Posts Tagged: coyote
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.
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.
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.
Recently at Hopland REC a few novel approaches have been taken to manage our flock of over 800 Western whiteface sheep. We share our landscape with numerous wildlife species and need many and varied tools in our toolbox to help protect them including fencing, guardian animals and mob grazing.
Take a look at this article in our local paper the Ukiah Daily Journal which covers some of the results so far...
Wildlife and people have been in the news lately. Perhaps you've heard of coyotes wandering in your neighborhood. You might have also read about how you shouldn't feed wildlife. Did you know they are connected? It's a problem when people feed coyotes either intentionally or unintentionally through uncovered garbage and outdoor pet food. Available food may encourage coyotes to associate closely with humans and to lose their natural fear of us. These interactions will be discussed during a special symposium on urban coyotes at the 27th Vertebrate Pest Conference.
The Vertebrate Pest Conference is held every two years, mostly in California. This year, the meeting will be Monday through Thursday, March 7to 10 in Newport Beach. Meetings are held in cooperation with the Pesticide Applicators Professional Association (PAPA). The leading authorities with vertebrate management expertise from around the world congregate to present the latest research and extension information. Are you an animal control official, wildlife manager, agricultural producer, pest control adviser, consultant, educator, researcher, or natural resource manager? Then this meeting is for you. California Department of Pesticide Regulation and California Department of Public Health continuing education units are available for participants.
Special symposia include bird management, wild pig management, and urban coyotes. In Cooperative Extension Advisor Niamh Quinn's backyard of extremely urban Southern California, these coyote-human conflicts occur. With over 3 million people in Orange County, 8 state parks and beaches, countless city parks and 19 county parks and wilderness areas, conflicts with urban coyotes are bound to happen. Managing coyotes includes managing people's behavior too.
Quinn says, “We can't manage what we can't measure. This conference provides a unique opportunity to discuss ongoing conflicts, especially those related to urban coyote management. Research is needed to understand urban coyote behavior and if these behaviors are changing as a result of the way we are currently living. Outreach is needed to instruct urbanites on appropriate behavior where coyote conflicts are occurring, and managing coyotes is everyone's concern. We need better and improved strategies for measuring and managing these conflicts.” At the Vertebrate Pest Conference, hear from the experts on the latest information about coyote attacks on humans, coyote conflicts, and several talks on coyote management, including hazing.
Vertebrates are also problematic in commercial agriculture. A 2011 survey of wildlife damage by Cooperative Extension Specialist Roger Baldwin, stated agricultural losses from wildlife damage in California is likely in excess of $1billion annually. Based on the survey results, economic losses were greatest for voles and pocket gophers in alfalfa; and wild pigs, birds, and ground squirrels in nut crops. One talk at the Vertebrate Pest Conference will be a North American overview of bird damage in fruit crops. Other talks cover field rodent repellents, food safety, and trapping.