Articles, opinions, and editorials about mountain lions and the Mountain Lion Foundation.
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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.
Watch NBC's Coverage:
(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...
North Dakota's mountain lion population declining (8/21/2014)
The following story was written by Brian Gehring and originally posted by the Bismark Tribune
A cooperative study with the Game and Fish Department and South Dakota State University is entering its fourth year. Data from the first three years indicates North Dakota's breeding population of mountain lions is confined to the northern portion of the Badlands.
A multi-year study tracking North Dakota's mountain lion population indicates the number of big cats is trending downward.
In August 2011, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, in conjunction with South Dakota State University, embarked on a $218,000 study funded by Pittman-Roberston excise tax money.
Stephanie Tucker, furbearer biologist for the Game and Fish Department, said the first phase of the study is in the books and a new three-year follow-up study will be launched this fall.
North Dakota is entering its 10th year of managed mountain lion hunting. This year, the season opens Aug. 29.
Tucker said one of the most effective methods of gathering data - particularly when dealing with a species new to certain areas - is to open a season on them.
"It's kind of a reactive way to manage," she said. Animals that have been hunted and harvested provide solid information like feeding habits and genetic background.
For the past decade or longer, mountain lions have been breeding in the state but also have been immigrating from South Dakota's Black Hills.
Data from the study also has indicated at least two male lions have moved in from eastern Montana.
The first phase of the study tracked 22 mountain lions that were captured and either fitted with radio collars or ear tags.
Tucker said it focused on studying survival rates, food habits and home range and movement patterns compared to mountain lions in other areas of North America.
Of the 22 cats captured, seven males and seven females were fitted with radio collars and seven males and one female were ear-tagged.
Tucker said 18 of the cats that were captured for the study are confirmed dead by hunters or other means and the fate of the remaining four is not known.
The first year of the hunting season (2005-06), seven mountains were killed. The next four seasons, 11-12 cats were killed, until the 2010-11 season when 22 were killed.
The high came in 2011-12, when 31 cats were taken. The last two seasons, there have been 23 and 20 mountain lions killed, respectively. Tucker said those numbers reflect all forms of mortality, whether from hunters, road kill or protection of property.
Tucker said the first split season was three years ago, when seven animals were held back from the Zone 1 season quota for those hunting with hounds.
The state is divided into two mountain lion zones. Zone 1 is the Badlands area and Zone 2 is remainder of the state.
The Zone 1 season closes Nov. 23 or when the 14-cat quota is reached, leaving the remaining seven in the quota for hound hunters, although any hunters can hunt them.
There is no quota for Zone 2.
Tucker said data shows that until 2011, the mountain lion population in Zone 1 was increasing. But that has changed, she said.
"We've been declining the last three years," she said. Part of that has had to do with the success of those hunting with hounds.
"Hound hunters are still having a lot of success," she said. "We know our harvest season is having an impact."
Conversely, Tucker said, those hunting without dogs are having less success than in previous years.
Tucker said data from the first three years of the study indicates the survival rate of the North Dakota mountain lion population is significantly lower than other states.
She said lions here showed a survival rate of 42 percent for two years following their capture and tagging. That compares to survival rates of 59 percent in the Pacific Northwest, 64-74 percent in Utah and 67-97 percent in Canada where similar studies have been conducted.
At least part of that may be attributed to the fact that mountain lions' primary range in North Dakota, the Badlands, is a relatively small and closed system.
Tucker said it also suggests the state's population is lower than originally thought.
As far as feeding habits, lions rely mainly on deer - mulies and white tails - for most of their diet.
Porcupines and beaver, however, also play a significant role in the makeup of mountain lion diets.
John Jenks, the principal investigator at SDSU, said that is not a big surprise because lions are known to scavenge whatever food is readily available.
"Porcupines are classic prey for mountain lions in South Dakota," he said.
Jenks said the lions in the Black Hills turned to stalking deer for food after they had thinned out the porcupine numbers.
And, with larger prey, Jenks said, the success rate for kills is not all that high due to the method in which they hunt.
Mountain lions prefer to ambush their prey from a high vantage point to get a running start.
He said the scavenge rate for North Dakota lions in the study was around 7 percent of their diet, on par with lions in other states.
He said interestingly, mountain lions here don't tend to hunt larger animals like bighorn sheep or elk.
Jenks said lions are solitary hunters and it may be they haven't yet figured out how to kill larger prey.
He added that based on a small population sample of lions studies, predation on livestock appeared to be minimal.
Jenks said there has been some evidence of lions feeding on livestock, but it's not known if the lions killed or scavenged the carcasses.
He said there also has been evidence of lions killing coyotes and of injuries to the cats themselves, likely from territorial disputes between males.
He said the second phase of the study will focus more on habitat selection and validate population data and home range and survival rates from the first study.
Tucker said male lions in the Badlands have been shown to have a home range twice that of females - about 89 square miles compared to 42 - which is on the lower end of scale in comparison to other states.
