Cougar Clippings
Articles, opinions, and editorials about mountain lions and the Mountain Lion Foundation.
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Symposium to Discuss Florida Panther Reintroduction (3/17/2014)
Citizens, Scientists, Agency Officials to Focus on Need for Additional Populations of Endangered Panthers

GAINESVILLE, Fla.— The first Florida Panther Symposium will convene Friday at the University of Florida's Levin College of Law. During the day-long event, members of the public, conservation groups, federal and state agencies, and experts on Florida panther biology and ecology will explore opportunities and obstacles for expanding the Florida panther's range. A top recovery goal for the Florida panther is establishing additional populations outside its currently occupied habit in South Florida.
Florida Panther by Wayne Lynch.
Schedule:

  • The symposium will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, March 21 at the University of Florida's Levin College of Law, 2500 SW 2nd Ave., Gainesville, Fla., in Room 285B.

  • Morning sessions, including a keynote speech by Joe Guthrie from the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition, are free and open to the public with an RSVP. Afternoon technical meeting is by invitation only.

  • A screening of the documentary on the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition will be held at 8 p.m. Friday in Room 285B.

  • On Saturday there will be a field trip to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, which has been identified as a possible panther reintroduction site. Participants will gather at the University of Florida's Levin College of Law parking lot at 7 a.m. to carpool to the refuge. Contact Jaclyn Lopez at jlopez@biologicaldiversity.org by March 18 to attend the field trip.


Participants: The Florida Panther Symposium is hosted by the University of Florida Levin College of Law's Conservation Clinic and GreenLaw. It is organized and sponsored by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club.

Presentations will be made by Darrell Land, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Florida panther team leader; Erin Meyers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners Program private lands biologist; Tom Hoctor, University of Florida Center for Landscape Conservation planning director; Richard Hilsenbeck, director of Conservation Projects for The Nature Conservancy, St. Augustine, Fla.; Dan Smith, University of Central Florida Department of Biology research associate/adjunct graduate faculty; Jennifer Hecker, Conservancy of Southwest Florida; Sara Aicher, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge biologist; Chris Belden, retired Florida panther recovery coordinator; and Keynote presentation by Joe Guthrie, Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition.

Note: The symposium has reached capacity, though space is available for members of the media.

"We're thrilled that so many Floridians care so much about recovering the Florida panther, and we're looking forward to developing a plan to put these amazing animals on a tangible path to recovery," said Jaclyn Lopez, a Florida-based attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. "The Florida panther will always be at home in South Florida, but the big cats used to occur all over the Southeast and need more population centers if they're going to be secure in the long run."

"Bringing so many interested parties together to discuss the current status and the future of the Florida panther is inspiring," said Alexis Meyer, Florida panther critical habitat campaign organizer at the Sierra Club. "The future of the Florida panther depends on protecting and expanding their habitat, allowing for the species to regain its foothold as the apex species of Florida."

Media Contacts:
Jaclyn Lopez, (727) 490-9190, jlopez@biologicaldiversity.org
Alexis Meyer, (727) 490-8215, alexis.meyer@sierraclub.org
(Article #1509) To read the actual news story click here...

CDFW Says So-Called "aggressive" Fontana lion NOT a threat to public safety (3/6/2014)
Early Wednesday morning, awakened by a noise outside his window, a resident in a new subdivision located in the hills above the Southern California community of Fontana, discovered a mountain lion standing over the carcass of his dead 100-pound German Shepherd dog. When local police responded to his call for help they were confronted with an animal that repeatedly returned to the scene until shots were fired at it.

The Fontana Police Department assumed these natural feline actions to retrieve its kill reflected aggressive behavior towards humans and deemed the situation to be a threat to the public health and safety. The police immediately initiated a massive, day-long long search for the offending lion in the surrounding hills. The expensive and ultimately unsuccessful effort eventually involved not only numerous regular duty police officers, but also a helicopter using infrared detection gear, and the Fontana SWAT Team.

A representative of the Fontana Police Department told the Mountain Lion Foundation (MLF) that their intention was never to hunt the lion, but to protect the public. According to Lieutenant Gary Aulif, the Department's efforts originally focused on finding what was assumed to be a wounded animal, but eventually turned into a push to drive the lion up into the wildlands and further away from humans.

While the Fontana police were carrying out their search, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's (CDFW) Mountain Lion Response Guidance Team * was trying to calm down the situation. A CDFW representative informed MLF that they did not consider the situation in Fontana to be a "Public Safety" incident, and stated that CDFW was not involved with the effort to catch or kill the lion.

It was suggested that the initial contact between the mountain lion and responding police officers may have met the "imminent threat" threshold under state law, but that provision no longer was in effect after the mountain lion had fled the immediate area. At that point in time, the actions being carried out by local law enforcement became legally questionable, because they were acting without the expressed authority of CDFW as required by law.

With the fall of darkness, the Fontana Police Department shifted their protection efforts to patrolling the area and searching the nearby hillsides with their helicopter's infrared detection gear. No mountain lion was spotted and as of Thursday morning the search for Fontana's "aggressive" mountain lion was officially called off.

As of last notice, the Fontana mountain lion should be safe from human aggression since it cannot legally be killed under the law's public safety clause, and the kind-hearted pet owner has declined to request a depredation permit to lethally remove the lion for killing his dog.

Click here for more information on how to protect your pets or livestock.


* Excerpt from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Mountain Lion Management Guidelines

Response Guidance Team:

The Response Guidance Team (RGT) is established to provide assistance and guidance related to policy level decisions only for potential human conflict situations or public safety situations. The RGT will be available to help evaluate a situation and provide personnel to assist as needed. The RGT will consist of the Chief of Wildlife Branch, Chief of Law Enforcement Division, Deputy Director of Wildlife and Fisheries Division, a representative from the Wildlife Investigations Lab, Regional Manager/District Assistant Chief where the activity/incident is occurring, the Deputy Director of the Office of Communications, Education, and Outreach (OCEO), or their named designees.
(Article #1507) To read the actual news story click here...

