Cougar Clippings
Articles, opinions, and editorials about mountain lions and the Mountain Lion Foundation.
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Lion Captured in Oroville, CA (7/7/2016)
On the morning of July 1, 2016, residents in Oroville (about sixty miles north of Sacramento) spotted a mountain lion lounging in a tree near the intersection of Greenville and Myers Street.

Oroville Police and California Department of Fish and Wildlife officers responded. Though it took some time and a few attempts, the lion was eventually sedated. The hot weather and drugs can cause an animal to overheat, so officers cooled the 70 pound cat with water and ice bags.

Neighbors applauded the officers for their calm and professional handling of the situation.

The mountain lion was loaded into a trailer and CDFW Captain Patrick Foy reported the cat was tagged and released into a remote area east of town that evening.

(Article #1724) To read the actual news story click here...

Commission Denies Effort to Prolong Nevada Bobcat Season (6/27/2016)
At Saturday's Nevada Board of Wildlife meeting in Elko, Commissioners voted down a request by trappers to extend the bobcat trapping season for an additional 35 days for a full four months of trapping.

Prior to the meeting, the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) had recommended slightly lengthening the season.

On page 3 of a Memorandum issued on May 31 regarding the Commission's Regulation for Upland Game and Furbearer Seasons the Department recommended expanding the bobcat season from 83 to 95 days.

But trappers weren't satisfied, and on June 16, the Washoe County Wildlife Advisory Board voted to urge an even longer season - 120 days.

Side photo of bobcat.  Photo credit Tanner In collaboration with the Nevada Wildlife Alliance, Mountain Lion Foundation and Project Coyote sent a letter of protest to the Commission, arguing that it is "long past time to end the subsidized destruction and instead protect and value bobcats as living members of a healthy ecosystem. They keep rodent populations in check and help reduce the use of poisons. Like all wild cats, they regulate their own numbers and do not need to be "managed" by people.

The Elko Daily Free Press ran a story that illustrates some of the Commissioners' thinking about the issue.

Trapping is indiscriminate, and Nevada's allowance of up to 96 hours before a trap must be checked is particularly cruel. There is substantial evidence that mountain lions are killed and maimed by traps set for bobcats and coyotes in Nevada. Don Molde and Mark Smith have filed a lawsuit challenging the trapping rules.

Tom Knudson's recent investigation of bobcat trapping points out the tragedy of the practice. The Mountain Lion Foundation will continue to work with the Nevada Wildlife Alliance to seek an end to bobcat trapping in Nevada.

(Article #1713) To read the actual news story click here...

New Lawsuit Challenges New Mexico Cougar Trapping (6/27/2016)
The Mountain Lion Foundation applauds The Humane Society of the United States, Animal Protection of New Mexico and longtime Mexican wolf enthusiasts Peter and Jean Ossorio who filed a complaint against mountain lion trapping in New Mexico federal court on Monday, June 27, 2016.

The lawsuit argues that the New Mexico State Game Commission New Mexico State Game Commission violated the federal Endangered Species Act by authorizing cougar trapping that will harm endangered Mexican wolves and jaguars in New Mexico,

The action seeks to protect these endangered species from cruel and indiscriminate traps and snares by invalidating the upcoming cougar trapping season. The season is currently scheduled to begin November 1, 2016.

"New Mexicans are overwhelmingly against expanding cougar trapping in New Mexico," said Jessica Johnson, chief legislative officer for APNM. "By more than a three-to-one margin, New Mexico voters oppose cougar trapping on both private and public lands, not only because it results in cruelty to targeted cougars, but also because it poses a clear threat to non-target endangered species like Mexican wolves and jaguars."

Lion stepping forward in desert. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish's proposal to allow recreational cougar trapping for the first time in nearly five decades elicited statewide outcry, yet the Commission voted unanimously to allow the use of steel-jawed leghold traps and snares throughout the state, including in Mexican wolf and jaguar habitat. Cougar trapping in these areas presents a mortal and unlawful threat to these endangered animals because due to their similarity in size, prey and habitat preference they will inevitably be caught in traps set for cougars. As of February 2016, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that only 97 Mexican wolves remained in the wild in the United States.

"Littering New Mexico with leghold traps and snares will expose endangered Mexican wolves and jaguars to cruel and unnecessary suffering and death," said Anna Frostic, senior wildlife attorney for The HSUS. "The Commission cannot unilaterally undermine the effort to recover these fragile populations in violation of the ESA, against the will of the majority of New Mexicans."

This federal complaint follows a separate but related state court suit filed by the groups and several New Mexico citizens earlier this year. That suit challenged the decision to allow cougar trapping and hunting despite the NMDGF's admitted lack of an accurate estimate of the cougar population in New Mexico, and the unacceptable risk cougar traps pose to search and rescue animals, pets and nursing cougar mothers and their kittens.

If the challenge succeeds, it will not prevent otherwise lawful hunting, nor will it affect ranchers' or state officials' ability to kill particular cougars who are threatening or attacking farm animals.
(Article #1716) To read the actual news story click here...

California Governor Appoints Burns and Silva to Commission (5/6/2016)
SACRAMENTO - Governor Jerry Brown announced two appointments to the five member California Fish and Game Commission Friday afternoon: Peter Silva and Russell Burns.

Mountain Lion Foundation recently submitted a letter to the Governor, requesting that he appoint members to the Commission who would represent the concern for wildlife and non-consumptive recreation shared by most Californians.

Hunters represent less than 1 percent of Californians and only 272,229 hunting licenses were issued in 2015. 40 years ago 608,455 Californians had hunting licenses. Hunting participation - consumptive use - has gone down remarkably even as the population of California has grown.

The perspective of the Commission has changed recently, with the appointment of Commissioners Sklar and Williams, and the midterm resignation of Jim Kellogg.

Peter Silva

Peter Silva Peter Silva, 63, a Democrat of Chula Vista, is CEO at Silva-Silva International, an engineering consulting company specializing in water policy and regulatory affairs. As assistant administrator for water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 2009 to 2011 he was instrumental in stopping the proposed plan to dump strip mining waste in West Virginia, a landmark move against mountaintop removal coal mining. Environmentalists called the decision a "game changer".

According to a 2011 story by Politico. "EPA revoked a permit for one of the largest mountaintop removal coal mines ever proposed in Appalachia, revising a 2007 decision by the George W. Bush administration and marking the first time the agency had revoked a mine's Clean Water Act permit after it had been finalized.

Lake Tahoe photo and Link to Testimony before US SenateAccording to the Water Education Foundation, where Silva serves as a director, "In addition to his consulting work, Mr. Silva is also involved in advocating for the involvement of Latinos in water policy matters at the state and national levels. He is a founding partner of Water Education for Latino Leaders (WELL) and provides assistance to the California Rural Legal Assistance as they work to expand their role in working with underserved communities."

Silva grew up in the Imperial Valley of California with a farm-working family and few resources, according to his alma mater, Cal Poly, which recognized his achievements as an engineer last year.

Before the EPA, Silva served as a senior policy advisor at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California from 2005 to 2009 and vice chair at the State Water Resources Control Board from 2000 to 2005. Silva was at the Border Environment Cooperation Commission from 1997 to 2000, and in the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department from 1987 to 1997. He was an engineer at the International Boundary and Water Commission and various Water Quality Control Boards prior to that time.

Russell Burns

Russell Burns, 55, a Democrat from Napa, has been appointed to the California Fish and Game Commission. Burns has been business manager at Operating Engineers Local Union 3 since 2006, where he has held several positions since 1994, including treasurer, financial secretary, district representative, special representative to the business manager and business agent.

