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Human-Wildlife Interactions
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  This is an Open Access Journal Open Access journal
ISSN (Print) 2155-3874
Published by Utah State University Homepage  [8 journals]
  • SMaRT: A Science-based Tiered Framework for Common Ravens

    • Authors: Seth J. Dettenmaier et al.
      Abstract: Large-scale increases and expansion of common raven (Corvus corax; raven) populations are occurring across much of North America, leading to increased negative consequences for livestock and agriculture, human health and safety, and sensitive species conservation. We describe a science-based adaptive management framework that incorporates recent quantitative analyses and mapping products for addressing areas with elevated raven numbers and minimizing potential adverse impacts to sensitive species, agricultural damage, and human safety. The framework comprises 5 steps: (1) desktop analysis; (2) field assessments; (3) comparison of raven density estimates to an ecological threshold (in terms of either density or density plus distance to nearest active or previous nest); (4) prescribing management options using a 3-tiered process (i.e., habitat improvements, subsidy reductions, and direct actions using StallPOPd.V4 software); and (5) post-management monitoring. The framework is integrated within the Science-based Management of Ravens Tool (SMaRT), a web-based application outfitted with a user-friendly interface that guides managers through each step to develop a fully customized adaptive plan for raven management. In the SMaRT interface, users can: (1) interact with pre-loaded maps of raven occurrence and density and define their own areas of interest within the Great Basin to delineate proposed survey or treatment sites; (2) enter site-level density estimates from distance sampling methods or perform estimation of raven densities using the rapid assessment protocol that we provide; (3) compare site-level density estimates to an identified ecological threshold; and (4) produce a list of potential management options for their consideration. The SMaRT supports decision-making by operationalizing scientific products for raven management and facilitates realization of diverse management goals including sensitive species conservation, protection of livestock and agriculture, safeguarding human health, and addressing raven overabundance and expansion. We illustrate the use of the framework through SMaRT using an example of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) conservation efforts within the Great Basin, USA.
      PubDate: Wed, 30 Nov 2022 13:22:16 PST
  • Synthesis of Nest Predation Impacts of Common Ravens on Sensitive Avian

    • Authors: Peter S. Coates et al.
      Abstract: Decades of mounting scientific evidence have revealed that common raven (Corvus corax; raven) population numbers have been increasing across nearly all regions of their geographic range in North America. Concomitantly, numerous native wildlife species have experienced elevated predation rates from ravens as populations have increased and expanded their range. Managers are concerned that increased raven predation of many threatened and endangered avian species in the U.S. and Canada during nesting periods may be hampering species recovery. We explored the literature to aggregate existing knowledge and evaluate the impacts of raven predation on nests and young of sensitive avian species. We used this information to develop a simple relative index for each species, the “Raven Impact Index” (RII). The RII incorporated the species demographic rates, abundance of ravens in relation to each sensitive species’ breeding range, and the degree of overlap between raven and sensitive prey distributions. We also developed a second relative descriptor describing our confidence in each RII, termed a “Impact Credibility Index (ICI).” The species ICI was based on the number of published studies and the type of evidence presented (e.g., circumstantial vs. direct). We found evidence of nest predation on 8 sensitive avian species and suspected nest predation on 1 additional species. All species shared aspects of nesting biology that suggested they would likely be susceptible to raven nest predation. The RII varied among prey species, with greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) having the highest relative impact values, followed by snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus nivosus), marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus), and Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus). Our species RII is intended to inform management decisions regarding actions that mitigate the negative effects of raven predation of sensitive avian species. Although elevated nest predation may be of high conservation concern, it is important to recognize that all of the sensitive native prey species we established an RII for also face multiple conservation threats.
      PubDate: Wed, 30 Nov 2022 13:21:58 PST
  • Holiday Lights Create Light Pollution and Become Ecological Trap for
           Eastern Fox Squirrels: Case Study on a University Campus

