Newport Beach enlists plastic coyotes to scare off sea lions

Finding a reliable and cost-effective way to humanely repel sea lions isn’t easy. Never mind if the solutions are ridiculous looking, which they sometimes are. As long as it works and keeps working, that’s what matters.

Take for example, the ongoing sea lion-deterring efforts of Astoria, Oregon. In 2015, a desperate ploy to scare away an unruly colony of sea lions with a parade float-turned-boat painted like an orca literally went belly up in front of the impervious marine mammals. (They were obviously not amused by the high jinks.) A year later, officials enlisted a quartet of wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube men to frighten the pinnipeds away. Although only a temporary fix, it seemed to do the trick.

Dennis Durgan, the harbormaster of Newport Beach, California, opted not to go the Astoria route and instead look locally for inspiration. As city spokeswoman Mary Locey tells the Orange County Register, Durgan’s idea came straight from the Newport Harbor Yacht Club.

The brilliant, absurd and apparently effective solution?

Forty dollar plastic coyotes.

While unclear how often coyotes and sea lions actually encounter each other in the wild (uh, never?), the fearsome-looking decoys — available at a Walmart near you — proved successful at warding off sea lions at the yacht club. And so far, they’ve done a decent job on the public docks in Newport Beach’s scenic, semi-artificial harbor, too.

CityofNewportBeach

@newportbeachgov

Wile E. Coyote has been put to work around Newport Harbor to deter sea lions from hauling out on boats and docks to prevent property damage and late night noisy parties.

See CityofNewportBeach’s other Tweets

“We’re getting less complaints with the coyotes but we’re still getting plenty to make it a number one priority,” Newport Harbor dockmaster Ryan Sandford tells the Register. “This is probably the most affordable way to take care of this issue.

A meeting not common in nature

Newport Beach has long struggled with managing marauding sea lions that no doubt descend on the protected harbor because of its enviable real estate: spacious, well-maintained docks and hundreds of large yachts and expensive pleasure craft, all with glistening white bows perfect for basking under the bright Southern California sun. It’s all rather deluxe.

But when sea lions manage to waddle up swim stairs and make their way onto the boats, they can cause significant damage. If enough of the blubbery interlopers decide to congregate aboard a single boat, they can sink it. And while fun to look at and photograph, these highly intelligent beasts can be rowdy, surly and aggressive toward humans. They love being the life of the party, but when you ask them to leave, they trash the place and then chase you away.

Sea lions lounging on a yacht in Newport Beach, CADon’t mind if we do: Sea lions lounge in sunny Newport Beach, California (Photo: Tracie Hall/flickr)

And so, the city is banking on a band of eight ersatz coyotes to help prevent further property damage. Normally, coyote decoys are used to spook Canadian geese (the clever and highly adaptable wild canines are a natural predator) as well as small animals like rabbits and skunks. The natural habitat of faux coyote tends to be golf courses, not upscale marinas. This particularly versatile model, with its comically giant yellow eyes and exposed fangs, is crouched in a ready-to-pounce stance. For added realism, it swivels and “wags furry tail with breeze.”

In order to better track the city’s newest unpaid employees, each coyote has been given a name. There’s Wile E., of course. As for the rest of them, the city decided to stick with the Loony Toons theme: Bugs, Taz, Elmer, Sylvester, Babs, Marvin and Yosemite round out the pack.

The Los Angeles Times notes that these unusual maritime scarecrows have been installed at “known sea lion magnets” around the harbor. One would hope that boat owners near these hotspots have been alerted to the presence of the somewhat startling decoys. Southern Californians may be used to interacting with normally shy coyotes, most are decidedly not used to encountering a creature that looks like the cartoon version of a rapid dog on a marina dock.

O.C. Register

@ocregister

Teeth-baring plastic coyotes are Newport Beach’s latest sea lion scare tactic http://dlvr.it/Pwc3ry 

See O.C. Register’s other Tweets

While Newport Beach officials are glad to lend assistance and protect property while maintaining public safety, individual boat owners are also required by the city to employ their own humane anti-sea lion techniques. It’s written right into the city’s municipal code. Popular approved methods include blocking swim stairs, installing snow fencing and setting out motion-activated sprinklers, which startle the resting animals and usually prompt them to hop back in the water.

