Mountain lions are eating California wild donkeys. Why scientists say this is a good thing. An ABC News producer’s journey through the wilds of the Sierra Foothills in search of a mountain lion.
The first thing you notice when you arrive at the Donner Pass National Monument is the lush green of the Sierra Nevada foothills.
“The Sierra Foothills are incredibly beautiful,” says Don Brown, director of the Sierra Interagency Coordinating Committee (SICC).
In many ways, the region holds an odd paradox.
“We don’t have any major predators here, but we have a lot of major wildlife communities,” said Brown.
The SICC serves as a liaison between federal agencies and the Sierra Nevada, and coordinates a wide array of activities there.
“The SICC does a lot of work with endangered species, mountain lion programs, and other things like that,” Brown said. “It really helps everyone to communicate better.”
SICC biologists have long been involved with mountain lion issues.
Mountain lion on elk
As a biologist, Brown was first involved in managing mountain lions at the San Bernardino Mountains National Monument, where he was first stationed with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management as a supervisor in the 1970s.
He was on the ground in the San Bernardino Mountains during a large mountain lion kill, according to California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“I saw this adult that had just killed a bull elk, but it had another lion with it,” Brown said. “They were both looking for a carcass that they could share, and they were both very big.
“The big male was big enough to bring the body back, and so we had to leave, but we could see (the lion’s) kills.”
Brown said all big mountain lions are solitary except once they mate with the females in June.
“When we found him out here, I saw him in very close quarters, and then he went back alone and the two males went back alone,” Brown said.
Males hunt a wide range of animals, even a mountain lion that looks very much like a bobcat.
“They’re good at hunting,” Brown said. “They’re smart enough to learn how to hunt, what is prey