    • Authors: Scott E. Henke et al.
      Abstract: Ecological light pollution is now recognized as a significant source of ecosystem alteration. We documented that holiday lights are a seasonal source of light pollution that constitute an ecological trap for eastern fox squirrels (Sciurus niger). Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK) wildlife students surveyed a 2-km walking transect 5 times per month each month for the relative abundance and diel behavior of eastern fox squirrels and feral cats (Felis catus) on the TAMUK campus during 2018–2019. Eastern fox squirrels exhibited diurnal behaviors throughout the year but extended their foraging behavior nearly 4 hours after sunset with the addition of holiday lights. Feral cats and owls (Strigiformes) exhibited diurnal and nocturnal behaviors but conducted the majority of their hunting during crepuscular hours. We documented that monthly squirrel mortality increased 7-fold with the addition of holiday lights, possibly due to the extension of foraging time by squirrels. Although seasonal lighting is intended to be festive for humans, it can have negative consequences for eastern fox squirrels. Educating the public concerning the issue of light pollution on wildlife species is needed because the majority of the public appears unaware that bright lights can negatively alter wildlife behaviors. Reducing light intensity by either using less outdoor lights or perhaps using colored lights rather than clear white bulbs may lessen the negative effect on foraging behavior of squirrels.
      PubDate: Wed, 30 Nov 2022 08:19:07 PST
  • A Desert Tortoise–Common Raven Viable Conflict Threshold

    • Authors: Kerry L. Holcomb et al.
      Abstract: Since 1966, common raven (Corvus corax; raven) abundance has increased throughout much of this species’ Holarctic distribution, fueled by an ever-expanding supply of anthropogenic resource subsidies (e.g., water, food, shelter, and nesting substrate) to ecoregion specific raven population carrying capacities. Consequently, ravens are implicated in declines of both avian and reptilian species of conservation concern, including the California (USA) endangered and federally threatened Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii; desert tortoise). While ravens are a natural predator of desert tortoises, the inter-generational stability of desert tortoise populations is expected to be compromised as annual juvenile survival is suppressed below 0.77 through a combination of raven depredation and other sources of mortality. To estimate the extent to which raven depredation suppresses desert tortoise recruitment within the Mojave Desert of California, we collected data from 274 variable-radius point counts, 78 desert tortoise decoy stations, and 8 control stations during the spring of 2020. Additionally, we complied a geodatabase of previously active raven nests, observed between 2013 and 2020. Raven density estimates from 4 monitoring areas ranged between 0.63 (eastern most) and 2.44 (western most) raven km-2 (95% CI: 0.35–1.14 and 1.33–4.48, respectively). We used a Bayesian shared frailty model to estimate the effects of raven density and distance to the nearest previously active raven nest on the annual “survival” of juvenile desert tortoise decoys (75-mm Midline Carapace Length), which we then converted into survival estimates for 0- to 10-year-old desert tortoises by adjusting exposure to reflect natural activity patterns. At the 1.72-km median distance from the nearest previously active raven nest, the estimated annual survival of desert tortoises decreased as raven density increased, ranging among conservation areas from 0.774 (eastern most) to 0.733 (western most). Accordingly, our model predicts that desert tortoise populations exposed to raven densities in excess of 0.89 raven km-2, at a distance
      PubDate: Fri, 18 Nov 2022 12:46:20 PST
  • Fertility Control Options for Management of Free-roaming Horse Populations

    • Authors: Ursula S. Bechert et al.
      Abstract: The management of free-roaming horses (Equus ferus) and burros (E. asinus) in the United States has been referred to as a “wicked problem” because, although there are population control options, societal values will ultimately determine what is acceptable and what is not. In the United States, free-roaming equids are managed by different types of organizations and agencies, and the landscapes that these animals inhabit vary widely in terms of access, size, topography, climate, natural resources, flora, and fauna. This landscape diversity, coupled with contemporary socioeconomic and political environments, means that adaptive management practices are needed to regulate these free-roaming populations. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) currently manages free-roaming equids on 177 herd management areas in the United States by applying fertility control measures in situ and/or removing horses, which are either adopted by private individuals or sent to long-term holding facilities. The BLM off-range population currently includes>50,000 animals and costs approximately $50 million USD per year to maintain; on-range equid numbers were estimated in March 2022 to be approximately 82,384. On-range populations can grow at 15–20% annually, and current estimates far exceed the designated appropriate management level of 26,715. To reduce population recruitment, managers need better information about effective, long-lasting or permanent fertility control measures. Because mares breed only once a year, fertility control studies take years to complete. Some contraceptive approaches have been studied for decades, and results from various trials can collectively inform future research directions and actions. Employing 1 or more fertility control tools in concert with removals offers the best potential for success. Active, iterative, cooperative, and thoughtful management practices can protect free-roaming horses while simultaneously protecting the habitat. Herein, we review contraceptive vaccines, intrauterine devices, and surgical sterilization options for controlling fertility of free-roaming horses. This review provides managers with a “fertility control toolbox” and guides future research.
      PubDate: Wed, 14 Sep 2022 08:20:27 PDT
  • A Rapid Assessment Function to Estimate Common Raven Population Densities:
           Implications for Targeted Management