It’s unclear how long the eight coyotes will be on the job even though the early results are positive. After a while, they’ll no doubt become less fearsome, more familiar. Their deterrent power will fade. “You have to constantly be creative with coming up with ideas,” Locey tells the Register. “The chances of them probably becoming used to these and realizing that they’re fake and not real is probably pretty high.”

If this does ever happen, it might be worth Newport Beach’s time looking into other decoys of predators that sea lions would never interact with in the wild. (After all, the Astoria killer whale ruse was a dud.) Perhaps a stern-looking owl might also prove successful.

Ban the bunny: California aims to end post-Easter parade of unwanted rabbits

By Barbara Goldberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Californians can eat chocolate bunnies and snuggle plush Peter Cottontail dolls to their heart’s content this Easter.

But those who want to buy a live bunny as an Easter gift won’t find them for sale at pet stores this year after California became the first U.S. state to pass a law aimed at stemming a post-holiday deluge of maturing rabbits being abandoned or euthanized.

The legislation, which took effect in January, prohibits retail shops from selling commercially bred dogs, cats and rabbits. The idea is to encourage adoption of rescued animals and to crack down on the sale of pets from “puppy mills,” “kitty factories” and “bunny bundlers.”

Legislatures in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Pennsylvania are considering similar bills. Dozens of cities, from Boston and Chicago to Salt Lake City already have local ordinances on the books.

The problem of abandonment and euthanasia is particularly acute for rabbits purchased in pet stores, as they tend to be impulse buys, especially in the days before Easter.

“In the one to three months after Easter, we traditionally see a spike in shelter rabbit intakes,” said Anne Martin, executive director of the House Rabbit Society, a nonprofit group that rescues rabbits and places them in foster care.

“In Northern California alone, thousands of stray and unwanted rabbits end up in the municipal shelter systems, and the majority of these rabbits are under a year old,” she said.

The Easter Bunny, an age-old symbol of fertility and renewal, plays an endearing role in the springtime holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, tempting parents to buy one of the cuddly-looking creatures for their families.

But to the surprise of many, rabbits are not low-maintenance balls of fur, their owners say, as they require daily cleaning and specialized medical care.

‘UNINTENTIONAL ANIMAL CRUELTY’

“There is a common misconception that a rabbit just can sit in a cage and eat carrots,” said Jacob Levitt, 44, a dermatologist who owns eight young, adopted bunnies that roam his New York City luxury apartment.

He said it was “unintentional animal cruelty” to keep a rabbit cooped up and to fail to give it a proper diet of grass hay.

Fulvio Roman, 32, whose fiance made a “spur of the moment” decision to buy a pet store rabbit, admitted to being unprepared for the demands of its care.

“Once she saw the bunny and was able to hold her, she immediately fell in love,” said Roman, who lives on Long Island and supervises kitchen workers in New York City public schools. “We didn’t know what it really took to have a bunny.”

Eight months later, after the rabbit resisted being picked up, chewed through air conditioner wires, and their landlord demanded a non-refundable $1,000 security deposit, they surrendered the rabbit to a shelter.

“Not everyone knows how much work a bunny takes. We ended up being educated by force,” Roman said.

Rabbits typically live 10 years and multiply every 30 days, with an average litter of eight babies. Pet stores often fail to neuter bunnies, according to House Rabbit.

Bunnies mature at 3 to 6 months and males spray urine and females become territorial. When they grow less adorable, house bunnies are left in backyard hutches or abandoned in fields or woods.

Under California’s Law, consumers can adopt animals from a shelter or buy them directly from a breeder.

Some 2.8 million U.S. households have rabbits as pets, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), compared with 60.2 million with a dog, 47.1 million with a cat, 7.9 million with a bird and 2.6 million with a horse.

The House Rabbit Society said bunnies are the third most abandoned pet in the United States. Advocates say rabbits are also the third most euthanized, based on a 2010 study of four shelters in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

‘DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES’ FOR INDUSTRY

In California, pet industry leaders, many of whom opposed the new law, say local shops that sell animals will suffer.

“We expect the California law will have disastrous consequences for the small, local business pet stores,” said Mike Bober, president and CEO of Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.

But live animal sales account for just 3 percent of the industry’s roughly $70 billion in annual sales, according to APPA’s website. The bulk of U.S. pet store sales in recent years has been for food, vet care, supplies and over-the-counter medicines.

John Goodwin, a senior director at the Humane Society of the United States, urged Americans to pass on buying a live bunny as an Easter present.