South Dakota's Senate Bill 76 - a "Scaredy Cat" Bill Fails (3/5/2014)
Yesterday, in a 35 to 34 vote, South Dakota's Senators killed and buried SB 76, a so-called "scaredy cat" bill. The bill, authored by State Representative Betty Olsen (R), was similar to legislation Representative Olsen tried to get passed in 2009. SB 76 would have expanded an existing law that allows South Dakotan's to kill mountain lions that threaten personal safety or property. SB 76 would have eliminated the need for an actual threat, and allowed people to legally shoot any lion--regardless of the lack of threat--on sight.

Claiming that she fears mountain lions, and that her bill would eliminate the need for ranchers to carry out the illegal practice of "shoot, shovel, and shut up," Representative Olsen put forth a list of questionable and possibly erroneous lion attack stories in an effort to make her case. According to Representative Olsen, "the mountain lion is a very dangerous predator, not a game animal."

Representative Troy Heinert (D) was one of the legislators who felt that the bill was unnecessary and stood in opposition to it. Claiming that he also lived in "cat country," and owned horses and cows, Representative Heinert stated that if he saw a cat walking through his pasture, he wouldn't consider it a threat to his livestock or to people.

South Dakota's indigenous mountain lion population was originally wiped out by settlers in 1890, and it has taken almost a hundred years for the species to naturally return to the Black Hills region of the state. In 2003, declaring that there were a sufficient number of lions to establish a seasonal hunt, the South Dakota state legislature removed mountain lions from the state's threatened species list and reclassified them as a big game animal. In 2005, South Dakota held its 1st mountain lion hunting season and since then at least 600 mountain lions have died as a result of human-caused mortalities with hunting being the primary cause of death.
(Article #1506) To read the actual news story click here...

South Dakota's Senate Kills HB 1068 - Using Hounds to Hunt Mountain Lions Fails (2/28/2014)
An attempt by South Dakota Hound-Hunters to codify their right to use hounds to hunt mountain lions outside of the Black Hills failed Thursday when State Senators voted 18-14 to kill House Bill 1068.

The bill, which had already passed the South Dakota House of Representatives by a vote of 48-22 and was approved earlier 6-2 by the Senate Ag & Natural Resources Committee,looked like it was steamrolling its way to victory, before this surprising vote put an end to a small, but vocal special interest group's dreams.

Voicing expressions of dumbfounded disbelief, and cries of foul play, proponents of HB 1068 will have to accept that the use of hounds to hunt mountain lions in South Dakota will not be protected by state law and is currently only allowed under limited conditions set by the will of the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission; an administrative decision which could change at anytime in the future.
(Article #1505) To read the actual news story click here...

Death of Female Lion Closes Nebraska's 2014 Hunting Season Early (2/27/2014)
The second portion of Nebraska's inaugural mountain lion hunting season closed early Wednesday with the death of a 5 1/2 year old, 102-pound female lion in Sheridan County. An ear-tag on the dead lion helped identify the animal as originating in South Dakota.

The death of this third lion preempts legislative efforts by Senator Ernie Chambers to stop Nebraska's 2014 mountain lion hunt. Senator Chamber's bill LB 671 will continue through the legislative process, and if successful, will remove the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission's authority to authorize a 2015 mountain lion hunt.

Unfortunately, LB 671 does not change the classification of mountain lions in Nebraska. Mountain lions will still be listed as "game animals," and as such, could sometime in the future once more be threatened with a hunting season.
Map of Nebraska hunting regions.
In the meantime, although the hunt in the Pine Ridge — the portion of the state with a breeding population of mountain lions — has closed, the Prairie region will remain open until December 31st. The Prairie makes up most of Nebraska but it is not ideal lion habitat. There is no limit to how many mountain lions may be killed in this region.

Nebraska's indigenous mountain lion population was originally wiped out in 1890 after an aggressive campaign by settlers to remove the predator species with poison and unregulated hunting. As many as 22 mountain lions are estimated to currently reside within Nebraska's borders. The majority of these animals are likely immigrants from the Black Hills region of South Dakota.
(Article #1503) To read the actual news story click here...

Nebraska Bill to Stop Trophy Hunting of Lions Has Passed Its 1st Hurdle (2/21/2014)
Legislative Bill 671 just passed the first round of approval in the Nebraska Senate with a 31 to 5 vote. LB 671, authored by Senator Chambers would repeal the 2012 law that authorized the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to conduct mountain lion hunts.

Earlier this year, Senator Chambers vowed to block funding for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission if the mountain lion hunting season continued. So far, he has managed to keep that promise, and the political pressure it has created is possibly helping to propel LB 671 to a successful passage.
(Article #1502) To read the actual news story click here...

Houndsmen Introduce Cougar Hunting Bill in Washington (1/28/2014)
Washington state Senators Brian Dansel and Don Benton have coauthored a bill as part of the latest attempt to force the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to allow trophy hunters to use hounds to kill cougars for fun. The bill states special "dangerous wildlife task teams must be developed in each county [...] and a kill season with the aid of dogs must be established," ultimately claiming they will hunt lions to protect the public and increase research on the species. WDFW and the findings of numerous research projects have shown these hunting programs don't work, and they can actually increase cougar-human conflicts.

The program is merely a feel-good title for a group of hunters who will use a pack of hounds to track and chase a cougar until it climbs a tree out of exhaustion, so the cat can be shot at close range off a tree branch.

