Elk (Cervus canadensis) – Management Strategy

Written by: Justyna Van Poucke-Choquette, Christopher Reinhart, Ashley McNeill and Cassie Luff

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Management Plan: This plan provides details regarding the implementation and maintenance to managing Ontario’s Elk populations by using fencing as a method of keeping them out of pasture lands. With government agencies turning to non-lethal management method for protection of farmer’s crop and pasture lands, methods such as fencing will become increasingly important.  While there are multiple options for creating fences, the most effective option is a 3-D fence made of different heights and distances apart. (Johnson et. al., 2014). The fencing option is the most viable because it is a one time installment with slight maintenance of the fence afterwards. The cost of this type of fence is relatively minimal because all it requires is multiple, single wired fences spaced out. However, compared to the cost of not doing anything and letting the Elk continue on their feeding of pastures and stored crops would be exponentially higher and unfeasible for both the farmers and the government.  Another viable option for farms that currently have an existing fence could simply add more fences of different heights onto the original. Ideally a height of 6 to 8 feet will keep Elk out of the pastures, however by having multiple heights and distances it becomes harder for the Elk to jump over and navigate due to their poor depth perception. Farmers could even add an electrical component onto the 3-D fences to make them that much more effective. However, in Alberta, the success rate of the simple single wired multi fence method proved to have extremely high success at a rate of 75% effectiveness and therefore the addition of the electrical fence is unnecessary (Blair, 2016; Johnson and Burton, 2015). [JF3] , (Paige, 2015).  Once the Elk encounter this fence and try to get around it, they get stuck and tripped up in the fence, eventually getting frustrated and giving up (Knight, 2014; Blair, 2015). Through the introduction of this specifc fence type, optimal foraging will play a key role in persuading the Elk to not use their energy, in attempts to obtain a small quantity of food. By introducing a fence around pastures, it will eliminate Elk from being able to move into the pastures and consume the vegetation that is necessary for the survival of livestock. This is crucial because it is the simplest option for a problem that causes farmers massive losses in [JF4] pasture crops as well as stored crops. In a study done by the Peace River Forage Association of British Columbia, they calculated how much it would cost to create 3D fences for different areas including grain bag yard, hay stockyard, winter feeding and swath grazing. The winter feeding grounds and the swath grazing are the more relevant for this specific topic because the concern and problems are due to Elk entering the pasture area. The total construction costs of a 20 acre winter feeding area was $2140 and the total construction costs of a 160 acre swath grazing area was $5700 acres, which breaks down to $1140 per year. The same study also determined that the financial benefits of creating a 3D fence surrounding the swath grazing area would be $30,500 a year, $101 per cow. Comparing the savings, $30,500 to the costs of maintaining the fences each year of $1140, the benefits strongly outweigh the costs.  Information gathered from Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs deemed that the Haliburton area has a total of 290 hectares of tame or seeded pastures and 1480 hectares for natural land used for pastures. This is a total of 1770 hectares for the Haliburton area, which also has the highest population of Elk in Ontario. This issue of crop destruction from Elk needs to be addressed, stored crops such as hay bales and silage bags, are not covered under the Ontario Crop Insurance Program and therefore cannot be covered by the government thus making the farmers pay for the losses out of their own pocket. Past historical management methods of Elk turned out to be devastating for the population. By the late 1800’s they were completely extirpated from Ontario (Hamr, et. al., 2016). Therefore we need to manage Elk that were recently introduced in a non-lethal way to ensure that this does not happen again.

Potential Challenges and Solutions: One concern with fencing large areas of land is reducing wildlife passage. If animals are not free to move through the property, for example in the case of a migration route, they are much more likely to attempt to breach the fence, and damage to the fence is the likely result. This can also result in the elk getting tangled in the fencing. For this reason, it is recommended that the fences are not built around any area larger than 640 acres (Knight, 2014). By limiting each side of the fence to one and a half kilometers or less, elk will be able to circumvent the fence without problem.  Another issue to be considered is that elk may be able to find weak spots in the fencing which can allow them to gain access to the pasture. To prevent this, simply maintaining the fencing will ensure that there are minimal weak spots.

Legal Factors: The use of fencing is a non-lethal management method, and therefore does not require any type of legal permits of any source. While farmers still need to apply for permits from the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act to remove Elk by lethal means from their farms, they are not listed as any type of species at risk. The process of this application process can be long and challenging [JF8] [S9] and therefore the easiest methods would be to create a fence system that would eliminate the ability for Elk to enter into pastures. The only potential for this to require a type of permit is if the fence crosses a stream and somehow hinders the flow or has a post placed into the river itself. This could potentially require permits from the municipal level, and provincial level, as well as receiving permits [JF10] from the local Conservation Authority. The federal fisheries act is a long and powerful piece of legislation used to protect fish and fish habitats, and in the case of creating the fences this act will be taken into account. The provincial equivalent are the Fish Protection Act and the Riparian Areas Regulations. All of which provide protection for rivers and the riparian zones. These acts and regulations are often enforced by the county, township, etc.  This could entail inspection and studies to be done to determine if the creation of the fence would cause any significant harm to the river or riparian ecosystem. With all that said, it would be very easy to avoid placing any permanent structure into the river system by simple placing them on either bank and allowing the fence to stretch to either post.

 

Conclusion: The fence-extension is a viable option because it’s relatively low-cost to implement, depending on the circumstances. Since the Elk can jump 6-feet, they typically won’t do so just to get to an area to graze. The 3-D fencing is also a viable option, and can be very cost-effective. The options of installing a fence extension or a 3-D fence is humane and doesn’t require any Elk to get injured or killed for the benefit of humans. Because of this, there are no permits required to install these types of fences.

 

References

Knight, J. (2014, March). Modifying Fences to Protect High-Value Pastures from Deer and Elk. Retrieved from http://animalrange.montana.edu/: http://animalrange.montana.edu/documents/extension/modifiedfencesmg.pdf

 

Agency, P. C., & Canada, G. of. (2012, January 24). Parks Canada – elk island national park – background.   Retrieved January 27, 2017, from http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-     np/ab/elkisland/natcul/elkisland-we.aspx

Austin, D. D., P. J. Urness, and D. Duersch. 1998. Alfalfa hay crop loss due to mule deer depredation. Journal of Range Management 51:29–31

 

Blair, Jennifer. “Got Trouble With Wildlife On Your Pasture? Try 3D Fencing”. Alberta Farmer Express. June 16, 2015. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.

 

Hamr, J., Mallory, F. F., & Filion, I. (2016). The history of elk (Cervus canadensis) restoration in      Ontario. The Canadian Field-Naturalist, 130(2), 167. doi:10.22621/cfn.v130i2.1842

 

Haliburton County Community Food Assessment”. Agricultural Food Production and Consumption. N.p., 2017. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.

 

Innes, Robin J. 2011. Cervus elaphus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory    (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [2017, February 11].

 

Johnson, Talon, and Burton, Sandra. 3D Fences Spread Across the Land. N.p., 2017. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.

 

Johnson, H. E., Hammond, M., Dorsey, P. D., Fischer, J. W., Walter, W. D., Anderson, C., & VERcauteren, K. C. (2014). Evaluation of techniques to reduce deer and Elk damage to agricultural   crops. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 38(2), 358-365. doi:10.1002/wsb.408

 

Knight, J. (2014, March). Modifying Fences to Protect High-Value Pastures from Deer and Elk. Retrieved January 27, 2017, from Montana State University,             http://animalrange.montana.edu/documents/extension/modifiedfencesmg.pdf

 

McCorquodale, S., P. Wik, and P. Fowler. 2011. Elk survival and mortality causes in the Blue Mountains    of Washington. Journal of Wildlife Management 75:897-904.

 

McIntosh, T.E., Rosatte, R.C., Hamr, J., & Murray, D.L. (2014). Patterns of Mortality and Factors    Influencing Survival of a Recently Restored Elk Population in Ontario, Canada. Restoration           Ecology, 22(6), 806-814. doi:101.111/rec 12145

 

Paige, J. (2015, November 2). Adding a third division to a wildlife barrier fence. Retrieved from Manitoba Cooperator: https://www.manitobacooperator.ca/livestock/adding-a-third-dimension-to-a-wildlife-barrier-fence/

Rosatte, R. (2014). 2014 Bancroft/North Hastings Elk Research and Monitoring Update. Ontario   Federation of Anglers and Hunters.

 

Ryckman, M. J., Rosatte, R.C., McIntosh, T., Hamr, J., & Jenkins, D. (2010) Postrelease Dispersal of Reintroduced Elk (Cervus elaphus) in Ontario, Canada. Restoration Ecology, 18(2), 173-180. DOI:10.1111/J. 1526-100X.2009.00523.X

 

Rhyan, J. C., Nol, P., Quance, C., Gertonson, A., Belfrage, J., Harris, L., & … Robbe-Austerman, S. (2013).   Transmission of Brucellosis from Elk to Cattle and Bison, Greater Yellowstone Area, USA, 2002-2012. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 19(12), 1992-1995. doi:10.3201/eid1912.130167

 

Wagner, K. K., R. H. Schmidt, and M. R. Conover. 1997. Compensation programs for wildlife damage in North America. Wildlife Society Bulletin 25:312–319.

Wildlife Population Management”. Tpwd.texas.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.

 

Witmer, G. 1990. Reintroduction of elk in the United States. Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science 64:131–135.

 

Yott, A., Rosatta, R., Schaefer J., Hamr, A., Fryxell, J. (2011) Movement and Spread of a Founding Population of Reintroduced Elk (Cervus elaphus) in Ontario, Canada. The Journal of the Society for Ecological Restoration International.

Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) – Management Strategy

By Reanna Moore, Kayla Berger, Ashtyn Dokuchie & Rhiannon Lace

Management Options

Over time, many management practices have taken place around the world, and few have had any lasting effect, especially when wild boar are not confined to islands. Among these options are:  shooting parties, culls and poisonings, government incentives, bounties, and using dogs (Oliver & Leus, 2008; Krull et al., 2016). While there have been marginal success stories with the extirpation of wild boar around the world, they have yet to occur in North America.

Killing wild boar (using whatever methods), has proven to be successful in removing the species only when they are completely eradicated; otherwise the species is able to bounce back, as history as demonstrated in Europe and Asia (Oliver & Leus, 2008). The total eradication of this species would be very difficult in North America, as they are incredibly adaptive and do not depend on a single food source or climate, and there is considerably more continuous land than in Europe. Furthermore, following the extirpation of the boar, there are consistent incidences of escape from farms, serving to potentially restore the population.

In several of the Southern United States, there is a bounty paid for killing wild boar, and they can also be found in restaurants as a main course. Despite years with these measures in place; the population persists. This fact would indicate that wild boar cannot be moderately controlled; if they are present at all in good conditions, then they will begin to thrive since they are ingenious at dispersing over large distances and repopulating.

The main reason to control wild boar is their tendency to destroy crops and to spread disease (as mentioned above). Since the environment (agricultural, rural) that promotes their survival cannot be controlled or kept from the wild boar, then it must be the other way around. Hence an important strategy for Ontario is to prevent wild boar from becoming an issue in the first place, and avoiding the heavy cost of destruction and difficulty of removing them entirely.

Management Matrix

           Considering that very few control strategies have found any degree of success alone, it seems that a combination of tactics would be most effective, some of which have been utilized, as well as some experimental and preventative measures to be explored as well.

Management Methods Cost Benefit Effectiveness
Shooting parties and poisonings – monetary

– time spent hunting for participants

– cost of poison

– personal danger involved

– killed boar can be used as food or sold

– less local destruction to agriculture

– although thousands of animals were eradicated this way, it had very little lasting effect
Bounties and use as food/trophies – monetary cost to government

– personal danger involved

– killed boar can be used as food or sold

– less local destruction to agriculture

– numbers were greatly reduced although not eradicated, likely due to the habitat restriction imposed by small islands
Eliminate the farming of wild boar, encourage hunting – monetary cost hiring researchers

– personal danger involved

– boar will be deterred from agricultural areas and pushed into the forest – numbers are reduced
This report will explore integrated monitoring and management techniques. – time and money for inventory

– cost to those profiting from game farms

– price of tagging

– boar will not become a problem

– avoids potentially millions of dollars of crop destruction

– if done well, there is a high likelihood for success

– program is adaptable based on conditions

– preventative rather than prescriptive

                          Historically, there have not been a wide variety of strategies employed to control wild boar populations, or adequate study to prove a significant level of effectiveness. As well, there are many seemingly contradictory situations in which boar are farmed (and escape), and hunters are encouraged to kill wild boar, while farmers continue to replace their stock, demonstrates a communicative disparity. Essentially, wild boar populations are maintained by human beings, and their desirability is dependent on their side of the fence.

           Management Plan

                      This plan provides details about managing wild boar populations under conditions specific to Ontario, and will discuss a combination of tactics and preventative measures to ensure that wild boars do not become a local issue. Damage to agriculture in the United States alone is estimated at 1.5 billion dollars annually, and this number is considered conservative, due to the difficulty of quantifying other negative impacts caused by wild boar, namely water contamination and interference with domestic pig populations (Tanger et al., 2015). In this case, preventative measures are much less expensive than a lack of action, which means allowing a local wild boar population to establish and dealing with the consequences.

                          In Ontario, there is no consistent population of wild boar, and historically sightings are only reported following incidences of escape from game farms, followed by several years without any record of wild boar. For this reason, measures will be outlined for preventing the initial establishment of a wild population, either from population immigration or game farm escapees, followed by methods to mitigate hypothetical growing populations under the failure of prevention.

                          The first method of control is to complete an inventory of Ontario’s game farms and boar populations. This could be instigated by a private organization or volunteers using an online database, to which the farmers have access. The inventory will include the number of boar, gender ratio, ages (mature versus juvenile) and location. As a further precaution, pigs could microchipped with a unique identification number. In case of an escape, the specific farm (with the distance from starting location) and the individual’s record could be recorded and taken into consideration for further decision making. It would be wise to collect data on farms outside of Ontario as well, in neighbouring states and provinces, since wild boar can disperse fairly quickly over large distances.

