Articles, opinions, and editorials about mountain lions and the Mountain Lion Foundation.
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Oregon Fish and Wildlife thumbs its nose at conservationists by killing another innocent lion (2/2/2015)
Last Friday afternoon, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) proved once again that they don't care how other states handle wandering mountain lions by first capturing and then killing a young dispersing lion found in the rural community of Bend, Oregon.
It all started when local law enforcement officers responded to a call from a resident who said that a mountain lion was lounging high in a tree in the forested area behind his house. At first there was some disbelief on the part of the First Responders, but that quickly changed once they arrived on the scene.
"A lot of times we get calls about cougars, and they're not -- it's just a really large cat," said Bend Police Corporal Rob Emerson. "It was in fact a cougar, so it was kind of exciting."
Officers from the Bend Police Department quickly contained the area and a ODFW biologist climbed onto a nearby roof and shot the animal with a tranquilizer rifle.
Once the lion had fallen asleep, "We climbed the tree, hooked a rope over it and lowered him down," said Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Corey Heath. A team then lifted the cougar into a box and took it to ODFW offices.
Heath said that the lion was a young male, weighing approximately 120 pounds and was most likely just passing through the area looking for deer that have come down from higher elevations for the winter.
At this point in either Washington or California the lion would have been moved further from town and released back into the wild, but not in Oregon.
"A male adult cat in the middle of Bend is a human safety condition," Heath said. "We're not going to move that animal to become a problem in some other town, some other community."
Heath went on to excuse ODFW's actions by claiming that catch-and-release efforts often don't work.
Heath did not explain why the animal had to be removed from the public's view before it was killed or why ODFW refuses to implement proven non-lethal relocation procedures now used by several state game agencies.
(Article #1594) To read the actual news story click here...
Nebraska Decides Not to Hold a Lion Hunt this Year (1/15/2015)
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Director Jim Douglas announced today that there will be no mountain lion hunting season in 2015.
Claiming that the Commission's decision was not a result of the controversy generated by Nebraska's inaugural lion hunt, Director Douglas indicated that they needed to review the situation and that there might be a mountain lion hunt in 2016.
At the beginning of the 2014 lion hunting season,the Commission estimated that Nebraska might have 22 resident mountain lions.
Last year, there were 16 documented mountain lion deaths in Nebraska, including five killed legally by hunters; four killed legally because people felt threatened; three incidentally trapped; two killed by vehicles; and two taken illegally.
Ten of the mountain lions killed were females, which Director Douglas cited as a factor in the Commission's decision to not have a hunting season this year.
In addition, the Commission budgeted $60,000 for radio collars, trail cameras and three years of scat surveys to "better understand and manage the mountain lion population."
There is no indication that State Senator Ernie Chambers plans to stop his legislative efforts (LB127) to remove the Commission's authority to hold mountain lion hunts.
(Article #1592) To read the actual news story click here...
2nd round for Nebraska's Mountain Lions: Senator Chambers is still in the fight! (1/12/2015)
Last Friday, Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers made good on his promise and introduced legislation (LB127) removing the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission's (NGPC) authority to issue hunting licenses for mountain lions this year.
Similar legislation was introduced by Senator Chambers last year, but could not override Governor Heineman's veto.
The question now is whether the NGPC will acknowledge the pending legislation by holding off on authorizing a second year of lion hunting at their January 15th meeting, or decide to quickly ram through a 2nd hunting season in the hopes that it will fulfill its quota before LB127 can pass and be signed into law.
And even if LB127 successfully becomes law and the Commission doesn't issue lion hunting tags in 2015, the threat to Nebraska's lions is far from over. Mountain lions are still classified as game animals in Nebraska and the NGPC has stated that it's their responsibility to allow "some appropriate level of hunting along the way."
So until Nebraska's mountain lions are protected under a different classification the question of whether or not they are hunted is sure to come up again sometime in the near future.
(Article #1590) To read the actual news story click here...
Mountain Lions Could Return to New England (1/7/2015)
The following story was originally written by the Associated Press and posted on January 2, 2015 on the Centralmaine.com website.
A Vermont animal tracker known nationally for her expertise in tracking cougars believes the big cats will eventually return to the Northeastern United States and neighboring parts of Canada, but she says the region won't see large numbers of them anytime soon.
The forests of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and upstate New York have ideal cougar habitat, meaning plentiful forest cover and large animals to sustain a cougar population, said Sue Morse of Jericho, the science director and founder of the organization Keeping Track.
"Back in the '80s, I just looked at that huge expanse of country between the Rockies, the western slope of the Rockies and here, and I thought to myself 'how can this happen?'" said Morse.
Since then, scientists have tracked the animals moving out of South Dakota into Midwestern states. Cougars also are moving north into Manitoba, the Canadian province to the west of Ontario, which Morse considers their most likely route back to the Northeast.
"We need our apex carnivores in a big way," Morse said. "We need them for the health of our forests. Our forests are being ravaged by too many deer in some places."
The animals are known by a variety of names: mountain lion, puma, panther, catamount. Vermont's last known cougar was killed in 1881 in Barnard. The animal, now stuffed, is on display at the Vermont Historical Society in Montpelier.
