Articles, opinions, and editorials about mountain lions and the Mountain Lion Foundation.
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South Dakota Wardens Relocate Treed Mountain Lion Kitten (4/24/2014)
South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks (SDGFP) wardens made the right decision Wednesday when they decided that a treed, six-month old, 42 lb. mountain lion kitten was not a threat to humans and decided to tranquilize and relocate the animal instead of complying with the Department's zero-tolerance policy of lethal removal.
The young male lion, who was first spotted by a Spearfish couple enjoying an early morning cup of coffee on their deck, apparently had been treed by a dog sometime before and believed that it was safe and unseen high in its aerial perch.
According to SDGFP Game Warden Mike Apland, a 23-year veteran with the Department, "It was just hanging out, thinking it was concealed there."
Apland, who usually responds to three or four mountain lion sightings annually, said that he usually has only two options: "remove the lion or put it down."
"Our primary concern is always public safety," he said. "There weren't really any other residences in the immediate area and the lion wasn't showing any aggressive behavior."
After surveying the scene, Apland said he contacted a state biologist and requested he come to Spearfish with a tranquilizer gun.
"The lion was darted, and we waited six to seven minutes for the drug to take effect, and it did," Apland said. "Then we removed the lion from the tree. He was sleeping soundly by then."
Apland and the biologist loaded the slumbering lion kitten into the back of the warden's truck and took him several miles away to a wooded area.
"Everything went extremely well," Apland said. "Once we do relocate, we stay on scene and make sure they are up and awake before we leave. Smaller cats come out of the drugs fairly quickly. About a half hour after relocation, this cat didn't want to be around us anymore. Hopefully, this ingrains in him the attitude that they don't want to be near humans or any residential area."
No one has yet explained exactly why a six-month old mountain lion kitten would apparently be out on its own, but chances are fairly good that it's an orphan struggling to survive who wandered too close to humans.
(Article #1522) To read the actual news story click here...
Hollywood's Iconic Mountain Lion P-22 Sickened by Rat Poison (4/18/2014)
Last year, National Geographic put a public face to Southern California's lion population when it photographed P-22 walking in front of the Hollywood sign at night. At that time, the animal was majestic looking and in apparent good health.
However, it was announced yesterday that National Park Service (NPS) lion researchers discovered in March that P-22 is now sick with mange, a parasitic disease of the hair and skin which may be the result of rodenticide poisoning.
"You can see on his face that he's sort of scraggly, and his whiskers are sort of scraggly, and his tail is pretty scrawny," said Dr. Seth Riley, a NPS researcher working out of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
"Anti-coagulant rodenticides are designed to kill rodents by thinning the blood and preventing clotting. When people put these bait traps outside their homes or businesses, they may not realize that the poison works its way up the food chain, becoming more lethal as the dose accumulates in larger animals."
Biologists are still trying to figure out the connection between rat poison and getting mange in animals. It's pretty rare for mountain lions to even develop mange. There are only two known cases in the past 12 years, however both those lions ended up dying from rat poisoning.
P-22 is currently back in Griffith Park. He has been treated with a topical treatment - selamectin - but it's unsure whether the treatment will work, or if he'll ever fully recover.
LEFT: Steve Winter's famous photo of P-22 appeared in the December 2013 issue of National Geographic.
RIGHT: During a recent capture P-22 displayed symptoms of mange and tested positive to poison exposure.
Second-generation rodenticides will shortly be removed from the consumer market in California. Too many owls, hawks, foxes and bobcats, and now mountain lions are dying every year from these poisonous materials.
"The best way to keep rodents out of your home, garage or any building is by blocking all the access points rats and mice may use to enter," said California Department of Fish and Wildlife Environmental Scientist Stella McMillin. "It can be as easy as stuffing steel wool into small holes or using a canned foam filler like 'Great Stuff' sold at hardware stores."
