Expert Snow Leopard Researcher Coming to Julian Town Hall
Dr. Rodney Jackson, the leading international scientist on wild snow leopards, will be presenting his informative program at the Julian Town Hall, Friday evening, July 15, 2016 from 6:30-7:30 PM. This program is free and open to the public and will be the only appearance of Dr. Jackson while in San Diego County. This very special program is a gift to the town of Julian from the Mountain Lion Foundation (MLF) and the Julian Mountain Lion Project (JMLP) as part of the five year commitment from MLF to bring attention to Julian as an important epicenter of mountain lion activity, habitat, and corridors.
The Snow Leopard Conservancy (SLC) has grown out of the thirty years of experience Jackson gained while working closely with rural herders and farmers whose lives are directly impacted when snow leopards prey upon their livestock. For example in Bhutan, snow leopards frequently prey upon young yaks, leading local herders to view the cats as pests that need to be eliminated. Working collaboratively with local communities, the Snow Leopard Conservancy focused on projects aimed at the benefits of having snow leopards present, with the communities being the primary drivers of conservation. Activities underway include community-based snow leopard monitoring and improvement of livestock management practices.
The Mountain Lion Foundation is a national non-profit organization based in Sacramento, California, and is sponsoring the Julian Mountain Lion Project. The Jackson program is a unique opportunity to learn about the parallels between the snow leopard depredation issues and successful solutions and how they mirror our own depredation issues and very possible solutions in the backcountry of San Diego County.
Upon receiving a 1981 Rolex Award for Enterprise, Jackson launched a pioneering radio-tracking study of snow leopards in the remote mountains of the Nepalese Himalaya. The four-year study led to the cover story in the June 1986 National Geographic. In addition, the June, 2008 issue of National Geographic featured Dr. Jackson’s work with the Snow Leopard Conservancy in India. He has been a finalist for the Indianapolis Prize in 2008, 2010, and 2012- the first to be nominated three times consecutively. The Indianapolis Prize is the world’s largest individual monetary award for animal conservation.
This is the fourth event MLF has delivered to Julian since the alliance launched in May. The Julian Mountain Lion Project has teamed with local wildlife agencies, the Sheriff’s department, the Wildlife Research Institute, Volcan Mountain Foundation, and other organizations and volunteers. The mission is to highlight the importance of the area’s remnant mountain lion population and the critical need to protect their genetics, habitat, and wildlife corridors. “In the mountains of San Diego County, lions die most frequently when they prey on unprotected domestic animals and are subsequently killed on state-issued depredation permits,” said MLF Associate Director Lynn Cullens.
In a presentation on May 10, 2016 by Dr. Winston Vickers, principal investigator for the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center’s Southern California Puma Project, Vickers said that “due to the negative effects of genetic restriction and high mortality rates, our local mountain lion populations could be facing too many challenges to persist long-term”.
“Nowhere in the United States, outside of the endangered Florida panther, have mountain lion populations been documented that are this cut off and with survival rates this low,” says Vickers.
In June, MLF constructed a mountain lion proof pen in conjunction with the local 4-H Clubs to show the students how to protect their show animals. With the mantra of “Build a Pen-Save a Lion”, the project showed how to avoid attracting lions to our unprotected pets and small livestock such as goats, pigs, and chickens. The 4-H float in the Julian 4th of July parade featured a mini-pen, an animated goat, a lion mascot, and won the prize for best youth entry.
There’s a great deal more about protecting people, pets, and livestock as well as saving mountain lions at www.mountainlion.org. If you have any questions or concerns about lions in your neighborhood please contact the Mountain Lion Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone Jane Santorumn, Julian Mountain Lion Project, 760-230-3301.