Posted on Categories Habitats, WildlifeTags , , ,

Sonoma Valley zoologist seeks creative ways to save mountain lions — and the planet


The day after a young male mountain lion made national news by paying a visit to the Santa Rosa Plaza in April, Quinton Martins ventured a guess as to why the feline ended up at the mall.

“Maybe he was going to the Apple Store to upgrade his Sierra,” deadpanned Martins, a big cat expert with a doctorate in zoology, a robust sense of humor and some unconventional ideas about how best to save the planet.

He followed that one-liner with a slew of scientific analysis. But the quip was vintage Martins, whose public relations instincts are as sharp as his tranquilizer darts. He is the South African-born founder of Glen Ellen’s Living With Lions, a project he leads for Audubon Canyon Ranch. One of his missions is to educate landowners, to show them that it’s better to coexist with apex predators than it is to shoot them.

With the help of volunteers and veterinarians on his team, Martins traps the big cats and collars them, allowing the public to monitor their movements and, in a way, get to know them. Not everyone is on board with this marketing-based approach.

“He’s told us many times he wants his animals to be media stars,” said Greg Martinelli, lands program manager for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “There’s a difference between science and advocacy.” With Martins, he thinks, “those lines are a little blurred.”

Martins, for his part, makes no apologies for his unorthodox approach.

“Obviously we need to keep doing science,” he said. “But we have enough scientific information to know that the environment is in a desperate state, and something drastic needs to be done.”

The man who seeks nothing less than to overhaul and defibrillate the conservation movement grew up in Welkom, South Africa, which he describes as “a crappy gold-mining town” 90 miles northeast of Bloemfontein. His happiest hours were spent outdoors, camping and fishing with his father.

“We used to go to some pretty cool, wild places, to go fishing,” Martins said. “I remember the connection to nature, just sitting quietly, enjoying that peace.


Posted on Categories Sustainable Living, WildlifeTags ,

Ban on killing bobcats for fur takes effect

It’s now illegal to use traps to capture bobcats in California for sport or to hunt them in any fashion for the purpose of making coats and clothing accessories out of their pretty pelts.The ban, approved in August by the California Fish and Game Commission, took effect Friday.
It does not affect using weapons to hunt the bob-tailed wildcats for recreation, or trapping them if they eat domestic farm animals or pets. But the ban is nevertheless expected to substantially reduce the number of bobcats that are legally killed each year in California, said Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote, one of many animal protection groups that pushed for the ban on trapping the wildcats.
“I think a driving force behind the killing is the pelt prices,” she said. Much of the demand for the fur reportedly comes from China and Russia.
During the last bobcat hunting season, commercial fur trappers killed most of the 987 bobcats “taken” in California, according to state wildlife department statistics in the 2014-15 Bobcat Harvest Assessment. Of those, 760 were trapped for their fur. The average price per bobcat pelt for the season was $191, according to the report.
Five of the bobcats killed last season were hunted in Sonoma County; 18 were in Mendocino County; and 19 in Lake County, according to the wildlife department. Only one — in Lake County — of those was for its fur, according to the wildlife department report.
Read more at: California reins in killing of bobcats for fur | The Press Democrat