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Research Team Fits Mountain Lion with GPS Collar

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Research Team Fits Mountain Lion with GPS Collar

By Wendy Coy

Audubon Canyon Ranch (ACR) has advanced its mountain lion research and education project with its first collaring of an adult female mountain lion on a Sonoma Land Trust property in the Sonoma Valley last night. After outfitting the lion with a GPS collar, recording measurements and collecting blood, tissue and other biological samples, the research team released the mountain lion at the capture site. 

Named P1 (Puma 1) for our scientific records, the mountain lion is estimated to be approximately 8-10 years old, as indicated by her dental condition. The capture, led  by ACR Wildlife Ecologist and Principal Investigator for the project Dr. Quinton Martins, was attended by ACR staff, veterinarians Dr. Winston Vickers and Dr. Sophia Papageorgiou, and Tony Nelson of the Sonoma Land Trust.

“What an exciting moment for the project,” said ACR Executive Director John Petersen, noting that this marks the first mountain lion to be captured and fitted with a GPS collar under a Scientific Collection permit issued to ACR by California Department of Fish and Wildlife in July. ”This project is going to yield invaluable data for conservation efforts not just locally, throughout California,” Petersen added, noting that results of this work will be closely monitored by CDFW, providing critical information for their statewide mountain lion conservation program.

ACR’s researchers used a humanely-designed cage trap to capture the animal. The trap was fitted with a radio trap transmitter and motion-activated cameras, allowing the team to be notified instantly once the mountain lion was inside minimizing stress and possible injury to the animal. Biological samples will be analyzed at UC Davis, and will provide vital genetic and health information about the local population of mountain lions.

“P1 was in excellent health and under anesthesia for less than an hour,” Martins said. “And, she’s already on the move,” he added, noting that GPS transmissions show P1 has moved several miles from the capture location and that the collar is fully operational.

As a community-based effort, ACR’s Mountain Lion Project plans to collar more mountain lions in coming months with assistance from its project partners and support from local landowners. “We’ve been so fortunate that so many landowners in this area are interested in mountain lions and willing to provide us access to their land. We are also grateful for financial support from the community,” says Martins. Other project partners include the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California State Parks, Sonoma County Regional Parks, and Sonoma Land Trust.