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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

LF1 has been moving throughout our camera grid system over the last several weeks. Curiously, we haven't photographed her once during his time. On the other hand we've photographed LM1 at least 8 times during this same period. Although we have very little data, this pattern suggests that a female with cubs may be using different travel routes than those used by adult males.

Below there are a number of new photos from our remote cameras. We detected LM1 at least twice as well as an uncollared cougar, likely a male. Other notable photos include a black-backed side-striped color variant of the hooded skunk and a house cat that has wandered very far from its house.

An uncollared cougar. Judging by the head size and the overall body size, this is likely a male.

Another shot of LM1 about two weeks after the photo below.


An interesting color variant of the hooded skunk. These photos may represent the first documentation of this species east of the continental divide in New Mexico.

A very misplaced house cat. You can almost hear him saying "We are not in Kansas anymore."

Bobcat. Note the lobes on the back edge of the hind paw and the white spots on the backs of the ears.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

We have recorded several photographs of an uncollared male at this camera in the past. Likely, most of the photographs are of the same individual. The individual in the photograph above, plus LM1, LF1, and the uncollared female photographed on 22 and 23 November make at least 4 adult puma currently frequenting the camera grid - about 64 sq Km.

Friday, December 12, 2008

This map shows LF1's movements for the previous 2 weeks. There have been 3 significant clusters of points during this time which could indicate prey cache sites.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

This photograph, taken three days after the bloody photograph below, shows what appears to be a large puncture wound in LM1's right cheek. There also appears to be some swelling. As long as the wound is allowed to drain LM1 should recover without complication.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Below are a series of photographs that likely indicate breeding behavior between LM1 and an unidentified female. Notice that LM1 has significant wounds on his face, particularly the right cheek. He is followed a short time later by an unidentified female. She appears to have blood on her left hind leg. The two pass back and forth in front of this camera 4 times in the span of an hour and a half. Frequently, when males and females come together to mate, things get rough.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The map above show's LF1's movements over the last two weeks. There are three clusters of points that may indicate prey caches. She is currently still at the most recent cluster. The straight lines connecting the points don't actually show her travel route, but they do help to illustrate the general direction she has moved in. Most notably, she has returned to the farm fields after several months away. We predicted that she may return to this area in winter, as prey density increases dramatically around the fields at this time of year. It will be interesting to see how long she stays in this area.