Moreover, WDFW already has the authority to initiate special public safety hunts with the use of hounds, if needed (WAC 232-12-243). But the agency has found instead, by utilizing the latest peer-reviewed science into management decisions, "Cougar conflicts have declined substantially in recent years as the Department continues to emphasize cougar awareness coupled with our agency kill authority of problem cougars at the time of an incident." Teaching the public about coexistence and only killing the individual cats causing problems has proven to be a more successful policy.

Allowing groups of hound hunters to kill random cougars in rural areas has not yielded any positive results.
Photo of three hounds barking.
Washington sport hunters (without dogs) currently shoot more than 100 lions each year, and WDFW has found this mortality level may already be too high. The cougar population is declining and the excessive killing of adult lions has caused an age shift to younger cats which are more likely to come into conflict with people, pets, and livestock.

The agency has been using published research from Washington State University to revise and lower the state's annual sport hunting quotas so that the cougar population may grow and mature. The last thing we need is a new program to track and kill more cougars, especially cats that have never come into conflict with people.

Senate Bill 6287 is a redundant authorization of public safety hound hunts — WDFW already has this tool at its discretion anytime they determine it appropriate and necessary to use hounds to help kill cougars.

Senate Bill 6287 would also force WDFW to implement a wildlife killing program they know is unsuccessful and potentially dangerous. The legislation is not backed by the Department, scientific research, or the majority of citizens in Washington.

In short: this is a BAD BILL.

If you live in Washington, please contact your legislators and urge them to oppose SB 6287. You can look up their contact information here.

Read the latest information and bill text of Senate Bill 6287 on our Action Alert page.

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Background

Washington sport hunters annually shoot around 100 to 150 lions, but the use of hounds was banned in 1996 by a citizen-sponsored initiative (Initiative-655). The public overwhelmingly supported the legislation which made it illegal for hunters to use bait to attract black bears, or to hunt a black bear, cougar, bobcat or lynx with the use of hounds. Exceptions were only granted for emergency cases when a specific threatening animal needed to be tracked and killed.

Unfortunately, legislation since that time has expanded the loophole and now allows for the use of hounds in special public safety hunts which are designed to indiscriminately kill cats to reduce the overall size of the population in the hopes this will reduce the odds of a conflict. From the year 2000 to 2011, more than 460 cougars were killed under these misguided safety hound hunts.

WDFW found this program was not achieving the desired goal of increasing public safety — it was actually making things worse — and the Department stopped issuing the special permits in 2011.
(Article #1501) To read the actual news story click here...

Senator Chambers Tries to Stop Nebraska's Lion Hunt (1/10/2014)
Fulfilling his promise to try and save Nebraska's mountain lions, State Senator Ernie Chambers has introduced Legislative Bill 671 to repeal the hunting of mountain lions in his state.

Unconvinced by the so-called "fears" expressed by some Nebraska farmers and ranchers, Senator Chambers declared that the hunt approved last year by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission was uncivilized savagery and "certainly not hunting."

LB 671 would not only repeal the 2012 legislation (LB 928) that authorizes the Commission to hold a lion hunt, it also would repeal an existing law that allows the immediate killing of a mountain lion that is threatening livestock or people.

Senator Chambers said Wednesday that in addition to this new legislation he will also oppose any new bills aimed at helping Game and Parks and will even go after the Department's budget if LB 671 fails to pass and the hunt is allowed to continue.

To join the fight to protect lions in Nebraska, please consider becoming a member of the Mountain Lion Foundation by making a donation to our Midwest Mountain Lion Defense Fund today!
(Article #1500) To read the actual news story click here...

Buellton Kitten Incident is First "Official" Use of SB 132 (1/7/2014)
Just days after California Senate Bill 132 became law (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.

Photo of lion cub in bushes.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.

The final disposition of this lion has not yet been decided, but it has been conjectured that the animal may be orphaned and too young to survive on its own if returned to the wild.

As of January 6, the cub is reported to be at a wildlife care facility in the Los Angeles area for examination and temporary housing until CDFW can determine a long-term solution. (Article #1499) To read the actual news story click here...

Nebraska's Inaugural Lion Hunt Over - For Now (1/3/2014)
Tom Ferry, the winning bidder at a Nebraska Big Game Society auction, and 16-year old, high school sophomore Holden Bruce, who won the statewide hunting tag lottery, both killed their trophy mountain lions thus ending the first phase of Nebraska's inaugural lion hunt on the second day of a 45-day season in the Pine Ridge section of the state.

The two lions that were killed, a five-year old, 150-pound male for Ferry, and a two-year old, 102-pound dispersing sub-adult male for Bruce, represent approximately 10 percent of Nebraska's entire estimated lion population.

As of February 15th, 100 other hunters, whose names were drawn in the same lottery that Bruce won, will renew the hunt in the Pine Ridge section. This second season will not include the use of hounds, and will continue through March 31st or until two more males, or a female lion has been killed.

Despite the closure of the Pine Ridge hunting area, mountain lion hunting will continue in the Prairie Unit which encompasses about 85 percent of Nebraska. Lion hunting in this area will be year-round, not restricted by lottery and only cost $15 per hunting tag.

Nebraska Game and Parks officials claim that their objective, for allowing the hunting of the 22 lions estimated to exist within the state, was to provide Nebraska's hunters with unique recreational opportunities.

State Senator Ernie Chambers of Omaha has announced his plans to try to repeal a 2012 law that permitted the commission to establish the mountain lion seasons.

To help the Mountain Lion Foundation protect lions in Nebraska, please consider making a donation to our special Midwest Mountain Lion Defense Fund.

And be sure to check out our feature article No Exit about Nebraska's mountain lion policies.
(Article #1498) To read the actual news story click here...

