Articles, opinions, and editorials about mountain lions and the Mountain Lion Foundation.
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Oklahoma Wildlife Department Confirms Mountain Lion Sightings (12/1/2014)
The following story was written by Ed Godfrey and first posted in the Oklahoman.
State wildlife officials recently confirmed two mountain lion sightings in northeast Oklahoma.
Photos of the mountain lions were caught on two trail cameras, one in Pawnee County and one in Mayes County, both in late October.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation often receives reports and even photos of mountain lions in the state, but most of the time they are proven to be false or cannot be substantiated.
In these two cases, state wildlife officials investigated and determined the photos were authentic.
The last time before these photos that state wildlife officials confirmed a mountain lion sighting in Oklahoma was in 2011, when there were five [sightings].
State wildlife officials acknowledge there are mountain lions in the state but don't know how many.
"We know they are uncommon," said Micah Holmes, spokesman for the Wildlife Department.
Most cougars in the state are young males just passing through, Holmes said. There has been no documented reproduction of mountain lions in Oklahoma in decades, he said.
It is illegal to hunt mountain lions in Oklahoma, and it once was illegal to shoot the animal for any reason. In 2007, state law was changed where it became legal to kill a mountain lion if a person feared his or her life was in danger from a cat or that livestock was is in danger.
The law requires the cougar's carcass be taken to the Wildlife Department for examination, but no one has ever submitted a dead mountain lion to state wildlife officials in the seven years since the law changed.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation: Confirmed on October 24, 2014 in Pawnee County. Trail cam photo of a mountain lion, sex unknown.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation: Confirmed on October 31, 2014 in Mayes County. Trail cam video, picture shown is a screen capture from the video of a mountain lion, sex unknown.
For more information on confirmed mountain lion sightings in Oklahoma, click here. (Article #1577) To read the actual news story click here...
Colorado Family Sentenced for Running Canned Hunts in Utah (11/24/2014)
Update: A Federal court sentenced Colorado Big Game Hunting Guide Christopher Loncarich to 27 months in prison and 3-years probation for violating Lacey Act.
The sentence was part of a plea bargain when Loncarich plead guilty on 17 counts, for capturing mountain lions and other wildlife in Colorado and Utah so they could be used in expensive "canned" hunts for clients, some of whom didn't even have hunting licenses, and then assisting those clients in sneaking the illegally killed animals back into Colorado using coded language during radio communication to keep from being caught.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Loncarich, as part of his outfitting business, would trap lions and bobcats prior to his clients' hunts and hold them or injure them by "shooting the cats in the paws, stomach, and/or legs, or attaching leg-hold traps prior to the client arriving on scene."
Colorado wildlife officials reported that in one instance, Loncarich's group captured a mountain lion and put a radio-tracking collar on the animal. They used the tracking device to catch the animal again a year later, eventually caging the lion at a house in Mack, Colorado, where it was held for a week while Loncarich waited for a client to arrive from Missouri. The lion ultimately was transported to the kill site on a snowmobile and released for the hunter.
The multijurisdictional investigation found that approximately 18 clients participated in the illegal killing of more than 30 mountain lions and bobcats. Loncarich admitted to personally assisting clients in unlawfully killing 15 mountain lions and four bobcats.
One of Loncarich's assistants, Nicholaus Rodgers of Medford, Oregon was also indicted on 17 counts of illegally capturing and maiming mountain lions and bobcats. Rodgers who, along with Loncarich, plead guilty and will be sentenced Jan. 6, 2015.
Another Loncarich assistant, Marvin Ellis, was sentenced to three years of probation, six months of home detention and fined $3,100.
Loncarich's daughters, Caitlin and Andie, were also involved in the illegal killings. Caitlin Loncarich was sentenced to two misdemeanor Lacey Act violations and received one year of probation, a $1,000 fine and 60 hours of community service. Andie Loncarich was sentenced on a misdemeanor Lacey Act violation and received one year of probation, a $500 fine and 36 hours of community service.
Three of Loncarich's 18 clients were also issued federal Lacey Act violations and paid a total of $13,100 in fines. Additional clients might be charged in the future.
A violation of the Lacey Act could have carried as much as a 5-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $250,000.
CAPTION: Courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife Nicholaus Rodgers, left, Christopher Loncarich, Andie Loncarich, an unidentified hunter and Caitlin Loncarich sit with a mountain lion killed in Utah without a license, then illegally checked in Colorado. Loncarich was sentenced to 27 months in prison and three years probation for conspiring to violate the Lacey Act, a federal law prohibiting the interstate transportation and sale of any wildlife taken in an illegal manner.
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The following story was previously posted on August 13, 2014
Two Colorado big game hunting guides, Christopher Loncarich, 55, of Mack Colorado and his partner Nicolaus Rodgers of Shady Cove, Oregon, who were part of an outfitter's group of Western-slope guides that led expensive mountain lion hunts around the Book Cliffs Mountains on the Utah border are charged with 17 counts of violating Federal wildlife crimes.
The two are accused of trapping mountain lions in Utah between 2007 and 2009, bringing them across the border into Colorado to be hunted by clients (many of whom were unlicensed "poachers") paying between $3,500 and $7,500 each for the experience, and making sure the lions couldn't escape beforehand by wounding them in the leg or keeping them in place with a leg-hold snare.
Their arrest came about as part of a lengthy investigation by the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife with assistance from the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
According to Dean Riggs with the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife "I would say this is probably one of the more egregious situations that I have seen in more than 20 years of doing this. We in society expect people to follow laws and to do this in a 'fair chase' sort of manner."
