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Posts Tagged: Wildlife

Living with Wildlife – Outcomes and actions following the recent workshop at UC ANR Hopland REC

submitted by Hopland REC Director, Dr. Kim Rodrigues

Since arriving as the Director for HREC in 2013-2014, I have been committed to protecting all of the amazing resources here at the Hopland Research and Extension Center (HREC,) with a dedicated effort to saving wildlife and reducing losses of sheep.  As one of the last remaining sheep research facilities and one of the largest flocks in our immediate area, the sheep are prey to coyotes and other potential predators on the landscape. 

IMG 5223 (2)

With increasing numbers of wildlife across the region, state and nation, conflicts between humans and wildlife are increasing.  Our workshop at HREC on August 31, 2017 focused on living with wildlife while managing livestock, with an overarching goal to seek a shared understanding of non-lethal tools through research, implementation and education.

Over 80 participants from a diversity of backgrounds including researchers, ranchers, community members and non-profits attended. All participants experienced demonstrations of several non-lethal tools, including some exciting applications of scary devices, such as Halloween decorations, collars to protect sheep with strobe lights and canine avoidance noises built into them, fencing with an electric charge, lion proof pens and flagging attached to deter movement across the fencing and more.  Many participants wanted more hands-on field time with the ranchers using these tools and HREC is working to develop this for late spring/early summer of 2018.

We explored new and emerging research with Dr. Brashares and his team only to learn that it “depends.”  Everything is situational and place-based and this is a key lesson or outcome from the meeting.  The situational questions asked of each rancher on the panel may help inform the choice of tools and the mix of tools to reduce losses.

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We learned that there are practical barriers – such as time, money and labor, as well as scientific barriers to fully implementing non-lethal tools.  Yet, one common message was to mix and match tools and vary them frequently.  “Match” the tools to your specific situation(s) and mix them up over time and space frequently.   Many creative ideas came up to help share tools and other resources and the concept of a lending library with non-lethal tools available to ranchers emerged as a local action HREC will explore further with our community partners.

We understand the importance of strong working relationships and diverse partnerships and we will work with the participants who were able to attend and outreach to partners, such as local agricultural commissioner and staff, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Wildlife Services to ensure we are all working together. 

We learned from and valued the diverse perspectives and there was a tremendous sense of respect for all people present that allowed a dynamic and safe learning environment.

Already, HREC is moving forward with new research to better track and document the work of our large guard dogs (LGDs) as a tool to prevent losses of livestock. The concept of putting GPS collars on our dogs and tracking their movements over a variety of pasture types and sizes and landscapes is already being discussed and outlined by HREC staff and research colleagues. It is recognized that LGDs can and do kill wildlife, so they are not truly a “non-lethal” tool yet they remain one of the most important tools livestock managers rely on to protect their animals.  Lethal controls are still used in combination with non-lethal tools – snares, calling, shooting – in most ranching situations but not all.  Yet all ranchers shared their goals to reduce losses of both livestock and wildlife and agreed that preventing losses is the best approach in all cases.

I welcome you to visit our HREC site and you can review the amazing graphic art that captured the essence of the workshop, as well as the rancher panel interviews, the presentations and more online.  Please join us for future events.

Together, we may find innovative tools and solutions and keep ranching viable in our communities to prevent further fragmentation and conversion to other uses, saving both livestock and wildlife.

Posted on Friday, September 8, 2017 at 11:09 AM

Living with Wildlife at Hopland REC

In December 2016 we held our first workshop to share research and allow community conversation regarding ranching in an area rich in carnivores and the challenges that this poses. On August 31st we will be offering the follow up to this event, explaining current research efforts and the new data that has been collected on various methods of predator prevention.

We hope you can join us!

Living with Wildlife: New and Emerging Research

Date: August 31, 2017

Time: 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM (Registration from 8:30am)

Event Details

A series of brief research updates by UC ANR and other UC colleagues will detail ongoing work in the science and history of non-lethal carnivore control. Field demonstrations will allow direct experience of traditional and emerging non-lethal tools, including fencing types, guardian dogs, turbo fladry, Foxlights and e-Shepherd collars. Facilitated dialogue among diverse participants will be integrated throughout the day's presentations including a rancher panel with representatives from the beef and lamb sector and from the coast to further inland. We look forward to hosting a range of speakers and participants, understanding new findings, building new partnerships, and moving toward solutions to manage for livestock and natural resource conservation. 

This workshop promises to be of value to ranchers, agencies, non-profits, researchers and all those with an interest in tackling the challenges associated with ranching in a landscape rich in wildlife.

We hope you can join us at Hopland for this important and exciting event!

