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Old 12-09-2009, 12:08 PM   #1
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Default Mesopredators...a tangled web.

I have always found capture and release programs for pest animals to seem a poor solution to human animal conflict. Dumping your problem on others, even or especially into more rural areas, just seems a bad idea. But while many do not want the problem they are reluctant to be the immediate cause of an animals death. Unless of course it is a large predator that frightens them or threatens a prized domesticated animal. Then guns may blaze.
The resulting lack of large predators then causes an increase in the pesty guys. You know them well, skunks,racoons,a small fox,even nest predator birds... the kind of animals that seem to do best in our destructive wake.

Seems many are reading the information scientists are providing to give a clear picture of why you should not rid the world of top predators, even if that coyote is eyeing the pup.


BIOLOGY: The troubling rise of the mesopredators

Population Ecology Lecture 22

Quote:
Crooks and Soulé (1999) examined the bird populations of patches of sage-scrub habitat in southern California. What they found was that the presence or absence of large predators (in this case, coyotes) had a major impact on the population dynamics of birds. In the absence of coyotes, mesopredators (medium-sized predators including striped skunks, raccoons, gray fox, domestic cat and opossum) increased in abundance and depressed the abundance of native birds, often to the point where local extinctions occurred or were inevitable. Thus, the fate of the birds is driven largely by that of a predator two trophic levels above it. If the factors that limit a population are removed, the population may experience what is called ecological release
Song sparrows, top carnivores and nest predation : a test of the mesopredator release hypothesis

Quote:
The mesopredator release hypothesis explains declines by suggesting that the virtual elimination of top carnivores (large-bodied canids and felids) from much of North America has released populations of nest-destroying mesopredators (i.e., medium-sized terrestrial omnivores such as the raccoon Procyon lotor).
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Old 12-09-2009, 12:46 PM   #2
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Great info Gloria! It's good to see that the interdependent relationships among species is getting more attention. It's just not realistic to look at one species in a floral or faunal community without considering all of the connections that a species has to the other members of the community.
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Old 12-09-2009, 01:18 PM   #3
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That first article is a prime example of a little knowledge though. I read what it said but didn't really look at the drawing until now. Coyotes are very helpful in keeping down numbers of many mesopredators,they will eat most anything. Cats on the other hand have shown very little real ability to reduce rodent populations, usually taking birds and even lizards or frogs instead . Fed by and protected by humans to such an extent that habitat plays less of a role in their health or life expectancy than in other species. Coyotes will grab a cat where few other predators will.
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Old 12-09-2009, 01:42 PM   #4
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Here is an excellent article about living with wildlife


WDFW -- Living with Wildlife

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Coyotes are opportunists, both as hunters and as scavengers. They eat any small animal they can capture, including mice, rats, gophers, mountain beavers, rabbits, and squirrels, also snakes, lizards, frogs, fish, birds, and carrion (animal carcasses). Grass, fruits, and berries are eaten during summer and fall.
Grasshoppers and other insects are important to juvenile coyotes learning the stalk-and pounce method of hunting
In the long run learning what it takes to live with the wild animals is in our best interest...gloria

Quote:
Prevention is the best tool for minimizing conflicts with coyotes and other wildlife. To prevent conflicts with coyotes, use the following management strategies around your property and encourage your neighbors to do the same.
There is even a 3 minute video on the site.

Living with coyotes

Quote:
This video offers useful information and helpful tips for living with coyotes. These intelligent and adaptable animals now manage to occupy almost every conceivable habitat type, from open ranch country to densely forested areas to downtown waterfront. Despite ever-increasing human encroachment and past efforts to eliminate coyotes, the species maintains its numbers and is increasing in some areas. The coyote's tenacity tries some people's patience and inspires others' admiration.
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Old 12-09-2009, 11:44 PM   #5
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I think many areas of this country are going to be in for some trouble in the coming years. First, the balance of prey was much too high (ie deer). Now states are bringing prey species in check, and not encouraging levelling out the predator /prey relationship with predator control as the prey species are brought down. This issue is coming to a head with ferocity in WI, and I see other states moving in the same direction. I know some states do have tremendous coyote problems. But the question needs to be asked, where has the coyote's natural prey gone? Unfortunately that is not addressed, for most agencies the answer is just kill the coyotes without solving the underlying problems. Here in WI since deer numbers have been allowed to plummet to almost unrecoverable numbers in areas of the northwoods, we are going to be left with a very large, and very hungry population of bears and wolves. Instead of finding the right balance, we just go from one extreme to the other.
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Old 12-10-2009, 12:05 PM   #6
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You raise some valid points although I do not believe deer herd numbers are anywhere near close to unrecoverable numbers. When wolves begin turning to livestock, we will also begin to see better management practices.

We should always carefully consider the carrying capacity of the land-
North American Whitetail: Deer Management
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Old 12-10-2009, 01:18 PM   #7
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The DNR in wisconson site says the state of Wisconsin is still well over the number of deer that will sustain hunter,bear, wolf, bobcat and car collision kills.

Check it out.

http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/er/mammal...esdeer2009.pdf
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Old 12-10-2009, 01:36 PM   #8
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Lorax, that is really good information about deer management. Certain animals adapt well to human environments quickly building to overpopulation because of the abundance of food in our wake. Crowded conditions makes the transmission of disease a larger problem,as we have seen with chronic wasting disease. Many hunters seem to think Wisconsin has over reacted, but in the long run many deer would have died anyway. Banning deer baiting/feeding seems a good idea as well. Deer metapopulations will quickly move in with a better chance at staying healthy.
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Old 12-10-2009, 01:41 PM   #9
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Since many regular hunters do not take doe check out this population control measure in IL.
Chronic Wasting Disease
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Quote:
Hunters in Boone, DeKalb, McHenry, and Winnebago counties and that portion of Kane County west of Ill. Rt. 47 can participate in the special seven-day Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Deer Season on Dec. 31, 2009-Jan. 3, 2010 and Jan. 15-17, 2010 to help control deer densities and the spread of chronic wasting disease. Special CWD season antlerless-only permits will be available beginning Dec. 15 over-the-counter for $5 each at participating DNR
Successful hunters are encouraged to have any adult deer tested for CWD by taking it to a cooperating meat processor.
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Old 12-11-2009, 10:08 AM   #10
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Here is the original article in full with the picture I mentioned above.

The journal Bioscience (October 2009)

http://www.cof.orst.edu/leopold/pape...opredators.pdf

Quote:
"The economic impacts of mesopredators should be expected to exceed those of apex predators in any scenario in which mesopredators contribute to the same or to new conflict with humans," the researchers wrote in their report. "Mesopredators occur at higher densities than apex predators and exhibit greater resiliency to control efforts." The problems are not confined to terrestrial ecosystems...."
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