- Mar 11, 2001
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Kind of interesting to see the cougar depredation numbers over the years.
While living in Humboldt County , working in Siskyou, Del Norte, Trinty and Mendocino counties I probably only saw 3 sets of cougar tracks over a 15 year span of hiking in the wilderness. Since relocating to Southern Cal (OC) I see cougar tracks more often than not when out in the CNF chasing legally hunted critters . Their used to be a ton of coyotes out there too , but for some reason I don't see sign anymore . Mule deer used to bed in deep ravines and craggy areas on the hillsides in my favorite area but now I've observed Spring/Summer bedding areas in the middle of large open fields devoid of trees or other elevated stalking positions ....Just curious, what numbers do you have to indicate that the lion population is increasing in California?
I am not asserting that the lion population is growing necessarily, but I would offer the following points to consider before attempting to make too strong a dependent correlation between the declining deer population and the lion population:But just quickly, if mountain lions primary prey source is deer, and the statewide deer population is declining, just exactly how can the lion population be increasing? Don't blame the pigs, because for the most part, lions turn their noses up at pigs. I've seen zoo lions let pig meat go rancid for a week before they'd get hungry enough to touch it, and I'm only aware of one instance where a wild lion was documented to kill a wild pig (2010 - Santa Cruz).
Yah, eloquently stated !Marc,
I am not asserting that the lion population is growing necessarily, but I would offer the following points to consider before attempting to make too strong a dependent correlation between the declining deer population and the lion population:
1. Lions may be obligate carnivores, but they are not obligate venison consumers. Certainly, lions prefer deer (having evolved alongside and be physiologically adapted to preying on cervids), but they are opportunistic and generalist in their nature. Even if, for the sake of argument, lions don't fancy pork, logic would dictate that since they are capable of killing hogs (at least the sub-adult classes), then they will kill and eat hogs in the absence of deer.
2. Come up to my hunting country and you will see lion scat with nothing but hog hair in it; granted, this is purely anecdotal, but it cancels out your anecdotal zoo lions! :>)
3. The study of Southern California lions in LA and Ventura Counties are indicating substantial predation on coyotes; so much so that there have been a few documented cases of lion mortality from rodenticide concentrations. The necropsy of lions killed by other means are also indicating levels of rodenticide, and it is being theorized that rodenticide is working up the chain (D-CON-to rat-to coyote-to lion) in a manner reminiscent of the relationship between DDT and the bald eagle or mercury and male orcas.
4. The sub-adult classes of lion are known to prey primarily on non-cervid species initially after dispersing until their hunting skills have developed to the point of being able to efficiently kill larger prey. Now, you may argue that this trait does not mean that adult lions would or could subsist on beaver, rabbits, turkeys, and meso-predators alone (or allow a female to raise her offspring) in absence of deer, but I am not aware of any data that would indicate that lions couldn't.
5. It seems that the number of incidents where lions are entering towns is increasing, which, if true, would lend credence towards an increasing lion population given their highly territorial nature and penchant for intraspecific aggression. Of course, determining if there is indeed an increasing trend and incorporating the movement of the urban interface are both necessary to support this argument.
I would argue it's more likely that hamburger mixed with a rodenticide is finding its way into a coyote. That is one reason why you can't buy large amounts or certain kinds anymore without a license in CA. The fact that it happened shortly after leg-hold traps were banned should also tell you something. I do not know what the lethal dosage for a cougar would be. But you would need a lot of rats poisoned that would have to be eaten by a coyote to accumulate enough then that the lion would have to consume to actually kill it. Know you could just have the cat eat meat with rodenticide and cut that chain down as well.hand it is being theorized that rodenticide is working up the chain (D-CON-to rat-to coyote-to lion) in a manner reminiscent of the relationship