In 2012 the Mountain Lion Foundation wrote and successfully passed a bill in California to allow humane research on the state's protected mountain lion population. Assembly Bill 1784 (now Fish & Game Code 4810) not only allows qualified researchers to study lions, but it ensures the public is notified and can review project proposals and reports.
While drafting the bill, MLF discovered many current projects had been permitted to use illegal capture methods (leg and neck snares). Now with the transparency and public notice, Californians can be sure their mountain lions receive the protection and treatment they deserve.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has received a research proposal; the first since AB 1784's passage. A public comment period is now underway for the Southern California Mountain Lion Study. Headed in the field by Dr. Winston Vickers, this research is helping to identify critical wildlife corridors and the failing genetic health of lions in the Santa Ana Mountains.
As permits expire on mountain lion studies in other parts of the state, their renewals will also be subjected to the new law. MLF expects to see applications from lion studies in the Santa Cruz and Santa Monica Mountains later this year.
December 26, 2012
Public Notice of Intent to Issue a Permit for Mountain Lion Research in California
Recent legislation requires the Department to notify the public at least 30 days prior to the issuance of a Scientific Collecting Permit (SCP) to qualified researchers desiring to conduct research on mountain lions.
A summary of the proposed research is below. Copies of the permit are available upon request to the Department. Please contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wildlife Branch- MOUNTAIN LION SCP at 1812 Ninth Street, Sacramento, CA 95811.
Prospective Scientific Collecting Permit Issued to:
Dr. Winston Vickers, DVM, MPVM
Dr. Walter Boyce, DVM, PhD, MPVM
University of California, Davis - Wildlife Health Center, Southern California Mountain Lion Study
Mountain lions in California are important indicators of ecosystem health and connectivity, especially in southern California where the landscape is highly fragmented by previous and ongoing / planned human development. The Wildlife Health Center, a division of the One Health Institute of the School of Veterinary Medicine at U.C. Davis, has been studying mountain lion ecology, landscape use and population connections, sources of mortality, genetics, disease, toxin exposure, interactions with prey, and interactions with humans and domestic animals in southern California since late 2000. During that time, the study team and our large number of collaborators have contributed significantly to knowledge about mountain lions, and that information has been utilized to benefit mountain lions, other wildlife, humans, and domestic animals in a variety of ways.
Due to the ongoing nature of the research we are conducting, the requests we have received from collaborators, public agencies, and others for additional data from mountain lions in our study area (Figure 1), and several new research questions that have evolved from our previous work, we are requesting a permit to continue our mountain lion capture, sampling, and GPS-collaring efforts. The focus of the research will be to continue to expand knowledge regarding mountain lion disease and toxin exposure, genetics, and interactions with wildlife prey species, humans, and domestic animals. Additionally, we will assess mountain lion use of specific southern California conserved lands, linkages, and road crossings in order to help guide conservation and road planning decisions.
We have always strived to set the standard for best practices when capturing mountain lions for research, and to that end we will be utilizing only constantly monitored cage traps for all captures conducted under this permit, and an experienced wildlife veterinarian will be administering and monitoring all anesthetics and directing all capture activities. Samples from all mountain lions captured, and reports and publications relating to the research will be forwarded to the California Department of Fish and Game.