Proceedings of the Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop

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Proceedings of the Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop

PROCEEDINGS OF THE

SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

15-17 MAY 2003 • THE VIRGINIAN LODGE • JACKSON, WYOMING

Editors:

Scott A. Becker

Daniel D. Bjornlie

Fred G. Lindzey

David S. Moody

Organizing Committee

Scott Becker Ron Grogan

Dan Bjornlie Fred Lindzey

Tom Easterly Dave Moody

Sponsored By:

The Wyoming Chapter of the Wildlife Society

Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

© 2003

Wyoming Game and Fish Department

260 Buena Vista

Lander, Wyoming 82520


Suggested Citation Formats

Entire Volume:

Becker, S.A., D.D. Bjornlie, F.G. Lindzey, and D.S. Moody. eds. 2003. Proceedings of the

Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop. Lander, Wyoming.

For individual papers:

Author’s name(s). 2003. Title of Paper. Pages 00-00 in S.A. Becker, D.D. Bjornlie, F.G.

Lindzey, and D.S. Moody, eds. Proceedings of the Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop.

Lander, Wyoming.

Purchasing Additional Copies of the Proceedings

Please send a check made out to “Wyoming Chapter, TWS” for the amount of fifteen (15) US

dollars to Tim Thomas, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, PO Box 6249, Sheridan, WY

82801, USA; phone: (307) 672-7418; email: Tim.Thomas@wgf.state.wy.us. Information on

different purchasing options may also be made through Tim.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface....................................................................................................................................................................vii

In Memory

Ian Ross ............................................................................................................................................................. viii

Mountain Lion Status Reports

Session Chair: Dave Moody, Wyoming Game and Fish Department

STATUS OF MOUNTAIN LION POPULATIONS IN ARIZONA

Brian F. Wakeling ....................................................................................................................................................1

CALIFORNIA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT

Doug Updike............................................................................................................................................................6

COLORADO MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT

Jerry Apker.............................................................................................................................................................14

FLORIDA FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COMMISSION STATUS REPORT

Mark Lotz and E. Darrell Land ..............................................................................................................................18

IDAHO MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT

Steve Nadeau..........................................................................................................................................................25

MONTANA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT

Rich DeSimone and Rose Jaffe..............................................................................................................................29

NEVADA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT

Russell Woolstenhulme..........................................................................................................................................31

NEW MEXICO MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT

Rick Winslow.........................................................................................................................................................39

STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT

Mike Kintigh ..........................................................................................................................................................43

MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT FOR TEXAS

John Young ............................................................................................................................................................49

UTAH MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT

Craig R. McLaughlin .............................................................................................................................................51

WASHINGTON COUGAR STATUS REPORT

Richard A. Beausoleil, Donald A. Martorello, and Rocky D. Spencer..................................................................60

WYOMING MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT

Scott A. Becker, Daniel D. Bjornlie, and David S. Moody....................................................................................64

CRYPTIC COUGARS – PERSPECTIVES ON THE PUMA IN THE EASTERN, MIDWESTERN, AND GREAT PLAINS

REGIONS OF NORTH AMERICA

Jay W. Tischendorf ................................................................................................................................................71

MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT: BRITISH COLUMBIA – Abstract

Matt Austin ............................................................................................................................................................87

IMPROVING OUR UNDERSTANDING OF MOUNTAIN LION MANAGEMENT TRENDS: THE VALUE OF CONSISTENT

MULTI-STATE RECORD KEEPING - Abstract

Christopher M. Papouchis and Lynn Michelle Cullens .........................................................................................88

Mountain Lion Interactions with Humans and Livestock

Session Chair: Kenneth Logan, Colorado Division of Wildlife

iii


LESSENING THE IMPACT OF A PUMA ATTACK ON A HUMAN

E. Lee Fitzhugh, Sabine Schmid-Holmes, Marc W. Kenyon, and Kathy Etling ...................................................89

A CONCEPTUAL MODEL AND APPRAISAL OF EXISTING RESEARCH RELATED TO INTERACTIONS BETWEEN

HUMANS AND PUMAS – Abstract

David J. Mattson, Jan V. Hart, Paul Beier, and Jesse Millen-Johnson ................................................................104

RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN LAND TENURE SYSTEM, MOUNTAIN LION PROTECTION STATUS, AND LIVESTOCK

DEPREDATION RATE – Abstract

Marcelo Mazzolli .................................................................................................................................................105

MOUNTAIN LION MOVEMENTS AND PERSISTENCE IN A FRAGMENTED, URBAN LANDSCAPE IN SOUTHERN

CALIFORNIA – Abstract

Seth P.D. Riley, Raymond M. Sauvajot, and Eric C. York..................................................................................106

PUMA RESPONSES TO CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH RESEARCHERS – Abstract

Linda L. Sweanor, Kenneth A. Logan, and Maurice G. Hornocker ....................................................................107

Mountain Lion Genetics and Disease

Session Chair: Deedra Hawk, Wyoming Game and Fish Department

PRELIMINARY RESULTS OF FLORIDA PANTHER GENETIC ANALYSES – Abstract

Warren E. Johnson, Darrell Land, Jan Mortenson, Melody Roelke-Parker, and Stephen J. O’Brien..................108

GENETIC STRUCTURE OF COUGAR POPULATIONS ACROSS THE WYOMING BASIN: METAPOPULATION OR

MEGAPOPULATION – Abstract

Chuck R. Anderson, Jr., Fred G. Lindzey, and Dave B. McDonald ....................................................................109

ECOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE AND EVOLUTION OF A COMMON COUGAR RETROVIRUS – Abstract

Roman Biek and Mary Poss.................................................................................................................................110

Mountain Lion Ecology

Session Chair: Fred Lindzey, Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

CHARACTERISTICS OF MOUNTAIN LION BED, CACHE AND KILL SITES IN NORTHEASTERN OREGON

James J. Akenson, M. Cathy Nowak, Mark G. Henjum, and Gary W. Witmer...................................................111

IMPACT OF EDGE HABITAT ON HOME RANGE SIZE IN PUMAS – Abstract

John W. Laundré and Lucina Hernández.............................................................................................................119

EFFECT OF ROADS ON HABITAT USE BY COUGARS – Abstract

Dorothy M. Fecske, Jonathan A. Jenks, Frederick G. Lindzey, and Steven L. Griffin........................................120

ECOLOGY OF SYMPATRIC PUMAS AND JAGUARS IN NORTHWESTERN MEXICO – Abstract

Carlos A. Lopez Gonzalez and Samia E. Carrillo Percastegui.............................................................................121

COUGAR ECOLOGY AND COUGAR-WOLF INTERACTIONS IN YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK: A GUILD

APPROACH TO LARGE CARNIVORE CONSERVATION – Abstract

Toni K. Ruth, Polly C. Buotte, Howard B. Quigley, and Maurice G. Hornocker................................................122

EVALUATION OF HABITAT FACTORS THAT AFFECT THE ABUNDANCE OF PUMAS IN THE CHIHUAHUAN

DESERT – Abstract

Joel Loredo Salazar, Lucina Hernández, and John W. Laundré ..........................................................................123

Mountain Lion/Prey Dynamics

Session Chair: Steve Cain, Grand Teton National Park

ARE PUMAS OPPORTUNISTIC SCAVENGERS? – Abstract

Jim W. Bauer, Kenneth A. Logan, Linda L. Sweanor, and Walter M. Boyce .....................................................124

COUGAR-INDUCED INDIRECT EFFECTS: DOES THE RISK OF PREDATION INFLUENCE UNGULATE FORAGING

BEHAVIOR ON THE NATIONAL BISON RANGE? – Abstract

David M. Choate, Gary E. Belovsky, and Michael L. Wolfe ..............................................................................125

iv


COUGAR PREDATION ON PREY IN YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK: A PRELIMINARY COMPARISON PRE- AND

POST-WOLF REESTABLISHMENT – Abstract

Toni K. Ruth, Polly C. Buotte, Kerry M. Murphy, and Maurice G. Hornocker ..................................................126

FOUR DECADES OF COUGAR-UNGULATE DYNAMICS IN THE CENTRAL IDAHO WILDERNESS – Abstract

Holly A. Akenson, James J. Akenson, Howard B. Quigley, and Maurice G. Hornocker....................................127

