Cougar Clippings
Articles, opinions, and editorials about mountain lions and the Mountain Lion Foundation.
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Wisconsin DNR Releases Cougar Response Guidelines (10/17/2018)
In Wisconsin, mountain lions, also known as cougars, have been extirpated from the state since the early 1900's. The last native mountain lion was believed to have been killed in 1908. As populations in the western United States recovered, however, dispersing individuals occasionally began to journey eastwards in search of a territory or mate. From time to time, dispersers are confirmed outside of their current established range in Midwestern and eastern states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Connecticut.

While no breeding populations of mountain lions currently exist in Wisconsin, the number of dispersing individuals confirmed in the state has been on the rise since the early 2000's. In response to the number of recent confirmations, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) has released their draft Cougar Response Guidelines for public comment. The Guidelines will be used to outline how wildlife officials should respond in the event that a mountain lion sighting or incident occurs.

Public comment on the draft must be submitted to Scott Walter, the WDNR's large carnivore specialist, no later than November 6, 2018.

In Wisconsin, mountain lions are classified as a protected species. As such, it is illegal to kill a lion unless it is attacking or killing a domestic animal, or if it poses a threat to human safety.


(Article #1836) To read the actual news story click here...

Oregon DFW Commission Meeting (9/18/2018)
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) Commission recently met to discuss the 2018-2019 proposed big game regulation changes. The meeting, which took place on September 13-14 in Bandon, unanimously adopted big game regulations for the upcoming season pertaining to the use of decoys to bait big game and target zones, which essentially allow for the unlimited killing of lions in particular areas.

ODFW estimates that there are more than 6,400 mountain lions in the state, though this estimate is thought to be inflated by wildlife professionals. Given the available habitat and results from scientific research conducted in Washington showing roughly 5 independent cougars per 100 square miles, the Mountain Lion Foundation would estimate fewer than 3,000 independent adult cougars in the State of Oregon.

Additionally, trophy hunters in Oregon are permitted to kill up to 970 mountain lions. This quota is exceedingly high, allowing for hunters to kill up to 22 percent of the mature-aged population. This is double the sustainable rate of 11 to 14 percent established by experts. Considering the inflated population estimate in the first place, the quota is likely even greater than 22 percent of the actual adult population.

Oregon's mountain lions, however, have been safe from hound hunting 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.

Trophy hunting is the greatest source of mortality for mountain lions in the United States. Wildlife managers should adopt a science-based approach, as well as obtain a reliable population estimate to ensure the long-term survival and stability of mountain lions in the western states where mountain lions are present.
(Article #1826) To read the actual news story click here...

Colorado Commission Approves Quota Increase (9/17/2018)
On September 6-7, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Commission met in Glenwood Springs to discuss CPW's proposal for the 2018-2019 mountain lion hunting season.

The Commission voted unanimously to approve CPW's proposal which increased the overall quota from 654 to 677 lions. During the 2016-17 season, hunters were reported to have killed 475 of Colorado's 3500 to 4500 mountain lions.

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR COMMENT LETTER

Continuing to set high quotas threatens the social stability of mountain lion populations in the state and can lead to population decline, decreased kitten survival and an increase in conflicts with people, pets and livestock.

CPW is also shifting their regulation setting cycle for mountain lion hunting and will present their April 2019 - March 2020 harvest limit recommendations at the January 2019 Commission meeting.

(Article #1825) To read the actual news story click here...

Quota Increase Approved in Utah (8/31/2018)
As mentioned in our Action Alert "Tell Utah DWR: Don't increase the quota!", the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) has recommended increasing the hunting quota for the upcoming 2018-19 mountain lion hunting season. On Thursday, August 30, the Utah Wildlife Board met to discuss these recommendations. The Wildlife Board approved the UDWR's proposal, with a few minor adjustments to specific parts of the proclamation. These modifications included separating the Oquirrh-Stansbury hunt unit into two units and making the first a "limited entry" unit and the second a "harvest objective" unit. Additionally, instead of increasing the quota by 72 permits, the Wildlife Board approved an increase of 61.

The new quota will increase the number of permits available to hunters up from 581 for the 2017-18 season to 642 for the 2018-2019 hunting season. While the UDWR believes that it is unlikely that the quota will even be met, the increase sets an unsustainable precedence for years to come.