The position of Fish and Game Commissioner requires Senate confirmation.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and join our mailing list. (Article #1704) To read the actual news story click here...

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors agreed today to immediately terminate its contract with a notorious wildlife killing agency unless and until the county complies with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The agreement settles a lawsuit that a coalition of environmental and animal protection groups filed against the county.

The settlement concerns the county's contract with Wildlife Services, which operates under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and kills hundreds of coyotes, bears, bobcats, and other wildlife in Mendocino County every year. Under the terms of the settlement, Mendocino County must evaluate the merits of a non-lethal predator control program and prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) under CEQA if it decides to enter into a contract with Wildlife Services in the future. The county will also pay the coalition the sum of $25,000 in attorneys' fees.

This action was brought by a coalition consisting of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Welfare Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity, Mountain Lion Foundation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Project Coyote and a Mendocino Country resident.
Map showing Mendocino County location in California.

In 2014, the coalition sued, and subsequently settled with, Mendocino County for failing to comply with CEQA before hiring Wildlife Services. However, the county breached the settlement agreement when it reinstated the contract with Wildlife Services before completing a required EIR - claiming that lethal predator control would have no impact on Mendocino's ecosystem and was exempt from CEQA. In July 2015, the coalition sued the county a second time for breaching the agreement and once again violating CEQA.

"Killing thousands of native animals clearly would have an impact on the environment," says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. "Research shows that non-lethal programs exist that will result in a better outcome based on Mendocino County's primary goal-protecting livestock."

In 2014, Wildlife Services killed approximately 47,000 animals in California (out of nearly three million killed nationwide), while displacing an additional 1.6 million animals across the state.

Mendocino County's contract with Wildlife Services authorized the program - at a cost of $144,000 to taxpayers - to kill animals in without assessing the ecological impacts or considering alternatives.

"It is time for each and every county across the country to consider and account for the tremendous environmental and ecological consequences of using indiscriminate, lethal and inhumane wildlife control methods," says Tara Zuardo, wildlife attorney with the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI). "We are hopeful that this step is the beginning of officials considering more effective approaches that don't involve routine slaughter of vast numbers of wildlife."

Peer-reviewed research shows that the reckless slaughter of native predators causes broad ecological destruction. Indiscriminate methods used by Wildlife Services have also killed more than 50,000 non-target animals since 2000, including family pets, endangered condors, bald eagles, and millions of other birds. Studies show such mass killing, in addition to being cruel and inhumane, negatively impacts the biodiversity of ecosystems.

These lawsuits mark the advocacy groups' first attempts to require a local government to comply with state law when entering into contracts with the federal agency.

(Article #1700) To read the actual news story click here...

Los Angeles Lion Captured (4/15/2016)
A Los Angeles mountain lion was safely captured for relocation Friday afternoon.

After being spotted at John F. Kennedy High School in Granada Hills around 7 a.m., the school was placed on lockdown temporarily as a safety precaution and to help responders locate the lion.

Around lunchtime, Sky5 (KTLA's news helicopter) showed the lion sitting on a wall near the edge of campus. As officers approached, the lion leapt from the wall, crossed the street in front of a police SUV, and took refuge in a resident's yard.
Map of LA.
Nearly a dozen LA Police Department officers began surrounding the yard. An officer from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife safely sedated the lion with tranquilizer darts.
Photos of lion in yard being sedated.
After a few minutes of stumbling around the bushes, the lion was immobilized. The animal was carried to the bed of an officer's pickup truck for a quick exam.

With the helicopter still live broadcasting from above, the public saw the lion begin to overheat in the sun in the black-lined open bed of the truck.

Responding officers did not appear to have an animal crate for transport, a tarp, or eye drops. Others questioned why no one handling the cat was wearing gloves. Though less than ideal conditions, a few officers quickly improvised and grabbed the homeowner's garden hose to cool down the cat.

The mountain lion is expected to be released back into the wild later today.

While P-22 and other mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains frequently make headlines in California newspapers, this lion was most likely from the larger Angeles National Forest, which is just a few miles away from the high school.

Young lions are kicked out of their mother's territory around their second birthday and must disperse to find a new home. These young, inexperienced subadults are on their own for the first time. As such, they are the ones most likely to wander into human populated areas as they learn to navigate the landscape. Programmed to roam, these younger lions are also the best candidates for relocation.

With each capture and release, first responders can learn more about lions and improve their wildlife handling skills. Today offered a lucky second chance for a lost lion, and experience for LA officers that will hopefully guarantee a quick and painless relocation for the next lion who happens to wander into a local urban area.

(Article #1699) To read the actual news story click here...

Community Outraged by Development Proposal (4/13/2016)
Frustrated residents in southern Florida gathered last night at a community meeting to discuss a proposed development project on roughly 150,000 acres in Collier County.

Eight protected species, including the endangered Florida panther, live on the land. But the landowners say they only want to develop 45,000 acres of the property and will leave the rest protected for wildlife.

Panther habitat is constantly being whittled away by developments and roads, and residents say we can't spare losing another acre. More houses means more people and more cars. Roadkill has been the leading cause of death for panthers, with roughly ten percent of the population killed annually by vehicle strikes. The second most common cause of death is from fights with other panthers over limited habitat. The proposed development project would only exacerbate current conflicts.

How much longer can the species survive in this shrinking patch of everglades?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement related to the development project and is accept pubic comments until April 24th.

Share your opinions on this issue by submitting written comments.


Comments-Eastern Collier HCP EIS
US Fish and Wildlife Service
South Florida Ecological Services Field Office
1339 20th Street, Vero Beach, Florida 32960-3559 WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral & Naples, Florida

(Article #1698) To read the actual news story click here...

MLF Featured in SoCal News (4/6/2016)
The Mountain Lion Foundation was recently featured in an excellent article by Suzanne Guldimann, published in the Malibu Surfside News.

As a leader in nonlethal practices for coexisting with mountain lions, MLF was appreciative of the opportunity to share what we have learned with communities in southern California.

Read the article on Malibu Surfside News' website.

Download or view a pdf version of the article.

For even more information about protecting people, pets and livestock in lion country, visit the protection section of our website.

(Article #1697) To read the actual news story click here...

Lion Sighting and Tracks Reported in CT (4/5/2016)
Officials in Connecticut are investigating possible evidence of a mountain lion in New Canaan after a woman on Fox Run Road reported spotting a large feline on March 30.

Five years ago, claims of a mountain lion in Connecticut would have been immediately dismissed or even laughed at. But on June 11, 2011 history was made when a wild mountain lion was struck by a vehicle and killed on Wilbur Cross Parkway in Milford, Connecticut. DNA analysis proved he was born in South Dakota.
Photos of tracks reported to be from the lion.
The young male, whose journey is highlighted in the upcoming book Heart of a Lion: A Lone Cat's Walk Across America by Will Stolzenburg, proved just how far dispersing lions will travel in search of an available home range with females.

Just twenty miles from where this famous cat was killed, state wildlife biologists are now taking photos of questionable tracks near the home of the woman who reported seeing a mountain lion last week.

Though more than 80 percent of lion sightings turn out to be false (with the most common culprits being smaller species of cats, canines, and deer), there is always the possibility of another lion making the epic trek from the Midwest all the way to the east coast.

The Mountain Lion Foundation advocates for enacting lion protection laws and regulations in eastern states to ensure any lion that turns up is legally protected. It will take many decades and generations for female lions to expand to the East and establish breeding populations in their historic range. But it is never too early to lay the groundwork for recolonization by increasing public support and legal protection for America's lion.