Jenks said the immigration of two males from the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge near Fort Peck, Montana, is a positive for Badlands population - at least from a genetic diversity standpoint. The first phase of the study has shown mountain lions are breeding only in the northern portion of the Badlands.
Tucker said the next three years of the study will include an SDSU graduate student, the second student working on a master's degree, on the ground in North Dakota.
She said the goal is to capture and track more lions to add to the data from the first three years.
"We'd love to get another 22 cats, but we'll take what we can get," Tucker said.
As far as any conclusive findings early on, Tucker said the study may indicate North Dakota's mountain lion population may never be able to support a hunting season with a higher quota.
(Article #1548) To read the actual news story click here...
Mountain lion removed from Rosamond backyard (8/16/2014)
The following story is a repost from the Antelope Valley Times in Southern California.
ROSAMOND — A mountain lion spotted in a Rosamond backyard Friday morning was safely removed by state wildlife officers and returned to suitable habitat, authorities said.
Around 9:30 a.m., the California Department of Fish and Wildlife received a call about a mountain lion near a home on Birch Street, according to Public Information Officer Andrew Hughan.
"Our dispatch center contacted a warden in the Palmdale/Lancaster area. They went up, and in the backyard of the house, up in a pine tree, there was a mountain lion," Hughan said.
"They put a tranquilizer dart into her and secured her."
Hughan said the two-year-old female weighs about 80 pounds and is in pretty good condition.
"They gave her a quick check up, put her in the back of the truck and returned her to suitable habitat," he said.
"The warden thinks that it came out of the Tehachapi Mountains or maybe Tejon Ranch, which would be the nearest suitable habitat for a lion," Hughan continued.
"It's a little unusual, but not unprecedented at all."
(Article #1549) To read the actual news story click here...
Six Colorado Big Game Hunting Guides Accused of Trapping and Injuring Lions for an Easier Kill (8/13/2014)
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.
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 #1547) To read the actual news story click here...
Safari Club International Sues California over Mountain Lion Possession Ban (8/12/2014)
Claiming that Proposition 117's import ban - Section 4800 of California's Fish and Game Code - violates the Constitution's Commerce Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, Safari Club International (SCI) recently filed suit against California State Attorney General Kamala Harris, in Federal Court.
The California Fish and Game Code SCI is challenging, 4800 (b) (1), states that "It is unlawful to take, injure, possess, transport, import, or sell any mountain lion or any part or product thereof, except as specifically provided in this chapter . . ."
This section of Proposition 117 - the California Wildlife Protection Act of 1990 - was intended, in part, to assist the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) in stopping the illegal black market trade in biologicals - or in other words, mountain lion parts.
If repealed the illegal poaching of mountain lions in California can be expected to skyrocket and CDFW's law enforcement efforts crippled since no one could easily prove that the lion carcass in question was not legally killed and then brought in from out of state.
This is not the first time SCI has tried to stop or overturn the 1990 citizen-placed initiative to protect California's mountain lions. The Club's most notable efforts were its opposition to Proposition 117's passage in 1990, and SCI's own competing initiative (Proposition 197) which failed at the ballot box in 1996.
(Article #1546) To read the actual news story click here...
South Dakota Stifles Public Opinion for the 2014-15 Lion Hunting Season (8/7/2014)
Despite a dwindling mountain lion hunting success rate, South Dakota's Game, Fish & Parks Department is not recommending any changes in hunting quota levels for the upcoming 2014-15 season to the Commission when it meets today.
The Department's decision means there will be no public hearing or discussion on the accuracy of the state game agency's lion population model or whether South Dakota's mountain lion population is under duress from previous management decisions.
During South Dakota's 2011-12 hunting season, 73 mountain lions were killed. Forty-six of those were female lions which also created an unknown number of orphaned kittens.
In 2012-13, the mortality level dropped to 61 (35 females) despite an increase in the quota.
Although last year the Commission dropped the hunting quota back to 75, hunters didn't even come close to that number, killing only 55 lions, 33 of which were females.
Many of the opponents to South Dakota's mountain lion hunting policies are disappointed over the Department's tactic to suppress the public's voice and wonder what it will take for South Dakota to accept a "real" science-based mountain lion management plan.
(Article #1545) To read the actual news story click here...
Drought driving mountain lions, coyotes into foothill communities (8/5/2014)
The Following Story is a repost from the San Bernardino Sun and the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin written by Doug Saunders, of the San Bernardino Sun, and Liset Marquez, and Greg Cappis of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 08/01/14, 9:56 PM PDT
Mountain lions indigenous to life in the foothills are making their way into neighborhoods, possibly looking for food and water.
The cougars are likely following their main food source, deer, into urban areas after fires and drought have diminished their mountainside resources, according to Tim Dunbar, executive director of the Sacramento-based Mountain Lion Foundation.