Remove things that attract animals, especially food sources such as pet food or children's snacks, that are left outside or accessible to rodents indoors. Rodents aren't the only critters food attracts. It also attracts ants, yellow-jackets, raccoons, opossums and - if you're in coyote, bear or lion country - even more dangerous wild diners.
Make sure your garbage is secured in a solid container with a tight lid and remove anything rodents might use for shelter, such as wood piles. You can discourage voles, which like to "tunnel" in high grass, by keeping your lawn trimmed. Grass cut at two inches is tall enough to conserve some soil moisture but short enough to provide poor shelter for the vole species in California.
If you still see evidence of rodents, use traps to eliminate the existing rats and mice in or around your home. Traps pose little danger to humans and pets when placed in the small spaces rodents frequent. They are also effective, inexpensive and have no harmful side effects. There are also some environmentally friendly pest control companies that use exclusion and trapping methods rather than poison to keep your home free of rodents.
If you take these actions, still have a rodent problem and feel you must use some kind of poison, please use rodenticide products that DO NOT contain the active ingredients brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone or difenacoum. These are the second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) most likely to kill non-target animals.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation's decision to restrict those four chemicals is based on decades of monitoring studies and mortality incidents. Every monitoring study done in the last 20 years has found widespread exposure of predators and scavengers with SGARs, most commonly brodifacoum.
(Article #1521) To read the actual news story click here...
Montana's Hunters Accuse MFWP of Exaggerating Lion Population Numbers (4/15/2014)
In a strange turn around, some of Montana's mountain lion hunters are accusing the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) of increasing next year's lion hunting quota to satisfy the demands of hunting outfitters.
What touched off accusations of over-hunting was MFWP's newly released mountain lion quota for the upcoming 2014-15 hunting season. MFWP defended its new quota of an additional 37 lions based on the questionable findings of their five-month long Bitterroot DNA study, and a separate study which found that mountain lions were responsible for a major portion of elk calf mortalities in the Bitterroot valley.
Because of the bitterroot elk study, MFWP changed the second half of this year's lion hunt for that region by increasing the quota and opening it to anyone with a lion tag, as opposed to limiting it to only those with a permit to hunt those specific hunting districts in the Bitterroot.
Outraged Bitterroot lion hunters charged that the end result was a large influx of hunters from outside the region and the killing of young lions simply to satisfy outfitted clients. The additional hunting pressure was unwarranted, they said, because there are few of the big cats left.
"They're not there," said Chuck Pyles, who lives along the West Fork of the Bitterroot River. "I hunt almost every day and they're not there. I would like to see you lay off the females, lower the quota, because if not, we're going to have a problem."
Veteran hunter Grover Hedrick said he drove 132 miles of roads and only found five adult lion tracks in the Bitterroot. "That's not very many," he said.
The MFWP study that estimated lion numbers for the region was also criticized as deficient on many fronts by the hunters.
"What we got was keyboard cougars and paper pumas," said Rod Bullis.
Retired Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife research scientist Gary Koehler called the baseline population a best guess in a study that couldn't be replicated for verification. "This is a dangerous extrapolation from an untested protocol."
Koehler also noted that the work the study cited in Washington utilizing DNA samples is still being peer reviewed and tested.
Montana's 2013-14 mountain lion hunt resulted in the deaths of 518 lions.
(Article #1520) To read the actual news story click here...
Chambers' Fight to End Nebraska Lion Hunt Not Yet Over! (4/8/2014)
Unwilling to accept the betrayal of two state Senators that thwarted his attempt to override Governor Heineman's veto, Senator Ernie Chambers proved once again that he was a bare knuckles kind of political fighter and added scores of amendments to at least 11 pending bills, including some that would replace their language with his mountain lion hunting ban.
With yesterday being the 56th day of the 60-day session, Nebraska lawmakers are facing a backlog of bills and little time to waste.
"Give me my lions and you will be rid of me," said Senator Chambers. "Time is on my side. Yes it is. We are now at the point in the session where everything is compressed into a very small amount of time. I can take the rest of this session if I want to. I have been treated in a way that has been very shabby."