"It's a known fact that dispersing tom cougars will go hundreds, if not thousands of miles as they search for a habitat in which they can settle down in the company of females and call home," said Morse.
The challenge is the females are more likely to stay near their home range, but they too will sometimes move into new territory, she said.
Scientists say sightings of individual cougars are possible, but they're skeptical that breeding populations of cougars will return to the region on their own.
Mary Parkin, endangered species recovery coordinator for the Northeast Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, agrees the region has suitable habitat for cougars and male cougars do pass through.
"The trick is getting that female there, they would have to be brought in," she said, adding that was unaware of any effort to bring cougars back to the Northeast.
Mark Scott, director of wildlife for the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, said his agency regularly receives reports of cougar sightings and it's possible that individual cougars could be spotted in Vermont, but he calls the possibility of a breeding population returning to the state "a long shot."
"It used to be if someone saw a mountain lion they'd say 'I'm not going to tell anybody because they're going to think I'm crazy,'" Scott said. "But people shouldn't feel that way today. There really is a possibility that if they see a large cat, obviously it needs to have a long tail - they could be seeing the real thing."
Other scientists say there's no question the animals are moving far from what is considered their current range. In 2011, a cougar was hit by a car and killed on a Connecticut highway. Subsequent DNA testing found that the animal was from South Dakota.
Morse said the animals regularly confound scientists by doing the unexpected. It could take 30 years (Morse hopes less) for a breeding population to return.
"I am looking forward to seeing how these animals pull it off because I'm convinced they will," she said.
Susan Morse is a dedicated supporter of the Mountain Lion Foundation and a nationally recognized naturalist and habitat specialist with forty years of experience tracking and interoperating wildlife uses of habitat throughout North America. Ms. Morse is also the photographer whose work can be seen on MLF's 2015 mountain lion calendar.
(Article #1589) To read the actual news story click here...
Utah game wardens start the New Year off right by saving a wayward lion (1/5/2015)
This New Year's weekend, a Salt Lake City family got a rare chance to not only see a mountain lion up close, they also got to see Utah Division of Wildlife Resources(UDWR) wardens take the rare, but correct step of helping a young mountain lion.
The Stringhams were vacationing at a friend's cabin near Bear Lake, which is located in the upper Northeastern corner of the state, when someone noticed something hiding under the cabin porch. A quick check with flashlights highlighted the dark figure of a lion with glowing eyes and authorities were notified.
When the responding UDWR wardens arrived on scene they found the lion still hiding under the porch. After determining that it wasn't a life-threatening situation the wardens decided to take the steps necessary to capture the animal.
It took several tranquilizer darts to eventually subdue the scared lion, but when it was finally dragged from its hiding space and evaluated, the lion (sex undetermined) turned out to be 2 to 3-years old and weighing approximately 130 pounds.
After letting the children photograph and pet the drugged lion, the wardens proceeded to attach an identification ear tag and drive it to a remote location where it was release back into the wild where hopefully it might also survive this year's hunting season.
To encourage Utah DWR to continue to handle mountain lion encounters with non-lethal force, please consider sending a brief thank you email to the department: DWRcomment@utah.gov
(Article #1588) To read the actual news story click here...
2014 record year for panther deaths - Can the Florida panther survive? (12/30/2014)
Today, the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a non-profit advocacy organization, reported that 2014 was a very bad year for the Florida panther. During this past year 30 members of that endangered species were killed with more than a third of those deaths females of kitten-bearing age.
According to PEER, panther mortality this year could represent as much as one-fourth of the entire population, with the majority of those deaths (27) occurring in three counties (Collier, Lee and Hendry), and 17 of the total mortalities the result of motor vehicle accidents.
"The management of the Florida panther is biology by body count," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission figures show only 32 kittens born this year, but the survival rate of panther kittens is low with only 50 percent expected to survive to dispersal-age. This means that panther deaths are likely to exceed replacement from new litters. "The true condition of the Florida panther today remains what biologists call a 'SWAG'- a scientific wild-ass guess."
Despite being protected as an endangered species by the Federal government for the past 40-years, the Florida panther is clinging to survival with a population that is thought to number somewhere between 100 to 160 adult animals living on a habitat area in southwest Florida that represents just five percent of its original range.
While the Florida panther is increasingly imperiled by habitat loss, vehicle collisions, and loss of genetic diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has yet to designate critical habitat to protect what little viable habitat area remains for the iconic cat. Despite agreement by biologists that the species faces a high likelihood of extinction in the absence of protections for its remaining habitat, FWS continues to approve new roads and other development in the heart of panther country.
In the period from 1984 to 2009, FWS approved 127 developments in areas that it deemed could adversely affect the panther. Those projects destroyed nearly 100,000 acres of panther habitat while less than 42,000 acres were "preserved" either on or offsite of the projects. It is unclear how many of those preserved acres actually benefit the panther.
The Florida panther's survival appears to depend on the protection of remaining undeveloped lands throughout Florida, as well as the eventual natural migration beyond the state's confining borders.
Unfortunately, a large portion of that habitat is already slated for development, and developers might also receive authorization to "take"-harass, harm, or kill-any panther or other protected species as they modify, pave over, and develop their habitat.
In addition, Florida's neighbors have not shown any willingness to allow the expansion of the Florida panther into their states.