“There are plenty of stuffed animals and chocolates in rabbit form,” Goodwin said.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Frank McGurty and Bill Berkrot)

California firefighters rescue a cougar stuck up a tree

Photo: San Bernardino County Fire/Facebook

ON SATURDAY, firefighters rescued a cougar that was stuck in a tree just outside a home in San Bernardino, California. The animal was about 50 feet up when the authorities were called by the homeowners. After securing the area, the San Bernardino County firefighters tranquilized the cougar and lowered it safely to the ground thanks to a harness. Once it was assessed by biologists for any injuries, the cougar was released back into the wild.

Photo: San Bernardino County Fire/Facebook

Photo: San Bernardino County Fire/Facebook

According to Kevin Brennan, a biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), “It is common for young mountain lions to wander outside what some would consider normal habitat in an attempt to establish their territory.” Cougar attacks on humans are very rare. According to statistics compiled by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, in over 100 years there have been fewer than a dozen human fatalities from mountain lion attacks in North America.

Sick sea lions appear on area beaches

image - sea lion

This sea lion, Grazer, is seen curled up with his flippers folded tightly over his abdomen prior to his rescue by trained Marine Mammal Center responders in Monterey. The posture is known as “lepto pose” and is an indication the sea lion is suffering the effects of the disease. Photo courtesy of Marine Mammal Center

Sea lions sick with leptospirosis have been showing up on California beaches in near record numbers, the Marine Mammal Center reports. As a result, staff and volunteers at the center have been busy in a normally quiet time of the year. 

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that was first diagnosed in sea lions in the 1970s, says center Director of Veterinary Science Dr. Shawn Johnson. It can be present in humans and other mammals as well, but a strain that affects marine mammals — and sea lions in particular — is sickening the pinnipeds at a rate not seen since 2004. The center has confirmed more than 250 sea lions have come under its care because of the disease so far this year and the number continues to climb. 

“We’re still rescuing animals every day,” Johnson said recently. “So we could easily become the largest outbreak.” 

The center sees cases of leptospirosis every year but the outbreaks appear to be cyclical with a large one showing up every five years or so. The last notable one was in 2011 and infected nearly 200 sea lions, according to the center. 

While sea lions with the disease are showing up along the entire California coastline, Johnson says there appears to be more in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties. He adds that there are generally more sea lions in this area this time of year so that doesn’t necessarily point to the region as being more susceptible to the disease. 

Of the roughly 220 infected sea lions identified in October, about 30 had been found along the San Mateo County coast, Johnson said, noting that his office receives calls for about five sickened sea lions per day. 

Now, in late November, the center reports that the rate of incoming sick sea lions has slowed. But, with the number of leptospirosis-infected sea lions topping 250, this cycle still comes in as the second-highest outbreak ever recorded.  Sea lions with the disease are often found with their flippers tucked in and their bodies scrunched in response to abdominal pain. The disease affects their kidneys which may prompt them to drink seawater or eat the sand in response to the reflex that’s telling them to drink, Johnson said. 

Normally, marine mammals do not consume water directly as they get all the hydration from the fish they eat. 

As part of their treatment back at the Marin-based center, the sea lions receive fresh water, antibiotics and other support. In spite of this treatment, roughly two-thirds of the sick sea lions will die from their infections, according to the center. 

The cause of the periodic outbreaks is not entirely clear but could be attributed to changes in ocean temperature, migration shifts or a lack of herd immunity. 

The center has partnered with researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, to better understand the outbreaks. The researchers are collecting blood and urine samples from young sea lions at Año Nuevo to determine whether they have any evidence of kidney disease or antibodies that could point to previous exposure to the disease. 

Scientists are puzzled by the fact that sea lions appear to be more likely to catch the disease than other pinnipeds. 

“Why are sea lions so susceptible to this infection whereas elephant seals and harbor seals aren’t?” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of unanswered questions.” 

Because a sea lion with leptospirosis could potentially pass on its infection to humans, beachgoers are asked to keep their distance. 

Beachgoers who see a sick sea lion are asked to call the Marine Mammal Center rescue line, (415) 289-7325. 

The center is also looking for volunteers to help monitor the beaches for sick animals or to help out at the Marin headquarters. 

For more information on volunteering, visit the Marine Mammal Center website at www.marinemammalcenter.org.

