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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Liquid gold - a mountain lion in our forest

K and I strolled out into a warm and sunny day, enjoying being able to walk a little further than we have in months. With a boot, she's still supposed to gradually increase her walking to regain her strength. We made it to a favorite photo spot. I love seeing my girl with the mountains and blue sky behind her.
Her face glowed in the warm sunshine. We both turned toward the sun, soaking up its rays.
R and I did a short mountain bike ride, stopping for a photo of him at a mountain viewpoint. He obsessed over a scent in the wind, and I idly wondered what smelled so fascinating. That thought turned out to be a harbinger of what I would soon discover.
Later in the day, I checked a wildlife camera. As I looked at the viewfinder, I stood bolt upright and started scanning the trees around me. Here's what I saw in the viewfinder.
As my mind spun like fury, I realized that the mountain lion had walked exactly the same path as me a very short time earlier. Here are a series of photos of him/her checking out my camera and then walking out of the clearing. In the top bar, you can see the photos numbered. For example, "1/10" means that it was the first photo in a rapid-fire series of ten.
In the close-ups of the lion, his radio and GPS collar is obvious. His ears have a tinge of green glowing from them because he wears ear tags. These markings tell us that our DOW trapped him and collared him so that they can follow his movements. This is the first time that a mountain lion photographed by my remote cameras captured a collared lion. All the others have been "naked".

Looking at the size of that collar and how it juts against his jaw, I wonder if it hinders his ability to deliver the killing bite that severs the spinal cord of a deer. I also wondered if having tags in both ears muffles his hearing. As you can tell, I'd prefer that we leave these magnificent creatures alone and let them be truly wild.

Regardless of those issues, getting a glimpse of the "liquid gold" of our forest lifted my spirits to the sky.

40 comments:

  1. Now THAT IS a KHAT!

    Awesome awesome pictures!

    BTW, my word has me smiling:

    YOLION

    :=)

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  2. That is one giant collar on that cat. You would think that they could use something somewhat smaller, it must be a fairly big hinderance to a wild animal (well, any animal) but when they have to hunt their own food etc.

    Awesome photos though.

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  3. Wow - what a discovery on the camera! I agree about the collar and tags. Not only do they endure the act of sedation and manipulation, but then bear that mark henceforth. I understand we need to learn, but there's more up to date technology that could be far less cumbersome. Glad the others have been nudists ;)

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  4. I very much agree with you about the collars, ear tags, fin tags or cameras on whales. I really have to wonder if it is worth all the time and money invested in the work.

    But this cat is so beautiful! Photos 2 &3/10 just amaze me.

    Cheers and hugs,

    Jo and Stella

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  5. KB, these are fabulous captures but make me concerned for you and the pups. The lion seems to be roaming in broad daylight. Take extra care!

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  6. Wow, he is beautiful! That collar can't be comfortable. Why do they want to track him? I agree, it seems cruel to collar a wild animal ...

    Your pal, Pip

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  7. That is one big kitty! I'd have been looking around after that find, too! That is definitely a day brightener.

    K is looking lovely today, too! It looks like longer walks are agreeing with her. :)

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  8. Totally agree with you about the collar - it is enormous and looks uncomfortable. I feel very bad for that big cat with all of that unnatural stuff hanging off of him. I wish that we could just leave wildlife alone.

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  9. Wow!! Beautiful, just beautiful.
    I am speechless.

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  10. Wow! I find it amazing (and sorta scary) that you've captured so many lion pictures this year. Not to mention several different lions. They have such a reputation of being elusive, I almost like to think of them as imaginary. But no, they're out there and quiet active...just unseen.

    So glad you and K made it to your photo spot!

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  11. Beautiful K and R photos!
    That is a lot of tagging the mtn. lion is wearing! She's beautiful, yet you can sense her potential power.

    Hugs and snaggle-tooth kisses,
    Sierra Rose

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  12. KB!! There's a LION in your yard!!! OMG!!! How awesome is that??!!!

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  13. I understand the idea of the radio collar, but I'm shocked at how tight it really is around his throat. And like what you spoke about if the transmitter gets in the way of being able to kill. Great photos. Sorry to see this one collared. Poor kitty.

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  14. It's wonderful to see K is able to go further every day and seems to be healing well.

    We have to share the concern about you guys [and your mom] being so close to big, hungry cats. If they can bring down a deer, they can bring down a Lab.