According to Jeff Ruch, "In South Florida, the panther literally is a speed bump to sprawling development. Many believe we have already reached the tipping point where a viable population of Florida panther can no longer exist in the wild and the future of this alpha-predator is as a zoo species."
(Article #1587) To read the actual news story click here...
Few Rules, No Protections For Kentucky's Mountain Lions (12/24/2014)
The following story was originally written by Richard Essex and posted on the LEX18.com website
The killing of a mountain lion by state conservation officers has generated a discussion about whether the big cat should have been protected.
LEX 18 Investigates looked into Kentucky's rules regarding mountain lions and found there are very few, and none offer protected or endangered status to the animal.
The only regulation we could find is that mountain lions are prohibited from being imported and owned in most circumstances.
Mountain lions, like the one killed in Bourbon County last week, are classified by state law as "inherently dangerous wildlife," and it is one of few once-native species on the list - which also includes rhinoceroses, baboons and komodo dragons.
The law, enacted in 1998, allows local governments to regulate the possession of such animals.
However, according to some wildcat advocates, the lack of statewide regulation should change in the face of evidence that mountain lions could be migrating back east of the Mississippi River.
"I would like to see states put some protections in place," said Amy Rodrigues, biologist with the California-based Mountain Lion Foundation.
State officials say the mountain lion killed in Bourbon County is the first seen in the state since the Civil War. The species is classified as a "extirpated," meaning it has been driven from the area.
Mountain lions are most commonly found in the West and Midwest United States. However, they can thrive in most climates have been known to migrate hundreds or thousands of miles looking for food, mates and a place to live.
In 2011, for example, a mountain lion hit and killed by a car in Connecticut was thought to have traveled from South Dakota.
Although the Bourbon County mountain lion was the first verified sighting in Kentucky decades, there have been hundreds of reports and a few blurry pictures and videos of suspected mountain lions all over the state.
In 2012, Ashland neighborhoods were put on alert after several people reported seeing one. And in 2010, sightings were reported in Harrison and Mason counties.
Rodrigues said, ideally, Kentucky game officials would have caught the lion and put a radio collar on it to see where it went.
Instead, conservation officers shot it.
"A lot of these people have never seen a mountain lion before, so I can understand the concern for public safety, but just because they see a mountain lion doesn't mean it's a threat," Rodriguez said. "These cats don't view us a food. Attacks are extremely rare. Fatalities are even more rare."
In California, which has a large population of the animal, there have been 13 attacks since 1986, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Three were fatal.
However, officials say mountain lions are solitary animals that generally don't pose a threat to humans unless cornered or threatened.
Their solitary nature could be why reports remain unverified, or the sightings could be bogus. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife told LEX 18 Investigates there is a good chance the Bourbon County lion was raised in captivity.
There are no reports of captive mountain lions escaping from a licensed facility in Kentucky or surrounding states, and an investigation is underway to find out where the cat came from.
DNA from the cat is being tested, which could help. Researchers used DNA in the 2011 case in Connecticut to track the mountain lion's origins.
State officials say the decision to shoot the animal was made to protect public safety, because it was close to populated areas and getting dark.
LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather
(Article #1585) To read the actual news story click here...
Nebraska Game Commission Looking for Excuses to Kill More Lions (12/23/2014)
Despite an assault on their authority by the state legislature, and unprecedented mortality numbers during the inaugural hunt year, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) is looking for ways to justify a second mountain lion hunting season in 2015.
On January 1st of this year, Nebraska opened its first mountain lion hunting season since that species was eradicated more than a hundred and twenty years ago. At the time biologists with the Nebraska Game and Parks Department estimated that there might be as many as 22 resident mountain lions in the state, with possibly one breeding female. As of today, 14 mountain lions - including 6 females - are known to have died as a result of human-related causes (hunting, poaching, vehicle accidents, as well as the usual farmer/ranchers killings because a lion was on their property).
At the same time Nebraska's lion hunt was taking place, State Senator Ernie Chambers and his legislative colleagues passed legislation removing NGPC's authority to implement a mountain lion hunting season. That legislation was eventually vetoed by the Governor (who has been replaced), but Senator Chambers has sworn to take up the cause again when the legislature convenes in January.
All of these factors have had an affect on Nebraska holding a second mountain lion season. Normally the season would have started in 10-days on January 1st. However, the Commission hasn't yet decided if there will even be a season. That decision has been delayed until possibly the commission hearing scheduled to be held in Lincoln on January 15th.
According to Commissioner Mick Jensen of Blair (who supported the inaugural lion hunting season), "Most Nebraskans don't want the big cats in their backyards. But the animals also must receive some protection so they're not overhunted. They are a game animal and we are charged with managing their population. And managing does not mean extinction. And managing does [not] mean letting them grow willy-nilly either."
Commissioner Blair went on to state that Department biologists are working with officials in South Dakota and Wyoming to determine how many mountain lions migrate along the rivers shared by those states, but that information will take time to compile.
"We want to be completely science-based," Blair said. "We don't want to have the emotion in this, because that's hard to defend."
Many however take Commissioner Blair's statements to mean that the Commission is going to "cherry-pick" the available science to justify the high number of lions killed in Nebraska this year, as well as the need to hunt lions in order to "manage" them.
