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, May 22, 2007

We've been working out a few bugs in our GPS download and decoding system but have finally put together the first map of our cougars movements. The collar records the exact latitude and longitude of the cougar's location three times every 24 hours, once at 4:00 am, 10:00 am, and 7:00 pm. Every three days these coordinates are sent to a satellite and then e-mailed to me and another Turner Endangered Species Fund biologist. The e-mails we receive are coded. We have to take the number codes we receive and decode them, using software from Telonics, Inc., to obtain the latidude and longitude for each of the cougar's locations. I have color coded the locations above using a color gradient from blue to red - earliest to latest. The locations are spread over an area of about 40 miles, north to south. From the data we've received it looks like the cougar has made two kills, or scavenged two carcasses during this period. Soon we will be checking these locations on the ground to see what the cougar has eaten. For the moment the cougar seems to have a long narrow home-range along the Rio Grande.


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