Follow Researchers as They Track and Capture Mountain Lions [Video]

CC BY-ND 3.0. Lil Rose

Mountain lions (or pumas, or panthers, or cougars... they go by many names), are an apex predator and like all apex predators, are vital to the ecosystem yet also under great threat by humans who do not grant them much leeway. In fact, hunting of mountain lions was so common that the species' numbers declined dramatically in California until they were provided protections in the 70s. The importance of coexisting with these animals is still recognized.

KQED reports, "A new bill, signed into law last week by Governor Jerry Brown will have a substantial effect on California pumas. The bill, SB132 proposed by State Senator Jerry Hill (D.) requires that nonlethal procedures be used to remove any mountain lion that has not been “designated as an imminent threat to public health and safety.” It also authorizes the California Department of Fish and Game to partner with other groups, such as the Santa Cruz Puma Project, to carry out the non-lethal removal of pumas that find themselves too close to humans. With luck, this new bill will make it easier for humans and mountain lions to coexist as their territories continue to overlap."

Studying the behavior of mountain lions, particularly how live in areas inhabited by humans, is an important part of learning the best ways to coexist with them and ensure their survival and see their numbers continue to recover. Researchers with the Santa Cruz Puma Project are on the case. Check out what it's like to track, tag and collar a mountain lion: