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    Montana Chapter of The Wildlife Society Abstracts

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    Our conference theme this year revolved around telling our story, as well as sharing our lessons learned. There are many success stories that have come to fruition large in part due to wildlife professionals effectively communicating our management experience and research knowledge with others. Conversely there are situations where our wildlife messages have been lost due to one reason or another. And in almost all cases, if we were to do it over, we’d choose to communicate something differently. Given the issues surrounding wildlife and wildlife conservation, it is becoming more important that we, collectively, are effective at communicating our wildlife knowledge and experiences with others. Whether we are bringing our information from the field to our managers or administrators, from agency to agency and other partners, to stakeholder groups, members of our public, or to our policy and law makers, we need to effectively tell our story

    Caragana Establishment, Survival and Regeneration in the Black Hills, South Dakota

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    The purpose of this study was to determine the adaptability and potential wildlife value of Caragana also known as Siberian peashrub for establishment, survival, growth, regeneration, and nutritional qualities. This study was initiated in 1968 in the Black Hills, South Dakota on the McVey Burn (1939), within an open stand of a ponderosa pine forest. Bare rootstock was planted in 1968, and after 35 years survival was 74 percent. Average height was 3 m (10 feet) and plants did regenerate by seed bt did not expand into adjacent habitat. Ideal growing condition evaluated at 35 years, was in a closed tree canopy with 35 percent overstory and basal area 17.7 m2/ha (77 ft2/ acre). Open growing conditions was had exposed areas, canopy cover 17 percent and basal area 5.4 m2/ha (24 ft2/acre). Tree overstory cover on North facing slopes was approximately 2 times greater than on more open south facing slopes. Caragana has not shown signs of spreading from original planting sites. A model developed for habitat assignment defining Closed and Open tree overstory cover for growth, regeneration, and establishment for future sites was 90 percent accurate. Utilization of Caragana by deer based on volume (length x width x height) was 77 percent, 12 years after establishment, with greatest use on south facing slopes. Nutritional qualities of Caragana are generally greater than native shrubs for winter use, with only phosphorous being marginal. The adaptability of Caragana and its qualities makes this browse species suitable for white-tailed deer use for winters. Plantations of Caragana in key wintering areas for white-tailed deer on south facing slopes with Open tree overstory cover and low basal area is recommended for restoration on over browsed ranges

    Snowshoe Hare use of Silviculturally Altered Conifer Forests in The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

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    Information about snowshoe hare habitat use in key Canada lynx recovery areas, such as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, is critical for the conservation of lynx. Although research conclusions differ in regard to the types and ages of forests preferred by snowshoe hares, restrictions on silvicultural practice have been implemented by forest managers to protect snowshoe hares in this area. However, some research suggests that regenerating lodgepole pine stands associated with silvicultural treatments benefit snowshoe hares. We evaluated three indices of snowshoe hare use within a timber management area in southwest Montana, inside the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (1999–2012) to assess the relative use of forest types. We analyzed: 1) 11 years of data collected from 280 pellet plots using linear mixed models and AICc model selection, 2) 13 years of track counts from 2,202 km of roadway travel using Chi-squared goodness-of-fit tests of proportional segment lengths and the associated cover types, and 3) 76 nights over one winter of live-trapping using a hare/night index. Overall, we observed the greatest use within the youngest two classes of regenerating lodgepole pine stands that were associated with clear cutting and pre-commercial thinning. These results suggest snowshoe hares prefer silviculturally influenced 30–60 years old lodgepole pine forests

    Avian Response to Old-growth Maintenance Logging in the Swan River State Forest, Montana

