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.

Monday, November 20, 2006

On the 13th and 14th of November Nick Smith (recently retired from New Mexico Game and Fish) traveled to Lava Camp to lend his professional assitance to locating and collaring a cougar. We began by taking his hounds along the river north of Paraje Well. We passed through this incredibly dense thicket of salt cedar, willow, and brush without finding any cougar sign. The hounds, however, found a couple of striped skunks. After being "skunked" here, we headed south for a hike along the old lake shore southwest of the mines. We left the dogs in their boxes. Towards evening we found a female cougar track. As we were returning to Lava Camp, I received word from ranch manager Tom Waddell that a deer hunter had seen a female cougar track near scenic spring. The next day, Nick, the hounds, and I searched the Scenic Springs area as well as an extended loop that included Walnut Springs, Flying Eagle Canyon, Red Gap, and Massacre Gap. Neither, Nick, nor the dogs, nor I could find any further sign of the cat.


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