Mountain lions face greater risk of becoming roadkill in wildfire’s aftermath, study says
Fire crews work to control the Camp and Ash Mountain fires in Southern California. Mountain lion cubs were often spotted with their parents and would frequently walk right up behind them. Photo: Jim Urquhart / Reuters
Firefighting crews have long used GPS trackers in vehicles to monitor for wildlife, but now researchers believe the GPS technology is also useful for wildlife control.
Researchers at the University of California, Davis, think the technology will enable them to keep dangerous animals from becoming roadkill in the wake of a California wildfire.
“We think this could be an important tool, and one that could help us out on the ground during an event like this,” said study researcher and UC Davis professor Jeffery R. Johnson, according to The Guardian.
“We know that mountain lions are very vulnerable to human mortality,” he added, “and they’re one of the species that are most at risk.”
Researchers found that GPS tracks of these large felines were more accurate than the more rudimentary ‘hump and sniff’ methods, which are used to track deer and other wildlife, according to the Guardian.
“We think that it’s going to be more valuable to find [animals] and try to figure out what they’re doing during these disasters, so we’re trying to find different ways to monitor their location and track them and see what’s going on,” Johnson said.
Johnson and team are currently working on their system after being inspired after hearing of the wildlife control success of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“A lot of people said that our system can be used outside of the government and that they’ll just be happy to use it,” Johnson said, according to The Guardian. “But we were very skeptical because we found ourselves in situations over the years where we had to go out with our own personnel, and we’d find people who thought they were doing wildlife tracking but were not.”
“[W]e realized that there was a need,” he