Two local photographers and wildlife advocates, Roy Dunn and Johanna Turner, served as location researchers and principal camera operators for a sequence on the recently released television show “Earth at Night in Color” about a mountain lion almost as famous as Griffith Park’s P-22. Her name is Nikita and she lives in the Verdugo Mountains.
Mountain lions are active mostly through the night and are so elusive they cannot be filmed live by a traditional film crew. To capture Nikita on video without altering her behavior, they used motion activated cameras that turned on when she walked by. Adding to the challenge, Nikita’s travel habits were known only through several years of tracking her paw prints and some glimpses on small trail cameras. Filming took place over the course of about one year in coordination with park officials in the cities of Glendale and Burbank.
“Giving viewers a glimpse of Nikita’s life has been my passion for many years now but I never imagined it could be done this way. Before, most wildlife cameras only took grainy video in black and white and it was hard to tell which mountain lion you were even looking at,” said Turner, Cougar Conservancy advisor and founder of Cougarmagic. “This project is able to tell their story, from their perspective – how they must see the world.
“I want people to be able to see and appreciate these beautiful animals. We don’t need to fear them, we just need to take some basic steps to keep our pets safe. That’s something I’ve been working on with Cougar Conservancy – helping people learn to coexist, so we don’t lose our important wildlife. I used to be kind of disappointed that there was no amazing wildlife where I lived. But it turns out there is – we just couldn’t see them.”
Cougarmagic and the Cougar Conservancy work in collaboration to engage with communities and individuals to implement reliable cougar conflict prevention techniques that serve people while conserving cougars. The two organizations aim to empower people with training and education that promotes coexistence with cougars and other wildlife essential to local ecosystems.
Cougar Conservancy | cougarconservancy.org
Call the Cougar Conflict Hotline 1-800-930-1087