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, July 08, 2012

LM4 - new male puma captured on the Ladder!

We captured LM4 on March 3, 2012 off of a female elk (Cervus elaphus) kill he made on a farm field planted for wildlife.  The kill was discovered in the morning and we were able to get set up for capture by early evening.  He returned to the kill site and was captured by 10PM.  

 LM4 is a healthy 4-5 year old puma weighing ~ 50kg (110lbs).  We use photos of the teeth to age the animal based on incisor wear and the amount of gum line recession observed on the canines.
 Since LM3's death (taken by a hunter in January) we have not picked up much male puma activity on our camera grid.  It is likely that LM4 is taking advantage of the newly vacant home range of LM3, which is prime puma real estate situated around the Animas and Seco Creek drainages.
The above photo shows him waking up from immobilization and taking his first few unsteady steps toward freedom.  LM4 was fitted with a Lotek Globalstar GPS collar which will allow us to monitor his nightly movements.  As with all of our GPS collared pumas we will use his GPS locations to estimate home range, investigate kill sites to determine prey selection, and further develop a method to estimate puma population density using puma photo frequency observed on our remote camera grid.  
One surprise we received the next day after checking the remote camera that was set up on the original kill site was a photo of LF8 at the same kill and at LM4's capture site!  Unfortunately she seemed to be more wary than him and we did not recapture her on the same night.  It is likely that they were together for a mating event and he was sharing his kill with her.  We have been tracking LF8 since her original capture on March 4, 2011 and would have liked the opportunity to replace her GPS collar.