HAMILTON – Responding to initial findings of an elk predator study in the West Fork of the Bitterroot Valley, state game managers have recommended increasing the harvest of mountain lions there this winter to take pressure off elk calves born in the spring.
The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission gave preliminary approval to a proposal to increase mountain lion permits in Hunting District 250 from 20 to 30 at its meeting Thursday.
The commission will accept comments on the proposal over the next 30 days before making a final decision at its Feb. 16 regular meeting.
State wildlife managers are concerned about the decline in the West Fork of the Bitterroot elk herd, where numbers have dropped from nearly 2,000 animals in 2005 to about 800 last spring.
Researchers captured and tagged elk calves in both the east and west forks of the Bitterroot starting last spring, hoping to document what’s killing the young animals as part of a major three-year elk study.
So far, mountain lions have been the main source of calf mortality, although biologists believe wolves will have a larger impact through the winter months. Through Jan. 4, mountain lions killed 13 of the tagged elk calves, black bears killed four and wolves two.
FWP Region 2 wildlife manager Mike Thompson said the proposal to increase the lion harvest is a direct result of the ongoing research in the Bitterroot.
“It was always the idea to try and put the results of the research to work as they come in,” Thompson said. “We’re not interested in just observing and documenting. We’re interested in implementing and managing.”
If the proposal is given final approval and the additional lions are killed, Thompson said researchers will be able to document any changes in elk calf survival this spring.
“You almost never get that kind of opportunity,” he said.
Since 2008, the mountain lion hunt in west-central and northwest Montana has been limited to special permit holders.
Each hunting district has a quota of permits. Typically, somewhere between 40 percent to 50 percent of those permit holders are successful in killing a mountain lion.
Thompson said a member of the Ravalli County Fish and Wildlife Association told commissioners Thursday that organization would like the commission to consider allowing general license holders a chance to kill the 10 additional lions offered in the special hunt to ensure the predators are actually killed.
The commissioners replied that was exactly the type of comments they want to hear between now and their next regular meeting, Thompson said.
The department is recommending a change in the mountain lion season next year in an effort to increase the number of animals actually killed. The proposal calls for a hybrid season that would divide the hunt between special permit holders and general licensees to meet demand for both a quality hunt and the need for meeting quotas to reduce predator numbers. The commission will make that decision later this year as part of its regular season-setting process.
Reporter Perry Backus can be reached at 363-3300 or at email@example.com.
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Tejon Ranch, a huge spread of private land in the mountains north of Los Angeles, has announced it will suspend its pricey hunting operations after a state investigation found mountain lions were illegally killed there.
The historic 422-acre ranch said on its website that hunting operations, in which trophy hunters pay more than $10,000 to shoot elk, will be suspended starting Jan. 30, and no new membership applications will be accepted. The shutdown was likely to last a few months, the website said.
Tejon Ranch Co. chief executive Robert Stine said the suspension came after ranch officials learned the outcome of an investigation conducted for much of last year by the California Department of Fish and Game.
“I was appalled and outraged when I learned the results of the investigation,” Stine said in a statement released Friday. “Tejon Ranch did not then, and certainly does not now, condone such activity, and we sincerely regret that such activity took place on our ranch. Accordingly, we are taking every step necessary to ensure it won’t happen again.”
It is not clear how many mountain lions were killed, and government officials have not commented on the findings.
Fish and Game officials gave the results of their investigation to Kern County prosecutors, who have not said whether they plan to pursue charges.
The probe was brought on by a wrongful termination lawsuit filed in May by former ranch hunting guide Bron Sanders, who worked for the ranch for five years but said he was fired in December 2010 for complaining about the killings.
Tejon Ranch managers gave hunting guides perks for shooting mountain lions and even asked customers to shoot them, Sanders’ claim said. Guides who killed mountain lions were instructed to say that they feared for their lives, the lawsuit said.
Barry Zoeller, the ranch’s vice president of corporate communications and marketing, told the Bakersfield Californian at the time that the ranch had conducted an internal investigation and found that Sanders’ allegations were “ridiculous and untrue.”
California voters gave mountain lions protected status in 1991. Killing them without a state-issued permit is a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
Lebec-based Tejon is a publicly traded agribusiness and real estate development company. Visitors pay top dollar to hunt elk, antelope, deer, wild turkeys, bears and other game on its 270,000-acre property.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2012/01/21/state/n100206S83.DTL#ixzz1kE58thjC
Mangalore: Pilikula Gets another Female Tiger Cub
Daijiworld Media Network – Mangalore (SP)
Mangalore, Jan 19: The feline population in Dr Shivaram Karant Wildlife Park at Pilikula Nisargadhama here increased by one on Tuesday January 17, after tigress, Shambhavi, gave birth to a female cub.
With this, the number of tigers in the park has gone up to nine. It may be recalled that Netra, another tigress, had given birth to a male cub about two months back.
