Ripple and Beschta's work in Zion National Park was one of the first major studies to help demonstrate the importance of top predators in maintaining healthy, diverse landscapes. When the park gained popularity and more people visited, cougars were scared off. Without natural predators, mule deer over-browsed cottonwoods, causing a shift in vegetation, more erosion along stream banks, and ultimately fewer reptiles, amphibians, fish, and insects. These results, replicated in Yellowstone, have broad implications with regard to our understanding of ecosystems where large carnivores have been removed or are being recovered.
Pumas in southern California live among a burgeoning human population of roughly 20 million people. To better understand how habitat loss, fragmentation, and human-caused puma mortality impact the puma population's viability and genetic diversity, researchers have examined genetic status of pumas in coastal mountains within the Peninsular Ranges south of Los Angeles, in San Diego, Riverside, and Orange counties. These Santa Ana Mountains pumas show strong evidence of a genetic bottleneck and isolation from other populations in California. These and ecological findings provide a warning signal to wildlife managers and land use planners that mitigation efforts will be needed to stem further genetic and demographic decay in the Santa Ana Mountains puma population.
Chris Spatz discusses a recent trip to Pacifica, California and how attitudes towards mountain lions differ from his home state of New York where officials are opposed to the species' recovery. Midwestern states with tiny populations of lions continue their intolerance, and most western states needlessly slaughter hundreds of lions each year for recreation. Citizens of California were the first to grant Puma concolor the freedom to teach humans the limits of their habitat, to determine how close mountain lions wish to live near us, to let them be neighbors.
Cougar Rewilding Foundation President Christopher Spatz discusses recent cougar news in the Midwest. South Dakota continues to be the poster child for intolerance of dispersing lions, going above and beyond to kill any cat unfortunate enough to find itself near a populated area. Though deer are significantly more dangerous to people than predators, lions and other carnivores remain the targets for removal. On the bright side, legislators and activists in both Nebraska and Massachusetts are stepping up to try to give recolonizing mountain lions protection under state law.
In this edition of our audio podcast ON AIR, MLF Volunteer Broadcaster Julie West interviews Dr. Ullas Karanth. Their conversation introduces the high stakes conservation challenges and successes impacting another majestic cat: the endangered Bengal tiger, whose survival is threatened by large scale poaching, competition for resources, and diminished habitat and prey from human encroachment. Though a different species than our American lion, the two cats face many similar struggles in a rapidly urbanizing world.
Local organizations have initiated a Global March for Lions that will be held in designated cities throughout the world to highlight the plight of lions embroiled in the canned hunting industry in South Africa. The march will be held this Saturday, 15 March and the Mountain Lion Foundation is excited to be one of groups participating in the Los Angeles rally. Lynn Cullens from MLF will speak about struggles facing our own American lion and what we can do to ensure the survival of lions here at home.
Male and female mountain lions appear almost identical and getting a good look at a cat's rear end is often the only way to tell for sure the sex of the animal. Determining the age can also be tricky, but a chart and photos provided by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife offer a helpful guide. This feature was adapted from a flier, which is also available here for easy printing.
John Laundré reflects on some of the great conservation achievements of his time, only to be disgusted that many are actively being undone by current anti-predator policies and attitudes. Lions, wolves, bears, coyotes and countless other species are being painted as evil, bloodthirsty killers. Unable to control their violent urges, these creatures are destroying our ecosystems and must be eliminated. These views couldn't be any more backwards. Man is the only out of control killer, the only one who kills for fun, the only one who needs to be stopped.
Despite the promotion of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation (NAMWC), there are many apparent contradictions between the ideal and how wildlife is actually managed by state wildlife agencies. NAMWC prohibits the frivolous killing and waste of wildlife. Given that few hunters actually consume coyotes, wolves, cougars, and even bears, it is obviously a "waste" of wildlife to shoot or trap these animals just for "fun." One of the major weaknesses of the current polities of state agencies is the bias towards huntable wildlife. Some 99% of all other wildlife is ignored and suffers benign neglect, or worse...
Cougar Rewilding Foundation President Chris Spatz discusses Nebraska's recent mountain lion policy changes. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) has adopted an outdated anti-mountain lion stance with virtually no public support. With science and local residents backing the need to protect this tiny budding colony of lions, why is the NGPC pushing so hard to eradicate the species? Nebraska's zero tolerance policy may prevent the lion from reclaiming not only the Prairie, but the entire eastern seaboard.
In this edition of our audio podcast ON AIR, MLF Broadcaster Julie West interviews Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Warden Dave Jones. Officer Jones is partnered with one of the Department's six Karelian bear dogs (KBDs).
