Posts tagged: cougars
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Where's a good tree when you need it?
Two cougar kittens used their climbing skills and a wooden fence to evade five coyotes on the National Elk Refuge near Jackson, Wyo., as shown in a series of photos by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Outdoor Recreation Planner Lori Iverson.
Iverson witnessed a spectacular standoff between two juvenile mountain lions as the coyotes let the cats know they weren’t welcome in the area. The mountain lions sought safety on a buck and rail fence for over an hour while the coyotes lurked in the background.
Here, one of the coyotes has moved in closer. Notice the flattened positions of the mountain lions.
Click here to see the rest of Iverson's photos.
PREDATORS — Along with citizen complaints about moose, coyotes and other creatures, Washington Fish and Wildlife police were busy responding to a number of cougar-related issues last week. Here are just a few examples from the weekly Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Spokane Region report:
— A cougar roamed Ione during daylight hours, with no fear of people or passing cars. The responding officer called a houndsman who dispatched the cougar, which was examined. It was extremely thing and appeared to be blind. The carcass is at WSU for necropsy.
—Another cougar was sighted near Tiger. The officer called in houndsmen who chased the cougar away from homes in the area. It appeared to be healthy.
— Two officers responded to a complaint and confirmed a cougar had killed a goat. Again a houndsman was called to assist with killing the cougar.
— A reported wolf attack on livestock guard dogs in Whitman County was more likely the work of a cougar, officers said. But the report was a week after the attacks and evidence was inconclusive
Here's the best one — poachers trying to get their cougar mounted as a trophy.
An officer making a routine check on the books of an area taxidermist's ledger grew suspicious of the entry by a man who brought in a large tom. The cougar had been shot in Columbia County in November. On a hunch, the officer wrote down the name of the hunter and decided to look into the details of his hunt.
He verified the cougar was harvested on the same day the cougar tag was bought. Two officers then contacted the subject and got a load of baloney for a while. The man held to his story that he was just a lucky guy to have bought his cougar tag and then shot a cougar just 20 minutes or so later!
But pretty the officers were chiseling away to the truth. The subject later confessed to killing the cougar before he bought his tag, using his friend’s rifle. The subject later stated his friend was paying for the taxidermy work on the cougar because he wanted the cougar in his house.
The officers smelled more problems.
The dug a little more and were able to learn that the original subject friend who shot the cougar without a tag — and he was from Oregon. So he got the original subject to go by a tag and illegally put it on the dead cougar.
The officers bagged a two-fer by pursuing this case.
HUNTING — Cougar hunts in several areas of the state will close at 12:01 a.m. Jan. 15 after harvest guidelines for the animals were reached in those areas, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Friday.
Game Management Units that will close include 105, 108, 111, 117, 121, 145, 149, 154, 157, 162, 163, 166, 175, 178, 328, 329, 335, 642, 648, and 651.
Those GMUs are located in Stevens, Pend Oreille, Garfield, Asotin, Walla Walla, Columbia, Kittitas, Chelan, Grays Harbor, Mason and Thurston counties.
Dave Ware, WDFW game manager, said this season’s cougar hunts are the first under a new management plan, approved by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission early last year.
The new plan establishes harvest guidelines for specific areas of the state, based on cougar populations in those areas, said Ware. Under the plan, WDFW can close areas where cougar harvest meets or exceeds guidelines, while continuing to allow for hunting opportunities elsewhere.
“The goal is to preserve a variety of cougar age classes in numerous areas throughout the state, particularly older animals which tend to be more effective at maintaining sustainable populations,” Ware said. “Going into this season we expected to have to close some areas, but even with these closures most of the state remains open for hunters.”
Other areas of the state could close early during the late-season cougar hunt that's generally sent for Jan. 1 through March 31.
Before going afield, hunters should check WDFW’s website or call the cougar hunting hotline (1-866-364-4868) to check which areas of the state remain open.
PREDATORS — While the war on wolves continues, mountain lions haven't been fasting.
At midpoint of a three-year study of elk in the Bitterroot Valley, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists were surprised to learn the role mountain lions have played in elk deaths, and they have begun a yearlong study of the big cats in the valley to learn more about that population. — Ravalli Republic
HUNTING — While we're on the subject of parasites and other buggers in the meat of the fish and game sportsmen might bring home from the field, here are a couple of subjects I did not cover in today's outdoors column:
Rabbits should be well-cooked before consumption to avoid tularemia. See details.
