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, May 14, 2010

LM2 Kill Update - Today the Summer 2010 recruits for Team Puma checked out our first kills of the field season and it was a very exciting day! As evidence of just how hard life can be for young pumas, today we found the first case of intraspecific predation by LM2 on an 8 to 10 month old unknown kitten. LM2 made the kill on April 30th, stayed on it for 3 days and consumed about 90% of the carcass. Although infanticide seems harsh it is a well documented behavior of pumas and other felid species such as the African Lion. LM2's most recent kill, a 3-5 yr. old mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) of unknown sex, was made 11 days ago on May 3rd. Furman undergraduates Michael Jiang and M.C. Coppage pose below at the cache site for the first kill visited this summer. LM2 only stayed on this kill for 2 days, which is an unusually short amount of time for a large prey species like mule deer. We suspect the kill was scavenged by a black bear (Ursus americanus) due to bear sign found at the kill. The rumen had been eaten which is characteristic of bears and unusual for pumas. Three fresh bear scats were also found around the kill. The below photo shows a bear scat in the foreground and the puma kill in the background (look for the deer hoof). While LM2 may be sending puma kittens running, it seems he is still capable of being chased off a kill by a bear.


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