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Lions don’t want to stay away from Valley

by Merrie Leininger

Just two weeks after two female mountain lions were captured and transported out of a north Douglas County neighborhood, a male has moved in.

Homeowner Al Asti who lives in Alpine View Estates near Jacks Valley Elementary School, said three of his neighbor’s geese were killed four nights ago.

“It’s another one. We think it’s a tom. We’ve been tracking it, but its difficult because of the weather,” Asti said. “There have been tracks on my property. As soon as we get some wet weather, we are going to get the hunters with their dogs down here and try to tree it and collar it. That’s all we can do.”

Asti said neighbors are a little nervous to suddenly be host to so many carnivores.

“My neighbor is real worried about her donkey,” he said. “Joggers and walkers don’t want to go out in the morning anymore.”

Nevada Division of Wildlife Biologist Carl Lackey said the two female lions captured in the area Jan. 26 were transported to a more rural area 10 miles south of Alpine View. The younger cat had an injured eye, but Lackey said it was not treated because it would have required the cat to be held for a week or more.

He said he didn’t expect the captured lions to stay away from the area.

“We didn’t move them for the purposes of getting them out of Jacks Valley. We did this knowing most adult lions will go back to the area of capture. That’s their territory, their range. They pretty much follow the deer herds. Jacks Valley is the perfect habitat for lions,” Lackey said. “People can expect to see them. Their homes are built right up in the forest. We’re not too concerned about them. They weren’t doing anything harmful. They were eating deer. If people choose to live in a rural area, they need to protect their pets and domestic livestock.”

Lackey said the policy is to leave the lions alone unless they become a threat to public safety or begin killing livestock.

He said moving them farther away won’t solve any problems.

“Lions and bears both go right back. We move bears 70-plus miles and they go back to where they were captured. In Arizona, a mountain lion traveled almost 400 miles over three or four months, right back to where it was captured,” Lackey said.

The two female cats were collared to help track their movements, in part for a University of Nevada, Reno Ph.D research project, conducted by Jon Beckmann since July 1999.

He said his research involves two different populations of carnivores – black bears and mountain lions – that live in urban interface areas.

“We are comparing animals from those areas to those in wildland areas. These mountain lions are perfect because they are right in people’s homes. We’ve tracked (one of the female lions) in the airplane. It will take a month to get a good idea of her movement and what her home range will be like,” Beckmann said.

He said his research shows that mountain lions live throughout the state, but are not often seen by humans.

“They will cross these areas pretty regularly, but they are not usually seen by people. Lions are like most cats, they are pretty secretive. They are long gone before the human even realizes they were there,” he said.