Contributed by Len McKenzie —
Californians, particularly in rural areas such as the Sierra foothills, are generally familiar with the pleasures and the challenges of living with wildlife.
While viewing animals at close range, especially species not commonly seen, is usually exciting, some critters who live or venture close to our homes can become “problem” animals or nuisances, and occasional close encounters can be frightening if not threatening.
How can we live peacefully and compatibly with the rich population of wildlife around us, providing them inviting, beneficial habitat and protection on our properties and enjoying their presence while safeguarding ourselves? And what precautions can you take to minimize the possibility of an unwelcome visit without harm to them?
Beth Pratt-Bergstrom, wildlife advocate, author and California director for the National Wildlife Federation, has some answers to those questions.
Pratt-Bergstrom will share tales of wild wonder from her new book, When Mountain Lions Are Neighbors: Wildlife in Today’s California, in a slide presentation for the Yosemite Area Audubon Society (YAAS) at the New Community United Methodist Church on Road 426 in Oakhurst on Thursday, Mar. 9, at 7 p.m. Her inspiring stories celebrate a new paradigm for wildlife conservation—coexistence—and explore the evolving dynamic between humans and animals.
You’ll hear about P-22, the mountain lion living in the middle of Los Angeles, how Californians are welcoming wolves back to the state after the incredible journey of OR-7, how park staff and millions of visitors rallied to keep Yosemite’s famed bears wild, how Mark Zuckerberg and the staff at Facebook made a home for a family of foxes on their Silicon Valley campus, and many more tales from across the Golden State. A book signing will follow the presentation.
Pratt-Bergstrom has worked in environmental leadership roles for more than 25 years, and in two of the country’s largest and most iconic national parks, Yosemite and Yellowstone.
As the California director for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), she says, “I have the best job in the world; while advocating for the state’s remarkable animals, I get to travel around California and spend time with condors, mountain lions, porpoises, pikas and foxes, and work with some amazing people who help wildlife thrive.”
Before joining the NWF in 2011, Pratt-Bergstrom worked on sustainability and climate change programs for Xanterra Parks & Resorts in Yellowstone as its director of environmental affairs. She previously served for nine years as the vice president/CFO for the non-profit Yosemite Association (now Yosemite Conservancy) in Yosemite National Park.
Beth graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Boston with bachelor’s degrees in management and biological anthropology and a minor in marketing. She also obtained an MBA from Regis University in Denver, and earned the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED AP credential.
Pratt-Bergstrom serves on the boards of the non-profits Outdoor Afro and Save the Frogs!, and she has trained with Vice President Al Gore as a member of his Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps. Her conservation work has been featured in a number of national publications and broadcast media, and she is an accomplished author, having written three books and extensively for journals. She has also presented a TEDx talk about P-22, the Hollywood mountain lion featured in her new book (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMO8-f70nFY).
Although Pratt-Bergstrom travels extensively throughout California for her work, she makes her home outside of Yosemite, her “north star,” with her husband, four dogs, two cats and the mountain lions, bears, foxes, frogs and other wildlife that frequent her NWF-Certified Wildlife Habitat backyard.
Like all Yosemite Area Audubon programs, Pratt-Bergstrom’s presentation is open and free to the public, although donations to defray program costs and to support the chapter’s local activities are welcome. Call (209) 742-5579 or visit www.yosemiteaudubon.org for more information about the program and the free field trips also offered by YAAS .
YAAS will also offer a free field trip Saturday, Mar. 25, to Briceburg, the Merced River Canyon and Yosemite to view birds and waterfalls. Participants should gather to carpool at 7:30 a.m. at the rest area parking lot adjacent to the Mariposa Museum and History Center just off Highway 140 in town.
Bring binoculars, field guides, lunch, water, snacks and two-way radios if you have them. Rain will cancel the trip. RSVP to trip leaders Cheryl Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org, (209) 742-5181; or David Johnson at email@example.com, (559) 974-1246.
The mission of the National Audubon Society, the namesake of noted 19th-century naturalist and bird painter John James Audubon; its state affiliate, Audubon California; and local chapters such as the Yosemite Area Audubon Society is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.