Mountain Lions, Bob Cats and Foxes Oh My!

The camera trap video is courtesy of Parliament of Owls and has some wonderful footage with appearances by an array of wildlife. One of my favorite moments happens at the end as a Mountain Lion sits for a moment overlooking the city below before heading off into the night.

Winter Stroll

About a week ago I posted a clip of this video on Instagram but thought it was just too beautiful not to share in its entirety. It was taken in 2013 in Northern Ontario by YouTube user ReelEdgeProductions on a Sunday afternoon as they were BBQ’ing on their back deck. What a privilege to see these amazing cats causally taking a winter stroll through your backyard.

The Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) is a medium-sized cat characterized by its long ear tufts, flared facial ruff, and short, bobbed tail with a black tip, unusually large paws that act like snowshoes in very deep snow, thick fur and long legs, and its hind legs are longer than its front legs. Lynx are generally found in moist, boreal forests that have cold, snowy winters and a high density of their favorite prey: the snowshoe hare. The southern portion of their range historically extended into the US into the northern Rocky Mountains/Cascades, southern Rockies, Great Lakes states and the Northeast.

Lynx mate during the winter and the females give birth once a year. Lynx ARE NOT considered species at risk in Canada and sadly are killed for their fur pelts, which occurs in 10 of 12 range provinces and territories (Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory, Nunavut, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador). Lynx harvest is prohibited in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Lynx were extirpated from Prince Edward Island in the late 1800s.

In the US they are listed under Endangered Species Act and can no longer be legally trapped in the lower 48 states. However, they have not fully recovered from population declines, and remain at serious risk. Primary sources of mortality to Lynx are starvation, predation, and human-related causes, as well as habitat loss to Boreal forests (this includes logging, road-building and high traffic volume, housing developments, resource extraction such as oil drilling and mining, and winter recreation).

Climate Change is also a threat as the deep snow, that Lynx have an advantage over other predators in, becomes less predictable.

Mountain Screamer

In honor of Halloween, I am sharing one of my favorite videos of the cat who holds the world record for the animal with the highest number of names due to its wide distribution across North and South America. You may have chills run down your spine after watching this and, you will most definitely understand why this cat is called a Mountain Screamer!

This is a clip of a female Mountain Lion in heat calling for a mate with a sound that only a male Mountain Lion would find alluring. This lady gets A for effort however, her attempt may have fallen on deaf ears as they could not confirm if she was successful in attracting a male. Males are also known to produce similar screaming sounds which are used to intimidate rivals or during a fight with other males.

The video is by Parliament of Owls on YouTube and was taken from a trail cam this April. It is very cool, but loud. So you may wish to turn down the volume – or crank it up depending on your mood. The perfect backdrop for a good Halloween scare? Be sure to watch to the end….

Mountain Lions go by many names including American Lion, mountain screamer, Puma, Cougar, Ghost cat, Catamount and Panther. The names are based on their geographic location which is the largest of any terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere. Mountain Lions are a member of the Felidae family, as opposed to the Panthera family like Tigers and Lions.

The major difference between the two families is the Panthera family’s ability to roar, Felidae cats can not roar, instead they make noises such as purrs, hisses, chirps and screams. The ability to roar depends on the structure of the hyoid bone, to which the muscles of the trachea (windpipe) and larynx (voice box) are attached.

Mountain Lions in Washington Need Your Help

Mountain Lions in Washington need your help. This is a chance for all US residents, as well as people outside of the US, to speak up for North America’s big cat.

Via The Cougar Fund – a petition filed to ask Governor Inslee to reverse the Wildlife commission’s decision to increase the hunting quota for Cougars to tragic and unsustainable levels.

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  • In April 2015, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission raised the hunting quota for Cougars (Puma concolor) by 50 to 100 percent in areas of the state where wolves also live.
  • The Commission made this decision without providing prior notice to the public, and without the benefit of a formal presentation of Cougar population dynamics by the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s own biologists.
  • On June 30, animal welfare, conservation organizations filed a formal petition that asked the Commission to reverse this arbitrary decision.
  • On August 21, the Commission voted 7 to 1 to keep its controversial decision in place, ignoring more than 1,300 citizens and several non-governmental organizations.

“According to 13 years of Washington–based, scientific research, the Commission’s April 2015 quotas will harm some Cougar populations and increase mortality to dependent cougar kittens. If a hunter kills a nursing female Cougar, her young kittens will die from starvation or dehydration. Additionally, when hunters remove the stable adult cougars from a population, it attracts young male cougars to these vacancies. The immigrating young males often times will kill the kittens from the previous male so they can sire their own. In the process, however, females defending their kittens are also frequently killed too. It’s not just the one Cougar in the hunter’s crosshairs who dies: hunting causes a harmful domino effect in Cougar populations.”