Join MLF Today!

(Article #1696) To read the actual news story click here...

Coalition Appeals New Mexico Trapping Decision (3/17/2016)
In an effort to ensure responsible, science-based wildlife management practices and protect New Mexico's animals from indiscriminate injury and killing, conservationists have initiated a state appeal and a separate federal challenge of the validity of the expansion of cougar trapping in New Mexico.

Animal Protection of New Mexico (APNM) and The Humane Society of the United States (The HSUS) are joined by concerned New Mexican citizens who run Search and Rescue missions in the expanded trapping areas and have had dogs injured in leg-hold traps, a hunting and fishing guide, and wolf advocates.

Photo of commission meeting crowd.

A capacity crowd attends the State Game Commission meeting in 2015 to comment on bear and cougar kill limits. Photo credit: Clyde Mueller/The New Mexican

When the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) released its proposal in 2015 to allow recreational cougar trapping for the first time in nearly five decades, it elicited statewide outcry, yet the Commission voted unanimously to allow:

  • Cougar trapping using leg-hold traps and snares on 9 million acres of state trust lands, in the habitat of highly endangered Mexican wolves and jaguars;
  • Trapping and snaring for cougars on private land with no permit requirement; and
  • Trappers to take twice as many cougars as previously allowed.

The challengers have appealed the rule in state court and filed a petition to keep it from going into effect pending a court ruling, because of the irreversible harms that could occur.

The Commission based the expansion of trapping on unscientific guesses about the cougar population, and NMDGF's own scientists have admitted that methodologies used to estimate the cougar population are "neither adequate nor reliable."

Experts estimate that the introduction of trapping may more than triple the number of cougars killed in New Mexico this year - up to 750, compared to the annual average of 200-250 cougars killed from 2000 through the present. In addition to protecting vulnerable cougar populations, a stay of the Cougar Rule is needed because of the threats posed by traps and snares to non-target companion animals, Search and Rescue and hunting dogs, endangered species, and other protected wildlife like nursing mother cougars and kittens.

In light of the likely harm to endangered species -- in particular, Mexican wolves and jaguars -- the coalition has given notice of their intent to file a separate federal case under the Endangered Species Act. The Cougar Rule's radical expansion of cougar trapping into Mexican wolf and jaguar habitat presents a mortal and unlawful threat to these endangered animals because -- due to their similarity in size, prey and habitat preference -- they are likely to be accidentally caught in traps set for cougars. As of February 2016, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that only 97 Mexican wolves remained in the wild, and a significant number have already been caught in traps intended for other animals.

"The Game Commission's expansion of cougar trapping was an egregious decision that appears to be based on fictitious data and that seems likely to injure and kill more dogs and legally protected animals than cougars - especially when the latest science shows cougar populations are far lower than the Commission alleged," said Jessica Johnson, APNM's Chief Legislative Officer.

Anna Frostic, senior wildlife attorney for The HSUS, said: "Littering public lands with leg-hold traps and snares will expose cougars and endangered Mexican wolves and jaguars to cruel and unnecessary suffering and death. The Commission cannot unilaterally undermine the effort to recover these fragile populations in violation of state and federal law, against the will of the majority of New Mexicans and contrary to the scientific evidence."

The practice of wildlife trapping and snaring has caused enormous controversy and concern across the state. In an August 2015 statewide poll, New Mexicans opposed the Cougar Rule and the practice of trapping and snaring on public lands by a three-to-one margin.

If the state appeal or federal challenge succeed, neither will prevent otherwise lawful hunting, nor will they affect ranchers' or state officials' ability to kill cougars who are threatening or attacking livestock.

(Article #1695) To read the actual news story click here...

Mountain Lion License Plate Bill Passes (3/16/2016)
Introduced by Senator Ernie Chambers, Nebraska Legislative Bill 474 has been signed into law by Governor Pete Ricketts.

LB 474 requires the state to offer special mountain lion conservation license plates for vehicles registered in Nebraska. A fee of $5 will be charged for the special plates, and deposited into a new Game and Parks Commission Educational Fund. This money will be used "to provide youth education programs relating to wildlife conservation practices."

Under the law, applications for the new mountain lion license plate must be made available to the public by October 1, 2016.
Photo of lion-themed license plates.
The bill passed the Legislature with a vote of 47-0 and was on Governor Ricketts' desk in mid-February. MLF wrote a letter to the Governor asking him to sign LB 474 into law, citing the bill as an "all around win for residents, wildlife and the Game and Parks Commission."

Our members were asked to send letters as well to remind the Governor that mountain lion license plates are a great way for residents to show their support for mountain lions and contribute financially to wildlife conservation programs.

The Governor's office was even kind enough to send a thank you letter in response.

We are pleased to see Nebraska become one of a handful of states to offer mountain lion-themed license plates to motorists. If you'd like to be notified of the design and when applications are available, please be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and join our mailing list.

And thank you again to everyone who wrote letters to the Nebraska Legislature to help pass LB 474.

(Article #1694) To read the actual news story click here...

Lions Hoping Time is On Their Side (3/14/2016)
One of the nation's most impassioned mountain lion advocates, Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers was hard at work (and play!) last Thursday on behalf of mountain lions.

Senator Chambers in took charge of the microphone on the Nebraska Senate floor to speak to his constituents about his plan to filibuster LB745 in his continued attempt to ban mountain lion hunting in the state.

You can WATCH LIVE on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at 7:00 a.m. Pacific Time to see what happens next.

LB975 would increase prices on hunting and fishing permits and fund the Game and Parks Commission in Nebraska. The Commission is the entity which made poor decisions by allowing a mountain lion hunt in Nebraska in 2014.

Photo of Nebraska Senator Ernie Chambers.

Chambers sang "Time is on My Side. Yes it is!" (VIDEO) to explain that he's going to take all the time he needs to get his message across when the session continues on Tuesday at 9 a.m. Central Time, 7 a.m. Pacific.

Chambers has recently experienced both wins and losses in his efforts to protect mountain lions in his state, considered a gateway state for mountain lion recovery to the east.

This month the governor signed Senator Chambers' LB474 creating special license plates featuring mountain lions.

However, in late February 2016 the legislature's Natural Resources committee indefinitely postponed Chambers' bill LB961 to ban mountain lion hunting.

Chambers' singular focus the week of March 14 will be filibustering on behalf of our lions.

The Legislature will continue first-round debate on the fishing and hunting fees on Tuesday, and Chambers has vowed to fill the maximum six hours voicing his objections.

"I'm just revving my engine up to really get into the battle," Chambers said. "I haven't even started reading the material I have brought."

Tune in to WATCH LIVE on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at 7:00 a.m. Pacific Time to see what happens next.

A Brief Summary of Mountain Lion Status in Nebraska

In 2013, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) estimated that 22 individual lions called the Pine Ridge region of northwest Nebraska home.

On January 1, 2014, Nebraska's inaugural lion hunt began. Up to four lions were authorized to be killed in the Pine Ridge before March 31st, and an unlimited number of lions could be hunted year round in the prairie region which encompasses approximately 85% of the state and would not count towards the quota.

In January 2015 NGPC Director Jim Douglas announced there would be no mountain lion hunting season in 2015. Claiming the Commission's decision was not a result of the controversy generated by Nebraska's inaugural lion hunt, Director Douglas indicated they need to review the situation and there might be a mountain lion hunt in 2016. (Article #1692) To read the actual news story click here...

Kitten Poacher Should Lose License to Hunt for Life! (3/13/2016)
Stephen Trabakoulos, the young man who "harvested" a three-month old female mountain lion kitten in February 2016 took a guilty plea and was sentenced in South Dakota this week. His case is a good example of how low penalties encourage wildlife crimes.

