Predators and Prey: Learning the Secrets of Zion’s Lions

Project Need: $60,000

The Pride of the Park, Zion’s mountain lions, are rarely seen by visitors. A pioneering study seeks to uncover more about the hidden lives of these large feline predators and unravel the mysteries of lion space use, diet, and their integral role within Zion’s ecosystem. By deploying GPS collars and monitoring cameras, this research will gather data vital to enhancing resource management for species such as the bighorn sheep and mule deer and to address human safety by better understanding lion and visitor interactions in the park.

Janice Stroud-Settles illustrates the need for this research: “As solitary apex predators, mountain lions disproportionately impact ecosystems. This study is crucial for understanding how lions contribute to and interact with the Zion ecosystem and affect everything from prey species to ecosystem health through nutrient cycling.”

This comprehensive study goes beyond simple tracking. It involves characterizing the lions’ feeding ecology by visiting GPS cluster sites and documenting interactions with other species to understand the broader impact lions have on species diversity and ecosystem health.

The study hopes to answer long-standing questions about mountain lion behavior in Zion by better understanding lion interactions and how other species benefit from lion kills, as well as further enriching our understanding of the ecosystem’s complexity.

Research findings are poised to transform assumptions about mountain lions in Zion, addressing visitor inquiries with data-driven insights.

With the results of this study, visitors and park managers alike will gain unprecedented insights into the secret lives of these charismatic carnivores, deepening our appreciation and understanding of Zion’s wildlands and the critical role of predators within it. We call upon you, our generous donors, to support this pioneering study and make an impact that will educate and influence future generations.