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, December 08, 2006

It seems we have identified a relative hot-spot of cougar activity. This is the first time we have found cougar sign in the same place twice. I also found a scrape about 30 m from where this photo was taken. A scrape is a site of chemical communication where male cougar create a small mound of soil and organic matter and a 15 to 25cm depression in the soil and debris by scraping the surface of the ground with their hind feet. Frequently, they then defecate and urinate on the mound of debris. Typically males make scrapes throughout their home range along travel routes and near kills. An Idaho study found that cougar scrapes were more common along home range boundaries (similar to what has been found for tigers, jaguars, and leopards). A study of cougar scraping behavior in the San Andres Mountains of New Mexico by Ken Logan and Linda Sweanor found that 26 to 33 percent of a male's scrape sites were shared with one or two other males.



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