Greetings from the field,
On December 13 we captured young adult male, P13, in the southern Sonoma Mountain area, west of El Verano. P13 was the first male lion to go into the smaller version of my walk-through traps. This is the standard Tru-Catch height and width that P5 kept going around, but that we had caught females in. My other traps are 4” higher and wider and have worked for males and females. Will be interesting to watch this young male, who is living within the territorial range of P5. Will he remain under the radar, avoiding conflict, will he try to leave the range, or will he confront P5 in coming months?
Updates about several of the collared lions and their offspring:
P12, the young female is doing well and is regularly killing deer!! She is mostly using the Sonoma Mountain and Bennett Valley area going to Taylor mountain.
P11 may have successfully mated with P5 almost 3 months ago, so she may be due to have kittens the first week of January. She is mostly in Annadel State Park.
P10, whose collar failed earlier in the year was picked up on camera to be mating with a new male in the Sugarloaf Park region and I expect she may den in the first week of January. I tried recapturing her, got her on a bait, but she did not stay to feed. We will try keep track using cameras and hope to recollar her later next year.
P9: I found the den of P9 in mid-December after she gave birth to a litter of kittens sometime between the night of the 9th & morning of the 10th. It appears at least one kitten was stillborn or died early on as I found remains of at least one kitten in the original den. We collected samples of hair and some bone. She has moved quite some distance and we are following up on a cluster to see if any survived – it looks like they did not though. She is most likely the mother of P12. Update 1/9/19: P9 was found dead on 1/9, apparently of natural causes. A necropsy will be conducted.
P8, the young female offspring of P9, seems to have died earlier in the year a few months after capturing her.
P5’s new collar is working well. As you may recal P5 was recaptured after killing livestock and fitted with a new collar. The landowner was incredibly supportive of our research efforts. Read about her experience here: https://www.sonomacountygazette.com/sonoma-county-news/protecting-your-p...
P4 in Napa has one cub that is likely to disperse in January or February, so I will target this capture in coming weeks.
P3, a young female caught in December 2016 and was too young to collar but was ear tagged, has had her first successful litter of cubs a few months ago. We documented 3 kittens on trail cameras, but recent camera data suggest only one has survived. She seems to be using the area north of P10 (her expected mom) and is using Hood Mountain.
For reference on these lions, refer to the Collared Lions of Sonoma Valley info sheet: