Tag: puma

Road Kill or Road Crossing: California Slow to Protect Wildlife

An NPR Quest radio piece about road crossings affecting our study animals. Listen below.

Continue Reading

Science on the SPOT: Chasing Pumas

Great NPR video documentary on our mountain lion – habitat fragmentation study

Continue Reading

Childhood curiosity led to puma project

SF Chronicle profile piece. The image above is a flyer for a movie inspired by the article which my graduate students will be producing.

Professor Chris Wilmers waggled the head of the fake deer in the equipment room of his UC Santa Cruz laboratory to demonstrate how alluring the contraption could be to a hungry cougar.

The purpose of the bobblehead deer – stored between a table covered with radio collars and a refrigerator full of cougar skulls, teeth, hair and scat samples – is to provoke mountain lion attacks.

Read on here.  Or if the link doesn’t work, try the pdf (SF Chronicle Profile Aug 12 2013).

Continue Reading

Cal Academy of Sciences – Local Lions

Apparently this video is playing on the big screen in the Cal Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

Continue Reading

Urban drifter: Mountain lion visits Santa Cruz

It was a crazy day.  A mountain lion made its way into downtown Santa Cruz, and we got a call from the police to come help them and the CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife anesthetize the cat and move it to safety.  Lots of coverage on this one.  Read about it in the Sentinel (with photos here), Pajaronian, Fox News, NBC News or our blog post about it on SantaCruzPumas.

Continue Reading

Top Cats: How Pumas and Other Apex Predators’ Populations Affect The Big Biodiversity Picture

Here’s a great article by Liza Gross in KQED’s Quest.  It ties our recent puma work nicely together with other work on predator effects on ecosystem function.

These “top down” trophic cascades, which the ecologists dubbed “trophic downgrading,” have been documented from the poles to the equators and every major biome in between, making the loss of top predators, they wrote, “arguably humankind’s most pervasive influence on the natural world.” Earth has weathered five mass extinctions but never before at the hands of one species—human beings. And we humans seem hell bent on clearing the Earth of larger bodied apex predators.

I considered all this as I read a new paper from wildlife ecologist Chris Wilmer’s lab (published last week in PLOS ONE) that looks at how human development affects pumas. Like most large carnivores, pumas need vast territories to hunt, find mates and raise young. Pumas living in the San Francisco Bay Area have no such luck. Wilmers, an associate professor of environmental studies at the University of California-Santa Cruz, has been studying the effects of habitat fragmentation on the behavior, ecology and even the physiology of pumas around the Santa Cruz Mountains. He develops cutting-edge GPS collars to track both the location and behavior of his animals.

Fragmented landscapes often pave the way to extinction for wide-ranging large carnivores like pumas, with cascading effects. Freed from the threat of top predators, smaller carnivores like foxes increase in number, driving declines in birds and small mammals. But habitat fragmentation can produce effects similar to extinction because large predators tend to avoid small fragmented parcels. Given the heterogeneous patterns of human developments—with houses and other structures interspersed among natural areas—predicting how animals might respond, and with what consequences, presents a serious challenge.

Read the full article here.

Continue Reading

Cougars in the mood stay far from humans

From the San Francisco Chronicle, a nice article on our recent PLOS ONE publication.

 Mountain lions, the most fearsome predators in California, lurk closer to suburbia when they are stalking prey or searching out new territory, but the cagey cats steer clear of humans when they are in the mood for romance, according to a UC Santa Cruz study.

If you can’t view the full article on the Chronicle article, here is a pdf version (page 1 , page 2).

Continue Reading

Mountain lion just miles from downtown San Jose photographed by automatic camera

Sometimes I am amazed at how easily mountain lions make it into the news!  Here’s a story in the San Jose Merc about a lion caught on camera at UC’s Blue Oak Reserve in the Hamilton range…

The lion photographed weighs more than 100 pounds. Wilmers said it is a male from 4- to 10-years-old, and it looks healthy. That it wandered into photo range on the outskirts of America’s 10th largest city was bound to happen sooner or later, he said.

“It’s not a surprise to me. There is a lot of great open space there,” Wilmers said. “If anything, it is a testament to the fact that people have been able to protect large open spaces that animals like mountain lions need to be healthy.”

View the full article here.

Continue Reading

The ghost cat: Mountain lion slips across Highway 17 regularly

From the Santa Cruz Sentinel/San Jose Mercury News, a nice article on 16m’s penchant for crossing roads.  Not sure where they got the name Atlas from, but so it goes.  By the way, that large scare he has in the photo above on his rump – we think he got hit and dragged by a car on hwy 17, but he survived and is doing well now.

But what sets this mountain lion apart is the expanse of his territory. Atlas, at he is sometimes known, roams the mountains on either side of Highway 17, crossing the busy road regularly to reinforce his domain. He is distinguishing himself not only by the risks he assumes, but by surviving them.

“What he’s basically done is set up a home range that has Highway 17 as a line right down the middle of it,” said Chris Wilmers, who heads UCSC’s Santa Cruz Puma Project, which has tagged and tracked nearly 40 lions throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Read the full Sentinel article here.

Continue Reading

‘Smart Collar’ in the Works to Manage Wildlife Better

From the NY Times an article on our NSF funded collaring technology.  There’s some nice quotes from Terrie on her recent trip to Colorado.

The collars, in development in academia and intended for commercial production in the next few years, use a combination of global positioning technology and accelerometers for measuring an animal’s metabolic inner life in leaping, running or sleeping. From the safari parks of Africa to urbanized zones on the edge of wildlands across the American West — places where widespread interest in the devices has already been voiced, scientists said — the mysteries of the wild might never be the same.

“What you end up with is a diary for the animal, a 24-hour diary that says he spent this much time sleeping, and we know from the GPS where that was,” said Terrie Williams, a professor of biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and one of three co-investigators on the project. “Then he woke up and went for a walk over here. He caught something over here. He ate something and we know what it was because the signatures we get for a deer kill vs. a rabbit kill are very different.”

Read the full article here.

Continue Reading
Alaska Bay Area British Columbia carbon cascade climate change collars connectivity corridor elk energetics evolution fear fish habitat fragmentation Lyme disease overexploitation predator puma salmon scavenger sea otter treadmill wolf Yellowstone

Archives