Articles, opinions, and editorials about mountain lions and the Mountain Lion Foundation.
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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...
Illinois' Lion Protection Bill Passes the Legislature (6/10/2014)
Senate Bill 3049, introduced by Senator Linda Holmes (D - Aurora) has successfully passed out of the Illinois Legislature and is now sitting on the Governor's desk awaiting his signature.
SB 3049, which passed on the last day of session, places Gray wolves, American black bears, and mountain lions on Illinois' protected species list, and eliminates the current practice of allowing people to shoot them on sight with no questions asked.
Illinois' indigenous mountain lion population was extirpated sometime around 1855. For several years now dispersing males from nearby western states have attempted to return to Illinois to find a mate and establish a territory of their own, but so far all have died as a result of human activities.
If passed, it's hoped that SB 3049's protections will allow the natural reintroduction of Puma concolor someday in Illinois' near future.
Illinois residents are encouraged to contact Governor Quinn and ask him to sign SB 3049 and give mountain lions the help they need to reestablish themselves on a small part of their historic range.
Governor Pat Quinn
Office of the Governor
207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
or click here to email him
For more information, view MLF's SB 3049 Action Alert.
(Article #1525) To read the actual news story click here...
Florida's Big Cypress National Preserve Safe For Now (6/2/2014)
Late last week, a federal judge denied the National Park Service's request to dismiss a case brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club and WildEarth Guardians to reduce damaging off-road vehicle use in Florida's Big Cypress National Preserve.
The suit asserts the Park Service violated the Endangered Species Act, its own off-road vehicle management plan, the National Environmental Policy Act and other laws by designating hundreds of miles of new trails for off-road vehicle use in the preserve without first assessing potentially destructive impacts on endangered Florida panthers and other rare and vanishing Florida species, as well as other sensitive water, soil and vegetative resources.
The ruling denied the government's request to dismiss or delay the case, finding that the Park Service had not yet complied with the law. The court admonished the Park Service for making a "determination about opening the . . . trails before performing any NEPA analysis and now offer[ing] to follow [with] NEPA after the fact," and found that "NPS left the Preserve open to potential damaging impact[s]" by failing to adhere to its legal duties.
"This ruling should be the death knell for the Park Service's mismanagement of this public resource," said Jaclyn Lopez, a Florida attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. "The Park Service's mission is to manage these wild areas for wildlife and plants as well as people."
"The National Park Service should heed Judge Chappell's ruling by sticking to its mandate to preserve the natural landscape at Big Cypress and the endangered wildlife it shelters," said Frank Jackalone, Sierra Club's senior organizing manager.
"The endangered Florida panther, a symbol of Florida's original wildness, has an enormous number of threats to navigate in South Florida. This decision, hopefully, will ensure that national park mismanagement of off-road vehicle recreation isn't one of those threats," said Sarah Peters, a program attorney with WildEarth Guardians.
(Article #1524) To read the actual news story click here...
Dispersing Lion Winds up in Mountain View Garage (5/7/2014)
On Tuesday evening, a mountain lion wandered into the city of Mountain View, California. Located in the southern portion of the San Francisco bay area, the outskirts of Mountain View are home to mountain lions, though they are rarely spotted by local residents.
Around 6:30 p.m. reports began coming in to the local police station of a mountain lion near California Street and Rengstroff Avenue. While the vast majority of reported lion sightings turn out to be other animals, one resident took a photo with a cell phone which allowed the police sergeant to confirm it was in fact a mountain lion.
Mountain View Police began searching the area for the cat. They asked neighbors to stay indoors and vacate nearby Rengstroff Park. Around 7:00 the lost lion had wandered into the garage of an apartment complex. Officers shut the parking garage gate and waited for California Department of Fish and Wildlife officers to arrive.
Problems with the first warden's tranquilizer gun and a power outage complicated matters. After a few hours a second wildlife officer was on scene and sedated the lion, who had remained hiding under a van the whole time.
After capturing the drowsy lion, officers noticed he was wearing a tracking collar and is one of the cats being monitored by the UC Santa Cruz Puma Project. Known by researchers as 46M, this young 110-pound male had just left his mother and is in search of his own home range — a chunk of habitat with deer, water, female lions and no other big male cats.
"Unfortunately, instead of finding his way into a nice patch of unoccupied woods, his wanderings took him into Mountain View!" researchers noted this afternoon on their website.