Mr. Rodger and four other members of the outfitting group have plead guilty to violating the Lacey Act. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, "the Lacey Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to knowingly transport or sell in interstate commerce any wildlife that has been taken or possessed in violation of state laws or regulations."
The maximum penalty for conspiring to violate the Lacey Act is up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The Loncarich and Rodgers case may be an especially extreme one, but this type of crime is not unheard of in the U.S. Last month the Oregonian reported that Bend, Oregon resident Alan Aronson and his wife were two of 23 people arrested by the Oregon State Police in a massive poaching investigation.
Aronson admitted that he had been "taking people on illegal hunts for elk and buffalo on another person's ranch without the owner's consent," didn't have a license to run that type of business, and that many of his paying customers didn't even have licenses to hunt.
(Article #1575) To read the actual news story click here...
Proposition 117 Money At Work Protecting Wildlands (11/21/2014)
The following is a November 20, 2014 news article from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects
At its November 20 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $26 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 16 funded projects will provide benefits to fish and wildlife — including some endangered species — while others will provide the public with access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, land owners and the local community. The funds for all these projects come from bond initiatives approved by voters (Proposition 117) to help preserve and protect California's natural resources. Some of the funded projects include:
For more information about the WCB please visit www.wcb.ca.gov.
Learn more about Proposition 117 and the $30 million a year it allocates towards habitat protection in California.
(Article #1574) To read the actual news story click here...
Another Lion Dies in Nebraska - When Will the Killing End? (11/18/2014)
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission announced that an 89-pound female mountain lion was killed by a hunter yesterday in Dakota County. This is the second mountain lion killed during Nebraska's inaugural lion hunt in the Prairie Unit Hunting Area. This hunting region includes almost all of the State and has a year-round, unlimited lion hunting season.
The death of this mountain lion brings the total killed in Nebraska to 13 for the year, with 5 of those mortalities being females.
Prior to the start of this year's lion hunting season, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission estimated that Nebraska might have as many as 22 mountain lions.
At this time, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has not decided as to whether or not there will be a 2015 mountain lion hunting season.
State Senator Ernie Chambers has vowed to introduce legislation to remove the Commission's authority to authorize a lion hunt when the state legislature returns in January. He introduced a similar bill early this year, but it was vetoed by the Governor.
(Article #1573) To read the actual news story click here...
Another Deer Hunter Claims He "Had" to Kill Lion (11/14/2014)
A Louisiana deer hunter became infamous last Saturday by being the first man in almost 40-years to kill a mountain lion in Arkansas.
Mountain lions once roamed freely throughout the continental United States, but eradication efforts by humans almost eliminated the species east of the Rockies by the early 1900s.
Arkansas' indigenous lion population was originally extirpated sometime around 1920. Over the years, young, transient mountain lions from western states have been known to travel through Arkansas searching for a mate and viable territory. One of those transients was killed in Montgomery County in 1949, followed by a second twenty years later in Ashley County, and then again in Logan County in 1975.
This most recent killing occurred on private land, by a hunter perched up high in a tree stand waiting for an unsuspecting deer to pass by. The hunter told authorities that he killed the lion because he felt threatened when he saw the lion moving towards his stand.
According to Arkansas Game and Fish Commission regulations, non-game wildlife (except migratory birds and endangered species) that present a reasonable threat to people or property may be shot during daylight hours or trapped without a depredation permit.
At this time, the hunter has not been charged with violating regulations, but that might change since the incident is still under investigation.
CAPTION: Pictured here is the 148-pound male mountain lion killed in Arkansas on Saturday morning in Bradley County.
Photo by Keith Stephens of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
(Article #1572) To read the actual news story click here...
Captured Colorado Lion Euthanized for Medical Reasons (11/7/2014)
An 8-year old, female mountain lion that had been seen wandering throughout a Boulder, Colorado neighborhood for the past week was tranquilized and captured by Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife rangers yesterday afternoon.
The mountain lion, which was wearing a non-functioning radio collar, was first thought to be pregnant because of a distended belly. At that time, the rangers on scene indicated that after a medical exam their intention was to replace the collar's battery and release the lion back into the wild.
However, an examination by veterinarians in Fort Collins found that along with signs of liver damage, there was blockage of major blood and lymphatic vessels in the mountain lion's abdomen. This blockage caused about four gallons of fluid to leak into the animal's belly.
A Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife spokesperson announced today that a decision was made to euthanize the animal for medical reasons.
(Article #1571) To read the actual news story click here...
Texas Study Shows Lions Can Benefit Ranchers (11/4/2014)
A study of the eating habits of mountain lions, carried out on private lands, is underway in one of the Sky Islands* of Texas, about 90-minutes north of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Researchers from the Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) at Sul Ross State University have managed to get more than 50 ranchers and other landowners to allow the study to take place on their properties. A formidable accomplishment since many of the ranchers in the test area harbored revulsion for mountain lions and have long sought to wipe them out.
"You have to understand the values that people have, the history that they [ranchers] have, the culture that they have," said Louis Harveson, the leader of BRI's research team.
While carrying out the study, Harveson has also provided participating ranchers with information about the biology and behavior of mountain lions and has asked them to consider the animal's role in maintaining nature's checks and balances.
"Mountain lions are the apex predator, just like sharks and oceans," said Harveson.
