Conservation

For the Birds 20 Years out of Range

Conservation
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In the Field

Through its support of local and regional “on the ground” habitat improvement projects, SportDOG is continually looking for opportunities to give back to the causes our customers care about.

“Our employees have a commitment level and work ethic that goes beyond providing great products,” said Lance Tracy, SportDOG Brand Vice President. “They are willing to get involved in the behind-the-scenes activities that make habitat enhancement and wildlife conservation actually happen. Without people like that, all the monetary or product donations – no matter how worthwhile the cause – aren’t going to have much of an effect.”

SportDOG Brand is always looking for ways to lend support at the grassroots level. Here are a few examples of projects in which we have recently participated. If you have a conservation project you would like to discuss, click here to email Eleanor Marshall.

SportDOG Brand® Clay Shoot for Scouting Raises Big Dollars for Tennessee Youth Program

Shooting, fun and fellowship all came together for a good cause at the Chilhowee Sportsman's Club in Maryville, Tennessee, September 4-5, when SportDOG Brand proudly sponsored the 4th annual Clay Shoot for Scouting event. The sporting clays competition grossed more than $41,000 from auction proceeds and sponsor and participant fees to support the Great Smoky Mountain Council Chapter of the Boy Scouts of America.

Scouting in the East Tennessee Region serves more than 16,000 youths, including 2,000 economically disadvantaged at-risk youths. Funds raised from events such as the Clay Shoot for Scouting go toward training for Scout leaders; financial assistance for uniforms, books, camping fees, and other items that ensure each Scout can participate fully; and transportation to Scouting events.

“When a good cause like this is taking place right in our backyard, we’re glad to be personally involved,” said Eleanor Marshall, a SportDOG Brand employee and event committee member. “Our company has close ties to scouting through some of our employees who volunteer so much of their time to BSA programs that we’ve made this a corporate priority as well.

“We’ve really ramped up our support for programs like this, starting with our Kids in Conservation activities, which we started in 2009 as part of our Conservation Fund to ensure wise use of natural resources for generations to come.”

For more information on future events, visit www.clayshootforscouting.org.

SportDOG Conservation Fund Charity Auction Hunt

One of our initiatives at SportDOG Brand is to increase the money that we will be able to give in grants each year, so we created the SportDOG Conservation Fund Hunt Auction. This is an online auction for a hunt that has been donated by partners we have met through the years. In 2009, we had our first SportDOG Conservation Fund Hunt Auction, and it was a huge success in raising money for the many grants we provide each year. George Crumick of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania won the hunt of a lifetime with Prairie Sky Guest and Game Ranch in Veblen, South Dakota.

"From the moment we arrived at the Prairie Sky Ranch, it was evident that it was a first class operation through and through," said auction winner George Crumlich. "Everyone did everything they could to make sure the trip met all of our expectations, and when all was said and done, they certainly exceeded them. The standard was set the first night there as we had a gourmet meal of fresh walleye that was caught earlier that day by some of the other guests. After what seemed like a short nap, we were up early and into the field for ducks. That afternoon we decided to chase some wild pheasants and Phil, our guide, put us on a good number of birds. The rest of the stay went much like the start, with mother nature throwing in a few curveballs. We did decide to switch it up on the upland hunt and chase some of the release birds at Prairie Sky and they acted much like their wild counter parts. It was definitely a trip of a lifetime and heartfelt thanks goes out to SportDOG, Bruce, Sean, and Phil."

We would like to thank Bruce and Corrine Prins with Prairie Sky for the donation of a 4 day and 3 night duck and pheasant combo hunt. Bruce and Corrine's dedication to the outdoors and conservation can be seen through all their efforts on the Prairie Sky Ranch. Prairie Sky is well-noted for their outstanding hospitality, beautiful accommodations, and amazing wing shooting (ducks and upland). Please visit Prairie Sky Guest and Game Ranch at www.prairieskyranch.

Assisting with Western Chukar Research

Aaron Robinson is on a research mission, and he’s in good company. SportDOG Brand is lending support to Robinson, a Brigham Young University student, as he undertakes a study that will reveal more about Chukar Partridge (Alectoris chukar) populations in the western United States.

Native to mountainous parts of Asia, Western Europe, and the Middle East, Chukars were first introduced in North America in 1893. By 1954, California, Idaho, Nevada, and Washington considered Chukars successfully established. By 1968, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming had established enough self-sustaining populations that hunting seasons were established.