SDGFP Sinks to New Low to keep South Dakotans Safe (12/16/2013)
Last week, a mountain lion was spotted by a city employee crawling into a crevice near the town of Wall, South Dakota. Spread out over more than two square miles, this small (population 766), rural community is located south of the Black Hills, where mountain lions are prevalent, and is named for its location near the high wall of the Badlands National Park. The Cheyenne River, near the town of Wall, is considered a "lion corridor."

A South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (SDGFP) warden was dispatched to the scene and verified that the lion was hiding in a crevice, and was apparently trying to get even deeper into the hole to escape the inquisitive humans. Because the lion was found within Wall's "city limits" it subsequently received an automatic death sentence based on SDGFP internal guidelines and steps were taken to kill the animal.

When smoke bombs, tossed into the crevice, failed to force the lion out into the open where it could be shot, SDGFP wardens and the city employee used a backhoe to widen the hole. The SDGFP wardens shot and killed the lion once a sufficiently large area was excavated so that the cowering animal could be seen.

The lion, a dispersing sub-adult, around 2-years old and weighing 91 pounds, is the 82nd mountain lion killed in South Dakota since the beginning of the year and the 724th since SDGFP began keeping records in the 1990s.

Despite the fact that most mountain lion experts would discount the potential danger posed by this young, frightened animal, SDGFP's wardens have once again proven themselves willing to make that extra effort to keep South Dakotans safe - even if it is unnecessary.

If you are a South Dakota resident, and disagree with SDGFP's automatic death sentence please contact your legislator and tell them how you feel. And contact SDGFP and demand they change their lion management policy.

John Kanta
Regional Wildlife Manager
South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks
4130 Adventure Trail
Rapid City, SD 57702
(605) 394-2391
john.kanta@state.sd.us
(Article #1497) To read the actual news story click here...

Endangered Florida Panther Killed by Poacher (12/13/2013)
Last Saturday, the carcass of a poached female Florida panther was found in the Big Cypress National Preserve. The lion was a female, approximately 18 months old, and had been shot. Officials are now asking anyone with information to come forward.

There are less than 160 Florida panthers left in the wild, and only an estimated 20 to 30 in the Big Cypress National Preserve at any given time. Killing one of these critically endangered cats is punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of $100,000.

The lion was found by local camp owners near an off-road vehicle trail in the Turner River Unit of Big Cypress, seven miles north of US-41. Recreational deer hunting is permitted in the preserve, but back country visitors must obtain permits and hunters are required to check in at various stations.

The panther was not wearing a tracking collar, but she had been microchipped as a cub and was identified as FK #368. The cat was found not long after being killed. Evidence at the scene and the carcass have been sent to labs for processing.

If you have any information that may help solve this case, please contact investigator David Mayeski at 800-788-0511. Or to remain anonymous, call 888-404-3922 or go to MyFWC.com/WildlifeAlert. A $12,000 reward is being offered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Wildlife Alert Reward Association. (Article #1496) To read the actual news story click here...

4th Mountain Lion Killed in Iowa Since 2001 (12/12/2013)
Last Friday afternoon, an Iowa Conservation Officer and a local hunter shot and killed a 130-lb male mountain lion in a wooded area near the Rock River, about four miles south of Rock Valley, Iowa.

Kevin Baskins, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) said the lion was first spotted Thursday evening by the hunter while he was checking images taken on his trail camera. The hunter visited the area with a neighbor to confirm the sighting and spotted the animal hiding in the bush. Concerned when the lion didn't flee, they called IDNR.

On Friday, Iowa Conservation Officer John Sells checked the photos from the trail camera and found paw prints near the camera site. While searching the area for more signs of the animal with Officer Sells, the reporting hunter nearly stepped on the mountain lion as it hid. Officer Sells and the hunter both opened fire and killed the lion.

"This was definitely something I did not want to do, but this cat was within just a couple of hundred yards of a house with small children who often play in the woods exactly where the lion was," said Officer Sells.

The reason for the lion staying in the area later became apparent when evidence was discovered of a fresh buck deer kill. "This was a mountain lion that had just made a fresh kill and it was probably reluctant to want to leave this kill," Baskins said. "It was cold outside and I'm sure it really didn't want to walk away from a food source that it had obtained. Most of them try and avoid human contact, trying to stay in those more remote areas, but on the other hand, you know, they need to eat, too, and they're going to move where those food sources are."

State officials plan to analyze the DNA of the mountain lion to determine where it came from. According to Kevin Baskins, most mountain lions that have been seen in Iowa have been driven out of neighboring states to the west by more dominant mountain lions.

According to sighting data from the Cougar Network, this is the fourth mountain lion killed in Iowa since 2001.


To join the fight to help lions return to the Midwest and ensure their protection, become a member of the Mountain Lion Foundation today by donating to our Midwest Mountain Lion Defense Fund. For a limited time only, donations of $50 or more will receive our 2014 Mountain Lion Calendar as a free thank you gift.
(Article #1495) To read the actual news story click here...

Lion Prevention Fence Proposed for SoCal Toll Road (12/10/2013)
The Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency is considering spending $3 million to erect a 10 to 12-foot tall "lion prevention" fence in an attempt to curb mountain lion deaths on one of the deadliest wildlife corridors in the Santa Ana Mountain range.

The proposal, to come before the agency this Thursday, would authorize the construction for the first 2.4 miles of the fencing project on the Hwy 241 toll road from the 91 freeway to Santiago Creek bridge, with construction of the second half of the fence, for a total of 5.3 miles, to be considered in June, 2014.

The proposed chain-link fence would be higher than a typical eight-foot tall deer fence and include structures along the top bending outward to prevent animals from climbing over.

According to the agency's director of environmental services, Valarie McFall, "this is going to be one of the most robust wildlife fences in all of California. We're looking to provide an example for other states and transportation projects."

The inclusion of this special fencing is a result of 12-years of study into the health and movement of mountain lions in the Santa Ana mountain range carried out by researchers from the U.C. Davis Wildlife Health Center.

