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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

While we tend to concentrate(and rightly so) on the breeding Puma populations in South Dakota and Nebraska(eastern outposts that are the source of prospectors going East), we do not often hear about the Puma population that exists in the Big Bend National Park in West Texas where most researchers think some 20 to 24 "big cats" exist...............The Park Service is seeking to collar the entire population(seems a bit intense to me) so as to this population uses the various habitats in the region and whether they wander in and out of Park grounds

Research Team Sets out to Collar all Mountain Lions at Big Bend National Park

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Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 10:30 pm | Updated: 11:29 am, Thu Apr 24, 2014.

Lauren Lanmon

April 23, 2014

BIG BEND - It’s an unforgiving animal, especially if you unwillingly cross their path, we’re talking about mountain lions and the Big Bend National Park has plenty. As a safety measure the park and Sul Ross State University have teamed up to put a GPS collar on every mountain lion in the park.
 “We saw the need from a science standpoint to try to help the Park Service better understand how mountain lions use habitats,” said Borderlands Research Institute Director Louis Harveson.  
In a park that’s bigger than the whole state of Rhode Island, you would assume a sighting of such an elusive animal like a mountain lion would be rare.
“I’m getting closer and I see that there’s something there, and I realize what it is. I stop, had my window down already and took two pictures,” said Big Bend National Park visitor Eric Collins.
For Collins, the hunt to find and photograph a mountain lion has been a 13 year long dream. “I said, mountain lion, I think I yelled it. It’s pretty exciting and pretty rare,” said Collins.
The park has had its fair share of mountain lion sighting, even attacks, that’s why they saw fit to bring in the experts from Sul Ross’s Borderlands Research Institute. “There’s definitely a method to the madness lions tend to move through draws and across ridge tops,” said researcher Price Rumbelow.
“We hike maybe six miles up to 20 miles on some of the longer days. We have probably gone 500 miles since we started,” said researcher Bert Geary.  
With traps set, and fancy tracking equipment, this crew definitely has it down to a ‘T’ on where these fearless cats travel. After every capture each cat gets a GPS collar so not only the group, but the park can alert hikers on what trails are safe.
“They are very capable, they are very efficient killers and hunters. We are in Mountain Lion Country, you just need to be mindful,” said Harveson.
Officials with the park estimate there to be a couple dozen mountain lions roaming the grounds, but the research team has only been successful in collaring two.

  1. Mountain Lions in Big Bend
Mountain lion on the Boot Canyon Trail
Mountain lion on the Boot Canyon Trail.
NPS/Big Bend National Park

Mountain lion tracks near the Banta Shut-In. Note the lack of claw marks. Bear and coyote tracks have claw imprints in front of each toe pad.
Steven Schauer

Big Bend is Mountain Lion Country!
If Big Bend had a symbol, it might well be
 the mountain lion—the
embodiment of freedom and wildness
. Solitary and secretive, this
 mighty creature is the unquestioned lord
 of its natural world. As one
of Big Bend’s top predators, Felis concolor
—"cat all of one color"—
is vital in maintaining the park’s biological
 diversity. In the delicate
 habitats of the Chihuahuan Desert, mountain
 lions help balance
herbivores (animals that eat plants) and
vegetation. Research shows
 that cats help keep deer and javelina
within the limits of their food
resources. Without lions, the complex
 network of life in Big Bend
would certainly be changed.

Encountering a mountain lion, however,
can lead to conflicts in
maintaining the balance between natural
 processes and visitor
 enjoyment and safety. Since the 1950s
, there have been more
than 2,700 sightings of mountain lions
 by visitors. Each year, over
150 lion sightings are reported by park
 visitors. While over 90
percent of these sightings were along
park roadways, encounters
along trails have also occurred. Since
1984, four lion and human
encounters have resulted in attacks on
people. In both cases, those
 attacked recovered from their injuries
and the aggressive lions were
 killed, preventing them from playing out
their important natural roles.
 The more we know about lions, and the
 less we seek an encounter,
the better able we will be to make life
easier for them and for us.

How much do you really know about this
 powerful and wild cat?
Mountain lions live throughout the park,
 including the Chisos

Mountains where they prefer to use trails
. Your chances of
 encountering an aggressive lion are remote.
What can you do
 to minimize the consequences of an encounter?
 Avoid hiking
alone or at dusk or dawn. Watch children closely;
never let them
run ahead of you.

Like all predators, the mountain lion’s role is a
 part of the health
and welfare of the entire ecosystem. Research
and further human
 understanding of the cat’s habits pave the way
 for conservation
 efforts in its behalf. As we discover more about
the lion, we fear
 it less and appreciate it more. For many visitors,
just seeing a
track—or just knowing lions are out there—will
be reward enough.

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