Oakland Zoo North American Conservation Efforts: Bay Area Puma Project

Conservation efforts in North America: Bay Area Puma Project The mountain lion (Puma concolor) is also known as the puma, cougar and panther, and is the largest wild cat in North America. Mountain lions have powerful limbs and can leap as high as 18 feet and as far as 30 feet.

The Bay Area Puma Project

The Bay Area Puma Project (BAPP) was launched in 2008 by Felidae Conservation Fund to research and safeguard healthy puma populations and their key habitat patches in and around the greater SF Bay Area. With its unique combination of pioneering puma research, multi-faceted community engagement, hands-on education and effective conservation action, the intent is to raise ecological awareness, reduce human-wildlife conflict and cultivate healthy co-existence between humans and the region's top apex predator.

The Conservation Issue:

As puma habit is increasingly fragmented and movement corridors are blocked by human development, more sightings and encounters with pumas are likely. Pumas are being killed more often by cars and depredation permits (issued when livestock or pets are attacked), and increasing news reports of puma encounters are driving growing public concern. With human encroachment continuing to degrade wildlife habitat, it is vital to address these conflicts before ecosystems are compromised irreversibly. Our communities benefit from co-existing with all species, in rich and diverse natural systems, in order for wild lands to sustain for future generations.

The Bay Area Puma Project Approach:

Research Studies on Local Pumas: BAPP field studies, using both GPS collars and remote camera arrays, are producing new understanding about this furtive species, especially within the complex urban-wildland interfaces of the Bay Area, and particularly the East Bay. Working with landowners and state agencies, BAPP researchers are building a foundation of knowledge about local puma populations. The insights gained from this work will enable us to develop new conservation and land use strategies to minimize human-puma conflict, and foster a healthy co-existence between humans and pumas in the region.

Outreach and Education: Building public understanding about pumas is a key focus of BAPP. From school programs, to community meetings, presentations, tracking classes, group hikes, citizen science, and online experiences, the Bay Area Puma Project aims to inform and enlighten.

Habitat Preservation: The BAPP team is collaborating with several organizations dedicated to establishing permanent blocks and corridors for habitat preservation. Integrating our puma research into these efforts is critical for ensuring the optimal selection, prioritization and purchase of quality land parcels.

Road Retrofitting: The BAPP is working with Caltrans on their road development framework, with a special emphasis on placement of highway crossings at critical pinch points (such as on Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and Highway 580 in the East Bay). Caltrans is using data from us and others to consider wildlife passageways, and not just human movement pathways, when planning and implementing roads in California. Ultimately, there is growing recognition that making roads safer for wildlife makes them safer for humans too.

Land Use Policies: As our research sheds new light on the urban-wildland interface, especially in how pumas interact with the human-made environment, we will be able to develop and promote more effective land use policies for managing recreational activities in parks, zoning requirements for new developments, etc.

The Oakland Zoo's Role:

The Oakland Zoo has fully embraced the efforts of The Bay Area Puma Project and their work with local pumas. We support the project through:

  • Fundraising: The Zoo has raised funds through various means for radio tags and monitoring.
  • Quarters for Conservation: The Zoo chose The Bay Area Puma Project as a 2012-2013 Quarters for Conservation featured project.
  • Outreach and Education: The Zoo aims to use our immense access to the public to help wildlife, like the mountain lion. Information about pumas and how to co-exist with them and conserve them is included in special event days, docent tours, classes and lectures.
  • Mountain Lions and Public Safety: The Oakland Zoo works in collaborative partnership with the Bay Area Puma Project, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and other local stakeholders to create humane ways for human-lion interactions to be handled.

How You Can Help:

  • Get past the myths and learn the facts about these incredible cats by visiting www.bapp.org or www.felidaefund.org.
  • Volunteer with the Bay Area Puma Project by contacting: info@felidaefund.org.
  • Suggest a fundraising lecture about mountain lions by contacting: info@felidaefund.org.
  • Send us a question about Mountain Lions: info@felidaefund.org.

Living in Lion Territory:

  • Avoid encounters with pumas: www.bapp.org/living-with-pumas
  • If you do encounter a puma, here's how to handle it: www.bapp.org/if-you-see-a-puma
  • Safeguard your home, pets and domestic animals: www.felidaefund.org
  • If you have a sighting and want to report it: www.bapp.org/report-a-sighting
  • If you see a puma in a developed area, it will probably leave on its own, but if it seems threatening or injured call 911.

Other Mountain Lion Resources:

  • Felidae Conservation Fund: http://www.felidaefund.org
  • The Mountain Lion Foundation: http://www.mountainlion.org
  • US Department of Fish and Wildlife: http://www.fws.gov
  • CA Department of Fish and Wildlife: http://www.dfg.ca.gov

In the Field N. America

Bay Area Puma Project


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