    • Authors: Brianne E. Brussee et al.
      Abstract: Common raven (Corvus corax; raven) populations have increased over the past 5 decades within the western United States. Raven population increases have been largely attributed to growing resource subsidies from expansion of human enterprise. Concomitantly, managers are becoming increasingly concerned about elevated adverse effects on multiple sensitive prey species, damage to livestock and agriculture, and human safety. Managers could benefit from a rapid but reliable method to estimate raven densities across spatiotemporal scales to monitor raven populations more efficiently and inform targeted and adaptive management frameworks. However, obtaining estimates of raven density is data- and resource-intensive, which renders monitoring within an adaptive framework unrealistic. To address this need, we developed a rapid survey protocol for resource managers to estimate site-level density based on the average number of ravens per survey. Specifically, we first estimated raven densities at numerous field sites with robust distance sampling procedures and then used regression to investigate the relationship between those density estimates and the number of ravens per survey, which revealed a strong correlation (R2 = 0.86). For management application, we provide access to R function software through a web-based interface to estimate density using number of ravens per survey, which we refer to as a Rapid Assessment Function (RAF). Then, using a simulation analysis of data from sites with abundant surveys and the RAF, we estimated raven density based on different numbers of surveys to help inform how many surveys are needed to achieve reliable estimates within this rapid assessment. While more robust procedures of distance sampling are the preferred methods for estimating raven densities from count surveys, the RAF tool presented herein provides a reliable approximation for informing management decisions when managers are faced with resource and small sample size constraints.
      PubDate: Thu, 08 Sep 2022 07:55:58 PDT
  • A Decision Tool to Identify Population Management Strategies for Common
           Ravens and Other Avian Predators

    • Authors: Andrea F. Currylow et al.
      Abstract: Some avian species have developed the capacity to leverage resource subsidies associated with human manipulated landscapes to increase population densities in habitats with naturally low carrying capacities. Elevated corvid densities and new territory establishment have led to an unsustainable increase in depredation pressure on sympatric native wildlife prey populations as well as in crop damage. Yet, subsidized predator removal programs aimed at reducing densities are likely most effective longer-term when conducted in tandem with subsidy control, habitat management, and robust assessment monitoring programs. We developed decision support software that leverages stage structured Lefkovitch population matrices to compare and identify treatment strategies that reduce subsidized avian predator densities most efficiently, in terms of limiting both cost and take levels. The StallPOPd (Version 4; available at https://doi.org/10.7298/sk2e-0c38.4) software enables managers to enter the area of their management stratum and the demographic properties (vital rates) of target bird population(s) of interest to evaluate strategies to decrease or curtail further population growth. Strategies explicitly include the reduction in fertility (i.e., eggs hatched) and/or the culling of hatchlings, non-breeders and/or breeders, but implicitly comprise reduction in survival or reproduction through subsidy denial. We illustrate the utilities of the software with examples using common ravens (Corvus corax; ravens) in the Mojave Desert of California, USA. Unfortunately, the survival and reproduction effects of each unit of a particular subsidy in that system have remained elusive, though this is the priority of current research. Because the software leverages a life history representation that is known to characterize hundreds of wildlife species in addition to ravens, the work expands the suite of tools available to wildlife managers and agricultural industry specialists to abate bird damage and impacts on sensitive wildlife in habitats with persistent human subsidies.
      PubDate: Tue, 23 Aug 2022 14:10:50 PDT
  • Thinking Like a Raven: Restoring Integrity, Stability, and Beauty to
           Western Ecosystems