"Imagine his surprise when he probably thought he could push through dispersed human development to get to more forest that was surely on the other side, only to find himself surrounded by cars, buildings, dogs, and people."
Thankfully, 46M was transported from the parking garage back into the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Under a new California law that went into place in January 2014, a mountain lion can only be killed for public safety if it is acting aggressively towards the public. Simply being in the wrong place or becoming agitated when first responders approach is no longer a death sentence for a mountain lion. Non-threatening lions must be relocated back to the wild, or given the time and space to do so on their own.
ABC 7 News' coverage of the Mountain View mountain lion, 46M, on Tuesday, May 6, 2014.
(Article #1523) To read the actual news story click here...
South Dakota Wardens Relocate Treed Mountain Lion Kitten (4/24/2014)
South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks (SDGFP) wardens made the right decision Wednesday when they decided that a treed, six-month old, 42 lb. mountain lion kitten was not a threat to humans and decided to tranquilize and relocate the animal instead of complying with the Department's zero-tolerance policy of lethal removal.
The young male lion, who was first spotted by a Spearfish couple enjoying an early morning cup of coffee on their deck, apparently had been treed by a dog sometime before and believed that it was safe and unseen high in its aerial perch.
According to SDGFP Game Warden Mike Apland, a 23-year veteran with the Department, "It was just hanging out, thinking it was concealed there."
Apland, who usually responds to three or four mountain lion sightings annually, said that he usually has only two options: "remove the lion or put it down."
"Our primary concern is always public safety," he said. "There weren't really any other residences in the immediate area and the lion wasn't showing any aggressive behavior."
After surveying the scene, Apland said he contacted a state biologist and requested he come to Spearfish with a tranquilizer gun.
"The lion was darted, and we waited six to seven minutes for the drug to take effect, and it did," Apland said. "Then we removed the lion from the tree. He was sleeping soundly by then."
Apland and the biologist loaded the slumbering lion kitten into the back of the warden's truck and took him several miles away to a wooded area.
"Everything went extremely well," Apland said. "Once we do relocate, we stay on scene and make sure they are up and awake before we leave. Smaller cats come out of the drugs fairly quickly. About a half hour after relocation, this cat didn't want to be around us anymore. Hopefully, this ingrains in him the attitude that they don't want to be near humans or any residential area."
No one has yet explained exactly why a six-month old mountain lion kitten would apparently be out on its own, but chances are fairly good that it's an orphan struggling to survive who wandered too close to humans.
(Article #1522) To read the actual news story click here...
Hollywood's Iconic Mountain Lion P-22 Sickened by Rat Poison (4/18/2014)
Last year, National Geographic put a public face to Southern California's lion population when it photographed P-22 walking in front of the Hollywood sign at night. At that time, the animal was majestic looking and in apparent good health.
However, it was announced yesterday that National Park Service (NPS) lion researchers discovered in March that P-22 is now sick with mange, a parasitic disease of the hair and skin which may be the result of rodenticide poisoning.
"You can see on his face that he's sort of scraggly, and his whiskers are sort of scraggly, and his tail is pretty scrawny," said Dr. Seth Riley, a NPS researcher working out of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
"Anti-coagulant rodenticides are designed to kill rodents by thinning the blood and preventing clotting. When people put these bait traps outside their homes or businesses, they may not realize that the poison works its way up the food chain, becoming more lethal as the dose accumulates in larger animals."
Biologists are still trying to figure out the connection between rat poison and getting mange in animals. It's pretty rare for mountain lions to even develop mange. There are only two known cases in the past 12 years, however both those lions ended up dying from rat poisoning.
P-22 is currently back in Griffith Park. He has been treated with a topical treatment - selamectin - but it's unsure whether the treatment will work, or if he'll ever fully recover.
LEFT: Steve Winter's famous photo of P-22 appeared in the December 2013 issue of National Geographic.
RIGHT: During a recent capture P-22 displayed symptoms of mange and tested positive to poison exposure.
Second-generation rodenticides will shortly be removed from the consumer market in California. Too many owls, hawks, foxes and bobcats, and now mountain lions are dying every year from these poisonous materials.
"The best way to keep rodents out of your home, garage or any building is by blocking all the access points rats and mice may use to enter," said California Department of Fish and Wildlife Environmental Scientist Stella McMillin. "It can be as easy as stuffing steel wool into small holes or using a canned foam filler like 'Great Stuff' sold at hardware stores."
