We are conducting surveys, monitoring, and research on cougars (puma, mountain lion) on the Ladder Ranch in south-central New Mexico. Here, cougars are of particular interest given their effects on state-endangered desert bighorn sheep and other valuable big game. These projects are also resources for training and education, most notably through the Cougar Field Workshop.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

After the rams discovered us and trotted away we resumed our search for the supposedly dead ewe. We climbed to the top of the smaller hill - no signal. We climbed to the top of the taller hill and were again perplexed by the silence on the receiver. We should have had the signal from #21 loud and clear from this vantage point if she were anywhere in a 1/2 to 1 mile radius. But what you think you should find and what you actually find in field work are often two very different things. We had no choice now but to return to the spot where we first heard the signal and determine if the collar was still transmitting. Along the way we worked out various explanations for the lost signal. As we hiked down the steep rocky slope we were careful not to step on any rattlesnakes such as the one we met on the way up the hill (shown above). This is pehaps the largest black-tailed rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus) that we have seen this year.


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