Mountain Lion Charges Girls in Wheat Ridge, Colorado

courtesy of the Denver Post

A mountain lion charged two young girls and their dog as they walked West 44th Avenue and Robb Street near Prospect Park this morning, Wheat Ridge police said.

The girls were in a wooded area near the park, and there were no injuries, but authorities are telling residents to stay out of the park until further notice.

Wheat Ridge police and community services officers, as well as Division of Wildlife officers, tried unsuccessfully today to track down the animal.

Small children, dogs and cats in the area should be kept indoors, Wheat Ridge said in a media release.

Police advised anyone who encounters a mountain lion not to approach it, make a lot of noise but stay calm, and back away slowly.

Oregon’s Assumptions on Cougar Hunting Misplaced

courtesy of New West
by George Wuerthner

Oregon, like many western states, allows cougar hunting. Part of the justification for hunting is the assumption that killing cougars will reduce livestock losses and increase public safety. There is, however, growing scientific evidence that suggests that sport hunting is more likely to increase cougar predation on livestock and may even increase the likelihood of cougar attacks on humans.

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Washington Man Captures 8 Cougars in One Photo

courtesy of The Spokesman-Review
by Rich Landers

A Wenatchee hunter has a right to be proud for his photo showing a pride of mountain lions on the Douglas County ranch where he has permission to hunt.

The black and white trail-cam image, which shows EIGHT cougars in one spot, has gone viral in Northwest websites and e-mail lists since he first released it to acquaintances on Christmas Day.

Wildlife enthusiasts were in awe of the scene, which few people will see in their lifetimes.

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American Cougars on the Decline

“We’re running against the clock,” says big cat expert

by Morgan Erickson-Davis

The main reason behind cougar decline in the U.S. is habitat loss through degradation and fragmentation. Research shows that cougars need at least 850 square miles of uninterrupted habitat in order to persist with only a low risk of extinction. With urban areas becoming more numerous, many scientists are calling for the expansion of protected habitat corridors so that cougar populations could exist and move without needing to traverse through civilization.

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Hunting has put B.C. Cougar Population at Risk

by Judith Lavoie

Trophy hunting and habitat loss are putting B.C.’s cougar population at risk and provincial policies do not adequately protect the big cats, says a new report by three scientists from the Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

The study is being released today in anticipation of the province shortly publishing its first cougar management plan, which is under internal review.

For now, the province has no central planning document for cougars and relies on hunting regulations to safeguard populations, the study says

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Study Finds Mountain Lions may be Eating More Than Previously Believed

by Brett French

Mountain lions, the largest members of the cat family in North America, may be heartier eaters than some researchers originally estimated.

“One of the most interesting things we found was how much more prey they kill in summer,” said Kyle Knopff, lead author of a three-year Canadian mountain lion study that was recently published in the Journal of Wildlife Management. “Just how focused they become on young of the year ungulates was surprising.”

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Wildlife Services Exterminates Over 4.1 Million Animals in 2009

by WildEarth Guardians

According to records released today by WildEarth Guardians, “Wildlife Services,” the ironically-named branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, killed more than four million wild animals and pets in 2009 while spending $121,039,763. Last month, WildEarth Guardians filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking to track how this money is spent, but the agency continually sidesteps public scrutiny.

“Apparently, Wildlife Services is comprised of bands of secret agents. One group, the assassins, operates on our national forests and kills millions of the public’s wildlife using helicopters, guns, poisons, traps, and hounds. The second, the artful dodgers, play shell games in the dark with the public’s money,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring of WildEarth Guardians.

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Mountain Lion Spotted in Englewood

The big cat was first reported about 3:04 a.m. Tuesday in the 3100 block of Delaware Street, Englewood police said Wednesday. Officers responded, but were unable to locate the cougar.

About 4:40 a.m., police received another report of the mountain lion about six blocks east near East Cornell Avenue and South Lincoln Street.

About 5:20 p.m., the cougar reappeared farther east, near the Englewood-Denver border. The lion was spotted in the back yard of a home near South University Boulevard and East Flora Ave — just west of Wellshire Municipal Golf Course, police said.

