Mary Cummins Animal Advocates Los Angeles California Wildlife Rehabilitation Real Estate

Mary Cummins Animal Advocates Los Angeles California Wildlife Rehabilitation Real Estate

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Number of California Mountain Lions Only 3,200-4,500 by Mary Cummins, Animal Advocates

Photo from Wikipedia

I've written extensively about the dwindling number of mountain lions in California especially in Southern California. Most of the mountain lions who die in Southern California die because of humans. They are mainly killed being hit by cars, poisoned with rat poison or with depredation permits. 

When asked about the number of mountain lions in California the California Department of Fish & Wildlife generally says they have no idea how many exist. They never really tried to find out because they knew their numbers were decreasing rapidly. They allegedly told some the number "could be" about 6,000. 

I had estimated the number was closer to 4,000 in an article I wrote about depredation permits.  I stated "the California Department of Fish & Wildlife gave depredation permits to people in California who killed 1,702 mountain lions from 2001 to 2018" based on the results of State Information Act Requests which I made. Depredation permits are given to people who have had pets or livestock killed by mountain lions. The permits allow them to shoot and kill the mountain lion whom they think killed their animals. Every time pets or livestock are killed it's because they weren't properly protected by their owners.

Today the LA Times had an article about a recent study which is not final or published about the actual number of mountain lions in the state. The study found there could be 3,200-4,500 mountain lions in the state with most in Northern California. My estimate was right in the middle even though Fish & Wildlife told me it was "way too low." I even asked people who were directly involved in this study if they knew how many mountain lions existed. They said they had no idea but my number was too low. I actually have that on video. From the article,

"The total number of mountain lions is estimated to be between 3,200 and 4,500, which is thousands fewer than previously thought. The count was conducted by state and university scientists who used GPS collar data and genetic information from scat samples to model population densities across the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Mojave Desert and Southern California’s patchwork of weedy, fire-stripped wilderness.

“The greatest density is in the coastal forests of Humboldt and Mendocino counties of Northwest California, and lowest is the high desert east of the Sierra Nevada range in Inyo County,” said Justin Dellinger, a large-carnivore biologist and leader of the California Mountain Lion Project effort. “The Central Valley and portions of the Mojave Desert have no mountain lions.”

"The California Department of Fish and Wildlife had for decades estimated that the state’s mountain lion population was roughly 6,000 — even despite relentless vehicle strikes, wildfires and encroachment by land-hungry humans throughout their range.

“That old figure was just a back-of-the-envelope calculation without much data to support it,” Dellinger said. “The new, more accurate information we collected will be used to conserve and manage mountain lions more appropriately.”

In a collaborative effort involving the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, the nonprofit Institute for Wildlife Studies and the nonprofit Audubon Canyon Ranch, Dellinger and others traipsed through mountain forests, canyons and desert badlands in search of tracks. They also set trail cameras and traps, tranquilized lions, took biological samples and fitted animals with tracking collars.

Dellinger said the group spent roughly $2.45 million in state funds over seven years to produce three population estimates: One suggests there are 4,511 cougars living in California, and the other two suggest the number is roughly 3,200. Deciding which figure is most precise will be challenging for biologists tasked with reviewing the census report."

"There’s an almost 1 in 4 chance that the charismatic cats could be extinct in the Santa Monica and Santa Ana Mountains within 50 years."

Clearly something must be done now or our native mountain lion will become extinct. I'm sure they calculated the birth rate, cub/kitten survival rate to age of maturity/breeding and death rate by various causes including depredation permits to make this estimate. I'd love to see the math but will have to wait until the research is reviewed then published. I will assume it's correct based on my knowledge of the experience and expertise of Dr. T Winston Vickers, UC Davis and the other organizations involved.

As I stated in my previous articles the main things we must do to save native mountain lions in order are the following.

1. Do not give any depredation permits for mountain lions. People must secure their livestock and pets. If a mountain lion doesn't kill and eat the livestock or pet dog, a coyote will. Fish & Wildlife said they don't want to give the permits. Ask the California legislature or the Fish & Game Commission to change the regulations that makes it mandatory for the Department to give depredation permits. They should only give permits if one specific mountain lion is a definite threat to humans based on facts and physical evidence.

2. Stop allowing the use of anticoagulant bait poison outdoors. Non-target wildlife are eating the poison directly or they are being poisoned secondarily by eating animals which ate the poison. Mountain lions will eat slower sick animals more often because they're easier to catch. They primarily eat the organ meat which is where the poison is stored in the liver. Mountain lions eat coyotes, raccoons who are also poisoned secondarily. Mountain lions eat ground squirrels, gophers directly who eat the poison directly. They really need to find a different safer method of controlling ground squirrels, gophers on golf courses, soccer fields and landscape areas. They have to put the poison in bait stations which only allow the target animal. Maybe there can be trap doors in the bait stations that dump the animal in a bucket where it can at least be killed humanely and quickly. Poison is a slow painful death.

3. Allow the maintenance of existing open space. Limit development and plan any development with native wildlife in mind. Don't plan new freeways with blind curves. Research has shown us mountain lions are more likely to be hit by cars on curved roads with limited visibility. If mountain lions must pass through a dangerous area, guide and funnel them to safer areas with hardscape and landscape. They are incorporating some of this in the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing. Development also limits population ranges which isolates mountain lions causing inbreeding and genetic degradation issues.

I'm glad someone finally did a study about the actual number of mountain lions in California. Maybe this will help conserve this important keystone species. We need mountain lions to help control the deer population. If the deer population gets out of control, it can be detrimental to our ecosystem and environment. This is especially so because we killed off all our native wolves over 100 years ago. Only recently have a few migrated from other states into California. Reintroducing wolves in certain areas in some states has restored ecosystems. I hope we don't get to the point where we have to reintroduce mountain lions to California. 

Mary Cummins of Animal Advocates is a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the California Department of Fish and Game and the USDA. Mary Cummins is also a licensed real estate appraiser in Los Angeles, California.

Google+ Mary Cummins, Mary K. Cummins, Mary Katherine Cummins, Mary Cummins-Cobb, Mary, Cummins, Cobb, wildlife, wild, animal, rescue, wildlife rehabilitation, wildlife rehabilitator, fish, game, los angeles, california, united states, squirrel, raccoon, fox, skunk, opossum, coyote, bobcat, manual, instructor, speaker, humane, nuisance, control, pest, trap, exclude, deter, green, non-profit, nonprofit, non, profit, ill, injured, orphaned, exhibit, exhibitor, usda, united states department of agriculture, hsus, humane society, peta, ndart, humane academy, humane officer, animal legal defense fund, animal cruelty, investigation, peace officer, animal, cruelty, abuse, neglect #marycummins #animaladvocates #losangeles #california #wildlife #wildliferehabilitation #wildliferehabilitator #realestate #realestateappraiser #realestateappraisal #lawsuit

No comments:

Post a Comment