One way or another, Friday will prove who has the most resolve amongst Nebraska lawmakers—a man of principle, or flunkies of special interest hunting groups.
(Article #1519) To read the actual news story click here...
Two Senators Renege on Promise - Nebraska Lion Hunt Still a Go (4/7/2014)
Last Thursday, Nebraska legislators failed for a second time to override Governor Heineman's veto of Senator Ernie Chambers' Legislative Bill 671 which banned mountain lion hunting.
Coming one day after the first attempt to override the veto fell six votes short, Thursday's 28-21 vote drew an angry response from Senator Chambers who believed he had secured the necessary 30 votes needed to enact the measure into law.
Calling them "sniveling, knock-kneed, pigeon-toed cowards," Chambers blasted other Senators for bowing to pressure from hunting groups that oppose the bill.
Two Senators in particular, Russ Karpisek and Tom Carlson, drew Chambers' ire for switching their promised vote at the last moment.
Senator Russ Karpisek of Wilber acknowledged Thursday that he had agreed to vote in favor of the veto-override so that Chambers wouldn't try to block some of his bills. Karpisek said he voted against the proposal when it appeared that it was going to fail regardless, but he apologized for reversing course.
"I blew it," Karpisek said. "I don't like the bill, but I did give my word, and I broke it. I'm pretty ashamed of myself. I don't like to win that way, and I don't think I've ever done that before. I made a split-second decision. It was wrong."
The second Senator that Chambers had thought was a "yes" vote was state Senator Tom Carlson, of Holdrege. Senator Chambers said Carlson initially agreed to support the measure, but later backed away.
Carlson, a Republican candidate for governor, said he had agreed to "reconsider" his opposition to Chambers' bill before the override vote, so that Chambers wouldn't oppose other legislation. But Carlson said he never told Chambers he would support it, and he ended up deciding to maintain his opposition.
Mountain lions are native to Nebraska, but were eradicated by early settlers sometime around 1890. The first modern-day sighting of a lion occurred approximately one hundred years later. There have been no verified mountain lions attacks on humans, pets or livestock since the species returned in 1991.
Nebraska approved its mountain lion hunting season in 2012, even though fewer than two dozen mountain lions are believed to currently reside in the state.
(Article #1518) To read the actual news story click here...
Nebraska Lion Hunt To Stay - For Now (4/2/2014)
Today, in a 24-21 vote, Nebraska state legislators failed to override the Governor Heineman's veto of Legislative Bill 671. LB 671, sponsored by Senator Ernie Chambers (D-Omaha) would have overturned a 2012 law authorizing the recreational hunting of Nebraska's mountain lions.
During the fight to pass LB 671, Senator Chambers repeatedly voiced the opinion of many in the scientific community that the fewer than two-dozen mountain lions currently residing in the state pose no real threat to humans.
Unfortunately the fear of LB 671 being just the first step in restricting a Nebraskan's right to shoot animals for fun overrode reasonable wildlife management practices.
To learn more, visit MLF's Mountain Lions in Nebraska page or review our LB 671 Action Alert.
The fight is far from over. Donate to our special Midwestern Mountain Lion Defense Fund to help us continue mountain lion conservation programs in Nebraska.
(Article #1516) To read the actual news story click here...
CA Senate Bill 132 at Work - Female Lion Successfully Relocated from Mission Viejo Neighborhood (3/31/2014)
Last Wednesday, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wardens and local animal control officers tranquilized and captured a mountain lion that had been spotted several times during the day near a hillside, gated retirement community in Mission Viejo, California.
According to CDFW spokesman Andrew Hughan, the mountain lion was a 70-lb female, believed to be 2 to 3 years old and appeared healthy.
Last year, local researchers with the Southern California Mountain Lion Project documented an adult female with large cubs near this area. The lion relocated by CDFW on Wednesday may have been one of the dispersing offspring, but because she was not tagged we don't know for sure.