The investigation found that Trabakoulos had not lived in South Dakota long enough to qualify for a hunting license. For this, a Rapid City judge fined Trabakoulos $170.

A Deadwood, South Dakota judge fined Trabakoulos $484 for failing to properly tag killed wildlife. A 10 day jail sentence was dropped. His license to hunt was suspended for one year.

The maximum penalties for the charge of class one misdemeanor of improper tagging are fines to $1,000, one year in jail and loss of hunting privileges for a year. The fines clearly would not even cover the state and county costs for citing, investigating and prosecuting the crime.

Photo of a 3 month old mountain lion kitten.
Loss of hunting privileges for just a year?

Why not allow South Dakota judges to impose sentences for restriction of hunting privileges for a much longer period of time?

Spotted and weighing in at only 14 pounds, the kitten was clearly not a legal target under South Dakota law. See Mountain Lion Foundation's original story on the incident.

On December 30, 2015, Trabakoulos posted this on Facebook: "Tomorrow I'm going to apply for a mountain lion tag, what caliber do y'all suggest. I'm not sure if I want to take the 30-30 or 7mm-08 or 300win mag. Or maybe even 7.62x39." If he had paid even a fraction of the amount of attention to the regulations for hunting lions in South Dakota, he might never have killed a kitten. Or perhaps he knew and just didn't care.

And he's not alone. A late 2015 checkpoint conducted by the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department on Interstate 90 found 147 violations among 1,253 hunters checked. That's one in ten, a level that wouldn't be tolerated in other types of crime. And it's level of rulebreaking that wouldn't be allowed in any other "sport".

In a January 2016 article in Outdoor Forum titled Wildlife Crime and Punishment: Why SD needs stiffer fines for trespassing and poaching South Dakota hunting columnist Dana Rogers concluded that "Obviously, nobody is perfect, and mistakes can happen during a hunt. I'm not suggesting we purport or pass laws that are insurmountable for lower-level violations, but if the reward of the illegal activity can be favorably weighed against the risk to these offenders - as is the current case in South Dakota - only the wildlife and legal, ethical hunters pay."

Instagram post with photo of gun.

One of Stephen Trabakoulos' many gun-related posts on Instagram.

It's not just happening in the wild west. Pennsylvania Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Protection Director Richard Palmer stated in testimony for House Bill 2205, "The causes of poaching vary, but the myth that most poachers are committing their offenses to provide food is in reality not even a fraction of a percentage of all cases prosecuted. Often, modern poaching is done by criminals driving $30,000 vehicles, using expensive night-vision technology, illegal silencers on the firearms, and often military-style rifles."

Link to the South Dakota Mountain Lion Mortality Table.

Our Resolve

We are writing to South Dakota legislators to urge increased penalties for wildlife crimes, and you can help!

What YOU Can Do

If you live in South Dakota, or any other state with laughably low penalties for wildlife crime, contact your local state representative and encourage them to increase the penalties and fines for serious wildlife violations.

You can follow the number of mountain lions killed in South Dakota at Mountain Lion Mortality Table, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.

(Article #1693) To read the actual news story click here...

Hollywood Lion Suspected of Preying on Koala (3/10/2016)
Celebrities are known for their unusual diets and trying exotic foods. Apparently P-22, California's Hollywood Lion, is no different. On Wednesday night, the lion wound up in the Los Angeles Zoo and is suspected of killing a koala.

Perhaps the oddest fact about this situation is not the koala, but that P-22 is so well-loved that he is unlikely to be killed for preying on a zoo animal. Many other lions believed to have injured domestic animals are killed under depredation permits.
California Depredation.
At least 256 lions were targeted to be killed under California depredation permits in 2015, and at least 107 were killed as a result.

Remember that P-22 is a celebrity lion who has been treated quite differently than most wild lions since the day he was discovered. He is protected by public opinion, not true for lions in other places, even in California. While a mountain lion's primary prey is deer, the cats are opportunistic hunters, and will eat all kinds of animals, from coyotes to porcupines.

At some point during a lion's life, the odds are he'll come upon a domestic animal. The majority of pet and livestock owners living in lion habitat do not take the necessary steps to protect their animals from wild predators. Unprotected pets and livestock are an easy meal for a hungry lion. But since the cats are adapted to hunting deer and other small wild mammals, conflicts with domestic animals remain relatively rare.

It's like your friend who eats healthy and rarely indulges in greasy fast food. But every once in a while after a long day and not eating, she won't say no to the plate of hot french fries if they're already on the table. It's not a regular occurrence, but survival instincts tell us to eat whatever is available rather than starve.

P-22 has been living in Griffith Park since 2012. He contracted mange, has been spotted on security cameras near homes at night, and even napped under a house which startled maintenance workers, but he has managed to stay out of trouble despite living within miles of ten million people and their pets.

Depredation permit thumbnail.Part of his ability to stay out of trouble is because southern California residents have been taught a lot about their local lions and have learned to value them, and part is because P-22 is included in a study where researchers can step in when trouble looms. For example, few lions not part of a research study would have been treated for mange.

It's important to remember that most California mountain lions are in serious trouble, and don't have some of the advantages of P-22 and his family in the Santa Monica Mountains.

All of the mountain lion studies currently under way in California have found high incidence of poisons from rodenticides, heavy losses to road kill, and losses on depredation permits, for their collared research lions. Some have found anomalies like kinked tails which point to significant isolation of populations and a diminishing genetic pool.

Los Angeles Zoo staff spotted P-22 on security cameras earlier this year, but they haven't been able to figure out how the large cat is entering and leaving the property. The lion was spotted on camera the night the koala went missing. The marsupial was later found about 400 yards away and had succumbed to its injuries.

It is often very difficult to tell whether a mountain lion was in fact responsible for a kill. Although there are tell-tale signs, mountain lion presence is not conclusive. We have learned in the past couple of decades that lions scavenge the kills of other animals, and even scavenge animals that died of natural causes.

Stienstra blog.City Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell believes this incident highlights the need to move P-22 to a "more remote wild area where he has adequate space to roam without the possibility of human interaction." Though in a state with roughly 40 million people, it's not clear where this human-less space is located.

Others think this is an opportunity to remind LA residents and animal parks how to coexist with wild neighbors. The zoo's enclosures should be lion-proofed rather than send the message that native animals should be displaced for our convenience. The LA Zoo seems to agree, with its director John Lewis commenting to NBC news, "There's a lot of native wildlife in this area. This is their home. So we'll learn to adapt to P-22 just like he's learned to adapt to us."

Kate Kuykendall of the National Park Service added, "This is not a situation where we can get rid of the native wildlife and not expect this to happen again."

Countless studies have shown that removing a mountain lion only opens up the territory for multiple younger, inexperienced lions to move in. Encounters and conflicts can actually increase after a lion is removed. P-22 has been a pretty good neighbor and the best way to prevent any future incidents is to encourage him to stay near deer herds and avoid looking for food near human-occupied areas. This means:

  • bringing domestic animals into fully-enclosed structures between dusk and dawn

  • securing pet food and garbage to avoid attracting lion prey into the area

  • clearing brush from around animal enclosures where lions may hide to ambush prey

  • installing frightening devices to scare lions and other wild animals away

Additional information can be found in these sections of our website:

Stay Safe Hiking and Biking -
Protecting Pets -
Protecting Livestock -
Safety During a Lion Encounter -


Our Resolve

We are sending a thank you letter to Los Angeles Zoo director John Lewis thanking him for not requesting a permit to kill the lion, and for disagreeing with those who want to see P-22 moved out of Griffith Park.

