Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Europe vs the U.S.: People and Wildlife

A while back, I talked about land and wildlife differences between Europe and the U.S., prompting a couple of emails which noted (quite correctly!) that Europe still has some wildlife left.

Yes it does!

But the scale is a bit different.

For starters, take a look at the map, above.

Western Europe's population of 400 million people squeezes into an area smaller than that east of the Mississippi river in the U.S.

The resulting population density means there are relatively fewer large unbroken woods in Western Europe where top end predators can live.

Not all is gone, but the scale is different.

Italy, for example, has about 500 wolves in a country of over 116,000 square miles.

Compare that to Minnesota which has a population of about 3,000 wolves in an area of less than 87,000 square miles.

Minnesota, of course, does not just have wolves! In addition to 3,000 wolves, Minnesota has more than 30,000 Black Bear as well as more than 30,000 coyotes, untold numbers of Bobcats, and even a few Mountain Lions.

And so it goes, across the United States.

For example, Florida has somewhere between 1 and 2 million alligators. In addition, the state also has about 3,000 Black Bear, thousands of Coyote and Bobcat, and about 80 Mountain Lion (aka Eastern Cougar).

My own little state of Virginia (#37 in size), has about 15,000 Black Bear, with a population that is growing by about 9% a year despite about 2,200 bear a year which are legally shot during hunting season. In addition, Virginia has pretty sizable coyote population which is growing rapidly despite a bounty program, and a Bobcat population of maybe 20,000.

Of course we are not a western state like Colorado where mountain lion come right into Boulder, or Idaho, which now has a wolf hunting season.

And, of course, there is nowhere else on earth like Alaska, which not only has over 10,000 Wolves, and 100,000 Black Bear, but also has 40,000 Grizzlies, about 1,000 Polar Bear, and unknown, but sizable populations of Lynx, Wolverine, and Coyote.

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