Scientists disagree with Trump: Drought, not bad management, worsened wildfires

https://nypost.com/2018/11/13/scientists-disagree-with-trump-drought-not-bad-management-worsened-wildfires/

By Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Both nature and humans share blame for California’s devastating wildfires, but forest management did not play a major role, despite President Donald Trump’s claims, fire scientists say.

Nature provides the dangerous winds that have whipped the fires, and human-caused climate change over the long haul is killing and drying the shrubs and trees that provide the fuel, experts say.

“Natural factors and human-caused global warming effects fatally collude” in these fires, said wildfire expert Kristen Thornicke of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

Multiple reasons explain the fires’ severity, but “forest management wasn’t one of them,” University of Utah fire scientist Philip Dennison said.

Trump tweeted on Saturday: “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests.”

The death toll from the wildfire that incinerated the Northern California town of Paradise and surrounding areas climbed to 42, making it the single deadliest blaze in California history. Statewide, the number of fire dead stood at 44, including two victims in Southern California.

One reason that scientists know that management isn’t to blame is that some areas now burning had fires in 2005 and 2008, so they aren’t “fuel-choked closed-canopy forests,” Dennison said.

In those earlier fires, Paradise was threatened but escaped major damage, he said. In the current blazes, it was virtually destroyed.

The other major fire, in Southern California, burned through shrub land, not forest, Dennison said.

“It’s not about forest management. These aren’t forests,” he said.

The dean of the University of Michigan’s environmental school, Jonathan Overpeck, said Western fires are getting bigger and more severe. He said it “is much less due to bad management and is instead the result of our baking of our forests, woodlands and grasslands with ever-worsening climate change.”

Wildfires have become more devastating because of the extreme weather swings from global warming, fire scientists said. The average number of US acres burned by wildfires has doubled over the level from 30 years ago.

As of Monday, more than 13,200 square miles have burned. That’s more than a third higher than the 10-year average.

From 1983 to 1999, the United States didn’t reach 10,000 square miles burned annually. Since then, 11 of 19 years have seen more than 10,000 square miles burned, including this year. In 2006, 2015 and 2017, more than 15,000 square miles burned.

The two fires now burning “aren’t that far out of line with the fires we’ve seen in these areas in recent decades,” Dennison said.

“The biggest factor was wind,” Dennison said in an email. “With wind speeds as high as they were, there was nothing firefighters could do to stop the advance of the fires.”

These winds, called Santa Ana winds, and the unique geography of high mountains and deep valleys act like chimneys, fortifying the fires, Thornicke said.

The wind is so strong that fire breaks — areas where trees and brush have been cleared or intentionally burned to deprive the advancing flames of fuel — won’t work. One of the fires jumped over eight lanes of freeway, about 140 feet, Dennison said.

Southern California had fires similar to the Woolsey Fire in 1982, when winds were 60 mph, but “the difference between 1982 and today is a much higher population in these areas. Many more people were threatened and had to be evacuated,” Dennison said.

California also has been in drought for all but a few years of the 21st century and is now experiencing its longest drought, which began on Dec. 27, 2011, and has lasted 358 weeks, according to the US Drought Monitor. Nearly two-thirds of the state is abnormally dry.

The first nine months of the year have been the fourth-warmest on record for California, and this past summer was the second-hottest on record in the state.

Because of that, there are 129 million dead trees, which provide fuel for fires, Thornicke said.

And it’s more than trees. Dead shrubs around the bottom of trees provide what is called “ladder fuel,” offering a path for fire to climb from the ground to the treetops and intensifying the conflagration by a factor of 10 to 100, said Kevin Ryan, a fire consultant and former fire scientist at the US Forest Service.

While many conservatives advocate cutting down more trees to prevent fires, no one makes money by cutting dead shrubs, and that’s a problem, he said.

Local and state officials have cleared some Southern California shrubs, enough for normal weather and winds. But that’s not enough for this type of extreme drought, said Ryan, also a former firefighter.

University of Alberta fire scientist Mike Flanigan earlier this year told the Associated Press that the hotter and drier the weather, the easier it is for fires to start, spread and burn more intensely.

It’s simple, he said: “The warmer it is, the more fire we see.”

For every 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit that the air warms, it needs 15 percent more rain to make up for the drying of the fuel, Flannigan said.

Federal fire and weather data show the years with the most acres burned were generally a degree warmer than average.

“Everyone who has gardened knows that you must water more on hotter days,” Overpeck said. “But, thanks in part to climate change, California isn’t getting enough snow and rain to compensate for the unrelenting warming caused by climate change. The result is a worsening wildfire problem.”

