In the Spring of 2019, Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue paired up with Audubon Canyon Ranch's Living with Lions Project to design and construct a Puma Proof Pen. This pen is designed to protect domestic livestock, such as sheep and goats, from predation against apex predators like the mountain lion. Our goal when designing this pen is to encourage farmers and hobbyists to coexist with wildlife providing a feasible option for those who do not have the space or income to build a barn to place domestic animals in overnight.
When it came time to construct the pen, we assembled a team of volunteers from both Audubon Canyon Ranch and children from SCWR's PEEP program and threw a PUMA Pen Party! Fueled by pizza and enthusiasm, the volunteers constructed the pen within 4 hours. Today, the pen stands in our PEEP Barnyard where visitors can view it in action with our own goats and sheep.
Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue is deeply honored to have our Puma Proof Pen featured in December's issue of Ranger Rick Magazine. Ranger Rick is the biggest and oldest children's nature magazine with a distribution nationwide of more than half a million copies.
Do you live in puma habitat?
In many parts of the Western United States, pumas (also known as mountain lions or cougars), live in areas that are also inhabited by people. They are solitary and need large territories – Living with Lions research in Sonoma County showed female home ranges to be an average of 65 square kms while male ranges were up to 600 square kms - as such it is very likely that pumas and people will overlap!
Pumas can be found in a variety of habitats, but in all of them, their main preference is areas with continuous cover. If you have trees or thick vegetation on your property that connect to other areas with cover, it is likely that pumas may pass through occasionally. Because of their large territories, they don’t spend a lot of time in one place, it is usually a few months before they go back to the same area.
Pumas are opportunistic hunters with a broad diet. They hunt mainly from dusk to dawn. Though they predominantly eat deer, any unprotected domestic animals that they come across are just another food source to pumas.
Is your system puma proof?
Pumas can jump 15 feet high and squeeze through a gap the size of their head. If your current system is not fully enclosed, it probably won’t keep pumas out.
If you have a handful of livestock in suitable puma habitat, the best way to protect them is to keep them in an enclosed area at night. A barn. A chicken coop. A puma-proof pen. First see what you can do with the structures you already have, but if you want to start from scratch, here is a good option for 4-6 goats or sheep.
Puma Proof Pen Supply List
Cyclone dog kennel 10’x10’x6’-$350
Box of hex drive sheet metal screws 1 ½”-$10
Large box of deck/wood screws 3 ½” -$50
Large box of deck/wood screws 1 ¼” -$20
Box of 1” fender washers (100 count)-$10
50’ roll of shade cloth (heavy duty UV protection) -$50
Bag of 8” zip ties-$15
Roll of plumber tape/strapping-$5
Roll of bailing wire-$5
50’ roll of ¼”x24” hardware cloth-$50
25’ roll of 1”x24” hardware cloth-$30
7 sheets of corrugated steel roofing 24”x12’-$280($40each)
4 ground contact pressure treated 2”x4”x10’-$45
12 Douglas fir 2”x4”x12’-$80
TOTAL : $1,000
How to assemble your puma proof pen:
Plan a puma proof pen party – see how fun it can be in our video!
Assemble the pen
Start by assembling the cyclone dog kennel (pen). Please follow instructions and use hardware that is provided with the product. The dimensions of the kennel is 10’x10’x6’ (our kennel was donated by Mountain Lion Foundation).
Frame the roof
Framing the roof can be done on the ground to make construction easier. The roof will be sloped to drain rain/water. Use the 2”x4”x12’ Douglas fir lumber for framing of the roof. Because we are using 12’ long lumber there will be 1’ overhang of the roof around the enclosure to keep animals better protected from the weather. The rise of the roof is 12” and the framing should be attached to the top front section of the kennel using the plumber strapping as brackets once again and the 1 ¼”wood screws. The back top of the kennel will have a single 2”x4” to carry the joists for the roof. Attach the lumber the same way as the front section using the plumber strapping as brackets and the 1 ¼” wood screw. The joists for the roof should be spaced about 2’ apart to match the overlap of the corrugated roofing panels. Note not to get too far ahead of this process or the overlap will not match with the 2”x4” for nailing off the roofing. Be sure to put in blockers in the front and back to allow more nailing and minimize gaps.
Bury the hardware cloth in an ‘L’ shape
Next, trench the perimeter of the kennel 1’ deep and 2’ wide. The trench is for installing the ¼”x24” roll of hardware cloth in the ground to keep predators from digging under the pen. The hardware cloth needs to be installed in an “L” shape into the ground. Attach the GCPT 2”x4” lumber to the base of the kennel using the plumber strapping as brackets and the 1 ¼” wood screws to fasten. The lumber should be attached to the exterior of the kennel. Attach the ¼”x24” hardware cloth to the lumber using the 1 ¼” wood screw and the 1” fender washers, again, remembering to make the material into an “L” shape in the ground (1’ down into dirt and 1’ away from kennel). Burry the hardware cloth once you’re finished attaching the material to the lumber and pack the dirt down.
Wrap the pen in shade cloth
The next step is to wrap the pen with shade cloth. This is done for the comfort of your livestock. Use the zip ties and bailing wire to do so. One 50’ roll of heavy duty shade cloth should be enough to wrap the perimeter of the enclosure. Tucking the ends of the cloth at the beginning and end of the roll of cloth will keep it from fraying. Zip ties and wire will slide through the shade cloth easily and should be attached to the shade cloth at the top, bottom and the perimeter of the kennel entrance. The kennel door should be covered with shade cloth as well.
Attach the corrugated roof
Once the roof is framed the corrugated roofing should attach to the framing using the 1 ½”hex drive metal screw with rubber washers. Rubber washers will prevent roof from leaking.
Fill in any gaps with hardware cloth
Now it is time to seal the space between kennel top and framing of roof. Use the 1”x24” hardware cloth for this process. Use the 1 ¼” wood screws and fender washers to attach the wire to the roof frame lumber. Use the bailing wire down the sides to attach hardware cloth to top of kennel if no lumber is there to screw into. Or you can add more blocking with any additional lumber. Pliers will help twist the bailing wire to tighten the attachment of the hardware cloth to the kennel. This is the final sealing step so at this point look around for any gaps that may have been missed. Check to make sure all lumber is secured. The more points of attachment the stronger and more durable the enclosure will be.
Co-exist with wildlife
Enjoy sleeping soundly at night, knowing that your animal friends are safe and that we can co-exist peacefully with pumas and other predators, which bring so many benefits to the ecosystem we share.
Special thanks to:
Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue’s PEEP Program kids and their families for rolling up their sleeves and joining SCWR staff to have some good, hard-working fun
ACR’s Living with Lions Project for valuable input and muscle power
Mountain Lion Foundation for donating the cyclone dog kennel
Bill Zemanek for the video
Jak Wonderly for the photos