Well known and respected mountain lion researcher Dr. John Laundre had the following response to Commissioner Blair's comments. "And what if the science says there is no reason to be afraid of mountain lions, which it does. Or that they are no threat to cattle or deer, which it does. Or that they are not a game animal, meaning hunted to eat, which it does? Or that they, along with most predators don't need to be hunted to manage them, which based on California, it does? Will they follow those scientific conclusions or fall back on the purely emotional non-scientifically based arguments of hunters and ranchers? If science indeed did rule, mountain lions would be safe in Nebraska."
(Article #1584) To read the actual news story click here...
California's SB 132 -- at work saving another lion (12/22/2014)
Last Friday evening, a young, dispersing female mountain lion got lost and ended up in the middle of a mobile home park in the Southern California community of Newbury Park.
Residents spotted the lion at approximately 5:30 p.m. and contacted the Ventura County Sheriff's Department. Once on scene, Sheriffs Deputies secured a safety perimeter and awaited assistance.
When wardens from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) arrived they found the young lion cowering in fear under a trailer.
"When they shined a flashlight on her, she got scared and crawled deeper under the trailer," said CDFW spokeswoman Janice Mackey, adding that the mountain lion was not aggressive and no injuries related to the animal were reported by area residents.
Newbury Park resident Sherry Kempster spotted the cat walking across her backyard wall.
After tranquilizing the animal, a medical examination conducted on site found that the female lion was around 14-months old, weighed approximately 75-pounds, and was in relatively good shape.
They also discovered the lion had been marked with an ear-tag showing she had previously been monitored by the National Parks Service's research study conducted in the nearby Santa Monica Mountains. She was tagged as P34, one of three kittens born to P19 (mother) and P12 (father) back in October 2013.
Sometime around midnight, after being fitted with a GPS tracking collar, the young lion was released back into the wild.
This marks the sixth capture and release of a mountain lion in an urban area since California's Senate Bill 132 became law on January 1, 2014. Under the new law, mountain lions that wander into populated areas must be handled with non-lethal force. A cat can only be killed if it shows aggression towards the public.
To show your appreciation to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for their professionalism and proper handling of this situation, please send a brief thank you email to CDFW Director Charlton Bonham at email@example.com (Article #1583) To read the actual news story click here...
Another Nebraska Lion Shot - Authorities Looking for Killer (12/17/2014)
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) announced yesterday that they are looking for the person who illegally shot and killed a 2-year old female mountain lion south of Chadron in the Nebraska National Forest.
NGPC officials stated that a hunter came upon the carcass of the mountain lion and reported his findings to authorities. An investigation took place and it has been determined that the lion was shot sometime in the past 30-days.
If you have any information related to this incident you are encouraged to call the Nebraska Wildlife Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-742-7627. You may remain anonymous and could be eligible for a reward.
(Article #1582) To read the actual news story click here...
Kentucky game wardens kill 1st mountain lion to return since before the Civil War (12/16/2014)
Late yesterday afternoon, a woman walking her dog on her farm in northern Bourbon County, Kentucky spotted a mountain lion. The dog immediately took off and chased the lion up a nearby tree.
Officers from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) were dispatched and eventually arrived on the scene where they shot and killed the first known mountain lion to return to Kentucky since before the Civil War.
Afterwards, the Department issued the following statement.
" Monday evening KDFWR officers responded to confirmed sighting of mountain lion in northern Bourbon Co. Officers found & dispatched the animal. KDFWR Wildlife Veterinarian and Wildlife Biologists will conduct necropsy. An investigation is underway."
At this time, KDFWR has provided no explanation for taking this lethal action.
Watch local WKYT's news coverage:
(Article #1581) To read the actual news story click here...
Mountain Lion Killed in Nevada for Eating Ducks (12/15/2014)
Last Thursday, a Churchill County, Nevada rancher shot and killed a mountain lion after it attacked some ducks on his property.
According to Nevada Department of Wildlife spokesman Chris Healy, the dead lion was a 4-year-old male weighing approximately 110-pounds. Healy also confirmed that the dead lion was not the same animal that harassed some goats west of Fallon early this month.
That particular lion fled the area after being shot in the rear by a sheriff's deputy. Currently its fate is unknown.
It's estimated that there are five or fewer mountain lions residing in Nevada's Lahontan Valley where these incidents took place.
Roughly 200 lions are killed each year in Nevada. The majority are shot for recreation by hunters or killed by professionals (paid with your tax dollars) to eradicate lions from areas with deer, bighorn sheep, or livestock.
Mountain lions are an important part of the natural landscape and need to be protected. Please contact the Nevada Department of Wildlife and tell them you oppose their current mountain lion policies and want to see the species protected from hunters and trappers.
NDOW Director Tony Wasley
1100 Valley Road
Reno, NV 89512 (Article #1580) To read the actual news story click here...
South Dakota considers allowing hounding for 2015 lion hunting season (12/12/2014)
The same day news reports came out about a den of lion kittens being ravaged and killed by a an uncontrolled research hound, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (SDGFP) Commission decided to consider a petition presented by South Dakota Houndsmen Association member Brad Tisdale to allow the use of hounds to hunt mountain lions outside of the Black Hills hunting district.
