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December 2020
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ONLINE NEWSLETTER
 
FACT OR FICTION:

  Can grazing goats help stop Catalina fire hazards?


Absolutely not. While domesticated goats have been used in controlled environments to clear vegetation, they are not an appropriate solution for a nature preserve like Catalina. Goats are indiscriminate eaters and Catalina supports large numbers of endemic, rare, and endangered plants that are particularly vulnerable to introduced herbivores. 

Catalina’s native plants have evolved over eons without predation by large herbivores. Therefore, they have lost many of the defenses their mainland ancestors have against grazers, safeguards such as chemicals, spines and tough leaves. These native plants provide food and habitat for species like the endangered Catalina Island fox, bald eagle, and other wildlife.

Catalina’s rugged topography would make it impossible to control and manage a population of goats, leading to extensive environmental damage. Goats increase erosion by carving trails into steep hillsides and loosening soil with their sharp hooves, resulting in slope failure and the decline, or even extinction, of numerous plant species. The best solution to reducing fire hazard is managing the Island’s ecology towards more natural landscapes. Without goats, native vegetation has had the opportunity to recover from nearly 200 years of grazing and return Catalina to a more natural fire regime. 







Did You Know… Native plant numbers increase the season after a burn

THE ISLAND NATURALIST
Issue #16 / All About Fire


IN THIS ISSUE...


Fire! Catalina’s Friend or Foe?
Preventing Wildfires on Catalina
Fact or Fiction: Can Goats Stem Fires?
Did You Know … Fires Increase Native Plants      



Courtesy of Catalina Island Museum

Goats were introduced to Catalina Island for hunting, but caused significant damage to the Island’s ecosystems. You can still see goat terraces cut into the hillsides. Look for them above White’s Landing, for instance. These cuts diminish more and more every year.  This hunting poster is a remnant from the days when feral goats and pigs ate Catalina’s vegetation the way clear-cutting decimated forests.

Missed recent issues?
Issue #1 / All About Bison

Issue #2 / All About Birds

Issue #3 / All About Plants
Issue #4 / All About Eagles
Issue #5 / All About Ravens & Crows
Issue #6 / All About Natives & Invasives  
Issue #7 / All About Rain
Issue #8 / All About Bison Roundup
Issue #9 / All About Foxes
Issue #10 / All About Weeds
Issue #11 / All About Eagle Hatchlings
Issue #12 / All About Snakes
Issue #13 / All About Diurnal Raptors
Issue #14 / All About Diurnal Raptors II
Issue #15 / All About Giants & Dwarves



 

 

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