Coyotes figured out how to survive in the city. Can urban Coloradans learn to coexist? — The #Colorado Sun

Coyote Yosemite National Park. Yathin S Krishnappa [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D

Here’s a report Kevin Simpson that’s running in The Colorado Sun. Click through and read the whole thing, here’s an excerpt:

A recent rash of attacks on dogs in the Parker area reignited a long-running conversation about one of the most resilient predators in North America

Wildlife experts say the situation reflects a recurring phenomenon, a cycle of coyote activity that ebbs and flows throughout the so-called urban-wildland interface — and now, well into the urban core — literally from Los Angeles to New York.

“It does seem periodic,” says Kristin Cannon, an area wildlife manager with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “We’ll go several years where there’s no issues, or very minor ones. Coyotes are pretty ubiquitous anymore, but as far as conflicts with people, and with pets, that seems to flare up every few years one place or another. Because conflicts are so common, it’s hard to quantify.”

Many communities along the Front Range have an official coyote management plan, which largely defines levels of interaction with the animals and prescribes at what point, and how, action may be taken to mitigate problems.

Attacks on humans tend to be the tipping point. And while lethal removal looms as an available tool, the emphasis remains on education and adapting human behavior. That strategy reflects the reality that coyotes, despite historical campaigns to eradicate them, have been a fixture on the continent for upwards of five million years.

And they’re not going away. As longtime coyote researcher Dan Flores, author of “Coyote America,” succinctly puts it: “Resistance is futile.”

[…]

In many Native American cultures, the coyote appears as an avatar for humans. Tales handed down through generations employ it as a four-legged metaphor, precisely for the way it holds a mirror to human behavior. Native to North America, the coyote’s howl, Flores contends, is “our original national anthem.”

By the 1920s, even Scientific American inserted the coyote as the shifty trickster-villain in a contemporary political allegory in which it argued that good Americans, if they spy one, should shoot it on sight for patriotic reasons — because the coyote is “the original Bolshevik.”

Much disdain for coyotes originated within the livestock industry, whose assets run afoul of predatory animals. And that, Flores says, led to an agency of the federal government, then called the Bureau of Biological Survey, seizing on the opportunity to brand itself, in the early 20th century, as the antidote to predation. It proved an effective strategy to guarantee congressional funding.

Colorado played a pivotal role in the extermination efforts that followed. The Eradication Methods Laboratory, which designed and manufactured the means to kill massive numbers of mostly wolves and coyotes, began producing strychnine in Albuquerque. But in 1921 it moved operations to Denver — where, Flores writes in “Coyote America,” “it would go on to perfect an amazing witch’s brew of ever more efficient, ever deadlier pesticides.”

Even the eradication campaign came with what Flores calls a “concerted PR effort” to demonize coyotes. Powered by a series of pre-packaged stories from the Biological Survey, he says, major publications all across the country ran fictionalized accounts that cast certain nuisance animals, including the coyote, as Al Capone-style gangsters. Those who would destroy them were cast as heroic G-men.

Wolves were essentially wiped out in the U.S. by 1925. But coyotes, despite lacking a public relations campaign of their own, more than survived attempts to snuff them. They flourished. So what did they have that wolves didn’t?

In simple terms, coyotes can live in groups, when it’s advantageous. But when it’s not, they can disperse into pairs or even solitary individuals and scatter across the landscape, making them difficult to locate and eliminate.

“Wolves are pure pack animals, and hunters discovered if you can track one of the animals in a pack, you can use its scent to prepare bait and get every one in the pack,” Flores says. “But coyotes don’t have the same pack adhesion. That’s the single advantage over wolves that allowed them to survive.”

So the eradication strategy backfired. Not only did the campaign not wipe them out, but it triggered colonization. When coyotes sense their numbers dwindling, the number of pups in their litters grows larger — a phenomenon called “compensatory breeding.”

Coyotes migrated all over the country and grew comfortable in urban areas, where they face no natural predators, no hunters shooting at them from helicopters, no leg traps or poisons. Plus, urban areas attract plenty of smaller animals, like rabbits, squirrels, rats and mice, that provide a ready food source…

For all the talk of how human development has encroached on animals’ natural habitat, the coyote has turned the tables. A recent story in National Geographic reported that coyotes actually have increased their range by 40% since the 1950s, can be found in every state except Hawaii, have become established in Central America and are expected to appear soon in South America…

Stewart Breck, a researcher with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Wildlife Research Center based in Fort Collins, also specializes in urban coyotes. He has a good idea what’s going on. In fact, he sees two things.