Lewis' desire to protect the zoo's animals while coexisting with local native wildlife sets a great example for other animal parks to follow.

MLF is also offering our services to help secure animal enclosures from wild predators and assist with community education programs.

P-22 videotaped at LA Zoo

What YOU Can Do

Send a thank you letter to the zoo for not wanting P-22 killed or moved from his home in Griffith Park. Encourage them to consider updating their protection practices for all the zoo's animals and bring smaller critters indoors at night.

Los Angeles Zoo
Attn: Director John Lewis
5333 Zoo Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Please also take some time to learn more about California's depredation laws and ways to reduce conflicts. Mountain lions are struggling, especially in southern California, and changes to human behavior can make a world of difference to their chances for long term survival.

(Article #1691) To read the actual news story click here...

Colorado's March 2016 Commission Meeting (3/9/2016)
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission — the entity that oversees the State's wildlife agency — is holding its monthly meeting March 9-10, 2016 at Colorado Parks and Wildlife's Hunter Education Building in Denver.

While many of the issues being considered could indirectly impact mountain lions, topics of interest directly related to the species include agenda items:

  • 3. Principles and Ethics of Fair Chase - mountain lion trapping is not permitted in Colorado, but hunters may use a pack of up to 8 dogs to track, chase and tree lions so they can be shot out of a tree at close range.

  • 15. Big Game - Open for consideration of any necessary corrections or administrative clean-ups to regulations previously adopted by the Parks and Wildlife Commission for the 2016 big game seasons, including, but not limited to, game management unit boundaries, season dates, limited license areas and manner of take provisions for bighorn sheep, mountain goat, deer, elk, pronghorn, moose, bear and mountain lion, and regulations otherwise necessary for implementation of the 2016 big game seasons.

  • 32.(a) Game Damage Claims - approval of $21,017.65 and $62,045.51 for sheep lost to bear and mountain lion.

You can view all the agenda items and listen live to the meeting here:

If you live in the Denver area, please consider attending in person:
CPW Hunter Education Building
6060 Broadway
Denver CO 80216

Mountain lions don't stay within state borders, so no matter where you live, Colorado's policies impact YOUR mountain lions. Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and join our mailing list to learn more about the issues and how to have your voice heard at state commission meetings and in the Legislature.

(Article #1690) To read the actual news story click here...

Lion Protection Bill Heads to Committee (2/23/2016)
The bill to stop mountain lion hunting in Nebraska (LB 961) was heard by the Legislature's Natural Resources Committee on Thursday, February 25. It was not voted on and remains stuck in this committee.

We need lots of help in just a little bit of time! Please contact the committee members (email addresses and phone numbers below), and urge them to vote in favor of Legislative Bill 961.

Introduced by Senator Ernie Chambers, LB 961 is a third attempt at critical legislation to prohibit mountain lion sport hunting in Nebraska.

Last year's version of this bill was killed by the same committee, and Chairperson Senator Ken Schilz commented Nebraska Game and Parks Commission needs to be able to use hunting as a tool to control wildlife. Other committee members said that if the legislature banned the hunting of mountain lions, they may be pressured to outlaw the hunting of other species in the future.

"There is no need or justification whatsoever to hunt these animals," Senator Chambers has remarked about mountain lions. "It's cruelty. It's barbaric. I will do what I can to stop it."

To help LB 961 pass through the Natural Resources Committee, the public needs to speak up in support of mountain lion protection. There are very few lions in small regions of Nebraska and the species could easily be wiped out before ever fully reestablishing a population in the state.

If you don't want to see another lion killed for fun in Nebraska, please take a moment to share your perspective.
MLF's letter.

Contact the Nebraska Natural Resources Committee:

Sen. Ken Schilz, Chairperson - - (402) 471-2616
Sen. Curt Friesen - - (402) 471-2630
Sen. Dan Hughes - - (402) 471-2805
Sen. Jerry Johnson - - (402) 471-2719
Sen. Rick Kolowski - - (402) 471-2327
Sen. Brett Lindstrom - - (402) 471-2618
Sen. John McCollister - - (402) 471-2622
Sen. David Schnoor - - (402) 471-2625

What to Say:

Dear Natural Resources Committee,
I am writing to you today in support of LB 961. Please include my letter in the official record.

  • Sport hunting is a terrible way to manage mountain lion populations.

  • Nebraska's mountain lion population is far too small to withstand a hunting season.

  • Over hunting eliminated the mountain lion from Nebraska a hundred years ago. We must learn from this mistake and protect the returning cats.

  • Sport hunting could trigger conditions that lead to more conflicts between the lions, livestock and people.

  • The majority of residents in Nebraska want a healthy mountain lion population and the best way to achieve this is by stopping the hunt and passing LB 961.

Please also cc us on your emails ( or send a quick note to let us know you telephoned the committee members.

Thank you so much. Together, we can protect America's lion.

(Article #1689) To read the actual news story click here...

Santa Cruz Lion Freed: Thank You California! (2/21/2016)
California's latest mountain lion rescue took place Sunday afternoon near Santa Cruz. See the video HERE, and please leave your thanks on Facebook to Fish and Wildlife for making the right decision to relocate this lion back to its natural habitat.

Near downtown, the mountain lion had been spotted in the 100 block of Escalona Drive on Saturday.

Department of Fish and Wildlife units worked with Santa Cruz police to locate the lion. Fish and Wildlife staff tranquilized the animal and set it free in its natural habitat.

Young mountain lion released at night. Since 2013 when the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFW) changed their guidelines and Mountain Lion Foundation helped pass enabling legislation (SB132) with
Senator Jerry Hill, nearly a dozen mountain lions have been successfully relocated in California.

Under previous guidelines, wardens were given no choice but to kill the lion if it was in a human occupied area.

Here at Mountain Lion Foundation, we only wish that other states would adopt similar guidelines.

Young mountain lion tranquilized. Bay Area relocation efforts are assisted by the efforts of BACAT, a model program being developed by MLF, Oakland Zoo, Felidae, CDFW and other organizations and individuals to create standard protocols for responding to lions that wander into towns and cities.

The Santa Cruz Puma Project has been tracking mountain lions in the area since 2008. This was not one of their collared cats.

Lions benefit by nearby research activities and response teams because skilled professionals and tools such as cages and tranquilizers are nearby. Also, property owners are well known, and the location of territories occupied by other lions are better understood.

Thank you California and CDFW for making the right decisions to treat our big cats as an important part of ecosystems!

How YOU Can Help

Don't forget to see the video HERE, and leave your thanks on Facebook to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for their efforts to relocate this lion back to its natural habitat.

(Photos courtesy of CDFW)

(Article #1688) To read the actual news story click here...

Nebraska Mountain Lion License Plates (2/18/2016)
Senator Ernie Chambers is one step away from creating special mountain lion conservation license plates in Nebraska.

Legislative Bill 474 passed through the Nebraska legislature today with a vote of 47-0. It is now sitting on the Governor's desk waiting to be signed into law. If the Governor approves, as soon as October 2016 Nebraska residents could apply for mountain lion conservation plates for their vehicles.

A fee of $5 will be charged for the special plates, and deposited into a new Game and Parks Commission Educational Fund. This money will be used "to provide youth education programs relating to wildlife conservation practices."

Our Resolve

MLF's letter.
We are sending a letter to Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts asking him to please sign LB 474 into law. These license plates are a great way for residents to show their support for mountain lions and contribute financially to wildlife conservation programs.

