Some Notes on Mountain Lions in Western USA (and elsewhere…)
The recent comments to the post about Big Bend show continued interest in mountain lions. I keep informal track of sightings as mentioned in newspapers, as well as keeping loose tally of how and when friends come across them. Basic pattern is that there is no pattern, other than roadkill and “civilian” sightings indicate the populations are increasing.
It does seem that almost everybody who spends a lot of time out of doors in the American West will see one sooner or later. Average seems to be one every ten years or so? It’s never expected and sometimes it’s just a flash across the road through the headlights. Nor does there seem to be a particularly good habitat; anywhere they live, the possibility is there. The birding spot in SE’n AZ called “Patagonia” had a mountain lion sighted a few times last winter; this spring there was one being seen in a residential suburb of L.A. called La Crescenta; one was trapped and relocated this spring in the desert L.A. suburb called the Antelope Valley. I don’t think going to Big Bend is a particularly good solution, but then, it’s not a bad one, either. It’s just not going to be guaranteed. Many years ago I saw Mexican grey wolf in Big Bend —- it just ran in front of the car when I was on my way to a trailhead. A friend who lives in Boulder has seen several mountain lions, but then he’s hiking or running or climbing several days a week. I saw one in the Everglades once, and yet rangers who have worked there 20 years have yet to see one. Time and luck it seems, time and luck.
A group in the UK offers mammal tours and they have a good mountain lion track record, or as good as this species allows. I was on a Brazil trip with them and we had two in the Pantanal (seen distantly by spotlight); they also run Patagonia trips that some years have a stake-out puma at Torres del Paine park in Chile. This group is called Wild Wings and they have ace leaders and reliable ground agents; other than the cost and fixed dates of departure, I recommend them highly. If you’re on a tight budget then don’t torment yourself by going to the website, since these trips are NOT cheap.
Another UK birding group worth knowing is Birdquest. They are hard hard core birders, but their trip reports include very reliable mammal lists.
Perhaps we can work out some kind of exchange? I will trade some of my “extra” mountain lions for a spotted skunk (eastern OR western species).
Charles Hood, Palmdale, CA / email@example.com