"There's a food chain that's in existence," he explained. "And that apex predator symbolizes wildness. This animal that's able to kill a deer a week or a large prey item a week, that just says that there's a good healthy ecosystem intact."
A member of the research team, wildlife biologist Dana Milani documents the lions' appetite for deer, rabbit and porcupine; an appetite that keeps those lower-level species in check.
Milani said that without the support of the study's participating ranchers and other landowners, she could not paint a picture of how lions sometimes help ranchers.
A case-in-point is rancher James King who has trouble with feral hogs. "I shoot a lot of feral hogs and they're hard to exterminate," King said. "And those lions are out there at night doing that job."
King said the antipathy toward the mountain lion goes back to the days when sheep and goats were raised in this part of the Southwest. Today, King said, ranchers principally raise cattle. He said he's encouraged by one development profiled in the study. "Here in the Davis Mountains, we're not seeing any kills of domestic cattle."
According to Louis Harveson, BRI researchers have documented more than 200 different kills by mountain lions over the course of the 4-year study, "and not one domestic animal has fallen to mountain lions and that's a fact."
That's a pretty good statistic, and hopefully one that might someday change the attitude of many Southwestern ranchers towards this critical apex predator.
* Sky Islands refers to a mountain range surrounded by flatlands.
(Article #1570) To read the actual news story click here...
California Coastal Farm Uses Dogs, not Bullets to Protect Sheep (11/3/2014)
Alison Charter-Smith and Tony Jaehnichen own and run the Madrone Coast Farm; a small organic, livestock farm, located near the rural community of Felton, California.
Situated in the Santa Cruz Mountains on California's coast, and frequented by predators, Madrone Coast Farm has found a safe, friendly alternative to using guns to deter mountain lion attacks on their sheep herd: sheepdogs.
The farm's 25 sheep and hundreds of ducks and chickens are guarded closely, around the clock by Luke and Leia - sheepdogs who bark and position themselves strategically when intruders approach.
At night, the couple encloses the animals in buildings with motion-sensing lights, but the dogs are their first line of defense. The dogs take turns sleeping in short naps and don't back down to predators, Ms. Charter-Smith said.
This approach was once the traditional method of protecting livestock. However, it's now rarely used in America where the prevalent practice is to allow domesticated animals to wander freely, or keep them penned in an unprotected enclosure, and then have the government, at taxpayers expense, track down and kill any predator that might threaten or kill those animals.
Because of this and other wildlife-friendly practices, Madrone Coast Farm, has become the first farm in California to receive a wildlife-friendly certification.
Ms. Charter-Smith, who began farming in 2010 after a tech career in Silicon Valley, said the couple has encountered four mountain lions, one of whom killed a pregnant sheep. Ms. Charter-Smith said her goal with certification was to promote the fact that peaceful coexistence with predators is possible.
"You can have both wildlife and livestock and still farm successfully," she said.
To receive certification, the couple also had to show that their ponds are accessible to wildlife and their property has minimal fencing, allowing wildlife to move freely.
(Article #1569) To read the actual news story click here...
Nebraskans Kill Another Female Mountain Lion (10/28/2014)
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission reported that another mountain lion was shot and killed last Friday just south of the rural community of Chadron, Nebraska.
The young, female lion, estimated to be approximately 18-months old and weighing 63 lbs. was killed by a rancher who saw her hanging out near his chicken coop.
Even though Nebraska's mountain lion hunting season is over for that area of the state, the rancher was not cited because he was supposedly protecting his property.
At 18-months, the young lion might have been an orphan, or just recently left her mother. Still perfecting her hunting skills, chickens are an easy meal for a young lion and may have attracted her to the area. Or, she merely may have been passing through and was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Under Nebraska state law, farmers and ranchers do not have to take any preventative measures to protect their animals, and may kill a mountain lion at any time if they believe the cat is stalking livestock.
This is the 12th mountain lion, and the 4th female to be killed in Nebraska so far this year from an estimated population of only 22 lions.
(Article #1568) To read the actual news story click here...
Senator Chambers vows that Nebraska will not be the state that exterminates mountain lions (10/24/2014)
After hearing updated information on the impact of last year's hunt and other related deaths on Nebraska's fledgling mountain lion population yesterday, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) announced that they needed more time to analyze the data and were unready decide whether there will even be a second lion hunting season in 2015.
However, this declaration was insufficient to sway State Senator Ernie Chamber from his efforts to protect Nebraska's lions. Claiming that this fight won't interfere with his other legislative bills he stated that, "my intent is - and will be as long as I'm in the Legislature - is to do away with the authority given to Game and Parks to establish a hunting season on mountain lions."
Because of Nebraska's term-limit laws, Senator Chambers was not in office when the Nebraska Legislature gave NGPC the authority to implement a mountain lion hunting season, which they did in 2014.
Early in that hunting season, Senator Chambers won legislative approval to take away that authority, only to have his bill fail when he couldn't muster enough votes to overcome a veto by Governor Dave Heineman.
Tim McCoy, NGPC's deputy director, said a staff recommendation on whether to schedule a future cougar season won't be considered until after more analysis is done on mountain lion research conducted this summer in western Nebraska.
According to Sam Wilson, NGPC's carnivore program manager, previous scientific studies indicated an estimated population of 22 mountain lions residing in the Pine Ridge at the start of the 2014 hunting season last January. That estimate was based on DNA samples that specifically identified seven female and four male cougars in the Pine Ridge area.
