It’s widely known that outdoor cats are a leading killer of songbirds – and evidence is mounting that coyotes are eating more and more outdoor cats.
In a study shared last week by the American Bird Conservancy, cats were shown to make up 13 to 45 percent of coyote meals in large metro areas where coyote populations are on the rise.
Does that mean the reviled coyote is wearing the white hat for a change, and helping to save America’s birds?
Coyote numbers are also expanding rapidly in the rural South and their ability to kill and eat newborn whitetail fawns is forcing wildlife agencies to consider those losses in managing hunter harvest and season length.
The jury is still out in terms of their actual impact on our deer herd, and the recreational hunting industry it supports.
But if I had to bet, I’d guess future seasons and bag limits for southern whitetails might include a percentage reserved for the coyotes.
Now if we could just control those darn feral cats.
THE DAM QUESTION: I got a call the other day from my friend Chris McCord. He was at work and mired in a dispute over which part of Clarks Hill Dam is the “front” and which part is the “back.”
He put me on the spot, speaker phone and all. “We figured you would know,” he said.
I admitted that I had no clue. I called the Army Corps of Engineers, which has built enough dams to know a front from a back. Billy Birdwell of the Savannah District e-mailed this reply:
“We do not use the terms ‘front’ and ‘back’ for a dam. Since a dam is a hydraulic structure, the terms used are upstream (or headwater or lake side) and downstream (or tailwater). To use other terms could lead to confusion. If the dam was considered to be just a building, the so called “front” could be taken as the entrance to the powerhouse where humans enter. But a dam is a hydraulic structure and water enters from the opposite side. Therefore we use the upstream-downstream terms. That way there is no confusion.”
SHRIMP WARDENS: The Coastal Conservation Association is pleased with the Legislature’s approval of a law that will move management for bait shrimp and several saltwater fish species to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
In the past, three entities – the General Assembly, the Board of Natural Resources and the Commissioner of Natural Resources – had authority over saltwater fishery management. The passage of House Bill 869 will allow the DNR board to manage saltwater programs in the same manner as it governs hunting and freshwater fishery issues.
“Our goal was to provide a more effective saltwater fishery management governance structure, one where decisions are made based on current, science-based information and the input of ethical and conservation-minded fishermen,” said Michael Denmark, the CCA’s Georgia director.
The General Assembly will retain authority over licensing and associated fees, penalties, commercial food shrimp fishing, and commercial shellfish harvests.
NATIONAL FORESTS EXPAND: A $40.6 million appropriation announced by the U.S. Forest Service last week will impact public lands in 15 states, including Georgia.
Among the 27 projects nationwide is a proposed $2 million allocation to acquire more land in Georgia’s Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest.
“Georgia’s national forests are near population centers numbering in the millions, creating tremendous pressures for clean water and recreation on the nearby public lands,” the summary said. “These acquisitions will focus on providing recreation opportunities and protecting watershed and wetlands in an area where the viability and availability of clean, abundant water is critical.”