‘Grandma did everything she could’: Carr Fire claims 3 more victims, spreads in every direction

Deadly California fire continues to blaze

The Carr Fire in Redding, Calif., has killed five people after a malfunctioning vehicle set off flames on July 23.

They found the children’s bodies under a wet blanket. 

For days, family members had combed evacuation shelters, praying for a sign that Melody Bledsoe and her granddaughter’s children had survived the Carr Fire.

Search crews, meanwhile, sifted through the ashes of what used to be the family’s neighborhood in Redding, Calif., looking for something much worse.

On Saturday, authorities called the family into the sheriff’s office with news of the search’s grim conclusion — and details of a matriarch’s final, futile act.

“Grandma did everything she could to save them she was hovered over them both with a wet blanket,” Amanda Woodley wrote on Facebook shortly afterward.

They were the latest victims of California’s Carr Fire, an 89,194-acre blaze that has killed five people and twice doubled in size.

Emily Roberts was 4. Her brother, James Roberts Jr., was 5.  Their great-grandmother, Melody Bledsoe, was 70. Their family hadn’t heard from them since receiving desperate phone calls on Thursday night, saying the flames were getting closer.

“The family that lives in town are all together mourning 3 amazing souls,” Woodley wrote. “My heart is crushed i can’t believe this is real i just keep seeing all of their beautiful faces.”

The Sacramento Bee

@sacbee_news

‘My kids are deceased’ Mother confirms missing children, great-grandmother died in fire https://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/fires/article215704355.html 

‘My kids are deceased’ Mother confirms missing children, great-grandmother died in fire

Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko says evacuation orders were issued to threatened areas, but relative of a missing trio say the family never got one and remain missing. Check back for updates.

sacbee.com

While some families mourned, others braced themselves for the heartbreak to come.

Michelle Harrington, a teacher from Redding, said officials told her that she would be permitted to access her home — or, rather, what was left of it — on Sunday morning. She won’t be alone.

The Carr Fire has destroyed 500 structures and threatens 5,000 more, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The latest official update about the blaze includes a sobering admission by fire authorities. Despite the efforts of 3,400 active fire personnel, the blaze is winning.

 0:54
California wildfire forces TV station to evacuate mid-broadcast

Officials said the Carr Fire in Northern California, which started July 23 and has tripled in size, was caused by a mechanical issue involving a vehicle. 

“The winds, high temperatures and dry vegetation still have the potential to fuel fire growth,” Cal Fire said. “Fire Spread has been active in all directions and has made significant runs.”

Two firefighters — Redding Fire Inspector Jeremy Stoke and Don Ray Smith, a privately hired bulldozer operator — were killed trying to contain the blaze, which will probably be larger than the city of Philadelphia before the weekend is up.

As of Sunday morning, the fire was 5 percent contained. Authorities say it was sparked by a malfunctioning vehicle on Monday, July 23.


A destroyed car is seen among the ruins of a burned neighborhood after the Carr Fire passed through the area of Lake Keswick Estates near Redding, Calif., on Saturday. (Josh Edelson/AFB/Getty Images)

Aaron Williams contributed to this report from Redding, Calif.

Further reading:

The grim scope of 2017’s California wildfire season is now clear. The danger’s not over.

Wolves in Northern California aren’t just loping through anymore; they’re here to stay

May 8, 2018 Updated: May 9,

Seven years after an Oregon wolf named OR-7 caused an international sensation by taking a historic pilgrimage through California, his offspring are settling in the Golden State, starting families and giving every indication that the howling canines are here to stay.

Wildlife biologists regard the re-establishment of Canis lupus in California as a milestone in the country’s decades-long effort to protect and preserve natural habitats and endangered species. Up to 2 million gray wolves once lived in North America, but European settlers, fed by big, bad wolf myths, drove them to near-extinction in the lower 48 states.

The last wild gray wolf in California before OR-7 showed up was killed in 1924.

Four of OR-7’s progeny have been detected in California this year and last, including the leader of the Lassen Pack, which has staked out territory in western Lassen and Plumas counties, according to a recent update on the status of the predators by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Several others could well be roaming through the state undetected, said wildlife biologists, who expect the wolf population in the Golden State to grow.