However, since the beginning of this year, there have been three adult female deaths in the Pine Ridge area. "This reduces the resiliency of the population to withstand additional mortalities," Wilson said.
According to NGPC statements their goal in establishing the Pine Ridge lion hunting season this year was to provide hunting opportunities while allowing a slight to moderate reduction in the population.
NGPC Director, Jim Douglas stated that staff biologists are in the beginning stages of working more closely with game agencies in neighboring South Dakota and Wyoming to develop a more geographically comprehensive mountain lion management plan. Both of those states hold mountain lion hunting seasons.
Senator Chambers said the NGPC's research shows the cougar population in Nebraska is too small to warrant a hunting season and that a multi-state management plan would have no impact on mountain lion migration into Nebraska.
"I don't want Nebraska to be the state that exterminates mountain lions," he said.
Mountain lions are native to Nebraska but were extirpated by humans more than a century ago. The first modern confirmation of their return was in 1991. Eleven mountain lions have been killed in the Pine Ridge region of Nebraska since the beginning of this year.
(Article #1567) To read the actual news story click here...
First Mountain Lion Sighting in Kansas Since 2012 (10/23/2014)
For the first time in almost two years, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) has verified the presence of a mountain lion in that state.
The sighting resulted from a trail camera photograph taken in Labette County, located in the Southeast corner of Kansas. When notified of the event KDWPT staff visited the area and confirmed the photograph's authenticity.
KDWPT investigates all mountain lion sightings to determine their validity whenever evidence, such as tracks, a cached kill or a photograph exists. KDWPT Biologists assume that most sightings are of transient young males, coming from established populations in nearby states.
"It's not uncommon for young males to travel great distances looking for home ranges," said Matt Peek, KDWPT furbearer biologist. "So far, these animals appear to be passing through, rather than staying and establishing home ranges in Kansas."
Kansas' indigenous mountain population was originally eradicated by humans in 1904. In 2007, the first mountain lion known to have returned to that state was killed by a deer hunter in Barber County. This particular lion sighting is the 10th verified by KDWPT since that 2007 killing.
Mountain lion confirmed in Labette County, southeast Kansas. (Article #1566) To read the actual news story click here...
Confirmed Lion Sighting in Northern Wisconsin (10/21/2014)
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) announced that it has confirmed two mountain lion sightings taken from trail camera photographs in Lincoln and Marinette counties.
Coupled with the lion sighting in Bayfield County last January this makes the third confirmed report of mountain lions in the state of Wisconsin during 2014.
According to David MacFarland, a wildlife biologist with the WDNR, since the two sightings were in a straight line, and only ninety miles apart, chances are they were of the same lion.
During 2013, the WDNR received 240 reports of mountain lion sightings. Eight of those reports were listed as probable and three (in Bayfield, Sawyer and Florence counties) were confirmed as verified sightings.
In 2008, a wave of sightings (which turned out to be the result of one lion) marked the first recorded lion sighting in Wisconsin since 1910 when that state's last indigenous mountain lion was reported killed.
Photo Courtesy WI Department of Natural Resources. The Department of Natural Resources has confirmed the sighting of a cougar in Lincoln County. A trail camera on private land captured this image on July 30, and the property's absentee owner first discovered the image September 5.
(Article #1565) To read the actual news story click here...
Nebraska's Bloody Year --11th Lion Killed and Counting (10/16/2014)
The carcass of a female mountain lion was found near the community of Ericson in Nebraska's eastern Sand Hills region.
According to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC), an investigation and forensic analysis is underway but they think that the animal may have been killed by a vehicle.
This lethal incident is significant because NGPC has officially estimated that there were only 22 mountain lions residing within the state, with only one known breeding female. This death now marks the 11th lion, and second female, killed in Nebraska so far this year - or 50 percent of the Commission's total population estimate.
If that estimate is even close to accurate, then Nebraska's burgeoning lion population is in trouble.
Earlier this year, State Senator Ernie Chambers authored a bill (LB 671) repealing NGPC's authority to establish mountain lion hunting seasons, but he was eventually unsuccessful in his efforts to protect Nebraska's lions when he couldn't garner sufficient support to override the governor's veto.
Senator Chambers has vowed to resume the repeal fight when the Legislature convenes in January.
To learn more, visit our Mountain Lions in Nebraska page.
(Article #1564) To read the actual news story click here...
Oregon Raises its Cougar Mortality Quota to an Unbelievable 970 (10/14/2014)
Last week the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission possibly made history by increasing that state's annual cougar mortality quota from 777 (one of the nation's highest) to an unbelievable 970.
The excuse for their action was "to reflect increasing cougar populations, more damage and public safety issues from cougar in some areas, and deer and elk populations that are below objectives in many areas."
In 1994, Oregon voters attempted to follow California's example of enacting cougar protection laws by passing Measure 18. This citizen-placed statewide initiative banned the use of hounds for hunting cougars and bears. The measure's proponents felt that this restriction would reduce the number of cougars killed in Oregon.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) responded to what they saw as a challenge to their authority by extending the cougar hunting season while reducing and discounting the cost of a cougar hunting tag. The result has been a dramatic increase in the number of cougar hunting tags sold, over 50,000 as of 2011, as well as an increase in the number of cougars killed by hunters each year.
With the adoption of a cougar management plan in 2006, ODFW raised the statewide cougar mortality quota by 16 percent from 668 to 777. The Department's explanation at the time for this increase was to "be consistent with population and conflict objectives adopted in the plan."