A Colorado Division of Wildlife Officer responded there and confirmed it was a mountain lion, police said. The Officer attempted to shoot the lion with a tranquilizer dart, but it escaped.

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UPDATE – Mountain Lion Spotted Again In Englewood

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June 24, 2010

Today was bittersweet, to say the least. Arrived in the park around 5:00 and, after spending some time with the golden eagles, headed up the Fountain Valley trail.

The temp was 90+ and it felt every bit that, if not hotter. At the Lyons Overlook trail there was the biggest pile of black bear scat I’ve ever seen, we’re talking big Grizzly size. I hiked to the top of the overlook, smelled the distinct odor of a bear nearby, and turned to my right just in time to watch the tail end of a big bear making its way into the oak brush. I stuck around for the next 45 minutes, shooting landscapes while I watched the movement of the bushes and listened to the bear root around – never got a clear look at the bear due to the thick brush, and finally gave up due to the unrelenting heat. Back down the trail toward the truck. I arrived at the parking lot and found Rob shooting a doe and her fawn, finally got some halfway decent fawn shots.

We spotted what looked to be either a mountain lion or a small deer on the hogback about 1000 yards away, and though we were both fairly sure that it was “slinking” through the brush and couldn’t be a deer, for some reason we ignored it and moved on. Nothing for the next hour. At 8:00 I decide that my luck might be better out of the truck, so I hit the Willow Creek trail. The hike yielded nothing but a great horned owl that waited until I was very close to it to fly, scared the heck out of me as it dove off of a low branch and sailed right over my head. Met one of my wildlife watching buddies on the way back to the truck, he had just returned from the Fountain Valley trail and, of course, got some shots of the big bear that I’d lost patience waiting for earlier. He informed me of a big problem with two bears in the nearby neighborhood, apparently two youngsters had been breaking into homes for food and were put down earlier in the day. By now the light was fading.

I was about to hop into the truck and leave the park when a couple of guys that I’d shared a bear sighting with last week pulled up and let me know that a lion had just crossed the road right in front of them in the canyon. Rob and I got there just in time to watch the lion climbing the canyon for a couple of minutes – it had crossed the road from south to north, most definitely the lion that we had seen earlier from so far away (Rob had snapped a couple of shots from some distance earlier, after close scrutiny we could see that it was a lion). By then it was too dark for my camera to get anything worthwhile, Rob’s camera handled it much better and he walked away with at least one decent shot – here’s the best one I got.

When I got home the news channels were all covering the bear story. The two yearling bears hadn’t been aggressive with people, they hadn’t bluff charged anyone, they hadn’t attacked a pet or livestock – they certainly hadn’t deserved to be killed. The cubs had broken into a home and were eating out of a residents freezer, when the homeowners arrived they fled – no aggression whatsoever. What happened to the three strikes rule that the DOW usually goes by? A spokesperson for the DOW was interviewed and claimed that the danger was that they would pass these bad habits (which they claimed that the bears had learned from their mother, though there was never a report of a mother bear with cubs breaking into homes in the area) onto their offspring, even though they wouldn’t be able to reproduce until at the earliest next year. These young bears, which had just been weaned from their mother and really knew no better, should’ve been hazed away from the neighborhood or trapped, tagged and relocated, certainly not trapped and killed. Based on the amount of negative comments online, I’d say that the public is as outraged as I am at the way the bears were handled. The DOW will definitely be “under the microscope” now, let’s hope they handle future situations differently.

June 14 – 16, 2010

June 14th: Rob, Dan and I arrived at Roxborough around 6:00 PM. The golden eaglet was visible on the edge on the nest, squawking at the top of its little lungs. It wasn’t long before one of the adults showed up, circling above the nest. A small rabbit in the canyon below the nest never saw the eagle coming, and after a couple of minutes dinner was served.

After spending half an hour or so at the nest, we decided to push on. As soon as we reached the upper parking lot I noticed some movement on the right hand side of the road. I grabbed the radio, “Rob, the two bears are back – upper lot!” Dan and I hopped out of the truck, I went down onto my knees in the road and began shooting – the bears crossed the road in front of the truck and started walking east on the other side of the road. By the time I pulled my eye away from the viewfinder and stood up there were four cars stopped behind us – bear jam. The bears flanked the road for a bit, then headed up the Willow Creek trail.