"That sort of exacerbates your problem," he said. "The fire and drought keeps reducing the amount of space that the mountain lions and deer have to travel, so they're getting more and more into human developed areas."
Steven Silva, who has a 3-year-old daughter, has lived in Rancho Cucamonga on and off for most of his life. He said he heard about a mountain lion sighting a couple of weeks ago on Somerset Drive, just around the block from his house.
Silva, 35, said he is not too concerned about his safety but thinks the Etiwanda Fire may have affected the cougars' food and water supply.
"They would pop up every once in a while, a couple of times a year, but I'm not too concerned," Silva said. "This is their area, we are living in their area, so it's up to us to kind of manage it and be conscientious of them, stay out of their way, and hope they don't come down too far."
Dunbar said residents can help keep the lions away by removing from their yards potential prey and items that may attract wildlife.
He suggested keeping pets indoors at night - mountain lions' most active hunting time - and getting rid of water troughs that may attract deer or other animals onto their property.
"Once again if you're keeping a food source near your house, you're possibly inviting the predators in," Dunbar said.
But for Mary and Fred Gilley, who live in the 8900 block of Manzanita Court, the mountain lions have already come too close to home. The couple lost their eight-year-old poodle, Lady, to a mountain lion around 9:30 p.m. July 25.
The big cat was first sighted at a house across from the horse trail next to the Gilleys' back yard, Fred said.
Shortly after that, the couple said, their dogs started to bark and went outside.
"They ran out the door, and they knew something was out there and were barking furiously," he said. "Well, the mountain lion must've heard them and I think it jumped over the 10-foot wall, came in and snatched her and then took off."
Similar situations have occurred in other parts of the Southland.
Sitting on the outskirts of Los Angeles, bordering the Verdugo Mountains and filled with television studios and some of the Hollywood elite, sits Burbank where one homeowner recently captured a pack of coyotes on video outside his home.
The homeowner, Nick Mendoza, said the pack of more than a dozen coyotes seemed like they were on the hunt for food.
Another area homeowner captured footage of the pack July 16 and put the video on YouTube.com.
In June, Burbank also had two sightings of mountain lions and sent out warnings to residents on how to deal with the wildcats if they come across one in their neighborhoods.
"They're looking for food and water," said one Burbank police officer. "The drought is pushing them into neighborhoods. It's a survival instinct for them."
But residents can exhale a bit, knowing cougars do not instinctively hunt humans.
"We don't look right," said Dunbar, the mountain lion expert. "We're standing up on two legs."
But the big cats are opportunistic hunters and running past or away from them could incite their predatory instincts, he said.
If you see a mountain lion, experts say to make yourself look big and intimidating - raise your arms, open your jacket, start yelling, jump up and down, maybe hurl a rock in the animal's direction.
"They can't afford to be injured and take risks or else they won't be able to hunt," Dunbar said, so they normally retreat after feeling threatened.
Regardless, interactions with mountain lions can leave lasting impacts.
The Gilleys have lived in their home since October and this was first time they've had to deal with mountain lions. The couple moved from the Bay Area to Rancho Cucamonga but used to live in Upland, Mary said.
"It's just unnerving me so bad because I don't want to lose him too," she said, referring to two-year-old Cole, the son of Lady.
Fred said he went out to the back yard with a flashlight and tried looking for her dog. They called the Sheriff's Department, which had already been called, and three units were out patrolling the streets and the horse trail behind their home.
"I called the police on Saturday, and they told me they didn't find anything," he said. "It's strange to me that the lion came all the way down from the foothills and came back up and no one saw it at all."
While Mary shared memories of her gray showdog poodle, Cole ran circles around her. For the first few days after the incident with Lady, Mary said Cole would not leave her side.
Since then the couple have brought in all the water bowls into the house and no longer let Cole out after dusk. If they do, it is only in the front yard and he is on a leash.
"I'm scared to death because I don't want to lose Cole," Mary said, "and I don't want us to be attacked, too."
(Article #1544) To read the actual news story click here...
A Nebraska Rancher is Generating Irrational Fears Against Mountain Lions (7/30/2014)
Despite evidence to the contrary, a rancher who lives near the rural community of Ainsworth, Nebraska is spouting stories about marauding mountain lions and continuing his private campaign to generate public fear and hostility against these much maligned animals.
The rancher claims that two of his horses sustained serious injuries from a mountain lion on the night on June 30th. A Nebraska Game and Parks warden investigated and concluded from the evidence available that the injuries sustained by the horses were a result of contact with a barbed-wire fence.
"We did not find any evidence of mountain lion presence or attack on the horses," said Sam Wilson, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's Furbearing and Nongame Mammals Program Manager. "All injuries to the horses were consistent with entanglement on barbed wire. That is exactly what we found during our investigation. We saw an area where the grass was trampled, it had blood, hair, and flesh and part of a fly mask from the injured horses on the barbed wire. We also looked for tracks and any evidence of mountain lions was not found. We set up cameras and did not get any pictures of mountain lions."
While admitting that his horse's injuries could have been caused by barbed wire, the rancher still insists that a mountain lion spooked his horses and refuses to believe that other animals such as coyotes, or a pack of domestic dogs were involved.
Sam Wilson said that even if there were mountain lions they pose little to no threat to livestock.
"Mountain lion attacks on any livestock are rare. It is even more rare for horses. We have had very few problems with depredation where livestock are injured by an attack by a mountain lion. We have investigated 120 cases where a livestock owner believes livestock may have been injured by a mountain lion. In only one case have we found evidence of a mountain lion."
This story was originally reported on by Kent Winder of KNOP Channel 2 News - Nebraska.
(Article #1543) To read the actual news story click here...
Researchers Examine Mountain Lion Population Dynamics and Disease (7/29/2014)
The following story was written by Jeff Dodge, Colorado State University
A Colorado State University research team is examining how illnesses are transmitted in mountain lion populations in an effort to manage future outbreaks of diseases, such as feline leukemia virus, that could threaten the species.
Susan VandeWoude, a research veterinarian and associate dean for research in the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, is leading a team that recently received $2 million from the National Science Foundation for a five-year study of the big cats.
The project is expected to shed light on the complex outcomes of human impact - both wildlife-management practices and land development - for a particularly sensitive species of wild cats in the United States. These interwoven consequences, which the scientists have identified through earlier research, include changes in puma populations, population movement and disease dynamics that could have implications for pumas and other cat species, including housecats.
The new research is designed to further understand how people affect puma movements in the wild and the way that disease travels through populations, providing insight about wildlife management used from Florida to California.
For example, when an endangered subspecies called the Florida panther was nearing extinction in the Everglades in the mid-1990s, wildlife managers imported Texas cougars to breed with their cousins. Managers hoped to rebuild the population. For the most part, it worked: Officials estimated last year that this cat population is about five times larger than it was two decades ago.
Other states have used different tactics to deal with the species referred to interchangeably as pumas, cougars or mountain lions. California has banned the hunting of pumas for decades. Hunters on Colorado's Western Slope are asked to avoid killing female lions in places with low population.
Joining VandeWoude in the interdisciplinary research at CSU are Kevin Crooks, a professor in the Warner College of Natural Resources, and Chris Funk, an associate professor in the College of Natural Sciences.
Each researcher brings distinctive expertise to the project: VandeWoude is an authority on feline diseases; her discoveries include uncovering a new family of feline herpesviruses that infects housecats, pumas and bobcats. Crooks, a wildlife ecologist, specializes in the effects of manmade disturbances on the natural world, so he is focusing on how puma habitat and travel corridors have been affected by urban and housing development.
"Large carnivores like pumas tend to be especially sensitive to human impacts," Crooks said. "They're often the first to feel the effects, like a canary in the coal mine."
Funk will use cutting-edge techniques to compare the genetics of various puma populations so that scientists may assess the degree to which they have interbred - providing evidence about their travel patterns.
"It's hard to track how they move, so we use genetics to infer where they've gone," Funk said. "If you have two groups with similar genes, you can infer that they have interacted."
Two faculty members from other institutions, Meggan Craft of the University of Minnesota and Scott Carver of the University of Tasmania, will perform the mathematical and statistical analyses needed to create models of how disease is expected to spread geographically through puma populations.
Other collaborators include Dr. Holly Ernest and colleagues from the University of California Davis and a large number of wildlife managers, field biologists, and veterinarians working for state and federal agencies.
The team will examine how wildlife management approaches influence disease transmission. In the case of the Florida panther, for instance, did the imported Texas cougars bring pathogens with them that affected the panthers?
"We're studying the effects of that intervention, and the intersection of that with landscape dynamics," VandeWoude said, citing rivers, highways and cities as possible barriers to puma movement and factors in disease transmission.
She explained that researchers can track the speed and direction of virus movement by testing various puma populations and comparing results. For example, the team will try to predict what pathways diseases like the feline leukemia virus will take when spreading through a population, and which groups of pumas are particularly susceptible to outbreaks. The models the team generates will also inform predictions about how disease could spread to pets and humans.
As an outreach project, one of Crooks' former postdoctoral students will create a video game that simulates disease movements and lets players manipulate puma populations to help them avoid infection.
The new study is a continuation of a project that VandeWoude and Crooks recently completed on disease transfer within three cat species, in which they compiled a database of puma blood samples and pathogens.
"We now have data on a high percentage of the puma population in our study areas, partly because they are so limited in number," VandeWoude said.
(Article #1542) To read the actual news story click here...