According to Tisdale, the petition came about because of all the requests from cattle and sheep ranchers to chase lions off their land. "If you have a mountain lion on your property that's a problem," Tisdale said.
South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Wildlife Division Director Tony Leif said mountain lions can cause problems for wildlife managers whether they're killing livestock or not. "I will tell you a perceived problem is almost as impactful as an actual problem," He said.
Tisdale's petition is just the most recent effort to allow the use of hounds for lion hunting outside the Black Hills. During the last legislative session a bill was introduced that would have stripped the SDGFP's ability to regulate the use of hounds outside the Black Hills. That bill failed.
A formal rule change proposal will be presented and given a public hearing at the next SDGFP Commission meeting January 15th in Fort Pierre.
(Article #1579) To read the actual news story click here...
Hollywood's favorite lion is feeling better - and now has a Friend! (12/5/2014)
Last March, Griffith Park's resident mountain lion -- P-22 was found to be suffering from mange and overexposure to rat poison. Now, nearly eight months later, Park officials have release photographs in which P-22 appears to be, strong, healthy, and happily feeding on the carcass of a deer.
P-22's health problem was originally discovered when researchers recaptured him in order to replace the battery in his GPS tracking collar. At that time P-22 appeared thin and afflicted with mange, a parasitic skin disease that causes crusting and skin lesions. Blood tests indicated that he'd been exposed to rat poisons that have been linked to that condition.
At that time, P-22 was treated with topical medications and Vitamin K injections to offset the poisoning, and released back into the park.
The photos released Thursday were taken by remote cameras in the park set up at the site of one of P-22's fresh deer kills. In them, P-22's coat looks shiny and even, the back of his ears and top of his head free of any signs of mange.
However, Dr. Sikich also warned that without actual blood tests, it's impossible to know exactly how healthy P-22 really is, but the more than 1,500 photos recently taken of P-22 were encouraging.
In addition to P-22's good news, a grainy photograph taken by a home surveillance camera was just released showing a different mountain lion lurking in the Mulholland area near Beverly Park.
According to Kate Kuykendall with the National Park Service (NPS), this sighting is significant because it marks only the second time in the past 12 years that a verified mountain lion sighting has occurred east of the 405 Freeway.
Kuykendall indicated that based on the image alone, it was difficult to tell the mountain lion's age, gender, or physical condition, but she suspected that the lion was probably a dispersing sub-adult and possibly one of the kittens of another lion NPS was tracking in the Santa Monica Mountains.
P-22 was the first recorded mountain lion to successfully cross the 405 freeway.
See news coverage from KTLA5
(Article #1578) To read the actual news story click here...
Oklahoma Wildlife Department Confirms Mountain Lion Sightings (12/1/2014)
The following story was written by Ed Godfrey and first posted in the Oklahoman.
State wildlife officials recently confirmed two mountain lion sightings in northeast Oklahoma.
Photos of the mountain lions were caught on two trail cameras, one in Pawnee County and one in Mayes County, both in late October.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation often receives reports and even photos of mountain lions in the state, but most of the time they are proven to be false or cannot be substantiated.
In these two cases, state wildlife officials investigated and determined the photos were authentic.
The last time before these photos that state wildlife officials confirmed a mountain lion sighting in Oklahoma was in 2011, when there were five [sightings].
State wildlife officials acknowledge there are mountain lions in the state but don't know how many.
"We know they are uncommon," said Micah Holmes, spokesman for the Wildlife Department.
Most cougars in the state are young males just passing through, Holmes said. There has been no documented reproduction of mountain lions in Oklahoma in decades, he said.
It is illegal to hunt mountain lions in Oklahoma, and it once was illegal to shoot the animal for any reason. In 2007, state law was changed where it became legal to kill a mountain lion if a person feared his or her life was in danger from a cat or that livestock was is in danger.
The law requires the cougar's carcass be taken to the Wildlife Department for examination, but no one has ever submitted a dead mountain lion to state wildlife officials in the seven years since the law changed.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation: Confirmed on October 24, 2014 in Pawnee County. Trail cam photo of a mountain lion, sex unknown.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation: Confirmed on October 31, 2014 in Mayes County. Trail cam video, picture shown is a screen capture from the video of a mountain lion, sex unknown.
For more information on confirmed mountain lion sightings in Oklahoma, click here. (Article #1577) To read the actual news story click here...
Colorado Family Sentenced for Running Canned Hunts in Utah (11/24/2014)
Update: A Federal court sentenced Colorado Big Game Hunting Guide Christopher Loncarich to 27 months in prison and 3-years probation for violating Lacey Act.
The sentence was part of a plea bargain when Loncarich plead guilty on 17 counts, for capturing mountain lions and other wildlife in Colorado and Utah so they could be used in expensive "canned" hunts for clients, some of whom didn't even have hunting licenses, and then assisting those clients in sneaking the illegally killed animals back into Colorado using coded language during radio communication to keep from being caught.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Loncarich, as part of his outfitting business, would trap lions and bobcats prior to his clients' hunts and hold them or injure them by "shooting the cats in the paws, stomach, and/or legs, or attaching leg-hold traps prior to the client arriving on scene."