As of 2017, UDWR's biologists estimated that there were between 1900 - 4000 mountain lions in Utah, with a current estimate of around 2000 individuals. During the 2017-2018 hunt, trophy hunters were reported to have killed 456 lions. According to the UDWR, in the past three years, hunters have killed a total of 1234 mountain lions: 859 males and 374 females.

Studies and surveys have shown that a significant percentage of Utahns do not support trophy hunting of the state's wild cats. Yet, seldom are these considerations factored into hunting decisions.

Continued overhunting of mountain lions can lead to population decline, instability and decline in overall ecosystem health, increased overgrazing by deer and elk, an increase in conflicts with humans and decreased kitten survival which leads to further population decline.

Contrary to popular belief, the killing of lions has been shown to potentially increase conflicts for ranchers and pet owners as it disrupts natural population dynamics. When a dominant male is removed from his territory, dispersing subadults may immigrate to occupy the previous male's territory. These younger cats may be more likely to prey upon livestock and pets, leading to an avoidable increase in wildlife-livestock conflict.


(Article #1824) To read the actual news story click here...

Nebraska Approves 2019 Mountain Lion Hunt (8/27/2018)
On June 22, 2018, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) approved a mountain lion hunt for 2019. The hunt will allow trophy hunters to kill up to eight mountain lions in the Pine Ridge region of Nebraska. The final approval for the 2019 hunt was made by Governor Pete Ricketts on August 16.

While hunting will not be permitted anywhere else in the state, the Pine Ridge area has been broken into two sub-units. Each sub-unit has a quota of up to four mountain lions, no more than two of which can be female. Once the quota has been met in a given unit, hunting will then be closed in that unit for the season. However, if the quotas have not yet been met in each sub-unit by the end of the initial season, an auxiliary season will then be held in which hounds will be permitted to pursue and kill the remaining quota.

The initial season will run from January 1, 2019 through February 28, 2019. If the auxiliary season is held, it will run from March 15-31, 2019, or until the quotas have been met. A lottery, which runs from September 4 through September 28, will be held for Nebraska residents who wish to obtain a mountain lion permit. The fee for the lottery is $15.00. If a hunter is selected for a permit, he or she will not need to pay any additional fees.

The NGPC approved the hunt despite the outcry of wildlife enthusiasts, researchers and conservation groups alike. With an estimated population size of around 59 total mountain lions, including kittens, the approval of the hunt goes against a significant body of evidence that suggests hunting a population of this size is not only unsustainable, but could also lead to an increase in conflicts with people, pets and livestock.

The Commission stated that this hunt "will allow the population to remain resilient and healthy, while halting growth or moderately reducing the population size."

In 2014, NGPC held their first hunt in the State since mountain lions were protected as a game species. During that hunt, a total of five mountain lions were killed by trophy hunters -- three males and two females. In 2014, the estimated number of mountain lions in the state was significantly lower than it is today, with around 22-33 total individuals. Future hunts were postponed due to an unforeseen number of mountain lion deaths caused by vehicle strikes, incidental trapping and other forms of human-caused mortality. The premature hunt, coupled with the additional unforeseen human-caused mortality, caused the already small population of mountain lions in the State to drop dangerously low levels.

As in 2014, Nebraska's mountain lions still face additional human-caused mortality. As such, removing 20% of the adult population with the knowledge that an additional percentage of the population will die to additional human causes of mortality, is not sustainable.

Visit our story map to learn more about the history of trophy hunting and mountain lions in the United States.



(Article #1811) To read the actual news story click here...

Coalition Succeeds in Limiting Wildlife Services (8/20/2018)

Siskiyou County to Seek Alternatives to Killing Thousands of Animals Each Year


Responding to legal pressure from a coalition of animal-protection and conservation groups including the Mountain Lion Foundation, Siskiyou County officials have announced the suspension of the county's contract (see the letter here)
with the federal wildlife-killing program known as Wildlife Services, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program has killed more than 28,000 animals in the county over the past decade.


