Mountain Lions in Our Community: Conservation Leaders Converge for Solutions Regarding Big Cats Versus Humans

Oakland, California (EastBayDaily) — On Wednesday, March 18, 2015, from 6:30pm – 9:30pm, Oakland Zoo welcomes the public to attend a talk about mountain lions in our community. Leaders from the Bay Area Puma Project, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Mountain Lion Foundation will gather to discuss the hot topic of mountain lion conservation and conflict. Penny Nelson, reporter at the California Report, will moderate the panel presentation. The panel presentation will include Amy Gotliffe, Oakland Zoo’s Conservation Director, Lynn Cullens, Associate Director at Mountain Lion Foundation, Zara McDonald, President of Bay Area Puma Project, and Captain Steve Riske of California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The evening will explore a unique collaboration centered on holistic mountain lion conservation in the Bay Area. Mountain lions are facing increasing challenges each year as humans encroach further into their habitat. “We live with lions,” said Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Director at Oakland Zoo. “As an apex predator that requires a large territory, mountain lions and humans are dealing with increasing ‘Human-Wildlife Conflict’ I am tremendously proud that the Bay Area Puma Project, the Mountain Lion Foundation, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Oakland Zoo are working as an alliance to conserve these native animals. Communication, teamwork and imagination is what it will take to conserve all wildlife, and I am thrilled we are part of that path.” The organizations featured are partnering to create an alliance called BACAT (Bay Area Carnivore Action Team), created with the goal of protecting California's lions. Discussions will revolve around first-hand experiences with the pumas, problems they pose, and what it takes to conserve this native species.

The Conservation Speaker Series will take place in Oakland Zoo’s Zimmer Auditorium, located in the lower entrance of the Zoo. Parking is free and the admission price for the evening’s speaker presentations is $12.00 – $20.00 per person (sliding scale). All proceeds from this event will be donated to mountain lion conservation. Light refreshments will be served. For additional information about Oakland Zoo’s Conservation Speaker Series, please contact Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Director, at amy(at)oaklandzoo(dot)org.

ABOUT MOUNTAIN LIONS: America's lion goes by a multitude of names: puma, cougar, mountain lion and catamount. The mountain lion in its natural element is an awe-inspiring animal, combining incredible physical capabilities, intelligence, stealth and beauty. The big cat’s territory extends from Canada to the tip of South America and these cats have the greatest geographical range of any land mammal. The local home range of a female mountain lion is 40 to 80 square miles, and a male's range is 100 to 200 square miles. Mountain lions live solitary lives except when mating, and when females are raising their young. They prefer to avoid humans, as well as each other.

Pumas have long and powerful hind legs. They can jump vertically up to 18 feet and 20 to 30 feet horizontally. Mountain lions cannot roar, as they lack the special apparatus in the larynx needed to produce that sound. They make similar sounds to a house cat, with a vocal repertoire that includes chirps, whistles, growls, hisses and screams.

Mountain lions are a generalist predator, which means they are opportunistic and will eat almost any animal, from mouse to moose. Deer make up 60-80% of their diet in North America. An adult male needs 6,000 calories per day, which is about one deer per week. As keystone predators, mountain lions are essential to a healthy ecosystem. They help keep deer populations in check, preventing them from overrunning the landscape and destroying the ground cover that so many other species depend on. Animals taken down by mountain lions help feed hundreds of other species, and by removing the weakest animals from the system; the mountain lion helps keep disease to a minimum, including some diseases that may affect humans. Because mountain lions require such large home ranges, they also serve as a bellwether for the habitat needs of other species. Any habitat or corridor protection measure that is effective for mountain lions will benefit many other species as well.

Their Conservation Challenge: The greatest threats to mountain lions are habitat loss and fragmentation, and conflict with humans, including road kill and depredation. According to state law, if a puma attacks a pet or livestock in California, the owner can acquire a depredation permit to have the puma killed. In recent years the number of permits issued has increased to about 100 per year. This number is higher than the sport hunting quotas in some states that allow puma hunting.

ABOUT THE PANEL: Bay Area Puma Project: The Bay Area Puma Project (BAPP) was launched in 2008 by Felidae Conservation Fund to research and safeguard healthy puma populations and their key habitat patches in and around the greater SF Bay Area. With its unique combination of pioneering puma research, multi-faceted community engagement, hands-on education and effective conservation action, the intent is to raise ecological awareness, reduce human-wildlife conflict and cultivate healthy co-existence between humans and the region's top apex predator.

Mountain Lion Foundation: The Mountain Lion Foundation is dedicated to protecting mountain lions and their habitat for present and future generations. The Foundation works closely with legislative, governmental and conservation groups to heighten public awareness and educate policy makers on conservation issues such as predator friendly livestock management practices, workable wildlife corridors, harmonious human/mountain lion interactions, and the vital role of the mountain lion in a healthy ecosystem.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW, or Cal Fish) is a department within the government of California, falling under its parent California Natural Resources Agency. The Department of Fish and Wildlife manages and protects the state's diverse fish, wildlife, plant resources, and native habitats. The department is also responsible for the diversified use of fish and wildlife including recreational, commercial, scientific and educational uses. The department also utilizes its law enforcement division to prevent and stop illegal poaching.

Oakland Zoo: Oakland Zoo is committed to taking action for wildlife, and conservation is at the center of our mission. We are deeply involved with conservation efforts globally, locally and right on our own zoo grounds. We are dedicated to using our resources and expertise to work in partnership with local organizations to conserve and protect mountain lions.

ABOUT OAKLAND ZOO: The Bay Area’s award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid’s activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Oakland Zoo is dedicated to wildlife conservation onsite and worldwide. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks. For more information please visit our website at http://www.oaklandzoo.org.

Contacts

Nicky Mora

510-632-9525

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