                          Due to recent data (shown below in Table 2.), as the number of farms using wild boar as alternative livestock has been declining in recent years, a cap on the number of farms may not be necessary, as long as there are regulations for containing, transporting and monitoring wild boar. The number of wild boar processed in registered meat plants (Table 3.) has remained consistent through the past five years, and as such the risk associated with wild boar escapes appears to remain constant, rather than growing.

Table 2. Census of Agriculture, selected livestock and poultry data, Canada and provinces, every 5 years (number) (Statistics Canada, 2012).
Ontario 2001 2006 2011
Wild boars Number of farms reporting 58 38 14
Number of animals 1,499 1,006 473
Average number of animals 26 26 34
Table 3. Number of Alternative Livestock and Gamebirds Processed for Meat in Ontario in Provincial and Federal Registered Plants Years: 2015 – 2011 (Tapscott, 2016).
2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
Wild Boar 487 536 561 392 396

           In continuation, it is advised to devise regulations applied to every farm containing wild boar in order to prevent escapes. There are currently no relevant regulations, as hunting wild boar on game farms (private hunting ground) does not require permits or game tags, and is neither covered by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, nor the Game and Fish Act. The protocol could include acceptable types of fencing to be used on farms and limits on the number of male boar within a given population. A penalty system for incidences of wild boar escape could be put in place to provide additional motivation to properly contain the species, starting with fines escalating in price (based on severity), before the right to possess wild boar entirely is removed.

            On the occasion that a wild population does become established, it would become necessary to ban the import of the species and implement limits (or prohibition) on breeding captive populations. There is already an authorization in effect from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, which allows for the killing of feral pigs under the authority of a small-game license. Each region could employ local groups of hunters or animal control units, to be deployed in case of a wild boar escape. This would involve determining the source of the escaped animal (by contacting nearby farms), and tracking the wild boar until captured or killed. An animal that has escaped once is more likely to attempt further escapes, and it may be necessary to kill the animal rather than returning it to captivity.

Furthermore, the MNRF has already requested that any sightings be reported immediately, and this fact could be publicized throughout social media and news bulletins in affected areas. If wild boar become an issue in Ontario, game farms and the possession of captive boar will be increasing regulated and if necessary, eliminated completely.

Legal Considerations

                      Laws relevant to the control of wild boar fall, for the most part, under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997, S.O. 1997, although the act does not apply to farmed animals (Government of Ontario, 2017). The use of poison is prohibited under the FWCA, and keeping game wildlife requires a license under this act[JF16] . In acknowledgment of the negative potential of escaped wild boar, it would be advisable to offer a limited number of licenses to possess the animals within game farms in Ontario. The Trespass to Property Act is also important to consider if hunting or tracking of wild boar is to occur.

Wild boar sightings and killings must be must be reported to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (Legal Information, 2016). Wild boar are allowed to be hunted under the small games hunting act, this in under the fish and wildlife conservation act under section 54 (5). More information about sighting or reporting incidents can be reported to Mary Dillion, who is a management biologist with the MNRF.

 

           Potential Challenges and Solutions

                      The logistics of completing an inventory of game farms, and any other captive wild boar in Ontario and the surrounding area, may come to depend on the willingness of farmers and locals to participate. One source of motivation from their perspective, is that the prevention of wild boar escapees or an established wild population means that locals can keep their captive populations and businesses with less interference and regulation. Creating a centralized, online database would serve to make the inventory accessible and current, while ministry employees, volunteers or local animal control units could be employed to carry out the inventory, as well as randomized annual visits to ensure accuracy and compliance.

                          In the event of a wild population becoming established, a prominent idea to motivate hunters is to create a bounty for the killed animals. If this is done, it must be done with consideration that this may promote the breeding and subsequent release of animals, in order to attract the monetary incentive. A possible solution is that the bounty, in partnership with the tagging (with a unique identification number or barcode) of each animal, may serve to track the original location of the animal and its farm,  and as such, the farm’s right to possess the wild boar can be removed if there is a suspicious number of escapes. The idea of bounty becomes more realistic in tandem with the inventory described above, although it must be approached with caution nonetheless.

           Conclusion

                          In conclusion, while there are no significant populations of wild boar currently in Ontario, their presence in neighboring provinces and states, as well as their proficiency in colonizing new ecosystems and regions indicates that they are a realistic threat to Ontario’s crops, biodiversity and local captive pig populations (Pastick, 2014). With the cost of destruction to other regions in mind, preventative methods immediately present the most viable solution and prove to be much more practical and cost effective than allowing wild boar populations to establish. It is recommend that an inventory of game farms and other captive wild boar in and around Ontario be taken, while the import and transportation from outside sources be regulated and monitored. The farms possessing wild boar as game animals or alternative livestock will require a certain level of fencing and monitoring to take place. Each individual animal must be microchipped and any wild boar escapes recaptured immediately. This proactive approach will prevent Ontario from re-living much of the destruction that the rest of the world has suffered, and a rare opportunity to learn from other regions and countries, prior to making the same mistake.

Gray Wolf – Management Plan

Management Plan

This plan provides details about the implementation and maintenance of a strategy that will use livestock protecting dogs (LPDs) to mitigate the impact of wolf predation on cattle. Although LPDs have been used for over 2,000 years, there is much still to be learned about how to effectively implement their use in current livestock rearing operations (Gehring et al., 2010). As such, this management plan will rely heavily on monitoring the success of the solution and effective communication between the livestock owner, experienced LPD handlers, and the community of farmers already using LPDs (Gehring et al., 2010; VerCauteren et al., 2012). Consistent data collection will also contribute to expanding the knowledge of how effective LPD solutions are and how they may be improved. The following paragraphs will address the method of implementation including information about which breeds to use, when dogs will be introduced, how long it will take for the dog pack to establish and key responsibilities of ranchers who chose to implement this strategy. Clear expectations about the effectiveness of this management strategy will also be communicated for a variety of situations ranging from fenced in livestock to free range situations. Different breeds are available and care should be taken to select the appropriate breed or combination of breeds. Each breed of LPD has different traits that make them most suited to different situations. Table 3 below provides a summary of LPD breeds and their characteristics and recommended uses.

Table 3: Comparison of dog breeds and their characteristics. Mixed packs often form the best defense against multiple predators including Gray Wolves.

Breed Characteristics Strengths Issues
Great Pyrenese Large but less aggressive than other breeds, moderately long hair Placid and easy to manage relative to other breeds Generally not effective with large aggressive predators
Kangal Large and aggressive breed, heavy bodied with large head Very territorial and protective of livestock, Can be difficult to manage and may be an issue in areas where other dogs and people may intrude on pasture
Spanish Mastiff Large and alert breed, heavy bodied with large head Territorial and protective of livestock, not particularly active May not patrol as regularly as Kangal

Legal Factors

The use of LPDs eliminates the need for any additional legal permits as this is a non-lethal means of reducing predation by wolves. Any method that involves trapping, relocating or killing wolves requires permits as the wolf is an endangered species in the and permits under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. Furthermore, legal implications exist at both the state and federal level in the form of the Endangered Species Act and Fish and Wildlife legislation. Although Federal legislation applies to all states the variation in state level legislation makes implementing solutions in multiple states an issue if permits or changes to legislation are required.

Establishing Livestock Protecting Dogs

Livestock protecting dogs and livestock take time to become acclimatized to each other. In most cases, acclimatization begins with effectively bonding the dogs with the herd. Minimal contact with humans is essential as the dogs should be focused on life with the herd and not seeking to be with humans (VerCauteren et al., 2012). Pups are most likely to bond effectively with livestock between the ages of 3-12 weeks; however, they should remain with their mother until the age of approximately 6 weeks which reduces this window of opportunity to the ages of 6-12 weeks. In some instances, bonding can occur up to 16 weeks of age. Ensuring that bonding occurs at the location where the dogs will be working is ideal. Care must be taken when bonding pups with cattle as cattle are much larger than sheep and goats presents a risk of injury to the pups. VerCauteren et al. (2012) recommend bonding pups with one or two 1 month old calves before exposing them to larger members of the herd. This provides a close bond with animals they will be protecting while protecting the dogs from injury by larger cattle. Even when bonding with calves, pups should be provided with a sturdy and safe refuge containing straw bedding that calves cannot access (VerCauteren et al., 2012).

Introduction to pastures should begin between the ages of 6-7 months. Handlers should introduce the dogs to the pasture with their bonded calves and ensure the dogs are walked around the perimeter of the pasture daily to help the dogs understand the boundary of the pasture and begin to establish their territory (VerCauteren et al., 2012). For most dogs, this routine will need to be carried out daily for one and a half to two weeks at which time the dogs can be left with the cattle unsupervised. After 7 months, the dogs and their bonded calves can be introduced to larger pastures with other cattle. Cattle that have been exposed to LPDs are treated very differently than cattle that have not been exposed to LPDs. Naïve cattle pose a serious risk to small puppies so great care must be taken to ensure the puppies are agile enough to evade any nervous cattle that perceive the puppies as a threat. Research indicates that dogs will approach LPD-naïve cattle differently than experienced cattle. Naïve cattle are approached in a more submissive manner by the dogs while experienced cattle are approached and greeted by the dogs without any signs of dominance or submission (VerCauteren et al., 2012). Watching for the development of these behavours and interactions will be critical in assessing how LPDs and cattle are acclimatizing to the situation.

Potential Challenges and Solutions

As with all solutions, there are unwanted challenges and consequences of implementation. For example, dogs may wander too far from the herd or they may not behave aggressively enough toward the target predator. Cases of dogs abandoning their herd and actually resorting to attacking livestock in adjacent areas are uncommon but documented (VerCauteren et al., 2012). If livestock are free ranging on public lands, as is the case in much of the U.S. northwest, hikers and their dogs may inadvertently come into contact with herds of cattle and the associated dog pack that is providing protection. In these circumstances, conflict between the LPDs, hikers, and pet dogs may be an issue. Education and effective communication are essential in these circumstances (VerCauteren et al., 2012). Finally, dogs are animals individual temperaments and behaviours regardless of their breed. Anyone employing this method of livestock protection must be willing to either commit to the time needed to train dogs or spend the money to hire dog handlers. Table 4 summarizes common problem behaviours and suggested methods for correction.

Table 4: Common issues encountered when working with livestock protecting dogs (LPDs). Note the causes and the methods that will help avoid the issue. In most cases, selecting the correct breed and sufficient effort during the training stages will resolve the issue (adapted from VerCauteren et. al., 2012)

Problem Behaviour Caused by Remedied by Avoided by
Roaming Too much human contact; female in heat; too much motivation to hunt wildlife; week bond with herd; companion dog moved Electric or invivislbe fencing; spay/neuter; shock collar; replace with herd-oriented breed/individual Provide only necessary attention; raise with effective LPD; spay/neuter; retain dog with the herd from the beginning
Aggression toward livestock Lack of early discipline; immaturity; play behaviour; adolescent phase of development Increase attention and reprimand; shock collar; replace with less aggressive breed or individual; remove from livestock and temporarily place in herd with more aggressive livestock; provide toys Consistent reprimand for chasing; rais with effective LPD; employ appropriate breed; minimize potential for boredom
Aggression toward humans Underlying breed characteristics or lack of socialization; territorial behaviour; protecting object, food or female; novel behaviour of humans toward LPDs; learned aggressive behaviour; pack behaviour; fearful temperament Replace with less aggressive dog or breed; increased attention and reprimand; shock collar; enrichment of environment occupied by puppy during socialization Employ appropriate breed; provide adequate levels of socialization with humans and environment
Lack of concern over offending species Lack of training or too much pressure by offending species; dog too young; weak temperament; female in heat; wounds Provide supplemental training with encouragement to address target species; place dog in a pack of experienced dogs or provide an experienced dog; ensure high quality food and health Provide early encouragement to exclude target species; employ appropriate breed; give appropriate food; regular health care
Insufficient protection against offending species Underlying breed characteristics; illness; female in heat; not enough dogs; environmental factors Replace dog or breed with a more aggressive breed; regular health care; incorporate alternative prevention tools such as electric fence and calving protection zones Employ appropriate breed; rear in area with offending species; monitor health; supply with alternative prevention tools; employ more dogs
Lack of obedience and ability to handle Insufficient training during the 7-12 month period; fearful temperament Increase frequency of training; maintain regular contacts until the dog is adult; avoid fearful pups Provide early and consistent training until adult and adequate level of socialization with handlers
Lack of attentiveness toward livestock Insufficient or bonding too late; illness; female in heat; old dogs Replace with effective dog; medical checkup Follow recommended bonding procedures; monitor health
Ineffective protection Insufficient bonding; illness; too large of an area; too much pressure Replace with effective dog; medical checkup; disperse resources: food, water, and shelter; employ additional dogs; employ other prevention tools Employ appropriate breed; raise in area with offending species; monitor health; be aware of limits of the dog
Insufficient patrolling of area Too large of area; lack of encouragement to establish territory Disperse resources: food, water, shelter; provide encouragement to explore territory; replace with more territorial breed Conduct routine walks with dog on lead within area to be protected

Additional methods of control may be needed including the installation of electric or invisible fencing fencing to keep the dogs in the pasture. In situations where the cattle are ranging over a large area or an area that is not fenced in, great care should be taken to monitor the herd and the dogs to ensure dogs remain with the herd. Multiple dogs may be needed for large areas and large herds. Finally, LPDs are a tool that will reduce but not completely eliminate all possibility of predation on livestock. Management of the heard and the dog pack are required to ensure success.

Conclusion

Livestock protecting dogs offer a non-lethal means of displacing wolves from areas where livestock are being raised. This method of management hinges on the nature of wolves and their ecological niche. The dog pack essentially occupies the territory effectively and provides a form of competitive exclusion that reduces wolf predation. No permits are required to implement this strategy and it satisfies the needs of livestock owners and environmentalists alike. Livestock protecting dogs are an ecologically sound solution to resolving conflict between humans and wildlife while satisfying the priorities of all stakeholders involved in this controversial issue.

Referneces:

Alcock, J. (1993). Animal Behaviour (5th ed). Sunderland: Sinauer Associates Inc.

