California Moves to Protect Imperiled Mountain Lion Populations
The Mountain Lion Foundation
April 16, 2020
In response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and the Mountain Lion Foundation, the California Fish and Game Commission voted 5-0 today to advance Southern California and Central Coast mountain lions to candidacy under the state's Endangered Species Act. The vote follows a February 2020 finding by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) that increased protections may be warranted.
The vote triggers a year-long review by CDFW to determine if these populations should be formally protected under the Act. The Act's protections apply during the candidacy period.
"This is a historic moment for California's big cats and rich biodiversity," said Tiffany Yap, a biologist at the Center and primary author of the petition. "These ecosystem engineers face huge threats that could wipe out key populations. But with state protections, we can start reversing course to save our mountain lions. Wildlife officials deserve a big round of applause for moving to protect these amazing animals."
Genetic isolation due to roads and development threatens the health of the six puma populations included in the petition. Despite a more than thirty-year ban on sport-hunting, some mountain lion populations have low survival rates due to high levels of human-caused mortalities. Major threats include car strikes, poisonings and sanctioned depredation kills.
Researchers with the National Park Service, UC Davis and UCLA warn that if nothing is done to improve connectivity for these wide-ranging large carnivores, populations in the Santa Ana and Santa Monica mountains could go extinct within 50 years. And those in the Santa Cruz, San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains are showing similar patterns.
"We're grateful to the Department of Fish and Wildlife for their efforts and proud of the commission’s leadership to protect California's mountain lions," said Debra Chase, CEO of the Mountain Lion Foundation. "By advancing these mountain lion populations to candidacy, they are helping to ensure that these iconic cats inspire future generations."
State protections under the Act will help address the many threats these lions face. Local authorities will need to coordinate with state wildlife experts to ensure that approved development projects account for mountain lion connectivity.
State agencies also will have a legal mandate to protect mountain lions. This could include building wildlife crossings over existing freeways; crossings have been shown to help maintain wildlife movement and reduce costly and dangerous wildlife-vehicle collisions.
State officials will also need to re-evaluate the use of deadly rat poisons in mountain lion habitat.
And the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will be able to develop and implement a mountain lion recovery plan to help facilitate coexistence with mountain lions.
The Mountain Lion Foundation is proud to have led the CESA petition process with our partners at the Center for Biological Diversity.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
The Mountain Lion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1986. For more than 30 years, the foundation has worked with member volunteers and partner organizations to further policies that protect mountain lions and their habitat.
For more information, visit mountainlion.org.
Lahontan Audubon Society has made a donation to have several thousand sagebrush seedlings raised and donated to BLM.
Some plants have been planted already, but others are ready to go into the ground in areas that have burned and where there is important bird conservation concern. When more planting is possible, we will let your know about VOLUNTEERING.
Email from Katrina Krause, coordinator at BLM:
We are planning on trying to plant some sagebrush seedlings at Sheep Spring on Wednesday through Friday of this week (November 28-30). We need as much help as we can get!
NDOW will have a couple folks out on Wed & Fri and BLM will have a few folks Wed, Thurs, Fri. (If the weather cooperates, we may plant more the week of December 3rd, but we're going to focus on this week first).
If you are available on any of these days, please let me know!
The plan is to meet at the older NDOW office (1100 Valley Rd) in Reno at 7am on each of those days to caravan out to the site. Sheep Spring is accessed through Doyle, CA past the Fort Sage OHV Area on Fish Springs Ranch road (Hwy 395 to Doyle Loop exit, cross the river, then follow signs to the Widowmaker OHV area, then continue on that road to a large, metal watering trough on the right side-we'll rally again at that location before proceeding to the site). A high-clearance 4WD vehicle is needed for the last portion of the drive, but we can shuttle folks from the Fish Springs Ranch Rd, if needed, as well.
We have 7,700 seedlings designated for this site, but I know we will not be able to get that many planted in such a short time. The more help we have the more we CAN get planted, though. This is a sage-grouse lek location that burned completely over in the 2017 Long Valley fire.
Be prepared for rain/snow and hiking over flat, but rocky ground.
(o,o) Katrina Krause
( \) Wildlife Biologist
-"-"- Carson City BLM District Office
Sierra Front Field Office
The Lahontan Audubon Society initiated the Nevada Important Bird Area Program (NV IBA Program) in 2001. The motivating factor for the newly initiated program was to improve the coordination of bird conservation in areas that were important to migratory, breeding, and wintering birds. The NV IBA Program is focused on working with various partners, from federal and state agencies to local governments to landowners to other conservation organizations throughout Nevada to protect these areas that have been identified as important for birds.