Siskiyou County's decision came after coalition members warned the county in June that its contract with Wildlife Services violates the California Environmental Quality Act. Coalition members include the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Welfare Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Protection Information Center, Natural Resources Defense Council, Project Coyote, WildEarth Guardians and the Mountain Lion Foundation.

 image of Siskiyou County Sunset

"Siskiyou is the fourth county to suspend its contract with Wildlife Services as a result of our efforts," said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. "Other California counties with wildlife-killing programs should sit up and take notice: This succession of wins for wildlife has generated a momentum that is impossible to ignore."


Under its Siskiyou County contracts, Wildlife Services killed approximately 28,000 animals in the County from 2008 to 2016. The program targeted ecologically important native wildlife like coyotes, mountain lions and black bears without assessing the environmental damage or considering alternatives. Using inhumane and indiscriminate methods like traps and snares, Wildlife Services also killed nontarget animals, including domestic dogs and cats. The program, which has killed thousands of birds each year, likely also harmed protected wildlife such as tricolored blackbirds.


"With another California county having now cancelled its contract with Wildlife Services, I'm hopeful this victory marks the turn of the tide for California's wildlife," said Collette Adkins, a biologist and attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. "Siskiyou County is smart to seek out an alternative to this ineffective, cruel and harmful wildlife-killing program."


The Mountain Lion Foundation has heard from members concerned for the mountain lions in Siskiyou County escalating over the past year. With the additional pressure of continuing drought and devastating fires in Northern California, mountain lions are at greater risk than ever. These disasters reduce the prey base, make water more difficult to find, and cause direct injuries and deaths, which disrupt mountain lion social structures.


Siskiyou is the latest county in California to reexamine its contract with Wildlife Services amid pressure from the animal-protection and conservation coalition. Earlier this summer, Shasta County cancelled its contract with Wildlife Services. In 2015, in settlement of a lawsuit filed by coalition organizations, Mendocino County agreed to fully evaluate nonlethal predator-control alternatives. And in 2017 a California court ruled in favor of the coalition in finding that Monterey County must conduct an environmental review before renewing its contract with Wildlife Services.


"Siskiyou County's decision recognizes the unacceptable risk that Wildlife Services' methods present to the many threatened and endangered species that call the county home," said Johanna Hamburger, a wildlife attorney at the Animal Welfare Institute. "This is a significant step that will protect species such as the tricolored blackbird, which has declined by nearly 90 percent in the past 90 years, and is easily mistaken for other species of blackbirds that Wildlife Services routinely targets."


"We commend Siskiyou County for this enlightened decision," said Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote. "There are many nonlethal methods and models for reducing conflicts between people, livestock and wildlife that are cost effective, ecologically sound and ethically defensible."


"Communities across California are becoming models for successful science-based human-wildlife coexistence," said Michelle Lute, wildlife coexistence campaigner for WildEarth Guardians. "We welcome Siskiyou County to the growing community of people harmoniously living with wildlife in our shared ecosystems."





(Article #1820) To read the actual news story click here...

Wildlife Crime (8/20/2018)
Wildlife crimes involve the illegal killing, maiming or harassing of any wild animal. These crimes include killing animals without a permit, fishing or hunting out of season, killing more than the permitted number of a particular species, harassing wildlife, illegally baiting trail cameras, capturing wild animals for the exotic pet trade, taking the body parts of animals for decoration or "medicinal" uses, poisoning and much more. These are not only crimes against wildlife and nature, but also against anyone who derives enjoyment for the natural world. Whether actions like these are intentional or not, they should always be reported.

Crimes Against the WildWildlife crime is a more common problem in the United States than most people think.

Statistics regarding crimes involving wild animals native to the United States are difficult to come by. Much of the focus is on trafficking of exotic species from other nations. But our wild animals here at home are also at risk. Gamewarden.org emphasizes that poaching is "straining the resources of our nation's game wardens and other law enforcement officers and decimating animal species at alarming rates."

Unfortunately, assessing the full extent to which poaching, poisoning or "shoot, shovel, and shut up" occurs can be extremely difficult as these crimes are seldom reported. Even when there is sufficient evidence that a crime has been committed, it can be problematic to find and convict the offending party.

Poaching poses a significant issue for wildlife managers whose primary purpose is to protect and preserve biodiversity. If wild animals are being killed illegally and these deaths go unreported, then it is difficult for managers to efficiently oversee the well-being of a species. When people keep a careful eye on social media, they can sometimes bring questionable activities to the attention of authorities.

