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Retired UND professor authors 'Mammals of North Dakota'

Bob Seabloom spent 35 years teaching mammalogy courses at UND so it was only natural, perhaps, that the longtime professor would author a book on North Dakota's mammals in retirement.

'Mammals of North Dakota'
"Mammals of North Dakota," by UND Professor Emeritus Robert Seabloom, is the first comprehensive work on the subject since 1926.

Bob Seabloom spent 35 years teaching mammalogy courses at UND so it was only natural, perhaps, that the longtime professor would author a book on North Dakota's mammals in retirement.

"Mammals of North Dakota" came out this summer, and it's the first comprehensive work on the subject since 1926.

The 460-page soft-cover book was published by the North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies at North Dakota State University and printed by a company in Manitoba.

"It's kind of a capstone of my career," said Seabloom, a professor emeritus of biology at UND. "I really wanted it to be readable in addition to technically accurate.

"I'm happy with it."

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John Hoganson, state paleontologist with the North Dakota Geological Survey, and Bill Jensen, a big game biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, also contributed to the book.

Seabloom, who retired from UND in 1996, said the research that eventually became the book started in 2003, when the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center in Jamestown, N.D., approached him about compiling an up-to-date inventory of all the mammals in the state.

Northern Prairie envisioned the work as a reference for agencies to aid in environmental planning, he said.

"I reviewed everything I could find on work done on mammals," Seabloom said. "When that was done, they said, 'Why don't you put it into a book?'"

Good diversity

Seabloom tallies 86 species of mammals in North Dakota, and they're all mentioned in the book.

"That's pretty good diversity," he said. "That's not counting things like grizzly bears, which once ranged all over the state, and wolverines, which are in early records.

"We have more species than Minnesota, Manitoba or Saskatchewan, but not as many as Montana or South Dakota because they have the Black Hills and mountains, so that opens up whole new species possibilities."

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"Mammals of North Dakota" also covers high-profile species such as mountain lions, along with fishers and otters, two species that have become more abundant in northeastern North Dakota.

"When I first came to UND in the '60s, I think there were only about two records of otters -- one near Hillsboro and another cropped up along the Missouri River," Seabloom said. "Now, most of the river systems of the state have otters in them, and we've had otter observations in the English Coulee.

"Fishers and otters are success stories as far as species recoveries are concerned."

Mountain lions, too, have established breeding populations, Seabloom said, though probably not in eastern North Dakota.

"I'm sure we don't get any breeding animals in this part of the state, but you get the occasional wanderers that come out of the Black Hills and Badlands," he said.

Fun venture

Seabloom said the book is a separate entity from the research he did for Northern Prairie. The U.S. Forest Service and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department helped cover some of the book's expenses.

He said the project consumed a lot of hours from 2003 until he submitted a manuscript for the book about a year ago.

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"My wife would tell me full time for nine years, but I don't think so," Seabloom said with a laugh. "I guess I put in pretty much a halftime effort for a number of years.

"I enjoyed it -- it's been a lot of fun."

"Mammals of North Dakota" is available at the UND Bookstore and gift shops in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Suggested retail price: $36.

Dokken reports on outdoors. Reach him at (701) 780-1148; (800) 477-6572, ext. 148; or send e-mail to bdokken@gfherald.com .

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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