The NV IBA Program has identified 42 Important Bird Areas. Important Bird Areas are landscapes that have been delineated and recognized as possessing significant and vital habitat resources that are important for a species or a suite of species of birds during part or all of their life cycle.
For a list of the Nevada Important Bird Areas, associated conservation action plans, maps, and detailed descriptions, please visit the Nevada Important Bird Areas webpage on the National Audubon Society’s website.
For more information on the National IBA Program (click here).
History of the Important Bird Areas Program
While operating independently within Nevada, the NV IBA Program is contributing to an international IBA effort initiated in 1985 by BirdLife International. Beginning in 1995, the National Audubon Society (NAS) joined the international IBA Program and is the designated partner in the United States. Under the auspices of NAS, each state has developed individual IBA Programs which are in various developmental stages. In 2001, the Lahontan Audubon Society coordinated with the National Audubon Society Important Bird Area Program to bring the IBA Program to the local level.
To date, more than 2600 IBAs have been recognized in the United States, encompassing more than 368 million acres of federal, state, local governments, and private lands. Worldwide, over 11,000 IBA sites have been identified in over 200 countries or territories. Hundreds of these sites and millions of acres have received better protection and conservation-oriented activities as a result of the IBA Program.
Nevada’s IBA Nomination Process
The Nevada IBA Nomination Process is based on a four-step process involving the identification, recognition, monitoring, and stewardship of areas offering habitat that is vital to migrating, breeding, and wintering birds. The process of IBA site selection is based on rigorous scientific criteria tailored to the unique landscapes in Nevada.
The Five criteria used in the IBA recognition process
Through collaboration with various entities and avian experts throughout Nevada, the NV IBA Program formed a Nevada Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) responsible for evaluating IBA site nominations utilizing the above criteria and ensuring that at least one of the criteria has been met. When a site is approved by the TAC, the site becomes a Regionally Important Bird Area. Criteria distinguishing Globally and Continentally Important Bird Areas have also been established for the National Technical Advisory Committee which works under the National Audubon Society. Every recognized IBA will be evaluated by the National Technical Advisory Committee for the higher level recognitions.
To date there have been two rounds of IBA nominations since 2001 with 42 sites formally recognized as Nevada Important Bird Areas.
Nevada IBA Program Strategy
The mission of the Nevada Important Bird Areas Program is to identify, through a science-based approach, areas of habitat critical to the survival of birds, to facilitate conservation and restoration of those areas, and to educate everyone about the value of habitat conservation.
Core Program Values
Nevada IBA Program Activities
Since 2001, the Nevada IBA Program has been extremely active developing and implementing the program.
Nevada Important Bird Areas Book
In 2005, the Nevada IBA Program published Important Bird Areas of Nevada which serves as a guide to the IBAs, bird values, and other relevant information. The publication of the book occurred before the recognition of some of the IBAs; however, the book is a great reference tool for the interested reader.
Habitat conservation is one of the most important focal areas of the Nevada IBA Program. Wildlife and habitat conservation involves all aspects of project development and implementation. Typically, a habitat threats and/or issues assessment is conducted as part of the process for identifying projects and stakeholders. Technical assistance to stakeholders and partners is routinely provided for wildlife and habitat conservation efforts within the IBAs. Since 2007, the NV IBA Program has undertaken a diversity of conservation, restoration, and enhancement projects with partners. Below is a small sampling of projects led by the NV IBA Program:
Public Outreach & Education
Education through public outreach, marketing, and publications is vital to the long-term success of conservationism within the IBAs. By providing educational outreach, local communities will become engage and increase their local stewardship attitudes towards bird habitat conservation.
If you would like to request GIS data, please make your request via http://web4.audubon.org/bird/iba/IBADataRequest.html
There are over 200 specimens in the LAS taxidermy collection! Thanks to the Great Basin Institute, you can view the LAS taxidermy collection at the Galena Creek Visitor Center. The specimens are used regularly during our classroom visits and at education events.
The taxidermy collection has been established by the help of volunteers--people who have found dead birds and turned them over to LAS. Former Education Chair, Alan Gubanich, has state and federal Salvage and Educational Use Permits to allow him to use the specimens. Alan turns the dead birds over to a taxidermist who then mounts them for use. Many of the specimens have been paid for by grant monies from the National Audubon Society’s Whittell Fund Committee. Others were supported by monies from the LAS Education Committee or from our members. The Eagles and Agriculture Steering Committee in Carson Valley, the Spanish Springs Lions Club, and Great Basin Institute have also made generous donations.