In addition to those individuals licensed to hunt cougars without hounds, ODFW also runs special "eradication" or "removal" hunts in key areas of the state that are not hampered by Measure 18's restrictions. These special hunts consistently account for as many if not more annual cougar deaths than by licensed cougar hunters.
As for the Commission's statement regarding "increasing cougar populations," the Mountain Lion Foundation and many other cougar protection proponents question the validity of Oregon's cougar population models.
In Washington, which has similar terrain and cougar hunting regulations, they are killing around 150 cougars per year, yet their cougar population has remained stable for decades. California, which lethally removes mountain lions for depredation on pets or livestock, kills around 100 lions per year. California's mountain lion population is declining in some regions of the state due to habitat loss and the hunting practices of neighboring states. Oregon kills over 500 cougars annually through licensed hunts and special removal programs, yet somehow, according to ODFW, Oregon's cougar population is steadily increasing.
Out of the three west coast states (Washington, Oregon, California) with viable cougar populations, only Oregon has repeatedly raised its cougar population estimate to justify the number of cougars killed each year.
Since Oregon has consistently fallen far short of the 777 cougar mortality number, and since the number of cougars killed by licensed hunters rarely surpasses the 250 mark, and because the Commission's statement referenced "deer and elk populations that are below objectives in many areas," it can only be surmised that increasing the cougar quota of 970 is their attempt to placate that special interest group and pave the way for an extreme increase in cougar mortalities as a result of Oregon's special cougar eradication programs.
Recreational hunting and eradication efforts are killing more Oregon cougars than ever before.
(Article #1563) To read the actual news story click here...
46M - the "Mountain View" Lion Killed by Automobile on California's I-280 (10/10/2014)
The young, radio collared, male mountain lion known as 46M first came to the public's attention last May after he hid for nine and 1/2 hours behind a small hedge on a busy Mountain View, California street. On that particular occasion, 46M was successfully tranquilized, captured and later released back into the wild with only lingering memories of the incident to take along with him on his journey to find a permanent home.
Since then, 46M, who first started traveling when he left his mother and litter mates near Big Basin Redwoods State Park last April, traveled north to the outskirts of Pacifica and Daly City, then onward to the Devils Slide area on the California coast, followed by a stay near Crystal Springs Reservoir, before heading back south, where he was killed trying to recross Interstate 280 just north of the Edgewood Road exit, between Highways 84 and 92.
"It's sad when this happens to an animal," said Paul Houghtaling, the field project manager for the Santa Cruz Puma Project. "The younger ones have left home and are forced to live on the margins, crossing roads a lot as they look for a new home."
"Looking at the places he's been, it doesn't strike me as prime lion country," Houghtaling added. "He was living quite close to a lot of people in Daly City and Pacifica. Despite how close he was to people, he didn't cause any harm to anyone and I find that quite fascinating."
46M's twisted journey isn't unusual for dispersing mountain lions. Male lions, especially those born in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which are isolated on three sides by water and urban areas, have to travel long, often hazardous, miles to find adequate lion habitat which isn't already taken.
Houghtaling said the plight of 46M offers a valuable lesson. "We were able to track this cat from when he was with his mom to when he was looking for territory of his own," he said. "It's sad how it ended, but it gives us insight on how mountain lions live and what they have to deal with."
(Article #1562) To read the actual news story click here...
Wandering Lion Captured and Released in Fort Collins, Colorado (10/8/2014)
Monday afternoon, Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife (CDPW) officers caught a 1 1/2 year old female mountain lion who had wandered into a Fort Collins, Colorado neighborhood.
The young dispersing mountain lion was tranquilized and captured a few blocks away from the Colorado State University campus.
CDPW spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said that the lion was checked for injuries and general health, and then released back into wild habitat located west of the city.
(Article #1561) To read the actual news story click here...
Nebraska Hunters Kill Another Mountain Lion (10/7/2014)
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission reported that a hunter made history Sunday when he killed a 157-pound male mountain lion near Lewis and Clark Lake in Knox County, Nebraska.
His action made this the first mountain lion killed outside the Pine Ridge lion hunting unit during Nebraska's inaugural lion hunting season.
Nebraska is divided into four lion hunting units: the Pine Ridge, Keya Paha, Upper Platte, and Prairie. Pine Ridge, the small unit closest to South Dakota's Black Hills, is the hunting unit where lion hunters are most likely to find and kill a mountain lion. That unit also restricts the lion hunting season to between January 1 and March 31, and limits the number of lions killed to four, half of which can be breeding females.
The Prairie Unit, where this particular lion was killed, covers 85 percent of the state, allows unlimited kills and runs year-long.
It's unknown as to exactly why the big, mature Tom had left his established territory, but he had successfully made it out of South Dakota's "Killing Fields" in the Black Hills region of that state, and by following the Missouri River wildlife corridor had almost made it all the way to the Iowa border before being shot and killed as a trophy.
Visit the Nebraska Game and Parks website for more information. (Article #1560) To read the actual news story click here...
Santa Cruz Puma Project Looking at Mountain Lion Energetics (10/2/2014)
This story was originally posted online at Phys.org as Study of mountain lion energetics shows the power of the pounce. Visit Santa Cruz Pumas for more information on this research project.
Scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, using a new wildlife tracking collar they developed, were able to continuously monitor the movements of mountain lions in the wild and determine how much energy the big cats use to stalk, pounce, and overpower their prey.