The study's lead researcher, veterinarian Dr. Winston Vickers, says that "automobile strikes are the No. 1 cause of death for mountain lions in the region," and likens the low survival rate for lions in the Santa Ana Mountains to populations that are fairly heavily hunted.

Photo of Dr. Vickers weighing lion.Half of the 85 lions captured and collared since the study began in 2001 have died, with about 60 percent of those deaths caused by humans. "Nearly half of all [lion] deaths occurred on the 241 specifically. So it has had a disproportionate impact on the population," Vickers said. "That's a pretty substantial portion of the total killed anywhere in the mountain range." Another hotspot is the Ortega Highway, which is heavily used by Riverside County residents coming from Lake Elsinore.

Monitoring cameras show that most wildlife undercrossings are well-used by a number of species, including deer, coyotes and mountain lions, but a lack of adequate fencing means the animals are not funneled toward these safe passages and instead are tempted to cross the road.

"The fences also should be built as close to the road as possible," Vickers said. "Desirable-looking habitat between the roads and fences also can encourage animals to seek to cross through traffic to get to them."

That was the probable cause of death for a mountain lion and her kitten on the Ortega Highway in September, 2013. The adult female, designated as F62 by researchers, had apparently tried to reach a pool of water on the other side of the road, the result of a water-line leak that has since been repaired. "Her kitten was killed in the exact same spot a few days later," Vickers said. "We found there was a rather large body of water that wasn't supposed to be there, in a low-lying area next to the road."

Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer said the fencing is needed to protect humans as well as wildlife. "No doubt, animal killing on the road is tragic," he said. "But car-to-animal contact is a very dangerous situation for the motorist as well." Several Inland-area Caltrans projects will have fencing to protect wildlife, although not specifically mountain lions.

Currently, the Santa Ana Mountains has an estimated population number of 15 to 27 mountain lions.


Learn more about this research project by reading MLF's Feature Article "Mountain Lion Research Helps Lions Cross Southern California Freeways"

View the OC Register's photo slideshow of Dr. Vickers capturing F62.

Photo slideshow of F62 and M96 interactions, consistent with mating, in June 2012. Courtesy of UC Davis Wildlife Health Center.




(Article #1494) To read the actual news story click here...

Young Lion Found Dead Near Los Gatos: Starvation Not Ruled Out (12/6/2013)
Last Sunday, a young mountain lion was found dead under a porch in the mountainous, rural region west of Los Gatos, California.

Researchers from the U. C. Santa Cruz Puma Project announced that the dead animal appeared to be approximately one-year of age, and displayed no sign of foul play, attack, bullet wound or road burn.

Their best guess at this time for the cause of death is possible starvation, disease or poison from scavenging on animals killed by rodenticide.

Mountain lions this young are usually unable to successfully hunt and fend for themselves.

So if a mother lion dies from being struck by a car, or killed under a depredation permit her litter will quite possibly perish as well.

A necropsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of death.
(Article #1493) To read the actual news story click here...

Three New Kittens Join Santa Monica Mountain's Precarious Mountain Lion Population (12/4/2013)
Researchers with the National Park Service recently tagged and took biological samples from thee mountain lion kittens born a couple weeks ago to the female lion known as P-19. The new additions, two females and a male, to the Santa Monica Mountains small lion population, were promptly christened by the capture team as P-32, P-33, and P-34. Each lion monitored in the study is given a number, and the "P" stands for Puma.

Rather than sedate the mother, the den was kept under close observation waiting for P-19 to go off on a hunt. Finally, on the third day, the kittens were left alone and the researchers carried out a hurried examination and recording of biological data. DNA samples from the kittens will be used to determine which of the few surviving male lions in the area fathered the cubs.

P-19 is know to have had one other successful litter. One member of that first litter, P-23, was photographed last August with her deer kill on the side of Mulholland Drive.

Photo of Seth Riley holding cub.

Pictured above is Seth Riley of the National Park Service with one of the kittens, P-32. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service, see more photos on their Facebook page.
(Article #1492) To read the actual news story click here...

CDFW Saves 3 Orphaned Lion Kittens (11/26/2013)
A week ago, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) received a report about three mountain lion kittens that were believed to have been orphaned. The sighting was from the small rural town of Callahan in the Salmon Mountains, about an hour South of the California-Oregon border.

The three tiny cubs were seen during the daytime walking along the Scott River. Mountain lion mothers frequently stash their cubs in rock outcroppings or bushy makeshift dens while hunting. Kittens are accompanied by their mother less than fifty percent of the time. CDFW states that, "more often, the department receives calls on suspected 'abandoned wildlife' when in fact the mother is just foraging or hunting for food."

Giving the lion family the benefit of the doubt, CDFW personnel decided to wait and see if the cubs' mother would return to her offspring. Unfortunately, the next day another resident saw the cubs, still without their mother and looking even more distressed.

Photo of rescued lion cub."The cubs were shivering and meowing all morning. It was obvious the cubs has been abandoned and needed help," CDFW reported.

A CDFW biologist brought the helpless kittens down to Region 2 Headquarters (Sacramento area), where they began receiving veterinary care. The cubs are only a few months old and require a lot of care and attention.

"After each meal," a combination of kitten formula and meat, "the cubs are wiped down head to tail (and underneath) by staff to mimic what their mother would do." This assistance keeps their digestive system moving.

The three kittens didn't have much time to learn "wild puma skills" from their mother and they will likely become imprinted on their human caregivers now. This makes them not good candidates for rehabilitating to release back into the wild.

California law currently does not allow mountain lions of any age to be rehabilitated and released. But on January 1st all that will change. Senate Bill 132, signed by Governor Brown in September, will change California's mountain lion laws in 2014 and allow the state to rehabilitate injured and orphaned lions, and return them to the wild.