You can help. If you find a dead bird in good condition, put it in a plastic bag with a note stating your name, location, and date; squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible; and put the bird in a freezer. Contact Alan and he will let you know if it’s a species we can use and arrange to get the bird from you.
Swan Lake Nature Study Area is a treasured bird watching spot in north Reno and a designated Important Birding Area because of its unusually diverse population of birds, including Tundra Swans. A 600-foot floating boardwalk and other trails allow visitors to enjoy the wetlands area.
For several years, LAS has scheduled an annual cleanup of the Swan Lake Nature Study area. This year, LAS is teaming with Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful (KTMB) to clean up Swan Lake, Please join us for this year’s cleanup.
SATURDAY, April 27, 2019
Time: 8:00 am – Noon
Directions: Meet by the Swan Lake Nature Study Area, located at the end of Lear Blvd. Take the Lemmon Valley exit from Highway 395 North (exit 74), go north on Lemmon Valley Drive, turn left onto Military Road, follow Military Road to Lear Blvd; park along Lear. (MAP)
Because of severe flooding, garbage is floating in the wetlands, endangering our wildlife. This year’s cleanup will include trash pick-up, and removal of invasive weeds along the trails, and at the covered classroom/picnic area,
KTMB will provide, buckets, push brooms, litter pickers, and shovels. If you have members who would like to bring their own work gloves and shovels, that would be helpful.
We ask that each volunteer wears sun protective gear, long pants, sturdy/closed toe shoes, and bring water.
Because of the past flooding at Swan Lake, if volunteers have waterproof shoes, we recommend bringing those as well.
You may want to bring:
Closed-toe shoes or boots; waterproof boots are highly encouraged as the area will be wet or muddy.
Because of all the water, children are not encouraged at this clean-up site.
Audubon in Nevada scored a victory for Nevada’s state bird, the Mountain Bluebird, as well as for many other bird species when the Governor signed into law Senate Bill 108 on May 26, 2009. The new legislation (Nevada Revised Statues 517.030) called for the removal of all PVC posts used as mine claim markers across Nevada. Members of Lahontan Audubon Society’s Conservation Committee worked tirelessly with the Nevada Mining Association, members of the industry, and our legislators starting in 2007 in a cooperative effort to pass the legislation.
For many years, evidence had been mounting that showed the extreme threat to birds posed by these hollow posts. Small-bodied birds mistake the pipe openings as ideal roosting or nesting sites, and happily enter. The smooth sides of the pipe coupled with the narrow diameter spell doom for them, as they are neither able to climb the walls nor extend their wings to fly out.
In 1993, Nevada Law excluded the use of PVC posts from that point forward and required capping of PVC posts already on the landscape. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a permanent solution to protect birds. Caps pop off, and many claims with PVC pipes were abandoned and never capped. Senate Bill 108 changed Nevada law to require replacement and removal of all PVC posts as mine claim markers by November 1, 2011. After that date, claims with PVC posts remaining are considered abandoned, and the PVC posts can legally be removed and placed on the ground adjacent to the location from which they had been buried. Leaving the post on the ground was a compromise that addressed the concerns of the mining industry to mark the claim location and met our goal of eliminating the threat (birds can easily escape from an open post left on the ground).
The work of removing mine claim markers is far from done.
Since November 2011, several post pulling projects have been completed by volunteers of the Nevada's three Audubon Chapters and by other volunteers. A report from the mine Claim Marker Remediation Project from 2012 to 2013 conducted by volunteers with Great Basin Institute over several areas of Nevada removed 32,500 open PVC pipes that contained over 11,000 dead birds. Their report stated that as many as 100,000 open PVC pipes may remain on our Nevada lands. These pipes will continue to kill birds until they fill to the brim with carcasses or are removed. When you are out and about on our Nevada public lands, please remove any PVC plastic posts that you find (and leave them on the ground). You will be saving the lives of many birds.
For information about our Conservation Committee, contact Don Molde at email@example.com.
National Audubon Society has a full slate of conservation efforts. For more information look here.
In 2017 we embarked on a program of planting of bird-friendly and native plants in local parks when invited. Oxbow park was the first to ask. The project was coordinated by Conservation Committee members, particularly Judith Lockwood. In 2018, she engaged with a young man, Micah, who was willing to work on the project while working on his Eagle Scout badge. The board set a budget and a recommendation that the project go forward. Pictured is the site we started with and the first stage of the project, the planter boxes for native plants come spring 2019. We will bring you more pictures as the plants go in the ground and grow!