The research team's findings, published October 3 in Science, help explain why most cats use a "stalk and pounce" hunting strategy. The new "SMART" wildlife collar-equipped with GPS, accelerometers, and other high-tech features-tells researchers not just where an animal is but what it is doing and how much its activities "cost" in terms of energy expenditure.
"What's really exciting is that we can now say, here's the cost of being a mountain lion in the wild and what they need in terms of calories to live in this environment," said first author Terrie Williams, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz. "Understanding the energetics of wild animals moving in complex environments is valuable information for developing better wildlife management plans."
The researchers were able to quantify, for example, the high energetic costs of traveling over rugged terrain compared to the low cost of "cryptic" hunting behaviors such as sit-and-wait or stalk-and-ambush movements. During the actual pounce and kill, the cats invest a lot of energy in a short time to overpower their prey. Data from the collars showed that mountain lions adjust the amount of energy they put into the initial pounce to account for the size of their prey.
"They know how big a pounce they need to bring down prey that are much bigger than themselves, like a full-grown buck, and they'll use a much smaller pounce for a fawn," Williams said.
Before Williams and her team could interpret the data from collars deployed on wild mountain lions, however, they first had to perform calibration studies with mountain lions in captivity. This meant, among other things, training mountain lions to walk and run on a treadmill and measuring their oxygen consumption at different activity levels. Those studies took a bit longer than planned.
"People just didn't believe you could get a mountain lion on a treadmill, and it took me three years to find a facility that was willing to try," Williams said.
Finally, she met Lisa Wolfe, a veterinarian with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, who had three captive mountain lions (siblings whose mother had been killed by a hunter) at a research facility near Fort Collins, Colorado. After eight months of training by Wolfe, the mountain lions were comfortable on the treadmill and Williams started collecting data.
According to Williams, the treadmill data showed that mountain lions do not have the aerobic capacity for sustained, high-energy activity. "They are power animals. They have a slow routine walking speed and use a burst of speed and the force of the pounce to knock down or overpower their prey," she said.
In addition to the treadmill studies, the captive cats were videotaped wearing the collars while doing a wide range of activities in a large outdoor enclosure. This provided a library of collar acceleration signatures specific for different behaviors, from resting and grooming to running and pouncing. "We got all the different behaviors videotaped and analyzed with the corresponding accelerometer traces," Williams said.
Meanwhile, coauthor Chris Wilmers led a team that deployed the collars on wild cats in the Santa Cruz mountains. Wilmers, an associate professor of environmental studies at UC Santa Cruz, leads the Santa Cruz Puma Project, which has been tracking mountain lions in the area to study the effects of habitat fragmentation and developing new technology for understanding the animals' behavior and energetics.
"Because mountain lions are a cryptic animal, we can't really observe them hunting and killing prey. With the SMART collars, we can see how they go about doing that, what their strategies are, and how many calories they are expending to do it," Wilmers said. "The ability to estimate the field energetics of animals in the wild opens up a whole new suite of questions we can ask about the ecology of these animals, which ultimately informs not only our basic understanding of them but also their conservation and management."
Coauthor Gabriel Elkaim, professor of computer engineering at UCSC's Baskin School of Engineering, worked on signal processing of the accelerometer data and is continuing to develop the state-of-the-art tracking collars. The prototype used in this study, called the Species Movement, Acceleration, and Radio Tracking (SMART) wildlife collar, was developed by computer engineering graduate student Matthew Rutishauser. The collars include a GPS unit, accelerometers, and a magnetometer to provide detailed data on where an animal is and what it is doing. "We hope this will be an enabling technology to allow a much greater depth of understanding of animals in the wild," Elkaim said.
The researchers now want to look at mountain lion energetics in a range of different habitat types. In particular, Wilmers said, he is interested in how human land use and habitat fragmentation may be influencing the energetic demands on mountain lions in the wild. Williams and her students also have projects using the new collar technology to study other large carnivores, including wolves, polar bears, and Weddell seals.
"A lot of these large carnivore species are threatened or endangered, and understanding their physiological limitations has been a big missing piece in conservation planning," Williams said. "This technology gives us a whole new level understanding of what these animals are doing and what it costs them to live in the wild, and that can really help move the science of conservation forward."
For more information, visit SantaCruzPumas.org.
(Article #1559) To read the actual news story click here...
Scared Mountain Lion Captured in Salt Lake City Neighborhood (9/22/2014)
Late Sunday afternoon, several residents spotted a mountain lion wandering about in a Salt Lake City, Utah neighborhood. Local police and representatives from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) responded, but despite an intensive 90-minute search were unable to locate the animal.
Then, approximately 30-minutes after the officers had dispersed, another call came in from the same neighborhood stating that the lion was hiding behind a garage.
Police officers along with UDWR officials returned to the scene and attempted to contain the situation while the scared cat tried to flee the area.
According to Salt Lake Police Lt. Carl Merino, "The cat started running all over the neighborhood as we tried to close in on it."
Officers began chasing the lion on foot and shot it with a tranquilizer as it ran away. After losing sight of the animal a second time, a resident spotted the lion heading east and reported that sighting to a passing officer.
After a lengthy search, Salt Lake City police officers eventually located the drugged mountain lion around 9 p.m. asleep in a yard.
"It pretty well consumed our afternoon," Lt. Merino said.
The sleeping lion was removed by members of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, who planned on keeping the mountain lion overnight so its body heat could be regulated and its health monitored for adverse affects from the tranquilizer drug.
Lt. Merino indicated that he did not know where UDWR officials will release the lion Monday but, he said, "Hopefully [it's] way out away from town."
