Conservationists in Washington State Track the Health and Movements of Pumas With Radar Technology
The cats are being tracked on Washington state's Olympic Peninsula by the Olympic Cougar Project of Panthera. The organization is dedicated to preserving 40 wildcat species around the world.
Conservationists are on the hunt for pumas. Not to kill, but to preserve. To do this, they are using advanced technology to track the movements and health of these big cats.
Three pumas or cougars are being tracked on Washington state's Olympic Peninsula by the Olympic Cougar Project of Panthera. The organization is dedicated to preserving 40 wildcat species around the world.
The big cats were outfitted with collars that give off radio signals. Its technology, developed in Africa to fight elephant poaching, makes it easier to find pumas.
"Earth Ranger provides us a visual tool to just see in live motion all the animals on the landscape," one conservationist said. "I can't even exaggerate how big amount of time we were investing in doing all this stuff to figure out where cats are. All of that's automated now."
But what conservationists say they've been tracking is alarming them and could hurt the local species' chances of survival.
"Right here on the Olympic Peninsula, they appear to be isolated from the remainder of Washington State," they explained.
"And so the Interstate Five is kind of like a noose, and it's turning the peninsula into an island. They'll be contained, and there'll be breeding opportunities amongst themselves, but over time, that's a terrible thing."
Over time, it will be a problem because of inbreeding, which could alter the genetics of future generations of pumas.
As for right now, conservationists are working hard to preserve the species.
"We essentially want to know that the Olympic Peninsula is healthy," they noted, "and the best way to do that is to see if wildlife are able to move from the Olympic Peninsula to the Cascades and back.
"You know, we live in this ecosystem, and it is healthier and stronger and more resilient because of the presence of these animals."
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