First, urban coyotes tend to be bolder and “more explorative,” he notes. Breck drew this conclusion from research comparing coyotes in Denver to those that inhabit rural areas, which confirmed the behavior pattern. Similar studies have been repeated in many areas around the country.

Second, researchers have identified certain “problem individuals” that appear periodically in urban environments. These bad actors tend to be responsible for most of the unusual conflicts with people.

@USDA Invites Input on Agricultural #Conservation Easement Program Rule

Pond on the Garcia Ranch via Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust

Here’s the release from the NRCS:

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) seeks public comments on its interim rule for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). ACEP is USDA’s premier conservation easement program, helping landowners protect working agricultural lands and wetlands. The rule – now available on the Federal Register – takes effect on publication and includes changes to the program prescribed by the 2018 Farm Bill.

“Through easements, agricultural landowners are protecting agricultural lands from development, restoring grazing lands and returning wetlands to their natural conditions,” NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr said. “The new changes to ACEP under the 2018 Farm Bill make it stronger and more effective and will result in even better protection of our nation’s farmlands, grasslands and wetlands.”

NRCS is investing more than $300 million in conservation easements for fiscal 2020. NRCS state offices will announce signup periods for ACEP in the coming weeks.

Changes to ACEP for agricultural land easements include:

  • Authorizing assistance to partners who pursue “Buy-Protect-Sell” transactions.
  • Requiring a conservation plan for highly erodible land that will be protected by an agricultural land easement.
  • Increasing flexibility for partners to meet cost-share matching requirements.
  • Changes to ACEP for wetland reserve easements include:

  • Identifying water quality as a program purpose for enrollment of wetland reserve easements.
  • Expanding wetland types eligible for restoration and management under wetland reserve easements
  • “Conservation easements have a tremendous footprint in the U.S. with nearly 5 million acres already enrolled. That’s 58,000 square miles,” Lohr said. “This is a great testament to NRCS’s and landowner’s commitment to conservation.”

    Submitting Comments

    NRCS invites comments on this interim rule through March 6 on the Federal Register offsite link image . Electronic comments must be submitted through regulations.gov under Docket ID NRCS-2019-0006. All written comments received will be publicly available on regulations.gov, too.

    NRCS will evaluate public comments to determine whether additional changes are needed. The agency plans on publishing a final rule following public comment review.

    Applying for ACEP

    ACEP aids landowners and eligible entities with conserving, restoring and protecting wetlands, productive agricultural lands and grasslands. NRCS accepts ACEP applications year-round, but applications are ranked and funded by enrollment periods that are set locally.

    For more information on how to sign up for ACEP, visit your state website at nrcs.usda.gov or contact your local NRCS field office.

    #Snowpack news: #Colorado has the #blues, mostly

    Click on a thumbnail graphic to view a gallery of snowpack data from the NRCS.

    And, here’s the Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map for January 6, 2020 from the NRCS.

    Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map January 6, 2020 via the NRCS.

    Albert King & Stevie Ray Vaughan – Blues Jam Session

    Scientists Devise Cheaper Method to Capture #Hydrogen for Fuel — @H2OTracker #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

    Electrolysis is a promising option for hydrogen production from renewable resources. Electrolysis is the process of using electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. This reaction takes place in a unit called an electrolyzer. Electrolyzers can range in size from small, appliance-size equipment that is well-suited for small-scale distributed hydrogen production to large-scale, central production facilities that could be tied directly to renewable or other non-greenhouse-gas-emitting forms of electricity production. Credit: US Department of Energy

    From H2ORadio:

    There are great hopes that hydrogen will become a main energy source as common as gasoline. Hydrogen is plentiful and when it is burned it releases no pollutants. But one of the problems is to produce it in a cheap and sustainable manner. In the past, hydrogen has been captured by using expensive metals like platinum to cause a chemical splitting of the element from oxygen in water molecules.

    Now scientists from the University of New South Wales, say that they can produce hydrogen by using low-cost and abundant metals like iron and nickel in a process that uses much less energy. Despite the growing market for electric vehicles, refueling a hydrogen car could be done in minutes as opposed to the hours it takes to recharge a lithium battery in an electric car.

    Forbes reports that the first zero emission hydrogen rail project in the U.S. is being planned for San Bernardino County in Southern California. The local transportation authority will operate a commuter train on a 9-mile stretch that will run on fuel cells. There’s already a commuter rail line running on hydrogen fuel in Germany with more planned in France. China saw the first fuel cell tram go into operation in 2015.