The cub is yet to open its eyes and the mother tiger is yet to start feeding it. Jayaprakash Bhandary, director of the park, said that it will take about 15 days for the cub to open its eyes and to begin feeding on its mother. He said that the park has, in the meantime, arranged to feed milk to the cub once every three hours.
PHILADELPHIA – January 19, 2012 (WPVI) — The Philadelphia Zoo is welcoming its latest addition: a male African lion named Makini.
Makini, which means “dignity” in the Swahili-African dialect, has taken up residence at the First Niagara Big Cat Falls exhibit.
Zoo officials say the lion, which was born in March 2009, came from the Tulsa Zoo and Living Museum and is settling well in to his new environment. Makini is expected to make his first public appearance next week.
Makini came to the Philadelphia Zoo on a Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommendation. SSP is a program that maintains a list of species, complete with their heritage, that are selected and bred for optimum genetic diversity.
Makini will be joined by a female lion in February. The zoo plans to breed the pair to start another lion pride at America’s first zoo. The big cat will share space with the zoo’s original African lion pride.
“The Philadelphia Zoo is thrilled to welcome to our First Niagara Big Cat Falls family Makini, a young male lion,” said Tammy Schmidt, the zoo’s Curator of Carnivores, in a statement.
“Makini was one of two brothers who were born in Tulsa after 16 years of having no births. We are excited to start our new pride journey with Makini,” said Schmidt.
Most lions now live in eastern and southern Africa, and their numbers there are rapidly decreasing. Experts say the most significant threat to the species includes habitat loss and conflicts with humans.
African lions are listed as a vulnerable species meaning the species is likely to become endangered unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve.
A tiger cub aged about one-and-a-half years was found dead in the Corbett National Park on Friday.
The post mortem examination of the body was conducted on Saturday following which officials said the cub died due to cold and starvation after being abandoned by its mother.
As per officials of the national park, personnel on routine patrol found the body of the male tiger cub in Jhirna range on Friday. The body was kept in cold storage overnight and the post mortem was conducted on Saturday.
The deputy director of Corbett National Park, CK Kavidayal, informed that the cub is believed to have been abandoned by its mother. Unable to fend for itself, the cub died from starvation and cold.
However, according to Kavidayal, natural deaths are bound to occur with a healthy tiger population in Corbett.
“Last year we counted 42 tiger cubs in the national park and the number is still high but in the wild many
cubs die before reaching adulthood. This cub may have been abandoned by its mother due to various reasons – it might have been unable to keep up with its siblings and the tigress may have been sick and unable to hunt,” Kavidayal said.
A mountain lion struck by a car and killed on Route 15 in Milford on June 11 is believed to be the animal spotted on the Brunswick School campus in northwest Greenwich recently. (Photo courtesy of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection) Photo: Greenwich Time, Contributed Photo/DEP / Greenwich Time Contributed
Read more: http://www.greenwichtime.com/news/article/Necropsy-to-be-done-on-mountain-lion-killed-in-1434028.php#ixzz1jNoKxFBd
A necropsy is scheduled to be performed Wednesday on a mountain lion struck and killed by a motor vehicle in Milford on June 11, a procedure that state and federal officials hope will shed more light an animal they believe is the same big cat that roamed through backcountry Greenwich earlier this month.
The necropsy — the animal version of an autopsy — will be performed at the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area in Burlington by both DEP staff and a pathologist from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a DEP spokesman said Tuesday.
“They’re going to do a stomach-content analysis to see what the animal fed on and to look for signs of captivity,” said Dwayne Gardner of the DEP. “One sign might be if the contents of the stomach contained stored food and pet food, instead of animals, and if the animal had suffered a fracture that had been treated by a veterinarian.”
Necropsy results could be in by the end of the week, Gardner said.
The U.S. Forestry Service and a private Davis, Calif.-based company, Zoogen Inc., are performing separate DNA tests, Gardner said, to see if the results match. The results could take three weeks to come back, he said.
Officials hope to then determine if the mountain lion was North American or South American in origin, he said.
It was also revealed this week that scat samples — animal droppings — found in Greenwich earlier this month are from a mountain lion, Gardner said.
The mountain lion that was seen in Greenwich in early June is believed by DEP officials to be the same one that was struck and killed by a motor vehicle on the Wilbur Cross Parkway in Milford early on June 11.
There have been several mountain lion sightings in Greenwich and throughout the state this month, with the latest coming Monday when a driver reported seeing one in Tolland. No physical evidence was found in the area, Gardner said.
Despite the continued sightings, DEP officials maintain that there isn’t enough evidence to back up the notion of multiple mountain lions in the area.
The eastern mountain lion was declared extinct in March by the Fish and Wildlife Service. Environmental officials say any mountain lions in the area would either have been released, or escaped, from captivity.
Staff Writer Frank MacEachern can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-625-4434.
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