Please contact Governor Inslee using this easy to complete FORM and urge him to support the appeal and reverse the Commission’s ill-considered decision.

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Image – The Cougar Fund – Facebook

Panthers in the Backyard

Amazing footage of a family of Florida Panthers captured on camera in a residents backyard. You can hear the cats before you see them. You will also notice some typical cat behavior when they head for the trees. Wait for the 3 minute mark when the action starts, you won’t be disappointed.

The Florida Panther is one of the most endangered mammals on earth, it is estimated that there are approximately 100-180 adults and subadults in south Florida, which is the only known breeding population. “They once lived in woodlands and swamps throughout the Southeast, but when European settlers arrived in the 1600s, the clear-cutting, building and other human activities that destroy, degrade and fragment habitat began, and the fear and misconceptions that led to panther persecution took root.”

“Their historical range was once across the southeastern United States including Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and parts of Tennessee and South Carolina. Now, the breeding population of Florida panthers is found only in the southern tip of Florida, south of the Caloosahatchee River.” – Defenders of Wildlife

Habitat loss, human development, prey loss and inbreeding are some of the challenges the Florida Panther faces.

Cougars and Bears Oh My

Last week video of three Cougars, and Bears, was captured at Mossom Creek Hatchery in Port Moody BC. The footage was taken by a surveillance camera at the facility and it shows what is likely a mother Cougar with her youngsters stopping to hang out before heading back into the woods. Maybe they heard about the fish special? Youngsters typically stay with mom for 12 to 18 months which is enough time for them to acquire proper hunting skills. (Check out the link to article above to see video of the Bears to.)

It is been reported that Cougar sightings are on the rise in the area and this means humans need to be aware of surroundings especially when out with kids or dogs. Cougars are solitary cats and want to avoid people, however as we encroach more on more on their habitat encounters can happen. Sadly there are still many stories of non-aggressive Cougars being killed by humans when non-lethal methods could have been employed. The culture of fear and ignorance seems to be prevalent when it comes to these animals even in Canada.

While the trio of Cougars were being celebrated, earlier that same week one was killed in West Vancouver simply for being on a trail.  The officer walked right up to the cat “It was just laying there on the ground, [so] I was able to approach him and killed him on site there,” said conservation officer Simon Gravel. “It definitely is a public safety concern for us to have a cougar walking in so high-density, residential area in the middle of the day like this.

Big Cat in The Backyard

In July of 2014 a family in Grafton Ontario spotted a rather big cat enjoying their backyard.

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Cougar tracks in the garden – all images Toronto Sun unless otherwise stated

The Wilson family spotted the Cougar in their backyard, resting under their deck and taking in a shady spot when these stunning pictures were taken. The Cougar had been seen wandering around the area for a week and was thought to be domesticated by the way he had been acting.

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The Ministry of Natural Resources were called in to set a live trap which was baited with steak and chicken. The trap was set up in the Wilson’s family yard and eventually hunger got the better of the cat as he headed right into it.

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The Wilson family stayed clear of the trap to keep the cat calm while Ministry officials were called.

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Cougars are notoriously shy and do not like to be around people but this cat was exhibiting behavior that showed he was used to being around humans. Ministry officials concluded that he must have been captive and it was suspected he belonged to a man who had a number of wild animals and operated a private sanctuary in the area.

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It was later confirmed the Cougar, named Charlie, was a resident of the private game reserve near Grafton and had “escaped”. After being trapped and checked out Charlie was sent to the Zoo sauvage de Saint-Feelicien in Quebec where he had two root canals, due to broken canines, and was released into a 4,000 square foot enclosure with other Cougars.

Cougars have been making a comeback in Ontario and one was photographed, after years of reported sightings, by trail cam on Lake Huron’s Manitoulin Island in 2014. Rick Rosatte, senior research scientist and cougar specialist with the Ministry of Natural Resources in Ontario told The Muskokan online that “There has never been a confirmed attack of a cougar on a human in Ontario, however, if a person encounters a Cougar they should slowly back away from the animal, stand tall and try to look as large as possible. If necessary, throw objects and yell at the animal.” and Despite having more Cougars around, Rosatte said there is no reason to believe your cat, dog or livestock is in particular danger.

The species is native to Ontario but was all but wiped out over a century ago because of hunting and habitat loss. Despite their recent growth, the Cougar is still considered an endangered species in Ontario.