Bear and cougar meat should be well-cooked before consumption to avoid trichinosis. See details.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Trail cams are opening our eyes to rarely seen intimate lives of reclusive animals.
There's no better example than the photo above of four cougars in Montana — likely a mother an her three adult-size offspring.
Drew Shearer, a Bitterroot Valley bowhunter, has been using a remote motion-detecting camera to scout for game in his hunting areas. Inadvertently, he's captured this photo and many other astonishing images of wildlife in the Sapphire Mountains that make even professional wildlife photographers lick their chops.
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — A fresh moose carcass was discovered TODAY along the Selkirk Crest’s popular Harrison Lake Trail prompting local Forest Service officials to issue a wildlife hazard warning.
No conflicts between humans and wildlife have been reported, but officials recommend that hikers choose another trail and avoid traveling within the vicinity of the carcass, which is likely to attract large carnivores.
The carcass is a half half mile from the trailhead and is likely to attract wildlife including predators such as grizzly bears and mountain lions.
It is unknown what caused the moose’s death, said Jason Kirchner of the Panhandle National Forests.
Info: Sandpoint Ranger District, (208) 263-5111.
WILDLIFE — Trail cams offer maybe too much reality for some people who think all is peaceful among wildlife in the woods.
This series of trail cam photos documents the short amount of time between cute and dinner.
HUNTING — An ambitious elk study in the East Fork of the Bitterroot River has documented an increase in elk calf survival. Wolves have not been a significant factor this year, although mountain lions have taken a toll on the elk.
Craig Jourdonnais of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks says he counted 56 elk calves per 100 cows during an aerial flight in July.
He said1976 was the last time elk calf numbers were that high.
The ratio between elk calves and cows at one point in recent years dropped into the teens.
An elk study has found that 17 elk calves have died since June, and of those six were killed by mountain lions and four by black bears. Two deaths were human related and it’s unclear how the other five died.
While biologists are encouraged, they warn there's a reason the study runs for three years.
“It was a screwy winter with not a lot of snow,” Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks research technician Ben Jimenez said in a story by the Ravalli Republic. “That’s why we do these studies for three years. … Who knows? Maybe this winter we’ll see a huge number of wolf kills.”
PREDATORS — Despite a long sport hunting seasons and lethal measures to control wolves bothering livestock, Montana's wolf population continued to grow in the past two years while big-game herds in many areas are taking a beating.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials are holding meetings around the state before moving ahead with wolf management. One of the proposals includes trapping, which proved to be effective in Idaho when authorized last year.
Perhaps the most surprising development: The meeting that brought a wide range of public opinion together in Kalispell — was civil.
Read the story and update on the situation from the Flathead Beacon.
WILDLIFE — Results just received from a DNA test confirm a pup picked up outside Ketchum on May 25 is a wild wolf, Idaho Fish and Game officials say.
Out of town campers picked up what they thought was a lost domestic puppy outside Ketchum and took it to a vet clinic in town. Officials thought the male puppy looked like it might be a wolf.
Idaho Fish and Game looked for a wolf pack near where the pup was found, hoping to return the lost pup. But they could find no fresh sign of a pack in the area.
Zoo Boise agreed to take the pup temporarily and to help Fish and Game find it a permanent home. Zoo officials are compiling a list of facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that would be suitable for the pup.
The pup is gaining weight and his health is improving.
NEVERTHELESS, officials say it is best to leave young animals in the wild alone.
In the case of the pup, it is possible that the pack was moving with the pups – perhaps from a den to a rendezvous site – and may have been disturbed by traffic on the road.
ENDANGERED SPECIES – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has sped up plans to put radio collars on wolves in the Methow Valley after confirming last month the pack likely killed a calf – the first in the state to qualify for compensation.
Biologist Scott Becker has been stationed in Wenatchee and hired to work with wolves, according to the Wenatchee World. He’s begun efforts to trap the two known members of the Lookout Pack, said Eastern Region Director Steve Pozzanghera.
It’s the state’s first confirmed wolf pack in 70 years, and now deemed the first pack to have probably killed livestock in a May 19 attack on the Thurlow cattle ranch near Carlton.
Becker - formerly a wolf coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - and another biologist stationed in Spokane will try to trap and radio collar animals from all five known packs in the state. That will allow biologists to follow the packs’ movements and track breeding.
The wolves will be released in the same location as captured, Pozzanghera said, adding the agency hopes to work with the Thurlows and other ranchers to prevent further problems.
Read on for more details from the Wenatchee World.
PREDATORS — Why would a mountain lion want to mess with a wolf?