Colorado wildlife officials reported that in one instance, Loncarich's group captured a mountain lion and put a radio-tracking collar on the animal. They used the tracking device to catch the animal again a year later, eventually caging the lion at a house in Mack, Colorado, where it was held for a week while Loncarich waited for a client to arrive from Missouri. The lion ultimately was transported to the kill site on a snowmobile and released for the hunter.
The multijurisdictional investigation found that approximately 18 clients participated in the illegal killing of more than 30 mountain lions and bobcats. Loncarich admitted to personally assisting clients in unlawfully killing 15 mountain lions and four bobcats.
One of Loncarich's assistants, Nicholaus Rodgers of Medford, Oregon was also indicted on 17 counts of illegally capturing and maiming mountain lions and bobcats. Rodgers who, along with Loncarich, plead guilty and will be sentenced Jan. 6, 2015.
Another Loncarich assistant, Marvin Ellis, was sentenced to three years of probation, six months of home detention and fined $3,100.
Loncarich's daughters, Caitlin and Andie, were also involved in the illegal killings. Caitlin Loncarich was sentenced to two misdemeanor Lacey Act violations and received one year of probation, a $1,000 fine and 60 hours of community service. Andie Loncarich was sentenced on a misdemeanor Lacey Act violation and received one year of probation, a $500 fine and 36 hours of community service.
Three of Loncarich's 18 clients were also issued federal Lacey Act violations and paid a total of $13,100 in fines. Additional clients might be charged in the future.
A violation of the Lacey Act could have carried as much as a 5-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $250,000.
CAPTION: Courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife Nicholaus Rodgers, left, Christopher Loncarich, Andie Loncarich, an unidentified hunter and Caitlin Loncarich sit with a mountain lion killed in Utah without a license, then illegally checked in Colorado. Loncarich was sentenced to 27 months in prison and three years probation for conspiring to violate the Lacey Act, a federal law prohibiting the interstate transportation and sale of any wildlife taken in an illegal manner.
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The following story was previously posted on August 13, 2014
Two Colorado big game hunting guides, Christopher Loncarich, 55, of Mack Colorado and his partner Nicolaus Rodgers of Shady Cove, Oregon, who were part of an outfitter's group of Western-slope guides that led expensive mountain lion hunts around the Book Cliffs Mountains on the Utah border are charged with 17 counts of violating Federal wildlife crimes.
The two are accused of trapping mountain lions in Utah between 2007 and 2009, bringing them across the border into Colorado to be hunted by clients (many of whom were unlicensed "poachers") paying between $3,500 and $7,500 each for the experience, and making sure the lions couldn't escape beforehand by wounding them in the leg or keeping them in place with a leg-hold snare.
Their arrest came about as part of a lengthy investigation by the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife with assistance from the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
According to Dean Riggs with the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife "I would say this is probably one of the more egregious situations that I have seen in more than 20 years of doing this. We in society expect people to follow laws and to do this in a 'fair chase' sort of manner."
Mr. Rodger and four other members of the outfitting group have plead guilty to violating the Lacey Act. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, "the Lacey Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to knowingly transport or sell in interstate commerce any wildlife that has been taken or possessed in violation of state laws or regulations."
The maximum penalty for conspiring to violate the Lacey Act is up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The Loncarich and Rodgers case may be an especially extreme one, but this type of crime is not unheard of in the U.S. Last month the Oregonian reported that Bend, Oregon resident Alan Aronson and his wife were two of 23 people arrested by the Oregon State Police in a massive poaching investigation.
Aronson admitted that he had been "taking people on illegal hunts for elk and buffalo on another person's ranch without the owner's consent," didn't have a license to run that type of business, and that many of his paying customers didn't even have licenses to hunt.
(Article #1575) To read the actual news story click here...
Proposition 117 Money At Work Protecting Wildlands (11/21/2014)
The following is a November 20, 2014 news article from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects
At its November 20 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $26 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 16 funded projects will provide benefits to fish and wildlife — including some endangered species — while others will provide the public with access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, land owners and the local community. The funds for all these projects come from bond initiatives approved by voters (Proposition 117) to help preserve and protect California's natural resources. Some of the funded projects include:
For more information about the WCB please visit www.wcb.ca.gov.
Learn more about Proposition 117 and the $30 million a year it allocates towards habitat protection in California.
(Article #1574) To read the actual news story click here...
Another Lion Dies in Nebraska - When Will the Killing End? (11/18/2014)
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission announced that an 89-pound female mountain lion was killed by a hunter yesterday in Dakota County. This is the second mountain lion killed during Nebraska's inaugural lion hunt in the Prairie Unit Hunting Area. This hunting region includes almost all of the State and has a year-round, unlimited lion hunting season.
The death of this mountain lion brings the total killed in Nebraska to 13 for the year, with 5 of those mortalities being females.
Prior to the start of this year's lion hunting season, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission estimated that Nebraska might have as many as 22 mountain lions.
At this time, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has not decided as to whether or not there will be a 2015 mountain lion hunting season.
State Senator Ernie Chambers has vowed to introduce legislation to remove the Commission's authority to authorize a lion hunt when the state legislature returns in January. He introduced a similar bill early this year, but it was vetoed by the Governor.
(Article #1573) To read the actual news story click here...
Another Deer Hunter Claims He "Had" to Kill Lion (11/14/2014)
A Louisiana deer hunter became infamous last Saturday by being the first man in almost 40-years to kill a mountain lion in Arkansas.
