Study finds Mountain Lions are Feasting on House Pets!

by Placerville Newswire / Feb 14, 2016 / comments

[Trail cam set up above Foothills Park near Skyline on Peninsula captured this shot of mountain lion meandering down trail. Photo: John Richards]

"A motion-activated wildlife camera captures a picture of four mountain lions as they stroll near a house in Georgetown in El Dorado County."

A pet owner’s nightmare, their dog or cat being eaten by a mountain lion, appears to happen with some frequency, according to a new report from the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The report detailed that 107 mountain lions were killed last year legally under provisions of special depredation permits. Of those 107 lions, the stomach contents of 83 were analyzed, and 52 percent were found to have eaten cats, dogs or other domestic animals, the report said.

Only 5 percent had eaten deer, which are supposed to be their favorite prey, but are harder to catch than house cats. Of the rest of the lions detailed in the report, 16 percent were not studied, 9 percent had empty stomachs, and 18 percent had contents that were too digested to be identified.

If pets also accounted for a good share of that 18 percent, that would mean more than 60 percent of the lions in the study ate cats, dogs and other domestic animals. The report had not been released to the public, but the DFW provided it quickly when requested.

The DFW also confirmed the numbers and warned pet owners to keep their cats inside and their dogs leashed when outside if living in areas near open space or when visiting park lands.

“As a pet owner you have a responsibility for the safety of that animal, especially if you live in open space or wild animal habitat,” said the DFW’s Andrew Hughan. “When out walking, keep it on a leash or keep a very close eye, look around, above and behind you for wild animals.”

A motion-activated wildlife camera captures a picture of four mountain lions as they stroll near a house in Georgetown in El Dorado County. Photo: Tami Sutton Photo: Tami Sutton A motion-activated wildlife camera captures a picture of four mountain lions as they stroll near a house in Georgetown in El Dorado County.

Though the report verified the high incidence of lions eating pets, Hughan said the DFW has confirmed that coyotes and other predators attack and eat pets at high levels, too.

“Many coyote attacks on animals and people happen when the coyote sneaks up from behind,” Hughan said. “Also, when you let your pet out late at night, go into the yard with the pet. Don’t just open the door and let it run out. A coyote can jump over an 8-foot fence, grab a small dog or cat and be gone before you even know it’s there.”

There are verified reports of lions making off with cats from the backyards of suburban towns that are bordered by open space, the DFW has previously reported.

The way this story came about was an accident. At a lunch this past week in Yountville, Eric Sklar of St. Helena, a new member of the Fish and Game Commission, and I were talking about strategies to increase trout populations in the lakes and streams of California. I mentioned a plan I am developing in which five times as many trout could be stocked with no increase in budget by using net pens in lakes to grow out fingerlings; a second net would keep out the predators, such as river otters. When Sklar heard the word “predators,” his face lit up.

“I just heard about a report where 107 lions were killed last year with depredation permits,” Sklar said. “They checked the contents of their stomachs and found that more than half had been eating cats and dogs.”

 

READ MORE HERE: http://www.sfchronicle.com/outdoors/article/Study-finds-mountain-lions-a...
Tom Stienstra is The San Francisco Chronicle’s outdoors writer.