The smoke is finally clearing in Davis and Sacramento, and it’s time to reflect on how our California climate is changing. Global warming issues are close to my heart, and my project, the Ash Canyon Predators and Prey project, follows the drying climate and big cat and ungulate (bighorn sheep and deer) behavior patterns in a remote canyon in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument in southern California.
My cameras (Stealthcam G30s) have been out for three years now, with batteries and SD cards changed about once every 10 months. I currently have 13 cameras deployed. During this time the region has witnessed a remarkable warming and drying. Canyon streams, once brimming with aquatic life, have turned into trickles or muddy puddles. Insects and bird life has vanished. Changes are taking longer to be felt for the larger animals, but they, too, are stressed and often hungry. I hesitate to predict what will happen next, but the heavy rain year and superbloom we had over the 2016-2017 winter has long since faded, and the struggle for survival once again is on for canyon wildlife.
Global warming is real. Our smoke season this year is yet one more indicator that we are living in a drying and warming world.
Photography is a wonderful tool for recording these climate changes, and making a record of what once was and could be again. I continue to work the Ash Canyon project, and expect to learn more about how big cats and ungulates are altering their patterns of behavior in this new, harsher climate reality.