In the early evening, last October, a mountain lion jumped over a six-foot metal fence in the Miller family yard, and killed daughter Scarlet’s three pet goats. It was devastating.
Researchers from the UCSC Puma Project came and stayed at the house in an attempt to collar the lion for tracking and research purposes. While the trapping was unsuccessful because the lion triggered the trap and escaped, it was a fascinating process.
Scarlet had the opportunity to speak with the researchers and learn so much about this local predator.
Two months later, the same lion came back to the house and killed their beloved puppy, in daylight, right on the porch about two feet away from the kitchen. This second loss was so heartbreaking for young Scarlet, that her mom was afraid the trauma could negatively impact her forever. Her parents feared she would lose hope or her love of nature and animals altogether.
Although Scarlet was and still is so sad about the loss of her pets, she moved through these tragedies by taking action. She contacted Fish and Wildlife as well as the UCSC researchers again only to find that the only option available was a depredation permit to hunt the lion, as trapping for relocation is not effective and is not practiced or allowed.
While she did feel anger about the death of her pets, she did not want to kill the lion, and also because she appreciated the fact that the forest is the lion’s natural habitat. The Fish and Wildlife agency let her know that there is no tracking system for lion sightings or attacks on domestic animals, unless a hunting permit is issued and the lion is killed.
Scarlet decided to create her own mountain lion deterrent in hopes of protecting her pets; family and helping others in the community protect their animals as well. After gaining great information from the researchers at USCS and Fish and Wildlife about what lions are afraid of, Scarlett created an infrared motion sensor that triggers a strobe light and a recording of a donkey braying to be placed on outdoor animal enclosures.
In April, Scarlet Gleitsman Miller entered her invention in the California Invention Competition and won a coveted spot to attend and compete at the National Invention Convention, which will be held May 29-May 31 at Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Michigan.
Scarlet’s invention, called The Predator Away received high marks, which qualified her to move on to the national competition. Scarlet is a student at Bradley Elementary School in PVUSD in Santa Cruz County. By competing in and advancing at both her school level and at the state competition, Scarlet has proven to be an incredible problem seeker, researcher, designer, engineer and problem solver.
Please consider sponsoring this inspiring young entrepreneur by helping send her to the National Invention Convention! You can help fund Scarlet and support other California inventors by going to www.gofundme.com/send-scarlet-to-the-national-invention-expo.