“It does seem like we are continuing to see wolves entering California, and we have a breeding pack, so the stage is set for population growth,” said Pete Figura, a wildlife management supervisor for the Department of Fish and Wildlife. “It seems to be following the pattern of wolf expansion that we’ve seen over the last 20 or 30 years in the American West.”

Above: The wolf known as OR-7 became the first known wolf to enter California since 1924 in late 2011. Right: A close-up of a female gray wolf at the Oakland Zoo. Photo: Oregon Department Of Fish And Wildlife Via Associated Press

Photo: Oregon Department Of Fish And Wildlife Via Associated Press

Above: The wolf known as OR-7 became the first known wolf to enter California since 1924 in late 2011. Right: A close-up of a female gray wolf at the Oakland Zoo.

OR-7, so named because he was the seventh wolf affixed with a radio collar in Oregon, eventually returned to his home state and found a mate. He is now the alpha male in the Rogue Pack, south of Crater Lake National Park, where he and his mate have raised litters every year since 2014.

One of his sons entered California and started the Lassen Pack, which is often seen in the Indian Valley area north of Quincy, in Plumas County. Known as CA-08M, he and his mate have had four puppies, three of which were spotted by locals and on trail cameras in late March.

“They’ve been fairly visible,” said Amaroq Weiss, the West Coast wolf organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Someone recently posted a video of a pup barking at them.”

An uncollared wolf Figura said is the likely daughter of OR-7 is also in California, where she was observed and tracked in January moving southeast through Siskiyou County.

In January, wildlife biologists tracked another of OR-7’s daughters, OR-54, 500 miles through four California counties. The radio-collared female covered much of the same ground her famous father did from 2011 to 2013. State wildlife biologists said GPS showed she left California in February and then returned to eastern Siskiyou County on April 15.

Another collared wolf known as OR-44 was tracked in March nosing around eastern Siskiyou County, apparently looking for females. He is unrelated to OR-7 or his offspring.

Although conservationists are ecstatic, there is a disturbing element about the uptick in wolf activity. The first breeding pair of wolves ever in California had five puppies in the spring of 2015, all of them sporting distinctive black coats.

The black wolves, known as the Shasta Pack, killed and ate a calf in November 2015, the first reported case of livestock predation by wolves since their return to California. Curiously, that month was also the last time the entire pack was known to be together.

None of the seven were seen again until May 2016, when a single juvenile male was spotted by trail cameras near where it grew up. In March 2017, that same wolf was spotted in northwestern Nevada, the first wolf verified in Nevada in nearly 100 years.

Nobody knows what happened to the other members of the Shasta Pack. Figura said it is possible they all migrated to a new region, but that would be unusual.

Weiss believes the predators, none of which had radio collars, were gunned down. Ranchers in the area had previously threatened to employ the “three S’s” — shoot, shovel and shut up — if any of the sharp-toothed meat-eaters got near their livestock.

“I and others have reason to believe the wolves may have been poached (because) it’s rather difficult for an entire seven member all-black pack to have just disappeared,” Weiss said. “It is disturbing to have California wolf recovery starting out with something so bleak.”

State wildlife officials are trying hard to minimize wolf-livestock conflicts by providing ranchers with the locations of the animals, but not all of the wolves in California have GPS collars. The Lassen Pack traverses both public and private property, including National Park and U.S. Forest Service acreage and ranch and timber lands.

“Even though there are vast areas of forest, there are also little pockets of small towns, so people are going to see them,” Weiss said. “The response has so far been mixed.”

Meanwhile, two more calves in Northern California fell prey to wolves in 2017 and one adult cow is believed to have been killed by the pack hunters.

Camera ‘trapper’ hits jackpot with stunning video of 4 mountain lions near L.A.

A mother mountain lion with her three cubs are caught on a camera trapper’s motion sensor camera. Photo courtesy of © Robert Martinez of Parliament of Owls.

Robert Martinez, who is among a so-called group of camera trappers, has been searching for mountain lions in the wild since 2012, or ever since capturing “crystal clear” video of a mountain lion walking past his motion sensor video camera.

Hooked by this new hobby, Martinez sets several camera traps in likely areas visited by mountain lions in the Angeles National Forest above Glendora, some 27 miles west of Los Angeles.

He’s become quite good at it and recently hit the camera trapper jackpot when one of his cameras captured stunning video of a mountain lion mother quietly calling out to its three cubs on Sunset Ridge at sunset.

