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News: 03/01/2017

Another mountain lion captured, tagged



puma teeth

Audubon Canyon Ranch scientists examine and measure the teeth of a female mountain lion, known as P4, on Feb. 20. The fourth female mountain lion collared in four months, P4 was captured and released on private property between Glen Ellen and Sonoma. Photos courtesy of Audubon Canyon Ranch

Conservation biologists from Audubon Canyon Ranch (ACR) captured a fourth female mountain lion in four months. The latest big cat, named P4 for research purposes, is an adult female estimated to be 5-6 years old and weighing in at 83 pounds. The mountain lion was captured and fitted with a GPS satellite collar in the early morning hours of Feb. 20 on private property in the hills east of Highway 12 between ACR’s Bouverie Preserve and Sonoma.

The mountain lion was in good condition with no signs of any injuries. “We saw no evidence of any offspring or companions nearby, and she showed no signs of being pregnant or lactating,” noted Dr. Quinton Martins, ACR’s lead researcher on the project. The capture, led by Dr. Martins, was attended by California Department of Fish and Wildlife veterinarian Dr. Deana Clifford and ACR research team of Jeanne Wirka, Alex Hettena and Virginia Fifield.

“After securing permission from the landowners, our team set two traps in the afternoon, and monitored them constantly all night. Due to inclement weather, extra precautions were taken for monitoring the cages - three different types of trap monitors were used: satellite, VHF and cellular,” Martins said. “P4 arrived at the traps for the first time before 7 p.m., and was clearly very keen to get at the bait, but very wary of going into the trap. The cold, rainy weather could possibly have added to her interest in a ‘free’ meal.” With the team stationed nearby but remotely monitoring the cages for nearly 7 hours, P4 finally went into the cage at 1:44 a.m. and proceeded to calmly consume the much-desired deer bait until the team was ready to safely handle her. She was fitted her with her new satellite GPS collar, measurements and samples were taken and then she was released at the same site.

puma near cage

An image of P4, as captured by a wildlife camera.

“The team was on the go for more than 24 hours with very little sleep,” said Wirka, ACR director of stewardship, noting that this marks the third mountain lion to be fitted with a GPS collar under a Scientific Collection permit issued to ACR by California Department of Fish and Wildlife in July. In Nov., a 10-month old mountain lion (P3) was captured but weighed under the 50-pound minimum for the GPS collar. Data was collected on this lion and the team hopes to recapture her in the future.

The ACR Mountain Lion Project studies mountain lions within an area that encompasses approximately 1,000 square miles, primarily in the Mayacamas Mountains (areas east of Hwy. 101 and west of Hwy. 29) in Sonoma and Napa Counties, and pairs the research with extensive education and outreach programs. Project partners include the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California State Parks, Sonoma County Regional Parks, and Sonoma Land Trust.

The Mountain Lion Project, including news of P4’s capture, and another young mountain lion discovered on Squire and Suzie Fridell’s Glen Ellen property was featured during the 6 p.m. broadcast on ABC7News (KGO Bay Area) on Feb. 24. You can watch it at: abc7news.com/1770142.



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