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When was the last time you saw a porcupine in the Eastern Si

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Re: When was the last time you saw a porcupine in the Eastern Si

Postby Bad Man From Bodie » Wed Oct 08, 2008 11:23 am

el cuervo,

First....This thread is about Porcupines and not Golden Trout or frogs! Porcupines are the ones that have the little spinney things on their backs.

Second.....Trout do not eat virtually everything in the water column. If they did, my fishing success would be greater than what it is now.

Third.....The paradox between golden trout and frogs is where every creature has a right to exist and persist. How can you not agree with this? Regardless, if fish eat frogs, why cant we have both frogs and fish in the high country? Mountain Lions eat Bighorn Sheep, yet nothing has been done manage the protected - Mountain Lion who eats the listed Sierra Bighorn. What's up with that. Appears to be a double standard. Both Golden Trout, MYLF, Mountain Lions, Sierra Bighorns, and even Porcupines are all species that partially, or completely evolved in the Sierras, agreed???? Do we agree the historic habitat of all these species have been fragmented? If we agree on these two things, maybe you will agree with the idea of managing for these critters in locations where they do well and go from there rather than adding more of an impact to ecosystems by changing management practices every year. Just doesn't work!!! Lets go poison a lake of all trout so we can spend a lot of money to establish frog populations in areas they were not historically successful. Its a bang for your buck issue as well. I'm all for pie in the sky management objectives but face it....there are just too many factors and agendas to reach pie in the sky status. If I had to chose, I would chose to manage for trout. Fishing licenses pay for more non fish related management programs that create habitat for other creatures than frogs licenses do (wait....you don't buy a frog license).

Fourth.....el cuervo you ask what training I base my thoughts on? Call it a degree in Environmental and Natural Recourse Science with an emphasis in hydrology and more than a couple of years working in the industry.

Fifth......el cuervo you made a comment "ever wonder why they are non-sustainable" in regards to my comment to "encourage folks to show support for supplementing non sustainable fisheries i.e. support back country stocking programs!!"

I would assume these fisheries are probably not sustainable because the fish cant reproduce. They may not have the conditions necessary to reproduce. They may not have the right habitat or food source necessary to reproduce. Since it is a FACT that trout dine on MYLFs, it appears to me that the best fisheries are those that have a robust population of frogs for fish to eat. A frog filled fish is a happy fish and a happy fish is always down to get freaky with a female fish! Frog Filled Fat Fish??? Anyone ever clean a High Sierra fish with a frog in its belly? I've caught 1000s of fish in the back country and not one frog. I guess I'm fishing in the wrong lakes.

Sixth.......I'm thrilled Roland cares about entire ecosystems, so when he is done with frogs lets sick him on the New Zealand Mud Snail issue. I would love to start a Porcupine movement if indeed there is a need for one. I would much rather start a movement to manage those introduced species that you mentioned. The introduced species that came into the Eastern Sierra and took over the landscape, changing everything including other species ways of life, throwing everything off balance. Yep lets manage those type...the invasive ones...you know!

Seventh....Yes if you want to call me a subset of One species (subset-human) or what ever, that is ok, but fishing/hunting/raising my own food what ever you want to call it isn't just a hobby but a way of life, lets see which subset out evolves the other !!!
Last edited by Bad Man From Bodie on Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: When was the last time you saw a porcupine in the Eastern Si

Postby gdurkee » Sat Oct 11, 2008 3:20 pm

I heard a rumor from a very good source, Mountain Lions have figured out how to prey on them by flipping them over and getting to them through their soft belly. I wonder if there is any truth to that? I think there has been a large increase in cat numbers over the years.....any takers on this theory??


I hadn't been aware that porcupines were declining on the east side. If so, it would be interesting to find out why. The problem with population numbers of any species is there's not much of an active effort to keep track of critters that aren't obviously threatened. The USFS has no organized program to note the presence of species on their land. Both Yosemite and Sequoia Kings have fairly good databases going back over a century and employees (and the public) are encouraged to write down and submit all their critter sightings. This helped to later show the decline in yellow & red legged frogs. It may help to show a decline in pikas.