    • Authors: John M. Marzluff et al.
      Abstract: Common ravens (Corvus corax; ravens) are generalist predators that pose a threat to several rare wildlife species in the western United States. Recent increases in raven populations, which are fueled by increased human subsidies—notably food, water, and nest sites—are concerning to those seeking to conserve rare species. Due to the challenges and inefficiencies of reducing or eliminating subsidies, managers increasingly rely on lethal removal of ravens. Over 125,000 ravens were killed by the U.S. Government from 1996 to 2019, and annual removals have increased 4-fold from the 1990s to mid-2010s. We contend that lethal removal of ravens, while capable of improving the reproduction of rare species, is at best a short-term and ethically untenable solution to a problem that will continue to grow until subsidies are meaningfully reduced or made inaccessible to ravens. In part because of ravens’ abilities to track natural and anthropogenic resources across unfamiliar and expansive areas, the removal of subsidies can lead to sustained shifts in raven abundance, which can have long-lasting benefits for sensitive species. In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, USA, for example, we documented extensive use of human subsidies during fall/winter, daily 1-way commutes regularly in excess of 50 km by territorial birds to such subsidies, and dispersals of>700 km by nonbreeders that exploited food and roost subsidies. We call for managers to embrace new approaches to subsidy reduction including: increased involvement of conservation social scientists; increased enforcement of local, state, and federal laws; and increased deployment of a diversity of new technologies to haze and aversively condition ravens. Tackling the hard job of reducing subsidies over the expansive area exploited by ravens is right because it will increase the integrity, stability, and beauty of western ecosystems.
      PubDate: Tue, 23 Aug 2022 14:10:38 PDT
  • Common Raven Impacts on Nesting Western Snowy Plovers: Integrating
           Management to Facilitate Species Recovery

    • Authors: Cheryl Strong et al.
      Abstract: The U.S. Pacific coast population of the western snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus nivosus; plover) has declined due to loss and degradation of coastal habitats, predation, and anthropogenic disturbance. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the subspecies in 1993 as threatened under the Endangered Species Act due to the population declines and habitat loss. Predation of nests and chicks has been identified as an important cause of historic population declines, and thus, most predator management actions for this subspecies are focused on reducing this pressure. In recent years, common ravens (Corvus corax; ravens) have become the most common and pervasive predators of plover nests and chicks, especially in areas with subsidized food sources for ravens and sites without predator management. We compiled data from a variety of sources to document the impact of raven predation on plover nesting success. We discuss current raven management and suggest several tools and strategies to increase plover nesting success, including multi-state approval for the use of the avicide DRC-1339, the use of lures and new trap types, and an increase in funding for predator management. The lack of coordinated and integrated management continues to impede the recovery of the Pacific coast plover population.
      PubDate: Tue, 23 Aug 2022 14:10:16 PDT
  • Influence of Anthropogenic Subsidies on Movements of Common Ravens

    • Authors: Adam E. Duerr et al.
      Abstract: Anthropogenic subsidies can benefit populations of generalist predators such as common ravens (ravens; Corvus corax), which in turn may depress populations of many types of species at lower-trophic levels, including desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) or greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). Management of subsidized ravens often has targeted local breeding populations that are presumed to affect species of concern and ignored “urban” populations of ravens. However, little is known about how ravens move, especially in response to the presence of anthropogenic subsidies. Therefore, subsidized ravens from distant populations that are not managed may influence local prey. To better understand this issue, we deployed global positioning system – global system for mobile communications transmitters to track movements of 19 ravens from September to December 2020 relative to 2 land cover types that provide subsidies: developed areas and cultivated crops. On average, ravens moved 41.5 km (±30.5) per day, although daily movement distances ranged from 0.13–206.1 km. Raven movement among cover types during the non-breeding season varied widely, with 100% of individuals each using land cover types that provide subsidy and other types at least once in the season. On 100% of days ravens used areas that did not provide subsidy, on 86.7% of days they used developed areas, and on 20.5% of days they used cultivated crops. Although on some days a raven would stay exclusively in areas that did not provide subsidy, there were no days in which a single raven ever stayed exclusively in developed or cultivated crops. Ravens moved shorter distances on days when they used subsidies more frequently. Further, time spent in developed areas and cultivated crops increased when ravens roosted closer to them, although this effect was greater for developed areas than for cultivated crops. Individual ravens were not associated exclusively with either of the subsidy-providing landscapes we considered, but instead all birds used both subsidized and other landscapes. Our research suggests that management of ravens during the non-breeding season and possibly during the breeding season, intended to reduce risk of predation on desert tortoises, will be most effective if conducted on a broad scale because of distances the birds travel and the lack of separation between putative “urban” and “natural” populations of ravens.
      PubDate: Tue, 28 Jun 2022 08:52:02 PDT
  • Sharing Science Through Shared Values, Goals, and Stories: An
           Evidence-Based Approach to Making Science Matter

