Emerging from the past year of pandemic uncertainty, Audubon Canyon Ranch’s Living with Lions has more reasons to celebrate our community’s quest to understand Sonoma County’s mountain lion population and further ecosystem conservation throughout the region.

In the past two months since being able to resume lion captures, Dr. Quinton Martins, who has directed the research for the program, has collared or tagged five big cats throughout the county, recorded a new litter of kittens and responded to numerous calls from residents grappling with wildlife/domestic pet conflicts.

“It’s gratifying to be able to resume our work, post-Covid, and be out in the field tracking these elusive big cats and working with landowners!” said Martins.

As the project enters its sixth year, a new partnership has been formed between ACR and True Wild, a Glen Ellen-based conservation company launched by Quinton and Liz Martins and partner Neil Martin in 2019.

With Dr. Martins leaving ACR to work full-time for True Wild, ACR now contracts with Dr. Martins and True Wild to capture and track mountain lions, collect data, and use the science-based findings to inform classroom curriculum for the program.

Additionally, residents will be able to look to True Wild for science-based and thoughtfully designed solutions in the area of human-predator conflict management.

“ACR is pleased to support and continue to rely upon the expertise of Quinton and Liz Martins for our Living with Lions program,” said Dr. Nils Warnock, ACR’s interim executive director and director of conservation research.

Program findings—including DNA samples, tracking data from GPS collars, and trail camera observations—continue to be shared with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for their statewide survey, in scientific journals, local media, community presentations, and translated into richly-designed classroom curricula developed by ACR’s educators, including Liz Martins, who continues to coordinate the Living with Lions education program.

A great match for ACR’s expertise in long-term data collection and science-based education

“Living with Lions has become a valued community resource, helping to build a shared understanding of our wild neighbors and move the region toward more targeted conservation goals, where ACR’s strengths in long-term data collection and science-based education can help inform land use decisions by policy-makers and other conservation partners,” said Warnock. “Yet, challenges remain in the area of predator conflict.”

Since 2017, Living with Lions has consulted on over 70 depredation events that previously may have led to the lethal control of the offending lion, explained Martins. “We’ve been a willing partner in this complex aspect of the project,” he said, adding that it’s been rewarding to help folks deploy common sense solutions as well as try experimental designs, even as they struggled with a personal loss.

Expanded capabilities driven by the needs of the community

Seeing the need for a larger range of predator proofing solutions and desiring better outcomes for wildlife, the Martins and Martin expanded the scope of their business in April 2021. “Liz and I have a deep personal commitment to changing the adversarial dynamic between humans and top carnivores living in semi-rural communities; a complex dynamic we saw improve with advocacy while running the Cape Leopard Trust in South Africa,” added Martins.

“True Wild’s offerings will complement ACR’s work and reflect the community’s investment in the survival of the region’s top carnivore,” added partner Neil Martin.

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ABOUT LIVING WITH LIONS

Since 2016, Audubon Canyon Ranch’s Living with Lions has increased awareness of the behavior and movements of our local mountain lions; explored and explained factors that influence reproductive successes and failures; and prompted neighborly conversations about the role of top carnivores in healthy landscapes. Learn more: https://egret.org/living-with-lions or @auduboncanyonranch. To host a wildlife trail camera on your property, contact [email protected].

ABOUT TRUE WILD:

True Wild is a Glen Ellen-based conservation company launched by Quinton and Liz Martins and Neil Martin in 2019, that uses research, expert-led workshops and field experiences, and conservation safaris to improve people’s relationships with nature and encourage action to conserve our natural home. Get to know True Wild: https://www.truewild.org/ or @truewild.

IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING A WILDLIFE-LIVESTOCK CONFLICT, contact Dr. Quinton Martins at 707-721-6560 or [email protected].

Catch up with the latest project fieldwork: https://www.kenwoodpress.com/2021/04/13/valley-of-the-moon-lion-update/