Caltrans to Build $2 Million Bridge to help lions Cross the Road (7/28/2014)
Biologists have long viewed Southern California's crisscrossing system of highways as insurmountable barriers that hinder the natural movement of mountain lions and other wildlife. These unintentional barriers are one of the leading causes of mountain lion deaths in that region of the state due to automobile accidents as well as intraspecies fights over territory within these man-made islands of habitat.
To help rectify the problem, and to reduce wildlife-related automobile accidents, Caltrans announced Saturday their plan to build either a $2 million bridge, or an underpass, at a key section of the 101 Freeway to link two fingers of state parkland just west of Liberty Canyon Road in Agoura Hills.
"The new crossing will better integrate the environment and transportation systems, fostering better wildlife connectivity on either side of the 101 and increasing public safety by reducing the risk for collisions between vehicles and wildlife," said Carrie Bowen, the Caltrans director for Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Caltrans officials believe that a "wildlife corridor" bridge would be used by mountain lions and other wildlife because tracking devices have detected lions crossing back and forth in a similar situation over the Reagan (118) Freeway on a little-used road overpass at Rocky Peak.
The construction project which was originally priced at $10 million will be paid for by a design grant from the federal government's infrastructure funding program.
For more on this topic, check out our Guest Feature The Cougar Connection: Mountain Lions Lead the Way to Conservation Solutions by Nina Kidd, and Mountain Lion Research Helps Mountain Lions Cross Southern California Freeways by MLF's Biologist Amy Rodrigues.
(Article #1540) To read the actual news story click here...
A Mountain Lion Kitten is Killed in Nebraska (7/24/2014)
Fearing for the safety of his two children, a Father shot and killed a 5-month old, 30 pound, female mountain lion kitten last Saturday, in a rural area just south of Chadron, Nebraska.
According to his statement, the man spotted the young lion crouching in the grass 20-yards from his home while his two young children were playing outside on the patio.
He retrieved his rifle and approached the lion. He then shot the young lion when it stood but did not flee.
After notifying the authorities, the Dawes County Sheriff's Department investigated the incident and took possession of the animal's carcass, which was then transferred to Nebraska Game and Parks officials.
Authorities determined the man acted within the law.
It's still a mystery as to why the mountain lion kitten was found near the Chadron home alone. Young mountain lions do not commonly leave their mothers until they are closer to 24-months of age. Many biologists will agree that the chances of a 5-month old kitten surviving on its own are fairly slim. Currently, there has been no sign of the lion's mother or possible siblings in the area.
(Article #1539) To read the actual news story click here...
Another Protected Florida Panther Dies (7/21/2014)
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC), the remains of a 7-year-old radio-collared male panther were found recently in Collier County.
The panther's carcass was found in a serious state of decomposition, however FWCC officials believe the animal was killed by another panther.
This is the 18th recorded Florida panther death in 2014. Twelve of those deaths are attributed to automobile accidents.
Since the late 1970s, Florida's panther population has grown under Federal protection from a small handful to possibly as many as 160 animals. For many years now that total population number has hovered at that level due to lack of suitable habitat and dangerous, almost uncrossable roadways that surround the refuge.
(Article #1538) To read the actual news story click here...
Camper Reports Seeing Mountain Lion, But 'It Was Just A Raccoon' (7/17/2014)
This story by Daymond Steer was reposted from The Conway Daily Sun
TAMWORTH, NH — A camper's 9-1-1 call about a wild critter outside his tent was apparently greatly exaggerated.
On Tuesday, June 24th, the Carroll County sheriff's office sent out an update on its Facebook page saying that Tamworth police were responding to a White Lake State Park camper who reported seeing a mountain lion. Underneath, in the comments, the sheriff's office explained what happened once the officer arrived.
"PD reports the mountain lion/'raccoon' has been chased off," wrote the sheriff's dispatcher.
"Proper food storage for camping has been explained and a warning for a firearm in a state park was issued."
The update caused one reader to question what mountain lion/raccoon meant.
"I'm guessing that was the officer's way of saying there was no mountain lion, it was just a raccoon," the sheriff's office replied.
Another commenter said the witness should be given pictures of both animals for identification.
Tamworth Police Sgt. Penny Colby said officer Dana Littlefield responded to the call and determined that in fact the creature in question was a raccoon.
"Honestly, I don't know how he mistook it," said Colby about the camper.
(Article #1537) To read the actual news story click here...
Possible Unjustified Killing of a Mountain Lion by San Bernardino Sheriff Deputies (7/14/2014)
In what may turn out to be a violation of state law, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Deputies killed a juvenile mountain lion in Rancho Cucamonga (near Los Angeles, California) over the weekend.
Just before 7:00 a.m., Saturday morning, the San Bernardino County Sheriffs Department received a report of two mountain lions jumping from backyard to backyard in the 8800 block of Somerset Drive. Responding deputies from the Rancho Cucamonga station searched the neighborhood and spotted a lion climbing a fence. As they watched, the animal proceeded on its way through several backyards, until they eventually lost sight of it.
