Articles, opinions, and editorials about mountain lions and the Mountain Lion Foundation.
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Allies for the Wild Cats of Arizona (2/22/2018)
Trophy hunting and trapping are hobbies that are struggling to justify themselves in today's age of empathy, education, and conservation awareness. Despite Arizona voters' disdain for animal cruelty, such practices are still wreaking havoc on the wild cats of the Grand Canyon State.
That's why the Mountain Lion Foundation (MLF) is partnering with Arizonans for Wildlife (AFW) to put an end to these senseless acts of cruelty once and for all. For 10 days MLF employees will be helping AFW gather signatures for a proposed November 2018 ballot measure that would ban the trophy hunting and trapping of all wild cat species within the state, including mountain lions, bobcats, jaguars, ocelots, and lynx.
Though Arizonans feel strongly about inhumane trapping practices, voting to ban the use of steel-jawed leghold traps, body-crushing traps, and snares on public land by an overwhelming majority in 1994, such devices are still used on private land (with cage traps being used on public land). Arizona currently has no limits on the number of bobcats that can be killed each year - over 4,000 bobcats have been killed on average each year for the past five years.
Trapping poses a serious and unnecessarily barbaric threat to all wildlife. As they're indiscriminate and aren't tailored to catch just one species, leghold traps and snares result in an inordinate amount of bycatch, which includes both endangered species like the jaguar and ocelot and domestic animals such as dogs. Arizona requires that trappers check their traps only once a day, which is plenty of time for a caught animal to sustain serious injuries to its limbs and teeth while attempting to chew through the trap/snare or even their own leg,or suffer from exposure and dehydration.
Trophy hunting exacerbates the pressures wild cat species face. Mountain lions and bobcats are usually hunted through hounding, which is currently permitted by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Hounding involves the use of a guide with a pack of GPS-collared dogs that track, chase, and corner their query until the "hunter" follows the dogs to their location and shoots the cat at point-blank range.
Hounding is a dangerous activity for both wild cats and trained dogs. Cats don't have the running endurance that dogs do and may turn around to fight instead of continuing to flee, leading to injuries to both parties. The heat stress put on animals during high-speed chases under the Arizona sun is serious and needless. Pursuit of endangered species like jaguars and ocelots is prohibited under federal law, but hounds can and will chase and harass any wild cat they find.
Besides the abject cruelty imposed upon wild cats, management of their populations through trapping and trophy hunting is not scientifically sound and has farther-reaching impacts than many realize. The killing of adult female mountain lions usually leads to the orphaning of 1-3 cubs that can't fend for themselves or take down their own prey until they're about 12 months old, with many remaining with their mothers until 2 years of age. Killing adult male cats opens territory for young males to move into; individuals that will kill any kittens they come across in an attempt to breed with their mothers.
Several extensive studies also show that killing mountain lions and bobcats only increases human-wildlife conflicts. The young, experienced males that move into a slain adult male's previous habitat are more likely to engage in conflict with livestock and/or humans, though this is a rare occurrence considering the amount of humans and livestock that continue to encroach upon wild cat habitat. According to the most recent and widely accepted science, the best way to manage predators is with nonlethal methods that discourage or disable said predators from coming into contact with livestock and domestic animals.
We're also fighting to save wild cats in Arizona to preserve the innumerable benefits they offer to native ecosystems. Top predators like mountain lions, jaguars, ocelots, lynx, and bobcats exist to provide a balance to the great quantities of herbivores (animals like deer, antelope, rodents, and hares) that populate the landscape. If predators didn't exist, herbivore populations would rise exponentially until they eat themselves out of a home, which would devastate Arizona's native wildlife communities that rely upon certain types of vegetation to persist. Just look at the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park and the effect that had on various ecoregions where aspen stands overgrazed by elk began to regrow again, altering the hydrology of rivers and streams and restoring natural processes that had been absent for decades!
The presence of mountain lions has a similar regulatory effect that contributes to all levels of Arizonan ecosystems. Leftover mountain lion kills (primarily deer carcasses) attract the most scavenger species ever documented and subsequently provide food for other animals like black bears, California condors, eagles, and coyotes, not to mention the litany of invertebrates, fungi, and microscopic organisms that break down organic matter. This all eventually leads to the return of organic nutrients into soil, a critically important cycle vital to the health and growth of plants.
Wild cats are an essential component of the Arizonan landscape and must be managed humanely. Arguments in favor of trophy hunting and trapping have no scientific or ethical base to stand on, whereas our understanding of the importance of wild cats to native ecosystems is only increasing with research and study.
Mountain lions, bobcats, jaguars, lynx, and ocelots have a right to life without the danger of being pursued, trapped, snared, or shot inhumanely. Will you speak for our wild cats and help ensure their protection in Arizona?
(Article #1805) To read the actual news story click here...
Nebraska to Consider a 2018 Lion Hunting Season (1/23/2018)
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission stated that last year's Pine Ridge population estimate of 59 mountain lions may be enough to open up a hunting season.
Sam Wilson, carnivore program manager, reported to Game and Parks commissioners last Friday that "population data likely supports holding a harvest season in the Pine Ridge." While a decision has yet to be made about a potential 2018 mountain lion hunting season in Nebraska, the science behind their estimate is questionable and the suggestion that hunting is the best management tool for such a tiny population is outrageous.
Nebraska Senator Ernie Chambers, a longtime champion of lions, introduced a bill (LB 671) in 2014 that would have repealed the passing of a 2012 bill (LB 928) which allowed a mountain lion hunting season. LB 671 made it through the painfully slow legislative process only to be vetoed once it reached the governor's desk. Senator Chambers' two follow-up attempts in 2015 and 2016 were "indefinitely postponed" and effectively killed as well.
Though there may have been as few as 22 mountain lions in all of Pine Ridge back in 2014, the commission still allowed the kill by trophy hunters of 3 males and 2 females (and likely the orphaning of a few cubs as a result) during the State's inaugural lion hunting season. An additional 11 mountain lions were killed the same year by poaching, traps, and vehicle collisions.
If there were in fact only 22 lions in 2014, then 16 of those were killed.
Of the 16 lions killed by humans in 2014, 10 were female. This is an inordinately high percentage that can significantly damage both the social structure of the lion population and potentially hasten local extinction. The high number of non-hunting related mountain lion mortalities resulted in no harvest season between 2015 and 2017.
The two new scientific reports that Wilson cited are based on scat analysis, a fairly novel technique. We don't know whether the 2014 numbers were based on scat or other methods. Techniques other than scat analysis report adult resident mountain lions based on intensive field research that includes collaring, capture/recapture, and track analysis. Scat analysis cannot exclude kittens and transient individuals, therefore causing numbers to seemingly skyrocket when kittens — representing about 30% of the population — are suddenly and inexplicably counted.
The lack of transparency, specifically the fact that the agency has not shared its research, leaves opponents to a hunt unable to critique the science. Moreover, the Commission is not reporting other human causes of mortality. As far as we can tell, the State has not yet reported all human-caused mortality for 2015 - 2017.
The commission is indeed deceiving the public with these tactics; it's like reporting deer populations by taking a census during the spring when fawns are born (censuses are actually conducted in the fall after hunting season and only include adults). Including kittens and transients inflates populations numbers and frightens people into thinking mountain lions are recovering quickly and spreading throughout the state, and further bolsters the prospect of a proposed hunt. The commission needs to consistently report adult resident numbers.
Mountain lions and other apex predators do not need to be "managed" by humans: their populations respond to and are dependent on the abundance of prey. For mountain lions in the Prairie States, primary collaring research or deer population estimates are the best indication of how many mountain lions a geographic area can support. The traditional practice of killing a species to save it is tailored towards appeasing hunters and ranchers and creates more problems than it solves. Contrary to popular belief, hunters do not contribute the bulk of the funding for mountain lion management in Nebraska: they contributed nothing at all from 2015 - 2017 when no lion hunting season was held. Instead, residents who have purchased the State's mountain lion license plate have provided the majority of the funding for their management — more than $60,000 each year from plate sales alone.
Decisions made by the Game and Parks Commission, or any legislature for that matter, should be based upon sound science. Few biologists would agree on a decision to allow a hunting season for a population as small as the one in Pine Ridge.
The Nebraska Mountain Lion Management Plan, formally adopted by the commission in October of 2017, reads as a justification for an annual "harvest" rather than a scientifically-based evaluation that considers the value of lions to Nebraska's human health and ecosystems. The plan will not be reviewed and updated for another 5 years.
The two studies that yielded the estimates of 59 total lions in Pine Ridge are still undergoing peer review from Wilson and fellow wildlife biologists. Although the commission indicated that a public informational meeting will be held in the coming months, agencies often withhold their rationale and supporting documents until the last minute.
If you oppose Nebraska's plan to hunt mountain lions, please consider signing our petition or writing a personal letter to your Nebraska Game and Parks commissioners and State Senators.
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(Article #1791) To read the actual news story click here...
Eastern Cougars Removed from Endangered Species List (1/23/2018)
On Monday, January 23, 2018 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced the official removal of the Eastern cougar from the Federal List of Threatened and Endangered Wildlife. The delisting will take effect February 22, 2018.
When the Service first declared in 2011 that the eastern cougar was extinct, taxonomists replied that the subspecies never existed. The fact that the Service holds that "the eastern cougar listing cannot be used as a method to protect other cougars" demonstrates a serious flaw in Federal policy affecting species which have been intentionally extirpated across vast areas, damaging human and environmental health, but are not protected because they exist in a sustainable population somewhere else, far across the country.
In 2016, 73 conservation organizations submitted a letter to the USFWS stating that the problem with a decision to delist based on extinction is that no scientific evidence exists that the cougars which once ranged the East are different than other cougars throughout North America. The Service's insistence that the cougar is extinct and therefore subject to delisting is a spurious argument that cannot be substantiated given the most up-to-date DNA analyses. It is a poor excuse for delisting given that cougars in the Eastern United States continue to meet all of the qualifications for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
"The USFWS cannot declare extinct a cougar subspecies our best science now understands never existed," said Cougar Rewilding Foundation president, Christopher Spatz in 2016. "The USFWS needs to develop a federal recovery plan for the entire historic range of the North American cougar including the eastern U.S."
Questions of TaxonomyCurrently, the puma species native to the western hemisphere taxonomically is named Puma concolor (also known as cougar, mountain lion, and panther). Listed as an endangered species in 1973, Puma concolor couguar, the eastern cougar, was just one of 32 subspecies described in 1946. However, genetic research in the 1990s determined there were just six subspecies, including the one that is widely distributed across North America, Puma concolor cougar.
In 2011 the USFWS opened comments on removing the Eastern Cougar from the Endangered Species List. The 2011 USFWS review acknowledges that the 1946 taxonomy of the eastern cougar is flawed. Modern research cannot distinguish between the thousands of cougars living throughout the western U.S. and the rare historic specimens tested east of the Mississippi River. Cougar biologists now generally agree there is a single North American subspecies.
Threats to Recolonization"This is a simple case of a broadly-dispersed North American subspecies moving to recover its historic range east of the prairie states," said Lynn Cullens of the Mountain Lion Foundation. "The big cats face no fewer threats than when they were originally listed. Federal action should include, not remove, protections for animals seeking territory within the former range."
Puma concolor has been extirpated from the U.S. east of the Missouri River and north of Florida.
