by Nicole Na
If you’re familiar with Sonoma Land Trust, you’ve probably heard of our work to protect the Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor, a band of habitat linking the Marin Coast to the Blue Ridge-Berryessa region in eastern Napa County and only three-quarters of a mile wide in some parts. This narrow strip of land is critically important. It serves as cover, easy passage, a source of food and water, and breeding habitat for Sonoma Valley’s wildlife — including mountain lions.
Mountain lions aren’t just cool to look at — they play an indispensable role in maintaining the biodiversity and stability of the Sonoma Valley ecosystem. The health of a mountain lion population can also give us insights on how wildlife in general can move between habitat areas as they need large ranges (anywhere from 10 to 370 square miles!) to survive — and if a mountain lion can survive in fragmented habitats, perhaps other species can too.
That’s why we’re a funding partner in Audubon Canyon Ranch’s ACR Mountain Lion Project, a research effort that involves the collaring of mountain lions in the Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor and the Mayacamas Mountains to the north. The collars gather GPS data points, which tell researchers about the animals’ behavioral patterns, including movement and feeding.
The first subject of the project, a female mountain lion dubbed P1 (for Puma 1), was captured the night of October 5 in a trap filled with roadkill on the grounds of our Glen Oaks Ranch. The humanely designed traps equipped with transmitters allow researchers to reach the lion as soon as possible to minimize stress. The research team reached the lion within 10 minutes, sedated her and fitted her with the GPS collar, and collected some biological samples (later analyzed at UC Davis). An hour later, the lion was moved to another location and walked away elsewhere on the property.
P2, the one-year-old daughter of P1, was captured and collared near Annadel State Park on November 13 and released at the capture site.
Both lions were in great health. P1 is between 8 and 10 years old, weighs about 96 pounds and is 6 feet from head to tail. P2, a juvenile, weighs 70 pounds.
The importance of this work will have far-reaching impacts. ”This project is going to yield invaluable data for conservation efforts, not just locally, but throughout California,” said ACR executive director John Petersen to the Press Democrat — and we’re proud of the role Sonoma Land Trust in playing in saving the habitat that these lions call home.
Sources: Audubon Canyon Ranch
To find out more about how you can help protect the Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor, visit sonomalandtrust.org or read about it here.
Nicole Na is Sonoma Land Trust's communications coordinator.
Sonoma Land Trust is a local nonprofit based in Santa Rosa, CA, that conserves scenic, natural, agricultural and open lands in Sonoma County for the benefit of the community and future generations. This blog focuses on SLT's stewardship team, whose members do hands-on work to directly protect, restore, and safeguard the land for generations to come.