With a verified mountain lion sighting, local animal control officers and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife were contacted to assist with the situation.
About 40-minutes later, another report came into the Department of a lion in the backyard of a home in the 6300 block of Moonstone Avenue.
When Sheriff's Deputies arrived on the scene, they found a subadult female mountain lion, weighing approximately 50 to 75 pounds hiding in the backyard.
After watching the animal for a short period of time, the responding deputies decided the lion was a threat to public safety and shot it.
According to a statement from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, "The responding public safety personnel maintained a respectful and non-threatening distance to observe and assess the animal. Based on the imminent threat to public safety; at 8:19 a.m., a deputy humanely shot the mountain lion. The animal expired of the single gunshot wound immediately and a necropsy will be conducted."
Sheriff's Department Spokesperson Cindy Bachman said lethal force was used because deputies don't carry tranquilizers. "These are occupied homes, and just a few homes away from where the mountain lion was shot, there were children playing in the backyard," Bachman said.
According to Tim Dunbar, Executive Director for the Mountain Lion Foundation, "California's new mountain lion public safety law requires the use of non-lethal procedures when dealing with a mountain lion that comes into contact with humans, unless the lion displays signs of aggressive behavior. Where was the aggressive behavior? I sympathize with the dilemma these officers faced, a wild animal that might not stay contained, and no means to tranquilize it; but I'm not sure, based on the Sheriff's own statement why they couldn't wait for officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to arrive on scene and assist in the capture. Why couldn't the neighborhood have been canvassed and citizens asked to remain safely indoors until the danger had passed—as happened recently in Sacramento. The excuse of 'nearby children' has long been the standard of many police and sheriff departments to justify killing wandering lions, because they don't know how else to handle these situations."
California Department of Fish and Wildlife also has a new internal policy to advise their staff on mountain lion calls. Responding officers notify a special guidance team that assists — day or night — with decision making, calling in additional experts like local veterinarians and lion researchers, and finding an appropriate location to release the lion back into the wild. Because of the new law and CDFW's mountain lion Response Guidance Team, so far this year five potential public safety lions have been relocated back into the wild. Unfortunately, this past weekend, because a CDFW officer did not arrive on site, the team was never contacted.
As for the second lion. There have been no other sightings and canvasing deputies were unable to spot any sign of additional lions. According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, it is "fairly certain it was one mountain lion traveling throughout this neighborhood." The young female lion likely wandered out of the adjacent Angeles National Forest.
(Article #1534) To read the actual news story click here...
USDA Wildlife Services Allow Trapped Lion to Die a Slow, Painful Death (7/8/2014)
Nebraska's Game and Parks Commission announced that a young, possibly female, mountain lion was accidentally captured and killed in a leghold snare set by USDA Wildlife Services trappers.
The snare, apparently set to capture coyotes in a cattle pasture, did what many opponents to this capture method claim too often happens: it trapped an unintended victim, and was not properly monitored to reduce the cruel and inhumane suffering that the captured mountain lion experienced as it slowly died of thirst and starvation.
By the time the dead lion was discovered, it had already begun to decompose to the point the trapper could not determine if it was a male or female. Preliminary reports suggest a young female, but the carcass will be sent to a lab for further analysis.
During just 2013 in Nebraska, USDA Wildlife Services killed 347 wild animals captured in foothold traps, and another 98 with the use of neck snares. Traps are supposed to be checked daily, but even so, it does not guarantee a mountain lion accidentally trapped will not die as a result.
Back in 2008, over the course of just a few weeks, North Dakota reported the unintentional death of three mountain lions accidentally caught in bobcat snares. (Article #1533) To read the actual news story click here...
Second Tranquilized Lion Dies in Utah (7/1/2014)
The mountain lion captured Friday morning in Sandy, Utah by Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) officers died sometime Saturday while under UDWR's care.
According to Scott Root, a UDWR outreach manager, the lion died while under the effect of the tranquilizer and UDWR biologists will perform an analysis to determine if there were any health factors that may have contributed to the death of the animal.
Mr. Root went on to say that "The fact that this cougar was in a highly populated area suggests that something may not have been normal with this animal."
UDWR's efforts to place the blame for its own death onto the lion appear to be a little disingenuous. Few biologists would characterize a mountain lion wandering into a developed area as "abnormal behavior." In actuality, lion experts have been explaining for decades that, "dispersing mountain lions move along the wildland-urban edge with frequent forays into peninsulas of habitat that intrude into urban areas." Though they "do not seek out urban habitat, [...] mountain lions regularly visit urban areas, usually without being noticed."1
In addition, in an earlier report Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officials stated that because of its physical location and the presence of ravines, mountain lions routinely wander into the town of Sandy, Utah, even if not into the downtown core.
Many residents feel UDWR should be prepared and better able to handle mountain lion encounters. More training and equipment for wildlife officers in the field are needed, as well as a plan for how and where to relocate lost lions.
