FENCING AND THE FORAGING BEHAVIOR OF A LARGE CARNIVORE - ARE MOUNTAIN LIONS SELECTING FOR AN EASY LIFESTYLE IN CALIFORNIA'S WINE COUNTRY?
Alexandra Hettena; Audubon Canyon Ranch - Living with Lions; P.O. Box 1195, Glen Ellen, CA, 95442; (415) 860-9830; alex.hettena@egret.com; Quinton Martins
Mountain lions (Puma concolor) inhabit densely human populated regions of the San Francisco North Bay Area, where fences and habitat fragmentation may hinder wildlife movement. We fitted mountain lions in Sonoma and Napa counties with GPS collars to test for differences in hunting success, diet between public open space and private properties, and distance from property boundaries (fences). Between October 2016 and October 2017, we identified 148 feeding sites of four collared mountain lions; 112 prey items (75.7%) were black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus). Mountain lions killed 96 deer (85.71%) on private lands, constituting 87.01% of the area, killing deer in proportion to the habitat available to them (p = 0.9428). Distribution of distances from GPS clusters to fence lines on private lands differed significantly from that of public lands (p = 5.287e-13), with more clusters occurring closer to the fence lines on private land. Lions showed a slight preference for public land (p = 0.0001), yet successfully foraged in a fragmented landscape, possibly benefiting from fences on private properties that alter the behavior of their main prey. Investigation of the effects of fences and other human-constructed barriers on lion and deer demography will inform landscape-scale management of these influential wild animals.
Ecology and Conservation of Mammals I   Student Paper