Recolonization has been characterized by cougars dispersing from prairie states into the Midwest for a generation, with rare evidence of the cats roaming as far afield as the Michigan Upper Peninsula, Kentucky and even Connecticut.
"The Midwest has been a cougar graveyard for 25 years," said Spatz, "Females and wild kittens have not been documented east of the Missouri River."
Potential for ProtectionCougars need federal protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) across their entire historic range. Cougars within their extirpated range meet all of the qualifications for protection under the Endangered Species Act. These include "(A) the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of the species' habitat or range, (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes, and (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms through all of the North American puma's historic, extirpated range." (Assessment of Species Status, ESA Section 4).
Designation of Eastern cougars as a Distinct Population Segment (DPS) is consistent with the intent of Congress in establishing the classification (61 Fed. Reg. 4722, 2/7/1996). The cougars are "distinct" as defined by USFWS since they are geographically isolated from breeding populations elsewhere in the United States. Second, the puma's former range east of the Mississippi River and north of Florida presents a significant gap.
Adding to the complexity of the puma recovery effort is the fact that the endangered panther of Florida - until Monday, January 23 listed as a subspecies under the Endangered Species Act - shares the primary genetic makeup of the rest of the U.S. population. In a press release, the USFWS stated that "The Service's removal of the eastern cougar from the endangered species list does not affect the status of the Florida panther, a separate cougar subspecies listed as endangered, and all other cougars that may be found in Florida, which are protected under a "similarity of appearance" designation to aid in protection of the Florida panther."
"As the lone surviving cougar population in the East," said Cullens, "the panther's federal recovery plan, including reintroductions, is critical to recovery across the southeastern U.S., and the panther should remain fully protected by future USFWS decisions."
The Value of CougarsA 2016 scientific paper gave a strong boost to the human value of a federal recovery plan for cougars when it pointed out that deer in the U.S. (the cat's main prey) cause 1.2 million deer-vehicle collisions annually, incurring $1.66 billion in damages, 29,000 injuries, and over 200 deaths. As many as 20 human deaths could be avoided annually if mountain lions were restored to the East.
And mountain lions contribute to the viability of other species and the environment generally. In 2017 Mark Elbroch published research showing that mountain lions contribute to over 3.3 million pounds of carrion to scavengers within North & South American ecosystems every day — that's half a million pounds more than the amount of beef McDonald's serves nationwide. 39 different bird & mammal species in the study area fed on kills left by mountain lions, representing an astounding 15% of local wildlife.Common visitors included usual suspects such as red foxes, but also extended to animals like chickadees, deer mice, and even flying squirrels. Myriad invertebrates, fungi, and bacteria that benefit from carcasses as well. Additionally, all that decomposing organic matter returns essential nutrients and elements to soil so that plants may take them up and start the nutrient cycle anew.
"Pumas are one of the most important ecosystem regulators we have," notes Greg Costello of Wildlands Network in 2016. "When people see the economic and safety value of big carnivores doing their natural work, we'll all benefit."
RepercussionsUnfortunately, the delisting may enable individual states greater latitude to kill mountain lions as they re-establish populations in the East. Nebraska, with a recently established mountain lion population of less than 60 statewide, recently expressed its intention to reopen a hunt season on the big cats in 2018. Illinois is the only state East of the Rockies (other than Florida) that has outlawed killing mountain lions without a state issued permit.
"We can't rely on a shooting gallery of state laws that encourage everything from unenforced protections to 'kill on sight' to no policy at all," notes Cullens. "State laws are real obstacles, sure as bullets, and cougars don't see borders."
For more about the Eastern cougar:
Visit our Timeline to see the steady state by state extinction of mountain lions in the East.
Read our feature article Eastward Ho about the misconceptions and controversy surrounding cougar recolonization. (Article #1795) To read the actual news story click here...
Local 4-H Club & MLF Give State Commission Testimony (12/22/2017)
The Mountain Lion Foundation celebrated a monumental victory in 1990 with the passage of California's Proposition 117, which outlawed the hunting of mountain lions throughout the state. However, there are still legal methods for killing our state's apex predator, namely through depredation permits. If the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) determines that a mountain lion was responsible for a depredation event (i.e. death of livestock such as sheep, goats, or pigs), the affected party may be granted a permit to contract the killing of any lion within a certain radius -- it doesn't even have to be the individual responsible for the depredation.
According to the 989 permits issued and 441 mountain lions taken from 2012-2016, many people aren't shy about seeking revenge with this eye-for-an-eye policy. A misconception that MLF has been fighting for years is the notion that killing mountain lions directly reduces conflict with humans -- it actually does the opposite. Most lions that prey upon livestock are inexperienced, transient young males looking for a territory of their own. Indiscriminately killing established older males opens up opportunities for those young dispersing males to come through and potentially cause more trouble. A lot of folks don't buy this explanation, but luckily for the lions a pair of 12 year olds and a very special organization do.
Alyssa and Jaden Morgan are members of the Trabuco Trailblazers 4-H Club, which is part of a larger network of youth organizations that encourages kids to participate in raising livestock and learn about modern agricultural practices. Tragedy struck the Trailblazers earlier this year in March when eight of their prized pygmy goats, who they spent hours with each day preparing for fairs and competitions, were killed by a mountain lion. It's a shock and a heavy blow for anyone to lose a member of their family, let alone for a group of kids to process the death of their companions from a wild animal attack. A depredation permit could have easily been issued, but the girls and their mother, Tanya, instead showed compassion for the felines they share the land with and proceeded with an open mind.
The Morgans not only chose not to take out a depredation permit, but have continued to work with MLF over the past year to improve 4-H curriculums regarding pen and enclosure safety. On December 6th Tanya, Jaden, and Alyssa spoke on behalf of mountain lions at the California Fish & Game Commission meeting in San Diego, CA alongside MLF Executive Director Lynn Cullens, explaining their situation and how they've turned their personal loss into a teaching opportunity for 4-H families everywhere. Their testimony and cooperation with MLF has been instrumental in spreading the message about how to keep one's animals safe in lion country and will undoubtedly save the lives of untold numbers of pets, livestock, and mountain lions across the West.
You can watch the Morgans and Lynn Cullens testify at the commission meeting here.
(Article #1794) To read the actual news story click here...
Last Connection to the Santa Ana Mountains (12/21/2017)
One of the many goals of the Mountain Lion Foundation is to protect important mountain lion habitat and promote habitat connectivity. Even when laws and regulations protecting habitat and wildlife are in place, it's still important to put pressure on local officials to make sure such protections are enforced.
Right now, in Southern California, MLF has been working alongside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, as well as other groups, to try to convince developers to honor local construction restrictions and develop in such a way that won't obliterate critical mountain lion habitat.
In Temecula, between Los Angeles and San Diego, the Altair development plans to build on 270 acres along I-15. The proposed project consists of more than 1,500 housing units, an elementary school, a park, and a new major road. The development overlaps with areas already protected under the local Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan, or MSHCP, but that protection isn't enough to keep this area safe. Developers propose to mitigate local damage by restoring habitat elsewhere. This is an approach often taken by developers, and as any of you who have seen a wetland restoration in the center of a highway cloverleaf know, it's an approach that often fails. In this case the proposed development would cause harm to the local wildlife that Altair has no way to mitigate.
The most critical part of the development plans fall on a 55 acre southern parcel that developers have dubbed the "civic site", which is reserved for a hospital, school, or convention center. At face value it might seem like a good idea to build a hospital or school, but this case all of the potential development -- the "civic site" in particular -- is situated at the crossroads of the last remaining wildlife corridor connecting the Santa Ana Mountains to the rest of California. For the local mountain lions living in this mountain range, this is an absolutely critical area to preserve. These cats are surrounded by development: encircling the northern part of the range are the large, populous cities of Santa Ana, Pasadena, and Riverside. To the southwest the Santa Anas are hemmed in by the Pacific Ocean, and to the south and southeast are Oceanside, Temecula, Lake Elsinore, and other urban towns.
There is only a small sliver of remaining greenspace running south of Temecula city limits that allows passage between this mountain range and the rest of California. That hillside corridor, pictured above, would effectively be cut in half should development proceed as planned. Even with this last remnant corridor intact, mountain lions currently living in this isolated mountain range have one of the lowest survival rates and lowest genetic diversity recorded for any population of mountain lions in the West. This problem is likely to worsen in time, especially if the condition of this corridor is eroded, which is exactly what the proposed development would do.
Low dispersal rates can still provide significant benefits: in order to keep a population like this viable, it only takes one new individual moving to the area every few years. The proposed development, especially the plans for the southern parcel, would almost certainly bring any sort of dispersal to a screeching halt. This could mean the end for mountain lions in the Santa Ana Mountains altogether. New scientific findings demonstrate that lack of habitat connectivity, and subsequent lack of genetic diversity, could mean an extinction risk up to 99.7% within the next fifty years!
Since the project's inception critics have pointed to several "significant and unavoidable" impacts in the project's environmental impact report that range from air quality and greenhouse gas emissions to increased background noise and traffic, and mountain lion habitat degradation. Comments have been submitted by large NGOs like the Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Club, government entities such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department
of Fish and Wildlife, as well as numerous private citizens and scientists.
Despite this outcry, on November 30th, 2017, the Temecula Planning Commission voted 5-0 in favor of recommending the project to the City Council. But there's still hope -- there are still other hurdles the Altair development must clear before they can break ground. MLF will be considering further negotiation with the city to include some of the measures requested in our letter to the commission and working with other environmental organizations to consider next steps. The Mountain Lion Foundation and our allies will be there every step of the way to fight for the safety of California's mountain lions!
(Article #1789) To read the actual news story click here...
Oakland Zoo Receives 2 Special Gifts! (12/13/2017)
Two orphaned mountain lion kittens have been taken in by the Oakland Zoo. The Zoo worked with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Feline Conservation Center (FCC) to rescue them.
The kittens were found two weeks apart from each other in Orange County. Not long before, an adult female mountain lion was struck and killed by an unknown motorist near the Orange County 4-H Trabuco Trailblazers ranch. After losing 8 pygmy goats to a lion earlier this year, the Trailblazers have learned the important role mountain lions play in our ecosystems and have become advocates for their survival and for coexistence with our beautiful native cat. They are working to implement a predator education program for 4-H groups throughout the stat e, which will emphasize the use of predator-proof enclosures for 4-H animals. We are thankful to them for their efforts to help save America;s lion. Authorities believe the kittens may have belonged to the female killed in Orange County and were separated as a result of her tragic death. Based on the kittens' ages and geographic proximity to each other, the cubs are believed to be siblings. Oakland Zoo veterinarians will conduct DNA testing to determine if they are, in fact, siblings.
In response to situations such as this, Oakland Zoo helped found BACAT (Bay Area Cougar Action Team) in 2013, in partnership with the Bay Area Puma Project and the Mountain Lion Foundation, to work with CDFW help save mountain lions caught in human-wildlife conflict situations.
It is truly a gift that these kittens were found. In California, 100 lions die annually on depredation permits and another 100 die on roads. If 50% of those lions are female and 50% of those have kittens, then we would expect 100 kittens orphaned per year, the vast majority of which are never found, and even when they are, we cannot expect to find homes for all of them. It is a gift to those who care about California wildlife that they were found and a gift that the Oakland Zoo was able to take them and give them homes for the rest of their lives.