Bergstrom, B. J., Vignieri, S., Sheffield, S. R., Sechrest, W., & al,  et. (2009). The Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf is not yet recovered. BioScience, 59(11), 991–999. http://doi.org/10.1525/bio.2009.59.11.11

Blanco, J. C., & Cortés, Y. (2007). Dispersal patterns, social structure and mortality of wolves living in agricultural habitats in Spain. Journal of Zoology, 273(1), 114–124. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7998.2007.00305.x

Creel, S., & Rotella, J. J. (2010). Meta-analysis of relationships between human offtake, total mortality and population dynamics of gray wolves (Canis lupus). PLoS ONE, 5(9). http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0012918

Emerson, U. (2016a). EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists The Final Frontier of Investigative Reporting.

Emerson, U. (2016b). Federal Government Sued for Killing Wolves in Oregon. Retrieved February 4, 2016, from http://environews.tv/020416-wildlife-services-program-sued-for-killing-wolves-in-oregon/

Fritts, S. H., Bangs, E. E., Fontaine, J. a, Johnson, M. R., Phillips, M. K., Koch, E. D., & Gunson, J. R. (1997). Planning and Implementing a Reintroduction of Wolves to Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho. Restoration Ecology, 5(1), 7–27. http://doi.org/10.1046/j.1526-100X.1997.09702.x

Gehring, T. M., VerCauteren, K. C., & Landry, J.-M. (2010). Livestock Protection Dogs in the 21st Century: Is an Ancient Tool Relevant to Modern Conservation Challenges? BioScience, 60(4), 299–308. http://doi.org/10.1525/bio.2010.60.4.8

Hansen, I., Staaland, T., & Ringsø, A. (2002). Patrolling with Livestock Guard Dogs: A Potential Method to Reduce Predation on Sheep. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section A – Animal Science, 52(1), 43–48. http://doi.org/10.1080/09064700252806416

Hawley, J. E., Gehring, T. M., Schultz, R. N., Rossler, S. T., & Wydeven, A. P. (2009). Assessment of shock collars as nonlethal management for wolves in Wisconsin. Journal of Wildlife Management, 73(4), 518–525. http://doi.org/10.2193/2007-066

Hawley, J. E., Rossler, S. T., Gehring, T. M., Schultz, R. N., Callahan, P. a., Clark, R., … Wydeven, A. P. (2013). Developing a new shock-collar design for safe and efficient use on wild wolves. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 37(2), 416–422. http://doi.org/10.1002/wsb.234

Mazur, K. E., & Asah, S. T. (2013). Clarifying standpoints in the gray wolf recovery conflict: Procuring management and policy forethought. Biological Conservation, 167(2013), 79–89. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2013.07.017

Mech, L. D. (2014). The Challenge and Opportunity of Wolf Populations Recovering. Conservation Biology, 9(2), 270–278.

Mech, L. D., & Fieberg, J. (2015). Growth rates and variances of unexploited wolf populations in dynamic equilibria. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 39(1), n/a–n/a. http://doi.org/10.1002/wsb.511

Mladenoff, D. J., Haight, R. G., Sickley, T. A., & Wydeven, A. P. (1995). A regional landscape analysis and prediction of favorable gray wolf habitat in the northern Great Lakes region. Conservation Biology, 9(2), 279–294.

Otstavel, T., Vuori, K. A., Sims, D. E., Valros, A., Vainio, O., & Saloniemi, H. (2009). The first experience of livestock guarding dogs preventing large carnivore damages in Finland. Estonian Journal of Ecology, 58(3), 216–224. http://doi.org/10.3176/eco.2009.3.06

Perry, S. (2012). The gray wolf delisting rider and state management under the Endangered Species Act. Ecology Law Quarterly, 39(April 2011), 439–474. http://doi.org/10.15779/Z381V9K

Rich, L. N., Russell, R. E., Glenn, E. M., Mitchell, M. S., Gude, J. A., Podruzny, K. M., … Nichols, J. D. (2013). Estimating occupancy and predicting numbers of gray wolf packs in Montana using hunter surveys. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 77(6), 1280–1289. http://doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.562

Riley, S. J., Nesslage, G. M., & Maurer, B. A. (2004). Dynamics of early wolf and cougar eradication efforts in Montana: Implications for conservation. Biological Conservation, 119(4), 575–579. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2004.01.019

Rossler, S. T., Gehring, T. M., Schultz, R. N., Rossler, M. T., Wydeven, A. P., & Hawley, J. E. (2012). Shock collars as a site‐aversive conditioning tool for wolves. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 36(1), 176–184. http://doi.org/10.1002/wsb.93

Rutledge, L. Y., Patterson, B. R., Mills, K. J., Loveless, K. M., Murray, D. L., & White, B. N. (2010). Protection from harvesting restores the natural social structure of eastern wolf packs. Biological Conservation, 143(2), 332–339. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2009.10.017

Singh, M., & Kumara, H. N. (2006). Distribution, status and conservation of Indian gray wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) in Karnataka, India. Journal of Zoology, 270(1), 164–169. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7998.2006.00103.x

Smith, D. W., Bangs, E. E., Oakleaf, J. K., Mack, C., Fontaine, J., Boyd, D., … Murray, D. L. (2010). Survival of Colonizing Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains of the United States, 1982-2004. Journal Of Wildlife Management, 74(4), 620. http://doi.org/10.2193/2008-584

Smith, J. B., Nielsen, C. K., & Hellgren, E. C. (2014). Illinois resident attitudes toward recolonizing large carnivores. Journal of Wildlife Management, 78(5), 930–943. http://doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.718

Smith, M. E., Linnell, J. D. C., Odden, J., & Swenson, J. E. (2000). Review of Methods to Reduce Livestock Depradation: I. Guardian Animals. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section A – Animal Science, 50(4), 279–290. http://doi.org/10.1080/090647000750069476

Sommers, A. P., Price, C. C., Urbigkit, C. D., & Peterson, E. M. (2010). Quantifying Economic Impacts of Large-Carnivore Depredation on Bovine Calves. Journal of Wildlife Management, 74(7), 1425–1434. http://doi.org/10.2193/2009-070

Stohr, W. G. (2012). Trophic Cascades and Private Property: The Challenges of a Regulatory Balancing Act and Lessons the UK Can Learn from the Reintroduction of the American Gray Wolf. University of Baltimore Journal of Land and Development, 2, 15–52. http://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004

Van Bommel, L., & Johnson, C. N. (2014). Where do livestock protecting dogs go? Movement patterns of free-ranging Maremma sheepdogs. PLoS ONE, 9(10). http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0111444

VerCauteren, K. C., Lavelle, M. J., Gehring, T. M., & Landry, J. M. (2012). Cow dogs: Use of livestock protection dogs for reducing predation and transmission of pathogens from wildlife to cattle. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 140(3-4), 128–136. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2012.06.006

Way, J. G., & Bruskotter, J. T. (2012). Additional considerations for gray wolf management after their removal from Endangered Species Act protections. Journal of Wildlife Management, 76(3), 457–461. http://doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.262

Wielgus, R. B., & Peebles, K. A. (2014). Effects of wolf mortality on livestock depredations. PLoS ONE, 9(12), 1–17. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0113505

Grey Wolf – Historical Profile

 Historical Profile

The history of the Gray Wolf, Canis lupus, in North America mirror’s it’s history in Europe. The European perspective of wolves arrived with settlers in the 1600’s and 1700’s and initial interactions were not confrontational because both wolves and humans were fearful of each other(Fritts et al., 1997; Stohr, 2012). As time progressed, settlers established larger farmsteads with more livestock resulting in the displacement of both wolves and their prey (Mazur & Asah, 2013; Stohr, 2012). The result was conflict between the remaining wolf packs that switched their food source to livestock. Pressure from landowners and ranchers resulted in a government sanctioned war on wolves with bounties paid for wolf hides in the late 19th century. More than 5,000 wolves were killed in the first year of this eradication effort (Emerson, 2016b). By the 1930’s wolves were almost extirpated from all western states with only a few animals remaining and very few viable breeding packs.

Image of old church ruins in Yellowstone National Park
The ruins of an old church in Yellowstone National Park illustrate the long history of humans on this landscape (Photo: Feltham, 2010).

Nothing changed in this regard for a long time. Wolves remained absent from the U.S. northwest without any viable populations in Yellowstone National Park. However, in 1995, 15 wolves were released in the park in an attempt to restore the population (Fritts et al., 1997). The effort was a success and wolves are now well established in the park with a population so large that it has become a source population for areas outside the park. Consequently, wolves and ranchers are again at odds because of wolf predation on livestock (Emerson, 2016a; Mazur & Asah, 2013; Stohr, 2012). The situation in areas around Yellowstone National Park has returned to conditions prior to the eradication of the gray wolf. Wolves are common and livestock losses are a regular occurrence. One element has changed. Wolves are a protected species now which prohibits ranchers from taking action and killing wolves that encroach on their land and kill livestock (Hawley et al., 2013; Hawley et al., 2009; Rossler et al., 2012).

Ecological Connections

r-strat_animal_outlineThe success of the eradication effort relates directly to the life history of wolves and their social nature. Wolves are k-strategists with slow population growth and populations that tend to stay stable at carrying capacity (Mech & Fieberg, 2015). Although wiping out the dominant male and female will result in subordinate females going into heat, the success of hunters and trappers generally resulted in the death of most of the pack leaving only a few animals dispersed over a wide landscape (Mech & Fieberg, 2015; Mech, 2014; D. W. Smith et al., 2010). Reproductive success was insufficient to counteract the mortality rate induced by human eradication efforts and population decline could not be reversed (Riley, Nesslage, & Maurer, 2004).

Vector_HumanIssues associated with reintroduction and a healthy wolf population are consistent with wolf ecology. Wolves are an apex predator that has adapted through social means to prey on large herbivores (Alcock, 1993; Vaughan, 1986). Humans have displaced native herbivores such as bison and elk in the areas surrounding Yellowstone National Park and replaced them with large domesticated herbivores such as cattle and sheep. For wolves, the landscape is essentially the same as it was without humans. Livestock and wild game are really no different from the ecological perspective of wolves. Therefore, losses in the ranching industry related to wolf predation are not unexpected.

Finally, reintroduction of species into a landscape where they have been absent for a long time frequently results in population growth that is so aggressive that the population overshoots the carrying capacity and then cycles above and below the carrying capacity before stabilizing. Wolf populations in the vicinity of Yellowstone can be expected to exhibit the same cycles resulting in some periods of larger than average wolf population. The abundant domesticated food supply reinforces this trend because larger, denser predator populations can be supported when there is abundant food (Rich et al., 2013).

Critical Assessment of Management Options

Wolves have been reintroduced successfully in a landscape where they were absent for more than half a century (Fritts et al., 1997). The success of this reintroduction has resulted in renewed conflict between wolves and ranchers. Four primary options are considered here and assessed based on costs, benefits, and additional factors. The options are; do nothing, eliminate wolves from the landscape, cull wolves, and livestock protecting dogs. Each option is addressed in the following paragraphs.

Doing nothing is always an option. In some situations, taking action may result in more harm than good or taking action will may not result in any real change resulting in wasted resources of time and money. Not taking action on this issue is not a viable option. First, the cost of monitoring losses and compensating ranchers for the predated livestock is too high (Sommers et al., 2010). With no revenue associated with this pay out, the cost is a drain on the U.S. economy. Secondly, the confidence of ranchers has already been eroded because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and multiple environmental groups have gone back on their word. The wolf population has grown to a size well beyond the size indicated in initial agreements to allow the reintroduction of wolves to the area (Mech, 2014). Yet, no action has been taken to mitigate the impact of these wolves on the ranching industry. Finally, decisions regarding the status of endangered species are being made by unqualified and misinformed politicians who are trying to please their constituents (Mazur & Asah, 2013). The result is a dangerous precedent for public pressure taking priority over sound science in environmental decision making (Way & Bruskotter, 2012). Taking no action will only serve to exacerbate the situation.

History_Newspaper
Wolves were successfully extirpated from most of the U.S. in the past and they could be again. However, the effort put into reintroduction and opposition from environmental groups prevent this option from being a viable solution now. (Photo: New York Times, 2015)

Extirpating wolves is an option. Wolves have been successfully eliminated as a threat to livestock in the past and they can be eliminated again (Riley et al., 2004). The result would be satisfactory to ranchers and it would eliminate much of the cost associated with the need to compensate ranchers for their losses. Eliminating wolves would potentially generate revenue in the form of permits to hunt wolves in the states where they are deemed to be a problem. Unfortunately, the pressure from environmental groups both inside and outside the U.S. has already resulted in the wolf populations growing beyond the initial agreed upon population size(Mazur & Asah, 2013; Perry, 2012; Smith et al., 2014) Environmental groups have lobbied successfully to keep the wolves on the endangered species list and they have even been responsible for law suits against the federal government over practices used to manage the current conflict (Emerson, 2016a).  The opposition to this method of resolving the conflict will be too strong.

History_Dead_Wolf
Culling wolves has also been used as a management strategy. However, recent research indicates that reducing the number of wolves may result in pack splintering and an increase in livestock predation. (Photo: New York Times, 2015)

Culling wolves is another option to be considered. Culling wolves in areas outside the park should effectively reduce populations and reduce predation on livestock. Both ranchers and moderate environmental groups could support this option. However, data suggests that this solution is unlikely to successfully reduce livestock predation (Wielgus & Peebles, 2014). If the alpha male and or female are eliminated from the pack and some pack members remain, the pack generally falls into a state of social chaos where the remaining pack members struggle to re-establish social order (Rutledge et al., 2010). Packs often splinter and become multiple smaller packs and some individuals end up on their own(Creel & Rotella, 2010; Rutledge et al., 2010). When this happens, multiple females may actually go into estrous (heat) resulting in an increase in the number of wolf cubs produced in the area. The splinter packs and lone wolves also continue to turn to livestock as a food source. Consequently, livestock predation may actually increase after a cull (Rutledge et al., 2010; Wielgus & Peebles, 2014). Therefore, consistent and ongoing culling of the wolf population will result in potential for more wolves and more livestock predation.