Martinez shared the video on his YouTube channel called Parliament of Owls, urging the volume be turned up to catch the mother’s callout:

“This video is definitely one of my favorites,” Martinez told USA Today.

“What you’re seeing is Limpy and her 10-month-old kittens returning to an area where I hadn’t seen them since November. So when she showed up on my video, and the sun was setting, I was really excited! I was waiting for her eventual return with her new litter.”

The video was featured in LA Observed and was subsequently shown on several Southern California television news outlets over the weekend.

Also on BNQT Outdoors: Fur coat saves sloth bear in rare and ‘severe’ fight with tiger; video

Martinez explained to USA Today that he nicknamed the mountain lion Limpy because of a limp in her rear right leg that he first noticed in 2013.

“Most of the lions I see on camera—over a dozen—I can’t identify because they don’t have any distinct characteristics, like a limp, a nick or a scar on their face,” Martinez said.

The camera trapper calls Limpy a “treasure” of the Angeles National forest for producing five healthy cougars in the last few years.

“Despite her limp, she is a symbol of survival and perseverance, able to hunt, feed and raise two litters of kittens,” Martinez wrote on Facebook. “I’m looking forward to seeing more of her and the family all throughout 2018.”

So are we.

Five arrested following hunting incidents

OAKLAND — Maryland Natural Resources Police recently arrested five Garrett County residents on charges related to a string of illegal hunting incidents that reportedly began in 2016 and continued into this year. NRP officers executed search and seizure warrants at several homes last month following tips from social media and the public.

Tyler Michael DeWitt, 21, Swanton, was charged with hunting during a closed season, possessing of deer in a closed season, hunting deer at night, hunting deer with a spotlight, shooting from a vehicle, hunting without written permission, removing the head or hide of a deer before check-in, failing to report a turkey kill and obstructing or hindering a police investigation. He was cited for 30 violations that could lead to a total maximum fine of $45,500 and revocation of his hunting privileges for up to five years.

Dakota Lee Hinebaugh, 29, Oakland, was cited for 24 violations that could lead to fines totaling $39,500 and revocation of his hunting privileges for up to five years. He is accused of hunting without a license, hunting during a closed season, possessing of deer in a closed season, hunting deer at night, hunting deer with a spotlight, hunting without written permission and removing the head or hide of a deer before check-in.

The investigation revealed that Tyler DeWitt and Dakota Hinebaugh engaged in night hunting on several occasions from roads in southern Garrett County. The following men were reportedly implicated in the activities.

Michael Allen DeWitt, 42, Oakland, was charged with obstructing and hindering a police investigation, as well as littering, after his son Tyler (mentioned above) warned him in April to throw away packages of deer meat and antlers kept at the senior DeWitt’s home. He faces a potential fine of $1,500 and up to 30 days in jail.

Donald Lee Hinebaugh Jr., 41, Oakland, received citations for failing to report two deer kills and aiding and abetting hunting without a license. He faces a potential fine of up to $1,500.

Phillip Lyle DeWitt, 58, Mtn. Lake Park, was cited for failing to report a kill and failing to record the kill on his Big Game Harvest Record. He could be fined a maximum of $3,000.

In connection with the investigation, Maryland State Police charged Lukas Isaac Holler, 18, Oakland, and James Wesley Lewis, 19, Accident, each with possession of a rifle or shotgun after conviction of a disqualifying crime and illegal possession of ammunition. The weapons charge carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000 fine, and the ammunition charge carries a maximum jail sentence of one year and a fine of up to $1,000.

Officers reportedly searched an area near Graham Road and found approximately a dozen deer carcasses dumped over the embankment. Some of the heads of the carcasses had the skull plate/antlers removed while antlered deer with small racks were intact.

Trial dates in Garrett County District Court are pending.

California Wildlife Win Protection from Federal Trapping, Gunning

Legal Victory Guarantees Analysis of
Wildlife Services’ Killings in Northern California 

Contacts:

Camilla Fox, Project Coyote, (415) 690-0338, cfox@projectcoyote.org
Collette Adkins, Center for Biological Diversity, (651) 955-3821, cadkins@biologicaldiversity.org
Erik Molvar, Western Watersheds Project, (307) 399-7910, emolvar@westernwatersheds.org
Amey Owen, Animal Welfare Institute, (202) 446-2128, amey@awionline.org
Michelle Lute, WildEarth Guardians, (406) 848-4910, mlute@wildearthguardians.org
Natalia Lima, Animal Legal Defense Fund, (201) 679-7088, nlima@aldf.org

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.— In response to a lawsuit filed by wildlife advocacy groups, a San Francisco federal court today approved a settlement requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to implement numerous protections for wildlife in Northern California, including a ban on traps and aerial gunning in designated “wilderness areas.”

