Mountain lions are eating California wild donkeys. Why scientists say this is a good thing
A California wild donkey is about to be pulled out of the wild and put down in captivity — for a price. A team of biologists will soon buy the animal for $150 to take care of it — and it‘s going to look nothing like the wild animal it was before.
That’s because it doesn’t belong there. It’s a Mountain lion.
Mountain lions are an endangered species, the only big cats on the planet that hunt for themselves. And they are in trouble, experts say.
While the California wild donkey — an animal that belongs to the family Equidae — still has a population that can grow to 5,000, it’s shrinking and faces extinction if something isn’t done. And there’s even less habitat left for the big cats to hunt.
The last big cat spotted in California (besides the famous Gray Wolf ) was a Mountain lion.
So a team of researchers led by California State University professor David Barboza is planning to turn this animal into a study to understand the species it belongs to and its hunting habits. That way, scientists will be able to better understand the threat to the species.
“I would like to do a much longer-term study to understand the health, physiology, reproductive and life history of the animals that we plan to conserve,” Barboza said.
To do that, they’ll study the mountain lion’s natural habitat and compare it to the habitat that’ll be recreated for it.
“We’ll recreate it by looking at how we use that habitat,” Barboza said. “What’s the size of the food source, what’s the size of the prey population, and do they behave differently.”
That’ll help determine if the wild donkey’s behavior is suitable for the habitat — or, if it isn’t, what changes should be made to the habitat to get it to do what it naturally does.
To be clear, Barboza and his team are not