What YOU Can Do

Please take a few minutes to contact Governor Ricketts and encourage him to sign LB 474. Let him know creating mountain lion conservation license plates is an all around win for residents, wildlife, and the Game and Parks Commission.

Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 94848
Lincoln, NE 68509-4848

Phone: 402-471-2244
Fax: 402-471-6031

Or submit your comments through the Governor's website Email Form
(Article #1687) To read the actual news story click here...

Young California Lion Finds Helping Hands (2/16/2016)
On Valentines Day, at 5:17 in the afternoon,Animal Rescue Team, Inc.'s 24/7 wildlife rescue hotline received a call that a sick and injured bobcat was in need of help at Sycamore Valley Ranch on Figueroa Mountain Road.

Julia Di Sieno, founder of Animal Rescue Team, describes the scene: "Upon our arrival we discovered a young starving mountain lion with spots, missing most of the tail. Bone was showing. And although we estimated a weight of no more than 14 pounds the lion should have weighed much more given its age. It was hiding underneath a car, and so weak it was very easy to contain."

The sedation and capture took nearly 6 hours and was ultimately successful. He was finally taken to a wildlife veterinarian for emergency care.

Sedated young mountain lion ready for transport.

Following the incident, the ranch owner took the time thank the Animal Rescue Team for taking the lead in coordinating the medical evacuation.

"ART is happy with the CDFW biologist's final decision in saving this guy from further suffering," said Julia, "and, we enjoyed every moment helping."

Following up on Tuesday, Julia revealed that "we learned the lion has survived capturing and treatment, but he has a very long road to recovery."

On February 19, Mountain Lion Foundation learned that the young lion had died. We have little additional information. Fewer than 50% of lions make it to their first birthdays, a fact of nature, inescapable. When injured, sick or orphaned wild animals seek shelter in human inhabited areas, we are glad to see organizations like Animal Rescue Team, and wildlife veterinarians, available to make well informed decisions for the animal's future.

Animal Rescue Team is located in Santa Ynez, California, and provides quality animal rescue, treatment, rehabilitation, and release to sick, injured, orphaned and displaced animals in accordance with current standards in the field.

During the Jesusita Fire ART. rescued over 200 animals, wild and domestic, working with police and fire officials to get wild animals the help
they needed.

Julia di Sieno has long worked to provide Mountain Lion Foundation with good information about best practices in rescue and rehabilitation, and also works closely with CDFW to respond to sick, orphaned, or injured mountain lions in her area.

Generally, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife does not do wildlife rehabilitation. The Department licenses properly trained and experienced wildlife rehabilitators like Julia, who do the actual work.

Wildlife rehabilitators rescue ill, injured and orphaned wildlife for release back to the wild. Most wildlife rehabilitators are volunteers who must pay for permits, cages, food, and veterinary care. ART receives no money or compensation from the state or federal governments to care for these animals.

In 2009, Julia rescued two orphaned mountain lion kittens in Solvang, and nearly got jailed for her good deed. That story is told at The Day the Safety Net Failed.

Under current California law and policy, only CDFW may treat and transport injured, orphaned or sick mountain lions. The majority of these end up in zoos or sanctuaries. Often, kittens are found dehydrated and malnourished following the loss of their mothers.

As if it were not enough to care for wildlife injured in her region, Julia has also doggedly pursued changes in policy related to the rapid proliferation of vineyards in parts of California, and the impact of vineyards on wildlife.

Few people realize that hundreds of deer are killed each year for "depredating" on grapes, and that some vineyard operators are unwilling to take steps to keep deer from entering, preferring to allow farm workers to kill the deer and take the meat for payment. Often, diminishing deer herds are blamed on local predators like mountain lions and coyotes, who have also been forced out of habitat by new vineyard operations.

Young mountain lion awaiting authorities.

For more information about how to support the Animal Rescue Team, Inc. visit their website or their Facebook page.

Young male mountain lion awaits the arrival of authorities.

(Article #1686) To read the actual news story click here...

South Dakota Lion Kills Rise as Population Dwindles (2/13/2016)
On February 3, 2016, news outlets in South Dakota reported that 20 mountain lions had been killed so far in the 2016 Black Hills season. 13 of the 20 were females.

Two days later a hunter in Lawrence County, South Dakota "harvested" a three-month old female kitten.

Mountain Lion Foundation is convinced that South Dakota's tiny and fragile mountain lion population is finally succumbing to the profound overhunting that has accrued since 2005 when hunting of mountain lions began in the state.

According to Regional Supervisor Mike Kintigh, "The 14-pound cat shot in Lawrence County was determined to be an approximately three month old mountain lion based on the size and spotted markings."

Photo of a 3 month old mountain lion kitten.
South Dakotans pride themselves on their outdoor lifestyle, including hunting and fishing. But where is the bravery in killing a 3 month-old kitten no bigger than a housecat? Is this fair chase? At what point does pistol-packin' independence warp into a complete lack of compassion?

"Given the right conditions, it would be very difficult to see that they were in fact spotted at, you know, a distance of 100 yards when they might be hunting. We take all of that into account when we investigate these cases", said Kintigh.

But in this case, the kitten was in fact so small that it is difficult to understand how such a mistake could have been made.

This inability to discern the size and sex of lions is one of the reasons that Mountain Lion Foundation has urged an end to trophy hunting. Loss of female and pregnant cats can have devastating impacts on small breeding populations. The orphaning, starvation and slow death of kittens is inhumane. So is the loss of a kitten to a mother cat.

The hunter was cited for a class one misdemeanor improper tagging, which carries a penalty of fines to $1,000, one year in jail and loss of hunting privileges for a year.

Our Resolve

We reached out by telephone to John Kanta at South Dakota's Department of Game, Fish and Parks last Tuesday to find out more about the kitten that was killed, and to ask what Mountain Lion Foundation members can do to encourage an end to South Dakota's mountain lion hunt.

Perhaps by working to mend fences with agency biologists, we can come to a better understanding of why South Dakota's treatment of mountain lions continues to go so wrong.

Mr. Kanta indicated that the violator had been cited, and that he would be happy to meet with MLF later this year.

We also commented on South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Facebook Page to thank them for their action in citing the offending hunter. See our post to their page here.
Link to the South Dakota Mountain Lion Mortality Table.

What YOU Can DO

You can follow the number of mountain lions killed in South Dakota at Mountain Lion Mortality Table, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.

You can express your THANKS to South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks for acting on this hunting violation, by email to or you can comment on their Facebook Page.

Ask them to urge South Dakota prosecutors to seek the full penalities for this violation.

Please also send MLF a copy of your email and cc: your emails to Thank you!

(Article #1679) To read the actual news story click here...

Shut Your Big Trap! (2/13/2016)
By Robert Basler
Reprinted with permission from author and the Santa Fe Reporter.

You wanna play hiking roulette?

For people who love the outdoors, New Mexico is truly a magical place.

You can hike for miles and miles on public land, marvel over indescribable vistas, gasp at exotic wildlife, desperately try to free your faithful dog from a hidden steel trap...

Hold on. Traps on public land? Can that be true? Indeed it can. New Mexico True, as we like to say.

Already this year, dog injuries have been reported in Santa Fe County and elsewhere in the state, thanks to traps that may legally be placed just 25 yards off the trails we all use. Moreover, if the trail is unmapped, the traps don't need to be set back at all. In 2014, a dog walking with its owners in Los Alamos County was injured in a trap hidden just one foot from the trail.

Please explain this insanity to me. Why is it a trapper's right to take a device straight out of a medieval torture chamber and hide it where I go for recreation? That's like sinking live torpedoes in the community swimming hole!

From there, it just gets dumber. I'm afraid dumb is going to have to pass for humor today, but donít worry, I've got plenty of it. The dumb won't run out, my friends.

These traps are not marked with warning signs. Trappers must be afraid some of our smarter wildlife might learn to read, thus avoiding a lingering and painful death.

You think the dumb is finished? Think again. You, as a taxpayer, have virtually no rights when it comes to these traps. If your dog gets caught in one, you may release it, but if you find any other poor animal suffering there, you must leave it until the trapper comes to kill it, maybe today, maybe tomorrow.

It's also illegal for you to spring a trap you find in order to protect wildlife. Good Samaritans, just keep moving along.

Shouldn't people just keep their dogs on a leash? Normally, yes. But dogs on public land aren't required to be leashed. If they were, hunters couldn't use bird dogs, and rescue dogs would be pretty worthless at their job.

Maybe you're thinking, But Bob, folks have to make a living, don't they?

Guy with sword and dressed in furs. Let me answer that as diplomatically as I can. Yes, but this is a shabby, shameless, stupid-ass living, killing animals to make fur garments that people shouldn't be wearing anyway, unless they're appearing in Game of Thrones.

Animal traps are like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates: You never know what you're gonna get. Back in 2008, wildlife agents spread out snare traps on public land after a mountain lion killed someone. But before the lion could be trapped, a woman was injured when her horse was caught in one of the snares. A javelina was caught in another snare, and its thrashing attracted a bear, who began to eat the javelina until the bear got caught in yet another snare and was seriously injured, having to be euthanized. It was like some insane video game, but with living creatures.

Lest you think leg traps are just a fact of life, they are not. They are banned in more than 80 foreign countries and at least eight US states, including Arizona and Colorado.

People, please have a word with your legislators about this. Nobody expects us to join the 21st century right away, but maybe we could give the 20th century a try? Because New Mexico, the state that figures out the least it can do for its wildlife and then does even less, recently made it easier to trap cougars. Yes, easier.

Which explains the state's new license plate slogan you'll be seeing soon. New Mexico: Come for a hike, leave with a stump!

Please leave your positive comments for Robert Basler on the
Santa Fe Reporter web page!

Photo Illustration by Anson Stevens-Bollen (Article #1682) To read the actual news story click here...

Happy Birthday, Charles! You were a lion! (2/12/2016)
We'll be there to greet you at Sacramento's Darwin Day, tomorrow, Saturday, February 13 from 2:30 to 4:00 PM. For those who live elsewhere on the evolving planet, visit

Darwin said, "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." Much of the work of the Mountain Lion Foundation is to convince people to adopt a new perspective on America's Lions. Today, we hope you'll encourage a hunter or rancher to be the one responsive to change.

The speaker in Sacramento this year is paleontologist Matthew J. James, PhD., Chair of the Department of Geology and Professor of Paleontology and Geology at Sonoma State University. He will entertain and inform about the 1905-06 scientific collecting expedition to the Galapagos Islands conducted by the California Academy of Sciences.

The topic is: "Collecting Evolution: The 1905-06 Galapagos Expedition that Vindicated Charles Darwin"

Dr. James grew up on Oʻahu and did his undergraduate work at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. He is the recipient of the 2011 Karl Kortum Award for Maritime History for his work on the 1905-06 expedition. He has worked on Galapagos science, history, and conservation for 30 years, since first visiting the islands in 1982 on a paleontology expedition.

What is Darwin Day? It is an annual celebration of scientific inquiry honoring the life and work of the great Charles Darwin (born February 12, 1809), and sponsored worldwide by community and educational groups. For its very respectable history, visit the International Darwin Day Foundation.

HERE for the full announcement, which includes links to the online payment page and to the 2016 Sacramento Darwin Day Flyer.

Ask a Hunter to Be the One Responsive to Change
(Article #1681) To read the actual news story click here...

Wyoming's Lions Escape Trapping Plan (2/10/2016)
By Dr. Mark Elbroch, Lead Scientist, Panthera's Puma Program
Cartoon courtesy of the Jackson Hole News and Guide

In January a bill was introduced in the Wyoming Legislature that, if it had passed, would have allowed any person with a valid hunting license to kill a mountain lion using a trap or snare. As a Wyoming resident and biologist, I'm thrilled to tell you that our Legislature voted yesterday in favor of science and to protect the balance of nature on which our state so deeply depends.

HB12 failed to pass the House on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, at 2:23 p.m. This bill was not based on valid research, and the potential negative consequences for mountain lions, other wildlife, Wyoming citizens and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department would have been far-reaching.

Ostensibly, this bill was introduced to provide "additional tools" to reverse recent mule deer population declines, a valuable game species for Wyoming residents. In reality, the connection between mountain lions and mule deer population declines is tenuous at best. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has said that mule deer declines are largely the result of other factors, including habitat loss and disruption to migration corridors.
Cartoon of man with foot in trap, legislature written on his back and trap chain marked with cruelty and no science.
It is also well accepted among wildlife biologists that deer dynamics are driven primarily by weather patterns and resulting forage availability, not predators. In fact, a recent intensive, long-term study from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game emphasized that removing mountain lions and coyotes did not provide any long-term benefit to deer populations. The researchers reported: "In conclusion, benefits of predator removal appear to be marginal and short term in southeastern Idaho and likely will not appreciably change long-term dynamics of mule deer populations in the intermountain west."

Like mule deer, mountain lions are also experiencing significant population declines in some areas. Research conducted by Panthera's Teton Cougar Project in Teton County, Wyoming, shows that lion numbers north of Jackson have declined by half in eight years. Mountain lions in Wyoming are hunted with all legal firearms, archery equipment and trailing hounds, and these methods have proven effective in reducing mountain lion populations across the West. Introducing trapping — an imprecise method of hunting — could have crippled mountain lion populations further, as well as rapidly and unexpectedly influenced other wildlife populations.

The nature of trapping is indiscriminate. Trapping consists of snares and leghold traps, including steel jaws, which often cause serious injury to animals — breaking legs, ripping skin or completely severing limbs, via the trap or through self-mutilation. Traps deliver painful, slow deaths to wildlife and domestic animals unlucky enough to be caught. In Wyoming it is currently illegal to kill a female mountain lion with kittens or the kittens themselves. However, a trapper cannot dictate what animal is caught, resulting in the potential maiming or killing of female mountain lions, their kittens or federally listed wolves, wolverines, Canada lynx or grizzly bears. Traps may also injure people should they stumble into one.

Importantly, voting down HB12 maintained protection for the reproductive capital of our mountain lion populations: female mountain lions with kittens and the kittens themselves.

Trapping is not only imprecise in its implementation, it is also nearly impossible to track and monitor. This bill would have completely undermined mountain lion management currently conducted by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, introducing chaos to a tracking system that may not be ideal but works. When Wyoming's House and Senate representatives introduce legislation that threatens their own Wyoming Game and Fish Department's ability to protect our state's immense and singular biodiversity, something is clearly wrong.

But Rep. Sam Krone eloquently opposed the bill for sportsmen against indiscriminate trapping, followed by Rep. Charles Pelkey, who emphasized the potential consequences of increased trapping on domestic animals and people. In the end the bill did not gain the required two-thirds majority to move forward.

Action alert, click here to sign the petition.Every year visitors flock to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, investing millions of dollars in Wyoming communities in the hope of glimpsing charismatic apex predators like the mountain lion. In voting down HB12, Wyoming voted for sustainable, scientific decision-making for our state and every creature with which we share this precarious and wonderful balance that we call home. In voting against mountain lion trapping, Wyoming chose evidence-based science over old mythology perpetuating fear and persecution of this amazing animal. It made me proud to live in Wyoming.