Dogs
Livestock guardian dogs may be a viable option in some circumstances. These dogs form a pack that occupies the pasture and excludes the wolves from the territory. Different breeds are used to form a pack of dogs that is loyal, protective, and formidable. (Conservation Media, 2013)

An ecological approach to resolving the conflict may be the most viable option. Livestock protecting dogs have been used for centuries to protect livestock from large predators ranging from wolves to big cats (Gehring et al., 2010; Hansen et al., 2002). The success of this strategy centres on the concept that the dogs occupy the ecological space/niche where the livestock are raised which excludes occupation by large, wild predators such as wolves. Livestock protecting dogs play the role of a wolf pack(Gehring et al., 2010; Van Bommel & Johnson, 2014). Some livestock losses will still be a reality but the frequency of predation will be dramatically reduced and dogs may even have a positive influence over the prevalence of pathogens spread by other wildlife species (VerCauteren, Lavelle, Gehring, & Landry, 2012). The economic cost of this option is greater than extirpating wolves. However, the cost is far less than the cost of doing nothing and more economically and ecologically sound than culling wolves (Gehring et al., 2010; Hansen et al., 2002; Otstavel et al., 2009; Smith et al., 2000; Van Bommel & Johnson, 2014; VerCauteren et al., 2012). Research tracking the success of this option in North America is lacking; therefore, implementation of this solution should be accompanied by research to fully understand the economic, social, and ecological implications of using livestock protecting dogs to protect livestock. Table 2 provides a visual summary of the options presented above.

Referneces:

Alcock, J. (1993). Animal Behaviour (5th ed). Sunderland: Sinauer Associates Inc.

Bergstrom, B. J., Vignieri, S., Sheffield, S. R., Sechrest, W., & al,  et. (2009). The Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf is not yet recovered. BioScience, 59(11), 991–999. http://doi.org/10.1525/bio.2009.59.11.11

Blanco, J. C., & Cortés, Y. (2007). Dispersal patterns, social structure and mortality of wolves living in agricultural habitats in Spain. Journal of Zoology, 273(1), 114–124. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7998.2007.00305.x

Creel, S., & Rotella, J. J. (2010). Meta-analysis of relationships between human offtake, total mortality and population dynamics of gray wolves (Canis lupus). PLoS ONE, 5(9). http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0012918

Emerson, U. (2016a). EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists The Final Frontier of Investigative Reporting.

Emerson, U. (2016b). Federal Government Sued for Killing Wolves in Oregon. Retrieved February 4, 2016, from http://environews.tv/020416-wildlife-services-program-sued-for-killing-wolves-in-oregon/

Fritts, S. H., Bangs, E. E., Fontaine, J. a, Johnson, M. R., Phillips, M. K., Koch, E. D., & Gunson, J. R. (1997). Planning and Implementing a Reintroduction of Wolves to Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho. Restoration Ecology, 5(1), 7–27. http://doi.org/10.1046/j.1526-100X.1997.09702.x

Gehring, T. M., VerCauteren, K. C., & Landry, J.-M. (2010). Livestock Protection Dogs in the 21st Century: Is an Ancient Tool Relevant to Modern Conservation Challenges? BioScience, 60(4), 299–308. http://doi.org/10.1525/bio.2010.60.4.8

Hansen, I., Staaland, T., & Ringsø, A. (2002). Patrolling with Livestock Guard Dogs: A Potential Method to Reduce Predation on Sheep. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section A – Animal Science, 52(1), 43–48. http://doi.org/10.1080/09064700252806416

Hawley, J. E., Gehring, T. M., Schultz, R. N., Rossler, S. T., & Wydeven, A. P. (2009). Assessment of shock collars as nonlethal management for wolves in Wisconsin. Journal of Wildlife Management, 73(4), 518–525. http://doi.org/10.2193/2007-066

Hawley, J. E., Rossler, S. T., Gehring, T. M., Schultz, R. N., Callahan, P. a., Clark, R., … Wydeven, A. P. (2013). Developing a new shock-collar design for safe and efficient use on wild wolves. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 37(2), 416–422. http://doi.org/10.1002/wsb.234

Mazur, K. E., & Asah, S. T. (2013). Clarifying standpoints in the gray wolf recovery conflict: Procuring management and policy forethought. Biological Conservation, 167(2013), 79–89. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2013.07.017

Mech, L. D. (2014). The Challenge and Opportunity of Wolf Populations Recovering. Conservation Biology, 9(2), 270–278.

Mech, L. D., & Fieberg, J. (2015). Growth rates and variances of unexploited wolf populations in dynamic equilibria. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 39(1), n/a–n/a. http://doi.org/10.1002/wsb.511

Mladenoff, D. J., Haight, R. G., Sickley, T. A., & Wydeven, A. P. (1995). A regional landscape analysis and prediction of favorable gray wolf habitat in the northern Great Lakes region. Conservation Biology, 9(2), 279–294.

Otstavel, T., Vuori, K. A., Sims, D. E., Valros, A., Vainio, O., & Saloniemi, H. (2009). The first experience of livestock guarding dogs preventing large carnivore damages in Finland. Estonian Journal of Ecology, 58(3), 216–224. http://doi.org/10.3176/eco.2009.3.06

Perry, S. (2012). The gray wolf delisting rider and state management under the Endangered Species Act. Ecology Law Quarterly, 39(April 2011), 439–474. http://doi.org/10.15779/Z381V9K

Rich, L. N., Russell, R. E., Glenn, E. M., Mitchell, M. S., Gude, J. A., Podruzny, K. M., … Nichols, J. D. (2013). Estimating occupancy and predicting numbers of gray wolf packs in Montana using hunter surveys. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 77(6), 1280–1289. http://doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.562

Riley, S. J., Nesslage, G. M., & Maurer, B. A. (2004). Dynamics of early wolf and cougar eradication efforts in Montana: Implications for conservation. Biological Conservation, 119(4), 575–579. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2004.01.019

Rossler, S. T., Gehring, T. M., Schultz, R. N., Rossler, M. T., Wydeven, A. P., & Hawley, J. E. (2012). Shock collars as a site‐aversive conditioning tool for wolves. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 36(1), 176–184. http://doi.org/10.1002/wsb.93

Rutledge, L. Y., Patterson, B. R., Mills, K. J., Loveless, K. M., Murray, D. L., & White, B. N. (2010). Protection from harvesting restores the natural social structure of eastern wolf packs. Biological Conservation, 143(2), 332–339. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2009.10.017

Singh, M., & Kumara, H. N. (2006). Distribution, status and conservation of Indian gray wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) in Karnataka, India. Journal of Zoology, 270(1), 164–169. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7998.2006.00103.x

Smith, D. W., Bangs, E. E., Oakleaf, J. K., Mack, C., Fontaine, J., Boyd, D., … Murray, D. L. (2010). Survival of Colonizing Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains of the United States, 1982-2004. Journal Of Wildlife Management, 74(4), 620. http://doi.org/10.2193/2008-584

Smith, J. B., Nielsen, C. K., & Hellgren, E. C. (2014). Illinois resident attitudes toward recolonizing large carnivores. Journal of Wildlife Management, 78(5), 930–943. http://doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.718

Smith, M. E., Linnell, J. D. C., Odden, J., & Swenson, J. E. (2000). Review of Methods to Reduce Livestock Depradation: I. Guardian Animals. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section A – Animal Science, 50(4), 279–290. http://doi.org/10.1080/090647000750069476

Sommers, A. P., Price, C. C., Urbigkit, C. D., & Peterson, E. M. (2010). Quantifying Economic Impacts of Large-Carnivore Depredation on Bovine Calves. Journal of Wildlife Management, 74(7), 1425–1434. http://doi.org/10.2193/2009-070

Stohr, W. G. (2012). Trophic Cascades and Private Property: The Challenges of a Regulatory Balancing Act and Lessons the UK Can Learn from the Reintroduction of the American Gray Wolf. University of Baltimore Journal of Land and Development, 2, 15–52. http://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004

Van Bommel, L., & Johnson, C. N. (2014). Where do livestock protecting dogs go? Movement patterns of free-ranging Maremma sheepdogs. PLoS ONE, 9(10). http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0111444

VerCauteren, K. C., Lavelle, M. J., Gehring, T. M., & Landry, J. M. (2012). Cow dogs: Use of livestock protection dogs for reducing predation and transmission of pathogens from wildlife to cattle. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 140(3-4), 128–136. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2012.06.006

Way, J. G., & Bruskotter, J. T. (2012). Additional considerations for gray wolf management after their removal from Endangered Species Act protections. Journal of Wildlife Management, 76(3), 457–461. http://doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.262

Wielgus, R. B., & Peebles, K. A. (2014). Effects of wolf mortality on livestock depredations. PLoS ONE, 9(12), 1–17. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0113505

Elk (Cervus canadensis) – Historical Profile

Written by: Ashley McNeill, Chris Reinhart, Cassie Luff, Danielle Young

Historical Profile

The Elk’s history in North America matches numerous other species. After the Europeans settled in North America, the increasing population had a higher demand for food, this caused over hunting and destruction of habitat for agricultural purposes, which ultimately lead to the species being extirpated from Ontario in the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s (Witmer, 1990). Elk remained absent from all of Ontario until the late 1990’s when the province, along with other partnering organizations, took on the task of introducing a herd they acquired from Elk Island National Park in Alberta. Four sites were chosen based on the potential to support these herds. While the Elk have survived, they are slowly increasing their populations. The most viable herd resides in the Bancroft-Haliburton area. This herd has a ratio of 8 mature bull Elk to 100 Mature cow Elk. In order to achieve maximum productivity, the ratio should be 20:100 mature bulls to cows (McCorquodale et. al., 2011). The low numbers of bull Elk in  Bancroft is alarming as this area receives the highest hunting pressure . This leads to the over harvesting of mature bulls and therefore not enough males to mate with the females. This trend must be addressed as well as continually monitored to make any changes to avoid what happened over 100 years ago with the native Elk population. The growing population caused the establishment of large farms and ranches to be created on the historic foraging grounds of the Elk. This ultimately inhibited the species to naturally recolonize the areas. However, the Elk still tried and this created the conflict between ranchers and Elk we have today .

The problem arises between Elk and farmers or ranchers because of the environmental needs of Elk. Since they need vast areas of grasslands to forage throughout the summer, and those ecosystems are lacking all over North America and especially Ontario, the Elk turn to pasture lands and agricultural fields to meet their biological needs. This causes destruction of agricultural fields as well as the Elk grazing the pasture lands instead of the livestock, which costs the farmer money. Another major problem with Elk is that they act as vectors in spreading diseases to livestock they come in contact with. The most common and harmful being brucellosis, which causes abortions, retained placentas, male reproductive tract lesions, arthritis and bursitis (Rhyan et. al., 2013)

 

Ecological Connections

In the winter, elk herds return to lower valley pastures where elk spend the season pawing through snow to browse on grass or settling for shrubs that stand clear of the snow cover (Thrift, Mosley, & Mosley, 2013). The nature of elk is to locate to open grasslands. This has become an issue for farmers as the elk are attracted to their pastures due to the abundance of food available. Since Elk are closely related biologically to cattle, diseases are more transferable between the animals. Diseases such as brucellosis has been spreading to livestock. Brucellosis is associated with abortions, retains placentas, male reproductive tract lesions, arthritis, and bursitis in livestock. (Rhyan, Nol, Quance, Gertonson, Belfrage, Harris, & Robbe-Austerman, 2013). (Knight, 2014)
Although elk are attracted to grasslands, the introduction of anthropogenic factors has made the elk become more attracted to pastures, these factors include; hay and mineral salt blocks. Now not only are the elk grazing on pastures for grass but also for other essential resources. As a result, this increases pathogen transmission to livestock through indirect contact (Pruvot, Seidel, Boyce, Musiani, Massolo, Kutz, & Orsel, 2014).

Critical Assessment of Management Options

In addition to the earlier stated options to restrict the access of Elk in pasture lands, the purchase of guard dogs would be a smart investment for ranchers. The presence of guard dogs would provide an aggressive/protective force within the pasture land. Some of the top recommended dog breeds that provide this protection include; Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Maremma Sheepdog, Kangal, and the Spanish Mastiff. These species of canines have a large muscular biomass which makes them a strong competitor to predator species of the livestock they protect. The presence of the large dogs would provide a sense of danger towards the Elk, would influence them to migrate to another area away from the ranch to avoid the possible danger. The guard dogs would be beneficial in providing protection from other predators such as coyotes and wolves which tend to also cause problems for ranchers. In order to successfully use guard dogs in the ranch environment, it is beneficial to purchase the dogs as pups in order to create a bond between it and the livestock or to purchase adult dogs who are already trained for the job. The next step is to establish a set of commands for the dog(s) to follow, including “come” and “no” commands. The number of dogs needed for the ranch pasture is determined by the “size of the pasture, number of herd groups, topography, flocking instinct of livestock, fencing and guardian dog behaviour” (Redden, Tomecek, & Walker, n.d.). The investment in guard dogs for pasture protection, ranges in price considering the dog breed, the number of dogs and the cost of training. The cost for the first year is “estimated at approximately $1000, and decreases the second year to $500” (Redden, Tomecek, & Walker, n.d.) which is for proper care of the dog(s).

Another option is to actively manage the populations of Elk in high density areas. Actively managing the Elk could be done in a variety of ways with the most effective being allowing a greater number of tags to become available to hunters. As of 2011 the Ontario government allowed for the hunting of Elk. 70 tags were issued to individuals and parties. In order to allow a small herd of Elk to live in the area, the ministry could increase the number of tags given. By allowing hunters to target both bulls and cows based on the number of tags given out,  they could actively maintain the population at its carrying capacity. By increasing the limit of tags, you allow more hunters the opportunity to hunt Elk in Ontario. Since Elk are a prized big game species and normally hunters would need to go out west in either Canada or the States to hunt them, thus leaving the opportunity out of reach for the average hunter.  However, now that the species is present in Ontario again, it allows many hunters to participate in a new type of hunting, on that they have never experienced before. With the high demands of new hunters, this would increase the revenue that hunting brings into Ontario. In 2014-2015, Ontario residents spent 371 million dollars in hunting related tasks, with the Fish and Wildlife Special Purpose Account contributing 68.9 million dollars into fish and wildlife management (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, 2016). Through active managing the Elk population, it would benefit numerous groups of people including farmers and ranchers, environmentalist, government agencies such as the MNRF and OFAH, and communities where the hunting will occur around through bringing in guided hunts and therefore revenue into the towns.

