Mountain lions are eating California wild donkeys. Why scientists say this is a good thing for the ecosystem that’s worth pondering.
The world’s best and brightest are once again focusing on the state of California’s deer and elk herds.
A study published on July 21 by the University of California-Berkeley showed that mountain lions killed and ate hundreds of California wild donkeys over a three-year period. As part of the study, a group of scientists analyzed mountain lion interactions with California wild donkeys, including kills, kills with injuries, escapes, and kills by injured animals.
This time around, wildlife managers and scientists are focusing on the mountain lion’s impact on California wild donkeys.
In 2014, mountain lions killed more than 1,500 domestic animals, including over 1,000 California wild donkeys. In total, mountain lions killed more than 50 wild donkeys, or over 1.5 percent of the state’s total population.
Although this isn’t as big a problem for California’s deer and elk as the 2014 attacks were, it’s still troubling.
As the U.S. Forest Service puts it: “Mountain lions are not known to have a detrimental effect on other wildlife species in the continental U.S. They have been shown to have an adverse impact on wildlife which are dependent on human food sources.”
“I don’t think it’s likely that they were eating the donkeys because they were just so good at hunting them,” said Dr. John Bradley, a carnivore ecologist, University of California at Santa Barbara.
What does the study suggest?
A Look at California Wild Donkeys
Wild donkeys are herbivorous animals that can be found throughout Central and South America. They’re not particularly common in California, but when they are, they’re often in groups and herds.
The study focused on the interactions of mountain lions with California wild donkeys. The data were gathered from 20 mountain lion interactions in eight different mountain lion populations in California, over a three-year period.
What the study found was that these mountain lions were hunting the donkeys at much higher rates than they were in previous years. The researchers analyzed whether or not mountain lions injured or killed donkeys they’d encountered.
When you look at the results,