"The loss of a female, and orphaning of her kittens in Southern California is especially tragic, as the mountain lions of the Santa Ana's are the most at-risk in the nation, equal to the Florida Panther in terms of the uncertainty around their survival. Orphaned kittens represent the death of a mother lion, and this isolated Orange County population cannot afford the loss. It will take protection of habitat and wildlife corridors, depredation prevention efforts, and enhancements of Southern California freeways to allow the mountain lions of the Santa Ana's and Orange County to survive. The two orphaned kittens at the Oakland Zoo are evidence of that need," said Lynn Cullens, Executive Director of the Mountain Lion Foundation.
Because the Santa Ana lions need an influx of new genes to survive, there must be a way for lions dispersing from the mountain ranges in San Diego County to make their way north. On Tuesday, December 11, 2017 the Temecula City Council met to decide whether to approve the Altair development, which has the potential to close the last remaining corridor across the I-15 freeway. A coalition of organizations has come together to demand a development solution that will leave the corridor intact.
According to Dr. Winston Vickers of the Southern California Puma Project, "The combination of low survival rates and inbreeding is putting the Santa Ana Mountains puma population at risk of decline or extirpation." Through Dr. Vickers, the Wildlife Health Center at UC Davis works with highway agencies to reduce the likelihood of lions being killed on busy roads, by designing directional fencing, improved crossing structures, and other measures.
The issuance of permits to kill mountain lions for preying on domestic animals represents another avoidable obstacle to survival. The Mountain Lion Foundation works with the owners of unprotected livestock to prevent the loss of livestock in Orange County by building new pens, fortifying existing enclosures, and using new technologies to keep mountain lions safely away.
Cullens explains, "The orphaning of two kittens in Orange County in the midst of these efforts to protect the Santa Ana lions, are both a grim reminder of the consequences of inaction, and a reminder that there is hope, as conservation organizations like the Oakland Zoo bring the threats to California's mountain lions to the attention of the public."
Both kittens are male and estimated to be 3-4 months old and weigh close to 30 lbs. Kittens this young are not able to survive alone in the wild. They were found approximately 15 miles apart in Orange County's Silverado Canyon and Rancho Santa Margarita. The kittens were initially cared for by FCC in Lake Forest, before being brought to the Oakland Zoo where they are currently being quarantined, given medical attention and cared for by the Zoo's Veterinary Hospital.
The second kitten arrived at the Zoo on Monday, December 10th and is doing very well. Zookeepers describe him as 'feisty' compared to his counterpart, who is more shy and cautious. Mountain lions are new to the Oakland Zoo, and these two cubs and the events that led them to need a 'forever home' will serve as educational ambassadors at Oakland Zoo's upcoming 56-acre California Trail expansion, opening in June 2018.
"It is an honor to provide a forever home for these young mountain lions, and honor their lives further by working to help conserve their wild counterparts. We have a lot of work to do to better protect and conserve pumas, from proper education to establishing wildlife crossings and proper enclosures for pets and livestock. Oakland Zoo will continue to work in our BACAT Alliance with CA Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bay Area Puma Project and Mountain Lion Foundation to inspire our community to both understand and take action for our precious local lion." said Amy Gotliffe, Director of Conservation at Oakland Zoo.
California Trail aims to inspire guests by the expansive view and ability to gaze at gorgeous California wildlife, but a deeper goal is to enable guests to have an impact on the future of these species. The Zoo will offer guests an opportunity to take action for animals, like mountain lions, through various activities, connections and campaigns. Their goal is to create an educated and inspired California community. The mountain lion habitat in the Zoo’s expansion site is intended to mimic California habitat, educate visitors about wildlife in California and inspire people to take action for the future of the state's wildlife and natural resources. The zoo plans to offer conservation partners, like MLF, a platform to share their message and increased opportunities for collaborations that include the visiting public.
The mountain lion habitat is currently under construction and is expected to be complete and ready for the cubs by February or March. At 26,000 square feet, the covered habitat is boomerang-shaped with netting reaching 50 feet in the air, covering mature oak trees in which the mountain lions can perch, rest, and climb. They will also have rocky outcroppings that create caves that they can choose to rest and hide in. In addition to their night house in the evenings, they will have access to the expansion area, which will include some trees and platforms for climbing and resting. This new habitat, one of the largest mountain lion exhibits in the world, and all of its features, focus on attributes of the lions' natural environment.
For now, the priority for Oakland Zoo's keepers and veterinary staff is for the cubs to develop a bond with each other, build their confidence and trust in their keepers in order to acclimate to Zoo guests when the California Trail opens to the public in June 2018. Mountain Lion Foundation is excited to be working with the Oakland Zoo on such an important project!
ABOUT OAKLAND ZOO:
The Bay Area's award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 700 native and exotic animals. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to the humane treatment of animals and wildlife conservation onsite and worldwide; with 50 cents from each ticket donated to support conservation partners and programs around the world.
The zoo's California Trail expansion, opening in June 2018, brings to life the rich natural history of California in a whole new way. Designed to be more like a wild animal park, California Trail will feature America's western region's historic and iconic animal species in large exhibits, including grey wolves, grizzly bears, mountain lions, bald eagles, California condors and black bears. Through the California Trail experience, Oakland Zoo presents a dynamic and inspiring story about finding balance in how we steward our state's natural legacy. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks. For more information, go to www.oaklandzoo.org.
(Article #1788) To read the actual news story click here...
Mountain Lion P-56 Gets Holiday Help from MLF Team (11/27/2017)
The Southern California mountain lion population is the most endangered in the nation. Last week, a 2-year old mountain lion known as P-56 preyed on a flock of domestic sheep in the Santa Monica Mountains. In response, Senator Henry Stern and Thousand Oaks Mayor Claudia Bill-de la Peña contacted the Mountain Lion Foundation for help.
The landowner welcomed help from MLF staff biologists Korinna Domingo and Diana Lakeland, who left their families and pre-Thanksgiving activities to meet the landowner at their property, ready to assist in securing the remaining sheep. The landowner had taken great precaution to protect their sheep from mountain lions by housing them in a pen from dusk to dawn but, unfortunately, a broken chain led to the loss of 4 sheep.
Domingo and Lakeland replaced the chain with a heavy-duty alternative and spent 3 hours carefully inspecting the pen to ensure it was as secure as possible. Existing fencing was reinforced with additional wire, several holes were patched, and additional recommendations were made to the landowner. Before leaving, Domingo and Lakeland set up a Bushnell trail camera, to capture video of the lion if he returns. CDFW will also be visiting the landowner and will install foxlights as an additional deterrent.
The landowner was very grateful to have MLF come to their home and help to ensure the safety of their sheep. They also asked MLF to inspect another pen that is used on a different part of the property during the spring, when the sheep graze a different part the property. The sheep are used by the landowner for clearing brush, which aids in protecting from wildfires.
MLF will return next month to check the trail camera and to inspect the other enclosure.
After leaving the property, Domingo and Lakeland met with Senator Stern at the site of the proposed Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing. An avid proponent of mountain lion and wildlife conservation in the Santa Monicas, Senator Stern was very pleased to hear of the work MLF had done to help keep P-56 safe.
(Article #1787) To read the actual news story click here...
Captured San Francisco Lion Captures Imagination (11/10/2017)
A mountain lion that has mistakenly found itself in the heart of San Francisco has now been darted and tranquilized and will likely be relocated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and BAcat, a model response program developed by the Mountain Lion Foundation, the Oakland Zoo, CDFW and other partners.
According to CDFW Captain Patrick Foy, the lion "was darted and moved to the Crystal Springs region of the San Francisco peninsula per Department policy to move the animal to the "nearest suitable habitat." The Department does not provide detailed release location information to maximize the animal's probability for successful return to the wild."
Foy explained that "The mountain lion awoke from the tranquilizing drugs at approximately 6:30 p.m. and walked off with an ear tag and a GPS tracking device applied by representatives of the UC Santa Cruz Puma Project."
The young male lion was darted by CDFW Lieutenant Supervisor Jaymes Ober of San Mateo. The Department maintains a special response team to guide local actions for similar incidents statewide. Personnel must undergo special training for immobilization of large carnivores like this mountain lion.
Following capture, it was determined that the lion was an 82 lb. male, approximately 18 months of age. CDFW speculates that he "was likely attempting to establish new territory and was probably pushed into the San Francisco area by more dominant mountain lions in its natal home range."
The lion had been spotted several times over a three day period and was eventually captured in the Diamond Heights area of San Francisco.
The Bay Area's urban landscape, interrupted by large expanses of water and fragmented by highways and development, still maintains pockets of land and corridors that can lead young lions into heavily populated locations where there are few opportunities for escape or to continue their journey. Young lions disperse between 18 months and two years of age to find a territory of their own, unoccupied by a lion of the same sex.
Lion territories are large, ranging from 75 to 200 square miles in California.
The capture and potential relocation of this lion is the first in the City of San Francisco since a new law took effect which allows for capture and relocation of lions in urban areas.
In 2012, policy required that a mountain lion in an urban area be killed. That changed in 2013, when legislation authored by State Senator Jerry Hill (D - San Mateo) and sponsored by the Mountain Lion Foundation made it possible to haze, capture and even relocate wayward lions.
The law made California a little safer for mountain lions and helped to provide assistance to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife when resolving lion encounters with the public. Under prior policy, CDFW was on their own, and could not use assistance from zoos, researchers, universities or nonprofits in responding to these kind of incidents. SB 132 opened the door to that collaboration.
BACat, the Bay Area Carnivore Action Team, was conceived as a model project to determine how organizations could best assist CDFW in resolving situations where lions found themselves trapped in urban and suburban areas.
CDFW embraced the new policy enthusiastically. We estimate that approximately 30 lions have been saved since 2014.
On Saturday, December 1st, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife shot and killed two mountain lion kittens in Half Moon Bay.
The Department said attempting to tranquilize or capture the small cats was too risky and would put the public in danger. Wardens ultimately killed the pair, claiming it was, "absolutely the last resort for us."
A necropsy revealed the kittens were starving, barely thirteen pounds, and were only a third of the age estimated by wardens. Such misjudgments are common even for experts when lions are hiding and emotions are running high.
Immediately after the Half Moon Bay incident, Senator Jerry Hill contacted the Mountain Lion Foundation and began drafting a bill to ensure future mountain lion encounters are handled more appropriately. Many wildlife organizations helped to get the new law through the difficult 4/5ths vote required in the California Legislature.
Just days after California Senate Bill 132 became law in January of 2014 (Fish & Game Code 4801.5) the California Department of Fish and Wildlife became involved in just the type of lion/human conflict situation for which the law was written.
Similar to the incident which sparked the creation of SB 132 a year ago, citizen reports of a lion sighting in Buellton, originally misjudged the age and size of the wayward lion with first reports to Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department placing the animal as an adult lion weighing approximately 90-pounds.
Sheriff Deputies eventually found what turned out to be a 15-pound lion kitten hiding in the backyard bushes of a Buellton residence. They contained the situation and personnel from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife arrived on scene to tranquilize and remove the lion kitten. This lion was placed in captivity due to its age.
The current mountain lion policy is currently undergoing review by the department to determine whether too many lions are being taken under depredation permits.
100 of California's mountain lions are killed each year on these permits, issued to people who have lost livestock or pets to a lion. In some areas of the state the number of lions killed each year far exceeds the upper limits believed by most biologists to allow for lion populations to persist over the long term.
