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.

Friday, March 28, 2008

We have ANOTHER collared cougar on the Ladder Ranch! Recently, due to the heroic efforts of Orvel Fletcher (84) (top photo) and Harley Shaw (71) (bottom photo) our third GPS collar was placed on a large (135+ lb, 60kg) male cougar near the Ladder Ranch headquarters. An excerpt from Orvel's field notes can be found below:

Harley Shaw and I went up the Animas. Harley drove my truck and I rode my mule. I went south and circled Bell Mountain and Harley drove over Pucker Point into the creek and looked for sign where Cave Creek dumps into the Animas.
He called me on the radio and told me that he had found fresh sign of a big tom. I rode over a rough buffalo trail and when I arrived the dogs hit the track and ran up into the bluffs overlooking Cave Creek. We heard them, then suddenly everything went silent. It was hard to tell which way they had gone, so Harley drove up the Animas and I followed him on the mule, but after a mile or so we turned around and went back to the bluffs.
Finally, I could hear the faint sound of hounds and we discovered that the dogs had followed the cat into the bluffs and inside a cave. The bluffs overlooking Cave Creek are riddled with holes and the cat was down in a hole.

I could hear the cat hissing, then silence, again. Within a few minutes, my hound Sleuth picked up the hot trail in the creek bottom and the other dogs joined the chase and ran the cat up a tree. The cat jumped out and treed several times before Harley could get the dart into him.
Harley climbed the tree and put a rope around one of the cat's feet, lowered him to the ground....


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