Another option to dissuade and prevent Elk from leaping into pasture land would be to modify an existing wire fence by adding a mesh fence extension onto it, creating a six-foot fence. Although the Cervidea spp. is capable of jumping a six-foot fence, it is not likely that the animal will do so just for food. Provided the existing fence is in good condition, this method is very cost-effective, as an additional however-many feet is added to the fence by welding a steel rebar onto the existing rebar and attaching the mesh onto the existing fence. This method is proven to be 100% effective in keeping out elk from pasture land (Knight, 2014). Since this method is not only effective but also cost effective, this method will be the superior method for Elk management in pasture lands.

Table 2: Comparison of doing nothing, modified fencing, and using guardian dogs as a solution to resolve livestock losses from getting diseases from elk. Both modified fencing and guardian dogs reduce livestock deaths as well as save money for the farmer. Overall, both options will have valuable results.

References

Redden, Tomecek, & Walker. (n.d.). Livestock Guardian Dogs. Retrieved from http://sanangelo.tamu.edu/files/2013/08/Livestock-Guardian-Dogs1.pdf

Agency, P. C., & Canada, G. of. (2012, January 24). Parks Canada – elk island national park – background. Retrieved January 27, 2017, from http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn- np/ab/elkisland/natcul/elkisland-we.aspx

Austin, D. D., P. J. Urness, and D. Duersch. 1998. Alfalfa hay crop loss due to mule deer depredation. Journal of Range Management 51:29–31

Hamr, J., Mallory, F. F., & Filion, I. (2016). The history of elk (Cervus canadensis) restoration in   Ontario. The Canadian Field-Naturalist, 130(2), 167. doi:10.22621/cfn.v130i2.1842

Thrift, T. M., Mosley, T. K., & Mosley, J. C. (2013). Impacts from winter-early spring elk grazing in foothills rough fescue grassland. Western North American Naturalist, (4), 497

Innes, Robin J. 2011. Cervus elaphus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [2017, February 11].

Johnson, H. E., Hammond, M., Dorsey, P. D., Fischer, J. W., Walter, W. D., Anderson, C., & V ERcauteren, K. C. (2014). Evaluation of techniques to reduce deer and Elk damage to agricultural   crops. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 38(2), 358-365. doi:10.1002/wsb.408

Knight, J. (2014, March). Modifying Fences to Protect High-Value Pastures from Deer and Elk. Retrieved January 27, 2017, from Montana State University. Retrieved from

http://animalrange.montana.edu/documents/extension/modifiedfencesmg.pdf

McCorquodale, S., P. Wik, and P. Fowler. 2011. Elk survival and mortality causes in the Blue Mountains of Washington. Journal of Wildlife Management 75:897-904.

McIntosh, T.E., Rosatte, R.C., Hamr, J., & Murray, D.L. (2014). Patterns of Mortality and Factors    Influencing Survival of a Recently Restored Elk Population in Ontario, Canada. Restoration        Ecology, 22(6),806-814. doi:101.111/rec 12145

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, O. (2016, March 16). Fish and Wildlife Special       Purpose Account Annual Report 2014-2015. Retrieved February 19, 2017, from Ontario.ca, https://www.ontario.ca/page/fish-and-wildlife-special-purpose-account-annual-report-2014-15

Pruvot, M., Seidel, D., Boyce, M., Musiani, M., Massolo, A., Kutz, S., & Orsel, K. (2014). What attracts elk onto cattle pasture? Implications for inter-species disease transmission. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 117(Special Issue: SVEPM 2014 – supporting decision making on animal health through advanced and multidisciplinary methodologies, 2014 Society of Veterinary Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine conference), 326-339. doi:10.1016/j.prevetmed.2014.08.010

Rosatte, R. (2014). 2014 Bancroft/North Hastings Elk Research and Monitoring Update. Ontario   Federation of Anglers and Hunters.

Ryckman, M. J., Rosatte, R.C., McIntosh, T., Hamr, J., & Jenkins, D. (2010) Postrelease Dispersal of Reintroduced Elk (Cervus elaphus) in Ontario, Canada. Restoration Ecology, 18(2), 173-180.    DOI:10.1111/J. 1526-100X.2009.00523.X

Rhyan, J. C., Nol, P., Quance, C., Gertonson, A., Belfrage, J., Harris, L., & … Robbe-Austerman, S. (2013).   Transmission of Brucellosis from Elk to Cattle and Bison, Greater Yellowstone Area, USA, 2002-2012. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 19(12), 1992-1995. doi:10.3201/eid1912.130167

Wagner, K. K., R. H. Schmidt, and M. R. Conover. 1997. Compensation programs for wildlife damage in North America. Wildlife Society Bulletin 25:312–319.

Witmer, G. 1990. Reintroduction of elk in the United States. Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science 64:131–135.

Yott, A., Rosatta, R., Schaefer J., Hamr, A., Fryxell, J. (2011) Movement and Spread of a Founding Population of Reintroduced Elk (Cervus elaphus) in Ontario, Canada. The Journal of the Society for Ecological Restoration International.

 

 

White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) -Historical Profile

Written by: Sean Bryan, Jessie Harris, Narmeen Nweisser, Frank Zacharias.

Historical Profile
The white-tailed deer has been recorded to have originated near regions north of central Mexico (Morales, 2016) and has since made its way both south to northern parts of South America and into Canada and fading in population size as they reach the boreal zones of Canada. Ontario has not always been a suitable habitat due to glaciers covering the landscape leaving behind landforms such as moraines and eskers (Dawe, 2014)

The St Lawrence lowlands within Ontario and nearby Provinces is composed of rich ecosystems that are suitable for the survivorship of the white-tailed deer. This same area became home to Indigenous clans which historically may have followed the deer and other game animal’s north from parts of America or pushed there such as the Anishinabek (Warrick, 2012) who were designated land along the Grand River watershed in treaty agreements.  The Native Americans would make sure that almost nothing of the deer was wasted within the community. They would eat the meat and use bone marrow to make up a large part of their diet, but they would also use the hides for things like rugs, clothes, fishnets, and blankets. The antlers and bones would be crafted into arrowheads, clubs, fishhooks, and tools for the Indigenous people to use. This made the white-tailed deer sought after for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and also has become a trophy species, the trophy being the antlers on a male deer.

However with the settlement of farmers in North America it caused the deer populations to decline with the removal of cover for crops and unregulated shooting. As logging was happening for more land to be used for crops, more and more of the opposite effects on the deer populations occurred. Logging caused more openings, made more brush, and younger forests to establish making it the perfect condition for deer. This caused an estimate climb in the population of about a million deer. As railroads were introduced it made it easier to access the wilderness. With the population of deer rising and access to more wilderness, the amount of hunting that was done increased again. In 1895 Michigan began making progress on deer management in the state with making a deer hunting season and a limit amount that could be harvested. For decades after the laws were made there was a constant up and down in the populations due to the seasons for hunting to change new regulations and available habitat. In 1986 only Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas reported over-populated deer ranges. In contrast, in 2013, 18 of 47 states surveyed reported issues with overpopulated deer herds in urban areas.In many states the deer population is at or below biological carrying capacity (K) but exceeds social carrying capacity. Many current issues with White-tailed deer are related to an increasingly urban human population that is less tolerant of deer, and not necessarily with increases in deer populations.” (Krausman,Christensen,Mcdonald, & Leopold, 2014). Today, the white-tailed deer is the most widespread deer in the world, making it the most popular game in the United States chased by about 11 million hunters. There is now problems that arise due to the adaptability of the deer. Since the deer are very adaptable it makes it easy for them to become a problem within an urban city. Deer sterilization is one way of controlling deer populations within a city.

 

Ecological Connections:

Eradicating of the white-tailed deer can be done but would take a long time too. This is because the white-tailed deer population is high. The deer is a “K” strategy species like described above, they have a long life span but take a lot of care to get to an older age, which makes them a slow growth population (Fulbright, 2013). This makes for easy eradication because you can wipe out a population quickly by hunting the deer and putting them under stress. In Ontario for example, deer populations in the city of London have been a concern for the last decade, especially the habitats associated with the Sifton Bog. Concerns include the natural areas within the city of London and how they are impacted by deer. (Stephenson,2011)

Deer are herbivores that graze on long grasses in the summer time. While deer are in the long grass they can have a Deer Tick attach to them (Safer, 2017). By having the deer in the city they may bring in the ticks that they could have gotten in the long grass into the city. This is a problem because these ticks can be transmitted to your dogs and causing death, but also humans as well through Lyme disease. The challenges cities have been facing is trying to find the balance of the number of deer to the homeowners and their properties (Safer, 2017). Okay but you should be mentioning that Lyme Disease is the cause of issues which is transmitted by the ticks.

In Manitoba there is currently over 6,000 deer-vehicle collisions every year, making it a problem to humans (n.a., 2010). The deer’s habitat is along forest edges and if you put a road through a forest there is a good possibility that they will need to cross the road is high. Deer are also obligate migrators, meaning they must travel to find food. This can relate to deer collisions because if they need to cross a road to get to another source of food that increase the chances of collisions on the roads. Vehicle damage can also be costly to the car owners. There is also a problem with deer eating farmers crops and damaging resident’s landscape of their yard. (n.a.,2010). For these reasons the deer population needs to decrease around urban cities without causing a lot of damage to the ecosystem.  Another factor is the overgrazing of forests and fields near or in urban areas.  The lack of space and over abundance of white-tailed deer lead them to over graze causing a negative effect on ecosystems.

 

Critical Assessment of Management Options

For the population of white-tailed deer to be controlled around an urban city there are various methods of control without damaging the ecosystem and the species. Sterilization of the doe’s is an effective way to control urban deer populations. Opening the hunting season for a wider range throughout the year can help control populations. Using fence to keep the deer away from roads and urban places is also another option for controlling the deer.  Relocation of white-tailed deer is also an option but is rarely feasible because lots of variables fall into place, such as high costs, lack of habitat to relocate to, high stress on the individual deer and high mortality rate.  (Boulanger, 2012). The option to do nothing is always something ecologists need to keep in mind and always looking at the history to make sure they weigh out all options before making one.

A method that is used by some cities is to sterilize the female deer (doe). Sterilization is an effective method to help reduce deer populations around urban settings. Sterilizing the females will reduce the amount that a deer can reproduce causing a decline in cities. This method however is very labour intensive making it one of the most expensive ways of dealing with the problem. It takes many hours to set up traps for the deer as well as doing the surgery on the deer. The multiple people that would be working on this project would need to have a high level of training/expertise, making them a high paid employee. Doing the surgeries on the deer it will also cost a lot in tools transportation and traps (Schwantje, 2015). Surgical sterilization is the most dependable means to permanently sterilize female deer. Sterilization of a bigger population of female deer has the advantage of lessening deer numbers more quickly and producing fawns overall. (Grovenburg,2009). Although this method of controlling the population will work it is very costly. (Cornell)

Another way to reduce the population of deer around an urban area is to open the hunting season for a longer duration. Having the hunting season expanded can be a very effective way to reduce numbers. Hunting can also have a positive impact on the community by having a cultural practice and being able to do so for a longer period of time in the year. By hunting, the hunters get to use the meat for consumption for themselves, family and friends. These two factors can help a community greatly. This method has very minimal cost to the government for the decrease in the population because they do not need to hire employees to do the work (Schwantje, 2015). Customary strategies for overseeing overabundant white-tailed deer concentrate on lethal removal, for example, hunting or sharp shooting. Although it has been proposed that culling may be the most practical alternative. Lethal control might be unreasonable in a few communities because of legal, well-being or moral concerns. (Grovenburg, 2009). Also the hunting would be happening outside of the urban areas which may actually make the deer come to the city for more cover where they cannot be killed.

Table 1. Illustrates a comparison of the management methods to determine what method to use for the management of the white-tailed deer.

Management Method Costs Benefits Factors Efficacy
Hunting/Sharpshooting Make money on tags Reducing/maintaining populations in large areas Safety concern
Most effective currently
 +
Deer Contraception/Sterilization Expensive Maintaining populations  Labour intensive  –
Do Nothing Nothing Wouldn’t be harmed from human, just predators, accident collisions Not managing pop. will make healthy forest unsustainable  –
Rehabilitation Expensive

References
Ambriz-Morales, P., De La Rosa-Reyna, X. F., Sifuentes-Rincon, A. M., Parra-Bracamonte, G.M., Villa-Melchor, A., Chassin-Noria, O., & Arellano-Vera, W. (2016). The complete mitochondrial genomes of nine white-tailed deer subspecies and their genomic differences. Journal Of Mammalogy, 97(1), 234-245. doi:10.1093/jmammal/gyv172

Dawe, K., Bayne, E., & Boutin, S. (2014). Influence of climate and human land use on the distribution of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the western boreal forest. Canadian Journal Of Zoology, 92(4), 353-363.

Donovan, J. (June 4, 2013). Science News. White-tailed deer and the science of yellow snow.

Entomological Society of America. (2014, July 1). Reducing deer populations may reduce risk of Lyme disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 3, 2017 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140701111549.htm

Feltham, J. V. (2017, January 20). Jfeltham_ecological_profile. Lecture presented at Species Management in Fleming Campus, Lindsay.

Fieberg, J., Kuehn, D. W., & Delgiudice, G. D. (2008). Understanding Variation In Autumn Migration Of Northern White-Tailed Deer By Long-Term Study. Journal Of Mammalogy, 89(6), 1529-1539.

Georgia, U. o. (September 28, 2015). Be on the lookout this fall: Deer-vehicle collisions increase during breeding season. Science News.

Grovenburg, T. W., Jenks, J. A., Klaver, R. W., Swanson, C. C., Jacques, C. N., & Todey, D.(2009). Seasonal movement and home ranges of white-tailed deer in north-central South Dakota. Canadian Journal Of Zoology, 87(10), 876-885.

Hewitt, David G. (2011). Biology & Management of White-tailed Deer. Taylor & Francis.

