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Coyotes are becoming a political problem in SoCal

Coyote management is fraught with emotion, says a UC wildlife expert.
Viewed by some as cute wild animals and others as malicious killers, coyotes have become a political problem in Southern California, reported Donna Littlejohn in the Daily Breeze.

The reporter spoke with Robert Timm, UC Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist emeritus and a coyote expert. 

"We all have a soft spot in our hearts for wildlife, it's why many of us went into the field," Timm said. However, left unchecked, coyotes kill pet cats and dogs, and even pose a threat to humans. "It's a very contentious issue and not an easy one to deal with. ... We all have our individual feelings about it and it's hard to separate that from what we know scientifically."

Coyotes have been making their way into Southern California suburbs since the 1970s, mostly living in the shadows. But when they become habituated to humans, conflicts can arise. Current management practices rely on deterrence and hazing. But when that isn't enough, trapping and removing some problem coyotes appears to send a message to the rest of the coyotes in the neighborhood, Timm said.

"If there are problem coyotes reported in a specific area and you go in and remove a few, it seems to wise up the rest of the coyotes and make them wary of people," Timm said.

However, many advocacy groups lobby against any kind of coyote management that uses traps or euthanization. Relocation of animals is illegal in California.

The coyote issue, Timm said, is fraught with emotion.

Posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at 9:08 AM
Tags: coyote (2), Robert Timm (3)

New nutrition fact label is a 'victory for consumers'

UC ANR nutrition expert Patricia Crawford counted the raisins in a cup of Raisin Bran to calculate the amount of added sugar. With the new labels, counting raisins won't be necessary. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
In two years time, the ubiquitous nutrition facts label found on packaged foods will differentiate between natural sugar and added sugar, reported Tara Duggan in the San Francisco Chronicle.

"It's a victory for consumers. The impact is going to be incredible," said Pat Crawford, director of research at UC ANR's Nutrition Policy Institute. "It's something in the nutrition field we've waited for years and years: to educate the public on how absolutely critical added sugar is and about the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and dental caries."

The nutrition label changes were unveiled last week by First Lady Michelle Obama. The new label has bigger and bolder calorie information. It shows the amount of "total sugar" and below that, it shows "added sugars." The article gave an example of vanilla yogurt. On the current nutrition facts label, a consumer can see how much sugar it contains, but doesn't know how much of the sugar is from natural lactose in the milk and how much added.

Crawford noticed how hard it is to figure out when a friend asked how much added sugar was in Raisin Bran.

"I poured out a cup of cereal. I counted the raisins," Crawford said. She subtracted the amount of natural sugar in the raisins from total sugar listed on the nutrition facts label to determine the amount of added sugar.

 

Posted on Monday, May 23, 2016 at 11:29 AM

'Science' details an unconventional academic path

In extension, academics must communicate science effectively to the general public.
Throughout the United States, Cooperative Extension's 13,000 academics use new technologies to help solve problems faced by farmers, industries, natural resource managers and local communities, reported John Tibbetts in the AAAS publication Science

The article included the thoughts of two relatively new UC Cooperative Extension academics and outlined a new UC program to support graduate students interested in cooperative extension careers.

Distinct skills are needed to be an effective cooperative extension academic. The role requires the ability to know and understand how to work with and through people, how to bring about change in communities and how to engage buy-in at the grassroots level. 

"You should have good listening skills," added Lenya Quinn-Davidson, UC Cooperative Extension area fire advisor based in Humboldt County. 

Quinn-Davidson also said she likes the diversity of her job. “I can be out in the field and then do a radio interview, work on a grant application, or host an event, and I'm always building relationships," she said.

John Battles, forest ecology professor at UC Berkeley said Cooperative Extension can offer an alternative academic career track for many students, but they need a way to learn the skills needed for extension success. 

“In extension, you must communicate science effectively to the general public, and you don't have a 50-minute lecture to do it. You need to know how to facilitate a productive discussion in a public meeting, how to run that meeting so that everyone is heard,” he said. 

To prepare students for extension jobs, UC Berkeley launched the Graduate Students in Extension program. The internship offers up to a year of funding for graduate students to conduct applied research projects and learn the principles of outreach. 

Tapan Pathak, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in climate change adaptation in ag, also commented Tibbetts' article. He said extension specialists have the academic freedom to undertake research in their field as long as it addresses the needs of their clients.

Posted on Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 9:26 AM

'Wild and wooly' sheep shearing class held at Hopland

Sheep shearing is hard work, but has rewards.
Many sheep shearing students said the process was "the hardest thing they have ever done," reported Glenda Anderson in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. The newspaper ran a lengthy feature and a photo gallery of the annual sheep shearing school held at the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center this week.

Reporter Justine Frederiksen of the Ukiah Daily Journal also reported on the sold-out sheep shearing and wool classing training at the 5,300-acre Mendocino County research center.

“And 60 percent of these people had never even touched a sheep before,” said John Harper, UCCE advisor and shearing school leader. Nearly all the students were women and included an artist from San Francisco, a retired fire chief, a UC Davis graduate student, and a woman who was learning to shear ahead of travels to New Zealand “because I think it will be a good skill to have for work, in case I want to stay for a couple of months.”

“One of the things new students have the most trouble with is what we call ‘tipping' the sheep, or flipping them over,” Harper said. He explained that, to get the sheep into the ideal starting position, you need to push its back legs down with one hand and tuck its head in with the other, twisting the animal into a sitting position with all four legs dangling.

UC Hopland REC sheep shearing students are part of a new wave of sheep shearers and wool enthusiasts industry officials hope will reverse decades of disinterest and decline. The shearing classes were booked well ahead of time, said Hannah Bird, a community educator at the research station. Many students are seeking a break from city life or jobs tying them to a desk.

Wrote reporter Glenda Anderson, shearing sheep is sweaty, back-straining work that earns just $2 to $5 per sheep. But an expert sheep shearer taking part in the program said sheep shearing for a living has its benefits.

“It's a lifestyle thing. I could work six months a year and travel around the world,” paying for the travel by working here and there, he said.

Posted on Friday, May 13, 2016 at 5:04 PM

Citrus trees sprayed for Asian citrus psyllid in Highland

Beth Grafton-Cardwell.
Backyard citrus trees in Highland, Calif., were sprayed with a pesticide to kill Asian citrus psyllids, reported Jim Steinberg in the San Bernardino Sun. The invasive pests pose a threat because they can carry huanglongbing disease, which is incurable. The California Department of Food and Agriculture is treating trees that have ACP to keep the pest number in California low.

“What they are really doing is buying time until disease resistant trees become available, or there is some treatment for the (huanglongbing) disease,” said Matt Daugherty, a UC Cooperative Extension entomology specialist based at UC Riverside.

The reporter also spoke to Beth Grafton-Cardwell, who is a UCCE entomology specialist at UC Riverside and director of the UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center in Tulare County. She said that it is unlikely huanglongbing was completely wiped out in the Southern California areas where infected trees have been found, even though CDFA destroyed the infected trees.

A tree can be infected for a year before it shows symptoms, she said. 

Grafton-Cardwell asks homeowners to monitor backyard trees for signs of Asian citrus psyllid and report any finds to CDFA or their county agricultural commissioner's office. For more information, see the video below.

Posted on Tuesday, May 3, 2016 at 1:29 PM

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