Look at the Kitties

They’re hidden very well. I heard them before I saw them. A hiss and a low growl.

I was privileged to be a part of the team that collared puma kittens. This particular litter had three kittens. Paul, our experienced Field Biologist, retrieved the first two kittens, and instructed Anna, the newest grad student, on how to retrieve the final kitten from the den. These were two tiny little guys, and one girl. They were light at around six pounds, but it wasn’t too hard to imagine them becoming efficient killers in the not so distant future. They frequently flexed their paws and we got good looks at their already sharp claws.

This morning, we were focused on collaring and tagging the kittens. A special double sleeved collar was used for the kittens. These weren’t GPS tracking devices. They served two functions. One was as a radio transmitter so that we could locate them using radio telemetry. The second was to serve as a mortality indicator. After a specified amount of time with no movement, the collar would emit a mortality signal. It doesn’t always mean the kitten has died, and in some cases, the mortality signal was triggered because the collar came off.

After finishing, we placed the kittens back into the den.

Please note that this collaring event happened in 2016.

The featured image was taken by Sebastian Kennerknecht Photography for use by the Santa Cruz Puma Project and author. No permission is granted for any other use.

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