1 Beier, Riley and Sauvajot (2010). Chapter 11 "Mountain Lions" in Urban Carnivores (p. 145). Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
See Fox's coverage of the event:
Just a few weeks prior and less than twenty miles away, UDWR euthanized a lion after tranquilizing and capturing the cat in a garage. Read more about that incident.
(Article #1532) To read the actual news story click here...
Another Utah Lion Tranquilized - UDWR Lets This One Live - Maybe (6/27/2014)
In a strange case of deja-vu, the second mountain lion in just 11 days wandered into another Utah "Front Range" community where it was tranquilized and captured by officers of the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources (UDWR). The only difference is this time, they let the lion live.
The mountain lion was first sighted just before 8:00 am in the downtown area of Sandy, Utah. Responding police officers spotted the lion ambling across 9400 South towards the Ruby River Steakhouse where it tried to find shelter.
A short while later the lion leaped from its hidey-hole and tried to run away when it became alarmed over the gathering police officers and spectators. A police officer fired a shot at it as it ran away, but missed.
As it left the Mall area, the lion ran east and onto the TRAX light rail lines near 9100 South and 150 East before hiding under some bushes once again.
Just before 10:00, police and UDWR officers were able to close in on the lion and shoot it with a tranquilizer dart.
Sandy Police Sgt. Dean Carriger said the female mountain lion was in good condition and after being checked out by UDWR, the animal was to be released back into the wild.
If so, this will be a very different outcome from the June 17th incident in the nearby community of American Fork, where a young, male mountain lion found hiding in a garage was tranquilized and captured by UDWR officers. That lion was later euthanized because it was captured in a "zero tolerance" zone, and supposedly acting abnormally because it was seen by humans in the daytime.
(Article #1531) To read the actual news story click here...
Study Shows Wolves Crowd Lions Out of Premier Territories (6/24/2014)
According to research carried out by scientists as part of Wyoming's Teton Cougar Project, the existence of an aggressive competitor, such as wolves, on the landscape adversely affects local mountain lion populations.
The eleven-year study, published in the Journal of Zoology in late May, found that mountain lions, especially females, established their core territories as far from wolves as possible and will go out of their way to avoid the canines.
According to the Project's team leader Mark Elbroch, "Because wolves select top-tier territories with the most available prey, subordinate mountain lions are being pushed away from the most productive parts of the landscape. There is a reduction in habitat in the sense that they are prioritizing habitat differently."
The study's findings also state that "Spatial displacement between wolves and cougars has been noted in several other studies. This, no doubt, limits the availability of quality habitat in the Southern Yellowstone Ecosystem, which has implications for juvenile cougar survival, juvenile dispersal success and overall cougar population dynamics."
(Article #1529) To read the actual news story click here...
Lost Lion Caught After Wandering Around East Sacramento Neighborhood (6/23/2014)
Please note: MLF's coverage of the following story is based primarily on an article that originally appeared in the Sacramento Bee.
After a day-long, self-guided tour of residences on the east side of Sacramento, a young, lost mountain lion eventually sought shelter in the "jungle-like" backyard of 74-year old Mabel Furr's North Oak Park home at the corner of 32nd and X streets, where he was captured late Saturday evening by members of the Sacramento police force and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).
The one-and-a-half year old male mountain lion, weighing approximately 70 lb, was first spotted around 1:35 a.m. early Saturday morning near 58th and M streets. Sacramento police officers checked the area at that time, but were unable to locate the lion.
Almost two hours later, a report of a second sighting came in from a motorist who was following the big cat south on 36th Street from Folsom Boulevard. At around 4:00 a.m. while responding to that call, a Sacramento police lieutenant spotted the big cat at 36th and R streets. He watched it jump over a chain-link fence near Highway 50 and lost sight of it. At that time, animal-control officers were notified, and an automated call went out to area residents advising them of the potential hazard.
Shortly thereafter, with the coming of dawn, the lion must have gone to ground, because he wasn't spotted again until 10:21 p.m. Saturday evening, when a caller reported seeing it at 32nd and X streets. Police officers responding to the call eventually spotted the scared lion hiding inside Mrs. Furr's fenced yard while canvassing the area.
The officer notified Mrs. Furr of the situation and asked her to remain in her home while additional officers arrived to secure the area and they all waited for a CDFW warden to arrive.
"He said, 'There's a mountain lion in your backyard. Stay inside and do not come out,' " said Mrs. Furr. "I was kind of shocked but not afraid."
In fact, Mrs. Furr said that when she heard on the news earlier Saturday that the animal was last spotted at 36th and R streets, she half hoped that she would see it. "I thought to myself maybe he'll come down this way and take refuge in my yard," she said. "I was surprised that it came true."
It took a while for the four police officers to spot the animal in her backyard, which has dense foliage, but it was eventually seen hiding between a stack of tomato cages and a large saguaro cactus. "It was dark, and they were using flashlights," Mrs. Furr said. "It would be hard to find him."
