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The increase of wolves in Scandinavia is associated with socio-ecological conflicts, and the conservation and management of this species is as much a political and socio-cultural challenge as a biological matter. One component in this conflict is people's feeling of fear, but there have been very few evaluations of management interventions aimed at addressing human fear of wolves. Based on the theory of human—environment interaction, this paper presents a first attempt to evaluate the effect of introducing a hand-held ultrasonic scaring device. A total of 27 persons living in wolf territories had access to the device for six months. No significant effect on participants' appraisal of wolves, trust in managing authorities, or selfreported fear could be identified. The investigated psychological variables were stable over time in a reference sample of people in the large-carnivore counties (n = 202). The introduction of the device was largely rejected by the public. In-depth interviews with 10 persons who declined the invitation to have access to the device revealed that the device was considered an irrelevant solution to the conflict between humans and wolves, and that people lacked trust in the technology. It is concluded that the potential in using an ultrasonic device to reduce fear of wolves seems very limited in the present context. Further interventions to address human fear must be identified in dialogue with the people affected, and should preferably be based on psychological principles.
Greater sage-grouse Centrocercus urophasianus populations across North America have been declining due to degradation and fragmentation of sagebrush habitat. As part of a study quantifying greater sage-grouse demographics prior to construction of a wind energy facility, we estimated apparent net nest productivity and survival rate of chicks associated with radio-equipped female sage-grouse in Carbon County, Wyoming, USA. We estimated apparent net nest productivity using a weighted mean of the average brood size and used a modified logistic-exposure method to estimate daily chick survival over a 70-day time period. Apparent nest productivity was 2.79 chicks per female (95% CI: 1.46–4.12) in 2011, 2.00 chicks per female (95% CI: 1.00–3.00) in 2012, and 1.54 chick per female (95% CI: 0.62–2.46) in 2013. Chick survival to 70 days post-hatch was 19.10% (95% CI: 6.22–37.42%) in 2011, 4.20% (95% CI: 0.84–12.31%) in 2012, and 16.05% (95% CI: 7.67–27.22%) in 2013. These estimates were low, yet within the range of other published survival rates. Chick survival was primarily associated with year and chick age, with minor effects of average temperature between surveys and hatch date. The variability in chick survival rates across years of our study suggests annual weather patterns may have large impacts on chick survival. Thus, management actions that increase the availability of food and cover for chicks may be necessary, especially during years with drought and above-average spring temperatures.
Scat surveys are commonly used to monitor wildlife populations. For carnivores, surveys are typically conducted along roads and trails. Scats available for detection may not reflect scats deposited and variation in disappearance may bias results. Previous research has investigated natural decay and deterioration, but scats deposited along roads or trails are likely influenced to a greater degree by anthropogenic disturbance in some systems. We used experimental plots to evaluate variation in scat removal for two model carnivores, coyote Canis latrans and kit fox Vulpes macrotis, along roads in the Great Basin Desert, USA. Using parametric survival regression, we predicted scat survival and developed persistence-rate correction factors, which were applied to results from relative abundance scat surveys conducted along 15 transects. Kit fox scats disappeared more rapidly than coyote scats, with 3.3% and 10.6%, respectively, persisting through 42 days. At 14 days, 90.8-41.7% of scats had been removed across road types. Survival models indicated species, road type, scat position and daily traffic were important predictors of scat persistence. Applying persistence-rate correction factors to scat survey results altered the inferred relative abundances. Across seasons, mean corrected:uncorrected relative abundance ratios ranged from 1.0–91.2 for coyotes and 1.3–139.3 for kit foxes, with higher mean ratios being influenced by high corrected relative abundances on roads with high traffic volumes. Understanding scat removal rates and patterns can improve inferences from surveys. Persistence-rate correction factors can be used to reduce bias in indices of abundance, but caution should be used when removal rates are high. Knowledge of spatial variation in persistence can elucidate concerns of false-positives and false-negatives in occupancy and capture—recapture studies. Considering the disparity in scat removal between species and among road types and positions, we recommend practitioners quantify and consider variation in removal when interpreting scat survey results.
In recent decades, the range of the eastern wild turkey Meleagris gallopavo silvestris has expanded north of its historical distribution in North America. The major limiting factors for wild turkeys beyond their historical range are not well understood, and little is known about turkey resource use at their new range periphery. We evaluated the home range size of female turkeys at their northern range edge in Ontario, Canada, and we took a hierarchical approach to assess habitat selection. To accomplish this, we analyzed data from 36 females fitted with VHF and GPS transmitters. Season had a significant effect on home range size, with the greatest home range sizes found in the spring and autumn, and the smallest in the winter and summer. There was also an effect of flock membership on winter home range size. We found evidence of habitat selection by turkeys at both the second order, placement of home ranges within the landscape, and the third order, use of habitat within home ranges. In both cases, female turkeys primarily selected deciduous forest and fields and avoided coniferous forest. Areas close to supplemental food sources were also selected during the autumn and winter. As populations expand into novel landscapes, continued efforts to understand resource limitation and habitat selection strategies of northern turkeys will guide effective management of these game birds.
The ecological implications of coyote Canis latrans colonization of the eastern USA have drawn considerable interest from land managers and the general public. The ability to predict how these ecosystems, which have lacked larger predators for decades, would respond to the invasion of this highly adaptable species needs an understanding of coyote foraging behavior given local resource availability. Therefore, we examined the diet of coyotes in a longleaf pine Pinus palustrus ecosystem from 2007–2012. We examined 673 coyote scats collected on the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center in southwestern Georgia. We observed considerable seasonality in coyote use of rodents, white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus, rabbits and vegetation. Coyotes exploited anthropogenic food sources, particularly waste peanuts Arachis hypogaea, during the fall and winter when native soft mast was not available. Adult white-tailed deer were consumed during every month and was not limited to the pulse of carrion availability from hunter-harvested animals, suggesting the use of adult white-tailed deer may not be restricted to scavenging in this system. We found mesomammals, including armadillos Dasypus novemcinctus, raccoons Procyon lotor, Virginia opossums Didelphis viginiana, bobcats Lynx rufus, grey foxes Urocyon cineroargenteus and striped skunks Mephitis mephitis in approximately 18% of coyote scats from January–August. On our site, and some adjacent properties, the use of predator trapping focused primarily on Virginia opossum, raccoon, coyote, bobcat and gray fox, to increase northern bobwhite Colinus virginianus production may have resulted in increased use of mesomammals through scavenging. We offer evidence that coyote colonization may alter food web dynamics in longleaf pine ecosystems through depredation of white-tailed deer and by influencing the mesomammal guild through direct predation and competition for rodents, rabbits, carrion and soft mast.