We stuck with the bear pair for the next hour or so (I ran out of disk space and Dan ran out of battery power), then made our way back to the truck. We reached the truck as my buddy Chris and his wife pulled up. Chris was anxious to see his first bears of the season, so we told him where to look and he started up the trail. After a bit of “bear talk” with Rob, Dan and I drove east to take a look in the canyon. We reached the high pullout on the east side of the park where we usually scope from, and before I could get the spotting scope out Rob was on the radio. “Another bear, upper lot again!” This bear was extremely skittish – it had darted through the parking lot and attempted to scramble up a tree near Rob’s vehicle, but fell out about half way up. The reddish-cinnamon bear finally settled down a bit when it hit the brush line on the other side of the road, following the path that the other bears had taken, sniffing the ground for the scent trail as it walked along. Dan, Rob, Chris’ wife (sorry, I’m not very good at remembering names) and I watched the bear for a couple of minutes, then Chris came around the corner on the trail – just in time to see the third bear as it ran past. The light was gone, so we decided to call it a day.

June 15th: Arrived at Roxy around 6, and passed a large group of cub scouts at the visitor center on my way up the Fountain Valley trail. My hike yielded nothing, just too hot for the wildlife to be out. I made my way back to the truck and down to the eagle nest, arriving just in time to see an adult leaving the nest – just missed feeding time. I waited around at the nest for a couple of minutes, and a group of scouts led by a park volunteer came down the road. I did my best to point out the nest, but it’s camouflaged against the cliff and hard to make out without an eagle visible on it. Down the road, and after a half hour of nothing, I found myself back at the upper parking lot. Four deer shot out of the oak brush, heads held high, bleating and scattering as they ran at full speed. I picked up the radio – “Rob, you’d better get over here, something’s got these deer spooked. Definitely a predator.” As soon as I took my thumb off of the receiver a mountain lion walked out of the brush. “Mountain lion, mountain lion, get over here quick!” I was out of the car and shooting in a couple of seconds, and Rob raced into the parking lot. The lion slowly stalked toward us, eyes locked onto the two humans below it the entire time.

The lion came to about 40 feet from us and froze, looking off to the left. We could hear the sound of kids walking up the trail, and the lion obviously heard them as well, dropping down as low as it could in the tall grass, ears exposed above the foliage. The next hour was a blur – kids and parents trying to be a quiet as possible (these are kids, after all) while we watched the ears twitch in the grass. I shared my photos with the kids, discussing lion behavior with the brave ones at the front of the group and explaining to the frightened ones that the animal was just as afraid of us as we were of it. We could’ve ignored the scouts and let them pass by without ever seeing the lion, and we may have been able to get more shots after they passed, but I’m convinced that sharing this experience with the kids was the right thing to do. The joy and excitement on their faces made it worthwhile. Chris and his wife waited with me until dusk, and as soon as the crowd left the lion arose. It looked over at us for a moment, then disappeared into the thick oak brush. My first mountain lion sighting of the year, and I’d finally been able to get shots of the reclusive cat!

June 16th: Dan and I got into the park later than usual, about 6:30. Not much happening, another hot afternoon. We spent some time with the eaglet, squawking again at the edge of the nest as an adult circled overhead. Rob spotted a bear near the Willow Creek lot, and we were on the trail within shooting distance of the bear within 10 minutes. We spent the evening with the bear, a beautiful black that didn’t seem to mind our presence at all.

At sunset a female bear and cinnamon cub appeared on the top of the ridge above us, obviously very interested in the black bear we were photographing. She stood on her hind legs for a better view as the cub rambled around the rocks at her feet. First cub of the year, hopefully we’ll have more time with it in the future. The light was gone, so we headed back to the truck. Another 3-bear day, and these were three bears that we’d never seen before, bringing our running total to 7 individuals in the park so far this year – another day in parkadise!