Sunday, October 25, 2009

Over, Under Or Through

Time once again for results from another fenceline survey! Woohoo! (well, at least to me - but I'm easily amused). For this set, I placed the trail camera near the northeast corner of the property, where a small, well-worn game trail cuts off from our main walking trail, and leads about 30 feet through some oaks & pines to the eastern fenceline. On the other side is a neighbor's small horse pasture, and beyond that the Forest Service land that surrounds Yosemite (aka "the wild").

The idea of this trap was to not only see what animals are using the game trail for their comings and goings, but also to answer an even more intriguing question:

What beasties cross a fenceline where there's no gaps, and the fence is tight, sturdy and made of 6 inch welded wire mesh (i.e, box wire, not barbed)?

The answer? Critters that can fly, jump, climb, tunnel, or fit through the mesh. Duh.

Camera POV: the camera was nestled in a small cedar tree pointing along the game trail towards the fenceline. Animals coming to the camera are traveling into the property and towards the house & pond. Away is towards the pasture and Forest Service land.

Results: There were 72 trigger events over 21 days. Of the 72, a full 54 of them (75%) were mule deer. Bucks, does and fawns. Seems this is a major freeway for our local high-jumping Odocoileus hemionus. Makes sense - the path is a good route for the does and fawns as they wander between the fields, while also being a fine crossing spot for the bucks as they come and go to the higher country of the Forest Service lands that they prefer.

A few of the mule deer:

doe & fawn
Mom checking out the camera with fawn at fence

no discretion...
Milk break!

strange-horned buck
Weird-horned buck heading for fence

But the mule deer weren't the only fence crossers. Yogi the cinnamon black bear came through once as well - apparently she can climb over a sturdy fence no problem:

big black bear butt
Yogi heading out of the property

On the smaller side, 4 more species proved that 6 inch welded wire squares are right-sized for their trespasses: a bobcat, a western gray squirrel, some California quail, and a domestic cat.

sneaky bobcat
Bobcat swaggering towards the fenceline

Are you wondering how I know the bobcat squeezed through the box wire? These tracks from last Winter at this very same fenceline tell the tale:

bobcats fit through fence
Bobcats fit through 6 inch wire mesh (last Winter)

The gray squirrel just taunted the camera a few times:

gray squirrel
Where's the gray squirrel?

The neighbor's domestic cat visited for a mere 12 minutes - perhaps looking for that squirrel:

cat coming
Neighbor's cat coming...

cat going
Neighbor's cat going... (thanks for stopping by!)

72 camera events over 21 days:
Misses (no visible animal)
Mule Deer
Western Gray Squirrel
California Quail
Domestic Cat
Black Bear
Black-tailed Jackrabbit
Striped Skunk
Wild Turkey
Gray Fox
Mountain Lion

What didn't show?
No cougars or coyotes. But then, they can't get through fence at this spot. Well, a mountain lion could jump or climb over if it really wanted to, but I bet they prefer to silently saunter & slink through gaps or under barbed wire. It's better for their image.

No gray foxes. Haven't seen a lot of them on the cams lately. But I'm also not sure they can squeeze through the box wire. They might not be able to - they're similar in size to a bobcat, but their body shape and flexibility is different, so maybe they can't fit.

No skunks, jackrabbits, raccoons or opossums. Perhaps this isn't a typical foraging trail for them, or they were away on vacation. The other side of the fence being a wide open pasture might freak them out a bit too - Ms. Great Horned Owl hunts these fields...

No wild turkeys. They have to fly over the welded wire fences - maybe there's not enough clearance in this spot for their casual comings & goings, and they normally cross elsewhere. Or perhaps, they were just plain elsewhere.


For the final photo foray, here's more of the cast of mule deer characters that passed through (and are practically family):

Cute even with an infrared flash

broad's side
A big broad's side

cutie posing

bouncy buck
Weird-horned buck demonstrating why fences don't exist for them

doe, fawns, buck
Buck, doe & fawns on family outing

flea-bitten fawn?
Mange, flea-bites or a bit of a blondie?

big buck
That's a big buck



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