Mountain Lion

Mountain Lion Conservation Research

In the densely populated Bay Area, Midpen preserves provide critical remaining habitat for native wildlife, such as mountain lions, and nearby nature for people. Midpen began new mountain lion conservation research in the fall of 2020 to learn more about how mountain lions use open space lands also frequently visited by people. The results will help guide Midpen’s science-based land management.

    Natural Resources Protection and Restoration
    Natural Resources
    illustration of a notebook with images of animals on cover
    mountain lion

    Mountain lions, also known as pumas and cougars, play an important role as keystone predators in our local ecosystem. Their primary food source is deer, but they can also prey on smaller animals like raccoons, rabbits and even wild turkeys.

    Find out how to identify a mountain lion, what to do if you encounter one and how to stay safe on the trails.


    Projects are underway in several Midpen preserves to study:

    • Mountain lion movement and habitat use
    • Factors influencing mountain lion behavior
    • Strategies to help people and mountain lions coexist

    Watch Midpen Resource Management Specialist Matt Sharp Chaney's presentation on mountain lion conservation research.

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    Collaring Study

    Midpen is working in partnership with the Santa Cruz Puma Project and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in preserves with high visitation. We are fitting mountain lions with temporary tracking collars which provide GPS information similar to fitness trackers. The collars do not adversely affect the mountain lions and automatically fall off after a designated amount of time. This science is humanely conducted and is aimed at the long-term conservation of these important native predators. 

    Wildlife Camera Study

    In the fall of 2020, Midpen biologists began using a scientific grid system of motion-activated still cameras, currently only in Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve, to learn more about
    the movement, abundance and diversity of mountain lions and other wildlife. Cameras are positioned and used for wildlife research only. 

    Learn more about the camera study, see some of the first images and let us know about your interest in volunteering on the Wildlife Photo Index Research Project web page.

    Midpen supports effort to protect mountain lions

    Midpen’s nearly 65,000 acres of preserved public open space provide prime habitat for mountain lions, a top predator in our region facing many challenges in our region. We’re working to protect regional mountain lion populations by preserving habitat, increasing habitat connectivity through the Highway 17 Wildlife Crossing Project, promoting rodenticide regulations and supporting research that improves our understanding of lion populations, ecology and behavior throughout our region of influence.