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Posts Tagged: Niamh Quinn

UC scientist analyzes coyote stomach contents to study diet

Shoes with rubber soles, western cottontail rabbits, birds, avocados, oranges, peaches, candy wrappers and fast-food cartons were among the contents that UC Cooperative Extension human-wildlife interactions advisor Niamh Quinn has found inside the stomachs of urban coyotes, reported Louis Sahagun in the Los Angeles Times.

Quinn is working with Cal State Fullerton graduate student Danielle Martinez to get a clear picture of what is sustaining coyotes that died across Los Angeles and Orange counties.

"This much is clear: coyotes aren't struggling in our urban environments," Quinn said. "They are almost everywhere, continually learning to adapt alongside us."

Quinn also developed the Coyote Cacher web application to catalog reports of coyote sightings throughout California. Users can see when and where coyote interactions occurred.

"Was howling at an ambulance going down PCH toward Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach," a report posted this month said.

"Killed and ate my cat," said another from the same area.

The stomach contents study indicates that cats make up only about 8 percent of the urban coyotes' diets. Dogs aren't part of the study because it would be difficult to differentiate the DNA of coyotes from other members of the canid family.

UCCE human-wildlife interactions advisor Niamh Quinn is leading research into urban coyotes' diets.

 

Posted on Friday, March 23, 2018 at 11:37 AM
Tags: coyotes (11), Niamh Quinn (12)

New mobile app to track close encounters with coyotes

A coyote pup is captured on a game camera in Irvine. Hikers can use the Coyote Cacher app to report coyote sightings.

As urban coyote numbers rise, the animals are increasingly crossing paths with residents. There have been police reports of coyotes attacking pets and even people, but there has been no place to report casual coyote encounters. Now there is a new mobile app to help keep track of where those wily coyotes are coming into contact with people. Hikers and people walking their dogs can use Coyote Cacher, created by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, to report coyote sightings.

“I'm so excited about this app because it will help us to collect better information on coyote conflict in California,” said Niamh Quinn, UC Cooperative Extension advisor, who studies human-wildlife interactions. “Coyote conflict appears to be particularly high in Southern California and it seems to be emerging in other areas. The information people provide through Coyote Cacher will help inform government agencies, wildlife researchers, park managers and residents to make better coyote management decisions.”

By reporting encounters with coyotes in their neighborhoods, residents can share information to help neighbors keep their pets and children safe.  

“There is a coyote encounter map that will allow the public to keep track of what is happening in their areas,” said Quinn, who is based in Orange County.

Individuals can use the app to check a map to see locations of coyote sightings. Pet owners may decide not to let their pets out at night unsupervised in areas where coyotes have been reported. 

Coyote Cacher's map shows locations of coyote encounters. Green dots are the lowest level alert, yellow indicates a pet interaction and red, the most serious, warns of an attack on a pet on a leash or person.

“The app allows users to sign up for email alerts,” Quinn said. “These alerts – green, yellow and red – notify users when there is a coyote encounter reported in their zip code.”  

Green is the lowest alert level and will give alerts for all coyote encounters in the user's zip code, from sightings to a person being bitten. Yellow will not alert users about sightings, but will let them know about all levels of pet interactions, including pets being chased or attacked off-leash by coyotes, and red alerts. Red is the highest alert level and allows for users to be informed only about the more serious incidents, for example, a coyote attacking a pet on a leash or biting a person. 

“This app will also allow me to gather baseline information on coyote activity and the success of community hazing,” Quinn said.

Community hazing involves people shouting and waving their arms at coyotes and generally being obnoxious to make the nuisance animals afraid of humans.

“It would be great if everyone would do this when they see a coyote, but at the moment this is not really happening,” Quinn said. “Also, coyotes in Southern California appear to take a lot of risks and come in close contact with humans so community hazing may not deter them.”

More intense hazing, like shooting them with paintball guns, might be more effective techniques for government agencies to manage urban coyotes, she said.

To find out if any of these techniques work, the UC wildlife scientist would like to put collars on urban coyotes to study whether the animals move away from locations after hazing.   

Quinn would like to put collars on urban coyotes to study whether the animals move away from locations after hazing.

“We are seeking funding to collar coyotes to find out more about their activity and social structure and how they react to different types of management,” Quinn said. “We would need to figure out if the effects of the hazing are long-lasting, or if the coyotes just revert to ‘bad behavior' when the hazing is stopped.”

Although Quinn's research is focused on California, Coyote Cacher can be used anywhere in the United States. The website also offers information about urban coyotes.

Coyote Cacher can be used on a computer or on a mobile device at http://ucanr.edu/CoyoteCacher.

The Coyote Cacher app was designed by UC ANR's Informatics and Geographic Information Systems and funded by UC Cooperative Extension in Orange County.

 

Posted on Monday, February 13, 2017 at 12:07 PM
Tags: Coyote Cacher (1), coyotes (11), Niamh Quinn (12)

Feral cats are a threat to wildlife

Feral cats are thought to be responsible for the extinction of no less than 20 native Australian mammal species, reported Weston Williams in the Australia edition of the Christian Science Monitor. The population density is smaller than the density in North America and Europe, but their impact on the wildlife Down Under is of grave concern.