At this time, Florida and Colorado are the only two states with programs that rehab lions until they are healthy and old enough to be set loose in the wild. Cubs younger than 6 months old are typically kept in captivity permanently.

This Sunday, December 1st, California will celebrate the passage of its new mountain lion law at an event in Half Moon Bay (click here for event flier). In addition to authorizing the rehabilitation of mountain lions, the legislation also requires that lions accidentally wandering into town cannot be killed unless they are acting aggressively towards people.

CDFW has preemptively revised their internal mountain lion guidelines to reflect many of the upcoming legal changes. Please take a moment to thank CDFW Director Bonham for adopting the new, more humane, mountain lion policies. And, let him know we all appreciate the time and hard work CDFW is putting in to rescue orphaned mountain lion cubs.

Director Charlton Bonham
1416 Ninth Street
12th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 653-7667
Director@wildlife.ca.gov


Photos courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Photo of lion kitten.
CDFW Caption: Three lion cubs (two boys and one girl) arrived at our Region 2 office in need of help.

Photo of lion kitten.
CDFW Caption: The cubs are housed indoors because it is too cold outside for them right now.

Photo of lion kitten.
CDFW Caption: Cute but still a wild animal.

Photo of lion kitten.
CDFW Caption: Cubs will be cubs.

Photo of lion kitten.
CDFW Caption: A very serious look.

Photo of lion kitten.
CDFW Caption: Dr. Deana Clifford (DVM) gives a health check up to one of three cubs.

Photo of lion kitten.
CDFW Caption: Dr. Deana Clifford (DVM) inspects cub number two while number three waits for his turn.

Photo of lion kitten.
CDFW Caption: The lion cubs are fed throughout the day a mixture of formula and ground meat. Eventually, deer meat will be part of their diet.

Photo of lion kitten.
CDFW Caption: A messy face ....

Photo of lion kitten.
CDFW Caption: Okay, number three is ready to be weighed and evaluated.

Photo of lion kitten.
CDFW Caption: After each meal, the cubs are wiped down head to tail (and underneath) by staff to mimic what their mother would do.

Photo of lion kitten.
CDFW Caption: More of cub number three.

Photo of CDFW sweatshirt.
CDFW Caption: Staff wear long sleeves while handling the cubs.


Want even more photos? Check out the slideshow from the Sacramento Bee's December 4th update on the cubs.
(Article #1491) To read the actual news story click here...

Illinois DNR Blows Chance to Study Transient Lions (11/22/2013)
Earlier this week, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) threw away a unique opportunity to study transient mountain lions and get a better idea of what is happening with these special animals in their state, when they shot and killed a lion approximately 10 miles east of the Mississippi River near the small rural community of Morrison, Illinois.

The tragedy occurred when an IDNR Conservation Police Officer responded Wednesday to a call from a Whiteside County farmer that a large cat had been seen running across a corn field towards the farm owner's home and outbuildings.

Upon arrival, the officer checked the residence, horse barn and the other agricultural buildings without finding a lion or any evidence of damage to the farmer's livestock or pets. Further searching by the officer eventually revealed the mountain lion cowering in a concrete tunnel beneath a corn crib.

After consulting with other IDNR law enforcement and wildlife personnel, and at the farm owner's request, it was determined that the lion, which appeared to weigh just over 100 pounds and was approximately 6-feet in length, should be killed.
Photo of dead Illinois lion in back of truck.
Illinois' indigenous mountain lion population was extirpated from the state sometime before 1870. As a result, mountain lions are not currently protected by the Illinois Wildlife Code and are usually killed if sighted.

Prior to this incident, there have been three confirmed mountain lion sightings in Illinois between 2002 and 2008. A male lion was killed by a train in Randolph County in 2002. Another male was killed by a hunter in Mercer County in 2004, and a third male was shot and killed on the north side of Chicago in 2008. Although analysis indicates these three animals were genetically similar to mountain lions from South Dakota, their history in the wild is uncertain.

Because of the action taken Wednesday by IDNR, the most that scientists will now learn from this specimen will come from examining the carcass and possibly comparing DNA samples. If researchers had been given the opportunity to capture and collar the animal with a GPS tracking device, a whole wealth of information could have been made available to allow IDNR to better plan for the eventual recolonization of the state by a wildlife species that had been thoughtlessly wiped out of existence almost 145 years ago.

The decision to kill this particular lion exposes a need on the part of the Illinois legislature to enact legislation that will protect an incipient lion population trying to reestablish itself in the state.


To join the fight to help lions return to the Midwest, become a member of the Mountain Lion Foundation today by donating to our Midwest Mountain Lion Defense Fund. For a limited time only, donations of $50 or more will receive our 2014 Mountain Lion Calendar as a free thank you gift.
(Article #1490) To read the actual news story click here...

Declaring that Mountain Lions have "Better Taste" Than to Eat Nebraska Grandchildren, State Senator Chambers Tries to Stop Nebraska's First Lion Hunt (11/19/2013)
Declaring his "repugnance" over the inception of Nebraska's inaugural lion hunt, State Senator Ernie Chambers declared to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission that he would "oppose every proposal it brings to the Legislature as long as it allows mountain lions to be hunted."

The commission had come to the Nebraska Legislature's Executive Board (of which Senator Chambers is a member) with a request to accept the donation of 193 acres of land offered by Ducks Unlimited in Fillmore County, and a playground structure worth $48,421. Any land donation worth more than $10,000 and certain other donations offered between sessions have to be approved by the board and others, including the governor.

Senator Chambers told Roger Kuhn, a division administrator for Nebraska Game and Parks, that he had expressed his "displeasure, repugnance and disgust" to Nebraska Game and Parks Director James Douglas over the establishment of a mountain lion hunting season. He had told him to take the message to the commission that he would strenuously oppose any proposal as long as the hunting season continues.
Senator Ernie Chambers.
Senator Chambers said he was also "thoroughly outraged" by the auction conducted for a mountain lion hunting permit by the Nebraska Big Game Society.