Mountain lions once roamed freely throughout the continental United States, but eradication efforts by humans almost eliminated the species east of the Rockies by the early 1900s.
Arkansas' indigenous lion population was originally extirpated sometime around 1920. Over the years, young, transient mountain lions from western states have been known to travel through Arkansas searching for a mate and viable territory. One of those transients was killed in Montgomery County in 1949, followed by a second twenty years later in Ashley County, and then again in Logan County in 1975.
This most recent killing occurred on private land, by a hunter perched up high in a tree stand waiting for an unsuspecting deer to pass by. The hunter told authorities that he killed the lion because he felt threatened when he saw the lion moving towards his stand.
According to Arkansas Game and Fish Commission regulations, non-game wildlife (except migratory birds and endangered species) that present a reasonable threat to people or property may be shot during daylight hours or trapped without a depredation permit.
At this time, the hunter has not been charged with violating regulations, but that might change since the incident is still under investigation.
CAPTION: Pictured here is the 148-pound male mountain lion killed in Arkansas on Saturday morning in Bradley County.
Photo by Keith Stephens of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
(Article #1572) To read the actual news story click here...
Captured Colorado Lion Euthanized for Medical Reasons (11/7/2014)
An 8-year old, female mountain lion that had been seen wandering throughout a Boulder, Colorado neighborhood for the past week was tranquilized and captured by Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife rangers yesterday afternoon.
The mountain lion, which was wearing a non-functioning radio collar, was first thought to be pregnant because of a distended belly. At that time, the rangers on scene indicated that after a medical exam their intention was to replace the collar's battery and release the lion back into the wild.
However, an examination by veterinarians in Fort Collins found that along with signs of liver damage, there was blockage of major blood and lymphatic vessels in the mountain lion's abdomen. This blockage caused about four gallons of fluid to leak into the animal's belly.
A Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife spokesperson announced today that a decision was made to euthanize the animal for medical reasons.
(Article #1571) To read the actual news story click here...
Texas Study Shows Lions Can Benefit Ranchers (11/4/2014)
A study of the eating habits of mountain lions, carried out on private lands, is underway in one of the Sky Islands* of Texas, about 90-minutes north of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Researchers from the Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) at Sul Ross State University have managed to get more than 50 ranchers and other landowners to allow the study to take place on their properties. A formidable accomplishment since many of the ranchers in the test area harbored revulsion for mountain lions and have long sought to wipe them out.
"You have to understand the values that people have, the history that they [ranchers] have, the culture that they have," said Louis Harveson, the leader of BRI's research team.
While carrying out the study, Harveson has also provided participating ranchers with information about the biology and behavior of mountain lions and has asked them to consider the animal's role in maintaining nature's checks and balances.
"Mountain lions are the apex predator, just like sharks and oceans," said Harveson.
"There's a food chain that's in existence," he explained. "And that apex predator symbolizes wildness. This animal that's able to kill a deer a week or a large prey item a week, that just says that there's a good healthy ecosystem intact."
A member of the research team, wildlife biologist Dana Milani documents the lions' appetite for deer, rabbit and porcupine; an appetite that keeps those lower-level species in check.
Milani said that without the support of the study's participating ranchers and other landowners, she could not paint a picture of how lions sometimes help ranchers.
A case-in-point is rancher James King who has trouble with feral hogs. "I shoot a lot of feral hogs and they're hard to exterminate," King said. "And those lions are out there at night doing that job."
King said the antipathy toward the mountain lion goes back to the days when sheep and goats were raised in this part of the Southwest. Today, King said, ranchers principally raise cattle. He said he's encouraged by one development profiled in the study. "Here in the Davis Mountains, we're not seeing any kills of domestic cattle."
According to Louis Harveson, BRI researchers have documented more than 200 different kills by mountain lions over the course of the 4-year study, "and not one domestic animal has fallen to mountain lions and that's a fact."
That's a pretty good statistic, and hopefully one that might someday change the attitude of many Southwestern ranchers towards this critical apex predator.
* Sky Islands refers to a mountain range surrounded by flatlands.
(Article #1570) To read the actual news story click here...
California Coastal Farm Uses Dogs, not Bullets to Protect Sheep (11/3/2014)
Alison Charter-Smith and Tony Jaehnichen own and run the Madrone Coast Farm; a small organic, livestock farm, located near the rural community of Felton, California.
Situated in the Santa Cruz Mountains on California's coast, and frequented by predators, Madrone Coast Farm has found a safe, friendly alternative to using guns to deter mountain lion attacks on their sheep herd: sheepdogs.
The farm's 25 sheep and hundreds of ducks and chickens are guarded closely, around the clock by Luke and Leia - sheepdogs who bark and position themselves strategically when intruders approach.
At night, the couple encloses the animals in buildings with motion-sensing lights, but the dogs are their first line of defense. The dogs take turns sleeping in short naps and don't back down to predators, Ms. Charter-Smith said.
This approach was once the traditional method of protecting livestock. However, it's now rarely used in America where the prevalent practice is to allow domesticated animals to wander freely, or keep them penned in an unprotected enclosure, and then have the government, at taxpayers expense, track down and kill any predator that might threaten or kill those animals.
