Today, crew members spent the day in the field checking cameras and installing several new ones, hopefully on choke points and areas where a lion might wander.
A choke point is an area where habitat has been narrowed by water, roadways or other geographic features, either natural or man-made, that impede wildlife travel. So a choke point, also known as a pinch point, is an excellent place to deploy a trail camera as this area will almost certainly get a higher number of animals traveling through.
Most of our cameras on the Preserve are deployed on choke points so we tend to catch regular movement of a number of species, including coyotes and bobcats - competing predators with lions, and lots of deer - one of the mountain lion's favorite food.
Calculating where a lion might end up in a large and remote woodland area is a guessing game as much as it is trying to 'think like a lion.' Since each lion is an individual with their own ways of doing things and degrees of experience, there's just no telling whether this lion will move east or west, or settle in for a few deer meals before deciding.
That's the fun and that's the frustration! Our camera team works hard and the Bureau of Land Management continues to provide guidance and important project resources to get this animal on camera no matter what it decides to do.
In the end, even if we don't get a GPS collar on this cat, having a photograph or two would be proof positive that lions use the Preserve, if not for a residence, than for an important landing area as they make decisions on how and where to disperse.
--- 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.