Mountain lions in the United States face many threats—not the least of which are wildlife management policies that don't seem overly concerned about the species' survival. Year after year the hunting quotas for mountain lions go up and agencies are less certain about the number of lions living in their states, while quite sure that the populations are healthy and growing. Itss this vast uncertainty that agonizes conservationists. In the governments' game of sleight of hand, the lion is always the loser.
Mariposa, California resident and avid hiker Rachel Oliver shares her story of encountering a mountain lion on a trail. Lions see us more often than we see them, and will almost always disappear into the brush before we detect their presence. But with a careful eye, we can learn to spot the subtle signs they leave behind. Sharing wild places with lions improves the health of the ecosystems, but it also reminds us there is still something truly wild and mysterious in the forest.
In this reposting of a Methow Valley News article, journalist Ann McCreary discusses the latest cougar research in Washington and how it's reshaping management of this often misunderstood cat. Biologists are learning that killing more mountain lions can increase conflicts with people. The long-ignored social structure and territorial habits of lions are key factors. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists are striving for a more science-based approached to creating lion policies in the state.
Within twenty-four hours of hearing about two injured, orphaned mountain lion cubs near San Jose, California, a LightHawk volunteer pilot stepped in to provide this heartbreaking story with a happy ending. Nearly everyday in North America LightHawk volunteer pilots, aircrafts and resources are helping to tip the balance toward environmental protection and sustainability.
On a recent walk through the Oregon capitol, Rob Klavins notes "just how far we haven't come" in the last 170 years. Outdated anti-predator views from the early wild west still dominate the wildlife policy making process. Rather than focusing resources on public education or safety, legislators are allowing the state to spend thousands of taxpayer dollars to shoot coyotes from helicopters, reauthorize illegal inhumane hunting practices, and kill federally protected species. Our society is more intelligent than this, or at least shouldn't we be able to find better things to do with our time?
Despite cougar biologist John Laundre's recent study demonstrating abundant available mountain lion habitat in the 6-million acre Adirondack Park of upstate New York, the state Department of Environmental Conservation refuses to acknowledge it. For whatever reason, the agency continues to promote outdated opinions that lions are incapable of reestablishing populations in the eastern United States.
In this edition of our audio podcast ON AIR, MLF Volunteer Julie West interviews mountain lion program manager Phil Carter of Animal Protection of New Mexico. Carter discusses the often ridiculous lengths the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish will go to to disregard the public, bury scientific research, and ignore all common sense. Trying to protect mountain lions in New Mexico and incorporate the best science into management has turned into a game of one step forward, two steps back.
From the Mexican border to Washington State, Sudarsky's wide-ranging research and fieldwork over the course of two years has yielded an unsettling picture of the staggering challenges facing mountain lion recovery... and some dramatic encounters with Puma concolor. Learn more about Sudarsky's foray into the controversies surrounding America's most magical and beleaguered cat.
A mountain lion lost in downtown Santa Monica, California, was a call for help from wild animals squeezed by a city. The good news is, wildlife corridors can be their way out. Learn more about the decades of research that have gone into mapping, connecting, and protecting patches of wildlands for mountain lions and all wildlife.
More than 40 years ago, Senator John Dunlap (D-Napa) made conservation history when his mountain lion hunting moratorium passed the California Legislature and became law in 1971. Even today it is rare to find legislators willing to take a stand for America's lion. In this feature article, a now-retired Dunlap recalls the fight to pass the bill and his guiding principle, "when in doubt, preserve."
In June 2012, the possibility of mountain lions returning to the Midwest — and ultimately to other states along the eastern seaboard — was heralded in newspapers across the country. Headline after headline welcomed the return of mountain lions to places where they have not been seen for many decades. How did this come to pass? Is the trend real and sustainable? How was the news received by local policy makers? To address some of these critical questions, the Mountain Lion Foundation reviewed three recent research projects.
Where cities meet wildlands, crossing the boundary can often make the difference between life and death for a mountain lion. We all know that mountain lions are often shot and killed to insure public safety when they wander across this unmarked boundary following prey such as deer or raccoons, in search of water, or when challenged out of their territory by a parent or competing lion. Bill Hebner, a Captain in the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) envisioned and implemented an alternative that allows authorities to relocate some cougars back to the wild: Karelian Bear Dogs.
The abilities of mountain lions to stay hidden and avoid people helps them to survive, but it also makes cougar research a real challenge! While studying the biology and behavior of lions is of value in and of itself, it can also serve significant conservation goals as we learn about the extent and origins of human-caused lion deaths: when lions are intentionally shot for depredation, road-killed on our highways, or succumb to pesticides and other toxins. Recently, I had an opportunity to tag along with Dr. Winston Vickers and Deanna Dawn, dedicated biologists with U.C Davis' Wildlife Health Center, as they tracked and recaptured one of Southern California's mountain lions.