That said, both Coyote and Mountain lion have been able to flip porcupines over to eat them. Don't know if it's high on their list of things to do or if they only do it when nothing else is available. I know there's been a few porcupines around LeConte Canyon (west of the crest) for decades. I've also seen them at McClure (in fact, one was an eaten one, though don't know if it was lion or coyote). This year at Charlotte I saw a fair amount of winter porcupine sign but no porcupines.

As another side note, I'm not 100% sure, but I think mountain lions are declining around the Bishop area anyway. They crashed following the crash of the Round Valley deer herd. Though maybe both numbers are now recovering, but it wasn't that long ago. Bighorn Sheep are definitely recovering from lion predation (among other things) so that's a sign the lions may have declined.

Bad Man shows why it's important to record wildlife, no matter how common or boring you think the critters is. There's now a very cool public site to record all things wild, including photos if you have them:

http://inaturalist.org/

g.
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Re: When was the last time you saw a porcupine in the Eastern Si

Postby AnnieB » Tue Oct 14, 2008 7:38 pm

In the Spring of 2003 (ok, a little over the requested 5 years) I saw, or rather saw evidence of, a Porcupine on my friend's dog's nose. There was only one quill so we yanked it. This was on the spur to Dardenelles Lake in from the Big Meadow trailhead of the Tahoe Rim Trail.
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Re: When was the last time you saw a porcupine in the Eastern Si

Postby gdurkee » Tue Oct 21, 2008 3:47 pm

This just in from an NPS biologist:

All over California, wildlife biologists are expressing varying degrees of
concern or alarm about the apparent decline of porcupine records. Nobody
I've talked to has any idea what might be going on. Epizootic? Not aware of
any investigations................


In other wildlife news:

Belding ground squirrels seem to have completely disappeared from Evolution Valley meadows (Evolution, Colby & McClure) as of this year. This agrees with findings from Yosemite that their habitat is moving up about 1,000 vertical feet as a result of climate change (aka global warming). I have long considered the belding to be the iconic critter of McClure Meadow. There were dozens there into the early 80s but only 5 in 2007. They are, though, establishing themselves at Evolution Lake and the Darwin Bench (about 800' higher with large open meadows).

Pikas seem to be doing OK above 10,000 feet in areas I routinely visit, but also seem to be disappearing from areas below about 9,500' where I used to see them.

Strangely, a few of us are wondering if we're seeing as many Marmots as we used to. It seems to me they're declining in some areas, but I have only a feeling this is true.

Chytrid fungus hit Sixty Lakes Basin in Kings Canyon and wiped out a huge number of yellow-legged frogs. A couple of breeding areas survived, so it's hoped they'll repopulate the rest of the basin. As I've mentioned elsewhere, that's one of the hopes of the ongoing fish removal efforts -- that it be done in a way so some frog populations can survive and repopulate a basin.
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Re: When was the last time you saw a porcupine in the Eastern Si

Postby Bad Man From Bodie » Wed Oct 22, 2008 12:58 pm

gdurkee,

I like where this is going! Thank you for your comments as you are a wealth of good information. In your previous post on this topic you mentioned the importance of the public helping bios document wildlife sightings. I too find this to be very important as long as the public knows what they are looking at. I chose to bring up the porcupine because it is just one of many species that, in my humble opinion does not get the attention it deserves. Why do some creatures get attention were others do not? Do species that tug on our heart strings (cute and cuddly ones) get attention over those that aren't so cute and cuddly, or is it the ones that draw the attention of dedicated scientist like Roland and maybe yourself with the frogs? I cant answer this question and it bugs me.