"I was told that fears led to the creation of a hunting season for these, what I consider to be regal animals," he said. "And these fears were engendered by the possibility or likelihood of these animals eating the grandchildren of Nebraskans."

That notion is baseless, he said, because there is an inconsequential number of mountain lions in the state and those few "have better taste than that."

"There is no need or justification whatsoever to hunt these animals," Chambers said Monday. "It's cruelty. It's barbaric. I will do what I can to stop it."

In 2012, the Nebraska legislature passed Legislative Bill 928 allowing a mountain lion hunting season. Senator Leroy Louden of Ellsworth introduced the bill in response to increased sightings of the animals in the state. Before the law was passed, mountain lions could be killed if they threatened humans or livestock.

Experts believe that maybe there are as many as 23 resident mountain lions, including possibly two breeding females, in Nebraska at this time.

Senator Chambers said he would have voted against the donation offers presented to the Board last Friday, but the Executive Board delayed any action on the items until more board members were present. Three were absent from the meeting.

Senator Chambers informed the Board that if it approved the donations, he would offer a motion when the Legislature was back in session to undo that approval.

Known as the "Defender of the Downtrodden," Senator Chambers has announced that he will "designate mountain lions as members of the downtrodden."

"By fang and claw, somebody's going to pay in terms of the Legislature's time," he said. "And I don't mind being alone. In fact, that energizes me."

There is no record of mountain lions threatening or attacking humans in Nebraska since the species was extirpation from the state in 1890.
(Article #1489) To read the actual news story click here...

The Results are In: Mountain Lion Slain on California HWY 101 Was a Newcomer! (11/6/2013)
Almost a month ago, a mountain lion trying to cross Hwy 101 near Liberty Canyon Road was struck and killed by an early morning commuter. Due to the Government shutdown, it was unknown at the time which of the dozen or so lions living in the Santa Monica Mountains had died. This small population of lions is being researched by the US National Park Service (NPS).

Recently obtained DNA results now show that the mountain lion killed was new to the Santa Monica Mountains.

According to the NPS, Santa Monica's mountain lions are isolated from the rest of California's lions because of freeways, mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. The potential for inbreeding within the small, separated population created by these obstructions makes it crucial for new lions to be able to safely cross into the area.

According to witnesses, the dead lion was found on the southbound side of the freeway and had tried to cross from the north. If this lion had successfully crossed the freeway and mated, he would have brought much-needed new genetic material to the region's lion population.
Photo of Santa Monica map showing where lion was killed.
For years, local wildlife advocates have lobbied for a wildlife corridor to be constructed at Liberty Canyon. "The fact that this young male chose to cross — unsuccessfully — at Liberty Canyon shows how critical this wildlife corridor is for maintaining genetic diversity in the Santa Monica Mountains. This section of the 101 Freeway is the ideal path into the Santa Monica Mountains because of the natural habitat on both sides of the freeway and the connections to large areas of open space," said Dr. Seth Riley, a researcher with the National Park Service studying mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Of more than 30 lions tracked during the decade-long National Park Service study, only one (P-12) is known to have successfully crossed Hwy 101. Caltrans has twice applied for federal transportation funding, but so far has failed to win approval for the projected $10 million construction project. Caltrans is expected to apply once again in early 2014.


Watch news coverage DNA Highlights Fragile Mountain Lion Population from Lucy Noland at NBC Los Angeles.

Read the 10/11/2013 story Government Shutdown Keeping the Public from Knowing Which Lion Died on LA's 101 Freeway

And for more information on the need for wildlife corridors in southern California, check out the feature article The Cougar Connection: Mountain Lions Lead the Way to Conservation Solutions by Nina Kidd.

(Article #1488) To read the actual news story click here...

Popular Santa Cruz Lion Killed (11/1/2013)
On May 16, 2013, a mountain lion in Santa Cruz, California became the center of national attention. While roaming near downtown, the lion jumped a chain-link fence and became trapped in a drainage aqueduct.

Local police, state Fish and Wildlife, and lion researchers from U.C. Santa Cruz all came together to rescue the lion. He was tranquilized, fitted with a tracking collar, and released into the nearby Forest of Nisene Marks State Park.

In June, researchers gave an update that the lion, now named 39M, was doing well. He appeared to be looking for an available territory and was feeding on deer and raccoons. He had even successfully crossed the treacherous Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains several times.

Unfortunately, on Halloween morning his luck ran out. While trying to cross Highway 17, 39M was stuck and killed by a vehicle. A pregnant female lion was also recently killed on that same stretch of road.
Photo of 39M in aqueduct in May.
Lions need wildlife crossings in order to survive on the urban edge. The Laurel Curve crossing point has been especially fatal for Santa Cruz's mountain lions. Caltrans recently improved the road to make it safer for drivers, including the installation of a large safety barrier between oncoming traffic. But construction work ultimately removed a large culvert that lions and other wildlife were using to safely pass under the highway.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Caltrans, mountain lion researchers, and the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County are looking for ways to provide safer passages for wildlife in the region, and specifically Laurel Curve.

"It's not a fully developed project yet," Land Trust Executive Director Terry Corwin said. "We're working with Caltrans, and we'll be buying a property near Laurel Curve, with the intent of creating an underground passage."

The crossing will come too late for 39M, but hopefully someday soon, lions will be able to safely pass back and forth under Highway 17.
(Article #1487) To read the actual news story click here...

Starving Mountain Lion Kitten Found by San Jose Family (10/28/2013)
On October 19th, a San Jose family, living in a subdivision near Alum Rock Park, awoke to a find a piece of California's wildlife heritage—a mountain lion kitten—hiding in their backyard.