Robinson’s study area extends from Idaho into Utah and Nevada. Chukars are one of the most popular upland game birds in the West. The Nevada Division of Wildlife considers them the most popular game bird in the state, and Utah is home to a growing number of Chukar hunting enthusiasts. Yet, as popular as this game bird has become, there is still much to learn about the species. Through research, Robinson hopes to determine basic life history characteristics, home range, life expectancy, nesting and brooding habitat, and many other important biological facts.

SportDOG Brand remote trainers and locating equipment are essential to Robinson’s research. He will use dogs to find Chukar broods and nests in rugged, mountainous habitat during summer. SportDOG gear will be an important asset in controlling the dogs and then locating them once they have pointed study birds. Once the dog finds a brood or nest, habitat data is collected to determine vital variables surrounding Chukar use sites.

Update...

For the past 3 years, SportDOG Brand has lent support to an ongoing research study investigating Chukar Partridge (Alectoris chukar) populations in the western United States. SportDOG Brand remote trainers and locating equipment have played a vital role in this research by helping control dogs while locating birds. With the help of SportDOG they have discovered some interesting facts about Chukar biology which will help manage Chukar populations for future generations.

Research is the most important tool in managing wildlife. For the past 5 years, they have been studying the demographics of Chukars in the great basin. Initial research efforts began investigating the watering patterns of Chukars using artificial water sources (guzzlers). Current research has focused on seasonal survival and movements associated with water.

Chukars, like many other game birds, are short-lived with high reproductive potential. An understanding of survival and probable causes of mortality are important aspects of wildlife demography. Seasonal and annual survival estimates of harvested species are particularly important for understanding population fluctuations, which allows for responsive changes in management. Very little information has been quantified regarding Chukar seasonal survival. Previous research has suggested that over winter survival is the most important, similar to pheasants and other species. They discovered that Chukar survival is linked to another variable in the great basin, the fall raptor migration. Every year, thousands of raptors migrate south from summer breeding grounds along Western flyways. The research showed that a significant portion of mortality events occurred during this time period (Sep-Oct) and that winter and spring survival stays relatively consistent.

The research team thanked SportDOG for their investment and concern in securing the upland game hunting tradition and helping further understanding of Chukars in North America.

The Turkey Creek Wood Duck Project

SportDOG Brand recently sponsored and participated in a conservation outreach wood duck nesting box project in Tennessee’s 58-acre Turkey Creek Wetland Area. This area is a unique resource in that it is located literally within the shadows of developments and malls in the downtown Farragut area of West Knoxville.

The wetland not only hosts a variety of raptors, reptiles, amphibians, songbirds, and native flora, but it is also an important area for migrating waterfowl such as the North American wood duck.

For nesting, wood ducks depend primarily on abandoned tree cavities created by pileated woodpeckers. But with the absence of pileated woodpeckers in the area for creating these nesting cavities, nesting-habitat enhancement measures were required in order to take full advantage of the quality brooding and adult habitat in the area.

During development of the Turkey Creek industrial area in the early 1990s, wood duck nesting boxes were installed by a private contractor as a requirement of the Environmental Impact Statement conducted for the wetland. A decade later, the majority of those boxes either no longer existed or were in need of significant repair or replacement. Annual maintenance of artificial wood duck nesting boxes is an important component to wood duck nesting success.

Seeing the chance to make a difference in this unique habitat, SportDOG staff, along with the Turkey Creek Wetland Park Area manager, installed 11 nesting boxes at strategic locations. One consideration during the placing of the boxes was to reduce nest dumping. Nest dumping may occur when wood duck hens attempt to optimize as many of the nesting opportunities within a given area as possible, but are only able to successfully incubate a single nest. Therefore, it was important that boxes were strategically placed so that box entrances were not viewable from each other. Installed nesting boxes will need to be monitored prior to nesting season in order to discourage non-target species from utilizing the boxes.

After hens have successfully incubated their clutches and broods have vacated the nesting boxes, an evaluation will be completed. Use and nesting success information will be recorded using standard wood duck nesting box evaluation data collection sheets. Project success will be evaluated by summer and results published in appropriate mediums to maximize project success exposure, future project success, and contribution to the community.

Update 06-09-06

Five wood duck nesting boxes on the south end of the Turkey Creek Wetland Area were recently inspected for nesting success. Two boxes were new additions with cedar nesting material and three boxes were existing boxes that were still in good condition but without cedar nesting material. Nesting box designs were similar. Nesting wood duck hens during the 2006 spring nesting season had obviously used the new nesting boxes but, interestingly, ignored the old ones. The occurrence of wood duck nesting down, eggshell remnants, and the observation of wood duck adults and broods in the area suggest broods were hatched from these boxes. Nesting boxes will be repaired if necessary and new cedar nesting material added to all boxes next winter to help increase additional nesting success.

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