Where will they go?


In California, even in heavily populated urban areas, seeing bears and cougars is not completely unheard of, though still relatively uncommon. However, in recent years, it seems like these sightings and even incidents, are on the rise. Biologists think that some of this increase may be due to climate change. 2021 was the driest since 1924 and had the hottest ever summer in California, with nearly 9000 wildfires destroying 2.5 million acres of land where bears and mountain lions lived. 2021 was also the deadliest for bears on roads. It’s no wonder that some of these animals, fleeing for their lives, might cross highways and roads and wander into towns and cities seeking food.

It’s only a matter of time until less densely populated states in the Rocky Mountain west start to see the same thing happening. More and more people are moving into rural mountain towns, while at the same time, more and more wildfires are igniting due in part to climate change. Where will all the wildlife go when their homes and habitat are destroyed either directly by human development or indirectly by climate change induced habitat loss?

Choose your words carefully

Feb 20, 2022
OutThere Colorado

“Mountain Lions On The Prowl Again In This CO Neighborhood,” “Four mountain lions seen stalking around Colorado neighborhood,” “4 mountain lions prowl Conifer neighborhood.” These three headlines are for the same event- a family of mountain lions caught on a security camera, walking through a Colorado neighborhood at night, without any incident. So why are the words prowling and stalking used to describe their behavior instead of walking, meandering, or exploring? Stalk and prowl indicate criminal behavior, like a thief peeking into windows, looking to steal from or hurt someone. Why are these words used so often to describe cougars?

If you actually watch the video, the big cats are just doing what animals do, walking around and not bothering anyone at all. Words matter, and when the words most often used to describe benign animal behavior, indicate negative or even criminal intent, it can seep into the minds of the people reading the words. Without even realizing it, people may start to fear these animals, thinking that they are always out to get them, even when they are just living their lives and not hurting anyone at all. We should all try to be more conscious of the words we use to describe wildlife and try not to bestow negative human traits on normal animal behavior.

Read the full article >

Just in Time for Valentine’s Day


His presence has provided an open air classroom for anyone who wants to learn about mountain lions, through media posts, research, and even in-person sightings as he has become conditioned to his ‘island’ of habitat in one of the densest human developments in the country.

He is known as P22 and his victory in surviving without conflict so close to humans is juxtaposed by the detriments we have inflicted upon him and others of his species.

He has gone through a lot in his life in the public eye in Griffith Park, including debilitating rodenticide poisoning, unnecessary and frightening hazing with a tennis ball server in a confined crawl space, and the inability to connect with a mate because of encroachment and lack of connectivity

The chances are that he will not pass on his genes-the function of survival in all living things. The chances are that he will not be alive when the magnificent overpass that will allow for greater connectivity and genetic diversity in mountain lions is built across the mighty and mightily devastating barrier of southern California highways.

P22 has been a teacher, even if his life has been lonely. Thank goodness he has brought awareness of the horrible dangers of poisons and infrastructure and their negative effects on wildlife. Let’s honor him by remembering these lessons going forward.


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Following the money

At the end of last week there was good news regarding the return of protections to segments of the grey wolf population. Those with political power had yet again shown their willingness to use wildlife as pawns in ever more antagonistic battles on both the state and the national stages.

Perhaps to ameliorate the bitter pill somewhat with their constituencies, DOI closely followed the wolf relisting with news of record funds to states for traditional wildlife conservation uses. Let’s unpack briefly whether it is completely accurate that all of the guns, ammo, equipment, boat fuel, etc. is actually purchased ONLY by hunters. Well, actually it is not….various estimates seem to hover around 20-25% with the rest being bought for home safety, target shooters, fuel for recreational boating, etc. etc. It is commendable that this large excise tax is willingly paid by uses to return to fund conservation efforts- but the user group is not exclusive. Other outdoor recreationists could certainly step up and support the recurrently emerging ‘backpack’ tax.

Diverse funding of conservation as well as diverse representation when decisions are being made about wildlife are priority issues.

View the U.S. Department of the Interior Press Release >

Don’t Look Like Food!


Apex predators are thus named, because as adults they rarely face a natural competitor-except man. As with all living things their purpose is to survive and procreate. Food and the search for it is the most basic driver and there is a trigger that occurs with many predators that is called the ‘prey response’. Movement by other animals on the landscape, often close to the ground, makes them look like a potential meal-it increases focus, readiness, and, as you can see, here, action, on the part of this particular mountain lion. Running or walking alone in wild habitat with cover, especially at dawn and dusk, requires preparation and vigilance. Make sure you know the area, maintain situational awareness at all times and if you encounter a mountain lion

The National Park Service shares the following safety tips regarding mountain lion encounters:

If you encounter a lion, remember the goals are to convince it that you are not prey and that you may be dangerous. Follow these safety tips:

Do not approach a lion. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.

