November 28, 2018

To a Great Egret, Tomales Bay is full of food, but that food is not always available. Every two weeks, around the new and full moons, the lowest tides and the greatest foraging opportunity coincide with the early morning, making breakfast on the bay an easy affair. During low tides, hundreds of acres of intertidal eelgrass are exposed, allowing egrets to stab at herring during spawning events or to hunt pipe fish, which try to wrap themselves around the egret’s bill to avoid being swallowed. As the tide cycle shifts and morning tides become higher, the eelgrass is exposed for fewer hours per day, reducing foraging opportunities on the bay. During these times, egrets switch to inland ponds and creeks to hunt small fish or walk the surrounding pastures in groups to capture rodents. ...

October 18, 2018

Mountain lion collaring activities are in high gear this fall, with any given week finding the team staking out a potential study subject in the Sonoma Valley, in the hills of Healdsburg or further north near Hopland. One of the most beneficial pieces of equipment in use is our cage trap that employs electronic sensors to trigger the trap when an animal the height of a mountain lion walks through.

Designed by lead researcher Quinton Martins and Keysight marketing director Neil Martin, the cage has seen several beneficial modifications over the past couple of years, including the use of netting rather than metal in the doors to reduce risk of injury to the lions.

In the photos above, the jackrabbit freely walks through the trap at about 4:00am, allowing researchers to...

October 12, 2018

Farley Family Charitable Foundation helps us build a future of fire-adapted communities

We are pleased to announce that the Farley Family Charitable Foundation has granted $660,000 to Audubon Canyon Ranch, over the next two years, to develop our Fire Forward initiative into a vital resource for the region.

The Foundation has already contributed generously to ACR’s Living with Lions project, and this new gift reflects the Foundation's interest in our work to build a future of fire-adapted landscapes and communities, as well as contribute to the science of fire ecology. Tim Farley, son of the foundation’s founders Jim and Nancy Farley of Chicago, watched the Nuns Fire lap very close to his property on Sonoma Mountain, nearly destroying all he had. “This was a wake-up call...

August 17, 2018

Support Living with Lions, a community conservation project studying mountain lion populations in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties. Donate now >

July 30, 2018

The Living with Lions team is sad to announce that P6, a sub-adult mountain lion collared as part of our study was killed in Kenwood by a landowner who requested a depredation permit from California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The depredation or “take” permit was issued by CDFW after the lion killed one of a handful of goats kept on the vineyard property. This marks the second lion in nine months to be removed from the ecosystem by request from a landowner for destroying livestock.

P6, born on March 27, 2017, became an local celeb as one of three kittens born to her mom, P1, the project’s first research subject. The ten-day-old triplets, incredibly well hidden in Pampas grass less than a hundred yards from a home in Glen Ellen, provided our community with a heart-warming...

June 11, 2018

As any field researcher knows, failed attempts are just part of the work flow for most projects! We try, we fail, we adjust methods, we try again. After a spring season of several near misses—and a couple of face-plants in the salt marsh muck—trying to capture additional Great Egrets for our GPS study, we are very excited to report to you that our team recently has captured two adults, both with breeding plumage, at Toms Point, Tomales Bay. The captures and tagging went very smoothly. After release, the birds took off and flew out of view toward the Walker Creek delta, their lightweight solar GPS backpacks collecting a range of movement and behavioral data.

May 14, 2018

Since late February, Living with Lions team has captured six lions spanning the southern Mayacamas and Sonoma Mountain area. Two of these lions were study subjects recaptured to replace failing GPS collar batteries and check overall health. Four others are new lions in our study and their movements are already giving us a better understanding of the lion landscape.

P6, who is the surviving offspring from P1's 2017 litter of three, was captured weeks prior to her dispersal from mom. Since leaving 'home,' P6, now 13 months old, has proven to be a good hunter as indicated by the remains of a couple of large does cached at one of her feeding sites.

P8 and P9, daughter and mom, were spotted by quick thinking Taylor Mountain Regional Park personnel. Working together, our team...

April 15, 2018

In California, mountain lions are at the top of the food chain and play critical roles in the maintenance and functioning of their ecosystems. In our region, mountain lions’ preferred prey are deer. Disruptions in the population of this key predator can affect deer behavior and populations, causing a number of impacts in the system.

Yet mountain lions themselves live a fragile existence as more of us choose to live and play in wild places. Although human and lion confrontations have been infinitely small, protecting pets and livestock from being attacked remains a challenge. Although livestock form a small percentage of their diet, lions are opportunists when it comes to attacking unsecured pets or stock.

Such conflict may result in a depredation permit issued to have the...

March 25, 2018

The Living with Lions Project has had a busy start to the year since replacing our essential equipment lost in the fires. A huge thanks to all our donors who contributed to this effort.

Unfortunately, the electronic walk-through traps designed and built last year were all destroyed in the fires and will take some time to rebuild. This means that we have returned to attracting mountain lions to the cagetrap using roadkill deer carcasses as bait. What a mission! For one, winter is not a time where many deer are killed on the roads it seems - which is good for the deer, but not for baiting. Also, capture success of lions using baits in our area has typically been low, possibly due to an abundance of food.

That said, we recently had some fantastic action on one of our baits...

March 23, 2018

While on patrol along Modini Mayacamas Preserves' McDonnell Creek, which contributes to the ecologically important Maacama Watershed, Land Steward Tomas Ruiz made a happy sighting of two good-sized steelhead trout swimming in one of the deep pools of the creek. Tomas recalls this being only the second time in seven years that he's spotted steelhead in this creek. Jim and Shirley Modini, who gave their 1,700 acre ranch to ACR in 2012, would have thrilled at this news!

McDonnell Creek is the primary source of the 8-mile long Maacama Creek, which flows through the Alexander Valley / Hwy 128 corridor and eventually empties into the Russian River...