Mountain lions are eating California wild donkeys. Why scientists say this is a good thing
The animals are part of a larger story: There’s a growing population of wild donkeys roaming California
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) isn’t usually in the news.
This isn’t because it doesn’t have things to report — the agency tracks a host of animal and plant species across the state. But the department’s recent efforts to protect local habitats, such as its work to build wild goat parks, have been overshadowed by its wildlife management efforts.
Mountain lions have been reported eating California wild donkeys, a situation that CDFW is using to its advantage.
The department reports that an increasing number of unprovoked kills by mountain lions in the Sierra Nevada foothills are becoming public.
It has long been known that mountain lions commonly prey on domestic animals, including horses, cows, goats and donkeys.
But recent research by wildlife ecologists has pointed to a different trend: The population of wild donkeys is increasing throughout the Sierra Nevada region, and the animals are eating them.
On April 5, a woman in Mammoth Lakes was driving her SUV and a donkeyskinned mountain lion, also known as a cougar, was spotted at the side of the road by a passerby. The woman reported the animal to local authorities, who called CDFW’s Mountain Lion Hotline.
“There is always the chance that someone calls in a problem,” said Bob Pendergast, California wildlife manager for CDFW. “We just happen to have Mountain Lion Hotline for that purpose.”
There are about 6,000 mountain lions in the northern Sierra Nevada, according to CDFW, and Pendergast said most of them are seen in daylight hours, not at night.
An increasing population of wild donkeys
The animals are part of a larger story: There’s a growing population of wild donkeys roaming California. The animals are more resistant to some