$25 per person, includes lunch.
No one turned away due to lack of funds - email hbird@ucanr.edu for more details

Contact: Hannah Bird (707) 744 1424 ext 105 hbird@ucanr.edu

Sponsor: Hopland Research and Extension Center/UC Berkeley

Location: Rod Shippey Hall, UC Hopland Research and Extension Center 4070 University Road, Hopland CA 95449


Click here to register

Posted on Monday, August 14, 2017 at 8:29 AM
Tags: control (1), coyotes (3), predator (2), ranching (2), sheep (5), wildlife (35)

Caging kids! The next generation of wildlife biologists

Mikayla McWilliams shows a tiny frog at the Sustainable You Summer Camp, UC Hopland Research and Extension Center.

As 10-year-old Dominic Vargas crouched on the ground, in a cage not much larger than himself, trying to forage for tasty treats (candy) on the woodland floor...CRASH! The cage door came falling down and he realized that he had inadvertently tripped a tiny fishing line in his efforts to reach that candy - he was now trapped. Dominic seemed to accept his fate with good humor, shrugging, smiling and getting to work on that candy. Wildlife biologist, Jessie Roughgarden, commented that Dominic will now be collared, tagged and measured before returning him to the wild ... or in this case his parents.

This seemingly terrifying experience is in fact all part of the new "Sustainable You - 4-H Summer Camp" held at the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center. Sustainable You is a five-day camp allowing students to experience science and nature while learning about ways in which to conserve the land, water, air and energy.

View Dominic's experience in this 44-second video:

The camp is conducted at three of the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Research and Extension Centers across the state and each center tweaks the curriculum to suit their landscape and the kinds of research conducted at their sites. At Hopland this means getting the chance to meet with wildlife biologists from the UC Berkeley "Brashares Lab," led by professor Justin Brashares. It's an amazing opportunity for these kids to meet and ask questions of scientists conducting experiments in the countryside that surrounds them. Dominic may not be collared, but more than 10 deer on the property went through the same experience last week (minus the candy) as they were carefully captured by researchers and fitted with collars to better understand their movements and population across the 5,358-acre center.

The young team of scientists enjoying summer camp were also working to understand what wildlife shares the landscape with them by setting wildlife cameras daily and improving their positioning and locations each day. Advice from Brashares and Jessie Roughgarden helped the students improve their chance of catching footage of raccoons, foxes and maybe even a mountain lion. Day one  produced fox video footage and shots of raccoons feeling around in the last pools of creek water to catch some of the tiny young frogs currently in residence.

Hear what Ahmae saw on her wildlife camera in the 59-second video below:

A raccoon captured on one of the wildlife cameras set up by campers.

Exposure for these kids not only to hands-on activities exploring sustainability, but also to wildlife biologists, young researchers and professors working on today's wildlife and land management challenges, gives them an open door to explore their own future careers and interests.

Local Americorps watershed steward Alejandara Prendergast disects a salmon with campers

As 9-year-old Ahmae Munday so sweetly put it, when asked what her favorite part of the Sustainable You Summer Camp was, "Everything! Especially the cameras."

The UC ANR network of Research and Extension Centers provide the perfect location to offer exposure to youth and communities to better understand and interact with the science going on in their own back yards and to inspire the next generation of researchers - as camp attendee and scholarship recipient Kaiden Stalnaker described in his scholarship application, "When I grow up I dream of a career in science and your camp would be a boost in the right direction."

Thanks to the researchers, camp counselors and students who have allowed the Sustainable You summer camp to inspire young people like Kaiden.

Campers enjoy a woodland hike and discover slender salamanders and a discarded lizard skin.
Posted on Monday, July 17, 2017 at 9:19 AM

Orange County mountain lion attack a reminder to keep livestock safe

A mountain lion entered an Orange County corral last week where nine pygmy goats belonging to members of the Trabuco Trailblazers 4-H Club were housed. Only one goat survived the encounter.

UC Cooperative Extension human-wildlife interactions advisor Niamh Quinn said she was heartbroken, but not surprised.

“We know that this is happening all over California,” Quinn said. “Sixty to 85 percent of depredation permits are issued to hobby farmers and ranchers who seek to kill wild animals that threaten their livestock.”

The loss of the goats is a sad reminder for Californians to be aware of wildlife predators in their areas and make sure that livestock enclosures are secure against them. The Mountain Lion Foundation has information for keeping livestock safe in mountain lion country, including plans for inexpensive lightweight enclosures that work well in Southern California. Quinn — along with UC Davis veterinarian Winston Vickers, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in youth science literacy Martin Smith, and the Mountain Lion Foundation — is developing a comprehensive 4-H curriculum focused on protecting both livestock and wildlife.

“This loss would have never happened if they had a properly constructed pen,” Quinn said. “The pen had holes and was held together in places with zip ties. 4-H members have to understand what predators are in their areas, how the animals can get into enclosures – whether they will dig, if they jump and how high.”