In May of 2018, CNN reported on a poaching operation in the Pacific Northwest that gives a sense of the scale these crimes can reach. The report details that "over text messages and social media, the poaching suspects boasted about the animals they illegally slaughtered." They were accused of killing more than 200 animals including deer, bears, cougars, bobcats and a squirrel.

In 2010, California mountain lion P-15 was found decapitated, with all four paws severed and removed. Regrettably, after a long investigation, an arrest was never made. Mountain lions in California face threats that include habitat loss and degradation, conflicts with humans, roadkill, kitten orphaning, genetic isolation, wildfires, drought, and poisons. Coupled with these threats, poaching may potentially result in localized extinctions.

Take action to stop wildlife crime by learning your state's wildlife laws and regulations. Be aware of the dates of hunting seasons and the legal limits on trapping.

Wildlife officers are employed throughout each state to respond to wildlife crimes. Report any suspicious activity or information to your state wildlife agency. This handy chart provides contact information for all 50 states.

In California, where actions against mountain lions are severely restricted, contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's hotline for reporting wildlife crimes. Call: 1-888-334-CALTIP (888 334-2258) to reach a dispatcher who can send a local wildlife officer to investigate.

Even if you do not witness the act itself, you never know what investigation may be ongoing in an area. Your tip could make a difference in apprehending a wildlife criminal!

The Mountain Lion Foundation, the California Wildlife Officers Association, and The Oakland Zoo are conducting a social media campaign to thank the nation's wildlife officers for the work they do to protect our native species. Please, take a photo of yourself and post on social media with the hashtag #IStandWithWildlifeOfficers. Every bit of gratitude is valuable.

Here are some things you can say in your post:

THANK YOU...
- For protecting wild animals from poachers.
- For patrolling in wildlands, towns, cities, and ports.
- For calmly resolving conflicts with wild animals.
- For preserving habitat and safeguarding ecosystems.
- For providing people with accurate information.
- For enforcing wildlife laws in the face of danger.
- For caring for people and the wild animals we respect.

(Article #1821) To read the actual news story click here...

Lions, Tigers & Bears (7/19/2018)
Lions, Tigers and Bears (LTB) is an organization that has provided safe haven for unwanted and abused animals that have been rescued from the exotic pet trade since 2002. Established by Bobbi Brink, an additional focus of the sanctuary has been to educate the public about the cruelties and dangers of owning an exotic pet.

LTB provides refuge to a multitude of animals including, lions, tigers, and bears. The sanctuary is home to Conrad, a mountain lion who had been found near an elementary school in Redlands, CA. They rescued him from being euthanized for coming too close to the school. LTB is also now home to Punkin and Melanie - two additional rescued mountain lions. The mountain lions were recovered from a private owner in Ohio and transported to the sanctuary which is in Alpine, California. Here, the animals are "ambassadors" for their species, providing people with an opportunity to learn more about the exotic pet trade, and about their own, unique needs. Very rarely do people get to experience mountain lions in the wild. A visit to the LTB facility is the perfect chance to see a mountain lion up close!

In the United States alone, millions of animals are forced into the exotic pet trade. Often, owners come to the realization that exotic animals are wild and cannot be tamed. Unfortunately, many of these pets are abandoned or left to starve. This is where Lions, Tigers and Bears steps in.

We want to commend Lions, Tigers and Bears for making a lifelong commitment to each of their residents. Their willingness to provide food, water, shelter and room to move to animals that would otherwise be neglected or euthanized is truly admirable.

Due to the nature of their work and needs of these animals, overhead to run an organization such as this is extraordinary. Any contributions that you can make to support their work and these special animals would be truly appreciated!

Visit them on Facebook!



(Article #1814) To read the actual news story click here...

Utah DWR proposes quota increase (7/17/2018)
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR)'s biologists, have proposed an increase in the number of permits that are available to hunters. They have recommended increasing the number of permits from 581 to 653 for the 2018-2019 hunting season. While the UDWR believes that it is unlikely that the quota will even be met, the increase sets an unsustainable precedence for years to come.

As of 2017, UDWR's biologists estimated that there were between 1900 - 4000 mountain lions in Utah. During the 2017-2018 hunt, trophy hunters were reported to have killed 456 lions. According to the UDWR, in the past three years, hunters have killed a total of 1234 mountain lions: 859 males and 374 females.

