Video: Dog Sniffs Out Mountain Lion Scat

National Geographic grantee Karen DeMatteo is turning an age-old rivalry on its head, using dogs to help protect cats in the wild.

While several protected areas keep jaguars, pumas, ocelots, and very rarely seen bush dogs somewhat safe in Argentina, logging, poaching, and a network of highways through the parks still keep these animals under threat.

DeMatteo is training dogs to sniff out the droppings of these predators, then collecting the samples, testing their DNA, and building up a database of information on individual cats, their family relationships, and their behavior. Geographic information systems (GIS) will then be used to identify potential conflict zones and key habitat for protection. Her goal is to “expand our knowledge of how these species are moving through the landscape so we can determine locations for biological corridors/wildlife crossings that maximize animal movement and minimize human-wildlife conflict.”

Her team is now back in Argentina for the summer, working to fill in gaps in the data created by problems with time or weather in previous expeditions.

You can see Karen and her own dog at work using the same techniques to help North American mountain lions in this video courtesy of Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

 

Wildlife

Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. In 2018 he became Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of nationalgeographic.com for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history. You can follow him on Twitter @anderhowl and on Instagram @andrewjhowley.