Today, there was another possible sighting of the mountain lion on the Preserve by a visitor who was hiking on one of the public trails. She says she saw a large cat with a long tail moving along the edge of a savannah area and then disappear into the oak woodland treeline!
While this sighting is unconfirmed, it shows that folks are on high alert and watching for lion activity. It may be that this lion found Wednesday's cooler and windy weather a motivation to move after the previous few days' stifling heat. And while it's known that mountain lions aren't typically very active during the day, there's no telling about individual behavior or particular motivations.
This means our camera team is also on high alert and our solid and experienced volunteer crew is going out at least twice a week now to check cameras for any sign that the lion may have passed by or is on the move. While several locations still require walk-in and rubber boots, if we can walk it, a lion can walk it. This requires even more volunteer capacity but because we have the support of the BLM and the strong commitment to find a lion, our great volunteers are stepping up to the challenge!
A photograph of a lion on the Preserve complete with GPS coordinates will be proof positive that these big critters use the Preserve's habitat, even if it's just to come down from the Sierra, take a look around and head back up to the hills!
And the unusually wet rainy season last winter meant there was significant flooding over large areas of the Preserve, affecting how animals find mates, shelter and resources across the landscape.
Mountain lions who step in to the Valley looking for space have to navigate open range livestock and small town cultures to the east of the Preserve where it's known that lions are killed without a permit and buried - known as 'shoot, shovel and shutup.' Fear and intolerance remain a huge challenge for lion survival in the Valley and being able to collar a lion here on the Preserve and follow his or her movements would not only be an historical first, it would help us learn just how lions manage to get to and from the Valley, whether or not they choose to stay.
--- The Bureau of Land Management initiated a mountain lion study on the Cosumnes River Preserve in collaboration with the California Department Fish and Wildlife in 2014. Currently, the study is being carried out by an all-volunteer crew of dedicated individuals who receive support and oversight from the Bureau of Land Management. The Sacramento Zoo has awarded a grant to the Mountain Lion Foundation which has allowed the Foundation to purchase and loan ten trail cameras to the Preserve to help carry out this study. The goal is to find and document a mountain lion on the Cosumnes River Preserve.