The decision to increase the 2018-19 quota does not align with current research that shows that hunting mountain lion is unnecessary and that it leads to an increase in conflict with people and domestic animals. Additionally, recent studies have shown that a significant percentage of Utahns do not support trophy hunting of the state's wild cats.

Overhunting of mountain lions can lead to population decline, instability and decline in overall ecosystem health, increased overgrazing by herbivores like deer and elk, an increase in conflicts with humans and decreased kitten survival which leads to further population decline.

There will be a series of meetings in July and August throughout Utah that you can attend to voice your opinion about the proposed increase. Once the meetings have concluded, the Regional Advisory Council (RAC) will then report to the Utah Wildlife Board and share the input that they have gathered from the public.

For more information on the upcoming RAC meetings and how to submit comment letters, visit our Action Alert.

The Utah Wildlife Board will meet on August 30 to make its decision on the proposed increase. If would like to attend this meeting, it will begin at 9:00 AM at following location:

Department of Natural Resources, Boardroom
1594 West North Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84114


(Article #1813) To read the actual news story click here...

Times Square Billboard (7/2/2018)
The Mountain Lion Foundation has launched a short, but important public service announcement in New York City's Times Square Plaza. This PSA will run through mid-July and shines a light on one of the biggest issues that America's lion is facing today: trophy hunting. If you're in the area, stop by the jumbotron at 1500 Broadway in Times Square NY and check it out! Our PSA is on the upper screen to the left of the Nasdaq screen.

The Mountain Lion Foundation was formed by a small group of concerned citizens in Sacramento California in 1986 to inspire people across the nation to act on behalf of lions and their habitat, to present practical solutions to complex problems, provide unbiased information to media, aid puma activists, promote and disseminate lion research, and to influence regulations and changing laws. The Foundation was instrumental in the implementation of Proposition 117, a citizens' initiative which banned the hunting of mountain lions in California. Florida panthers, a subspecies of mountain lions, are protected from hunting as a federally listed endangered species.

Mountain lions, also known by more than 100 names including cougar, puma, panther, lion, painter, and catamount, have endured constant hunting pressure in all but two states where lions are present. Today, trophy hunters kill more of America's remaining lions than bounty hunters killed during the years of government-sponsored cougar-removal to benefit livestock interests. The best available science from decades-long research of mountain lions and their social structures in multiple states and provinces repeatedly demonstrates that trophy hunting increases human conflicts with the wild cats. In spite of their biologists' published scientific research, wildlife agencies continue to set unsustainable hunting quotas, often increasing them every year.

While Mountain lions killed from 1915-2015many people are aware of the ethical and conservation issues surrounding trophy hunting of Africa's lions, elephants, leopards and much more, mountain lions in the United States are often overlooked. America's lion was nearly wiped out from North America. In February of 2018, the Eastern cougar was officially declared extinct . According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), mountain lion populations are in decline. Unsustainable trophy hunting quotas, along with habitat loss and additional human-caused mortality, are leading to an uncertain future for America's big cat.

Click here to learn about the history and current status of trophy hunting from our trophy hunting story map.

Heavy hunting pressures in the western United States suppress otherwise recovering mountain lion populations. The recovery of mountain lions in states like South Dakota and Nebraska are critical if lions are ever to reclaim portions of their historic range. The Black Hills of South Dakota has been a primary source of dispersing mountain lions that have been documented as they travel eastward. As many of you have likely heard, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission just approved an unsustainable mountain lion hunt of their small population for the 2019 season. We are discouraged by this outcome, but will not give up the fight to save America's lions!

Occasionally, mountain lions, are confirmed in the Midwest and eastern United States. These are typically dispersing sub-adults that are searching for mates or a territory of their own. With trophy hunters killing more and more lions each year, the likelihood of mountain lions re-establishing out east is greatly reduced. If there are ever again to be mountain lions occupying their eastern range, hunting pressures need to be significantly reduced, if not altogether eliminated.

Join the Mountain Lion Foundation today to help the fight in Saving America's Lion.
(Article #1812) To read the actual news story click here...