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(Article #1558) To read the actual news story click here...
UPDATED: California DFW Confirms DNA of Killed Lion (9/12/2014)
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife's forensics lab has finished processing the DNA and has confirmed that the lion killed on Wednesday was in fact the same lion that injured a boy last Sunday.
Results from the UC Davis California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory also showed the cat tested negative for rabies.
Wednesday afternoon, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wardens killed a mountain lion that is believed to have injured a six-year-old boy while he was hiking with his family last Sunday in the Picchetti Ranch Open Space Preserve.
In an effort to remove what authorities saw as an active threat to humans, personnel from CDFW and U.S. Wildlife Services searched for the lion for four days with tracking hounds and set up cameras and baited-cage traps in the area.
On Wednesday afternoon, search dogs began following fresh lion tracks within a mile of where the boy was jumped and officers believed they were on the trail of the right cat. The dogs located and treed a young male lion 70 feet up a tree.
The Department's initial plan was to tranquilize any mountain lion they came across during the search, test DNA to compare with evidence left on the boy's clothing, and only kill the cat responsible for Sunday's incident.
However, after the long chase they didn't want to risk this cat getting away and because he was perched so high up the tree, "Tranquilizing it was not a reasonable option and the fall would have killed it anyway," CDFW spokesman Patrick Foy said in a statement released Wednesday.
"No one at the department wanted to destroy this animal but protecting public safety is a first and foremost priority."
Foy added, "Authorities will conduct a complete necropsy, making the rabies test a priority as well as the gathering of additional forensic information to assess the health of the cat."
The Department feels confident they have killed the right mountain lion, with Foy saying "I think it's very, very highly likely, but we can't put a 100 percent stamp on it until we get the DNA," Foy said.
The Mountain Lion Foundation hopes the Department's assessment was correct and the DNA results match. It's an unfortunate situation that a lion has to be killed, but it would be a terrible tragedy if the wrong lion was forced to pay the price.
(Article #1557) To read the actual news story click here...
South Dakota authorities kill another lion for behaving naturally (9/10/2014)
Late Monday night, a Pennington County sheriff's deputy shot and killed a mountain lion after the animal was spotted dragging a raccoon through a residential area in the small rural town of Keystone, South Dakota — population 337.
When the deputy responded to the call he found the young lion eating the raccoon it had captured in an alley behind a business. The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks was contacted and asked for advice on how to handle the situation, because the lion had killed an animal in a populated area and was still near homes.
On their orders, the deputy shot and killed the lion. No consideration was given to the fact that the animal killed was the lion's natural prey and not a domestic pet or livestock.
Keystone, South Dakota.
(Article #1555) To read the actual news story click here...
6-Year Old Boy Injured by a Lion in Mountains west of San Jose (9/8/2014)
A six-year old boy was injured by a mountain lion while hiking with family and friends in the Picchetti Ranch Open Space Preserve in the mountains west of San Jose, California Sunday afternoon.
A LION HAS BEEN KILLED, CLICK HERE FOR THE UPDATED NEWS STORY
The young boy, who suffered scratches and bite wounds to his head and neck area, was saved by his father and another male adult who shouted and acted aggressively towards the lion. The boy was later taken to the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center for treatment of his serious but non-life threatening puncture wounds and released the next day.
According to Lt. Patrick Foy, of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), mountain lion attacks on humans are "quite rare," and "people are far more likely to be attacked by a dog."
Foy also said, mountain lions are "solitary and elusive," and tend to avoid humans. However the public should be careful about potential encounters. About half of California is mountain lion habitat, and the animal is particularly prevalent in areas frequented by deer, its preferred prey.
The quick reaction on the part of the two men Sunday reinforces useful advice given by both the Mountain Lion Foundation and CDFW.
According to the CDFW, this attack is only the 14th verified lion attack on humans in California since 1986. Three of those attacks were fatal.
At this time, CDFW wardens are searching the area with hounds in an effort to locate the lion. If the DNA sample from the lion's saliva on the boy's torn shirt matches that of any lion captured, it will be killed in the interest of public safety.
MLF's thoughts go out to the boy and his family. We wish him a speedy recovery.
(Article #1554) To read the actual news story click here...
Colorado Wildlife Officials Capture and Release a Lost Lion (9/3/2014)
Tuesday morning, a young female mountain lion awoke in the tree she had settled down in the night before, only to find herself in the middle of a Lakewood, Colorado subdivision.
When Colorado Parks and Wildlife wardens arrived on scene, the young lion weighing approximately 60 to 70 pounds decided that it was time to leave and led them on a short chase before being tranquilized and captured.
According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife's spokeswoman, Jennifer Churchill, no one was hurt during the incident and based on the Department's mountain lion relocation policy the animal received an ear-tag and was moved to a suitable release location west of town.
Lakewood is located a few miles west of Denver, Colorado.
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(Article #1553) To read the actual news story click here...
Montana Firefighter recounts rescuing mountain lion cubs from blaze (9/2/2014)
The following story was originally written by Dillon Kato and posted on-line on the Missoulian website - Photographs posted by Elizabeth Shellenbarger/ Bitterroot National Forest Helitack
One of the firefighters on the crew that found a pair of mountain lion cubs in a fire near Florence [Montana] said she's glad both animals got out of the situation unharmed.
