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Sonoma County Gazette
Mountain Lion Mama
She possesses a cunning to survive under the nose of an ever belligerent humanity, and a physicality to rival the most athletic species found on Earth.

Co-Existence with an Iconic American Carnivor

Nov 7, 2018


Co-existence with an Iconic American Carnivore

Audubon Canyon Ranch and OAEC present

Living with Lions: co-existence with an iconic American carnivore
December 4, 2018 from 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, Meeting Hall,15290 Coleman Valley Rd, Occidental
*Please park in the upper parking lot (2nd driveway).

$5 suggested donation at the door. No one turned away for lack of funds.  RSVP requested.
RSVP here:  

I wanted to share this story & images from Cam Hurd who is the land manager down at Bohemia Ranch. He recently had the most amazing encounter with a Mama lion and her large cub a few weeks ago. Below is a link for the video he got with two game cams on the kill site of aa large buck. The still image he took when faced with mama and his wonderful write up about the whole experience! Super amazing and right here in our DBC Watershed!  Also: his website of photos is really fun:

I ran into two mountain lions a week ago on Cypress Ridge (just West of the coral).

By Cam Hurd

Around midday, on October 19th, 2018, I made my way around the nature preserve that I manage in Northern California, collecting all of the footage from the trail cameras that I have positioned on the land. Having seen at least two mountain lions pass by one of my cameras at 7:45 in the morning, I expected that the big cats would be bedded down amongst the nearby cypress and manzanita for the day. I knew that the lions would be rising around sunset, so at around 5:30 in the afternoon, I headed out the ridge-top trail where the camera trap had photographed the predators nine hours prior. I had one hour before the sun would set, and I took my time making my way out the rocky, serpentine trail. Every five minutes or so, I paused and listened. I find that I become accustomed to the noises that I make—the rubbing of my pant legs, the crunching of gravel underfoot—and pausing for a minute at a time, periodically, helps to continually reset my standard for quiet and improves my ability to move stealthily through the landscape. This approach makes for slow going though, and it took me nearly an hour to walk a third of a mile.

What can we learn about Mountain LionsJust before sunset, I arrived at an intersection of trails, seldom, if ever trekked by people. I moved towards one of the more overgrown paths, and in an instant, was watching two mountain lion heads bobbing their way up the steep slope towards me. It took a second or two for them to realize I was standing there, and when they did, the mother lion mumbled a faint, whiny growl, communicating to her nearly-full-grown cub of the potential danger that I posed. The cub swiftly vanished, but the mother froze, watching me with big, night-vision-equipped eyes. I stared right back, my heart pounding with excitement, but my body projecting calm confidence. The lion’s muffled vocalization faded, and in this moment of pause, I snapped a few photos before taking the opportunity to lead our interaction, our relationship, in the direction of the reality that I wanted to create. I broke eye contact, turned my head and body slightly to look at a nearby tree, and sniffed the air subtly. Then I lifted my left hand slowly and scratched my nose. I presented relaxation to the mountain lion. I ignored her very briefly, which communicated to her that I trusted her presence, that I wasn’t threatened by her. It’s this confident, yet calm, non-threatening energy that conveyed to her that I’m to be respected, just as I respect her. In case she had any doubts about my dominance over my body and my space, I relocked eye contact with a strong, relaxed gaze, and proceeded to take in her splendor.

What an absolutely fascinating and magnificent creature she is! She possesses a cunning to survive under the nose of an ever belligerent humanity, and a physicality to rival the most athletic species found on Earth. About one minute after our paths crossed, they diverged. She quietly turned back in the direction she had come, and disappeared, wanting nothing to do with me. Aware that it was getting dark though, and knowing that the lion’s confidence would grow exponentially with the fading light, I took a few slow yet purposeful steps forward, and peered through the shadowy undergrowth. If she had thought to try to hide and watch me slyly, this expression would further convince her of my lack of fear, and my claim of the space surrounding me.

I then turned, and without looking back, which would have expressed cowardice, weakness, and vulnerability to the big cat had she still been watching me, I walked slowly and powerfully, albeit a little giddy, along the ridge-top trail with another incredible face-to-face with not just one, but two wild mountain lions.

After finding a deer kill, the lion came back to feed that night, and I made a video of the footage:

ACR's Living with Lions is a community conservation project in the Mayacamas Mountains of Sonoma and Napa Counties.

Audubon Canyon Ranch is studying our region’s mountain lions to identify priority habitats and key wildlife corridors and to promote ecosystem conservation throughout our region. Using rigorous science, Living with Lions also teaches children and adults about the importance of living side-by-side with our wild neighbors.

ARC Mountain Lion Research


For more information about Living with Lions, contact ACR Wildlife Ecologist Dr. Quinton Martins, principal investigator for the project, at

Further reading about the importance of habitat connectivity may be found in the 2015 issue ACR's The Ardeid.

Download the Living with Lions flyer, rev. 5/15/18 (pdf).

Make a donation to ACR today!


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