The sedated mountain lion, named by one of the Mission Viejo residents as "Mabel," was transported to nearby Cleveland National Forest where she was later released back into the wild.
The release site was still within a typical home range size for an adult female lion. So if she is an established territorial female, she was not displaced from her home. And if she was a younger female still in search of a home range, she is now farther away from the city and on a much better path for a dispersing lion.
This was a win-win situation for everyone — human and feline — in the community.
Thanks to Senate Bill 132 and new policies within the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, wardens are receiving more training and tools for resolving lion encounters without bullets. And because of opportunities to tag along in the field with the local mountain lion research project, some wildlife officers near Orange County have become fairly comfortable working with lions.
CDFW advises the public that if anyone encounters a mountain lion they should remain calm, try to appear larger and make a lot of noise. If the animal is in a wilderness area, try and let it be. If it's in a populated area, residents should call 911 and Fish and Wildlife's Cal-Tip line at 888-334-2258.
Under the new California law, only mountain lions exhibiting aggressive behavior towards the pubic can be killed for safety purposes.
Please consider sending a quick email to CDFW Director Bonham (Director@wildlife.ca.gov) thanking his department and the wildlife officers for their professionalism in properly handling the Mission Viejo lion encounter.
A female mountain lion wakes up in the Cleveland National Forest after she was sedated and removed from the backyard of a Mission Viejo home Wednesday evening. Photos courtesy of California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
PS - MLF is looking into the killing of a one-year old mountain lion for "aggressive behavior" in the nearby Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park over the weekend.
(Article #1515) To read the actual news story click here...
Relocating Mountain Lion Was Not an Option (3/30/2014)
The following story by Penny Arevalo is a repost from the Lake Forest Patch.
A state wildlife expert reacts to criticism that a warden shot and killed a young mountain lion on Sunday at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. A necropsy is being done.
Relocating the mountain lion that bared its teeth at a 5-year-old boy in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park on Sunday was not an option, because the roughly 1-year-old, 60-pound male had already shown itself to be a public threat, a state wildlife official said today.
"If we were to move that animal, what we're taking is an animal that has shown to be a public safety threat, and we're moving it somewhere else where the same thing may occur again," said Dan Sforza, the assistant chief of enforcement with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Wildlife experts said the mountain lion, apparently separated for its mother, was likely still learning how to hunt and showed no fear of humans. When it started acting aggressively toward the boy, Jackson, someone threw a rock at it, but the cat did not retreat, according to Madison Smith, who was hiking with her 5-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter.
"As soon as Jackson moves back to me, the lion moved into a crouching position, bares its teeth and is ready to pounce on him," she said.
When wildlife officials responded to the report, the mountain lion was found in the same spot on the Borrego Trail where it had been snarling at Smith and her children.
Department of Fish and Wildlife officials made a decision to shoot the cat when they were unable to scare it off. That section of the Borrego Trail is not far from Foothill Ranch Elementary School.
A necropsy is being done on the mountain lion. (Article #1550) To read the actual news story click here...
Nebraska Governor Vetoes LB 671 - Wants Lion Hunt to Continue (3/28/2014)
Claiming that it might be unconstitutional and citing Article XV, Section 25 of the Nebraska Constitution which states that "hunting, fishing, and harvesting of wildlife shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife," as justification for his action, Nebraska Governor, Dave Heineman vetoed Legislative Bill 671 earlier today.
LB 671, introduced by Senator Ernie Chambers (D-Omaha) would have repealed recent legislation which authorized the recreational hunting of mountain lions in Nebraska.
In his letter to the legislature explaining his actions, Governor Heineman said the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission should have the power to manage the mountain lion population for the health and safety of residents, and that "removing the agency's authority to manage mountain lions through hunting at this time is poor public policy."
Legislative bill 671, which originally passed out of the legislature with a 28 to 13 vote, now goes back to the legislature where Senator Chambers will need 30 votes to override the Governor's veto.
