On the Wild Edge

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This article by Ben Goldfarb first appeared in the July 21, 2014 issue of High Country News.

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Are we smart enough to solve our raven problem?

As ravens spread, they’re finding friends and foes in Western states.

For millennia, the sagebrush steppe that sprawls from Wyoming to California was a treeless scrubland, unbroken by anything taller than the occasional piñon or juniper. Common ravens, which prefer to nest in trees and on cliffs, were scarce. That changed during the 20thcentury, when transmission towers and telephone poles sprouted in the high desert. With the advancing infrastructure – not only power lines, but also roads, dumps and towns – came the ravens. Today, Corvus corax is ubiquitous in ....cont.

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Comments about this article

Joel Geier Subscriber
Jul 25, 2014 04:50 PM
Thanks for the good article on the origins of this bizarre and unscientific vendetta by Idaho Fish & Game.

One correction: The sage-grouse nest-monitoring study by Peter Coates and co-authors was published in 2008 (Journal of Field Ornithology 79(4):421-428).

The actual numbers from this study are also worth noting. Raven predation was documented at 10 of the 55 monitored nests. Predation by badgers was documented at 7 nests.

Cattle flushed grouse from five of the nests. In one case, a cow ate one egg and three other eggs were damaged, leading to nest abandonment. One other nest was abandoned after the flushing incident.

One wonders if, for the sake of being consistent in their lunacy, Idaho Fish & Game plan to shoot seven badgers and two range cows for every ten ravens that they manage to shoot.
Ben Goldfarb Subscriber
Jul 29, 2014 02:42 PM
Hi Joel, thanks very much for taking the time to read and comment on our story about ravens. You're absolutely right that Coates and co-authors originally published their nest-monitoring research in 2008 — good catch. The 2010 study that I refer to in the story is their follow-up paper in the Journal of Wildlife Management, "Nest Predation of Greater Sage-Grouse in Relation to Microhabitat Factors and Predators," which incorporated the camera-monitoring data into a nest-survival model. Thanks again for reading, and for your sharp eye.

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