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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of four. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Another mountain lion, again

This mountain lion wasn't cooperative. The fox and bobcat at least climbed up on the rock, and other mountain lions I have photographed have done the same on other rocks. But not this time.

I had 3 cameras out this last week, and two out of three had mountain lion pictures. This cat spent nearly 4 minutes at the site, but I got only 5 pictures. The camera was cabled to a crooked bay sapling and pointed up a bit too much -- not ideally aimed for a cat standing in front of the rock. (I corrected that today).

I used artificial civetone as a scent lure, and I imagine that's what the cat is licking. It came at 5:17 PM the day after I visited the set and put out the lure.

A close examination of the ears shows a notch in the right ear. That tells me that this cat is not Big Mama reported here a few weeks ago.

The other camera photographed the distant cat moving away from the camera. Three out of four lion photos on this trail show the tail-end of the cat. It seems the cat goes up the canyon by this route but returns by a different one.

As a aside, I have found two nests of band-tailed pigeons in this ravine. They are about 50' up in a black oak and a Douglas fir.


P.V. August said...

Geez Chris, mountain lions seem to be a dime a dozen in your neighborhood. How often do you or your neighbors see mountain lions (or their sign) in your normal activities? If you didn't camera trap would you have a clue they were so common?

I bet you don't have any stray cats on your block! (Fishers and coyotes perform the same function in rural RI)

Camera Trap Codger said...

It seems that way, doesn't it? Last spring one was seen near the elementary school's parking lot (they start driving young out here), and there was a lot of displacement preening and talk of a lock down. That was it. We know several folks who have lost dogs and cats. But folks don't see mountain lions very often, and I've never seen one here. You are right, I wouldn't know they were so common and near if I wasn't camera trapping.

A dogs life in Africa said...

Hi Chris, I love your blog and read it to help drive up the quality of ours! I've just spent a few days in the Masai Mara where we saw a lion killed by a warthog. You can see photos and listen to a podcast on www.baraza.wildlifedirect.org we now have 62 conservationists from Africa and beyond blogging with us and telling some amazing stories and raising awareness about important issue that are still under the radar. Paula

Owlman said...

I wonder what would happen if the locals get wind of the Pumas in your canyon. I can visualize Fish and Game and a couple of dogs sniffing around trying to tree the poor critters so they can dart and radio collar them.

Camera Trap Codger said...

Hi Paula, Great to hear from you, and learn about the lion-killing warthog -- wow, fascinating! I hope the readers here check your site and see the neat stuff going on. I highly recommend it.

Owlman, the neighbors, having seen the blog pics of our local pumas, now lock up their dogs at night. I'd prefer not to photograph collared pumas, but I'd love to play a part in the study. You learn a lot more when the critters are marked.

Anonymous said...

I am curious to know what artificial civetone is, and where do you get it from, and why cats like it so much. How far away do you think cats can smell it from? You always have such great pictures!

Camera Trap Codger said...

Civetone is one of several compounds produced in the scent glands of several species of civet, and has long been used as a component in perfumes. You can buy synthetic civetone from www.nwtrappers.com. I have never used it before, but it seems to have the kind of smell that would attract a number of mammals. I really don't know how far from the source it can be detected by cats. Cats are not as sensitive to smells as dogs or bears, but they are highly responsive to certain odors, like catnip.

Unknown said...

I really enjoy your site and your wildlife surveilance mission. I have just begun playing around with a camera trap here at my place in north central kenya. I'm keen to get a leopard and i figure if you have managed to get several mountain lion shots then a leopard should be easy (they are a dime a dozen here as are lion, aardwolf, aardvark, and lots of other neat stuff). Anyway, so far (2 nights) Ive only gotten some Bat-eared Foxes, a genet cat and a Hare. Can you recommend a predator attractant. Is the scent you put down for the Mountain lion cat specific?
Thanks, james chritian
karisia walking safaris
(below is my bat-eared pics from the other night)

Camera Trap Codger said...


I would try one of the scent lurs for cats that includes catnip. But if you can locate leopard prey in trees, that would be a place I would try to set a camera too. Tree sets are more difficult to secure and adjust, but you often get other interesting species as well. Once tried to get funding to study aardwolves, and did my Ph D on genet behavior in captivity. You have some wonderful species to photograph out there. Good luck.

Unknown said...

Success. I followed your advice and set this camera on a leopard carcass (steinbuck) that we found in long grass while walking.


then recently we got these striped hyenas. no aardwolves yet though.


cheers, jamie
karisia limited safaris

Maisey said...

Wild life is so intriguing to me. It is always so interesting to see who they act in different situations. On TV once, I saw a group of people trying to use trapping supplies to catch a mountain lion, but the cat was way too smart and wouldn't fall for their tricks.