Australia is not alone. A 2013 study found that cats kill as many as 3.7 billion birds and 20.7 billion small mammals in the U.S. every year.

"All outdoor cats can pose risks to wildlife," said Niamh Quinn, UC Cooperative Extension human-wildlife interactions advisor based at the UC South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine. "Keeping cats indoors limits their risk to native species."

According to the story, many conservationists consider cats to be an invasive species and "tough measures" are required protect native animals from their carnivorous habits.

"Currently, trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs are not effective at curbing the population," Quinn said. "Mathematical models of feral cat populations indicate that 71 to 94 percent of a population must be neutered for the populations to decline, assuming there is no immigration . . . Current TNR programs are not operating at this rate."

In Australia, the federal government plans to cull 2 million cats over five years.

All outdoor cats can pose risks to wildlife. Above a herd of feral cats gather in a vacant lot. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Posted on Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 2:22 PM
Tags: cats (3), Niamh Quinn (12)

Coyotes are getting comfortable in Southern California

Coyotes pose a threat to domestic dogs. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
In another sign of growing frustration with wildlife in Southern California residential areas, a coyote was shot and killed in a Silver Lake neighborhood by an unknown suspect in June, reported Nina Agrawal in the Los Angeles Times. Residents are taking to social media to commiserate about increasingly bold coyotes, and actions taken to control them.

"It's very disconcerting. Are they coyote vigilantes or something?” the Times quoted one resident.

In a report presented to the L.A. City Council, the Department of Animal Services said its agency, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and National Park Service had reached a consensus that the coyote population has not grown. The statewide population is between 250,000 and 750,000.

“They're not coming from anywhere, they're just here,” said Niamh Quinn, UC Cooperative Extension vertebrate pest management advisor who specializes in managing human-wildlife conflict. “They're now established in urban communities and they're reproducing successfully.”

Some Southern Californians believe the coyotes move to urban areas because of food and water shortages in the nearby hills, but Quinn disagrees.

“The coyote is going to try to expend the least amount of energy to get the maximum amount of food,” Quinn said. “Why would you stay in a more rural area where you have to go catch a rabbit when you can stick your head in a garbage can and get the same nourishment?”

Posted on Tuesday, July 5, 2016 at 11:18 AM
Tags: coyotes (11), Niamh Quinn (12)

Experts converge in March to discuss human-wildlife conflict resolution

Some coyotes have adapted to urban environments, creating a need for outreach and managing coyote-human conflicts.
Wildlife and people have been in the news lately. Perhaps you've heard of coyotes wandering in urban neighborhoods. You might have also read why you shouldn't feed wildlife. Did you know they are connected? It's a problem when people feed coyotes either intentionally or unintentionally by leaving garbage uncovered or pet food outdoors. Readily available food may encourage coyotes to lose their natural fear of humans. These interactions will be discussed during a symposium on urban coyotes at the 27th Vertebrate Pest Conference, March 7-10 in Newport Beach.

The Vertebrate Pest Conference is held every two years, usually in California, in cooperation with the Pesticide Applicators Professional Association (PAPA). The leading authorities with vertebrate management expertise from around the world congregate to present the latest research and extension information.

The conference is intended for animal control officials, wildlife managers, agricultural producers, pest control advisers, consultants, educators, researchers and natural resource managers. California Department of Pesticide Regulation and California Department of Public Health continuing education units are available for participants. Special symposia at the conference include bird, wild pig, and urban coyote management.

At the Vertebrate Pest Conference, experts will share the latest information about coyote attacks, human-coyote conflicts, and present several talks on coyote management, including hazing.

Niamh Quinn, a UC Cooperative Extension vertebrate pest advisor based at the UC South Coast Research and Extension Center in Orange County, is one speaker on the growing problem of urban coyotes. With over 3 million people in Orange County, 8 state parks and beaches, countless city parks and 19 county parks and wilderness areas, conflicts with urban coyotes are bound to happen. Managing coyotes includes managing people's behavior too.

“We can't manage what we can't measure. This conference provides a unique opportunity to discuss ongoing conflicts, especially those related to urban coyote management," Quinn said. "Research is needed to understand urban coyote behavior and if these behaviors are changing as a result of the way we are currently living. Outreach is needed to instruct urbanites on appropriate behavior where coyote conflicts are occurring, and managing coyotes is everyone's concern. We need better and improved strategies for measuring and managing these conflicts.”

Bird damage to ripe Rainier cherries.
Vertebrates are also problematic in commercial agriculture. A 2011 survey of wildlife damage by UC Cooperative Extension specialist on human-wildlife conflict resolution, Roger Baldwin, said agricultural losses from wildlife damage in California is likely in excess of $1 billion annually. Based on the survey results, economic losses were greatest for voles and pocket gophers in alfalfa; and wild pigs, birds, and ground squirrels in nut crops.

One talk at the Vertebrate Pest Conference will be a North American overview of bird damage in fruit crops. Other presentations cover field rodent repellents, food safety, and trapping.

UC IPM has information on vertebrate pest management for urban and communities, as well as commercial agriculture.

Posted on Friday, February 19, 2016 at 8:41 AM
Tags: Niamh Quinn (12), Roger Baldwin (5), UC IPM (40)

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