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Have amazing photographs of Wind Wolves Preserve?  Send them to windwolvespreserve@twc-ca.org and we might feature them in future updates! 



FALL AT WIND WOLVES PRESERVE » 2019

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Tule Elk Count 2019

DID YOU KNOW? March of the Tarantula

AROUND THE PRESERVE: Habitat Resotration

FREE INTERPRETIVE PROGRAMS


NOTICE: SAN EMIGDIO EXPRESS DISCONTINUED

The San Emigdio Express will discontinue transportation services beginning November 2019. We apologize for any inconvenience and hope you will take advantage of the other free programs we offer at Wind Wolves Preserve!



TULE ELK ARE THIVING AT WIND WOLVES PRESERVE

2019 Tule Elk Count


Tule Elk by Chris Gardner
Tule Elk by Chris Gardner



In late summer, when tule elk congregate (Cervus elaphus nannodes) in large herds— typically made up of one or two bulls (males) and their harem of cows (females)— for the breeding season, The Wildlands Conservancy conducts an elk count at Wind Wolves Preserve to estimate the population size on the Preserve and neighboring properties. This past September marked the 17th annual survey: A team of 54 staff and volunteers spent one day counting elk across the 93,000-acre preserve, observing a total of 296 individuals, 11 more than last year.

California is home to three elk subspecies: Roosevelt, Rocky Mountain, and tule. Tule elk are the smallest of the three, and they are the only subspecies endemic to the state, meaning they are native to and only found in California. Adult male tule elk typically reach 450-700 pounds, while the more diminutive females reach 375-425 pounds. For much of the year males are distinguishable by their antlers, which are lost annually and regrown, typically adding one new point each year.

Tule elk once populated California’s Central Coast and Valley, but hunting in the early 1800s reduced their numbers to just a few individuals. Between a hunting ban by the State Legislature in 1873 and the efforts of cattle rancher Henry Miller, elk populations increased throughout the latter part of the century.

Today, California is home to approximately 5,700 tule elk. As herd sizes have grown, national and state agencies have attempted several relocation efforts to move tule elk to protected habitats. In 1998, The Wildlands Conservancy partnered with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to reintroduce 19 tule elk to Wind Wolves Preserve, and today the population of nearly 300 individuals have come to fill an important niche in the Wind Wolves Preserve ecosystem.

Tule elk are opportunistic herbivores, so they are not picky about the plants they eat, consuming a variety of grasses, shrubs, and small trees. They serve as a food source for large predators, like the mountain lion (Puma concolor), and for canyon scavengers, like the endangered California condor (Gymnogyps californianus).

 

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When observing elk during the count, we categorize individulas by age:


CALVES


COWS

Females


MATURE BULLS

Adult males aged 6 years and over


RAGHORN BULLS

Juvenile males aged 2 to 3.5 years


YEARLING MALES

Males aged 2 years or younger with a single point or spike on his antlers



DID YOU KNOW? INVASION OF THE TARANTULA


Desert Tarantula (Aphonopelma iodius) by Megan Ellington / The Wildlands Conservancy

Desert Tarantula (Aphonopelma iodius) by Megan Ellington / The Wildlands Conservancy



FUN FACTS


Spiders, like insects, grow by shedding (molting) their exoskeletons, which occurs multiple times per year until the spider is full-grown, after which molts decrease to about once a year.


Male tarantulas typically live 10 to 12 years, whereas females can live for 20 years or more.


Wind Wolves is home to many animal species which, like the tarantulas, can be spotted along or across our roads. Please help us protect our wildlife by always driving within posted speed limits!

When you visit Wind Wolves in the upcoming months, be on the lookout for desert tarantulas crossing our roads and trails.

This nocturnal spider is not typically seen by visitors, but in the fall mature males wander the Preserve during the day, particularly in the morning and early evening, in search of a mate. Females, which are stockier and lighter in color than males, typically remain in their burrows during daylight hours. This is where they will lay and guard their eggs, which hatch about 600 spiderlings after six to seven weeks.

Tarantulas primarily eat insects and sometimes other spiders. They, in turn, are eaten by many animals, including lizards, snakes, birds, coyotes, and tarantula hawks. They have poor eyesight but are very sensitive to vibrations and air movements detected by their hair. To defend themselves from predators, they can kick up their rear legs and release irritating hairs (known as urticating hairs) from their abdomen. They have venom but use it primarily to help them eat; since they lack teeth for chewing, tarantulas need to liquify their food with their venom before consuming.

 

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AROUND THE PRESERVE: HABITAT RESTORATION

Bakersfield cactusPlanting Bakersfield cactus (Opuntia basilaris var. treleasei) photo by Daisy Carrillo / The Wildlands Conservancy



Restoration season is in full swing at Wind Wolves Preserve. As part of The Wildlands Conservancy’s mission to preserve biodiversity, or the variety of plants and animals living here, the rangers at Wind Wolves Preserve actively work to restore habitat, planting native species that were once more plentiful and that will encourage native animals to make their homes here at the preserve.

Habitat restoration is a big job, involving gathering seeds, growing plants at our on-site nursery, deciding on the best location for each species, and then putting the seedlings in the earth. We could not accomplish this task without the help of students and volunteers like you!

Volunteer days are a great way to learn about native plants and their ecological benefits in the Southern San Joaquin Valley. Visitors work alongside Wind Wolves staff to restore saltbush, scrub, pollinator, and riparian (streamside) habitats across the preserve. Tasks may include native seed collection, planting in our nursery, planting out in the field, or a combination of these activities. Our backcountry volunteer days take place in remote areas of the preserve, giving volunteers the opportunity to work in areas typically inaccessible to visitors and to see more of the preserve’s impressive landscape along the way.

Wind Wolves Preserve hosts Volunteer Days each month. Upcoming Volunteer Days are listed on right, click on the link to register. If you would like to schedule a private volunteer day for a group, contact Daisy Carrillo, Assistant Preserve Manager, at daisy.c@twc-ca.org for more information.

 

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UPCOMING VOLUNTEER DAYS


Backcountry Volunteer Day

Tuesday, November 26 at 9 am


Volunteer Day

Friday, November 29 at 10 am


Volunteer Day

Sunday, December 8 at 10 am


Backcountry Volunteer Day

Thursday, December 19 at 9 am


Volunteer Day

Saturday, December 28 at 10 am



FREE INTERPRETIVE PROGRAMS

Upcoming Weekend Events Don’t miss the last programs of the year at Wind Wolves Preserve, or look ahead to 2020!


Registration is required for all programs except Movies in the Canyon. Visit the WIND WOLVES PUBLIC PROGRAMS PAGE for a full calendar of events: learn about each program, and reserve your spot. Registration opens two weeks before each event. 



GUIDED NATURE HIKES


Join our naturalists for a 2-mile hike on the San Emigdio Canyon Trail to learn more about the wildlife and history of Wind Wolves Preserve. This tour departs from the Crossing Parking Lot and includes some uphill sections as we hike up to Raven’s Landing. Recommended for ages 6 and up (no strollers).

Saturday, December 21
10 am to 12 noon



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