Today’s settlement also requires Wildlife Services to analyze the environmental impacts of its killing of coyotes, bobcats and other wildlife in 16 counties in Northern California.

The ironically named Wildlife Services is a multimillion-dollar federal program that uses painful leghold traps, strangulation snares, poisons and aerial gunning to kill wolves, coyotes, cougars, birds and other wild animals — primarily to benefit the agriculture and livestock industries.

“This is a big victory for California wildlife targeted by this federal program’s horrifically destructive war on animals,” said Collette Adkins, a Center for Biological Diversity attorney representing the conservation groups involved in the lawsuit. “We’ve saved hundreds of animals that would have suffered and died in traps set by Wildlife Services over the next several years. That feels really good.”

Under the court order approved today, Wildlife Services must provide, by the end of 2023, an “environmental impact statement” that analyzes the effects and risks of its wildlife-killing program in California’s North District. The North District includes Butte, Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity and Yuba counties.

Pending completion of that study, which will include robust public commenting opportunities, the court order imposes several measures to protect wildlife in the North District. It bans the use of M-44 cyanide devices, den fumigants and lead ammunition. It bans aerial gunning and any use of body-gripping traps, such as strangulation snares and steel-jaw leghold traps, in designated wilderness and wilderness study areas. The order also requires Wildlife Services to implement several measures to protect California’s endangered gray wolves from being accidentally killed in traps set for other carnivores. These measures include a ban on Conibear traps and non-breakaway snares in areas used by the wolves.

“Wolves are just starting to return to their native habitats in Northern California, and this settlement provides needed interim protections to protect wolves while a detailed environmental study examines whether lethal wildlife ‘management’ options should even be on the table,” said Kristin Ruether of Western Watersheds Project. “It is long past time that federal agencies stop the killing of native wildlife at the behest of the livestock industry, and ultimately we hope that the added public scrutiny will force a shift to nonlethal options.”

Last year Wildlife Services reported killing 1.6 million native animals nationwide. In California alone this total included 3,893 coyotes, 142 foxes, 83 black bears, 18 bobcats and thousands of other creatures. Nontarget animals — including protected wildlife such as wolves, Pacific fisher and eagles — are at risk from Wildlife Services’ indiscriminate methods.

“For over two decades, Wildlife Services has relied on cruel and outdated methods, such as steel-jaw leghold traps, in California — despite a statewide ban on private use of such devices,” said Tara Zuardo, Animal Welfare Institute wildlife attorney. “Today’s decision from the court ensures the environmental analysis of the program’s killing of wildlife will receive a much-needed update. California wildlife deserves this protection.”

“Wildlife Services’ lethal ‘control’ is ineffective, wasteful and cruel,” said Michelle Lute, wildlife coexistence campaigner for WildEarth Guardians. “We are changing this clandestine government program state-by-state until wildlife and people are safe on our public lands.”

“With this victory for wildlife we have demonstrated that Wildlife Services has failed to use the best available science and continues to rely on ecologically destructive and ethically indefensible management practices,” said Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote. “It is past time that this rogue agency shifts to more effective, humane, and ecologically sound ways of reducing conflicts between wildlife and agricultural interests.”

“Thousands of California wildlife will now have a much needed reprieve from the federal killing agency,” said Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “This settlement sends the powerful message that Wildlife Services’ indiscriminate killing programs will not go unchallenged.”

The victory announced today is the result of a lawsuit filed in June by the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Project Coyote, the Animal Welfare Institute and WildEarth Guardians.

READ THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT HERE.

#

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.


The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, the Animal Legal Defense Fund files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. For more information, please visit aldf.org.


The Animal Welfare Institute (awionline.org) is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people.  AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere — in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild.


Project Coyote is a national nonprofit organization and a North American coalition of wildlife educators, scientists, ranchers, and community leaders promoting coexistence between people and wildlife, and compassionate conservation through education, science, and advocacy. For more information, visitwww.projectcoyote.org.


Western Watersheds Project is an environmental conservation group working to protect and restore western watersheds and wildlife


WildEarth Guardians works to protect and restore the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers and health of the American West.