Hummel, S. ‘., Campa, H. I., Locher, A., & Winterstein, S. R. (2016). Spatial quantification of white-tailed deer habitat of a wetland-dominated landscape in Central Lower Michigan. Michigan Academician, (3), 393.

Klaver, R. W., Jenks, J. A., Deperno, C. S., & Griffin, S. L. (2008). Associating Seasonal Range Characteristics With Survival of Female White-Tailed Deer. Journal Of Wildlife Management, 72(2), 343-353. doi:10.2192/2005-581

Krausman, P. R., Christensen, S. A., McDonald, J. E., & Leupold, B. D. (2014). Dynamics and social issues of overpopulated deer ranges in the United States: a long term assessment. California Fish & Game, 100(3), 436-450. Retrieved from                                                               http://www.bcqwc.org/uploads/5/0/9/9/50992449/krausman_et_al_2014.pdf

Stephenson, D., Dance, K., Anderson, P., Brenton, T., Murphy, S., Smith, D., Boles, R.,Keable, L. (2011) Sifton Bog White-Tailed Deer Management Study City of  London.[PDF file] Retrieved from http://thamesriver.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/WestminsterPonds/Report-DRAFT-Sifton-DeerManagement-January11.pdf

Warrick, G. (2012). Buried Stories: Archaeology and Aboriginal Peoples of the Grand River, Ontario. Journal Of Canadian Studies, 46(2), 153-177.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis) – Historical Profile

By Sara Kuruvilla, Jennifer Del Tin, Mary-Elizabeth Pennington & Teslyn Heron

Historical Profile

There are 6 subspecies of Sandhill Cranes including greater, lesser, Cuban, Mississippi, and Canadian (Gerber & Kendall, 2016). The Cuban subspecies does not migrate and is currently considered federally endangered, along with the Mississippi Sandhill Cranes and Florida cranes (United States Fish and Wildlife Service, n.d.).

Based on early historical reports, the first account of Sandhill Cranes was in the 1800s by John Hunter, a Plains explorer in North America, who reported sight of the Sandhills on the Central Platte (modern day Nebraska, USA). Although this area was prior frequented by thousands of colonizers moving westward along the Oregon and Mormon Trails, the timing of their journey fell during late spring when the river was safer to cross over. As the Sandhills would have already departed before this time, it is of no surprise that there was no mention of the birds in journals of the early colonizers (Johnsgard, 2002). Within the same century, the population of Sandhills started to decline due to unregulated hunting and habitat loss. Fortunately, their numbers later increased significantly after the signing of the Migratory Bird Act in 1918 (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services, 1984); thereby removing the migratory species of Sandhill Cranes from the endangered species list (Government of Canada, 2015).

Special Historical Fact: According to the International Crane Foundation, the Sandhill Crane may possibly be one of the oldest surviving bird species. This assumption is based on the discovery of a crane fossil (originating from the Pliocene period) found in Nebraska, that was found to have the same skeletal structure as the modern Sandhill Crane.

Ecological Connections

The Sandhill Crane is considered a ‘K’ strategist because they live long lives, have few offspring each year, and extended parental care for their young. ‘K’ strategists can be wiped out easier than ‘R’ strategists, and they take longer to recover. This is why after the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1916 was introduced, their population grew slowly until they were no longer considered to be a species at risk.

Historically, Sandhill Cranes prefer open wetland habitats when they are breeding, while non-breeding cranes prefer open prairie habitats (The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2016). Agricultural lands (such as the corn fields) that Sandhill Cranes are often found foraging in, simulate these open types of habitats. They prefer digging in the ground for their food and the waste corn that they thrive on in agricultural fields is accessed in this way (Harner, Wright, & Geluso, 2015).

Although restoration efforts have increased Sandhill Crane numbers, with the growing human population and therefore a higher agricultural demand, wetlands are still decreasing and are becoming more absent from areas that serve as habitats for the cranes (Lacy, Barzen, Moore, & Norris, 2015). This in turn, causes Sandhill Cranes to turn to agricultural lands as a staple habitat as well as food source. Along with this issue, according to Matt Seabrook- a grain farmer from Ontario, Canada- the presence of the Sandhills in agricultural fields pose an additional threat. Due to their large stature, they tend to flatten standing crops with their large feet, therefore providing migratory Geese with landing access to the fields and hence causing further destruction to the crops (Kerr, 2016).

Critical Assessment of Management Options

To establish a more positive relationship between the Sandhill cranes and the farmers who provide the needed habitat, several management options are being explored:

  1. Repellents: The International Crane Foundation is helping to develop a new technique to treat corn seeds with a deterrent before the seeds are planted. In response, foraging Sandhills avoid treated seed but remain in the field to feed non-destructively on other foods. The new repellent known as Avipel, is commercially sold by its manufacturer Arkion Life Sciences (International Crane Foundation, n.d; Lovell, 2012).
  2. Exclusion:  This involves the installation of barriers such as fencing and overhead grids, to prevent the Sandhills from entering an area. This technique may be effective to prevent property damage in smaller areas such as family gardens and windows (Sandhills attack their own reflection thinking it is a competitor). Unfortunately, for larger areas such as airports and farms, barriers would be ineffective and the costs would be too high (Lovell, 2012).
  3. Harassment: This method may be the most effective in deterring the Sandhills, but care must be taken to use a variety of devices (pyrotechnics, Airdancers, air horns, drones) and not follow a set schedule, lest the birds become accustomed to the disturbance. The keys to a successful harassment operation are timing, persistence, randomness and diversity (Lovell, 2012).
  4. Hunting: Although hunting may be the most useful form of management- apart from the owner requiring a valid gun license- a federal permit with state authorization would be required in order to hunt the birds for the purpose of protecting property. Along with this, hunting may be useful in removing an individual Sandhill, but crop damage over large areas is generally carried out by large flocks of Sandhills Cranes (Lovell, 2012).
  5. New Hunting Regulations: In order to implement more effective and sustainable hunting regulations, more information needs to be known about the total population sizes of Sandhill Cranes, their annual mortality, and their annual recruitment (Krapu, 2011). The Sandhill Crane has many subpopulations depending on the region (Mid-West, Pacific Flyway, Rocky Mountain, Eastern, etc.), and some of these subpopulations overlap. This is problematic because some of these subpopulations are smaller in size and it is not permitted to hunt them (Krapu, 2011). Surveys will be beneficial to obtaining this crucial information for the management of Sandhill Cranes and reduce the negative impact that they have on agricultural lands (Krapu, 2011). This could prove to be costly based on the amount of resources that would be needed to survey the population, such as GPS trackers and qualified personnel.
  6. Guard Dogs: The usage of pets such as guard dogs could be considered as a greener and less expensive form of harassment, although the risk is high as Sandhill Cranes have been known to successfully drive away predators of similar sizes to dogs.
  7. Co-existence: In some states and provinces farmers will receive compensation for crop damage by Sandhill Cranes, Ontario however is still in the process of approving this because population numbers are unknown (Harris, 1996 & Saskatchewan Crop Insurance, n.d.). As well, there are currently no hunting regulations in place to allow the harvest of Sandhill Cranes in Ontario (Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, 2014). There are actions that farmers can take in order to create a better coexistence between Sandhill Cranes. These actions could include scaring tactics, relocation of agricultural lands, or diversionary agricultural lands (Nilsson, Bunnefeld, Persson, & Månsson, 2016). Scaring tactics have proven effective in keeping Sandhill Cranes off agricultural land and can include propane cannons, flags, or scarecrows (Nilsson et al., 2016). The issue with scaring tactics is that although they are effective at steering birds away from the property they were utilized on, they often just relocate the birds to someone else’s farm (Nilsson et al., 2016). Agricultural damage is more common in lands within close proximity to wetlands or other protected areas (Nilsson et al., 2016). It may not be feasible to ask farmers to relocate their livelihood away from these areas, but if possible it would lessen the impact of Sandhill Cranes on agriculture. Another successful tactic is the creation of diversionary agriculture lands, which is essentially an open field in which birds can graze with no economic impact (Nilsson et al., 2016). Relocating birds to these areas by using scare tactics will decrease the number of birds grazing in valuable agricultural lands.
  8. Falconry: Alternatively, trained raptors could also be used as a management option. Although there are no known reports of using raptors to deter Sandhill Cranes specifically, the raptors are being used to deter other pests. In Canada, the US, and even Dubai, pest control companies use raptors to deter pigeons, raccoons, seagulls etc. In Washington, US, an Aplomado falcon was used to patrol a blueberry field at a farm (The Seattle Times Staff, 2014; Choksi, 2015).
    According to the Government of Ontario (2016), the types of birds that can be used for falconry within Ontario are divided into Ontario native birds and non-indigenous birds. The requirements for hunting with them are:
  • Ontario native birds:

i. A small game hunting license

ii. An identification band on each bird

iii. Maintain a log book, as outlined in as outlined in Ontario Regulation 668/98 27.(1)

iv.  An Apprentice Falconry License (or) a General Falconry License (or) a Commercial Falconry  License. Conditions apply for each license type.

  • Non-indigenous bird

i.  A small game hunting license 

ii. An identification band on each bird

iii. To maintain a log book, as outlined in as outlined in Ontario Regulation 668/98 27.(1)

Management Matrix

Table 2: A visual comparison between each of the factors discussed in the Critical Assessment of Management Options. Although the co-existence between the Sandhill Cranes and the farmers is the most preferred option, it would be a great challenge to gain and assign land to be solely used by the Sandhills. Falconry may be the most effective option, but method is still yet to be tested with Sandhill Cranes (Created using MS Paint and MS Word, tractor image from Clipart Kid, 2016) .

 

Management Strategy Costs Advantage Disadvantage Factors to Consider Overall Effectiveness
Repellents

$$$

 screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-38-55-pm

Leaching

 screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-39-01-pm

+

Exclusions

For large scale

$$$$

For small scale

$$

 screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-40-10-pm   screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-42-07-pm Size of area to be covered +

Harassment
$$$  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-38-55-pm  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-42-59-pm Inconvenient in the long run
+
Hunting $$  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-40-10-pm     screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-42-07-pm Cannot use for whole flock
+
Implement new hunting regulations to suit the population size $$$  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-40-10-pm  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-42-07-pm screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-39-01-pm

Costs and equipment to monitor population size


+
Guard Dogs $  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-40-10-pm  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-42-07-pm Dogs could get attacked
+
Falconry $$  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-38-55-pm  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-41-28-pm
Yet to be tested

+
Co-existence between farmers and Sandhill Cranes $$$ capture33  screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-42-07-pm Land set aside for just the Sandhills

+

 

References

Choksi, M. (2015). Dubai Is Using Deadly Falcons to Control Its Pigeon Problem. Retrieved February 11, 2017, from http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/roads/2015/04/dubai_turns_to_falcons_to_control_its_growing_pigeon_problem.html

 

Crop Damage Compensation. (n.d.). Saskatchewan Crop Insurance. Retrieved from

        http://www.saskcropinsurance.com/wildlife/crop-compensation/

 

Ford Tractor Clipart. (2016). Clipart Kid. Retrieved from http://www.clipartkid.com/ford-tractor-cliparts/

 

Gerber, B. D., & Kendall, W. L. (2016). Considering transient population dynamics in the conservation of slow life-history species: An application to the sandhill crane. Biological Conservation, 200228-239. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2016.06.014

 

Government of Canada. (2015). Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis). Status of Birds in Canada. Retrieved January 27, 2017, from http://www.ec.gc.ca/soc-sbc/oiseau-bird-eng.aspx?sY=2011&sL=e&sB=SACR&sM=c

 

Government of Ontario. (2016). Falconry Licenses. Retrieved February 11, 2017, from https://www.ontario.ca/page/falconry-licences

 

Harner, M. J., Wright, G. D., & Geluso, K. (2015). Overwintering Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) in Nebraska, USA. Wilson Journal Of Ornithology, 127(3), 457-466. doi:10.1676/14-133.1

 

Harris, J. (1996). Cranes on the Farm. Retrieved Feburary 18, 2017 from https://www.savingcranes.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/1996v22n3.pdf

 

International Crane Foundation. (n.d.). SANDHILL CRANE: Grus canadensis. Retrieved February 11, 2017, from https://www.savingcranes.org/species-field-guide/sandhill-crane/

 

Johnsguard, P. A. (2002). Nebraska’s Sandhill Crane Populations, Past, Present and Future. Papers in Ornithology. Paper 16. Retrieved February 11, 2017, from http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/biosciornithology/16

 

Kerr, P. (2016). Mixed feelings among area farmers. Sault Star. Retrieved February 18, 2017, from http://www.saultstar.com/2016/05/08/mixed-feelings-among-area-farmers

 

Krapu, G. L., Brandt, D. A., Jones, K. L., & Johnson, D. H. (2011). Geographic Distribution of the Mid-Continent Population of Sandhill Cranes and Related Management Applications. Wildlife Monographs, (175), 1-38. doi:10.1002/wmon.1

 

Lacy, A. E., Barzen, J. A., Moore, D. M., & Norris, K. E. (2015). Changes in the number and distribution of Greater Sandhill Cranes in the Eastern Population. Journal Of Field Ornithology, 86(4), 317-325. doi:10.1111/jofo.12124

 

Lovell, C.D. (2012). Sandhill Crane, Ecology & Damage Management. USDA APHIS Wildlife Services. Retrieved February 11, 2017, from http://wildlifedamage.uwex.edu/pdf/SandhillCrane.pdf

 

Nilsson, L., Bunnefeld, N., Persson, J., & Månsson, J. (2016). Large grazing birds and agriculture-predicting field use of common cranes and implications for crop damage prevention. Agriculture, Ecosystems And Environment, 219163-170. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2015.12.021

OFAH Support for Limited Sandhill Crane Hunt. (2014). Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. Retrieved February 18, 2016 from http://www.ofah.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/OFAH-support-for-limited-sandhill-crane-hunt.pdf

Sandhill Crane. (2015). The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: All About Birds. Retrieved February 18, 2017 from https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Sandhill_Crane/lifehistory#at_habitat

 