"I think he had a rough night, and he didn't have anything to eat or drink, so he was willing to go with them and go back to the wild," she said.
Mrs. Furr said the police officers and the warden placed the animal on a piece of canvas and carried him out to a grassy spot next to the sidewalk. She said the mountain lion had its legs tied up, and she watched as the warden put some drops into the animal's eyes before blindfolding him.
"He didn't seem that big," she said. "I though he was about 60 pounds."
While Mrs. Furr didn't see the actual capture, her neighbor Ciana Yniguez, 52, had a front-row seat from a living room window overlooking Furr's garden.
Ms. Yniguez and a friend, Eric Navarro, 41, had just returned to Yniguez's home shortly after 11 p.m. Saturday. "We happened to turn on the TV and we hear that a mountain lion was spotted by police at 32nd and X streets," she said. "We looked out the window and we saw all the lights shining."
Ms. Yniguez said the police had been looking for the animal up in the trees before finally spotting it on the ground, about 15 feet from her open window. Mr. Navarro had wanted her to close the window, but she didn't think that was necessary. "I didn't hear it make any noise," she said.
She said she heard a soft "pop" when the mountain lion was tranquilized, and the officers waited for some time to make sure that the animal was out. She said she couldn't see more than a glimpse of its head when officers took the animal out of Mrs. Furr's back yard.
"It's a jungle out there," she said. "He found the perfect yard."
Ms. Yniguez said that since it was late, she didn't go outside to see the tranquilized animal. But she said she found the whole experience exciting.
"It's just another night in Oak Park," she said. "I don't know how he got so far away, that he was able to travel from east Sacramento to here without anyone seeing him. It's pretty unbelievable."
According to Tim Dunbar, Executive Director of the Mountain Lion Foundation, it's theorized that the young dispersing lion arrived in the Metropolitan Sacramento area by following the American River parkway out of the foothills east of town.
"If this incident had happened just a little over a year ago, the antics of that teenage lion would have resulted in his death as a threat to the public safety," said Mr. Dunbar. "It's thanks to Senator Hill, the successful passage of Senate Bill 132, the efforts of the Department of Fish and Wildlife to change policy, the professionalism of responding law enforcement officers and the support of the public that non-threatening lions such as this one can be given a second chance."
"Mountain Lion Foundation is thankful for the way the Sacramento police department and CDFW handled this unusual, and potentially life threatening situation without resorting to lethal measures."
The young mountain lion was moved out of town and released into the wild by a California Department of Fish and Wildlife warden after it recovered from the drugs used to tranquilize it.
(Article #1528) To read the actual news story click here...
Florida's Panther Population Increasing - Slowly (6/19/2014)
Citing a 10 percent increase in kitten survival, Gil McRae, the director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's research institute announced that new estimates put the number of Florida panthers in the wild at somewhere around 180 animals.
Even though they have been on the Federal Endangered Species List since the mid-1960s, the Florida panther almost became extinct in the early 1990s, but a concerted conservation effort by state and federal wildlife officials have turned that death spiral around and studies now show that the population has increased steadily since 1995.
Even though the population is showing signs of improvement, the Florida panther will remain on the Federal Endangered Species List until there are two separate populations of at least 240 lions. To make that happen, the species needs to reestablish itself in additional Southeastern states.
The greatest challenge facing the Florida panther at this time is the need for more space. As the population tries to grow, it comes increasingly in contact with human development; and these interactions unfortunately can be fatal for the cats.
So far this year, 18 Florida panthers have died as a result of being struck by vehicles on Florida roads.
For more information about Florida panthers, visit MLF's Florida Page. (Article #1527) To read the actual news story click here...
Utah DWR Officials Order the Euthanasia of Captured Lion (6/18/2014)
Tuesday, officials from the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources euthanized a scared, helpless mountain lion that had taken refuge in a garage in the community of American Fork, Utah.
The lion was first discovered around 12:30 pm by a teenage boy who had entered his family's garage. When confronted by the human, the young mountain lion snarled at the boy and backed further into a dark corner of the garage in a vain attempt to escape. American Fork police officers and a local animal control officer were dispatched to the scene to contain the animal.
When Josee Seamons, a wildlife technician for the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources arrived at the site, he found the young lion cowering under some shelves waiting for the humans to leave and darkness to fall.
"I think it was more scared than the people were," Seamons said. "The kid kind of scared it so it really wasn't going to go anywhere."
Seamons eventfully shot the mountain lion with a tranquilizer dart and removed it from the garage.
Claiming that they had to follow department policies (the Wasatch Front is a "no tolerance zone" for mountain lions) and trying to justify their actions by stating that spotting the lion in the middle of the day was a clear sign of abnormal behavior, officials from the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources ordered the captured lion to be euthanized.
(Article #1526) To read the actual news story click here...