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Science & Environment

Mountain Lions Terrified By Voices Of Rush Limbaugh, Rachel Maddow

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

If you were to go deep into the Santa Cruz Mountains in California, you might hear the wind rustling in the leaves and maybe a mountain lion chewing on a deer carcass.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

But occasionally, that scene has been interrupted by something like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RUSH LIMBAUGH: This is not good for the country, what's happening here, because it isn't, I don't think, full-fledged legitimate.

MCEVERS: For seven months, researchers from UC Santa Cruz gathered the reactions of mountain lions at their kill sites to the voices of political talk show hosts - Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Amy Goodman and Rachel Maddow.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RACHEL MADDOW: Last Tuesday, when Bobby Jindal quit the presidential race.

JUSTINE SMITH: We wanted to know if mountain lions directly perceived humans as a threat to them.

CORNISH: That's Justine Smith, lead author of the study.

SMITH: We found a more dramatic response than even we anticipated. Pumas completely fled from the sound of humans talking on almost every occasion. And they reduced their feeding after being exposed to people.

CORNISH: But when researchers played the sounds of frogs for the predators...

(SOUNDBITE OF FROGS CROAKING)

CORNISH: ...They were mostly ambivalent.

MCEVERS: So if you ever come across a mountain lion when you're out on a hike, don't croak - try airing your political grievances.

(SOUNDBITE OF YPPAH'S "GUMBALL MACHINE WEEKEND") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.