We would like to send our thoughts and sympathies to the little boy who was attacked by a mountain lion in Cupertino today and to his family. We hope he has a very quick and thorough recovery.
We have information about what to do if you encounter a mountain lion on our FAQ.
Last night, KSBW reported on the very exciting progress the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County is making towards creating wildlife connectivity across Highway 17.
The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County is working on purchasing 290 acres of land that straddles Laurel Curve, one of Highway 17′s most notorious turns for both motorists and wildlife. Once the land has been acquired, the plan is to instal a wildlife crossing tunnel to safely connect the habitat on each side of Highway 17. This new structure will provide two major benefits: It will allow wildlife to move around the landscape safely, and it will protect people by lowering the risk of motorists colliding with wildlife.
Across the US, there are over one million automobile collisions with deer each year, causing roughly 200 human fatalities. In fact, you are far more likely to be killed hitting a deer with your car than you are to be attacked a mountain lion. High speed collisions with wildlife don’t end well for either party involved, and creating safe ways for wildlife to cross dangerous highways, such as Highway 17, will help protect everyone.
Every month, one of our biologists goes up in a plane to try to locate all of our study animals and download the GPS information from their collars. Flying is the most efficient way to download the GPS data because we can cover much more ground than driving. We are lucky to work with pilot Mark Dedon, who has been flying us around for the last three years.
Before the flight, Paul and Mark must first attach the antennae to the plane so that Paul can listen for the puma’s location in the air and then download its data once located.
Once the antennae are secured, then it’s time to go airborne. Mark flies around as Paul listens for VHF signals from puma collars. Once he hears one, he asks Mark to fly closer to the target animal and uses his receiver to communicate with the animal’s collar.
Those with weak stomachs or small bladders don’t do very well on these telemetry flights because the plane often has to circle above the animal for many minutes while the collar download is completed. To find all of our study cats, which range from Corralitos to Palo Alto, it usually takes several hours of zigzagging up and down the Santa Cruz Mountains.
From a thousand feet up, the impacts of habitat fragmentation and loss is really evident across many parts of the Santa Cruz Mountains. It’s not hard to look down into the trees and imagine a puma moving through the forest not far from a road or trail. Without a bird’s eye view of where “civilization” begins and “wilderness” ends, it’s impressive that pumas can manage to have so little interaction with humans.
The Santa Cruz Puma Project was featured on this week’s Science Nation video from the National Science Foundation, entitled, “Bio-logging collar reveals unprecedented detail about California mountain lions“. This video shows three very important components of the puma project through interviews with Chris Wilmers (the ecologist), Gabe Elkaim (the engineer), and Terrie Williams (the physiologist). By building a team of different specialists, the puma project aims to unlock secrets about what mountain lions do and how they live in a challenging landscape dominated by people. To learn more about what the puma project is up to, watch the video below!
POST and Pathways for Wildlife have partnered up and put together an excellent video about culverts and Highway 17! In the video, Tanya Diamond and Ahiga Snyder explain some of the work they’ve been doing to increase habitat connectivity across such a formidable barrier to individual movements and gene flow around the Santa Cruz Mountains.