    Mama has mixed emotions about the tagging. They certainly should be able to use something smaller and less intrusive. There can be no conceivable excuse for tagging both ears. And she feels sorry for the individual animal that gets tagged. But if the purpose of the tagging is to learn more about the species, to find out what they REALLY do and need and where they go [as opposed to what people thought they knew], and if the information is gathered to help protect habitat that will help protect the survival of the species, then mama supports the science. That particular cat did look uncomfortable with the collar, but from the photos he did not appear malnourished, which suggests he can hunt successfully. Surely the collar will eventually rot & fall off, too.

    Jed & Abby

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  15. WOW! such a beautiful animal.....my first thought was that the collar looked a bit tight...i hope it doesn't hinder this incredible animal....
    incredible images!!
    xoxo

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  16. My gosh, what a beautiful creature!

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  17. That mountain lion was following you? Kind of scary. I agree the collar looks snug. I am surprised they do not have injectable GPS devices now. Difficult choice. Tracking them is important, but I agree that it would be better not to have to interfere with them via collars.

    Mango Momma

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  18. A lucky day in many ways. Hopefully that collar does not hinder the mountain lion when hunting.
    Beautiful photos!

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

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  19. Oh My Gosh! What an incredible series of photos! An absolutely gorgeous Mountain Lion...Wow :)

    Thanks so much for sharin!
    Roo

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  20. You don't understand, the kitty was ready with her collar for you to snap a leash on and go for a walk. The tags are there to remind you that they are having a sale on lions today.

    Mogley G. kRetriever

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  21. Thanks for following my blog. I've been following yours for awhile and just really enjoy your adventures. This Liquid Gold is truly amazing. Did you leave a camera in the woods to take those pics or what! Intriguing.

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  22. I read your blog every day - don't always leave a comment because I feel like I use the same superlative words! It's great to see those mountain lion pix and know they're out there, but you be careful!

    You must go to Mogley's blog (he left you a comment today) and see the "Meth Lab" picture. I think you and K can have a good chuckle over that one.

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  23. Pawsitively AWESOME pics!!! Thank you so much for sharing. WE look forward to visiting, enjoying the pics you take and reading about adventures with K & R. We agree those tracking devices should be smaller & also wonder about how they might interfere. BE safe out there!!!
    Wags
    Ernie,Sasha,Chica

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  24. the lighting used in that first shot of K is spectacular! i love how intense her coat looks.

    now the lion. CRAZY LADY! i have goosebumps just thinking about you there on the same path.

    BUT: man, that is some beautiful lion. agree on the GSP collar. seems so wrong. why is it so necessary anyway? why can't we leave well-enough alone?

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  25. Nice kitty!
    I do agree with you about the collar. Or at least come up with something small. I just don't understand, with the technologies that we have, why do those collars have to be so big and bulky.

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  26. OMG ... the feet are HUGE. And, I agree. That collar seems way to big and bulky. I hope it doesn't bother him too much. :o(

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  27. Incredible photos. I was thinking the same thing. That collar looks a bit tight and might hinder his natural abilities. I wish too that they would just leave them alone.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  28. First I was impressed with the beautiful picture of K, then loved the picture of R. But I kept scrolling and was stunned at the beautiful pictures of the lion.

    I am with you, though. I love that the lions are being tracked and researched to better understand them, but the collar is much bigger and awkward than I would have thought. In fairness, though, the cat does not look like he has missed any meals.

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  29. Very beautiful and strong looking lion! It would be exciting to see one, but frightening at the same time, I think!

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  30. We missed this post last night bu are so glad we came back to see this amazing creature. If he was close by, we bet he knows that you mean him no harm.

    K and R both look like they are enjoying the change of seasons. The OP Pack is loving the chill in the air, if only some snow would come along, all would be lovely.

    Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

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  31. Wow!!! I'm so glad I got a moment to check in. The mountain lion is truly magnificent! You make a good point about the collar. It does look too bulky and/or tight to me. I hope it's not a hindrance. Thanks for sharing.

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  32. Wow
    does this bring back some memories for me!
    I know how exciting this was to you,, and it will be something that you will never forget,,, you captured some awsomeness
    xoxoxo
    tweedless

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  33. That collar made me cringe. It looks way too tight, like maybe they put it on when the lion was smaller. It would send shivers down my spine to have those photos and know that I was walking in the same place where a mountain lion had just passed.

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  34. See ... where you get inspiration, I go straight to fear. Great pix, though.

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