That's what a Montana wildlife researcher is wondering as mountain lions take a toll on the radio-collared wolves she's trying to follow through the Bitterroot Mountains.
The risk of injury doesn't seem worth the benefit for an animal that can simply climb a tree and watch the wolf world pass buy.
Here's the story from the Ravali Republic.
PREDATORS — Wildlife Services agents dispatched a 175-pound mountain lion near Helena, Mont., recently after the cat killed at least six llamas and left them uneaten. Sport-killing behavior is rare for cougars, and officials don't have an easy answer.
Read the Helena Independent Record report.
HUNTING — Californians love and protect their mountain lions, even though the state is among the few where cougars have attacked and killed people in the past 20 years.
But the president of the California Fish and Game Commission is getting pressure to resign after he booked a perfectly legal mountain lion hunt in Idaho and filled his tag.
The incident is highlighted in this Huckleberries post by Dave Oliveria.
HUNTING – Washington’s most popular deer-hunting season opens Saturday morning in Eastern Washington, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife has made a point to remind hunters that cougars also are fair game anywhere in the state.
Under this year’s rules, deer hunters with a valid cougar license and transport tag can take a cougar during the modern-firearms deer season in all 39 counties – including Okanogan, Chelan, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille and Klickitat.
That’s a change from recent years, when general cougar-hunting seasons in those six counties were delayed to accommodate a pilot program that allowed hunters with special permits to track cougars using dogs.
“In those six counties, we’re back to relying on general hunts to manage cougar populations,” said Dave Ware, WDFW game manager. “We can make that work, but it does present some different management challenges.”
Ware said permit hunters using dogs generally took male cougars, while those who encounter cougar during general hunts – without dogs – are less likely to discriminate between the sexes. Under state law, it is illegal to kill spotted cougar kittens or adult cougars tending kittens.
Using dogs to hunt cougars was banned by a citizens’ initiative in 2006, but later allowed by the Legislature under a pilot program in counties reporting increasing conflicts with the big cats.
More than 100,000 hunters are expected to take to the field this month for the modern-firearms deer season that runs through various dates around the state. Cougar hunting is open through the end of the year, although few are taken outside of the major deer and elk hunting seasons, Ware said.
HUNTING — Years ago, before Jim Ebel had retired as manager of the Colville Fish Hatchery, I wrote a story about his unnerving encounter with a cougar.
He was putting up a tree stand before the archery deer season when a cougar came in below the tree and waited for an easy meal to come down. Ebel was unarmed.
Eventually the cat left the immediate area, so Ebel crawled down and began hiking a mile to his pickup, but the cougar immediately showed up again and stalked him from beihind and from the side, slipping in and out of sight at close range.
That experience — something most hunters will never experience in their lifetimes — was enough to convince Ebel to carry a weapon in the woods.
But last year's hunting season seemed to move Ebel's status from hunter to “bait.”
Read on for the rest of the story:
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission today voted to increase cougar hunting opportunities in six counties.
Meeting via telephone, the commission amended cougar hunting regulations for a pilot project that authorizes cougar hunting with the aid of dogs. The project had expired and was not extended this year by the Legislature.
The commission increased cougar hunting opportunities without the aid of dogs in Klickitat, Chelan, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties to continue to meet management objectives in those areas.
In addition, the commission modified the criteria for determining when cougars are removed to address public concerns about pet and livestock depredation and personal safety. The change allows for cougar removals when complaints confirmed by WDFW staff in a given game management unit exceed the five-year average.
WDFW game managers recommended the amendments to cougar hunting regulations as an interim measure until the 2012-14 hunting season package is developed.
Public discussion of the 2012-14 hunting seasons is scheduled to begin this month, including a Spokane meeting on Wednesday.
Click here for more information about future commission meetings.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — An Arizona couple recently witnessed a wildlife spectacle outside their home hear Gold Canyon as a mountain lion launched an attack on a bobcat.
In a desperate escape along the foothills of the Superstition Mountains, the bobcat sprinted up a very tall and very stickery saguaro cactus. The mountain lion called off the chase at that point.
Curt Fonger tells the story and shares photos with an Arizona TV station.
The photographer seized the opportunity to capture photos of the bobcat on its perch. One of the photos from a distance gives a good perspective on the height of the cactus. The bobcat just hunkered on the saguaro for hours until the coast was clear, and then departed, seemingly impervious to the sharp cactus spines.
Fonger said the only way he'll top that wildlife photography experience is if the mountain lion comes by and gives him a pose.