COUGAR TOTAL PREDATION RESPONSE TO DIFFERING PREY DENSITIES: A PROPOSED EXPERIMENT TO TEST

THE APPARENT COMPETITION HYPOTHESIS – Abstract

Hugh Robinson, Robert Wielgus, Hilary Cruickshank, and Catherine Lambert .................................................128

Mountain Lion Population Monitoring and Management

Session Chair: Kerry Murphy, Yellowstone National Park

CHARACTERISTICS OF COUGAR HARVEST WITH AND WITHOUT THE USE OF DOGS

Donald A. Martorello and Richard A. Beausoleil................................................................................................129

RESPONSE BY THREE LARGE CARNIVORES TO RECREATIONAL BIG GAME HUNTING ALONG THE YELLOWSTONE

NATIONAL PARK AND ABSAROKA-BEARTOOTH WILDERNESS BOUNDARY – Presentation Only

Howard B. Quigley, Toni K. Ruth, Douglas W. Smith, Mark A. Haroldson, Polly C. Buotte, Charles C.

Schwartz, Steve Cherry, Kerry M. Murphy, Dan Tyers, and Kevin Frey

DEFINING AND DELINEATING DE FACTO REFUGIA: A PRELIMINARY ANALYSIS OF THE SPATIAL DISTRIBUTION

OF COUGAR HARVEST IN UTAH AND IMPLICATIONS FOR CONSERVATION – Abstract

David C. Stoner and Michael L. Wolfe................................................................................................................136

MONITORING CHANGES IN COUGAR SEX/AGE STRUCTURE WITH CHANGES IN ABUNDANCE AS AN INDEX TO

POPULATION TREND – Abstract

Chuck R. Anderson, Jr. and Fred G. Lindzey ......................................................................................................137

MANAGEMENT OF COUGARS (Puma concolor) IN THE WESTERN UNITED STATES – Abstract

Deanna Dawn, Michael Kutilek, Rich Hopkins, Sulehka Anand, and Steve Torres ...........................................138

DYNAMICS AND VIABILITY OF A COUGAR POPULATION IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST – Abstract

Catherine Lambert, Robert B. Wielgus, Hugh S. Robinson, Donald D. Katnik, Hilary Cruickshank, and

Ross Clarke ..........................................................................................................................................................139

PROJECT CAT (COUGARS AND TEACHING): INTEGRATING SCIENCE, SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITY IN

DEVELOPMENT PLANNING – Abstract

Gary M. Koehler and Evelyn Nelson...................................................................................................................140

MONITORING MOUNTAIN LIONS IN THE TUCSON MOUNTAIN DISTRICT OF SAGUARO NATIONAL PARK,

ARIZONA, USING NONINVASIVE TECHNIQUES – Abstract

Lisa Haynes, Don Swann, and Melanie Culver ...................................................................................................141

ESTIMATING COUGAR ABUNDANCE USING PROBABILITY SAMPLING: AN EVALUATION OF TRANSECT VERSUS

BLOCK DESIGN – Abstract

Chuck R. Anderson, Jr., Fred G. Lindzey, and Nate Nibbelink...........................................................................142

EVALUATING MOUNTAIN LION MONITORING TECHNIQUES IN THE GARNET MOUNTAINS OF WEST CENTRAL

MONTANA – Abstract

Rich DeSimone ....................................................................................................................................................143

PRESENCE AND MOVEMENTS OF LACTATING AND MATERNAL FEMALE COUGARS: IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE

HUNTING REGULATIONS – Abstract

Toni K. Ruth, Kerry M. Murphy, and Polly C. Buotte ........................................................................................144

Mountain Lion Conservation

Session Chair: Christopher Papouchis, Mountain Lion Foundation

MYSTERY, MYTH AND LEGEND: THE POLITICS OF COUGAR MANAGEMENT IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM –

Abstract

Rick A. Hopkins...................................................................................................................................................145

v


RECONCILING SCIENCE AND POLITICS IN PUMA MANAGEMENT IN THE WEST: NEW MEXICO AS A TEMPLATE

– Abstract

Kenneth A. Logan, Linda L. Sweanor, and Maurice G. Hornocker ....................................................................146

