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.

Monday, September 21, 2009

On September 15th we confirmed that LF1 has “kicked out” her yearling kittens from last year to make room for a new litter of 3 kittens. In an attempt to set cameras on her most recent kill I accidentally disturbed her at her new den site. Fortunately I was able to get a good look at LF1, and her 3 new spotted kittens, thought to be born around the 12th of September, in their den under a large rock overhang surrounded by brushy oaks. This is the most recent photo we have of her, but it shows no sign of her older kittens still being around or evidence of the new ones that were on the way.

Below are a set of recent photos from the camera grid. We captured a record number of Puma photos during the last camera check period, 19 total, including 2 photos of the collared LF1, 12 uncollared male photos, and 2 uncollared female photos.
Above is a photos of LF1 on a game trail in Animas Creek. She should still have her yearling kittens with her when this photo was taken, but we have only been able to get photos of the whole family group by setting cameras on kills.

Above is a photo of an uncollared male puma in the same location as the above LF1 photo. This part of the study area sees a lot of puma traffic according to our camera grid photos.

This above male lion, unless he is just passing through, probably shares an overlapping home range with LF1 and one closely bordering that of LM1. We have GPS data showing LF1 traveling through this area and have captured 3 photos of LM1 at this same location.

Above is a rare photo of two species, the Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) and Spotted Skunk (Spilogale gracilis), in the same frame. We have captured one other photo with a Gray Fox and Striped Skunk in the same frame.

Above is one of the few and best Badger (Taxidea taxis) photos we have captured so far.