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.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Puma mating behavior: Since setting out our camera grid in Spring 2008 we have captured two photos with both male and female pumas in the same frame. These photos show a rare glimpse into puma mating behavior, which is thought to be some of the only times adult male and female pumas interact. The above photo shows a marked male (LM3) and female (LF1) puma walking along a game trail together beside Cave Creek. This photo was taken in December, when LF1 was still supposed to have kittens, probably indicating that for whatever reason her kittens were no longer with her. Sadly, since this photo was taken only a month before LF1 was killed we can't look forward to incorporating the kittens from this mating event into the study.
This first photo of puma mating behavior we captured in June 2009 (the date-time stamp on the photo is incorrect) also involved LF1 (collared) and probably LM3 as well. The photo was taken before LM3 had been captured, collared, and marked but his characteristic skinny tail is visible in this photo, so it is most likely LM3. Based on this photo, it is possible that LM3 was the father of LF1's kittens we were following this fall.


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