Yet the possibility remains that this bill will be reintroduced to the Senate this week. To ensure Wyoming's mountain lion trapping legislation stops in its tracks, continue to contact members of the Wyoming legislature this week.

If the bill is halted, New Mexico and Texas will be the only states in our country to allow the trapping of mountain lions.

(Article #1680) To read the actual news story click here...

Colorado's First Wildlife Bridge (2/4/2016)
Colorado's first wildlife bridge is proving to be a huge success. Saving the lives of both wildlife and motorists, the wildlife overpass on Highway 9 in Grand County was designed to reduce collisions on one of the most dangerous stretches of road in the state.

The multi-million dollar project is the first of its kind in Colorado. Cameras placed on the bridge show deer and a fox have already utilized the safe crossing. Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Michelle Cowardin told CBS, "Within days of it being completed we started having evidence of deer using the overpass on a daily basis."

The bridge is located on a deadly 10-mile stretch of Highway between Silverthorne and Kremmling. Nearly 600 car accidents and 16 fatalities have been reported during the last 20 years, with more than 500 animals killed on the road in the just the last decade.
Design of Hwy 9 overpass.
Mike Ritschard is the spokesman for a local group known as Citizens for a Safer Highway 9 and knows firsthand how treacherous this section of road can be. Ritschard lost his parents in an automobile collision on Highway 9 thirty years ago. He told reporters he "always hoped this road would be improved. Never dreamed we would have this opportunity and now we do."

The overpass is part of a larger plan promoted in 2013, which would include five underpasses, two overpasses, fencing to corral wildlife to the safe crossing sites, and widening the road in certain areas. The price tag: a whopping $46 million.

To make matters worse, the Highway 9 crossing project was just one of more than 200 proposals competing for funding from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) program known as RAMP — Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships — designed to combine state and local money to fund desperately-needed road projects. The Highway 9 project would have to raise 20% of the $46 million in a matter of months to be considered.

A fundraising campaign started in May 2013 with the deadline of July 1 to hit the nearly $10 million needed. Kicking off the pool, $5 million was given by the wealthy owner of Blue Valley Ranch which borders the highway. The community then came together in full force, with more than 250 donors raising over one million dollars in 40 days.

As the final deadline approached, the community asked Grand County to contribute the remaining the $3 million to get the project off the ground. Citizens approached the commission, citing the need to protect residents, tourists and wildlife, along with the desire to have Grand be a model for the rest of the state
Early construction of HWY 9 overpass.
The Commission agreed to foot the bill, with one commissioner remarking this would not be an expense, but rather an investment in the future. Perry Handyside from Blue Valley Ranch commented, "The Grand County commissioners have provided the leadership for this project. We're in partnership with Grand County and CDOT [...] it's a worthy cause."

"Highway 9 has been the most dangerous highway as far as collision with wildlife, so this is a long overdue and very innovative project," said Cathy Connell, Commissioner of District 6 for Colorado Department of Transportation.

"This could not have been done with one agency, or completed with one group. It has taken multiple committees, businesses, agencies, to get a project this size completed," said Michelle Cowardin of Colorado Parks & Wildlife.

"This is the first overpass built in Colorado but I think the Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado Parks and Wildlife and even the public are looking at this and asking, 'Why aren't we doing more of these elsewhere in the state?'" Cowardin added.

Watch deer use the brand new crossing courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife and CBS Denver:

See more on the CBS Denver website.

Our Resolve

The Mountain Lion Foundation is sending a thank you letter to five of the critical groups who made this historic wildlife overpass a reality. Not only have they made Highway 9 safer for people and wildlife, they have made Grand County, Colorado, a role model for the rest of the country.

What YOU Can Do

Contact your state's Department of Transportation and urge them to be mindful of wildlife issues. Encourage partnerships to build safe crossings on existing roads, and incorporate both fencing and crossings into construction plans for all new roads.

You can also thank the organizations and agencies involved in the Highway 9 crossing for their determination and success.
MLF's thank you letter.
CO Department of Transportation
4201 E. Arkansas Avenue
Denver CO 80222

Grand Foundation
Citizens for a Safer Hwy 9
P.O. Box 1342
Winter Park, CO 80482

Colorado Parks and Wildlife
1313 Sherman Street, 6th Floor
Denver, CO 80203

Grand County Commission
308 Byers Ave.
P.O. Box 264
Hot Sulphur Springs, CO 80451

Blue Valley Ranch
6915 CO-9
Kremmling, CO 80459

(Article #1678) To read the actual news story click here...

Lion Confirmed in Tennessee! (1/28/2016)
Making history, Tennessee confirms its first mountain lion in over 100 years!

In October 2015, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) received photos from the trail camera of an Obion County hunter claiming to have proof of a mountain lion. Because most lion images circulated online are either mistaken identity or from another location, TWRA took some time to investigate the photos and ensure this wasn't just another hoax.

After careful analysis of the images, TWRA has confirmed there was in fact a mountain lion in Tennessee.

In a press release, the agency reminded residents, the "confirmation of one animal [...] does not mean there is an established population. A cougar sighting could easily be attributed to a transient young male or an illegal release of a captive animal."

The odds are this cat is a young male kicked out of his mother's home rage in a western state. He is searching for an available territory with food (preferably deer), water, cover and female lions. Until he finds a landscape with all four necessities, this cat will likely continue to wander. He may very well already have crossed into another state by now.

Since the photos were reported in October, at least two other sightings have occurred. A definite confirmation was a trail camera video taken just outside Nashville during Thanksgiving weekend. There's a chance it's the same lion since covering 200 miles in two months is an easy trek for a dispersing mountain lion.

With all the attention mountain lions have been receiving in the state, TWRA has created a "Cougars in Tennessee" webpage dedicated solely to the stealthy cat. The page provides some background information on lion biology and the species' history in Tennessee. Residents can also learn more about confirmations and how to submit proof for review by the agency.

TWRA reminds the public, "Because Tennessee law protects all animals for which no hunting season is proclaimed, the cougar is protected in Tennessee. It is illegal to kill a cougar in Tennessee except in the case of imminent threat of life and injury. Also, if a landowner is experiencing property damage made by wildlife, that landowner has the right to protect his/her property. TWRA has never, nor has it any plans to stock or otherwise physically encourage the establishment of a cougar population in Tennessee. TWRA plans to monitor the natural expansion of the cougar from the western US as it pertains to Tennessee."

Though against the law, dispersing lions in the Midwest and eastern states often find themselves in the crosshairs of hunters willing to risk a small fine for the thrill of shooting such a rare animal. Poaching laws in Tennessee provide some protection of mountain lions, but only as a deterrent. It is rare for penalties to be sufficiently harsh to keep poachers from poaching again. State law specifies that killing any animal contrary to the legal means, devices, or times laid out in the state's legal code is a Class B misdemeanor. A Class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to 6 months of imprisonment and a fine of up to $500. This is significantly cheaper than the cost of flying west for a guided lion hunt.

But the Mountain Lion Foundation and its thousands of supporters hope this roaming lion stays out of harm's way. Fingers are crossed that he finds a place with female lions and sets up a territory. We can increase his chances by continuing to protect wild places, contacting legislators to pass laws that prohibit lion hunting, and increasing the penalties for those who violate game laws by poaching our precious wild life.

Together, we can work towards a future where lions once again roam Tennessee and the entire Appalachian Mountains. Please join us today!

(Article #1676) To read the actual news story click here...

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