February 09, 2022
Who would have thought that climate change would be part of the reason Arizona banned surveillance cameras as of January 1, 2022?
Hunters love trail cameras, and so do I. However, there are some situations, not found everywhere, where trail cameras reduce “fair hunting”, cause conflicts between hunters and can impact wildlife movements. With a prolonged and record-breaking drought, Arizona ponds have become vitally important hubs for wildlife seeking water. With so much big game in limited water, it’s only natural that these water sources are also hubs for trail cameras placed by hunters. Are there as many hunters who put cameras on the water? In the Fall 2021 issue of “Fair Chase” magazine, there is a photo of one side of a watershed in Arizona with at least 11 trail cameras posted. I guess there were over 50 cameras on that watershed.
At a public consultation meeting of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, an overflowing crowd of residents attended. Forty-nine addressed the commission, including 31 against the abolition of cameras and 18 for. Commissioners then voted 5-0 for the ban, noting an increase in traffic by those checking cameras before and after hunting season, but also while others were hunting at the same waterhole. Conflicts arose. Herders have complained that the visits to check the cameras were affecting their cattle using the water. Fish and Game noted that the increase in human traffic checking the cameras was affecting wildlife attempting to drink from man-made reservoirs, catchment systems or waterholes. This has been particularly true during very dry periods, which have exploded in recent years. Yes, climate change is affecting the use of surveillance cameras in some parts of the country.
Some hunting outfitters believe the ban affects their hunters who hunt near water. Other outfitters think there are simply too many cameras in use. Even though hunters like to use trail cameras, apparently in some places the use of cameras may be too good a thing. This is not just happening in Arizona, but also in other western states like Nevada and Utah.
At the time this was written, Utah has been amid the debate to ban cameras during hunting season. Nevada has already made changes. In Nevada, you cannot use trail cameras on private land from August 1 through December 31 without the owner’s permission. You also cannot place surveillance cameras on public lands during this same period. If the camera transmits images or video, then they are prohibited from July 1 to December 31. Additionally, all cameras are prohibited if placed in such a way as to alter the behavior of wildlife.
Climate change affects woodland caribou
Labrador is not experiencing habitat loss due to development as is happening in other parts of Canada, but climate change is causing caribou numbers to decline. A new 20-year study shows that climate change has impacted the survival of adult female woodland caribou. The researchers looked at snowfall, insect harassment and growing season length while tracking 257 radio-collared caribou. The warmer weather leads to cold rain rather than snow in late fall. The icy layer from the rain is quickly buried by snow, creating a hard layer that prevents caribou from breaking through to access the vegetation on which they normally feed.
Wolves are also part of the problem. The George River herd has migrated farther north, and in one population the wintering grounds of Labrador caribou overlap with the George River herd. This is believed to attract wolves to the area where they take Labrador animals. If winter temperatures continue to warm, further caribou declines are expected.
Evolution of CWD driving in mule deer
Finally, some good news about CWD. Researchers at the University of Wyoming have found that a single genetic mutation linked to slower progression of CWD has become more common over time. Deer carrying the “slow” mutation were less likely to test positive for CWD. Additionally, the “slow” allele (a form of the gene resulting from a mutation) is more common in herds that have been exposed to CWD for longer.
Over the past 20 years, the frequency of the “slow” allele has increased more in herds with a higher prevalence of CWD (number of cases present at a certain time). This means that when a deer with the “slow” allele contracts CWD, disease progression takes longer in that deer. This is because deer with this allele take longer to accumulate detectable levels of MDC.
Apparently, females with detectable levels of MDC can transmit the disease to their calves. So if they have the “slow” gene, they may have a few more breeding years or non-MDC fawns than without the gene. This means they can produce more youngsters without CWD. The researchers noted that “if these deer have more opportunities to reproduce before dying from CWD, and if the ‘slow’ allele becomes more common, this could change our expectations about future population declines caused by CWD. MDC. Much more data is needed, but this is an interesting event that can lead to reduced CWD-related mortality in a herd.
NJ black bear hunting halted in 2021
Black bear management continues to be a political football game in New Jersey. Governor Murphy and the New Jersey Fish and Game Council are to blame. In New Jersey, by law, you cannot have bear season unless the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has approved the Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy of the state. This policy has expired and a new one has not yet been approved.
Unfortunately, at press time, Governor Murphy remains adamantly opposed to bear hunting, and the commissioner of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection is appointed by the governor, so he won’t be resigning. management plan. This means that the gambling agency will probably not be able to handle the bears until there is a change in administration.
Will hunters be chasing NJ bears next hunting season? We don’t know, but we do know that bear problems are on the rise, as are complaints from citizens. It’s a common story in New Jersey.
If you have any questions about the topics covered in this column or about wildlife or wildlife management issues, contact Dr. Dave at [email protected]