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Predators, Predation, & Predator Control. Bruce D. Leopold, Mississippi State University. Historical Perspective.

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Predators predation predator control

Predators, Predation, & Predator Control

Bruce D. Leopold, Mississippi State University


Historical perspective
Historical Perspective

  • “Harmony with the land is like harmony with a friend, you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left. That is to say, you can’t love game and hate predators, the land is one organism.”



Predator control under scrutiny
Predator Control Under Scrutiny

  • Leopold Report (A. Starker)- 1964

  • Cain Report - 1972

  • Nixon (by Executive Order) stopped use of all poisons on federal lands or use by federal agencies to control predators


Trends regarding furbearing predators

Trends Regarding Furbearing Predators




Predators their value
Predators- Their Value

  • A natural component of the ecosystem, often aiding in maintaining stability

  • Often remove sick and injured individuals from the population

  • Serve to keep animals “wild and wary”

  • Often regulate prey populations, many of these prey populations are equally harmful to game animals

  • Are valuable as sport animals


Predators societal values survey of 1500 households
Predators- Societal ValuesSurvey of 1500 households

  • have a right to exist

  • should be reintroduced to former ranges

  • do need to be managed, but with conditions

  • should not be hunted or trapped unconditionally

  • are not the cause of game population declines

  • play an important role to maintain balanced natural systems

  • ==> They do support predator management!!!



Prey Need to Consider Many Factors

Predator


Animal welfare issues
Animal Welfare Issues Need to Consider Many Factors

  • Animal Welfare Act & Amendments

    • Recently to include birds and rodents

  • University IACUCs

  • Federal Funds and State Agencies (PR & DJ)

  • Initiatives to stop trapping and hunting


Must be careful of the message
Must Be Careful of the Message Need to Consider Many Factors

  • Kill predators so that we have more game to harvest

  • NWTF- Resolution- Not to Use Predator Control to enhance single species

  • SE Section TWS- Resolution- Not to Use Predator Control to enhance single species


Management activities conducive to predators
Management activities conducive to predators Need to Consider Many Factors

  • Logging roads/Access roads = Travel Corridors

  • Food plots =Concentrating prey & Predictability

  • Maintain early successional stages = Food base

  • Small management units = Increased efficiency


Identifying the true culprit
Identifying the True “Culprit” Need to Consider Many Factors


Decimating versus limiting factors nest losses
Decimating versus Limiting Factors Need to Consider Many FactorsNest Losses

  • Massachusetts- 22%

  • Alabama: 85%

  • Kentucky: 1975- 55%

    1978- 80%

  • Texas: 1972- 61%

    1980- 56%

    1987- 100%


Prey adaptations coevolution the wild turkey
Prey Adaptations- Coevolution Need to Consider Many FactorsThe Wild Turkey

  • Large body size

  • Long-lived

  • Roost in trees

  • Form flocks

  • Large clutch sizes

  • Prefer open habitats

  • Hen moves great distances when disturbed


Density dependent responses study in texas and coyote
Density-dependent Responses Need to Consider Many FactorsStudy in Texas and Coyote

  • With intensive control: litter size- 6.56

  • With no control: litter size- 3.65

  • Well nourished coyote- from 10-12 pups


Interactions
Interactions Need to Consider Many Factors

  • Coyote in Texas- w/ control, less rodent richness and diversity

  • In SE US, coyote versus red fox

  • Prairie- wolf versus meso-carnivores (raccoons, fox, skunk)


Predator control when is it warranted the wildlife society
Predator Control Need to Consider Many FactorsWhen is it warranted?The Wildlife Society

  • When introducing a species to former habitat

  • Endangered/threatened species

  • Man-induced disruption


Problems identified with predator control
Problems identified with Predator Control Need to Consider Many Factors

  • Coyote- requires 75% reduction in population to observe a change in population status

  • Must be intensive first 3-4 years

  • Can not stop

  • Can not be haphazard

  • Not cost-effective


Past research results predator control will enhance game populations
Past Research Results Need to Consider Many FactorsPredator control will enhance game populations

  • White-tailed deer

  • Wild turkey

  • Pheasant

  • Waterfowl

  • Northern bobwhite

Problem is: in every study, cost of the “extra” animals

was excessive


Possible solutions habitat manipulations
Possible solutions Need to Consider Many FactorsHabitat manipulations

  • Pronghorn and Coyote- Utah

  • White-tailed deer and Coyote- Texas


Protocol for predator control
Protocol for Predator Control Need to Consider Many Factors

  • What are the management goals and thus management objectives for the prey (game animal)? Are they reasonable and biologically sound?

  • Has predation been identified as the ultimate mortality factor rather than a proximate factor?

  • Has the predator species been identified correctly? Has appropriate [email protected] been collected and reliably identified (tracks, photos, sign on carcasses or eggs, etc.)

  • Have extrinsic, contributing factors been examined throughly (habitat conditions, weather effects, land management activities) that may have, on the short-time, caused an imbalance in predator and/or prey species abundance(s)?

  • Has the target predator species role within the system been evaluated thoroughly to ensure that the control operation may not further disrupt existing balances?


Protocol for predator control1
Protocol for Predator Control Need to Consider Many Factors

  • Have alternatives to active predator removal been examined based on evaluation conducted previously?

    • can habitat manipulation achieve desired goals?

    • can subtle changes in current land management be implemented?

    • can more “desirable” predator species be enhanced to counter “more detrimental species”? [Note: enhanced can simply mean to cease trapping that predator species (e.g., coyote versus red fox)]

  • Clearly define the objectives of the predator management program

    • What is the desired population response (e.g., density) of the prey (game animal)?

    • What is the desired percentage reduction in the target predator population?

    • What monitoring program(s) will be implemented to monitor response of prey species and target predator species?


Protocol for predator control2
Protocol for Predator Control Need to Consider Many Factors

  • Ensure that Best Management Practices (BMPs) for trapping (based on draft BMPs under development) are adhered to. These include

    • appropriate traps that minimize injury to animal,

    • appropriate frequency of trap-line checking,

    • maintaining a trap-line size consistent with available resources,

    • capture of non-target species is monitored and minimized. If excessive, trapping procedures should be reevaluated and modified, and

    • appropriate euthanasia procedure(s) for animals are implemented.

  • Have societal beliefs (especially local and regional) been examined and considered?

    • if potential problems are identified, develop a concise response that provides empirically-based data, program objectives, and target species.

    • all staff should provide a consistent response when inquiries are made about the predator management program, or inquires should be redirected to one individual


Protocol for predator control3
Protocol for Predator Control Need to Consider Many Factors

  • Inappropriate behavior by staff should not be tolerated. Deviation from selected harvesting protocols and objectives should be stopped immediately.

  • Carcasses should be disposed of discretely or used appropriately (food, museum displays, etc.).


Questions?? Need to Consider Many Factors


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