Posts Tagged: 4-H
A mountain lion entered an Orange County corral last week where nine pygmy goats belonging to members of the Trabuco Trailblazers 4-H Club were housed. Only one goat survived the encounter.
UC Cooperative Extension human-wildlife interactions advisor Niamh Quinn said she was heartbroken, but not surprised.
“We know that this is happening all over California,” Quinn said. “Sixty to 85 percent of depredation permits are issued to hobby farmers and ranchers who seek to kill wild animals that threaten their livestock.”
The loss of the goats is a sad reminder for Californians to be aware of wildlife predators in their areas and make sure that livestock enclosures are secure against them. The Mountain Lion Foundation has information for keeping livestock safe in mountain lion country, including plans for inexpensive lightweight enclosures that work well in Southern California. Quinn — along with UC Davis veterinarian Winston Vickers, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in youth science literacy Martin Smith, and the Mountain Lion Foundation — is developing a comprehensive 4-H curriculum focused on protecting both livestock and wildlife.
“This loss would have never happened if they had a properly constructed pen,” Quinn said. “The pen had holes and was held together in places with zip ties. 4-H members have to understand what predators are in their areas, how the animals can get into enclosures – whether they will dig, if they jump and how high.”
The killing of eight goats and injuries to the ninth goat by a single mountain lion may seem overly vicious, but the animal was acting according to instinct. Once inside a pen or paddock, a mountain lion will often kill until all movement stops, according to the Mountain Lion Foundation. Lions are most vulnerable to injury when taking down natural prey like deer that have lethal antlers and hooves. In a natural setting, a deer herd will run away, leaving a lion with just one catch to be concerned about. Not so for penned or fenced-in livestock.
The 4-H curriculum now being developed will empower 4-H youth to protect both predators and livestock by understanding wildlife behavior and proper animal husbandry practices. The curriculum will be available to all 4-H clubs in California – which include 27,444 youth enrolled in livestock projects – and to 4-H clubs nationwide.
In the video, a mountain lion returns to the goat pen the evening after
killing eight goats, but cannot re-enter. (Video: Winston Vickers)
The night after the Trabuco Canyon pygmy goat attack, the same mountain lion was caught on camera returning to the pen, but he was unable to enter the shored up enclosure. Vickers said the lion shouldn't cause any more problems.
“It is likely that the lion may come by the area as part of his normal territorial circulation periodically, but I would not expect further losses given the additional pen improvements that are planned, and I would not expect any greater risk to people at the location versus any other in the Santa Anas (canyons of Orange County),” Vickers said.
Vickers said he hopes that the 4-H members will not choose to kill the mountain lion responsible for the late March attack.
“The lions in their area are in serious trouble, and the loss of a single lion could affect their genetic viability for years to come,” Vickers said.
As a newly employed community educator at the Hopland Research and Extension Center, I believe the time is ripe to consider how our facility can provide the hands-on experience that all these programs require.
Many of these initiatives aim to represent the real world of scientific investigation and environmental issues relevant to their state. I am lucky enough to interact on a daily basis with researchers working at the sharp end of scientific discovery, in an environment chosen to represent one of California's key ecosystems. What better blend could there be to allow our local school and college students the chance to witness agriculture and natural resource management in it's complex and dynamic true state?
Of course collaboration and creating programs always takes time and effort! Projects like 4H, California Regional Environmental Education Community and Project Learning Tree make the process much more efficient. They have put together activities that can be easily taken off the shelf and used to appropriately represent the diversity of systems which can be seen through the Research and Extension Centers.
Recently, I hosted my first field trip at Hopland Research and Extension Center, which covers 5,300 acres of oak woodland and chaparral habitat. A busy group of third-graders tumbled from their vehicles clutching their tablets, phones and cameras ready to document their fieldtrip digitally at every stage. The first step to connect with nature, is of course to disconnect! Having packed away their media devices, it was time to figure out some mysteries… third grade provides a great opportunity to look at adaptation and luckily we could easily observe a species well equipped for its environment right on our doorstep!
As well as observing this particularly well-represented species, we worked on our own scientific questioning and asked, “In which habitat at HREC will we see the most species of birds?” Our volunteer bird expert Chuck Vaughn helped students identify and even showed them a great use for those stowed-away digital devices by identifying and playing bird calls from his phone as we observed and learned.
Creating the perfect program and meeting the needs of educators, students, standards, and curriculum resources might be a balancing act, but working with UC ANR at one of the REC's allows full immersion in a habitat where science can come to light. I hope to see one of those students return to the Hopland REC as a fully-fledged researcher in future years … and look forward to seeing the outcome!
Author: Hannah Bird
Mariposa County 4-H member Sydnie Edwards, who coordinated efforts to reforest land devastated by the 2008 Telegraph Fire, was named a distinguished finalist by the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. She will receive $500 for higher education or service work.
The Barron Prize honors outstanding young leaders who have made a significant positive difference to people and the planet. Sydnie is one of five students across the U.S. chosen for this honor from a pool of 400 applications.
For her "Emerald Tree Project," Sydnie, 15, secured donations of lodge pole pine trees from Cal Fire and private nurseries and arranged with landowners to plant the trees. Fellow 4-H members, Girl Scouts, school friends and community members joined Sydnie in planting 2,000 trees.
The project is part of the national 4-H Million Trees Project, which hopes to inspire 4-H youth to plant one million trees as a way to slow climate change.