological searches‚ÄĚ be conducted to enhance
data already available. Differences among historical range maps of the gray wolf
suggests more effort is needed to identify historical animal ranges in the western United States, particularly in California, the only state where apparently, large areas were never occupied by wolves.
Failure to confirm animal sightings or obtain additional sources of evidence to
corroborate historical presence of wildlife may lead to inconsistencies in historical range maps. Our analysis of historical range maps of the gray wolf illustrates this. It is likely that historical range maps of other charismatic, large mammal species are also inconsistent.
LITERATURE CITED
Hall, E. R. 1981. The mammals of North America. John Wiley & Sons, New York, USA.
Leopold, A. S., R. J. Gutierrez, and M. T. Bronson. 1981. North American game birds and
mammals. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, USA.
Nowak, R. M. 2002. The original status of wolves in eastern North America. Southeastern
Naturalist 1:95-130.
Schmidt, R. H. 1991. Gray wolves in California: their presence and absence. California Fish and
Game 77:79-85.
Seton, E. T. 1953. Lives of game animals. Charles T. Branford Co., Boston, USA.
Young, S. P. and E. A. Goldman. 1944. The wolves of North America: Part I ‚Äď their
history, life habits, economic status, and control. The American Wildlife Institute,
Washington D. C., USA.
Received: 27 August 2006
Accepted: 24 February 2007

 

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