In other areas, like the Santa Ana Mountains and the Santa Monica Mountains in Southern California, lions are exhibiting signs of genetic frailty due to their isolation by freeways and resulting inbreeding. Moreover, these lions are at risk of extirpation in the near future due to the small populations at very high risk.
To learn how many lions are killed by permit in your county you can download this chart from CDFW.
Please, help us to continue to protect California's lions by working to change the laws and policies that keep them at risk. Join MLF today. Every penny helps. (Article #1785) To read the actual news story click here...
Uncollared mountain lion caught on wildlife camera in Hollywood Hills (11/1/2017)
P-22 may soon be sharing the Hollywood spotlight as an unidentified mountain lion was spotted via camera trap footage on October 26th, 2017 in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles!
Thanks to Citizens for LA Wildlife's (CLAW) "Let's Buy A Mountain" campaign, the purchase of 17 acres of high-quality habitat in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles is underway. Conserving this land is essential for retaining connectivity of natural lands in and around a mega-city like Los Angeles, in this case providing a link between the Santa Monica Mountains to the west and Griffith Park to the east.
If you recall, P-22 crossed both the I-405 and the U.S. 101 Freeways to get to Griffith Park. This lion likely crossed the I-405 Freeway and be looking for a place to call home.
Capturing proof of an adult mountain lion in Laurel Canyon emphasizes the land's importance as a sort of island of wild space amidst a scape of concrete and steel.
Taken at face value, the sighting reaffirms our assertion that wildlife corridors and closely situated patches of conserved habitat to provide opportunity for dispersal and gene flow, allowing wildlife to persist in a rapidly urbanizing world.
(Photo Credit: Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife)
Read the Los Angeles Times article here:http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-mountain-lion-spotted-20171031-story.html
(Article #1784) To read the actual news story click here...
When there's a fire, where do the wild things go? (10/10/2017)
Natural disturbances, such as fires, are regular components of all ecosystems and are important for ecosystem health. While the effects of these disruptions may be temporary on an ecological time scale, fires can significantly impact both humans and wildlife by displacing individuals and devastating habitat and homes.
Behavior of wildlife in response to natural disturbances will differ based on the type and severity of the event, as well as the species of animal. Some animals will flee, some will fly away, others will burrow underground to escape the disturbance, and inevitably, some will die. Displaced wildlife, those that have lost their homes, will temporarily seek out food and shelter in non-affected areas, including both rural and urban areas.
With fires raging in Napa County, human encounters with displaced wildlife are imminent. Below are some recommendations for responding to displaced wildlife after a natural disturbance.
Wildlife that live in fire-prone ecosystems have evolved alongside fires and will use their keen senses (such as hearing, smell, and sight) to escape fire. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service reports that it is uncommon for large mammals to die in wildfires and do not need help escaping fire. However, habitat devastation by fire can lead to temporary displacement of animals, including mountain lions, bobcats, bears, and coyotes.
If you live near a fire, you may notice deer and other animals coming through your yard. Deer were seen seeking refuge in the backyards of residential areas in Burbank and surrounding areas during the fires in Southern California, and coyotes were spotted running down the hills, away from the flames.
The most vulnerable individuals in a fire are young animals who are still dependent on their mothers, as they may get lost if they are separated from them in a fire. We received the video below from a firefighter who recently came across the 3 mountain lion kittens on his way to fight a large forest fire in Northern California. He did not see the mother, however, she was likely nearby. Mother mountain lions leave their kittens when they go to hunt. As the kittens were not injured in any way, he behaved appropriately by quietly observing them and allowing them to pass undisturbed.
Video of Kittens Recently Seen by a Firefighter
In 2005 a mountain lion kitten was rescued from the Butte Fire, and in 2012 a bear cub with burnt paws was rescued from the Mustang Complex Fire in Idaho. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) intercepted the kitten, and Idaho Fish and Game the bear, and both were treated for their wounds.
An injured mountain lion gets treatment after being rescued by the edge of the Butte Fire. (Credit: CDFW)
Montana orphaned bear cub rescued after being burned by wildfire. (Credit U.S. Fish & Wildlife)
Stories like this are highly unusual, as wildlife can generally detect fires early enough to flee. For young animals that are still dependent on their mothers, becoming separated during a fire can be life threatening. Luckily, these two were rescued, rehabilitated, and re-released! If you come across injured wildlife, do not approach them. Contact your local wildlife agencies and report the incident.
The best thing for displaced wildlife is to pass through and move on to natural habitat with minimal human interaction. Feeding wildlife, such as deer, can provide a false sense of available resources and can result in them sticking around, which can attract predators to your property. To protect yourself and your pets, do NOT attempt to take selfies with wild animals. Be sure to keep all pets indoors and livestock in secure enclosures with a roof during this time. Mountain lions, coyotes, and bobcats will be stressed and in search of food until they, and their prey, can return home to their natural habitats.
If you do encounter a mountain lion, make yourself appear as large as possible and make as much noise as possible. Pick up small children and keep eye contact and slowly create distance between yourself and the mountain lion. If you are attacked, fight back and especially protect your neck and throat. Use branches, rocks, purses and your own hands, legs, or whatever you have to protect yourself. Your goal is to convince the mountain lion that you are a threat, not prey.
For help holding or reporting displaced or injured animals, contact local authorities, such as the animal control office or your local wildlife rehabilitation centers.
(Article #1781) To read the actual news story click here...
P-41, King of the Verdugos, Passes Away (10/4/2017)
The King of the Verdugos has fallen. Today the Santa Monica National Park Service confirmed that P-41, the only male mountain lion in the Verdugo Mountain Range in California, died recently of unknown causes. The loss of this critically important individual lion was likely due to health complications or injuries related to September's Verdugo Fire, the largest fire in LA history. He was approximately ten years old.
Photo Credit: Johanna Turner - cougarmagic.com
Originally captured and collared in an effort to study his species' dispersal patterns in highly fragmented habitats, P-41 represented one of the few lions residing in the Verdugo Mountains, which connect the larger Santa Monica and San Gabriel mountain ranges. With his loss just one identified lion remains in the Verdugos, an elusive female only known through trail camera footage.
Photo Credit: NPS
P-41 was a critical source of genetic diversity for mountain lion populations in southern California, which reside in highly fragmented habitat crisscrossed by highways and urban zones. His ability to survive in such a small area bordered by development was a notable point of interest for carnivore biologists in the state.
P-41 was discovered on December 9, 2010 via remote sensing cameras deployed by citizen scientist Johanna Turner, who contacted Jeff Sikich and Dr. Seth Riley at the National Park Service (NPS). Since being captured and outfitted with a GPS collar in 2015, P-41 has provided NPS researchers insight on his movements and land use habits. Additionally, Turner has collected years' worth of camera footage since P-41's capture, allowing the rest of the world a peek into the lives of these elusive urban carnivores.
Map: P-41 lived in a 19 square mile habitat surrounded by freeways and urbanization. To put the size of his home range into perspective, male lions can have territories that range from 150-250 square miles.
The Mountain Lion Foundation contributed to research conducted by Korinna Domingo in the Verdugo Mountains over the year leading up to the fire. The study sought to identify the species of mammals that live in this island of green space using non-invasive techniques such as remote sensing cameras, as little is known about the density of carnivores and their land use in frequently-used areas of the Verdugo Mountains. Another aim was to assess what types of predators were active in these areas and gather information on their movements in relation to time of day, temperature, moon phase, habitat, and overlap with areas frequented by humans. Data obtained in this study can aid in wildlife management in order to limit negative interactions between humans and wild animals.
Photo: Adrine Ovasapyan, Recreation Coordinator; Brian Pucio of the Stough Canyon Nature Center; Korinna Domingo; Johanna Turner.
Denis Callet has been researching P-41 and the female Verdugo lion through remote sensing trail cameras for years and is one of very few researchers in the world who have captured a photograph of two lions mating. Callet and Johanna Turner, who met in 2012, have each spotted two sets of cubs on their remote sensing cameras, watching a litter of kittens grow to around one year of age. Male lions matching that age were struck on the freeway and killed -- one on the 210 at La Tuna and the other at the 2 near the Sports Complex. It is possible that these two males were dispersing to find their own home range.
The female lion and P-41 copulating. You can follow more of Denis' work on his facebook page.
"The most recent litter was only seen once when they were very young [in the winter of 2016], then never again. The female lion appeared to have a wound on her nose soon afterwards, which has left a visible scar," says Turner. Though the cubs' current fate is unknown, male lions have been observed killing their own cubs and fighting with females, behavior that becomes increasingly common in small, fragmented areas like the Verdugos.
Back in 2011 the "Burbank kittens" were rescued from underneath a car on a residential block adjacent to the Verdugos, and now live at Animazonia. DNA testing is inconclusive on whether or not they were fathered by P-41, so we're unsure if any of his genetic material lives on in or around the Verdugos.
Photo Credit: Johanna Turner - cougarmagic.com
This is the very first litter ever recorded, which was within two weeks of the "Burbank kittens" being found.
Photo Credit: Denis Callet
Researchers suspect that it is likely that another male will penetrate the boundaries of the busy 210 freeway and take up residence in P-41's former range.
"It's a feat that seems too risky to take on, but we wouldn't put anything past these lions," says Korinna Domingo. But where exactly do these animals cross these freeways and highways? The Mountain Lion Foundation's current road ecology project, led by Domingo and Lisa Wooden, is working to identify which culverts (or drainage pipes) are actively being used by wildlife to travel between the San Gabriel Mountains Range and Verdugo Mountains.
We don't know where the King of the Verdugos was born or where he came from, but P-41 lived as Burbank's mascot and ambassador for southern California's struggling wildlife. His photographs and videos captured the imaginations of the public, and his GPS collar gave us valuable insight to the behavior and resilience of mountain lions. He was a father, watcher of trails, and keeper of the Verdugos. Long live the King.
(Article #1779) To read the actual news story click here...
Legal Victory: Killing Contract Violates State Law (8/14/2017)
The California Superior Court issued a decision last week in a lawsuit against Monterey County's contracted predator killing program.
In June, 2016, the Mountain Lion Foundation joined other wildlife protection organizations in a lawsuit against Monterey County, California. The suit challenged renewal of the county's contract with a federal agency - USDA Wildlife Services - to kill mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes as "pests."
Last week the court concluded that Monterey County violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by failing to assess the environmental impact of its killing program. According to the decision, the county wrongfully claimed an exemption from CEQA. The county argued that its contract for predator control could not result in "significant environmental change." The court found "no evidence" to support that claim.
Lynn Cullens, executive director of the Mountain Lion Foundation, said that "the decision confirms what we have known all along: mountain lions contribute substantially to environmental quality and public health. You deserve the right to consider and comment on plans to kill mountain lions, bears, coyotes, bobcats and other wildlife. We need to let people know about the slaughter that is happening in their own backyards."
Over the past six years, Wildlife Services has killed more than 3,500 animals in Monterey County using traps, snares, and firearms. Their contract authorized them to do so without fully assessing the ecological damage caused by the kills.
The court's action extends beyond a single county. Other local governments will think twice before rubber-stamping a killing plan.
The lawsuit was brought by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Project Coyote, and the Mountain Lion Foundation. Christopher Mays and Mary Procaccio-Flowers of the law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati served as counsel for the organizations.