Do not run from a lion. Running may stimulate a mountain lion’s instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. If you have small children with you, pick them up if possible so that they don’t panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the mountain lion.

Do not crouch down or bend over. A human standing up is just not the right shape for a lion’s prey. Conversely, a person squatting or bending over resembles a four-legged prey animal. In mountain lion country, avoid squatting, crouching or bending over, even when picking up children.

Do all you can to appear larger. Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. Again, pick up small children. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it.

Fight back if attacked. A hiker in southern California used a rock to fend off a mountain lion that was attacking his son. Others have fought back successfully with sticks, caps, jackets, garden tools and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.

One thing we can share with you is that mountain lion attacks are incredibly rare and with the right knowledge, preparation and forethought, we can seek to enjoy our time outdoors and stay safe.

Sonoma Valley Lions


Sonoma Valley in Northern California is looking to its neighbors in Southern California for inspiration on how to keep their mountain lion population from becoming fragmented and inbred. Fragmentation and isolation occurs when populations of mountain lions are kept apart from each other and can not physically meet up and breed. In Southern California, this has led to some birth defects and reduced fertility. Sonoma County is hoping to get ahead of this problem by building wildlife crossings before it happens. 

Wildlife crossings are essential for species diversity in California and throughout the world, anywhere where roads keep wildlife from moving to where they need to be, whether for breeding, migrating between summer and winter ranges, or just to get to more food. Humans are also protected by keeping wildlife off roads and preventing vehicle collisions. 

Our message in a nutshell!

The Cougar Fund was started 22 years ago by visionaries, Tom Mangelsen and Cara Blessley Lowe. They had been inspired by the extraordinary experience of being able to witness a female mountain lion and her three kittens. Upon realizing how little people really knew about lions they turned that inspiration into action.

Tom and Cara set out to shine a light on the bitter reality that lions were nothing more than a salable commodity to a minority trophy hunting community. The research of Maurice Hornocker in the 1960’s was the first long term study of mountain lions that took a serious look at their benefits on the landscape rather than their blanket removal as varmints, pests, or sources of bounty payouts.

Scientists have continued to add to this body of evidence over the last 50 years and as it grows we hope to see some of the myths fall away. This article gives a short overview of the ecological contributions of puma concolor.


IOWA Legislator brings forward thinking Bill to aid mountain lion recovery


The return of puma concolor to historic home range has been long and arduous, complicated by fear, lack of knowledge, and the ever present fallacy that they are competitors for optimal ungulate production, the financial lifeblood of most western wildlife agencies. As dispersers-usually males, looking for love in the loneliest of lion places-move out across the midwest and the prairies, they come to a place where not only females if any, but also protective laws are few and far between.

The Bill described in this article is one that is badly needed in many other states where lions will ultimately start to repopulate. Maybe you can find out what your state is doing to prepare for the return of these important ecological contributors?

Taking a Look Inside a Secret World


The Secret World of Mountain Lions, a film by Missoula filmmaker Colin Ruggiero, will premiere in Missoula on February 27, 2022. The film relies solely on footage captured by trail cameras, collected over more than a decade, on the MPG Ranch and surrounding areas. The cameras are part of a unique non-invasive mountain lion study headed by MPG researcher, Joshua Lisbon. After going through literally millions of clips, Ruggerio and Lisbon found they could tell a story of the cougars living on the ranch. They think this may be the first film of its kind, made from only trail camera footage. This unique movie will be available to stream at home from February 28- March 3. 

Colorado Legislature Rejects Bill that would End Killing Wild Cats for Sport


Colorado lawmakers in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee voted against Senate Bill 31, which would have prohibited the sport hunting of mountain lions, lynx, and bobcats in the state. Very vocal opponents to the bill, including many ranchers, hunters, and outfitters, vehemently objected to the measure and flooded lawmakers’ inboxes with comments. The Humane Society and other animal welfare groups were in support of the bill. The hearing lasted three hours due to the huge number of people who testified on both sides. Obviously this is a contentious issue in Colorado, with passionate people on both sides. 

Although it is disappointing that mountain lions and other cats will not be afforded the additional protections, the argument has shed a light on some ongoing issues. Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the agency tasked with managing wildlife in the state, receives 75% of their annual revenue from hunting and fishing licenses. People and groups outside of the hunting and fishing communities do not feel like their perspective and opinions on the management of wildlife are being heard. The argument on this bill also highlights that good sound science should be used when making management decisions.