Weighing in at 84 pounds, and around 14 months old, last week we welcomed 41M to the study. In this video, you can see 41M walk into the trap while his sibling looks on. The door closes behind him, distracting him for a moment, but then he returns to chowing down on the roadkill deer bait. At the end of the video you can also hear the recorded call that we use to attract the pumas.
41M was very considerate and went into the trap before 9pm, so we were able to collar him and reset the trap in hopes of catching one of his family members. While we collared him, we could see the eye-shine of his mom or sibling watching us from a short distance away. We weren’t able to catch anyone else that night, but we did get this fun video of 41M playing with his sibling through the trap (who is no doubt laughing at him, as I know my siblings would do).
Unfortunately, last week we also lost 27M. Like 16M, 34M, and 8 other study animals, 27M was shot for eating a pet goat, much too common a fate for pumas in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
27M was first collared in two years ago this month. We estimate that he was 2.5 when we caught him, which would make him around 4.5 when he was killed. He lived west of Highway 17 between Sierra Azul and Nisene Marks.
There is very little direct conflict between humans and pumas, but goats are a different matter. In the wild, prey animals, like goats and sheep, are able to escape from predators by running away. When these pets are penned up, they have nowhere to go and may be all too easy a meal for pumas to pass up. Pumas are agile climbers, so the best way to keep goats, sheep, or any pets safe is to give them a fully enclosed space (walls, a roof, and a door you can close) to sleep in at night.
In fact, new research shows that shooting pumas that eat your pets doesn’t actually help the situation. When one cat is killed, it is often young males, who are more likely to cause trouble, that move into the open territory. A far better solution is to keep these problem from happening in the first place! Simple preventative measures like putting your animals away at night gives the double reward saving you the heartbreak of losing your pet, and keeping a puma from getting shot.
For more information on keeping your pets and livestock safe from predators, check out the Mountain Lion Foundation website.