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    Old-growth maintenance silvicultural treatment is a tool implemented to retain old-growth forest attributes, remove shade-intolerant trees, and create canopy gaps. Our objectives were to examine how these treatments affect avian diversity and density. We used a Before-After/Control-Impact Pairs study design by pairing old-growth stands proposed for harvest with nearby untreated stands, based on their pre-treatment forest structure and composition similarity. Logging reduced basal area by 40 percent (P < 0.05), overstory canopy cover by 31 percent (P < 0.05), and the density of trees >42 cm dbh (P < 0.05). No major changes in bird species composition or diversity were detected. Only the relative densities of evening grosbeaks changed (58% reduction in density, P < 0.05), likely due to the removal of insect-infested trees. All old-growth associated bird species continued to occupy treatment stands under the landscape conditions we observed. We did not evaluate avian survival or reproductive success, which would provide beneficial metrics for further interpretation of the potential effects of old-growth maintenance treatments

    Long-Term Band Encounters of Rehabilitated North American Eagles

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    Between 1973 and 2020, 122 Golden Eagles and 115 Bald Eagles submitted to veterinary medical rehabilitation were banded and released upon recovery in three western states. Adults of both species comprised the most commonly banded age class of rehabilitated (rehab) eagles. Bald Eagles admitted for toxins spent less time in rehabilitation than for those admitted for collision trauma. Encounter (band read for any reason) data from banded eagles provided by the Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) were analyzed and fitted to appropriate functions in an attempt to describe underlying distributions inherent in the data. Up to March 2020, 28 (12.2%) rehab eagles had been encountered. Encounter rate was 7.4% for rehab Golden Eagles and 16.5% for rehab Bald Eagles, slightly different than those reported by BBL overall (8.0%, 12.2%, respectively). All Golden Eagles were recovered (encountered dead) but 26.3% of Bald Eagles were encountered alive. Days in rehabilitation were not different between species or between Bald Eagles encountered dead or alive. Sex ratio of encountered eagles was not different from ratio of banded eagles of either species. Median time between release and encounter for Golden Eagles was 1.75 yr and 1.42 yr for Bald Eagles. Median distance from banding to encounter site for Golden Eagles was 7.5 km and 115.7 km for Bald Eagles. Number of encounters per year was not related to number of rehab eagles banded that year or for any year previous. Encounters of live Bald Eagles > 30 yr old are discussed. Rehab Golden Eagles may have originated predominantly from western Canada and Alaska while Bald Eagles may have been a mix of a local, non-latitudinal migratory population and seasonal latitudinal migrants. Small sample sizes and lack of precise encounter data prevents utility of rehab eagle encounters to contribute to demographic vital rate estimates needed for effective management of either species. Banding rehab eagles may not justify the manpower investment by BBL required to manage data from banders that band rehab eagles exclusively. Falconry training may be warranted to increase survival potential of rehab Golden Eagles. If recent trends continue, increased rehabilitation effort focused on Golden Eagles may be warranted

    Private Lands Conservation: Where it has gone and where it is going - 2020 Annual Meeting

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    Our theme for this year’s conference takes a look at what is going on across the state on private lands and how landowners are working with different agencies, NGOs, developing grass root programs, and utilizing other avenues to improve and conserve the resources right here in our backyard. Approximately two thirds of Montana is privately owned, and without private lands conservation, many of the flora and fauna species that call this place home would not be as abundant as they are now. For the most part, wildlife does not understand anthropogenic lines drawn on a map, but the mosaic of landownership across the state requires everyone to do their part to conserve not only the wildlife, but also the way of life and traditions that have been associated with these lands for centuries

    Student Technology Access at a Technical University

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    In Fall 2018 the Oregon Institute of Technology Klamath Falls Campus Library began a pilot project to check out laptops. While this may seem like a no brainer in the modern world of libraries and mo-bile access, the library was slow to adopt a laptop checkout program due to concerns about both the upfront cost of purchasing the laptops and charging cart and about the logistics of checkout. The deci-sion to begin the pilot was based on data from the Measuring Higher Education Library & IT Services (MISO) survey which measures how faculty, students, and staff view library and technology services (Bryn Mawr College, 2019), and the issues faced from hardwired technology aging out. This article looks at the reasons for implementing the pilot project and provides an analysis of the first term as well as future steps and recommendations