    • Authors: Bethann Garramon Merkle et al.
      Abstract: Scientists in and beyond academia face considerable challenges to effectively sharing science, including lack of time and training, systemic disincentives, and the complexity of the modern media/attention landscape. Considering these constraints, 3 achievable shifts in mindset and practice can substantively enhance science communication efforts. Here, we provide evidence-based and experientially informed advice on how to center shared values, articulate science communication goals, and leverage the power of stories to advance our communication goals in connection with the values we share with our stakeholders. In addition to a discussion of relevant, foundational principles in science communication, we provide actionable recommendations and tools scientists can immediately use to articulate their values, identify shared values between stakeholders, set science communication goals, and use storytelling as a means of building and reinforcing relationships around shared values, thereby working productively to achieve those goals.
      PubDate: Wed, 22 Jun 2022 08:10:46 PDT
  • Common Raven Impacts on the Productivity of a Small Breeding Population of
           Snowy Plovers

    • Authors: Matthew J. Lau et al.
      Abstract: Common ravens (ravens; Corvus corax), an adaptable, synanthropic generalist, have thrived coincident with increasing human landscape modifications and fragmentation, consequently affecting their prey, which are often sensitive native and protected species. Ravens are a conservation concern for the protected western snowy plover (plover; Charadrius nivosus nivosus), causing low nest and chick survival in some breeding areas along the Pacific coast of North America. We used a long-term dataset from a breeding snowy plover monitoring program in Point Reyes National Seashore (PRNS) to investigate potential impacts of ravens on snowy plover nest and fledging success. Between 2002 and 2020, ravens accounted for 33.7% of all plover nest failures and 40.8% of unexclosed plover nest failures. Raven activity varied by plover breeding site, with more ravens observed per survey hour at Kehoe Beach and the Abbotts Lagoon restoration area, sites that had lower fledge success than other breeding areas. Binomial generalized linear mixed models found that plover nest success was best explained by raven activity (negative relationship) and use of nest exclosures (positive relationship). Our model results on snowy plover fledge success were less apparent, resulting in difficult management planning for this vital rate when using exclosures. Furthermore, nest exclosures were effective in increasing long-term snowy plover nest success in an ecosystem inundated by high raven activity. Evidence from PRNS and other plover breeding sites along the Pacific coast point to long-term negative impacts from ravens.
      PubDate: Wed, 22 Jun 2022 08:10:34 PDT
  • Interested in Serving as an Associate Editor for Human–Wildlife

    • Authors: Terry Messmer
      Abstract: This is a call for associate editors for Human-Wildlife Interactions.
      PubDate: Fri, 10 Jun 2022 11:45:12 PDT
  • Estimating Trends of Common Raven Populations in North America,