In this edition of ON AIR, MLF Volunteer Julie West interviews cougar biologist Gary Koehler about his experience with mountain lion and human populations in Washington. Koehler sheds light on the difficulty of applying scientific research about lion behavior to human attitudes and management.
A cougar biologist takes a strong stand on the real value of wildlife. In this important opinion piece, John Laundré considers the public cost of wildlife mismanagement, and the consequences of bureaucratic decisions that fail to consider the public good and the intrinsic value of wild predators.
A rare disease among wild cats has become the primary cause of death among bobcats in California's Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The cats are dying from mange, a skin disease caused by a tiny parasite. The use of rat poisons is likely the underlying cause of the dramatic increase in mange-related deaths.
In this edition of our audio podcast ON AIR, volunteer Craig Fergus interviews wildlife biologist Clayton Nielsen about his work mapping dispersal corridors for mountain lions into the Midwest, and analyzing areas of good habitat in anticipation of potential breeding populations in the region.
The 80th anniversary of the passage of the Animal Damage Control Act in 2011 was hardly a cause for celebration. It was a time of mourning for each one of the millions of coyotes, foxes, wolves, bears, mountain lions, bobcats, badgers, Canada geese, cormorants, blackbirds and other wildlife killed under its authority.
The pursuit of game as trophies is a pursuit of vanity. It is a self-indulgence that amounts to a bravura by those with a predilection to kill wildlife. For those with a trigger itch, trophy hunting fulfills that enigmatic urge to connect with nature. Obliterating nature while claiming a respect for it is the ultimate double-cross.
The story of a mountain lion death in Redwood City, California has clarified the need for better community planning. Taking action now can prevent fatal reactions in the future. When a lion comes too close for comfort, you can help to give the wild cat an opportunity to move on... and survive.
In this edition of ON AIR, MLF broadcaster Julie West interviews Steve Pavlik about the Native American view of large carnivores, explore the field of cognitive ethology, and the idea that animals have rational thoughts and emotions not unlike people.
In this edition of our audio podcast ON AIR, Julie West interviews Richard Gilbreth about his work at the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary. The IEAS is a unique haven for exotic animals and remains the one and only AZA certified sanctuary.
Spend just eight minutes and learn little known facts about the fascinating mountain lion. Get a glimpse of how a mountain lion thinks, feels, and senses. What makes the mountain lion so adaptable to a wide variety of habitats? How does their hunting differ from that of wolves and bears? What is their relationship to the ecosystem?
An e-mail story circulating about a Montana couple being saved from a mountain lion attack by their mule includes graphic photographs of the mule reportedly fighting and killing the lion. But everything about the story is an outright lie.
In this edition of ON AIR, Kim Vacariu reveals how the Wildlands Network connects experts and landowners to protect corridors spanning the continent to maintain habitat connectivity for keystone species and prevent trophic cascades of extinction.
In this edition of our audio podcast ON AIR, volunteer Craig Fergus interviews geneticist Ashwin Naidu about his work studying mountain lions and their diet in southwestern Arizona via non-invasive genetic techniques.
In this edition of our audio podcast ON AIR, MLF Volunteer Julie West interviews cougar biologist Toni Ruth about her decades of research, including study of the interactions and competition between wolves, cougars, and bears in Yellowstone National Park.
When the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish & Parks (SDGF&P) submitted the 2010-2015 Mountain Lion Management Plan, it included errors in math that will result in the unnecessary deaths of 80 to 100 adult lions, and the deaths of many kittens from slow starvation.
On June 30th, 2010, California State Senator Fran Pavley (D-Santa Monica) presented Mountain Lion Foundation Board Chairman, Toby Cooper with a Senate resolution commemorating the Foundation's "significant contributions" to the passage and implementation of the California Wildlife Protection Act of 1990 (Proposition 117).
Florida Panthers face inbreeding, habitat loss, and record-high roadkills. Hear about Wildlife Bilogist Deborah Jansen's work tracking and collaring the big cats in southwest Florida, and what the future may hold for Puma concolor coryi.
Two mountain lion kittens have exposed a gaping hole in mountain lion protection policies. California still has much work to do before lions will truly be "specially protected." The ban on recreational hunting was only a first step. Remaining on the "to-do" list: clarifying policies and facilitating communication between the state Department of Fish & Game, wildlife rescue groups, and the public.
Seeing a lion in the wild is an especially rare occurrence. Cougars are solitary, elusive, and very stealthy. If a cougar is in the area and you are lucky enough to detect its presence, most often it will be due to "cougar sign" and not actually seeing the animal. These signs are evidence left behind after a cougar has passed through. Cougar signs include tracks, scat, scratches and cached (partially buried) prey.
What purpose do the mountain lion and other major predators serve? These animals are at the top of the food chain. With a shrug, we respond with words recalled form high school biology: Predators contribute to the balance of nature. But balance is not enough. An empty scale will balance.