Because of this and other wildlife-friendly practices, Madrone Coast Farm, has become the first farm in California to receive a wildlife-friendly certification.
Ms. Charter-Smith, who began farming in 2010 after a tech career in Silicon Valley, said the couple has encountered four mountain lions, one of whom killed a pregnant sheep. Ms. Charter-Smith said her goal with certification was to promote the fact that peaceful coexistence with predators is possible.
"You can have both wildlife and livestock and still farm successfully," she said.
To receive certification, the couple also had to show that their ponds are accessible to wildlife and their property has minimal fencing, allowing wildlife to move freely.
(Article #1569) To read the actual news story click here...
Nebraskans Kill Another Female Mountain Lion (10/28/2014)
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission reported that another mountain lion was shot and killed last Friday just south of the rural community of Chadron, Nebraska.
The young, female lion, estimated to be approximately 18-months old and weighing 63 lbs. was killed by a rancher who saw her hanging out near his chicken coop.
Even though Nebraska's mountain lion hunting season is over for that area of the state, the rancher was not cited because he was supposedly protecting his property.
At 18-months, the young lion might have been an orphan, or just recently left her mother. Still perfecting her hunting skills, chickens are an easy meal for a young lion and may have attracted her to the area. Or, she merely may have been passing through and was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Under Nebraska state law, farmers and ranchers do not have to take any preventative measures to protect their animals, and may kill a mountain lion at any time if they believe the cat is stalking livestock.
This is the 12th mountain lion, and the 4th female to be killed in Nebraska so far this year from an estimated population of only 22 lions.
(Article #1568) To read the actual news story click here...
Senator Chambers vows that Nebraska will not be the state that exterminates mountain lions (10/24/2014)
After hearing updated information on the impact of last year's hunt and other related deaths on Nebraska's fledgling mountain lion population yesterday, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) announced that they needed more time to analyze the data and were unready decide whether there will even be a second lion hunting season in 2015.
However, this declaration was insufficient to sway State Senator Ernie Chamber from his efforts to protect Nebraska's lions. Claiming that this fight won't interfere with his other legislative bills he stated that, "my intent is - and will be as long as I'm in the Legislature - is to do away with the authority given to Game and Parks to establish a hunting season on mountain lions."
Because of Nebraska's term-limit laws, Senator Chambers was not in office when the Nebraska Legislature gave NGPC the authority to implement a mountain lion hunting season, which they did in 2014.
Early in that hunting season, Senator Chambers won legislative approval to take away that authority, only to have his bill fail when he couldn't muster enough votes to overcome a veto by Governor Dave Heineman.
Tim McCoy, NGPC's deputy director, said a staff recommendation on whether to schedule a future cougar season won't be considered until after more analysis is done on mountain lion research conducted this summer in western Nebraska.
According to Sam Wilson, NGPC's carnivore program manager, previous scientific studies indicated an estimated population of 22 mountain lions residing in the Pine Ridge at the start of the 2014 hunting season last January. That estimate was based on DNA samples that specifically identified seven female and four male cougars in the Pine Ridge area.
However, since the beginning of this year, there have been three adult female deaths in the Pine Ridge area. "This reduces the resiliency of the population to withstand additional mortalities," Wilson said.
According to NGPC statements their goal in establishing the Pine Ridge lion hunting season this year was to provide hunting opportunities while allowing a slight to moderate reduction in the population.
NGPC Director, Jim Douglas stated that staff biologists are in the beginning stages of working more closely with game agencies in neighboring South Dakota and Wyoming to develop a more geographically comprehensive mountain lion management plan. Both of those states hold mountain lion hunting seasons.
Senator Chambers said the NGPC's research shows the cougar population in Nebraska is too small to warrant a hunting season and that a multi-state management plan would have no impact on mountain lion migration into Nebraska.
"I don't want Nebraska to be the state that exterminates mountain lions," he said.
Mountain lions are native to Nebraska but were extirpated by humans more than a century ago. The first modern confirmation of their return was in 1991. Eleven mountain lions have been killed in the Pine Ridge region of Nebraska since the beginning of this year.
(Article #1567) To read the actual news story click here...
First Mountain Lion Sighting in Kansas Since 2012 (10/23/2014)
For the first time in almost two years, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) has verified the presence of a mountain lion in that state.
The sighting resulted from a trail camera photograph taken in Labette County, located in the Southeast corner of Kansas. When notified of the event KDWPT staff visited the area and confirmed the photograph's authenticity.
KDWPT investigates all mountain lion sightings to determine their validity whenever evidence, such as tracks, a cached kill or a photograph exists. KDWPT Biologists assume that most sightings are of transient young males, coming from established populations in nearby states.
"It's not uncommon for young males to travel great distances looking for home ranges," said Matt Peek, KDWPT furbearer biologist. "So far, these animals appear to be passing through, rather than staying and establishing home ranges in Kansas."
Kansas' indigenous mountain population was originally eradicated by humans in 1904. In 2007, the first mountain lion known to have returned to that state was killed by a deer hunter in Barber County. This particular lion sighting is the 10th verified by KDWPT since that 2007 killing.
Mountain lion confirmed in Labette County, southeast Kansas. (Article #1566) To read the actual news story click here...