28 Years of Mountain Lion Protection in CA! (6/5/2018)

On June 5, 1990, California voters passed Proposition 117, also known as the California Wildlife Protection Act, which outlawed the hunting of mountain lions and required that a minimum $30 million be spent annually to protect wildlife habitat in California. Proposition 117 became California Fish and Game Code 4800-4809.


Since 1990, there have been 4 amendments to the law and 1 inquiry into the Mountain Lion Depredation, Public Safety, and Animal Welfare Policy:


1999 - AB 560 amended Section 4801 to allow mountain lions to be killed for preying on endangered big horn sheep.

2011 - SB 769 amended Section 4800 to allow deceased lions to be used for educational purposes.

2012 - AB 1784 added Section 4810 to authorize humane mountain lion research and transparency.

2013 - SB 132 added Section 4801.5 which requires non-lethal measures to be used to resolve public safety situations when a lion is not acting aggressively.

2016 - AB 8 led to an inquiry into the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Mountain Lion Depredation, Public Safety, and Animal Welfare Policy.

2017 - CDFW published an amendedment to the Mountain Lion Depredation, Public Safety, and Animal Welfare Policy to provide additional protection to endangered mountain lion populations in Southern California. The Policy requires three-tier stepwise process for issuing depredation permits:

First Depredation Event

  • CDFW must confirm depredation as that by a mountain lion.
  • Non-lethal depredation permit to pursue/haze the depredating mountain lion shall be issued. It shall explicitly indicate that no mountain lion shall be intentionally killed during pursuit.
  • Education by CDFW regarding mountain lion behavior, carcass removal, proper fencing and/or enclosures for livestock, brush clearing, and how to remove lion attractants from property.

Second Depredation Event

  • CDFW must confirm depredation as that by a mountain lion AND responding party must show that all reasonable preventative measures recommended by CDFW at time of first depredation event were met.
  • Existing non-lethal depredation permit to pursue/haze the depredating mountain lion shall be amended, or new non-lethal permit shall be issued. It shall explicitly indicate that no mountain lion shall be intentionally killed during pursuit.

Third Depredation Event

  • CDFW must confirm depredation as that by a mountain lion AND responding party must show that all reasonable preventative measures required in the existing permit(s) were implemented AND responding party requests a lethal permit, the Department shall issue a depredation permit to lethally remove the depredating mountain lion.

View our California Depredation Map which illustrates the critical need for this change in policy.

A special Thank You to all of our members and volunteers. Without your help and support, this success would not have been possible!


We have had 28 years of mountain lion protection in California, but mountain lions continue to need protection throughout their range.

Nebraska mountain lions need your help! A recent study found the population of mountain lions in Nebraska to be approximately 60 individuals, including kittens. In response, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has proposed a mountain lion hunt. The population in Nebraska'is too small to sustain a hunt. Speak up for Nebraska's lions!

Thank you for being a voice for mountain lions!

(Article #1810) To read the actual news story click here...

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 Link to 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.
Sign our petition today!
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.

Photo: Between 2014 and 2017 only 123 mountains have been sighted in Nebraska.
Photo: Between 2014 and 2017 only 123 mountains have been sighted in Nebraska.


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.

'The Value of Predators', by Chris Helzer. 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.A Nebraska mountain lion license plate.

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.

Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and join our mailing list.

(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 Taxonomy

Currently, 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."

Photo of Cougar Rewilding Foundation ReportPuma 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 Protection

Cougars 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 Cougars

A 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."

Repercussions

Unfortunately, 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.
Trabuco Trailblazers 4-H Club & Lynn Cullens CA Fish & Game Commission meeting testimonies

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.

Altair development area on the Temecula hillside

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
MLF Letter to Temecula City Planning Commission 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, Oakland Zoo Kitten PictureDecember 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.
description.
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.

Uncollared mountain lion caught on camera in the Hollywood Hills.
(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


Kittens observed by a firefighter from the cab of a truck.


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.
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.
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.

Credit <BR>
Photo: Johanna Turner - cougarmagic.com

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.

P41 Face

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.

NPS Map of Mountain Lion Study Area

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.

P41 Researchers
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.

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.


The first litter


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.

The first litter


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.

Lion by river's edge Wikimedia Commons 300x172The 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.

Young lion in forest.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: director@wildlife.ca.gov

CDFW on Facebook

Stay up to date with our Action Alert.

(Article #1761) To read the actual news story click here...

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