There are less than two dozen mountain lions currently residing in Nebraska and despite assurances to the contrary from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, most biologists disagree with that state's decision to hunt such a small lion population.
Nebraska's mountain lion advocates are encouraged to contact their state legislator and demand that they vote to support Senator Chambers and override Governor Heineman's outrageous veto of Legislative Bill 671.
In your letter or telephone call, please point out:
View the LB 671 Action Alert for more information.
(Article #1514) To read the actual news story click here...
Illinois Attempts to Protect its Mountain Lions with SB 3049 (3/27/2014)
The Illinois Senate Agriculture Committee took an important step recently towards protecting mountain lions that wander into that state by voting 6-0 in favor of Illinois Senate Bill 3049, authored by Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora). Senate Bill 3049 would add wolves, black bears, and mountain lions to the Illinois Wildlife Code thereby giving them "protected species" status.
SB 3049 came into being after a November, 2013 incident when a family near Morrison, Illinois asked state conservation officers to kill a mountain lion hiding under an outbuilding on their farm.
According to Senator Holmes she heard an outcry from animal lovers in her area who embrace the rarity of a wild mountain lion.
"For many years we didn't have them here in Illinois," Holmes said. "Now we're starting to find that some populations of these animals are coming into Illinois, and they are just being shot, without any recourse whatsoever."
At this time, mountain lions have no legal status in Illinois, and thereby no protection. Anyone who sees a mountain lion can kill it and not face any repercussions other than societies' moral condemnation. SB 3049, as originally written would add black bears, gray wolves, and mountain lions to the state's list of protected species.
However, recent amendments added by the Illinois Farm Bureau would restrict those protections and allow landowners or their tenants to legally kill any of these three species if they cause or threaten to cause "harm or death to a human, livestock, domestic animals or structures. . . "
And even if members of these three species do not meet the threshold mentioned above, they can still be killed if designated a "nuisance" animal by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
In the end, despite the added depredation and nuisance clauses, Senate Bill 3049 is a giant first step towards protecting mountain lions in Illinois and should be supported by everyone who believes that there's room in this world for both humans and wildlife.
(Article #1513) To read the actual news story click here...
MLF Sues CDFW to Stop Unauthorized Mountain Lion Research (3/25/2014)
The Mountain Lion Foundation (MLF) served the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) with a Writ of Mandamus yesterday, demanding that the Department stop all unauthorized mountain lion research being carried out by the National Park Service (NPS) in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA).
In early 2011, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife determined that it did not have the legal authority to authorize mountain lion research in California. CDFW approached the Mountain Lion Foundation with a request for assistance in changing the law.
Working with many of California's top mountain lion researchers and Senator (then Assemblymember) Bill Monning (D-AD27; SD17), MLF helped write and pass California Assembly Bill 1784 which passed unanimously and was signed into law by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on July 13, 2012. The new law (Fish and Game Code 4810) took affect immediately under an urgency statute clause.
AB 1784 was written not only to provide researchers with protection from the penalties and restrictions found in California Fish and Game Code 4800, it was also designed to protect mountain lions from inappropriate research such as has taken place in other states where lions were killed to determine if that might increase resident elk and deer herds.
Since AB 1784's passage, several mountain lion research projects have received the proper Scientific Collecting Permits from CDFW. However, researchers from the National Park Service decided not to comply with the new law. In September 2013, MLF brought this fact to the attention of officials within CDFW.
For the past six months, the Mountain Lion Foundation has tried to resolve this situation amicably, but as of today the NPS has not complied with state law, nor has the Department enforced the law by stopping the capture and handling of mountain lions by researchers in the SMMNRA until the proper permits are obtained.
MLF considers the research being carried out by scientists in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area to be important work and will be valuable in better understanding and protecting the local mountain lion population. But everyone has to obey the law, and CDFW needs to fulfill its obligation by enforcing the law.
