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.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

LF1 was at one location in Big Rocky Canyon from 24 July through 30 July. This is one of the longer stays in one spot we have seen. This may be a large prey item or multiple prey items. Of course, we continue to hope that we can record a litter of cubs. We have not received the last two downloads for LM1.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Here we have an uncollared cougar crossing a road. Above we have a photo of a bobcat crossing in precisely the same spot.

You can clearly see a gray fox in the photo above. If you look closely you will see a skunk only a few feet behind. This is not the first time we've seen a skunk and a fox in the same photo. It is worth wondering if this is not a non-random association. And there is precedent for two species foraging together. For example, it is known that coyotes and badgers will form hunting associations.

Above we have a photo of a bobcat traveling along an arrollo. With photographs of sufficient quality, bobcats may be individually identified by their spots. Using individual identification and regular photo sampling it is possible to estimate the bobcat population size. This technique has been used with success with tigers which can be individually identified by their unique striping patterns.

Recent heavy rains down on the Ladder has destroyed 5 of our remote cameras. Unfortunately, this is a significant set back for our detection probability study. Eleven cameras still remain in our sampling grid. Above are a few of our more interesting recent photos. Immediately above we have a rare photo of a badger. Out of more than 1,000 camera nights on the Armendaris Ranch in 2006-2007 we recorded only 3 badger photos. This likely has more to do with the placement of cameras and badger habitat preferences than it does with badger abundance.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A fresh kill was found by Mike Mader on June 26th when he noticed a drag mark across the main road down Animas. I placed a camera on the site to get photos of the lion responsible. An uncollared female lion dragged this Elk calf over 200 yards before caching it under a stand of oak trees lining the road. She made the kill in the early morning of the 26th, then visited it again on the same evening when she moved the carcass to a nearby 2nd cache site. She revisited the carcass on the 27th in the early evening. On the 28th the carcass had been moved again,left uncovered, and was mostly eaten. The lion did not appear to revisit the kill after leaving it on the 27th.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

LM1 seems to have settled on a sizable prey item. He has been in one location for almost 2 and 1/2 days. His total home range size to this point (since March) is 48 square miles.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

LF1 spent almost 3 days in one spot south of Animas Creek. It is most likely that she had a large prey cache in this site. Since leaving this area she has traveled far and fast down Animas Creek to the eastern edge of the map.

We're getting some unusua data from LM1. The collar locations show points 118 and 121 in the same location, and points 119 and 121 together in a separate location. Either this tom puma moved back and forth between these two locations on consecutive nights or we've had some corruption in our data. It is likely that points 115 and 116 do represent a prolonged stay in one spot, presumably a prey cache.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

LF1 seems to have two more kills close together in Animas Canyon.