A properly constructed livestock enclosure can thwart mountain lion attacks. (Stock photo: Pixabay)

The killing of eight goats and injuries to the ninth goat by a single mountain lion may seem overly vicious, but the animal was acting according to instinct. Once inside a pen or paddock, a mountain lion will often kill until all movement stops, according to the Mountain Lion Foundation. Lions are most vulnerable to injury when taking down natural prey like deer that have lethal antlers and hooves. In a natural setting, a deer herd will run away, leaving a lion with just one catch to be concerned about. Not so for penned or fenced-in livestock.

The 4-H curriculum now being developed will empower 4-H youth to protect both predators and livestock by understanding wildlife behavior and proper animal husbandry practices. The curriculum will be available to all 4-H clubs in California – which include 27,444 youth enrolled in livestock projects – and to 4-H clubs nationwide.

In the video, a mountain lion returns to the goat pen the evening after
killing eight goats, but cannot re-enter. (Video: Winston Vickers)

The night after the Trabuco Canyon pygmy goat attack, the same mountain lion was caught on camera returning to the pen, but he was unable to enter the shored up enclosure. Vickers said the lion shouldn't cause any more problems.

“It is likely that the lion may come by the area as part of his normal territorial circulation periodically, but I would not expect further losses given the additional pen improvements that are planned, and I would not expect any greater risk to people at the location versus any other in the Santa Anas (canyons of Orange County),” Vickers said.

Vickers said he hopes that the 4-H members will not choose to kill the mountain lion responsible for the late March attack.

“The lions in their area are in serious trouble, and the loss of a single lion could affect their genetic viability for years to come,” Vickers said.

Posted on Tuesday, April 4, 2017 at 8:23 AM
Tags: 4-H (1), mountain lion (3), wildlife (35)

Recreation on private land offers potential for conservation

Opening the door for recreational activities - such as wildlife watching - on private land is an incentive for conservation. (Photo: Robin Eliason, USDA)
Successfully integrating human activities with ecosystem conservation forms the foundation of sustainability and is key to maintaining biological diversity. A new study has found that recreational use of private land in the U.S. could have significant benefits for both conservation efforts and economic return, especially when coupled with certain policy mechanisms.

The study, published Aug. 5, 2016, in the journal Land Use Policy, found that approximately 440 million acres of private land — roughly 22 percent of the contiguous land area of the U.S. — are either leased or owned for wildlife-associated recreation, which is defined as fishing, hunting and wildlife-watching. Hunting was the most widespread recreational use, accounting for 81 percent of the total acreage (356 million acres).

Luke Macaulay, an UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at UC Berkeley, authored the study, which used 18 national surveys over 14 years for a comprehensive analysis. Drawing upon multiple years and multiple sources of surveys, this study provides the most detailed and precise estimates available of private land recreation in the U.S.

The study estimated the annual spending for wildlife-associated recreation on private land to be $814 million in day-use fees, $1.48 billion for long-term leases, and $14.8 billion for ownership of land primarily for recreation.

It also found that on crop and grazing land, landowners who earn income from recreation are more likely to participate in government conservation programs and are more likely to pay for private conservation practices, such as creating buffers around sensitive streams or controlling invasive weeds on rangelands.

Macaulay suggests that this data provides support for the idea that recreation incentivizes conservation at higher rates than agricultural activities alone.

“Wildlife habitat on private land is vulnerable to degradation and loss, but this study highlights recreation as an incentive for conservation," he said. "That's because many landowners are receiving either personal enjoyment or financial benefit from the wildlife that live on their land.”

The study showed that hunters own or lease much larger properties than anglers or wildlife-watchers, which indicates that hunting may provide a greater economic incentive for maintaining large, unfragmented properties that provide a variety of conservation benefits.

“Large properties are beneficial for a variety of reasons; for example, some species require large expanses of unbroken habitat to thrive, while others are particularly sensitive to the impacts of roads, fences, and invasive plant and animal species that oftentimes accompany more fragmented landscapes," Macaulay said.

Macaulay believes that the role of recreation in private land conservation has largely been overlooked due to the relatively low participation rate of landowners earning income from recreation. For example, only 7.3 percent of forest landowners earn income from recreation, but this study found that those individuals own much larger properties that account for 33.5 percent of all private forestland.

Macaulay stressed that the conservation benefits of hunting depended on a system of scientifically-developed game laws and effective enforcement, which is generally the case across the U.S.  These mechanisms are important to curtail problems of over-harvesting and poaching.

The study also emphasized the importance of encouraging conservation practices in conjunction with recreation in order to yield benefits for both conservation and landowner economic return. Macaulay suggested several policy measures to achieve this, including tying habitat improvement practices to property tax breaks that rural landowners receive — an approach that some states have already taken — as well as evaluating, enhancing, and expanding state programs that give regulatory flexibility for hunting in exchange for conservation practices.

Read the research article on the Land Use Policy website.

Posted on Tuesday, August 9, 2016 at 8:57 AM
Tags: Luke Macaulay (1), wildlife (35)

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