Just last year Wildlife Services killed 1.6 million native animals nationwide and not just mountain lions: 3,893 coyotes, 142 foxes, 83 black bears, and thousands of other creatures. Family dogs and protected wildlife like wolves and eagles are also at risk from the agency's indiscriminate methods.
Peer-reviewed research shows that reckless slaughter of animals - particularly predators - results in broad ecological destruction and loss of biodiversity. It's such a difficult concept to convey: that animals are far more than "problems" to be solved with a gun. Killing simply doesn't resolve conflicts with wildlife.
Cullens continues: "While we work to expand the conservation of mountain lions we are mindful that we must also keep a close eye on government agencies and demand that hard-fought protections are not rolled back or ignored. Please, make a donation today to help us take on the next challenge. We rely on your support to protect America's Lions." (Article #1778) To read the actual news story click here...
UPDATE on Colorado's Mountain Lion Killing Plan (5/5/2017)
The killing has begun in a controversial program that plans to kill up to 120 mountain lions and black bears in a misguided experiment aimed at increasing Colorado's mule deer population. The methods used will include "cage traps, culvert traps, foot snares and trailing hounds for capture, and a firearm will be used for euthanasia," according to a plan overview. The plan was set to go into effect on May 1.
WildEarth Guardians, Western Environmental Law and the Center for Biological Diversity are suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services over its carnivore killing program in Colorado which includes the mountain lion and black bear killing plan.
The suit argues that the federal wildlife-killing program failed to fully analyze the environmental impacts of its destruction of wildlife in Colorado, including other native carnivores like coyotes and foxes.
"Wildlife Services is once again using taxpayer dollars to kill native wildlife while ignoring science and public opinion," said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians. "The public is entitled to know the full environmental impacts of publicly funded, scientifically unsound and ethically bankrupt wildlife killing."
In December 2016, Colorado Parks and Wildlife approved two highly controversial plans to kill large numbers of black bears and mountain lions to purportedly assess the impacts on mule deer populations. The plans charge Wildlife Services, the federal government's wildlife killing arm, with carrying out much of the killing using public funds. Wildlife Services' involvement in the experiment lacks proper review as demanded by federal law.
"Wildlife Services' decision to expand its killing program is misguided," said Matthew Bishop, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center representing the organizations. "The best available science reveals loss of habitat from oil and gas development is the driving factor in mule deer decline, not predation from black bears and mountain lions." In fact, the idea that mountain lions have an inconsequential impact on prey numbers is not a new one. Research as far back as the late 60s has shown that habitat and climate limit deer numbers to a far greater extent than does mountain lion predation.
The lawsuit alleges that Wildlife Services failed to consider the impact its statewide program of killing native carnivores - including black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes and foxes - will have on the environment and Colorado's unique wild places. The groups are challenging the program's finding that no significant impact will occur as the result of the program's planned trapping, poisoning, and shooting of hundreds of native animals in Colorado. The organizations' challenge also targets the program's incorporation of Parks and Wildlife's contentious predator-killing studies in the Piceance and Upper Arkansas basins as part of its work plan without conducting a thorough environmental review.
The Piceance Basin portion of this program will run through June, seeking to remove five to 10 mountain lions and 10 to 20 bears. But CPW's plan could call for more predators to be killed - up to 15 mountain lions and 25 bears.
"I'm outraged that Colorado plans to kill bears and mountain lions to boost deer populations for hunters," said Collette Adkins, a biologist and attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. "The state relies on outdated and unscientific thinking that disregards the importance of predators. The scientific analysis that our lawsuit seeks would show that Colorado's predator-killing program is ecologically harmful, as well as ineffective and cruel."
CPW managers have been unable to confirm whether predation is limiting overall fawn survival or fawns dying from predation are weaker, on average, and would otherwise likely have died prior to adulthood, according to CPW sources.
Together, the Piceance Basin Predator Management Plan and Upper Arkansas River Predator Management Plan would kill between 15 and 45 mountain lions and 30 to 75 bears over three years in 500 square miles west of Meeker and Rifle, Colorado, as well as more than half of the mountain lions in 2,370 square miles in the south-central part of the state. The Piceance Basin plan calls for using Wildlife Services to deploy cage traps, culvert traps and foot snares to capture and then shoot mountain lions and bears. Parks and Wildlife ignored a huge amount of public opposition - including the advice of the state's own leading scientists - in deciding to proceed with the killing projects.
WildEarth Guardians and the Center for Biological Diversity are asking the court to order Wildlife Services to complete a full environmental impact statement before it participates in the state's scientifically flawed carnivore-killing plans or conducts other wildlife killing activities in Colorado.
This lawsuit is the second in a series of legal challenges against Parks and Wildlife's disputed killing schemes. In February WildEarth Guardians sued the state agency in state court alleging violation of Colorado's constitutional amendment prohibiting trapping, amongst other claims. Read the Mountain Lion Foundation's article on that lawsuit HERE.
A motion for preliminary injunction to prevent the killing pending the outcome of litigation is currently before the court.
A ruling has not yet been made in that case and the killing began on May 1.
What you can do:
Email the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Deputy Director Bob Randall's office at Robert.Randall@state.co.us. Then follow up with a brief, polite phone call to (303) 866-3311.
In your email or phone call, here are the points you might want to make:
1) The mountain lion and black bear killing plan should stop immediately.
2) Previous research shows us that killing predators is not an effective way to boost game populations.
3) Colorado taxpayers' money should not be spent on the indiscriminate destruction of essential predators.
4) Instead, we need to spend our scant conservation funds on mule deer habitat restoration.
5) We want wildlife management decisions to be backed up by the best available science rather than run contrary to it.
(Article #1763) To read the actual news story click here...
CDFW to Consider Depredation Alternatives (4/25/2017)
As most of you know, Assemblymember Richard Bloom is championing mountain lions with Assembly Bill 8, that seeks greater flexibility for responding to situations where mountain lions have preyed on pets and livestock. Since AB 8 was first introduced last December, Mr. Bloom has continued to work closely with the expert leadership at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to develop potential amendments to the legislation.
On Monday, April 24, in an exciting and positive turn of events, the CDFW committed to addressing growing concerns about the human contributions to wildlife conflict. CDFW has pledged to spend the next 60 to 90 days to explore the breadth and depth of their current authority to more effectively resolve such conflicts. Read Director Bonham's Letter.
This commitment by the Department places those of us who value California mountain lions right where we would have been had we passed this legislation: commencing a public process to explore the nature and characteristics of a variety of conflicts, assess the need for change, and determine the variety of tools that are available to CDFW to most effectively address specific situations. Read Assemblymember Bloom's letter to MLF.
We applaud CDFW Director Charlton Bonham for taking the time to carefully consider options as California's human population continues to expand into wildlife habitat, and herald Assemblymember Bloom for giving substantive voice to the worries of many Californians over the growing loss of wildlife habitat, genetic isolation of animal populations, and losses to depredation and road kills, rodenticides, and other threats to our native species.
Given CDFW's commitment, Assemblymember Bloom opted to pull AB 8 from today's scheduled hearing in the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, and will hold the bill in abeyance until the inquiry by the Department is completed. Because we are in the first year of a two-year session, AB 8 may be revisited should CDFW find that their current latitude is not sufficient for conservation of the mountain lions protected in their trust under existing statute.
To those of you who so graciously took the time to express your support, thank you! Your overwhelming response continues to be valuable and persuasive. We will be turning to you again to assess your specific needs and concerns as we move forward. Your voice will be needed!
We hope that you will all take a moment to celebrate this evidence that communication, collaboration and caring can still nurture change, and that you will express your gratitude to both Director Bonham and Assemblymember Bloom.
Contact Assemblymember Richard Bloom
Email CDFW Director Charlton Bonham: email@example.com
CDFW on Facebook
Stay up to date with our Action Alert.
(Article #1761) To read the actual news story click here...
Pathfinding Panthers (3/27/2017)
UPDATE! - Florida Wildlife Commission biologists have announced they have strong evidence that there is another female panther on the north side of the Caloosahatchee River! Trail cameras have picked up a large male panther engaged in what appears to be mating behavior with a female panther. FWC biologists are investigating other reports of possible female panthers north of the River as well, indicating that northward expansion may be proving to be a reality. Stay tuned for more news about Florida's pathfinding panthers!
For the first time since 1973, panther kittens have been confirmed on the north side of Florida's Caloosahatchee River. The river has been an obstacle toward northern expansion for breeding female panthers for some time.
Recent FWC Panther Team game camera images show the mom with several kittens moving along on the north side of the river, indicating that female panthers are moving northward naturally and breeding as well.
"This is good news for Florida panther conservation," said Kipp Frohlich, deputy director for the FWC's Division of Habitat and Species Conservation. "Until now, we only had evidence of panthers breeding south of the Caloosahatchee. These pictures of a female with kittens indicate there are now panthers breeding north of the river."
Using trail cameras, biologists have monitored male panthers on various public and private lands north of the Caloosahatchee River for several years. In 2015, biologists collected a photo of what appeared to be a female panther in the FWC's Babcock Ranch Preserve Wildlife Management Area in Charlotte County. They deployed additional cameras in the summer of 2016, and captured more images of what they believed to be a female panther.
"Early this year, the cameras captured images of a female that appeared to be nursing," said Darrell Land, FWC panther team leader. "For many years, the Caloosahatchee River has appeared to be a major obstacle to northward movement of female panthers. This verification of kittens with the female demonstrates panthers can expand their breeding territory across the river naturally."
Loss of habitat continues to be one of the biggest threats for Florida panthers so this evidence of northward expansion is especially good news for their recovery. Efforts to increase panther populations depend on understanding habitat and home range needs and preserving their travel corridors. That means thorough study of how they use their habitat and how much range each panther needs.
A 2005 habitat study for panther recovery failed to provide enough fruitful data to fully ascertain home range needs, but made clear the importance of understanding panther ecology to aid in recovery. Read the Mountain Lion Foundation story here.
"This is a major milestone on the road to recovery for the Florida panther," said FWC Chairman Brian Yablonski. "We are mindful and appreciative of all the many partners and cooperators who have supported panther conservation efforts over the years leading to meaningful moments like this."
Decisions about where to develop must be collaborative between state and federal agencies and private landowners in order to conserve the largest amount of high quality panther habitat possible. Read about a panther travel corridor in the path of development in the Mountain Lion Foundation's 2007 article here.
The FWC works closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure panther conservation on both private and public lands. Staff also work to continue building support and cooperation among private landowners who maintain working landscapes and ranches that provide important habitat for panthers.
"This is good news for panther recovery, and the Service is committed to working with landowners to make panthers and private land ownership compatible," said Larry Williams, State Supervisor of Ecological Services for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Mountain Lion Foundation has worked in Florida to help livestock owners create panther-proof pens that protect both livestock and the panthers. Currently we are working with Cougar Rewilding to help the Florida panther's recovery and northern expansion. We've long been awaiting this day and applaud the FWC Panther Team for their dedication and persistence in saving the Florida panther!
Check out a Mountain Lion Foundation podcast interview featuring Florida panther biologist Deborah Jansen.
Photos courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife
(Article #1753) To read the actual news story click here...
