From under the shade of an oak tree, deep in the forests of the Blue Oak Ranch Reserve in San Jose, the slope descends steeply in a dense tangle of slippery grass and branches. Nine hundred feet below, where the Arroyo Hondo River cuts through the canyon, the East Bay’s first GPS-collared mountain lion has resided for 10 days. The signal shows that she has moved on, but the biologists are curious. Ten days is a long time for a mountain lion without kittens to stay in place. It’s likely she made a kill — a large one.
Leaves rustle and the afternoon sun streams through the trees. There is really only one way to find out what the lion has left behind. Clutching the side of the tree, sweating and panting in the already warm spring heat, I look at my two intrepid guides, biologists with the East Bay Puma Project. They look at their GPS, and then at me. We all look down the hill.