Researchers Notice Change in Mountain Lion Behavior During Pandemic

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There are some living things apparently very happy that humans are stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic: wild animals, especially mountain lions.

The big cats are suddenly able to roam the land without a lot of pesky people around, which has created a rare opportunity for the Bay Area Puma Project to study their behavior and find new ways to protect them.

BAPP has been able to access some of its 160 mounted cameras, which are set up in restricted areas, to get a preliminary look at how the animals are reacting to the lack of humans in their way now.

“Lions are feeling more comfortable moving in areas where they didn’t previously because of human activities,” BAPP President Zara McDonald said.

Tracking mountain lions into new areas shows researchers what lands should be protected strictly for wildlife.

“We have highly fragmented patches of habitat in the Bay Area, so they are cut off often times from good habitat that they would otherwise access,” McDonald said.

McDonald said the opportunity to study the animals under the current circumstances will provide benefits down the road.

“It will tremendously help conservation efforts,” she said. “It will help research and other sort of questions we’re trying to answer about urban pumas.”

BAPP will now hold weekly webinars so the public can follow the coronavirus study. It also plans to have a full report out by July.

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