New Statewide Poll in Nevada Finds Strong Support for Reform of Animal Trapping Laws and Regulations (3/7/2017)
Nevada lawmakers will soon be considering trapping reforms just as a new statewide poll emerges showing that Nevada voters stand strongly behind efforts to reform existing trapping laws in the state. A majority of Nevadans said they oppose existing trapping laws which pose a threat to wildlife, family pets and public safety on public lands. The poll was conducted by TrailSafe Nevada and the Humane Society of the United States to determine how Nevadans feel about both the practice of trapping and the laws that govern and regulate trapping in Nevada.
"What we have found from our outreach is that Nevadans generally frown upon the inhumane practice of trapping and this statewide poll substantiates that." said Lynn Cullens, Executive Director of the Mountain Lion Foundation. "With strong citizen support for trapping reforms there has never been a better time for legislation that will reshape outdated trapping laws to better protect wildlife, pets and the public."
The poll found that more than two-thirds of Nevadans support stronger registration of traps, 80 percent support warning flags for traps on public lands, and 77 percent support more frequent monitoring of traps by the trappers who set them. Currently Nevada law requires traps be checked only once every 96 hours. In Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and more than 30 other states, some traps must be checked every 24 hours. Support for trapping reform was consistent in all four Congressional Districts.
Polled about a wide variety of trapping issues, Nevada voters said that they support reforms to the state's outdated trapping laws that leave wildlife and the public at risk of needless and unjustifiable suffering. These findings provide important perspective to the Nevada State Legislature, which is expected to take up legislation related to wildlife trapping laws during the 2017 session.
"These poll results make clear that a majority of Nevadans oppose trapping, from urban areas to rural communities," said Trish Swain, director for TrailSafe Nevada. "The time is ripe to reform our state's weak and outdated trapping laws and our legislators should know that the public supports reforms that will help protect both public safety and wildlife."
Nevada's trapping laws are lax compared to other states. Nevada has no requirement for posting warning signs that would protect people and their pets on public lands by alerting them to traps in the vicinity. Steel-jaw leghold traps, body-crushing Conibear traps and wire snares are used throughout the state of Nevada to trap wildlife. Wildlife can be tormented by other predators as they lie helpless and suffering in a trap waiting to die by the trapper's hands. Family pets frequently sustain severe injuries from being trapped - the type and severity of injury increases with the duration of time in the trap.
"Nevada is far behind other states in its trapping laws, which leave wildlife and the public vulnerable to injury and suffering. The Silver State's voting public clearly supports reform," said Nicole Paquette, vice president of wildlife for The Humane Society of the United States.
The telephone poll of 1,461 statewide Nevada voters was conducted January 25-26, 2017, by Remington Research Group on behalf of TrailSafe Nevada and The Humane Society of the United States. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.5 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence.
The poll asked the following questions:
Q: In Nevada, commercial and recreational trapping is legal on public lands. Body-gripping devices used include steel-jaw leghold traps, which are powered by strong springs that slam the trap's jaws shut on an animal; wire or cable snares, which trap the animal in a loop that tightens and is designed to kill through strangulation; and body-crushing traps, often called Conibear traps, which are designed to kill an animal quickly. Do you support or oppose allowing the use of body-gripping traps on public lands in Nevada?
Oppose: 56 percent Support: 25 percent Unsure: 20 percent
Q: Most states require traps to display information identifying the trap owner. In Nevada, traps are not required to have any identification or registration information. Do you support or oppose requiring traps to display information identifying the trap owner?
Support: 68 percent Oppose: 22 percent Unsure: 10 percent
Q: In most of Nevada, traps are required to be checked only once every 96 hours. Many states, including Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, require traps used for commercial or recreational trapping to be checked once every 24 hours. Animals left in traps for longer periods of time suffer greater injury, and may suffer from thirst, hunger, and exposure to harsh weather conditions and predators. Do you support or oppose requiring trap checks once every 24 hours in Nevada?
Support: 77 percent Oppose: 17 percent Unsure: 6 percent
Q: In Nevada, locations where a trapper has placed a trap are not required to be marked to alert others to where traps are located. This can present a danger for people and pets whose owners don't know that there are traps set nearby. Do you support or oppose requiring warning flags or signs for traps in Nevada?
Support: 80 percent Oppose: 15 percent Unsure: 4 percent
Q: In Nevada, between one and two thousand bobcats are trapped annually for the fur trade. Bobcat pelts are often sold for hundreds of dollars per pelt. The Nevada Department of Wildlife tracks the number of bobcats killed but does not have a recent census of the state's bobcat population. Do you support or oppose the trapping of bobcats for their pelts?
Oppose: 59 percent Support: 28 percent Unsure: 13 percent
Q: In Nevada, it is unlawful to remove or disturb a legally-set trap. Do you support or oppose allowing citizens to remove or disturb traps that pose an immediate threat to public safety, for example, if your pet or child is caught in, or is in imminent danger of being caught in, a trap?
Support: 68 percent Oppose: 21 percent Unsure: 11 percent
Q: Nevada regulations designate that some areas are closed to hunting and trapping. However, areas adjacent to places such as archaeological sites, historical sites, State Parks, Great Basin National Park, hiking and biking trails, and horse riding trails are not closed to hunting and trapping, potentially placing people and their animals at risk. Do you support or oppose banning trapping within a one mile radius of these types of sites?
Support: 68 percent Oppose: 23 percent Unsure: 9 percent
(Article #1747) To read the actual news story click here...
New Mexico Introduces Three Bills for Wildlife - SB 286, SB 266 and SB 268 (2/15/2017)
As of March 16, 2017, New Mexico Senate Bill 268, legislation that would prohibit coyote killing contests, has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate and the House Judiciary Committee and is now on to the House floor. There has been an amendment proposed to strike the words 'or entertainment' from the bill language, which may bring more support. The hearing has not yet been scheduled. If Senate Bill 268 passes, it will prohibit the awarding of prizes and other inducements for coyote killing contests so it could significantly reduce the number of these events being held in New Mexico.
Senate Bill 286, the New Mexico Wildlife Protection and Public Safety Act has been referred to the Senate Conservation Committee.
Senate Bill 266, State Game Commission Mission and Purpose, has been referred to the Senate Conservation Committee.
Visit our Action Alert page to email, phone and write your State Representative and the Governor urging their support of these bills!
Three bills have been introduced this year into the New Mexico state legislature that bring hope for mountain lions and other native wildlife. Send a message to your New Mexico State Representative and Senators urging them to support SB 286, SB 266 and SB 286! You'll find a link to our Action Alert at the bottom of this article.
SB 286 would ban the use of lethal body-gripping traps and poisons on public lands. Known as the New Mexico Wildlife Protection and Public Safety Act, SB 286 would protect mountain lions, coyotes, bears, bobcats, non-target wildlife, pets and humans from life-threatening body-gripping traps and poisons while living and recreating on New Mexico's public lands.
SB 266 would clarify the mission and purpose of the State Game Commission and provide valuable contributions to the way wildlife is managed in New Mexico. This bill would give the Commission the authority to protect all species of wildlife, including protected game species, fur-bearers and non-game species.
SB 268 would prohibit coyote killing contests, making it illegal to organize, sponsor, hold or participate in these indiscriminate wildlife killing events. This bill would end wasteful and inhumane mass killing of coyotes and other wildlife for fun, cash prizes, guns and hunting 'toys' in the state of New Mexico. Read the media release here.
Senate Bill 286This bill would ban the use of lethal body-gripping traps and poisons that are currently being used on New Mexico's public lands with little oversight. Many non-target wildlife and pets suffer and die in traps every year on land where the public hikes, plays and recreates. Traps can be hidden and totally undetected. Even humans can encounter body-gripping traps, usually in the unbearable moments after a beloved pet has stepped in to one. It is unknown how many dogs are trapped annually as 'by-catch.' Since trappers in New Mexico are not required to tell anyone if they trap a dog there is no way of knowing how many fall victim to traps or poison.
The fur-bearers that trappers are aiming for - mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats and foxes - contribute essential services to ecosystems for rodent, rabbit and other prey population controls, while trappers simply create mayhem and upheaval in the social structures of the wildlife they kill. The indiscriminate and cruel nature of trapping means that moms can be trapped, who suffer as they leave behind cubs, pups or kittens who will likely die of starvation or exposure. A few trappers should not dictate cruel, unnecessary and outdated public policy.
Senate Bill 266This bill would give the State Game Commission authority to protect all wildlife, including protected game species, fur-bearers and non-game species. This would expand existing policy to be a more adequate and flexible system for the protections of New Mexico's diverse wildlife. Currently, the Game Commission has authority to regulate only about 20% of the state's mammals, not enough to provide significant protections for mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats and other important predators.
Wildlife viewing is a significant economic asset to the state and brings in over $320 million annually. And SB 266 is not a mandate, it simply gives authority to the Game Commission to act for wildlife protection, so the fiscal impact may not be as great. New Mexico is an incredibly biologically diverse state, and is the home of the endangered Mexican wolf among other endangered species. All species deserve this increased opportunity for legal protection.
Senate Bill 268This bill would end indiscriminate, wasteful and inhumane killing of coyotes and other wildlife for fun, cash prizes, guns and other 'toys' in the state of New Mexico. Coyote-killing contests encourage baiting, luring and 'calling' where electronic coyote calls mimic the sound of animals in distress. People who participate in coyote killing contests are misguided in thinking that the mass killing of coyotes is a way to: 1) manage wildlife to prevent overpopulation; 2) protect livestock; and 3) increase game animal populations.
Sound science has shown that in fact, mass killings of coyotes upset the social balance of these highly family-oriented animals and actually cause more problems and conflict. Coyotes are self-regulating, meaning that in a stable pack structure only the alpha male and female reproduce based on available resources and what the pack can sustain. More pups are produced when alphas are killed because the social structure of a pack is destroyed, leaving the younger coyotes to carry on as best they can. And many dependent pups whose parents are killed during these contests are left to die a cruel death through starvation and exposure. There are many hunters who agree that mass killing contests have nothing to do with fair chase or ethical hunting and in fact, are destructive to wildlife and to the environment.
You can sign the Mountain Lion Foundation's Action Alert in support of these three bills here!
(Article #1743) To read the actual news story click here...
MLF Premieres Intern Project at Wildlife Society Meeting (2/8/2017)
The Mountain Lion Foundation will be presenting work conducted over two years by 13 interns at the Wildlife Society-Western Section annual meeting. The conference is being held in Reno, Nevada from February 6-10, 2017 at the Peppermill Resort. The Mountain Lion Foundation intern poster (link here to poster online) will be posted throughout the conference, and the interns will be available to walk participants through their new online bibliography and library of 1400 publications about Puma concolor at the Mountain Lion Foundation table in the exhibit area.
Interns who participated in the project include Garrett Allen, Anna Nichole Mack, Mason DuBois, Brandi Coley, Kira Pearson, Lisa DiNicolantonio, Elisa Fernandes-McDade, Pearl Holmes, Katherine Kneuper, Haley Martin, Elizabeth Meisman, Mariah Mendez, and Mary Gresch, They represent U.C. Davis, Cal Poly, Humboldt State University and University of Nevada Reno.
The Wildlife Society is the largest professional organization in the world for wildlife biologists and managers. The Western Section is also the largest section of the Society and serves the states of Nevada, California, Hawaii, and the territory of Guam. More than 500 wildlife professionals and students are expected to attend the annual meeting.
