Mountain lions are eating California wild donkeys. Why scientists say this is a good thing
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Bears, mountain lions are a problem in California, and they are big.
That’s according to research by experts at the University of California-Davis and the U.S. Geological Survey, the latter which conducted the study. They found evidence of mountain lions eating white-tailed deer, mule deer and elk.
“Focusing on how mountain lions are currently being impacted, instead of only how they have been historically impacted, is a very good way to address why we may see more impacts in the future,” said lead author of the study Michael K. Mauer, a professor in the UC Davis Department of Geography. “We have evidence that mountain lions may be interacting with these species in new ways, which is also concerning.”
Killing mountain lions
In addition to being big, they also have a reputation for killing livestock.
Mauer said his study can help inform the debate on these sorts of interactions, which are now occurring across the country.
The researchers found that mountain lions kill about 100 cows every year in California. The largest population is about 2,100 mountain lions in central California and northern Mexico, a population that would need to be considered stable for it to kill 100 cows.
When mountain lions were less abundant, the researchers found, there were fewer reports of mountain lion-deer relationships. That’s because deer in California tend to have a more negative view of mountain lions, and therefore the deer tend to keep their distance.
More studies are needed, however, to determine if and how different mountain lion behaviors and interactions with livestock may influence how the species will respond to changes in deer abundance.
“When we talk about the abundance of mountain lions, we’re not talking about lions where you can see them, or where you can see their tracks, or where they are present in large numbers, we’re talking about populations that are much more difficult to track, which may be much less numerous,” Mauer said.
“We don’t know what will happen if populations move south, and