    • Authors: Seth M. Harju et al.
      Abstract: Over the last half century, common raven (Corvus corax; raven) populations have increased in abundance across much of North America. Ravens are generalist predators known to depredate the eggs and young of several sensitive species. Quantifying raven population increases at multiple spatial scales across North America will help wildlife resource managers identify areas where population increases present the greatest risk to species conservation. We used a hierarchical Bayesian modeling approach to analyze trends of standardized raven counts from 1966 to 2018 using Breeding Bird Survey data within each Level I and II ecoregion of the United States and Canada. We also compared raven abundance within and outside the distributions of 9 sensitive or endangered species. Although we found substantial evidence that raven populations have increased across North America, populations varied in growth rates and relative abundances among regions. We found 73% of Level I (11/15) and II (25/34) ecoregions demonstrated positive annual population growth rates ranging from 0.2–9.4%. We found higher raven abundance inside versus outside the distributions of 7 of the 9 sensitive species included in our analysis. Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus) had the highest discrepancy, with 293% more ravens within compared to outside of their range, followed by greater sandhill crane (Antigone canadensis tabida; 280%), and greater sage-grouse (C. urophasianus; 204%). Only 2 species, least tern (Sternula antillarum) and piping plover (Charadrius melodus), indicated lower raven abundance within relative to outside their distributions. Our findings will help wildlife resource managers identify regional trends in abundance of ravens and anticipate which sensitive species are at greatest risk from elevated raven populations. Future research directed at identifying the underlying regional drivers of these trends could help elucidate the most appropriate and responsive management actions and, thereby, guide the development of raven population management plans to mitigate impacts to sensitive species.
      PubDate: Mon, 16 May 2022 12:35:41 PDT
  • In the News

    • Authors: Ike Ionel et al.
      Abstract: Items in the news.
      PubDate: Mon, 16 May 2022 12:35:40 PDT
  • A Novel Technique to Improve Capture Success of Common Ravens

    • Authors: Lindsey R. Perry et al.
      Abstract: Traditional trapping techniques for common ravens (Corvus corax; raven) require significant effort, often produce low capture rates, and cannot be used in some situations. We designed a 3-m noose pole to secure ravens from nocturnal roost locations while using a strobe spotlight to temporarily disorient them. We collected measures of trapping efficiency and contrasted them with padded leghold traps also used in the study. We effectively implemented our noose pole method in July and August of 2018, 2019, and 2020 in the Baker and Cow Lakes sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) Priority Areas of Conservation in eastern Oregon, USA, which yielded trapping efficiency of 0.48 trap-hours/raven (37 total captured ravens). Our trapping efficiency using leghold traps during the same summer months was 76.42 trap-hours/raven (3 total captured ravens). Our new trapping method constitutes an inexpensive and simple way to safely trap ravens at accessible communal roosts and merits further refinement to increase utility and capitalize on the vulnerability of ravens to capture at night.
      PubDate: Tue, 15 Mar 2022 15:28:15 PDT
  • Visual Marking of Ground Nests Might Attract Corvids

    • Authors: Emily M. O'Donovan et al.
      Abstract: For ground-nesting birds such as waterfowl, estimating nest survival is a crucial step in assessing population dynamics, and marking nests facilitates continuous monitoring. A conventional method for marking ground nests is to use an inconspicuous rod at the nest bowl and a wooden lathe 10 m away. Nests are visually marked to allow for greater efficiency when revisiting nests and to facilitate subsequent nest searching sessions. Anecdotal evidence suggests that common ravens (Corvus corax) and American crows (C. brachyrhynchos) might learn to recognize these nest markers, resulting in artificially inflated rates of nest predation. In 2017 in central Alberta, Canada, we compared fates of nests marked with the conventional lathe-rod combination versus only a rod. We also tested the prevalence of corvid predation of marked nests in areas with and without high observations of corvid activity, using data from a study of dabbling duck (Anas spp.) nest survival. Our results suggest that marking nests with a lathe can increase predation by corvids and that nests marked with a rod only were more likely to hatch. Evaluation and use of alternate nest-marking methods would be beneficial for future studies of ground-nesting birds in areas where corvids are common. Our work highlights the importance of re-evaluating the efficacy of well-established field methods.
      PubDate: Tue, 15 Mar 2022 14:45:21 PDT
  • Demography, Morphometrics, and Stomach Contents of Common Ravens Examined
           as a Result of Controlled Take