It's MLF's greatest hope that the situation will be quickly resolved by CDFW requiring NPS researchers to either comply with all of California's mountain lion laws (Fish and Game Codes 4800 - 4810) or by providing CDFW with a proper claim of Federal preemption explaining why they need not do so.
(Article #1512) To read the actual news story click here...
Nebraska's Countdown Begins - 5 Days to Go! (3/24/2014)
Despite a last minute filibuster by the bill's opponents, Nebraska's LB 671, a legislative bill by state senator Ernie Chambers to permanently end the state's mountain lion hunting season just two years after it was approved, successfully passed out of the state senate with a 28 to 13 vote today.
LB 671 now heads to Governor Dave Heineman's desk, who has up to five days to act on the bill. Jen Rae Wang, the governor's communications director, declined to say Monday what action Governor Heineman might take.
The bill's supporters fell short of the 33 votes needed to pass LB 671 with an emergency clause, which would put it into effect as soon as Governor Heineman signs it or his veto is overridden. They were also unable to meet the 30-vote minimum that would be needed to override the Governor's veto.
LB 671's opponents argued the bill could open the door to national animal welfare groups that want to push for new hunting restrictions on other animals.
"I think that's a very slippery slope for us to be heading down," said Senator Beau McCoy, (R-Omaha) who was one of the Senators that participated in last week's filibuster.
Senator Ernie Chambers (D-Omaha) introduced the bill because he said the state has a duty to protect mountain lions, which are native to Nebraska but were virtually wiped out by settlers.
Nebraska's Game and Parks officials estimate that 22 mountain lions live in Nebraska's Pine Ridge area, where 102 hunting permits were issued during this year's lion hunt.
View our Action Alert to Pass LB671
Donate to our Midwest Mountain Lion Defense Fund
(Article #1511) To read the actual news story click here...
Survival Chances Getting Slimmer for Wyoming Lions (3/19/2014)
Dr. Mark Elbroch, principal investigator and project leader for Panthera's 13-year long Teton Cougar Project, recently gave a public presentation on his team's findings. The results of their research present a fairly bleak picture of the sustainability of Wyoming's mountain lion population and show the survival rate of Wyoming's mountain lions has dropped drastically over the past decade.
According to Dr. Elbroch, during the critical first six-months of life the greatest threat to a mountain lion kitten is predation. In Wyoming's case that threat primarily comes from wolves. At this time, out of 100 kittens, only 17 will survive until they are six-months old. After six-months, while the chances of predation from wolves and bears have been reduced, human hunters and starvation kill another 40 percent of young lions (10 of the 17). Ultimately, only 7 of the original 100 will reach dispersal age (18-months old). From there, each lion must find and defend its own home range while avoiding human hazards like roads, ranchers and hunters.
Survival rates were twice as high just a decade ago when the project began, but since that time appear to be on a steep decline due to wolf recovery and increased sport hunting of lions in the region.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) refuses to publicly estimate exactly how many lions live in their state and bases its claim of a healthy, expanding lion population on public opinion: not scientific fact. This new scientific evidence of such a low kitten survival rate should bring into question the sustainability of Wyoming's mountain lion population.
There is still a lot to learn. But what we do know is the ever-increasing number of mountain lions killed by humans in Wyoming. In 1974 (the first year mountain lions were classified as a game animal in Wyoming) eight mountain lions were reported killed as part of regulated hunting. In 2012 (the last year of publicly available data) that annual hunting mortality number had increased to 305 lions.
So while Panthera's Teton Cougar Project may prove that wilderness is a dangerous environment for mountain lion kittens, the primary — and entirely preventable — threat towards the species still comes from humans. When will we finally put an end to this outdated and barbaric blood sport?
Help us stop the hunt! Click here to join the Mountain Lion Foundation or renew your membership.
(Article #1510) To read the actual news story click here...
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.
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."
Jaclyn Lopez, (727) 490-9190, email@example.com
Alexis Meyer, (727) 490-8215, firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Regional Wildlife Manager
South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks
4130 Adventure Trail
Rapid City, SD 57702
(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...