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.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

With 5 freshly collared mountain lions (a total of 8 individually marked), and 9 new cameras added to our camera grid (giving us a total of 25 cameras now!) this months camera check was VERY exciting! From the 16 original cameras and one of the new cameras we captured 6 Puma photos over the last month. Two uncollared females, one photo of LF1, two photos of LM3, and one photo of LF6 (already shown in the last blog post).

The above uncollared female mountain lion represents one of the only two uncollared lion photos we captured this month. We expect that now with 8 Pumas marked in the study area we will be seeing fewer unmarked lions. However, this lion may be one of our marked animals now since this photos was taken on October 31st, before LF4, LF5, and LF6 were collared or eartagged.

This uncollared female is not one of our marked lions, since she has no eartag, and all of our lion capturing and processing was completed by 10 AM on Novemer 10th, the day this photo was taken. So even with 8 marked lions potentially moving through the camera grid, there is still at least one uncollared female in the study area.

This is the fourth photo of LF1 we have captured since she was recollared on October 1st. The photo is a little blurry, but the bright yellow eartag in her left ear makes her easily identifiable.

The above photo is the first we have captured of LM3 since he was collared on November 4th. Based on the two photos we have of him already, it seems he is the "skinny tailed male" mountain lion that we had been picking up often in the camera grid. Because male lions travel significantly more than female lions on a nightly basis, we should expect to have more opportunities to capture our males lions in the camera grid.

This really nice photo of LM3 was taken by one of our 9 new grid cameras. The new cameras have expanded our camera study area from 32 square km (with 16 cameras) to 50 square km (with 25 cameras) and will hopefully increase our puma photo capture rate.

We rarely get photos with two different species in them, and this photo featuring a skunk being stalked by a coyote is a first. Unfortunately we didn't get any follow up photos to see how it turned out for the skunk, but chances are the coyote left the encounter a little more fragrant than he arrived.

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