Mountain Lion Study in Redwood National and State Parks:

Spatiotemporal relationship between mountain lion (Puma concolor) and human occupancy in Redwood National and State Parks.

Lion in forest horizontal strip

Mountain lion populations have been increasing in California since 1990 when the species was given state-wide protection from hunting. While mountain lion abundance has been increasing, little is known about what habitats mountain lions are using in northern California, particularly areas frequented by humans. Although mountain lions tend to avoid humans, conflicts with humans, livestock, and pets have increased as mountain lion populations have grown. Factors including increasing human populations and loss and fragmentation of mountain lion habitat are likely contributing to increased mountain lion-human interactions. Greater odds of interactions may especially occur in recreational lands where humans frequently use prime mountain lion habitat. Determining mountain lion abundance and habitat use in areas with frequent human use in northern California is paramount to the conservation of this native California cat.

Lone lion trail cam shot

Mountain lions are an important carnivore within the ecological community of Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP) and are rarely seen by visitors because these cats are very cryptic. Most of RNSP characterizes prime mountain lion habitat, which is also visited by over 400,000 people annually. Currently, mountain lion abundance and use of managed trails in RNSP is unknown and this information is needed to understand how mountain lions are using the area as their populations expand.

Mother lion with cubWalking path and very green vegetation


Jared setting up camera


Jared Duquette (IWS research ecologist) and Micaela Szykman Gunther (Humboldt State University) are leading this study to collect data using remote cameras to understand trends in mountain lion abundance and when and where mountain lions and humans overlap use in RNSP. Our goal is to provide the first estimate of mountain lion abundance in RNSP and provide RNSP staff with greater understanding of mountain lion seasonal use of the area. We hope this initial study will lead to future research to understand the population demographics of mountain lions using RNSP.



Slideshow of animals caught on cameras:


Beware signSpecies identified so far:

1. Mountain Lion (Puma concolor)
2. Black Bear (Ursus americanus)
3. Bobcat (Lynx rufus)
4. Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
5. Hikers, bikers, and horse riders (Homo sapien)
6. Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)
7. Gray Squirrel (Sciurus griseus)
8. Elk (Cervus elaphus)
9. Coyote (Canis latrans)
10. Gray Fox (Urycyon cinereoargenteus)
11. Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis)
12. Sooty Grouse (Dendragapus fuliginosus)
13. California quail (Callipepla californica)
14. Pacific Fisher (Martes pennanti)
15. River Otter (Lontra canadensis)
16. Dusky-footed Woodrat (Neotoma fuscipes)
17. Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius)

Park trees scene with Bear, Mountain Lion warning sign