The plenary session will feature Dr. Daniel Simberloff, member of the National Academy of Sciences and Dr. Karen Poiani, Executive Director of Island Conservation who will discuss invasive species. Mr. Juan Palma, Director of Nevada Chapter of The Nature Conservancy will give the keynote lecture.
Among the 18 technical sessions in the four day meeting is a session on "Predators: History and Human Interactions" to be held on Friday, February 10 at 8:30 AM, where MLF Executive Director Lynn Cullens will present a brief history of what the Foundation has learned about community livestock protection over two decades of work across the West. View MLF's poster about our ongoing project - creating an online bibliography and research library for mountain lions in the U.S. here.
Other scientific sessions include:
- Invasive species
- Ecology and management of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians
- Wildlife and renewable energy
- Perspectives on canine predators and livestock
- Wildlife techniques and technologies
This year's annual meeting theme is "Invasive Species: Globalization and Bad Decisions." Registration requires a fee and can be done onsite at the meeting. Details can be found here. (Article #1741) To read the actual news story click here...
P-45 the Mountain Lion - UPDATE! (2/6/2017)
Over Thanksgiving weekend 2016, a rancher north of Malibu, CA lost 11 alpacas to depredation and P-45 stood accused of the deed. The Mountain Lion Foundation's 12/04/2016 article tells the story here.
P-45 continues to be known and loved by many as one of the few mountain lions who survive in the Santa Monica mountains despite encroaching roadways and ranchettes with livestock and pets that increasingly pop up in his dining room, the territory he calls home. The issuance of a depredation permit to kill P-45 sparked outrage and emotions ran high as many people fought to save this beloved lion. In the end, the rancher left the depredation permit unfulfilled and P-45 alive, while agreeing to let the Mountain Lion Foundation build lion-proof pens on the property to protect the 15 remaining alpacas.
UPDATEIn early December 2016, the Mountain Lion Foundation worked on the rancher's property to erect 4 lion-proof pens that would keep both her alpacas and P-45 safe from further depredation. The Mountain Lion Foundation pens are 10x10 in size, inexpensive and generally not subject to County permitting because that size is considered a temporary building structure.
The November 30 'Living with Mountain Lions' workshop in Agoura Hills drew close to 300 people and the Mountain Lion Foundation gave out over 100 copies of 'How to Build a Pen.' Because so many people expressed interest in building their own pens after the workshop and associated pen build, materials were sold out throughout the Los Angeles area. Fred Hull, the Mountain Lion Foundation's pen build specialist, had to rent a big truck in Sacramento and pick up the materials for the four 10x10 pens at a Home Depot in Bakersfield!
Lion-proof pens can usually be constructed within a few hours with a small crew of 4 to 8 people. The pens built for the rancher in Malibu are meant specifically to keep mountain lions out. Since lions often attack from above, a sturdy roof was used, one that will hold the weight of a lion and with small enough chain link holes so lion paws won't get caught in the fencing. Depending on the type of predators in the area, such as coyotes or other digging animals, a skirting or foundation may be needed around the pen to prevent animals from digging underneath the fencing.
To date, P-45 continues to patrol his territory and the rancher has had no more depredation occur on her property. The National Park Service will continue to monitor P-45's movement through the GPS collar he wears and provide information about his activity. In the meantime, awareness is growing that the most successful way to live with lions like P-45 is for ranchers to protect their livestock and for pet-owners to keep pets inside and on leashes and provide access to lion-proof areas if pets must be outside.
P-45's story is not over. As a breeeding-age male mountain lion he is invaluable to the survival of the small population of lions that continues to call the Santa Monica mountains their home. It is our responsibility to keep him and all lions safe, along with the livestock and pets who live in lion country. "Everywhere we study them in California, they are in serious danger. The future looks grim for them unless we find a way to better resolve the conflicts that can arise between them and domestic animals." said Mountain Lion Foundation executive director Lynn Cullens, quoted in the New York Times on December 2, 2016.
So far, P-45's story is a win-win for the lion and the rancher. Because the rancher has been willing to work with alternative strategies such as lion-proof pens, P-45 is safe for now. The Mountain Lion Foundation is grateful to the rancher for allowing the pen builds on her property to demonstrate that lion-proof pens can work. We'll continue to encourage others in the Malibu hills and in lion country everywhere to build their own pens, making it more difficult for P-45 and other lions to find a meal among livestock, encouraging them to move on in search of more suitable prey like deer.
P-45's plight was followed by concerned citizens across the country and has been covered in a number of media sources including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Mercury News, and most recently, the February 2017 issue of The New Yorker magazine.
Protecting both livestock and mountain lions and their habitat is not only possible, it's essential. It's up to us to share the landscape and to leave room for the lions who live there. (Article #1740) To read the actual news story click here...
Oregon's Cougars Threatened by Cruel Trophy Hunting Hounding Bills (2/3/2017)
Four bills have been introduced this year into the Oregon legislature that threaten cougars. All four bills, H.B. 2107, H.B. 2589, S.B. 371 and S.B. 458, would take a step back towards animal cruelty and once again put Oregon's cougar population and other wildlife in grave danger from the cruel and unnecessary practice of hound hunting.
Oregon mountain lions have been safe from hound hunting, known as 'hounding,' since 1994, when a citizens' initiative, Measure 18, overwhelmingly passed in favor of a ban on hounding. Measure 18 outlawed the use of packs of radio-collared dogs to chase and tree mountain lions for sport hunting and was a major victory because it passed with resounding statewide voter support. There was an effort to repeal Measure 18 in 1996, but that was stopped by an even greater voter majority who spoke loud and clear - Oregon's citizens don't want hounding of cougars.
The bills that have just been introduced would not only undo this statewide initiative that passed by a large voter majority - setting a precedent that endangers the democratic process - they would bring back cruel and unethical hunting practices.
2017 Bills introduced in Oregon Legislature that would bring back hounding for trophy hunting of cougars:
H.B. 2107, H.B. 2589 and S.B. 371 would allow counties to "opt out" of Measure 18, and would set a dangerous precedent that ignores citizen participation in a democratic state government by rendering majority votes on statewide ballot measure initiatives meaningless. And if this legislation is enacted, it would create a chaotic approach to the management of cougars and all wildlife by making state law and regulation unenforceable in counties who vote independently to opt out.
S.B. 458 would mandate the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to adopt a statewide controlled hunt program for trophy hunting cougars with hounds. This would be a direct violation of state law that was approved by a majority of Oregon voters in 1994 through Measure 18.
Hounding is a cruel and unethical practice
Hunters who run hounds, known as 'hounders,' should know where their hounds are at all times because of the radio collars they wear, but hounds can range miles from their hunter/handlers, crossing private land and attacking, injuring and killing non-target game and even pets. And dependent cougar kittens fall victim to hound packs as they are attacked and killed during the chase. Hounds are also injured and killed on the hunt as they engage male lions and mother lions who are trying to protect their kittens.
While hound collars will signal a 'tree' when the pack has a cougar trapped, it can take the hunter a significant amount of time to arrive for the kill while the cougar waits, terrified and exhausted in the tree or on the cliff ledge, surrounded by the frenzied hound pack. And when the hunter arrives, the kill is made at close range with no escape. There is no fair chase here, and many hunters agree that hounding is not fair sport.
Oregon's cougar population is already under stress from trophy hunting
According to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife data, cougar complaints are at an all-time low. Cougar mortality numbers are twice that of the year before Measure 18 was passed, perhaps coinciding with the fact that Oregon already ranks fifth highest nationwide for trophy hunting mortality of cougars. Between 2005 and 2014, trophy hunters killed 2,602 cougars, with an average of 260 cougars killed annually. So it's clear that even without hounding, trophy hunting is responsible for high cougar mortality. With cougar complaints at an all-time low, it's impossible to justify an increase in hunting because of conflict. There has never been a documented incident of a cougar attacking a human in Oregon.
Bringing back hounding - a cruel and vicious practice - for the trophy hunting of cougars would be a giant step backwards. The majority of Oregon voters have demonstrated their will for more humane and ethical treatment of cougars. This should be honored as part of the democratic process, not undermined by special interests.
Take Action! Visit our action alert Here and send a message to your Oregon state representative and state senator urging them to oppose bills H.B.2107, H.B.2589, S.B.371 and S.B.458. If you're out of state, you can still send a message to the Governor.
Track these bills here: http://gov.oregonlive.com/bill/
Read about cougars in the state of Oregon: http://mountainlion.org/us/or/-or-portal.asp(Article #1739) To read the actual news story click here...
Female Mountain Lion Sighted in Missouri Brings Hope for the Future (2/1/2017)
The December 18, 2016 game camera photo of a female lion in Shannon County, Missouri brings great hope that the state will soon have its own breeding population of lions again! Female lions generally don't disperse as far as males. This brave pioneer will face many daunting challenges as she forges into the Midwest to find a mate.
Since 1994, Missouri has confirmed just 68 mountain lions, and all of those were males. Mountain lions are classified as "extirpated" in Missouri - the last known permanent resident lion was killed in 1927. They are currently protected under the provisions of the MDC Wildlife Code. However, the Code also states that any mountain lion attacking or killing livestock or pets, or threatening human safety may be killed.
Confirmation of this young female hunting and traveling in the state is exciting news and brings the possibility of a future breeding population in Missouri!
Read the Missouri News-Reader article here:
Missouri trail camera image of female mountain lion Courtesy of Darryl Esthay
The news release from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) follows:
COLUMBIA, MO - The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recently received DNA results from a confirmed mountain lion in Shannon County. Those results indicated the mountain lion was a female with a probable origin in the Black Hills of Wyoming and South Dakota, and Northwest Nebraska. This is the first definitive confirmation of a female mountain lion being present in Missouri since 1994.
"Mountain lions are still rare in Missouri," said MDC Wildlife Management Coordinator Alan Leary. "The detection of a female increases the likelihood that breeding could occur within the state, but at this point we don't have evidence that a breeding population exists in Missouri."
In 1996, the Department established its Mountain Lion Response Team (MLRT) with specially-trained staff to investigate reports and evidence of mountain lions. Since then, all mountain lion sightings confirmed by the MLRT have either proven to be males, or have provided insufficient evidence to determine the animal’s sex.
Since 1994, MDC has recorded 68 confirmed mountain lion sightings in the state. On Jan. 21, MDC confirmed a male mountain lion was struck and killed by a vehicle on Interstate 70 in Warren County.
Confirmations have become more common in recent years, likely due to a combination of factors, according to MDC Furbearer Biologist Laura Conlee.
"We know the mountain lion population has grown in western states, and that could translate to more dispersing mountain lions making their way into Missouri, but we have also gotten better at finding them," Conlee said. "As technology has advanced, we've seen an explosion in the numbers of game cameras across the Missouri landscape. We've also established more efficient methods for reporting and investigating mountain lion sightings. These factors all likely play a role in the increased number of confirmed mountain lion sightings in our state."
The risk of a mountain lion attack in Missouri remains highly unlikely. No mountain lion attack on a human has ever been recorded in the state. People, livestock, and pets face a much greater risk from familiar dangers we encounter including automobiles, stray dogs, and lightning strikes.
MDC has never stocked or released mountain lions in Missouri and has no plans to do so. However, the Department wants to learn more about these rare animals and encourages all citizens to report sightings, physical evidence, or other incidents so they can be investigated.