    • Authors: Corinne M. Gibble et al.
      Abstract: Common ravens (Corvus corax; ravens) are known nest predators that have the ability to negatively impact nesting birds, including imperiled species of seabirds and shorebirds. We conducted systematic necropsies of ravens that were lethally controlled in Monterey Bay, California, USA during 2013–2015, in or near western snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus nivosus) nesting areas, in an effort to better understand body condition, overall health, and diet of individual ravens. Raven predation of snowy plover nests has increased over the years in the Monterey Bay study area, and lethal removal of ravens has been employed to reduce predation. Most ravens examined in this study were in moderate to excellent body condition and also exhibited good organ health. There were statistically significant differences between male and female morphometrics (mass, culmen length, and wing length; P < 0.05). Stomach content analysis indicated a varied diet with consumption of animal remains and eggshell fragments, and anthropogenic sources of food (e.g., human food items and human-produced non-food items). Our study provides evidence that lethal control of ravens targeted some individual ravens that were responsible for depredating snowy plover nests
      PubDate: Tue, 15 Mar 2022 14:45:11 PDT
  • No Difference in Corticosterone Concentrations Between Missouri Three-Toed
           Box Turtles Living in an Urban and a Rural Site

    • Authors: Bennett A. Lamczyk et al.
      Abstract: Baseline health data for species of conservation concern are important for understanding threats to the long-term viability of populations. One indication of health is physiological stress among individuals. Corticosterone (CORT) is frequently used to quantify stress in free-living reptile populations, as high values may be associated with reduced fitness. Herein, we describe and validate methods for quantifying blood CORT levels in three-toed box turtles (Terrapene mexicana triunguis). We subsequently use this information to evaluate stress levels in 2 populations of free-living three-toed box turtles in Missouri, USA. To our knowledge, this is the first quantification of CORT levels in the three-toed box turtle. In 2012 we collected blood samples from 11 three-toed box turtles in human care at the Saint Louis Zoological Park (zoo), St. Louis, Missouri for assay validation, and from 2012 to 2016 we collected 220 samples from 144 free-living three-toed box turtles at 2 sites, 1 urban and 1 rural. In the zoo turtles, mean CORT concentration was 0.71 ± 0.10 ng/mL. Following a handling experiment, CORT concentration increased to 3.14 ± 0.72 ng/mL (P = 0.011). Mean CORT levels between free-living turtles at the urban and rural sites did not differ (urban = 0.54 ± 0.08 ng/mL, rural = 0.37 ± 0.02 ng/mL, F pr = 0.12). Sex did not influence CORT levels (F pr = 0.29). These results suggest that the turtles living in the urban environment did not experience chronic elevated glucocorticoid production and supports urban parks as potential habitat for box turtles.
      PubDate: Thu, 10 Mar 2022 14:59:54 PST
  • Evaluating Common Raven Take for Greater Sage-Grouse in Oregon’s Baker
           County Priority Conservation Area and Great Basin Region

    • Authors: Frank F. Rivera-Milán et al.
      Abstract: The common raven (Corvus corax; raven) is a nest predator of species of conservation concern, such as the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). Reducing raven abundance by take requires authorization under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. To support U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s take decisions (e.g., those that authorize killing a specified proportion or number of individuals annually in a defined area), including the most recent one for Oregon’s Baker County Priority Area for Conservation (PAC), we modeled raven population dynamics under hypothetical scenarios with take rates ranging from below to above the maximum sustained yield (MSY; i.e., trmsy= 0.01-0.60). We fit a Bayesian state-space logistic model to estimate abundance based on the Breeding Bird Survey route-level count data for the PAC during 1997-2019 and Great Basin Region (GBR) during 1968-2019. We predicted abundance for 2019-2030 and evaluated potential take levels (PTL) for the PAC and GBR. Abundance averaged 682 (SE = 93) for the PAC during 1997-2019 and 333,027 (SE = 20,504) for the GBR during 1968-2019. With take rates between 0.41 and 0.60, predicted abundance averaged 308 (SD = 405) for the PAC and 142,258 (SD = 53,474) for the GBR during 2019-2030. With management factor F = 0.75-2 for takes ranging from below to above the MSY, the PTL 50th percentiles were 150-401 yr-1 for the PAC and 60,457-161,219 yr-1 for the GBR. Our modeling framework is flexible and can be part of a comprehensive management strategy for ravens in the western United States.
      PubDate: Tue, 08 Mar 2022 14:34:58 PST
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