GOAT DEATHS RAISE CONCERNS IN LAKESIDE: WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST SAYS COYOTES, NOT MOUNTAIN LION ARE MOST LIKELY TO BLAME

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By Miriam Raftery

July 9, 2019 (Lakeside) – CBS 8 reports that numerous goats have been killed in the past month in Lakeside's Morena Valley and Eucalyptus Hills communities. The CBS story quoted Billy Ortiz, a wildlife photographer, who said he identified tracks of a female mountain lion and a cub near the most recent kill.

But wildlife biologist Renee Owens says, "By the nature of the kills they were most if not all coyotes and possibly dogs.  Yes, there is a mountain lion in the area, as has always been the case–as in all areas of our backcountry, but the track Billy has posted is not definitive of a lion."  Her nonprofit organization, Wildlife Zone, is working on a mountain lion study.  She has been featured on National Geographic, the BBC, Discovery Channel and Dateline for her wildlife expertise.

 

The Mountain Lion Foundation’s website has information for livestock owners on how to keep their animals safe without harming mountain lions, since the lions’ numbers are dwindling and are proposed for endangered species status in southern California counties including San Diego.Owens estimates that there could be as few as 50 lions remaining in San Diego County, though some other estimates in recent years have ranged as high as 200.

Your best option is to build an enclosed pen with a cover to keep smaller livestock, such as goats, sheep or chickens, inside at night. One relatively low-cost option for small animals is to convert a dog kennel kit by adding a cover.  A fence alone is not enough, since mountain lions have been known to jump 15 feet vertically, according to the Mountain Lion Foundation. Owens says coyotes can jump a six-foot fence and mountain lions, ten.

You can find instructions for creating affordable enclosures here: https://www.mountainlion.org/portalprotectsecureenclosures.asp. Be sure to locate your enclosure away from dense vegetation where predators may hide.

Guard dogs can reduce predation of livestock by up to 93%, according to the Mountain Lion Foundation.  The dogs require special training, but are effective options if you can’t keep smaller animals inside at night, as well as for protecting herds of larger animals such as cattle or llamas. Great Pyrenees are one commonly used species of guard dogs that are recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and tend to be less aggressive toward people or other dogs. Read more here:  https://www.mountainlion.org/portalprotectguardanimals.asp
 
Timed or motion sensor alarms with flashing lights, loud noises and sprinklers may work to startle and dissuade mountain lions. 
 
 
Also protect your children and your pets if you live in an area frequented by mountain lions or coyotes. Don’t have children outside unattended and keep pets indoors especially overnight, when these animals most often hunt. Never leave a dog chained up outside.
 
Deer are the preferred prey of mountain lions, though they will also eat coyotes and smaller animals, as well as livestock if left unprotected.
 
Here are what mountain lion tracks look like, including an “M” shaped pad and lack of toenail marks:
 
If you see a lion, don’t turn your back or run, which makes you seem like prey to the big cat. Instead, raise your arms to appear bigger, yell or bang objects together, or throw rocks to scare the cougar away.  You can also carry bear spray for protection.  
 
 

Comments

black mountain jaguar

large, all black jaguar personally sighted, northeast Campo= Jun26'19 9:30am, Jul6'19 10am

Coyote

I saw one on my street. The animal was cruising my area for weeks. My son thought I was lying when I told him I saw a coyote. I have a picture of the coyote.

I was camping near Ramona and saw a mexican wolf.

https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/

Camera vs common sense

We El Monte Valley, Blossom Valley etc. residents see, hear and view coyote signs every day. Further one neighbor had a few coyotes kill goats in their yard. I don't dispute the possibility of a mountain lion, however foot tracks and camera do not add up to a kill in this writers view.

Humans & wildlife

Great article Miriam! Informative, and interesting - including suggestions & web links for assisting people in how to coexist with wildlife.