COMMUNITY-BASED CONSERVATION OF MOUNTAIN LIONS – Abstract

Lynn Michelle Cullens and Christopher Papouchis.............................................................................................147

PUMA MANAGEMENT IN WESTERN NORTH AMERICA: A 100-YEAR RETROSPECTIVE – Abstract

Steven Torres, Heather Keough, and Deanna Dawn............................................................................................148

USING COUGARS TO DESIGN A WILDERNESS NETWORK IN CALIFORNIA’S SOUTH COAST ECOREGION – Abstract

Paul Beier and Kristeen Penrod ...........................................................................................................................149

MOUNTAIN LIONS AND BIGHORN SHEEP: FACING THE CHALLENGES – Abstract

Christopher M. Papouchis and John D. Wehausen ..............................................................................................150

POSTER PRESENTATIONS

Session Chair: Scott Becker, Wyoming Game and Fish Department

FACTORS AFFECTING DISPERSAL IN YOUNG MALE PUMAS

John W. Laundré and Lucina Hernández.............................................................................................................151

COUGAR EXPLOITATION LEVELS AND LANDSCAPE CONFIGURATIONS: IMPLICATIONS FOR DEMOGRAPHIC

STRUCTURE AND METAPOPULATION DYNAMICS – Abstract

David C. Stoner and Michael L. Wolfe................................................................................................................161

ASSESSING GPS RADIOTELEMETRY RELIABILITY IN COUGAR HABITAT – Abstract

Trish Griswold, James Briggs, Gary Koehler, and Students at Cle Elum-Roslyn School District ......................162

USING GPS COLLARS TO DETERMINE COUGAR KILL RATES, ESTIMATE HOME RANGES, AND EXAMINE

COUGAR-COUGAR INTERACTIONS –Abstract

Polly C. Buotte and Toni K. Ruth ........................................................................................................................163

FUNCTIONAL RESPONSE OF COUGARS AND PREY AVAILABILITY IN NORTHEASTERN WASHINGTON – Abstract

Hilary S. Cruickshank, Hugh S. Robinson, Catherine Lambert, Robert B. Wielgus ...........................................164

WHAT DOES TEN YEARS (1993-2002) OF MOUNTAIN LION OBSERVATION DATA REVEAL ABOUT MOUNTAIN

LION-HUMAN INTERACTIONS WITHIN REDWOOD NATIONAL AND STATE PARKS – Abstract

Gregory W. Holm ................................................................................................................................................165

DEPREDATION TRENDS IN CALIFORNIA – Abstract

Sarah Reed, Christopher M. Papouchis, and Lynn Michelle Cullens ..................................................................166

THE DISTRIBUTION OF PERCEIVED ENCOUNTERS WITH NON-NATIVE CATS IN SOUTH AND WEST WALES, UK:

RELATIONSHIP TO MODELED HABITAT SUITABILITY – Abstract

A.B. Smith, F.E. Street Perrott, and T. Hooper....................................................................................................167

PUMA ACTIVITY AND MOVEMENTS IN A HUMAN-DOMINATED LANDSCAPE: CUYAMACA RANCHO STATE

PARK AND ADJACENT LANDS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA – Abstract

Linda L. Sweanor, Kenneth A. Logan, Jim W. Bauer, and Walter M. Boyce .....................................................168

MODELING OFFSPRING SEX RATIOS AND GROWTH OF COUGARS – Abstract

Diana M. Ghikas, Martin Jalkotzy, Ian Ross, Ralph Schmidt, and Shane A. Richards .......................................169

MOUNTAIN LION SURVEY TECHNIQUES IN NORTHERN IDAHO: A THREE-FOLD APPROACH – Abstract

Craig G. White, Peter Zager, and Lisette Waits...................................................................................................170

MOUNTAIN LIONS IN SOUTH DAKOTA: RESULTS OF A 2002 PUBLIC OPINION SURVEY – Abstract

Larry M. Gigliotti, Dorothy M. Fecske, and Jonathan A. Jenks ..........................................................................171

CRITICAL COUGAR CROSSING AND BAY AREA REGIONAL PLANNING – Abstract

Michele Korpos....................................................................................................................................................172

List of Participants............................................................................................................................................173

vi


PREFACE

vii

PREFACE

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department took great pride in hosting the Seventh

Mountain Lion Workshop, which was held in conjunction with the Thirty-Ninth North American

Moose Conference and Workshop and the Fifth Western States and Provinces Deer and Elk

Workshop. More than 190 people attended the mountain lion workshop representing 27 states, 3

Canadian provinces, Mexico, Brazil, and the United Kingdom. Numerous state and federal

agencies, tribal nations, private organizations, academia, and members of the general public were

represented which attest to the varied and growing interest in mountain lions throughout North

and South America.

This workshop would not have been a success without the aid and cooperation of the

contributors and participants. Financial support, equipment, and manpower provided by the

Wyoming Chapter of the Wildlife Society, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and the

Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Wyoming made this

workshop possible. A special thanks goes to the members of the organizing committee for their

aid with all aspects of pre- and post-workshop activities, to the session chairs for keeping the

workshop moving in a timely fashion, and to the invited speakers who gave thoughtful insight

into past, present, and future mountain lion management practices and research techniques.

Many thanks to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) for

sanctioning the Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop; from this point forward, all mountain lion

workshops will be sanctioned by WAFWA.

Finally, we would like to thank all the presenters in the oral and poster sessions for the

depth of their research and the quality of their presentations. As a result of the efforts you all put

forth, a standard has been set for presentations at future mountain lion workshops. Keep up the

great work!

Scott Becker and Dave Moody

Workshop Co-Chairs


IN MEMORY

P. Ian Ross

Born December 16, 1958 in Goderich, Ontario.

Died June 29, 2003, age 44, near Nanyuki, Kenya.

Ian was a true outdoorsman from the beginning, running a trapline while in high school in

southern Ontario. After graduating from the University of Guelph (1982), his first experiences

with grizzly bears came in northwestern Alberta, where he studied the impacts of industrial

development. It was the beginning of an illustrious 20-year career conducting research on large

mammals in western Canada.

He worked on cougars in southwestern Alberta from the early 1980’s until 1994. That project

became one of the longest running research projects on Puma concolor in North America. The

cougar project received national recognition on radio and television and Ian used that attention to

foster a thoughtful and effective wildlife conservation message. He participated in the drafting

of a management plan for cougars in Alberta as well as a conservation strategy for large

carnivores in Canada. He was the senior author on 9 papers in peer-reviewed journals in

addition to many other technical reports and popular articles.

After the cougar project wrapped up, Ian conducted environmental impact studies in western and

northern Canada. He recently rewrote the grizzly bear status report for COSEWIC. He also

worked tirelessly with The Wildlife Society-Alberta Chapter dealing with wildlife conservation

issues. He served as President of the Chapter in 1997. Ian also continued to capture wildlife,

including grizzly bears, for research projects, and in doing so assisted many graduate students

with their research. He conducted his capture work using an exacting professional approach

while retaining an empathy for the wildlife he was pursuing. He cared for each individual and

did his utmost to conduct captures in a humane manner.

Ian was a committed and emotional friend and family man. Having no children of his own he

was a hero to his young nieces, nephews and children of friends. He always remembered

everyone’s birthdays. He hiked the foothills of the Rockies west of Calgary, as well as the U.S.

desert southwest, the Canadian Arctic, Mexico and Africa. He loved to hunt and his dinner table

was a testiment to his hunting prowess. His conservation ethic permeated all of his life. He did

not consume needlessly and he encouraged all of us to do the same.

In January 2003, Ian returned to field research when he joined Dr. Laurence Frank on the

Liakipia Predator Project, a project designed to find ways to allow for the coexistence of hyenas,

lions, and leopards and people in the agricultural matrix that exists outside national parks in most

of southern Africa. Two days before his death he was on top of the world having collared his

first leopard. On the evening he died Ian was tracking a radio-collared lion from a light aircraft.

Searchers located its wreckage the next morning. Ian Ross died at the peak of his career, doing

what he loved.

