Have you seen me?

Have you seen me?

Have you seen me?

Sightings of mountain lions on a network of 150 trail cameras across Sonoma County have declined in 2024. Researchers are asking the public for help determining if the decline is related to a cluster of mountain lion deaths in Sonoma Valley.

Are Sonoma’s mountain lions ghosting us or is there a bigger problem?

Since 2018, the Living with Lions Trail Camera Project has collected nearly 4 million images of Sonoma County’s wildlife, including regular sightings of elusive mountain lions, bears, and badgers. However, preliminary findings from the first three months of 2024 show fewer lions captured on camera, leaving the team wondering what’s up with our local lions.

Five recent mountain lion deaths in Sonoma Valley may reveal widespread threat to region’s top carnivores.

On its own, a shortfall of lion images might not be cause for concern, but since February 2024, five collared mountain lions tracked in the Sonoma Valley area by the Living with Lions program have died of unknown illnesses.

The most recent mortality was P13, a 8.5-year-old male, who died in late April. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife in conjunction with the California Animal Health and Food Safety (CAHFS) laboratory at UC Davis are running a range of tests to determine the cause of death of the Sonoma Valley lions.

Are we experiencing a downward trend? Is it related to the recent mountain lion deaths? You can help solve this mystery.

More detailed analysis — including data from other organizations and the public — will help us better understand whether the general lion population might have dipped.

Do you live near woods or open space in Sonoma or Napa counties and have either a critter cam or home security camera? If so, you can help solve the mystery of the missing lions by submitting your photos of lions caught on camera to the Living with Lions Trail Camera Project. Using a new AI tool, Conservation AI, we’ll be able to compare these new images against prior years to learn whether the lion population is experiencing an unexpected decline in numbers.

Here’s how to prepare and send your images:

  • Check the camera every two weeks
  • Activate the date stamp option on your camera, and if possible, the geolocation
  • Email mountain lion images to Kate Remsen, Trail Camera Project Coordinator, at [email protected]; provide your first and last name and the location of the camera. Although we love seeing all critters on cam, please limit the images you submit to just mountain lions from locations in  Sonoma and Napa counties.
  • Share this request with your neighbors via NextDoor or other social networks.

Information collected through the Living with Lions program since 2016 has connected children and adults to the wildlife where they live, offered tips on safeguarding farm animals and pets, and provided invaluable data to state and local wildlife managers and county planners.

Support mountain lion research
Together, we can help ensure a thriving population of mountain lions and the biodiversity that results from their presence in the ecosystem.

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Photo By Barry Schwartz.  © Barry Schwartz.  All Rights Reserved.
June 18, 2024 09:45 am
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