Removing territorial lions is not a long-term solution
What is paramount in this case is to observe the impacts of removing a territorial lion from the system, providing a cautionary tale as to why generally speaking, killing of a depredating lion is not a long-term (or even short-term) solution.
Project data from our collared lions in the area show that within 90 days of the ‘territorial vacuum’ created by P24’s removal, collared male lions P30 and P31 have made distinct forays into P24’s now vacant territory. We would expect that other non-collared dispersing males have also moved into the area looking to take it over.
The result, for a few months until things stabilize at least, is that at least 2, if not more, male lions are occupying an area where previously there was only 1. The risk to owners of unprotected livestock would naturally increase as a result. In most cases it is best to manage your area by not interfering with lions, which in turn would keep their numbers at lower densities.
Avoiding livestock conflicts with mountain lions is possible
Over the next couple of months, we will be able to tell whether the younger P30 takes over this vacant territory or not, or whether another uncollared male moves in to take over this territory. Hopefully the new resident will adopt a more typical diet where deer (and feral pigs in this area) form the main part of his diet.
While we watch the lions, we are also keenly aware that unsecured livestock in the area remain vulnerable; and that is where you can make a difference.
Do you want to learn the best ways to avoid conflict with mountain lions and other top carnivores? Do you know someone who needs help improving their livestock enclosure?
If you or anyone you know has any conflict issues with mountain lions or need advice on keeping your animals safe, please contact Dr. Quinton Martins at 707-721-6560 or [email protected].
We are grateful to the folks who have contacted Living with Lions after suffering a painful loss of one of their animals.
If you want to build a puma-proof pen, check out this video: