SCIF promotes science-based wildlife management and conservation activities to provide credible information for wildlife policy and management decisions. In North America, the primary focus is on investigating the impacts predators have on prey populations. A lack of attention has been given to predator-prey dynamics as most research efforts are focused on a single species. Understanding the role predators play at the landscape scale will improve the effectiveness of managing a balance between predators and prey. Maintaining a balance would ensure the sustainable use of wildlife at a determined level. SCIF also supports projects involving habitat/species enhancement and wildlife diseases.
Focus: Predator/Prey Ecology
SCIF continues to support research on predator-prey interactions. These scientific studies are the foundation of future management decisions regarding how predators and their prey populations will be managed. The impact of predators such as bears, wolves, coyotes, mountain lion, lynx and bobcats on big-game populations is critical in making contentious management decisions.
The scientific studies funded by SCIF indicate that large predators, while capable of taking big game animals at any time of the year, are actually more effective at taking certain species and ages of species under specific conditions. The long-term cumulative impact of this predation is still unknown; however, they all point to some level of reduced abundance of big game animals. While this sounds like bad news for hunters, the actual impact on hunting opportunities (if both predators and prey are carefully managed) may not be as great as many fear. Additional research will be needed to help clarify all of these issues and to identify optimum population ratios.
Woodland Caribou Predator-Prey Project: Newfoundland
Between 1997 and 2008, Newfoundland’s iconic woodland caribou population declined from nearly 96,000 animals to 32,000 animals. In 2008, Safari Club International and the SCI Foundation partnered with the Provincial Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to investigate the causes of the decline to support management decisions. Research to date corroborates earlier evidence that high calf mortality is the major factor contributing to population decline. Predation is the highest source of mortality for caribou calves in all studied systems.
White-tailed Deer Predator Prey Project: Michigan
Deer survival is influenced by many factors including disease, predation, weather, and hunter harvest. In the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan, deer survival is especially influenced by winter food supply and cover. Predators also play a role in the survival of deer, particularly fawn survival during the spring and summer. Understanding deer survival and the factors that influence survival throughout the year is vitally important for proper management of the deer herd.
The Safari Club International Foundation has partnered with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Mississippi State University, and the Michigan Involvement Committee of Safari Club International to better understand the impact of predation on deer, while also determining how predation is influenced by winter weather and deer habitat conditions. Learn more at http://fwrc.msstate.edu/carnivore/predatorprey/index.asp
Focus: Habitat and Species Enhancement
Wildlife habitats are continually impacted by humans, sometimes at the detriment of species. Humans have a responsibility to conserve the quantity and quality of habitat for wildlife, and at the same time, learn to better coexist with wildlife within limited space. In some circumstances, introductions or reintroductions of species can enhance the productivity of populations. Through habitat and species management, humans can ensure the prevalence of wildlife and maintain biodiversity.
Influence of Water Availability on Desert Mule Deer Research Project: East Mojave Desert, California
Water is a natural limiting factor to most desert wildlife. This is true in the East Mojave National Preserve where cattle ranching operations once pumped water to support livestock in the ambient desert conditions. Several wildlife species benefited from these man-made persistent water sources. When the cattle ranches closed down, the water wells and guzzlers were abandoned. The Safari Club International Foundation was concerned with the subsequent reduction of available water from the landscape and the impact on wildlife. In 2008, a study on mule deer survival, recruitment, productivity, movements, and use of water sources was begun to learn more about the importance of the wells and guzzlers to this species. Read more…
Wood Bison Reintroduction Project: Alaska
Fifty-three wood bison were transported from Elk Island National Park, Alberta, to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) in June, 2008. This occasion was a milestone in bison conservation efforts as it has taken nearly 15 years to bring wood bison across the national border into Alaska. State, federal and private partners are collectively working to restore wood bison populations in their historical range within Alaska’s interior.
The SCI Foundation, SCI Kenai Peninsula Chapter, and the SCI Alaska Chapter have been central to funding the maintenance of bison while in holding in Alberta, disease testing, construction of the AWCC holding facility and hay barn, and assisting with the regulatory processes necessary to move this rare species into the United States. Read More….
Diseases have the potential to be devastating to wildlife populations, whether they are limited to small outbreaks in a region or endemic across a species’ entire range. The better understanding we have about pathogens and the transmission of disease, the better control managers have to protect wildlife from disease related mortality. Wildlife disease problems are of concern to farmers, landowners, hunters and outdoor recreationists, wildlife managers, veterinarians and physicians. The Safari Club International Foundation strives to provide expertise on wildlife disease to the public for the protection of both wildlife and humans.
Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease of White-tailed Deer: North America.
Hemorrhagic disease is the most important viral disease of white-tailed deer in the United States, and outbreaks occur every year in the Southeast. SCIF has partnered with MossyOak and the Southeast Cooperative Wildlife Disease Laboratory to better understand factors influencing the spread of the disease. Read more….
Chronic Wasting Disease: North America
Since the discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease in the 1970’s, natural resource agencies have spent millions of dollars studying the disease and monitoring big game populations for the presence of the disease. SCIF has partnered with other like-minded organizations to form the CWD Alliance, which has created and maintained an electronic forum for communication of new information whenever found. Learn more at the important link. Read more….