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Looking for Lions

Since September of 2018 I have been helping Felidae Conservation Fund, to monitor remote trail cameras in support of their wild cat research.

On our first hike up to the cameras, Brad Nichols head biologist, told me that my camera series was funded through a bobcat research study. Using images from both side of the cat, they can use the unique pattern of spots to identify individuals, much like our fingerprint.

This understanding of individuals within the range of study would help us better understand the population numbers for Marin County.

My first draw to supporting this organization was their work monitoring local lions. I have only seen one lion scraping in my life and it was deep in a rarely traveled area of Marin. While Brad confirmed my suspicious of an active lion in that distant area, I received a reality check that no lion had been seen in the area I monitor in over 30 years.

With a few more miles of hiking up and down Mount Tam, I was assigned 6 cameras to check monthly.

Each time after I walk up and exchange SD cards, I take the data and process it for highlights at my house before returning the cards to Brad. This part of the job, to me, is like opening up presents, you never know what you will get.

I was run through the 7000 photos on each camera filled with foxes, coyotes, turkeys and skunks and save a few to share with our parks partners and social media followers.

Wait what? Was brad playing the ultimate coyote mentor trick on me? Did he place this image on my card series to get me excited about monitoring with them? Could I have actually caught a lion?!

Low and behold it was the first time in 30 years a lion has been captured active in this area of Marin. We did not see this lion in that area anymore after this one sighting, but that was all it took, I'm hooked.

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