For several of the previous nights, neighborhood dogs had been upset and barking at some kind of disturbance, but no one could figure out what was setting them off. When their own dogs started a new row Saturday morning the family decided to investigate. Their search uncovered a small, frail looking mountain lion kitten hiding in their backyard and too weak to escape over a three-foot tall retaining wall.

The family corralled the lion kitten with a folding dog pen fence and contacted the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley. Responding California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wardens took the kitten to the Wildlife Center for evaluation.

The lion kitten, estimated at 3-months old, was found to be severely dehydrated, anemic, and emaciated. After a few days care, the rescued kitten was transferred to CDFW's Wildlife Investigation Laboratory, near Sacramento.

It's been surmised that this is the same mountain lion kitten, reportedly spotted in several different nearby locations since October 9th.

While this particular case appears to be extraordinary, in normal situations, mountain lion kittens are often left on their own while their mother hunts for food. So it shouldn't be automatically assumed that lion kittens have been abandoned, and in need of rescue just because their mother is not in sight.

In California, mountain lions are classified as a "specially protected" species and under state law, may not be taken, possessed or transported without authorization from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The eventual fate of this young lion is not known at this time. The recent passage of Senate Bill 132 might allow for its rehabilitation and eventual release back into the wild once it is older and can fend for its self.
(Article #1486) To read the actual news story click here...

Another Confirmed Lion Sighting in Iowa (10/21/2013)
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has confirmed a picture taken by a trail camera in Madison County is that of a mountain lion.

The photo was taken on October 13th, just before 7:00 p.m., on a farm about 10 miles north of Winterset, in rural Madison County, Iowa.

According to the IDNR, of the more than 1,000 mountain lion sightings that have been reported since the year 2000, 95 percent were a case of mistaken identity — such as bobcats or dogs that share the same coloring.

Trail cam photo of lion in Iowa.IDNR also stated that three mountain lions have been confirmed killed in Iowa since August 2001. One of those was found in a Des Moines neighborhood in 2012.

According to IDNR's mountain lion brochure, "Mountain lions have no legal wildlife status in Iowa. That means that they can be taken and possessed by anyone at anytime as long as legal methods and means are used to take the animal. Mountain lions and black bears are not listed in the Iowa Code as designated wildlife species, because they were extirpated before fish and game legislation became prominent. The pioneers did not see their presence of any value to their own way of life, so basically persecution by humans brought their demise."

Help the Mountain Lion Foundation protect lions that wander into the Midwest by donating to our special Midwestern Mountain Lion Defense Fund. (Article #1485) To read the actual news story click here...

Big Game Hunter Pays $13,500 to Participate in Nebraska's First Ever Exclusive Lion Hunt (10/17/2013)
Spouting the standard propaganda about hunters being the biggest conservationists, Tom Ferry, of Ponca, Nebraska, paid $13,500 to become the winning bidder of one of the first two mountain lion permits issued by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Mr. Ferry, a Big Game Hunter, has killed animals for sport in Africa, Canada, New Zealand, Russia, and across the United States. He has approximately 150 trophy mounts commemorating his exploits at his home including those of mountain lions killed in Arizona and Utah.

"I just thought it would be nice to hunt mountain lions in Nebraska during the state's first season," Ferry said.

Ferry will be one of only two people permitted to hunt cougars during Nebraska's first lion hunting season (January 1st through February 14th) in the Pine Ridge Hunting Unit. Last week, 15-year-old Holden Bruce of Franklin, Nebraska, was selected in a drawing for the other permit. Both hunters will be allowed to hunt with dogs.

The auction, held Wednesday night at a special Nebraska Big Game Society function, reflected the small participant turnout experienced in last week's statewide lion hunting lottery with only 70 bidders.

Before the auction, Nebraska Game and Parks Director, Jim Douglas, also presented former State Senator LeRoy Louden, who shepherded Nebraska's lion hunting bill through the Legislature, with an honorary mountain lion hunting permit so he can accompany the remaining 99 lottery winners when they commence their hunt during Nebraska's second lion hunting season (February 15th through March 31st).

Game and Parks officials say the objective for allowing mountain lion hunting is to provide hunters opportunities while allowing a slight to moderate reduction in mountain lion population.

Mr. Ferry seemed to sum up the Department's draconian position towards Nebraska's wildlife. "They have a saying in Africa," he said. "And it's true here, too: If it doesn't pay, it doesn't stay."
(Article #1482) To read the actual news story click here...

Government Shutdown Keeping the Public from Knowing Which Lion Died on LA's 101 Freeway (10/11/2013)
The carcass of a mountain lion was found by a passing motorist Monday morning alongside the 101 freeway in Agoura Hills near the Liberty Canyon Road exit. This area, a natural but dangerous wildlife crossing, is used by animals moving between the Santa Monica Mountains to the south and the Simi Hills to the north.

Long time research in the area has identified a resident mountain lion population of as many as 10 to 12 animals. During a recent lecture, National Park Service (NPS) wildlife ecologist Dr. Seth Riley said the NPS is currently tracking seven mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains and Simi Hills; three who live south of the 101 Freeway, two in the Simi Hills and one in Griffith Park.

Unfortunately, due to the current government shutdown, Dr. Riley and his fellow NPS lion researchers are now unavailable to determine which of their precious specimens is missing.

NPS researchers previously announced that they knew of only one mountain lion to successfully cross the 101 freeway, a male designated as P-12 who headed into the Santa Monica Mountains where he mated with at least two female lions in the range and produced six kittens.

P-12's last reported position was still in the Santa Monica Mountains. According to one motorist that viewed the dead lion, it did not appear to have a tracking collar around its neck.



(Article #1467) To read the actual news story click here...

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