cattle grazing on open space land

Overview | Policy | Public Input | Wildlife | Timeline | Research | Partners | Contact

Conservation Grazing Overview

As we have always done, Midpen will not allow lethal removal of mountain lions and coyotes due to livestock predation now or in the future.

We are continuing our ongoing public process to consider preventive and economic ways to reduce predator-livestock conflicts in the open space lands we manage. Please read below to participate in this important ongoing discussion. 

Midpen’s Conservation Grazing Program is a collaboration with small-scale, local ranchers accomplishing multiple goals that align with our mission: 

Our conservation grazing program began in 2007, and now encompasses more than 11,000 acres leased to seven local cattle ranchers. These partnerships are a critical tool helping Midpen manage large-scale coastal grasslands and the rich biodiversity they support. California's native grasslands evolved with regular disturbances historically provided by wildlife herds and Native American burning practices. Without such disturbances, now provided in part by appropriately managed conservation grazing, native grasslands and their biodiversity are lost to introduced plant species, shrubs and forest. 

Conservation Grazing Policy Amendment: Creating a Proactive Toolbox

We are currently conducting a public process to update our conservation grazing policy with the goal of creating a toolbox that proactively reduces predator-livestock conflicts and protects animals in our public open space preserves. This toolbox is being developed using the best available science and input from stakeholders and the public to meet the following goals: 

  • Protect wildlife and livestock: Considering multiple tools to proactively reduce interactions including removing sick or dead livestock, livestock-guarding animals including dogs, fencing, visual and audio deterrents, pilot volunteer shepherd program and hazing.
  • Secure sustainable grazing: Multiple economic tools are also being explored including adjusting reimbursements for confirmed losses (we already do this) and adjusting rent to compensate for expected livestock loss.
  • Further scientific research: Support science that that informs wildlife and livestock protection regionally.

Read the current draft conservation grazing management policy amendments in red beginning on page seven. These draft amendments may continue to evolve throughout the ongoing public process. 

Public Meetings

Our next public workshop is December 17, 2019 from 6-8 p.m. at the Mountain View Community Center (201 S Rengstorff Ave, Mountain View, CA 94040).

Midpen will discuss conservation grazing as a land management tool, existing predator-livestock conflicts, current practices and the preventive and economic options being explored. Use the online form below to provide direct feedback and sign up to stay informed.

Public Process  

Community input is critical to the success of this project. Since 2017, staff have surveyed and interviewed local ranchers and reviewied 140 scientific studies on predator-livestock interactions and deterrents.

At the most recent public meeting with Midpen's Planning and Natural Resource Committee, held October 22 in Half Moon Bay, the committee heard additional input from our wildlife advocate partners and the public. In response, staff removed a proposed three-strikes before lethal removal option from consideration in the draft conservation grazing policy. Other conservation efforts aimed at protecting mountain lions in California currently use this method because it requires preventive efforts to be made and is more protective of wildlife than current state regulations, which allow lethal removal after one confirmed livestock loss.

We are continuing to consider proactive, nonlethal options through additional public and stakeholder meetings.  

Protecting Wildlife Regionally

As we have always done, Midpen will not allow lethal take of mountain lions and coyotes on the public land we manage now or in the future. However, once a mountain lion leaves public land, its chance of being killed increase significantly.

In addition to supporting additional regional research on the topic, for example with UC Santa Cruz's Puma Project, Midpen is continuing discussions with other land managers, wildlife advocates, the agricultural community, legislators and state agencies to explore better ways of protecting livestock and wildlife regionally and statewide. 

Project Timeline

2017 Grazing tenant survey and interviews
2018 Scientific literature review
Jan. 2019 Public meeting: Partner agency workshop
Feb. 2019 San Mateo County Farm Bureau meeting #1
April 9, 2019 Public meeting: Midpen Planning and Natural Resource Committee #1
April 2019 San Mateo County Farm Bureau meeting #2
May 13, 2019 Public meeting: Agricultural partner workshop
June 5, 2019 Public meeting: Wildlife partner workshop
Aug. 20, 2019 Public Meeting: Midpen Planning and Natural Resource Committee #2
Oct. 17, 2019 San Mateo County Farm Bureau meeting #3
Oct. 22, 2019 Public Meeting: Midpen Planning and Natural Resource Committee #3
Dec. 17, 2019 Public workshop: 6-8 p.m. at the Mountain View Community Center (201 S Rengstorff Ave, Mountain View, CA 94040). Agenda will be posted online the Friday before. 
Winter 2019-20 Public meeting: Wildlife partner workshop #2
Winter 2019-20 Public meeting: Wildlife and agricultural partner joint workshop
Spring 2020 Public Meeting: Midpen Planning and Natural Resource Committee #4
2020 California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) analysis and public comment period
TBD Public Meeting: Midpen board of directors study session
TBD Public Meeting: Tentative policy adoption by Midpen board of directors 

Research

Here is a summary of what ranching tenants and the best-available science tell us:

Coyote © Karl GohlCoyote

Coyotes were once limited to the Central U.S. and Mexico. Despite eradication efforts, coyotes expanded across the country into habitat previously occupied by wolves.

Coyotes primarily prey on rodents, ground squirrels and rabbits. They also eat insects, fruits and vegetation.

Livestock Interaction
Coyotes can predate on small to medium livestock such as sheep and calves, and harass larger animals such as cattle. Solo coyotes are not a significant threat to cattle, but group hunting can be an issue. Coyotes are also known to scavenge on carcasses. To date, Midpen ranching tenants have reported six confirmed losses of cattle to coyotes. 


Mountain lion © Ken HickmanMountain Lion

Native to California, their cryptic nature and lack of individual traits make mountain lions difficult to survey. They rely on stealth when hunting, and roughly 98 percent of the biomass they consume is deer.

A "bountied predator" from 1907-1963, thousands were killed. Proposition 117 passed in 1990 designating mountain lions as a “specially protected mammal” in California, requiring a state permit to kill. California Department of Fish and Wildlife Policy

Livestock Interaction
Mountain lions may opportunistically prey on livestock, more commonly sheep, goats or calves. They may also opportunistically scavenge on carcasses. To date, Midpen ranching tenants have reported 16 confirmed losses of cattle to mountain lions.


Bobcat © Yamil SaenzBobcat

Bobcats inhabit a wide variety of habitats across the U.S. They primarily feed on rabbits and rodents, though they may also consume birds, insects and fawns. 

Livestock Interaction
There is little evidence that bobcats pose a threat to cattle and calves, though they can be problematic for smaller livestock such as chickens.
 


Domestic DogDomestic dog
Domestic dogs can pose a significant risk by killing, injuring or persistently worrying livestock.

Livestock Interaction
There have been no reported losses of livestock to domestic dogs on Midpen land, but it is an issue on other public lands.

Project Partners

Contact

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