A group of researchers from UC Santa Cruz, in conjunction with the Felidae Conservation Fund and the California Department of Fish and Game, are beginning a study of Mountain Lions in the Santa Cruz Mountains, as well as locations in the North and East SF Bay area. The goal is to understand more about their movements, habitat needs, caloric expenditure and intake requirements, and other factors necessary to their survival in a world quickly closing in on them.
(I pulled the photo off the UCSC website. Credit goes to Daniel Stahler for it.)
Here is an article from the San Jose Mercury News about it.
And, one from the Felidae Conservation Fund about it, too.
While the thought of encountering one of these magnificent animals up close while running the trails around my home doesn't often come across my mind (thankfully), the possibility is there, no doubt. The chances are pretty slim, and most likely any "encounter" would not even be noticed by me, as from what I know most lions would be long gone before I had a chance to see them. At least, that's what I like to tell myself.
I have to say, I find the idea of this study to be pretty fascinating, and hope to be able to remember to check for the results in a couple years to see what they discovered. I hoping it won't be a high number of cats in the areas I like to run! I also think it would be cool if they could make some of the GPS data live and available to the public as the study is going on, as it would be nice to see if there is any recent activity before planning any long training runs on remote trails or at night.