    Synergistic Effects of Road Closure, Climate and Vegetation Change on Elk Counts: Implications for Management

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    Increasing our understanding of the effects motor vehicles have on elk populations is vital to their management and past research has consistently shown that elk avoid roads and traffic. However, the fine-scale impact of traffic volume is rarely quantified and the environmental context experienced by elk at the time of disturbance is systematically ignored in these studies. We use an experimental design where roads are opened or closed to motorized traffic at specific times of year, and where motorized traffic has been quantified. We provide an environmental context to the study of the impacts of road closure on elk counts by accounting for climatic and vegetation changes over the course of the study. We specifically quantify the impact of road access, vegetation green-up, and snow dynamics on Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus canadensis nelsoni) counts along the main road in the Gros Ventre River drainage, WY, before and after two gates were sequentially opened to the public during the spring and early summer of 2010–2014. Elk counts increased with snow depth along the main road, and counts decreased as snow receded and vegetation greened over a 5-year period (p < 0.001). An increase in vehicle traffic resulted in a significant decline in elk counts (p < 0.001), which decreased at a rate of 1.42% for each unit increase in vehicle traffic. Our results indicate that gate closures in the Gros Ventre River Drainage decreased vehicle-related anthropogenic disturbance for elk, and that environmental variables affect elk counts and distribution further. Wildlife managers should consider both motorized vehicle traffic and the environmental context elk experience when managing road access in elk habitat

    The History of PNLA in Washington State

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    The author presents a history of the Pacific Northwest Library Association in Washington State

    Building a Conservation Ethic in the New Outdoor Economy 2019 Annual Meeting

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    Our Greetings! This conference has always been a highlight of the year for me as a wildlife professional. It’s an opportunity for all of us to get together in one place, catch up, and share what we’ve been learning. Whether we are current professionals, retirees seasoned with wisdom or the future generation of wildlifers, it’s a great time to visit and celebrate one another’s research and accomplishments. We all have something to learn from and help cultivate in each other. I’m honored to be your incoming president and to work with an amazing team to carry on The Wildlife Society tradition by helping put together this conference. I hope you will all enjoy it and ideally, draw a little inspiration from it, too. Our conference theme this year is “Building a Conservation Ethic in the New Outdoor Economy.” It has been 20 years since we explored recreation as a conference topic. I believe it is more relevant now than ever, with a growing recreation economy in Montana. Most of us are outdoor enthusiasts and were likely drawn to wildlife work because of our love of the outdoors. If you’re like me, you are happiest with the stars as a roof over your heads. Here’s a little more about the theme: The outdoor recreation industry is growing faster than ever in Montana. More people are flocking to parts of Montana because of our incredible natural beauty and outdoor opportunities. Wild places that may have been a secret a decade ago are more accessible to people than ever from information sharing through social media and new technologies that make it easier to get there and people are recreating in new and diverse ways. As growing pressures on wildlife and habitat continue to build, we need to foster and grow our constituencies. On the one hand we need more people to get outside and care about wildlife and wild places. But are we adequately connecting and helping build a conservation ethic in this growing sector of the public that are already out there? This conference will explore the changing face of recreation as it relates to conservation and the challenges and opportunities therein. I was drawn to this topic not only because of its impacts on wildlife conservation but also its relevance to our Montana culture and our own outdoor ethics. We have five outstanding plenary speakers and an excellent banquet speaker who will explore this topic. On Tuesday evening after the welcome reception we will have Movie Night and show four films that explore the wildlife/recreation interface. The Board has worked hard this year to encourage student participation in the conference by providing more grants for student travel for more colleges, continuing to support our MSU and UM student chapters, and running a student artwork contest (see cover!). Overall, we have a great selection of workshops, talks, speakers, awards, raffles, student participation and social opportunities. Welcome to the 57th Annual Conference


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