Anyone with information about a mountain lion can file a report with the Mountain Lion Response Team at firstname.lastname@example.org (link sends e-mail).
To view a map of confirmed sightings in Missouri, visit mdc.mo.gov/mountain-lion.
Source: Robert Hemmelgarn, Missouri Department of Conservation: https://mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-confirms-female-mountain-lion-shannon-county
January 27, 2017
To learn more about mountain lions in Missouri, visit our web pages at http://mountainlion.org/us/mo/-mo-portal.asp.
(Article #1738) To read the actual news story click here...
Idaho Department of Fish and Game Relocates Mountain Lion Mom and Kittens (1/25/2017)
Help us thank the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) for giving this mountain lion mom and her kittens a second chance. The lion family was undoubtedly out of place in an urban area.
Relocation of lions provides its own set of challenges, as this lion family will have to learn new terrain and wildlife patterns, but IDFG's decision to relocate the family to remote habitat is to be applauded.
The news release from IDfG follows, below.
POCATELLO - During the week of Jan. 16, 2017 Idaho Department of Fish and Game became aware of a mountain lion family that had made themselves at home right among the residents of Johnny Creek.
Granted, mountain lion movements through the foothills of Pocatello are part of living in the urban/wildlife interface.
However, this situation was unique in that mama mountain lion and her three kittens decided to really "move in", taking advantage of the urban deer and other wildlife living in the area, and using people's yards as their personal pantry for caching (storing) their kills. These factors made removal of the mountain lions necessary.
On Thursday, Jan. 19, Fish and Game staff, with the help of an experienced hound hunter, was able to track and tree the three kittens (ranging in size from 35-50 pounds). Catch poles were used to extricate the cats from the trees and load them in large animal crates. The kittens were transported to the Fish and Game office for an overnight stay. Getting mom proved a little trickier. She escaped capture efforts until the next day.
On Friday, Jan. 20, conservation officers returned to the same area with the hound hunter and his dogs. The female mountain lion had come down to the property where her kittens had been captured and was feeding on the deer she had cached.
The female lion was treed, tranquilized, and carted back to the Fish and Game office.
With the mountain lion family reunited, Fish and Game transported and released the female and her kittens in suitable and more remote habitat on Friday afternoon. The female was radio-collared so that important information about her and her kittens' movements, survival, and perhaps even the success of the release can be evaluated.
This is the first capture and release of an entire mountain lion family by Idaho Fish and Game in the southeast region.
Source: East Idaho News.com By: EastIdahoNews.com staff
(Article #1737) To read the actual news story click here...
WildEarth Guardians Sues Over Colorado's Mountain Lion and Bear Killing Plan (1/23/2017)
Colorado's plan to kill mountain lions and bears to boost mule deer populations is horribly at odds with the best available science. Killing predators creates social chaos and can actually increase conflict with livestock and pets. And predator kill plans do not increase game populations.
In addition, Colorado grossly dismisses it's citizen majority that does not support these woefully inappropriate kill plans. WildEarth Guardians has filed suit against Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission on behalf of the mountain lions and bears in the cross hairs.
The news release from WildEarth Guardians follows, below.
DENVER - WildEarth Guardians sued Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department (CPW) and the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission (Commission) this week over its plans to kill cougars and black bears in misguided attempts to boost mule deer populations. On December 14, 2016, the Commission approved both plans, despite thousands of citizens speaking out against them and letters from leading scientists and scholars raising grave concerns about the veracity and necessity of the plans.
SIGN THE PETITION in support of WildEarth Guardians' lawsuit against Colorado Parks and Wildlife over CPW's planned mountain lion and bear killing:
Friday, January 20, 2017
Contact: Bethany Cotton, (406) 414-7227 email@example.com
Additional Contact: Stuart Wilcox, firstname.lastname@example.org, 720.507.1969(Article #1733) To read the actual news story click here...
California's Deadly Roads (12/27/2016)
According to new information from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the biggest threat to mountain lions in California is being hit by cars, and more than 100 mountain lions died in 2016 on California's roads and highways. This loss is in addition to the 100 cats that die each year as a result of depredation permits.
Andrew Hughan, CDFW public information officer, told Public News Service that roadkill isn't uncommon and that vehicle collisions are an unfortunate side effect of habitat erosion.
"Mountain lions are probably killed a couple times a week," said Hughan. "They're killed all the time across the state."
According to the Public News Service by article by Logal Pollard published December 27, 2016, state officials say that despite the increasing number killed by cars, the mountain lion population remains stable. But the Mountain Lion Foundation notes that the department provides no evidence to support that claim. CDFW's estimates of the California mountain lion population range from 4,000 to 6,000, but these estimates are the result of habitat assessments made during the early 1980's and fail to take into account the habitat loss, increasing traffic, and growing human population that has occurred in the 40 years since.
Hughan's statement doesn't go far enough to illuminate the pressures on lion populations. He said that "There's no hunting, so the population's allowed to thrive. The only thing, really, that keeps the population in check is getting hit by cars." This however, fails to take into account the continuing threats of depredation kills, poisons, and habitat loss.
Mountain lion populations are self-regulating based on the availability of prey species like deer, and deer populations have dropped since the 1980's when forest practices including clear-cutting and fire suppression changed. Deer suffer from habitat loss too, but not as much as mountain lions, because deer are tolerated by people living in habitats fragmented by human development, but mountain lions often are not.
This means that the threats to lions are only likely to grow worse, as human population grows, and passages for wildlife across roads and highways become fewer as they are plugged by development.
In Temecula, California the Mountain Lion Foundation is working with a coalition of groups and individuals to halt two developments that would cut off the last remaining corridor across the I-15 freeway, which separates the more genetically diverse mountain lions of San Diego County from the highly threatened population of lions in the Santa Ana Mountains of Orange and Riverside Counties.
In the Santa Anas, with fewer than 25 mountain lions remaining, the number one cause of death is roadkill, particularly on the 241 Toll ROad. As a result, few lions in the Santa Ana Mountains reach adulthood.
In addition to the wildlife crossing contemplated for the Santa Monica Mountains near Los Angeles, home to another isolated population of lions, a lion crossing is being considered for the Santa Cruz mountains. Such infrastructure is a costly substitute for good planning.
Recent studies show that by reducing auto collisions with deer, mountain lions actually save lives. 2016 research published in the journal Conservation Letters demonstrates that if mountain lions were fully restored to their historic range, the cats could prevent 155 human deaths and 21,400 human injuries, and save $2.3 billion over the course of 30 years.
Improving wildlife corridors is a cost-effective way to increase human health and safety.
Fraser Shilling, co-director of the UC Davis Road Ecology Center and director of the California Roadkill Observation System has pointed out that "Since the cost of wildlife-vehicle conflict equals about 2 percent of California's transportation budget, it would seem reasonable to earmark 2 percent of that budget for efforts aimed at preventing incidents that threaten the safety of both animals and people." A map at the end of the Center's 2016 report Wildlife-Vehicle Conflict Hotspots along California Highways (2009-2015) provides a sense of the number and location of such collisions that take place in the State.
California should do more to protect it's apex predator.
(Article #1731) To read the actual news story click here...
Santa Monica's P-45 at Risk (12/4/2016)
It can be easy to forget that mountain lions share the hills of Southern California with the bustling city. We have so little contact with the large cats that we can forget how important it is to keep pets and livestock safe in fully enclosed structures at night.
Over Thanksgiving weekend 2016, one landowner north of Malibu, California lost 10 alpacas, purportedly to a mountain lion. Making this situation even more difficult, the accused mountain lion is P-45, a lion many of us have been following for a year now and have grown to love. He was first collared almost exactly a year ago and is the largest male collared since P-1.
The issuance of a depredation permit to kill P-45 is a sad reminder that when we live in the hills, we are still potentially a part of nature.
MLF was already in the mountains at the invitation of National Parks Service, to build a pen and demonstrate the value of preventing conflicts. More than 250 people attended the event.
In a stunning reversal, the landowner decided Thursday to rescind the permit, crediting National Parks, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, and the Mountain Lion Foundation with helping to change her mind by showing how her remaining alpacas could be protected using our dusk-to-dawn secure livestock enclosure. She said " there are alternatives...it is not simply kill it or be terrorized", and committed to immediately installing lion proof enclosures, noting "this lion is incredibly important, and due to his particular genetics and the need for expanding the gene pool among the mountain lion population in the Santa Monica Mountains, it would be bad to even relocate it." P-45 will only be captured and given a medical exam rather than killed.
In celebrating this stellar news, let's not forget the 250 other lions that face depredation permits in California every year. The Mountain Lion Foundation is hoping to see a change in depredation law that would place greater responsibility on the owners of domestic animals to protect their pets and livestock when living in mountain lion country. Please help us to make this change by donating today.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is currently required to issue such permits if their biologists establish that in fact a mountain lion was responsible for killing a pet or livestock. A simple change of the words "shall" issue a permit to "may" issue a permit would allow experts to better respond to such conflicts, taking into account the obligation of pet and livestock owners and also weighing the social and ethical cost of killing a lion whose genetic value is remarkably high, as is the situation with the mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains as well as the Santa Anas, and many other places in California.
P-45 finds himself victim to an evolutionary mismatch between the environment in which he evolved and the place where he is attempting to survive today. P-45 evolved to stalk through the brush and pounce on a single deer living in a small herd. Once he makes his move, others in the herd scatter to safety and he is left with a deer that will provide food for the next several days. (P-45 photo credit: National Park Service)
Fast forward to 2016; we've carved up the land with ranchettes and roads, and sprinkled our pets and livestock in between. Next, we build low fences designed to keep domestic animals from wandering. This is where things start to go awry. Mountain lions are excellent climbers and can easily scale most fences. Once inside an enclosure, the prey have nowhere to run, and the cat's predatory instincts are triggered over and over until it has killed every animal in the pen.
This isn't play or viciousness, it's about self-protection. A lion is vulnerable when taking down large prey. Deer have dangerous horns and hooves. So as long as there is a risk, the lion will keep fighting to survive.
This situation certainly doesn't end well for the domestic animals, the landowner, or the mountain lion. But there are steps we can take to prevent scenarios like this one. The most important thing we can do is build sturdy enclosures - with 4 walls, a door, and a strong roof - to safely house our animals in at night.
It is too late for the alpacas which were killed this week. And it's important to note that we don't know the whole story about P-45's interaction with the animals in question. Regardless of the findings, we can use this unfortunate situation to prevent further losses. When we keep our domestic animals safe, we keep our wild animals safe as well.
We had already agreed to co-sponsor an event with National Parks and others to help local livestock owners interested in learning more about enclosures to keep livestock and pets safe from mountain lions and other carnivores. MLF built a pen and and participated in the workshop at the Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills, on Wednesday, November 30th. Because of the controversy around P-45 more than 250 people attended.
The workshop agenda included experts from California Department of Fish and Wildlife, researchers from National Parks, and representatives from the Mountain Lion Foundation.
Here's some information about the Mountain Lion Foundation demonstration pen to show how simple and cost-effective it can be to protect small livestock animals from mountain lions.
For those concerned with safety for people and pets as well as livestock, our website has lots of great tips and information.
The P-45 situation broke on Giving Tuesday. If you can afford a donation, please help! Our efforts to protect mountain lions in California and throughout the West are largely funded by small donations of our members... people just like you. Thank you!
(Article #1729) To read the actual news story click here...