I've said this before and I am sure everyone will get tired of it, but my family was one of those families that settled in the Eastern Sierra in the late 1800s. We have a long oral history amongst ourselves as well as one of the best black and white photo collections in the area. My grandfather (Don Banta) has provided many with accounts of the past and has been involved with more than a handful of management programs in his lifetime. Matter of fact, he was the one who brought the porcupine to my attention. What I am getting at is, there are people in the general public who may have noticed a changes in wildlife dynamics where resource specialist or biologist may have not. In defense of resource managers and bios, you cant be everywhere all the time, and that is why I think the general public is important to management - especially those out on the land all the time.....much like those folks who post on HST which is why I'm bringing this topic here.

What I am observing both physically and from verbal historical accounts is a decline in just about every critter out there except species like bears, coyotes, and ravens that have adapted to the human condition and some migratory birds. When was the last time anyone saw an otter on the east slope. We use to see them every once and a while on the Walker River and in Little Walker Lake.......I haven't seen one in years nor have I heard of a sighting. I don't think there are as many marmots in the high country as there use to be, but there are huge populations in the lowlands of Reno, so I cant blame climate change on this one unless the Reno group is different than those living in the high country. I for sure see fewer pikas, mink, pine martin, weasels, and stuff like that. Here is another account that may be interesting, my grandfather while hunting around Mono Lake in his early years, killed a rabbit and had a wolverine come in and snatch it up before he could get to it (trust me he knows the difference between a wolverine and a large squirrel). What happened to these critters??? You cant blame hunting, and I will stand by that one! In respect to frogs and fish....I in my humble opinion, you cant blame fishing - or fish planting. I still think there are umbrella issues governing the state of the environment that overshadow those of which we manage. I think the problems are so big, that those who have a fundamental understanding of what the problems really are may be afraid of or just don't have the time or dedication to take them on. Forgive me, but I cant support poisoning a good fishing hole to manage for frogs when there may be an overall better management prescription such as forcing auto manufactures to cut back on emissions or something like that. This statement is based on my assumption that the Chytrid fungus is more prevalent where atmospheric deposition of nutrients is greater, i.e. more emissions = more nutrients in the air = atmospheric nutrients get deposited in the high country via the prevailing winds = more fungus = deadfrogs = dead fish. Please someone educate me if I am wrong!

In respect to mule deer and a few other species.......when Calf. passed the proposition to protect the mountain lion we saw, and are continuing to see a huge decline in deer populations in-spite of what DFG numbers suggest to date. At first it appeared that lions where the sole reason deer populations were on the decline. Over the years, 1980s to say 2002 we noticed lion populations increased steadily where in 2002 we noticed strange things happening with lions in the Mono Basin. It started with finding radio collars of coyotes in the dens of some lions, or instances where a lion had killed a coyote as a prey item. Then, during a period when I worked for the USFS as a hydro type, while walking around the Dechambue ponds with Larry Ford, I discovered the body of a young lion. It was obvious to Larry and I that the small lion was probably killed by an adult lion. During the winter of 2006/2007 a young mountain lion came out of the hills and decided to call Lee Vining home for a few weeks. The small cat was very sickly looking and emaciated. The cat was killed by Mono Co. police at the front steps of the USFS building in Lee Vining Canyon due to safety concerns. It appears to me that there was some serious competition going on between cats for territory and food. To me this information suggest, as lions eat deer (one/week average), the deer heard declined to the point that lions had to go outside their traditional prey base and eat things like coyotes and porcupines ect. Lions could never catch enough coyotes to even dent the population- nor would they want to, but porcupines maybe a different story?? I cant support the idea that the deer heard has recovered or ever will recover from this because of our highways. Where as the human condition has once again influenced the natural scheme of things. I think at this point if we can manage how many deer are killed on 395 each year, we can increase the deer heard, keep the lions happy and healthy, and have a positive ripple effect unto things like the porcupine.
Sorry all...this is getting too long so I will stop there :) !
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