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Carlsbad to track large mammals in land preserves

CARLSBAD — Thanks to a more than $100,000 state grant and city and Center for Natural Lands Management funds, Carlsbad will be monitoring the movement of bobcats and other large mammals in the city’s land preserves for the first time. 

The city was awarded a $57,900 local assistance grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to tally and track wildlife moving between the 6,478 acres of open space within the city. These funds were matched with $46,635 from the city and $8,000 from the Habitat Management Plan.

“Right now we don’t even know how animals are moving around town,” said Carlsbad Senior Planner Mike Grim, who will be managing the project.

He said that although the preserves have been managed by the city, the Center for Natural Lands, the California Department of Fish and Game, and various homeowners’ associations, there has yet to be a scientific study of how animals move around the preserves.

Grim explained that the project will focus on monitoring large mammals, including bobcats, deer, coyotes and mountain lions, if they are found to live in Carlsbad, based on the logic that if the larger animals can move through the preserves, so can the smaller animals.

The city will be setting up tracking equipment along “pinch-points,” streets that intersect preserves and narrow portions of preserves, sometime this fall to observe the animals. The city will also utilize volunteer trackers to detect evidence of wildlife movement as well as it monitors the animals for a full year.

Currently, the city is studying the preserves to determine which pinch-points should be monitored, according to Grim.

Staff will then compose a report of recommendations on how to improve wildlife’s ability to move between the preserves, such as by dimming lighting or increasing brush coverage.

The preserve managers will have the responsibility of implementing the recommendations, though the city cannot require them to do so, Grim said.

But he said given the good relationship Carlsbad has with the preserve managers he is hopeful that the recommendations will be followed if funding is available.

The first of its kind and only an initial stepping stone for the city, the report will not be used to inform future land preserve decisions, said Grim.

Glad to be given the opportunity to collect scientific data, he said, “At least we’ll know what we need to do (to assist wildlife movement).”