Remove things that attract animals, especially food sources such as pet food or children's snacks, that are left outside or accessible to rodents indoors. Rodents aren't the only critters food attracts. It also attracts ants, yellow-jackets, raccoons, opossums and - if you're in coyote, bear or lion country - even more dangerous wild diners.
Make sure your garbage is secured in a solid container with a tight lid and remove anything rodents might use for shelter, such as wood piles. You can discourage voles, which like to "tunnel" in high grass, by keeping your lawn trimmed. Grass cut at two inches is tall enough to conserve some soil moisture but short enough to provide poor shelter for the vole species in California.
If you still see evidence of rodents, use traps to eliminate the existing rats and mice in or around your home. Traps pose little danger to humans and pets when placed in the small spaces rodents frequent. They are also effective, inexpensive and have no harmful side effects. There are also some environmentally friendly pest control companies that use exclusion and trapping methods rather than poison to keep your home free of rodents.
If you take these actions, still have a rodent problem and feel you must use some kind of poison, please use rodenticide products that DO NOT contain the active ingredients brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone or difenacoum. These are the second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) most likely to kill non-target animals.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation's decision to restrict those four chemicals is based on decades of monitoring studies and mortality incidents. Every monitoring study done in the last 20 years has found widespread exposure of predators and scavengers with SGARs, most commonly brodifacoum.
(Article #1521) To read the actual news story click here...
Montana's Hunters Accuse MFWP of Exaggerating Lion Population Numbers (4/15/2014)
In a strange turn around, some of Montana's mountain lion hunters are accusing the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) of increasing next year's lion hunting quota to satisfy the demands of hunting outfitters.
What touched off accusations of over-hunting was MFWP's newly released mountain lion quota for the upcoming 2014-15 hunting season. MFWP defended its new quota of an additional 37 lions based on the questionable findings of their five-month long Bitterroot DNA study, and a separate study which found that mountain lions were responsible for a major portion of elk calf mortalities in the Bitterroot valley.
Because of the bitterroot elk study, MFWP changed the second half of this year's lion hunt for that region by increasing the quota and opening it to anyone with a lion tag, as opposed to limiting it to only those with a permit to hunt those specific hunting districts in the Bitterroot.
Outraged Bitterroot lion hunters charged that the end result was a large influx of hunters from outside the region and the killing of young lions simply to satisfy outfitted clients. The additional hunting pressure was unwarranted, they said, because there are few of the big cats left.
"They're not there," said Chuck Pyles, who lives along the West Fork of the Bitterroot River. "I hunt almost every day and they're not there. I would like to see you lay off the females, lower the quota, because if not, we're going to have a problem."
Veteran hunter Grover Hedrick said he drove 132 miles of roads and only found five adult lion tracks in the Bitterroot. "That's not very many," he said.
The MFWP study that estimated lion numbers for the region was also criticized as deficient on many fronts by the hunters.
"What we got was keyboard cougars and paper pumas," said Rod Bullis.
Retired Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife research scientist Gary Koehler called the baseline population a best guess in a study that couldn't be replicated for verification. "This is a dangerous extrapolation from an untested protocol."
Koehler also noted that the work the study cited in Washington utilizing DNA samples is still being peer reviewed and tested.
Montana's 2013-14 mountain lion hunt resulted in the deaths of 518 lions.
(Article #1520) To read the actual news story click here...
Chambers' Fight to End Nebraska Lion Hunt Not Yet Over! (4/8/2014)
Unwilling to accept the betrayal of two state Senators that thwarted his attempt to override Governor Heineman's veto, Senator Ernie Chambers proved once again that he was a bare knuckles kind of political fighter and added scores of amendments to at least 11 pending bills, including some that would replace their language with his mountain lion hunting ban.
With yesterday being the 56th day of the 60-day session, Nebraska lawmakers are facing a backlog of bills and little time to waste.
"Give me my lions and you will be rid of me," said Senator Chambers. "Time is on my side. Yes it is. We are now at the point in the session where everything is compressed into a very small amount of time. I can take the rest of this session if I want to. I have been treated in a way that has been very shabby."
One way or another, Friday will prove who has the most resolve amongst Nebraska lawmakers—a man of principle, or flunkies of special interest hunting groups.
(Article #1519) To read the actual news story click here...