The Colorado Division of Wildlife is halfway through a six-year study tracking mountain lions across the Front Range, including ones that frequent the mountains above Boulder.
There’s all sorts of questions that this kind of study is helping to answer. (For example, it’s not true that mountain lions lay in wait on the edge of suburban neighborhoods because they’ve learned it’s easier to pick off poodles compared to elk.) But one striking thing that the biologists have learned so far is that mountain lions around here are facing long odds for living a long life.
A story in today’s Denver Post follows one particular lion who’s a Boulder County local known as AM06 — a male who wanders his 230-square-mile territory from Nederland to Lyons.
Halfway through a six-year study of cougars in the suburbs — the elk-eating kind, not the bar-hopping divorcees — AM06 is a well-known quantity. At any given moment, researcher Mat Alldredge can print out a terrain map showing the prowling puma’s every move for an entire month.
What they’ve learned is that most lions are not long for this world.
“We have an incredibly low survival rate,” Alldredge said.
Of 40 lions captured and tagged in the study so far, only 18 are alive and on-line. A few may have shed their tags, but most died from car hits, homeowner shootings or starvation.