The Seattle Times Staff. (2014). Falcons as pest control. The Seattle Times. Retrieved February 11, 2017, from http://www.seattletimes.com/news/falcons-as-pest-control/

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (1984). Department of Interior. Southeast Regional Resource Plan (RRP), Atlanta, Georgia. Retrieved on February 11, 2017, from Google Books (online)

 

United States Fish and Wildlife Service. (n.d.). Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis). Retrireved from: https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/Region_1/NWRS /Zone_2/Mid-Columbia_River_Complex/Columbia/Documents/sandhill-crane-facts.pdf

 

Coyote (Canis latrans)- Ecological Profile

Written By: Madison Penton, Emma Ross, Adam Bocskei & Jesse Beauchamp

Distribution: The coyote, Canis latrans, is a North American based species which is part of the family Canidae. Coyotes can be found country-wide in the United States and Mexico. While in Canada the majority of the distribution of this animal tends to be in the west side of the country as far north as the Northwest Territories (including Alaska) and as far east as the southern part of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario (Churcher, 2012). Figure 1, demonstrates the global distribution of the Canis latrans while, Figure 2 illustrates the Ontario wide distribution of this canid.  Coyotes are not found in the northern part of Ontario, but their family member the gray wolf, Canis lupus  is present there (IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), 2008).

globalmap

Figure 1: The Coyote is found primarily in North America but is now being found as far south as Panama. (Emma Ross, ArcMap 10.4. Modified from Basemap ESRI 2015, Dark grey)

capture
Figure 2: The Coyote is found primarily in North America but is now being found as far south as Panama. (Emma Ross, ArcMap 10.4. Modified from Basemap ESRI 2015, Dark grey)

Habitat: It is predicted that coyotes originated from open habitats in west-central North America and were able to expand their range due to forestry, agricultural development, and the eradication of wolves (Chubbs, Phillips, 2005). Although coyotes can live in forested areas, forests are not considered to be ideal habitats due to the coyotes poor hunting abilities in dense vegetation (Hidalgo-Mihart, Cantú-Salazar, López-González, Martínez-Gutíerrez, 2006). It is thought that habitat selection by coyotes may be influenced by the availability of water in arid sites such as prairies, but also as on moist sites such as riparian zones (Poessel, Gese, Young, 2017). Like many Canidae species, coyotes hold territories to ensure optimal reproductive fitness through group living, and to sustain access to food, space, and cover (Cese, 2001; Bekoff, Diamond, Mitton, 1981). Coyotes are well known for their adaptability and use of urban environments. Coyote populations can even respond positively to urban environments. In southern California, a study conducted by Ordeñana, et al. (2010), showed that coyote occurrence increased with both proximity and intensity of urbanization. Individual coyotes may be classified in their social organization as residents or transients. Transient coyotes do not maintain territories and exhibit nomadic movements with no fidelity for any one area (Hinton, van Manen, Chamberlain, 2015).

Coyote Cuddle
Figure 3: Picture of two coyote pups cuddling. Photo taken near Stony Plain, Alberta Source: http://harveywildlifephotography.ca/

Potential For Infestation: A study conducted by Carlson et al. (2008) suggests that female coyotes only reach estrus once per year. They are socially r-strat_animal_yellowmonogamous as well as territorial and once they are bonded with a male coyote, the pair remains together for a number of years. During this time they have litters averaging 3-7 pups which are typically born between May and March after a 60-63 day gestation period. Pups reach sexual maturity as early as 10 months, but the majority begin producing litters at roughly 22 months. Placental scars show that fecundity is at its highest between 3 and 8 years (Carlson, D. A. et al., 2008).

Sacks (2005) states that the coyote has an unusually wide range of life history strategies due to their highly variable fecundity. The size of their litter and their survivorship depend heavily on food resources and stress levels. They have the ability to compensate for increased mortality through their adaptability and increased litter sizes. In situations where coyote mortality is high, they tend to reproduce at higher rates, resembling r-strategists. In situations where mortality is low they tend to reproduce at lower rates, resembling k-strategists (Sacks, 2005).

The reintroduction of gray wolves to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 proved to be an important opportunity for coyote research. According to the National Park Service (n.d.), coyote populations were reduced by as much as 50% within 3 years of the first wolf being reintroduced (see figure x). However, by 2007, coyote populations had recovered back to the levels previously observed before gray wolf reintroduction (National Park Service, n.d.). This is an example of the coyote’s ability to adapt quickly to stress through both behavioral changes and reproductive strategies.

popgraph

Figure 4: Coyote populations in Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National Park before, during, and after gray wolf reintroduction in 1995 (National Park Service, n.d.).

Survivorship:  Coyote survival rate is generally even throughout their life due to their ability to make use of a wide variety of food sources and the relatively low number of natural predators through most of their range. Windberg’s (1995) study indicates that coyotes age 1-2 can expect a survival rate of 0.56, while coyotes age 2-8 have the highest rate of survival at 0.69. Juvenile coyote survival (birth to following spring) ranged from 0.32 to .73 (Windberg 1995). This places coyote in the Type II Survivorship curve (see figure x).

survivourshipfinal

Figure 5: The figure depicts Type I, Type II, and Type III survivorship curves. Coyotes are unique in that they can fit into more than one curve, though they tend toward the Type III side of the Type II curve (Alpha Image, n.d).

Dispersal/ Vectors: Historically Coyotes, Canis latrans only existed in West- central Vector_HumanNorth America until the expansion of agricultural lands began. (Boisjoly, D., Ouellet, J., & Courtois, R., 2010).  Coyotes travel in packs by foot and their ranges are made up primarily of open lands but they can have ranges in many types of climates. Unlike their relative the Grey Wolf urban areas with high populations of humans don’t stop coyotes from moving through an area . Coyotes actually flourish in disturbed environments such as towns and cities because of the high food availability. Coyotes have also been seen traveling by roads and even using bridges to travel through developed areas (Hinton, J.W., van Manen, F.T., & Chamberlain, M.J., 2015)

Special Considerations: Coyotes have long been considered a nuisance to some livestock farmers. In the United States, coyotes are the largest victim of livestock predator control, constituting 75% – 95% of all large predators removed (Berger, 2006). Although control efforts are often successful in terms of the number of carnivores removed, the effects of predator removal on the success of the livestock farming are not fully understood (Berger, 2006). In one study conducted by Berger (2006) to examine the effectiveness of government subsidized predator control, he concluded that “From both an economic and a public policy perspective, taxpayer dollars might be better spent to support sheep producers through direct cash payments or some other form of subsidy if the goal is to increase sheep and wool production and not merely to kill carnivores.” Due to their adaptation to urban environments, coyotes are occasionally involved in conflicts with pets, and humans (Poessel, Gese, Young, 2017).

References

Alpha Image. (n.d). Survivorship Curves. Retrieved from      http://alfa-img.com/show/survivorship-curve-example.html

Bekoff, M., Diamond, J. & Mitton, J.B. (1981). Life-history patterns and sociality in   canids: Body        size, reproduction, and behavior. Oecologia September 1981,   Volume 50, Issue 3, pp        386–390

Berger, K. M. (2006). Carnivore-Livestock Conflicts: Effects of Subsidized Predator Control and        Economic Correlates on the Sheep Industry. Conservation Biology, 20(3), 751-761.         doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2006.00336.x

Boisjoly, D., Ouellet, J., &Courtois, R. (2010). Coyote Habitat Selection and Management             Implications for the Gaspésie Caribou. Journal Of Wildlife Management, 74(1), 3-11. doi:         10.2193/2008-149

Carlson, D. A., & Gese, E. M. (2008). Reproductive Biology of the Coyote (Canis Latrans): Integration of Mating Behavior, Reproductive Hormones, and Vaginal Cytology. Journal of Mammalogy, 89(3), 654-664. Retrieved from http://ra.ocls.ca/ra/login.aspx?inst=sandford&url=?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview221473118?accountid=28555

Chubbs,T.E., and Frank RP. (2005). Evidence of range expansion of eastern Coyotes, Canis latrans in Labrador. Canadian Field-Naturalist 119(3): 381-384.

Gilbert-Norton, L. B., Wilson, R. R., Shivik, J. A., & Zeh, D. (2013). The Effect of Social         Hierarchy on Captive Coyote (Canis latrans) Foraging Behavior. Ethology, 119(4),            335-343.doi:10.1111/eth.12070

Grady, W. (1995). The World of the Coyote. Vancouver : The Sierra Club.

Hidalgo-Mihart, M. G., Cantú-Salazar, L., López-González, C. A., & Martínez-Gutíerrez, P. G. (2006). Coyote Habitat Use in a Tropical Deciduous Forest of Western Mexico. Journal Of Wildlife Management, 70(1), 216-221.

Hilton, H. (1978). Systematics and Ecology of the Eastern Coyote. New York: Academic Press, Inc.

Hinton, J.W., van Manen, F.T., & Chamberlain, M.J. (2015). Space Use and Habitat Selection by  Resident and Transient Coyotes (Canis latrans). Plos ONE, 10(7), 1-17. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0132203

Magle, S., Simoni, L., Lehrer, E., & Brown, J. (2014). Urban predator-prey association: coyote        and deer distributions in the Chicago metropolitan area. Urban Ecosystems, 17(4),         875-891. doi:10.1007/s11252-014-0389-5

National Park Service. (n.d.). Coyote Information Continued. Retrieved from https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/coyoteinfo.htm

Ordenana, M. A., Crooks, K. R., Boydston, E. E., Fisher, R. N., Lyren, L. M., Siudyla, S.,      & …        Van Vuren, D. H. (2010). Effects of urbanization on carnivore species distribution and        richness. Journal Of Mammalogy, (6), 1322.

Poessel, S. A., Gese, E. M., & Young, J. K. (2017). Research paper: Environmental factors        influencing the occurrence of coyotes and conflicts in urban areas.  Landscape And        Urban Planning, 157259-269. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2016.05.022

Rinehart, M. E. (2011). Behaviour of North American Mammals. New York: Houghton Mifflin        Harcourt Publishing Company.

Sacks, B. N. (2005). Reproduction and Body Condition of California Coyotes (Canis Latrans). Journal of Mammalogy, 86(5), 1036-1041. Retrieved fromhttp://ra.ocls.ca/ra/login.aspx?inst=sandford&url=?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/221453698?accountid=28555

Swingen, M. B., DePerno, C. S., & Moorman, C. E. (2015). Seasonal Coyote Diet Composition at a Low- Productivity Site. Southeastern Naturalist, 14(2), 397-404.

Windberg L. A. (1995). Demography of High Density Coyote Population. Retrieved from https://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/nwrc/publications/95pubs/95-70.pdf

Young, J. K., Andelt, W. F., Terletzky, P. A., & Shivik, J. A. (2006). A comparison of coyote ecology     after 25 years: 1978 versus 2003. Canadian Journal Of Zoology, 84(4), 573-582.            doi:10.1139/Z06-030

Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis) – Ecological Profile

Written by Sara Kuruvilla, Jennifer Del Tin, Mary Pennington, and Teslyn Heron

Ecological Profile: Sandhill Crane, Antigone canadensis

Distribution

Sandhill Cranes, Antigone canadensis, is a species of bird that belong to the Gruidae family, with six subspecies. They are the most common cranes in the world and occur mostly in North America. They are migratory birds and because of this both their summer and winter range must be considered (National Geographic, 2017). During the summer months, these birds are found predominantly in North America with a small range occurring in Siberia (National Geographic, 2017). As seen in Figure 1, their winter range consists of more southern areas such as Florida, California, Texas, Utah, Mexico, and Cuba (National Geographic, 2017). There are a few populations that nest in Mississippi, Cuba, and Florida that stay in these areas year-round and do not migrate (Kaufman, n.d.). It has also been found that some individuals are now nesting further north than they have in the past (Kaufman, n.d.).

Final map

Figure 1: Global Distribution of Sandhill Cranes, Antigone canadensis (Base map ESRI, range based on BirdLife International, 2016).

ontario

Figure 2: Ontario distribution of the Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis) The Sandhill Crane’s range is found in northern Ontario and a small portion of southern Ontario (Basemap: ArcGIS software; Range modified from Kaufman, n.d. & The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2016).

Habitat

The habitat of the Sandhill Crane varies based on the region, but they will typically nest in areas surrounding marshes or bogs (Kaufman, n.d.). They prefer these areas because their nests are built with cattails, sedges, grasses, and bulrushes (The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2016). Breeding birds prefer the edges between wetlands and upland habitats, while non-breeding birds prefer more open and grassy areas (The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2016). Their winter habitat consists of shallow lakes and rivers during the night, and irrigated croplands, pastures, grasslands, and wetlands during the day (The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2016). Their preference toward more open areas has been known to cause crop damage; this is because they often dig in the soil for tubers (National Geographic, 2017).

Potential for Infestation r-strat_animal_yellow

Sandhill Cranes lay two eggs in a ground nest that is 30-40 inches wide, and constructed using surrounding vegetation. The male then stands guards of the nest the majority of the time. The eggs hatch in about one month, and the young are independent two months after hatching. They will join the adults in migration that season, and stick close to their parents for 9-10 months (National Wildlife Federation, 1996-2017). They can begin reproducing at 2 years of age, and the adult Sandhill Cranes can live for as long as 36 years. This species, as well as other bird species, share “R” and K-strategist qualities, but is considered to be closer to a K-strategist due to the fact that they produce few offspring at once, extended parental care, and a long lifespan (see Table 1) (Rafferty, 2011).

Table 1: Reproductive strategies of the Sandhill Crane, Antigone canadensis, showcasing the typical reproductive strategy of K-strategists. (Table adapted from Feltham, 2016) (Sandhill Crane sources: Lacy, Barzen, Moore, & Norris, 2015; Molles & Cahill, 2014, p. 245; Rafferty, 2011 & 2014; The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2016)

Characteristics R-strategist K-strategist Sandhill Cranes
Population Growth High Low 8.39% increase from 2003-2013
Mortality Variable and unpredictable More constant and predictable Not variable, constant
Lifespan Short Long 20 years in the wild
Adult Size Small body size Large Large body size
Clutch Size Large Small Small – Maximum of 3 eggs
Parental Investment/Care Very little if any Required → Both parents incubate the eggs.→ The males take responsibility for guarding the nest→ Hatchling are precocial→ The juveniles stick to their parents 9-10 months after hatching→ Age at first flight is 65-75 days
Age of Maturity Most reproductively mature individuals reproduce successfully Few reproductively mature individuals or some reproduce successfully While some start breeding at the age of 2, most start at the age of 7
Frequency of Reproduction Once to multiple times over short time period Multiple times but over a prolonged period 1 brood per year, breeding pair mate for life

Survivorship

Sandhill Cranes exhibit the characteristics of having a Type II survivorship curve. During the first 9-10 months of their lives, the investment and care of their parents ensures a low mortality rate for young Sandhill Cranes during the developing months of their lives (Kaufman, n.d.).
6542-004-be57d88e

Figure 3: Displayed in this figure are the three different survivorship curves with examples of species that demonstrate each of them. Sandhill Cranes demonstrate a Type II survivorship curve because they have an equal rate of mortality regardless of their age (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2016).

Dispersal/Vectors Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 7.46.30 PM.pngVector_birds

Sandhill Cranes are migrating birds, which has an affect on their dispersal. In the summer months, they are viewed in more northern climates and in winter they travel south. They can travel up to 402 km in one day, at speeds of up to 56 Km per hour, and they generally stop in the same spots each year (Perron, V., 2014). Even though today this species is the most common crane in the world, but they are vulnerable to habitat loss in the future (Kaufman, n.d.). From 1966-1977 most of the wintering Sandhill Cranes were counted in central Florida, but by 2002-2013 their wintering range has expanded north by 158 km. Sandhill Cranes have also been observed migrating in areas further west than Florida a lot more frequently (Harner, Wright, & Geluso, 2015). In mid-February, Sandhill cranes rely on the Platte River as a key stopping point for 3-4 weeks, to regain energy and nutrients before they continue migrating north (Seecan, G., 2016). The cranes use the open sections along the banks of the river to roost. Without this area, the cranes would not have enough stored energy to be able to complete their migration (Kessler, Merchant, Shultz, & Allen, 2013).

crane.png

Figure 4: Using an aerial thermal infrared video system, images were uploaded to a geographical information system (GIS) to showcase roosting sites of the Sandhill Cranes along the Platte River. Video from high altitudes was used to record roosting flocks across the entire width of the river, while video from low altitudes was used to record the spatial density of the cranes within each roosting flock (U.S. Geological Survey).

Special Concerns

In the early 1900’s, these birds were nearly extirpated from areas in the United States, with approximately only 25 breeding pairs left in Wisconsin. Protection efforts allowed these birds to expand their population, and by 1996 numbers exceeding 30,000 were observed. Below, Figure 5 demonstrates the increase in population size over the years (Lacy et al., 2015). While Sandhill Cranes are currently quite an abundant species, they may become more threatened in the future. This is because 80% of Sandhill Cranes utilize a 180 km stretch along Nebraska’s Platte River as their migration route and this area is facing a lot of development pressures which may cause issues for the Sandhill Crane in the future (Harner et al., 2015). In some areas, overhunting is causing issues for these birds as well as commercial and residential development in some of the southern areas that have become year round habitats for the Sandhill Crane (International Crane Foundation, 2017).

dist.png

Figure 5:  Displayed in this graph is the Breeding Bird Survey of Sandhill Cranes conducted in the United States and Canada (Lacy et al., 2015).

Sandhill Cranes are opportunistic eaters and will indulge in macroinvertebrates, rodents, frogs, snakes, plants, and grains. This can pose a problem to farmers because the species will dig in agricultural fields for tubers, which in turn causes crop damage. During their layover in Nebraska, they can consume as much as 1, 600 lbs of waste corn. Sandhill Cranes are only territorial during breeding season, usually beginning around mid-March. This is to ensure there isn’t a depletion of food sources so that they can have healthy young that survive into adulthood.  They are quite social during the fall and winter months (Bennett & Bennett, 1992).

Predator species of the Sandhill Crane include coyotes, bobcats, and eagles, but the biggest threat is human influence and the degradation/destruction of marshlands (Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, 2011). Along with these pressures, The Sandhill Cranes also face issues regarding invasive wetland plant species such as the Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) and the Common Reed (Phragmites australis). According to author Sierra Harris, these invasives have detrimental effects to the Crane’s main roosting area along the Central Platte River located in Nebraska, USA (Harris, S., 2014). Recently, the plants have been taking over the riverbank and have even caused the sandbanks to become anchored, thus in turn changing the surrounding habitat and the river’s overall hydrology. With this alteration to the river’s natural process, and the decrease in plant diversity (and the eventual formation of a monoculture), fewer number of birds have been found in the invaded wetland areas. Land management and control treatment methods like burning and herbicide applications have been carried out annually but it only seems to decrease the abundance of the invasives, and does not completely eliminate them.

References

BirdLife International. (2016). Antigone canadensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22692078A93336581. Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22692078A93336581.en

Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2016). Survivorship Curves. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/science/survivorship-curve

Harris, S. (2014). Sandhill Cranes Vs. Invasive Species | PBT. Retrieved February 04, 2017, from http://plattebasintimelapse.com/2014/08/sandhill-cranes-vs-invasive-species/

Feltham, J. V. (2016). Species Management Strategy. Gray wolf, canis lupus. Retrieved January 27, 2017.

Kaufman, K. (n.d.). Sandhill Crane. Retrieved from http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/sandhill-crane

Kessler, A. C., Merchant, J. W., Shultz, S. D., & Allen, C. R. (2013). Cost-effectiveness analysis of Sandhill crane habitat management. The Journal Of Wildlife Management, (7), 1301.

Lacy, A. E., Barzen, J. A., Moore, D. M., & Norris, K. E. (2015). Changes in the number and distribution of Greater Sandhill Cranes in the Eastern Population. Journal Of Field Ornithology, 86(4), 317-325. doi:10.1111/jofo.12124

National Geographic. (2017). Sandhill Crane. Retrieved from: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/sandhill-crane

Molles, M.C., & Cahill, J.F. (2014). Ecology Concepts and Applications. Toronto, Canada: McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited.

Perron, V. (2014). Sandhill Crane Migrations Revealed by Satellite. Retrieved from: http://www.opb.org/television/programs/ofg/segment/sandhill-crane-migrations-revealed-by-satellites/

Rafferty, J. (2011). K-Selected Species. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/science/K-selected-species

Rafferty, J. (2014). R-Selected Species. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/science/r-selected-species

Seecan, G. (2016). Sandhill Crane Migration. Retrieved from: http://www.nebraskatravels.com/sandhill-crane-migration.html

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. (2015). Sandhill Crane. Retrieved from: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Sandhill_Crane/lifehistory#at_habitat

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). (2016). Assessing Sandhill Crane Roosting Habitat along the Platte River, Nebraska. Department of Interior. Retrieved February 04, 2017, from https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2005/3029/

Written by: Sara Kuruvilla, Mary Pennington, Jennifer Del Tin, Teslyn Heron.

Gray Wolf – Ecological Profile

Distribution: The gray wolf, Canis lupus, is one of the most widely distributed members of the family Canidae (Fritts et al., 1997). Although its distribution is restricted to the northern hemisphere, the gray wolf is found on all continents in the northern hemisphere within temperate, boreal, tundra, and arctic ecoregions (Fritts et al., 1997; Singh & Kumara, 2006). Figure 1 illustrates the global distribution of the gray wolf while Figure 2 illustrates the distribution within the province of Ontario. Canis lupus is absent from southern Ontario where the only large canids are the eastern wolf, Canis lycaon, and the coyote, Canis latrans (Mladenoff, Haight, Sickley, & Wydeven, 1995).

Gray_Wolf_Distribution_Global_Grey_Black_Red

Figure 1: Global distribution of the gray wolf, Canis lupus. Although it is restricted to the northern hemisphere, Canis lupus is found on all continents north of the equator (Base map: ESRI 2015; Distribution modified from National Geographic, N.D.).

Gray_Wolf_Distribution_Ontario

Figure 2: The gray wolf, Canis lupus, is found throughout northern Ontario and absent from south eastern, south central and south western Ontario (Base map: ESRI 2015; Distribution modified from National Geographic, N.D.).

Habitat: Gray wolves have adapted to live in a variety of habitats including temperate forest, grassland, boreal forest, tundra, and arctic habitat (Blanco & Cortés, 2007; Mech, 2014; Mladenoff et al., 1995; Singh & Kumara, 2006). Habitat selection is influenced primarily by prey availability with a secondary influence of the requirement for the alpha female to have a suitable denning site (Bergstrom, et al. 2009; Blanco & Cortés, 2007; Singh & Kumara, 2006). Dens are generally located on hillsides that provide both cover and a vantage point for the wolves to view the surrounding area for both potential prey and potential threats. Soil conditions are generally suitable for the wolves to excavate a large den into the hillside that is large enough to accommodate the alpha female and her litter of wolf cubs. Dens are also situated somewhat centrally within the home range of the wolf pack to facilitate the provision of food for the alpha female and cubs. During the summer, Ontario wolves spend more time in mixed and deciduous forest habitats while in the winter they are in primarily coniferous forest(Mladenoff et al., 1995). Mapping the habitat use and preferences of moose in this region of Ontario reveals that it is in fact the movement and preference of the moose that dictates the areas frequented by gray wolves.

Bison grazing in Yellowstone National Park
Figure 3: Bison grazing in Yellowstone National park. This is the landscape wolves feel at home it. It provides open and forested habitat where the wolves can hunt for prey in summer and winter (Photo: Feltham, 2013)

r-strat_animal_outlinePotential for Infestation: Gray wolves exhibit the typical reproductive strategy of K-strategists. They are among the largest and longest lived canids with moderate litter size and significant parental/pack investment in raising the young. Population growth is generally slow and recovery from a population bottleneck takes 15 to 20 years. Key elements of wolf biology that support their classification as K-strategists are summarized in table 1.

Table 1: Summary of the reproductive characteristics of the gray wolf, Canis lupus. Note that the gray wolves align best with the reproductive characteristics of K-strategists (Adapted from Rickleffs, 1990)

Characteristic r-strategist K-strategist Gray Wolf
Mortality Variable and unpredictable More constant and predictable Not variable – constant
Lifespan Short Long Longest of the Canids
Litter Size Large Small Moderate – 4-6 cubs
Parental Investment/Care Very little if any Required Entire pack assists with care of cubs
Frequency of Reproduction Once to multiple times over short time period Multiple times but over a prolonged period Once a year for multiple years
Additional Factors Most reproductively mature individuals reproduce successfully Few reproductively mature individuals or only some reproduce successfully Only alpha female and alpha male reproduce. Several individuals in the pack that are capable of reproduction but do not

Survivorship: Gray wolves have a relatively even probability of survival throughout life which designates them as a species with a Type II survivorship curve (see Figure 3). The success and survivorship of individuals is closely linked to the pack because multiple animals contributing to the survival of both pack members throughout life. If an individual is cast out or left without a pack, survivorship is significantly reduced.

Survivorship curves
Figure 3: Gray wolves have a Type II survivorship curve because the probability of survival for any individual is relatively even throughout their life.

Vector_HumanDispersal and Vectors: Wolves migrate and move throughout the landscape on foot. Their energy conserving, loping gate, permits them to travel hundreds of kilometers in a relatively short time. While rivers and lakes do not form significant a barrier to dispersal there are some consistent barriers related to human activity. Gray wolves are significantly affected by major road ways as are many species of terrestrial vertebrates. A study conducted in and around Algonquin park and a similar study in Minnesota found that the presence of wolves in any given area is inversely related to road density (Mladenoff et al., 1995). Once road density hits a specific threshold, wolves are absent from the landscape. Therefore, dispersal of wolves is over land, across rivers, lakes, and even the ocean when ice is present. A pack or individual wolf can travel great distances over a few days yet roads and dense human populations are the most significant barriers to dispersal.

Special Considerations: Wolves are pack animals. Working as a pack they are able to capture and kill prey that is much larger than if they were to work alone (Vaughan, 1986). Territoriality is a common characteristic of pack animals and it is a trait that gray wolves exhibit. Each pack will generally exclude other packs and individual wolves from entering their territory or home range to reduce competition for food resources (Alcock, 1993). The size of the territory/home range is directly related to the food resources in the area. That is, if the food resources are plentiful, wolves will have a smaller territory because they can obtain enough food without having to travel long distances (Alcock, 1993; Vaughan, 1986). Higher densities of wolves are observed in areas where there are higher densities of prey. Conversely, if the food resources are scarce and unpredictable, the territory of the pack will be large and wolf density will be low.

References:

Alcock, J. (1993). Animal Behaviour (5th ed). Sunderland: Sinauer Associates Inc.

Bergstrom, B. J., Vignieri, S., Sheffield, S. R., Sechrest, W., et al. (2009). The Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf is not yet recovered. BioScience, 59(11), 991–999. http://doi.org/10.1525/bio.2009.59.11.11

Blanco, J. C., & Cortés, Y. (2007). Dispersal patterns, social structure and mortality of wolves living in agricultural habitats in Spain. Journal of Zoology, 273(1), 114–124. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7998.2007.00305.x

Feltham, Josh. (2013). Photo: Yellowstone river valley

Fritts, S. H., Bangs, E. E., Fontaine, J. a, Johnson, M. R., Phillips, M. K., Koch, E. D., & Gunson, J. R. (1997). Planning and Implementing a Reintroduction of Wolves to Yellowstone National Park and Central Idaho. Restoration Ecology, 5(1), 7–27. http://doi.org/10.1046/j.1526-100X.1997.09702.x

Mech, L. D. (2014). The Challenge and Opportunity of Wolf Populations Recovering. Conservation Biology, 9(2), 270–278.

Mladenoff, D. J., Haight, R. G., Sickley, T. A., & Wydeven, A. P. (1995). A regional landscape analysis and prediction of favorable gray wolf habitat in the northern Great Lakes region. Conservation Biology, 9(2), 279–294.

Singh, M., & Kumara, H. N. (2006). Distribution, status and conservation of Indian gray wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) in Karnataka, India. Journal of Zoology, 270(1), 164–169. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7998.2006.00103.x