As California weathers another drought and Mono Lake’s level continues to drop, the landbridge from the mainland to one of the world’s largest California Gull nesting colonies continues to re-emerge—and with it—concern for the gull population put at risk of coyote predation. To monitor the situation, the Mono Lake Committee set up a network of six motion-detection wildlife cameras strategically placed across the length of the exposed landbridge.
From March to August, we monitored the real-time motion-sensor camera images. On three occasions we were alerted when coyotes were patrolling the edge of the landbridge. These sightings gave us cause for concern, but not once did any of the coyotes journey across to the islets. This was confirmed when Point Blue Conservation Science conducted their annual California Gull study and saw no trace of coyote activity at the nesting sites.
With the nesting season concluded at the beginning of August, we are breathing a sigh of relief that the California Gulls nested safely this year.
Unfortunately, lake level forecasts suggest that we will likely have to deploy the fence for the 2023 nesting season. While fence installation permits and equipment are already lined up, it is a small consolation in the face of an increasingly tenuous nesting situation for the California Gulls. Until we get Mono Lake significantly closer to the healthy management level mandated by the State Water Board, the Committee will stay ready to implement these kinds of stop-gap measures in order to protect the gulls.
Top photo by Elin Ljung.