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.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Due to some software issues I have been late in mapping LF1 over the last 10 days. Here is the latest download as of 30 August, 2008. It still appears that LF1 could have a litter of cubs at the 517 site. Although she has made kills up to 4 Km away from the suspected den site, she has returned to it (or very near to it according to the coordinates) at least 4 times since the 12th of August. She has also made at least four kills since that time.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Below is an extraordinary series of photos of a very efficient fox! We recorded 8 photos of at least one fox with a prey item in its mouth in 7 days. Prey items included: packrat, ground squirrel, and cottontails. I suspect that the camera is set near a den with hungry pups. In almost 5,000 camera nights in 2007 we recorded only a single instance of fox predation. It will be interesting to see if we soon see small foxes in the photos.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The data we are getting from LF1's collar is still consistent with the idea that she has a litter of cubs. Although she has made another trip 1.5 miles to the SW of the 517 spot, it looks like she returned to it. Point 531 shows that she moved back towards 517 from point 530. Then there is a 17 hour gap with no data between points 531 and 532, again suggesting that something was blocking the collar communication with the satellites - perhaps the rocks of a den. She shows up again at 532 a short distance from a possible kill marked by 526 and 527 and less than a mile from 517.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

It appears that the GPS component of LM1's collar has stopped working. We detected his VHF signal on the 8th and 9th of August and this photo was taken on the 15th of August. However, we have not received any downloads from his collar since the 1st of August. It looks like we may be trying to recollar much sooner than we had anticipated.

It appears that LF1 may have cubs. She was first located at the potential den site (517) on the 6th of August. Kate went to investigate what we thought was a prey cache on the 9th. No cache was found, but Kate did locate LF1 beneath some rocks. No collar data was transmitted between the 7th and the 11th, indicating that LF1 was probably still beneath these rocks. Since the 11th she has made 3 trips, up to 1.5 miles away, but has repeatedly returned to the 517 area. Between the 11th and the 18th there are two days for which no data was recorded. Again, this suggests that she was beneath the rocks.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Today's collar download from LF1 contained only a single location, indicating some interference with transmission. She is still at the rock outcrop in Animas Canyon (See the map below). The fact that the download contained so little data probably means that she has remained beneath the rocks where Kate found her on Saturday. Again, since there is no prey cache at this location, we strongly suspect that she has had a litter of cubs. Logan and Sweanor found that litter production in the San Andres population peaked in August and September.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Today we received a generous donation in honor of Judge and Mrs. Ray Galceran. The donation will be used to replace the cameras we lost to recent flooding. This donation will allow us to get back on track with our detection probability study. THANK YOU for your support!

There is a possibility that LF1 has had a litter of cubs. On Saturday, Kate Thibault investigated what we supposed was a cache site in Animas Canyon. LF1 had been in this spot for three days - since the 6th of August. However, Kate did not find any prey cache. But, she did find that LF1 was still there! LF1 was out of site beneath large rocks. We will continue to monitor this site closely in order to document a litter (if one exists) as quickly as possible.
Again, we did not receive a data download from LM1's collar. We did pick up the VHF signal from his collar on both Friday and Saturday. He was located in Animas Canyon, perhaps a mile east of where we located LF1.

On Thursday we found cub tracks along Animas Creek. There is a strong possibility that this cub belongs to the female that was photographed on the elk calf cache earlier this summer (see previous post). Mike Connealy provided us with photographs of two of thse tracks (above) taken on Saturday, 9 August.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

There is no new map today. LF1 is still on the same kill she was on 3 days ago (see map below). Unfortunately, we did not receive a download from LM1's collar again this week. Megan has left the field to return to classes at Clemson University. In the meantime, Harley Shaw has generously offered to help us with field work.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

LF1 seems to have captured another prey item about three miles due west of her last cache (see map below). Today, Megan Pitman is doing her best to navigate washed out roads in order to investigate the two prey caches of LF1 and LM1 shown in the map below. Since April, she has investigate 29 prey caches from 4 different cougars.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

LF1 (pink dots) and LM2 (blue dots) have each had a kill in the last week, less than 1 mile from the other. After leaving their kills they both traveled west to the same area on the same day. Unfortunately, LM2's collar has not been sending us much data. We are lacking 10 days of locality data for him from 20 July to 29 July.