Two Cougars Relocated from Eastern Sierra Nevada to Mojave Desert Meet a Heartbreaking End

Two Cougars Relocated from Eastern Sierra Nevada to Mojave Desert Meet a Heartbreaking End

Two male cougars, L147 and L176, embarked on a perilous journey after being relocated from their home in the eastern Sierra Nevada to the Mojave Desert by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) in 2021, according to Newsweek.

Unfortunately, their attempt to return home ended in tragedy, as they succumbed to starvation. This incident has sparked discussions about the challenges and consequences of relocating territorial predators like mountain lions.

The relocation of L147 and L176 was initially portrayed as an experiment to determine whether these cougars would cross the barrier of Interstate 15 (I-15) to return to their original territories.

However, the Los Angeles Times later clarified that they were moved as an alternative to euthanization.

The motive behind this decision was rooted in Conservation efforts to protect the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep, a threatened species in the region.

Mountain lions are natural predators of these sheep, and their presence has posed a significant challenge to the sheep population.

The Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep faced a critical decline in the 1990s, with only 125 individuals remaining in their natural habitat. To safeguard this endangered species, intensive Conservation efforts were initiated. These efforts bore fruit, with the population gradually recovering to 316 in 2016 and 277 in 2022.

Wildlife advocates and experts raised concerns about the potential consequences of relocating territorial predators. Zara McDonald, a biologist with the Bay Area Puma Project, emphasized that mountain lions are highly attuned to their surroundings and that relocation can induce immense stress, disorientation, and reduced survival rates.

It can also lead to limited hunting success and a higher susceptibility to disease due to unfamiliar environments.

The CDFW acknowledged the regrettable outcome of this relocation and expressed its commitment to learning from the experience. As the CDFW’s 2021 annual report revealed, future translocations will benefit from the lessons learned in these cases.

The decision to relocate lions like L147 and L176 to unfamiliar environments has been reconsidered, with a commitment not to place them in inappropriate habitats in the future.

Sign this petition to help safely relocate mountain lions rather than trapping and killing them.

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This article by Trinity Sparke was first published by One Green Planet on 3 September 2023. Image Credit :sirtravelalot/Shutterstock.

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