Elizabeth Shellenbarger, a member of the Bitterroot National Forest Helitack crew based in Hamilton that was one of the first teams to respond to the Three Mile fire, said she was on the ground Friday afternoon digging a fire line when her crew started hearing noises.
"We kept hearing a sound, it sounded like a bird crying," she said.
Minutes later, one of the seven-member crew yelled out to the others that they had found a baby mountain lion. Shellenbarger said it was in some thick brush by a log that was on fire. The crew grabbed the animal, and then called in a bucket drop from a helicopter, which doused the area with 600 gallons of water.
"Right after the water hit the ground, we realized there was a second kitten that got hit by the brunt of it," Shellenbarger said.
The fire crew recovered the second cub, which she said had started to roll down the hill, mixed up in the mud and water from the drop. Shellenbarger said it's unusual for crews working a fire to see much wildlife, especially so close.
"We were wondering where the mom was, that was kind of the dangerous part of it, if she had come back and we're there between her and her kids," she said.
The helitack crew called a dispatch center, which got in touch with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, who sent a warden out to retrieve the two cubs.
Shellenbarger and the team she was with hiked out from the fire line to where their vehicles were parked.
"We sat in the sun and helped dry them off. The one that got hit by water was pretty caked in mud, and he was shivering the whole walk out," she said.
Bitterroot National Forest spokesman Tod McKay said Montana FWP brought the animals, both males that are just one or two weeks old, to its Montana Wildlife Center in Helena, where the agency rehabilitates orphaned, injured and displaced wildlife. No decisions have been made yet on when or if the cubs can be re-released into the wild.
Shellenbarger said she was told the mother of the mountain lion cubs was possibly seen around the fire area Saturday, but Shellenbarger said she wasn't sure what would happen to the young mountain lions now.
"They may try bringing the kittens back, put them back in the place where we found them," she said.
McKay said as of Sunday, the Three Mile fire, about nine miles east of Florence, was fully contained and had not grown since it started Friday. The fire is still at 48 acres, and he said fire engines and crews were finishing up mop up work, but he expected them to be released by the end of the day Sunday.
McKay confirmed Sunday that the fire was human caused. Investigators were at the scene where the fire started gathering information and evidence.
(Article #1552) To read the actual news story click here...
Mountain Lions, Bears, and Wolves Gain Protection in Illinois (8/27/2014)
SPRINGFIELD, IL - The gray wolf, American black bear and mountain lion (cougar) will come under the protection of the Illinois Wildlife Code on Jan. 1, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller announced Monday. Senate Bill 3049, signed by Gov. Pat Quinn, gives the IDNR the authority to manage these species for the protection of both wildlife and public safety. All three species were present when settlers arrived in Illinois, but were all but gone from the state by the mid-1800s. Due to improved legal protections and habitat restoration, these species are returning to some of their former range in the eastern United States.
"Wolves, mountain lions and black bears have been absent from Illinois for more than 150 years. As the populations of these animals continue to grow, we expect to see occasional individuals dispersing from their current ranges into Illinois," said IDNR Director Marc Miller. "I want to thank Governor Quinn and bill sponsors Sen. Linda Holmes and Rep. Kelly Cassidy for their leadership. This law gives the Department the ability to create long-term management goals and to draft response protocols on managing human-wildlife conflicts with these three species."
SB 3049 allows landowners to take a black bear or mountain lion if there is an imminent threat to lives and property. The law also allows landowners to apply for a nuisance permit to remove an animal that is not an immediate threat. The gray wolf already receives legal protection in Illinois from both the U.S. and Illinois Endangered Species Acts. In these instances, endangered species law will be followed. Due to its federal protection, rules for taking a gray wolf south of Interstate 80 are more stringent. South of Interstate 80, gray wolves may not be taken unless they present an imminent threat to people. Any other taking requires state and federal permits.
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT SB3049:
IS ILLINOIS ENCOURAGING THE RETURN OF LARGE PREDATORS?
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is not actively working to restore gray wolves, American black bears or mountain lions to Illinois. However, IDNR recognizes that occasional individual animals are likely to make their way here. A month-long visit to northern Illinois by a black bear in June 2014 demonstrated the benefits of cooperation among state and local government entities in monitoring the bear, but allowing it to remain a wild animal. The passage of SB3049 is a first necessary step that allows the Department to develop formal rules and protocols to manage these species.
WHAT WILL IDNR DO TO MANAGE WOLVES, BEARS AND MOUNTAIN LIONS?
Right now, IDNR biologists and the Illinois Conservation Police are working together to develop protocols for addressing interactions between people and wolves, bears and mountain lions. Conservation Police will share this information with local law enforcement agencies, the likely first-responders in the event of a sighting or nuisance call. Currently, Illinois Conservation Police officers are allowing these animals to go on their way unless they pose a threat.
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF POPULATIONS OF WOLVES, BLACK BEARS AND MOUNTAIN LIONS BECOMING ESTABLISHED IN ILLINOIS?
Re-colonization by these species is possible, although Illinois has relatively little suitable habitat in large enough blocks to support these animals. According to habitat models, only about 14.7 percent of Illinois’ area is suitable for black bears, 6.6 percent for mountain lions and 14 percent for gray wolves.
WHAT CAN ILLINOIS RESIDENTS DO TO BE PREPARED FOR ENCOUNTERS WITH THESE SPECIES?
Property owners can avoid encounters with wildlife by securing potential food sources, including pet food, barbecue grills, trash and other sources. Bird feeders can be taken down temporarily in the event of a local sighting.
(Article #1551) To read the actual news story click here...