By

Martin Jalkotzy

Arc Wildlife Services

3527 - 35 Ave. SW

Calgary, AB, T3E 1A2, Canada

viii


ix

IN MEMORY


STATUS OF MOUNTAIN LION POPULATIONS IN ARIZONA

BRIAN F. WAKELING, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Game Branch, 2221 West

Greenway Road, Phoenix, AZ 85023 USA

Abstract: Arizona's mountain lion (Puma concolor) population numbers about 1,000-2,500 animals, and just over

350 mountain lions were harvested through sport and depredation take in 5 of the last 6 years. Arizona bag limit is 1

lion per person per year annually, except in a few units where multiple bag limits have been implemented; no

multiple bag limit has been reached to date. Management for this big game animal is guided by strategic plan,

species management guidelines, hunt guidelines, and a predation management policy. Management is currently

under review by an internal team that is examining several predator species, including mountain lions. The internal

review should be complete by the end of 2003. Public safety incident reports have increased substantially since

1998.

INTRODUCTION

Mountain lion populations within

Arizona remain robust and are currently

estimated at 1,000-2,500 despite a prolonged

drought throughout the southwestern United

States. Portions of Arizona have received

record low precipitation during 2002, and

the decade of the 1990s was the driest on

records for several portions of Arizona.

Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus)

populations have declined, and in 2003 the

Arizona Game and Fish Commission

authorized the lowest number of permits for

deer hunting since the limited-draw permit

system was established in Arizona.

Figure 1. Arizona mountain lion harvest

trends excluding tribal lands, 1984-2002.

1

Proceedings of the Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop

Mountain lion harvest has remained high, as

annual statewide harvests have exceeded our

strategic plan objectives (Arizona Game and

Fish Department 2001) in 5 of the last 6

years (Figure 1).

Mountain lions are classified as big

game by Arizona statute. Commission order

has established the bag limit at 1 mountain

lion per year, except in a few units.

Successful hunters are required to report

their harvest within 10 days and answer a

series of standard questions. Beginning in

July 2003, hunters will be asked to

voluntarily provide a tooth, which may be

used to estimate age through cementum

annuli and determine gender using genetic

techniques. The Department is investigating

making the tooth submission mandatory.

The management objectives for this species,

as well as all big game species, are outlined

in the agency strategic plan, Wildlife 2006

(Arizona Game and Fish Department 2001)

and species management guidelines. The

strategic plan goals, objectives, and speciesspecific

strategies for mountain lion

management, that include:

Objectives

1. Maintain annual harvest at 250 to 300

mountain lions (including depredation


2 STATUS OF MOUNTAIN LION POPULATIONS IN ARIZONA · Wakeling

take).

2. Provide recreational opportunity for

3,000 to 6,000 hunters per year.

3. Maintain existing occupied habitat and

maintain the present range of mountain

lions in Arizona.

Species-Specific Strategies

1. Maintain a complete database from all

harvest sources, through a mandatory

check-out system, including age, sex,

kill location, etc. to index population

trend.

2. Conduct a hunter questionnaire

biannually.

3. Evaluate the management implications

of population and relative density

estimates.

4. Implement hunt structures to increase

and direct harvest emphasis toward

areas with high lion populations, and

where depredation complaints are

substantiated, and evaluate the

effectiveness of these efforts.

5. Determine population numbers and

characteristics on a hunt-area basis.

6. Increase public awareness of mountain

lions and their habits, to reduce

conflicts with humans.

7. Implement the Department’s Predation

Management Policy.

In addition, management direction is

provided by species management guidelines

and hunt guidelines. In October 2000, the

Arizona Game and Fish Commission

approved the predation management policy

that provides the agency guidance as to

when and how to engage in predation

management.

Mountain lion management has changed

as a direct result of biological investigations

into predation effects. Mountain lion

predation is being documented as a factor

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

that may be regulating prey populations

(Ballard et al. 2001) in some areas of

Arizona, to include bighorn sheep (Ovis

canadensis) (Kamler et al. 2002) and

pronghorn (Antilocapra americana)

(Ockenfels 1994a, b). These prey

populations are at low levels, and reducing

predator populations is likely to allow those

prey populations to increase in number

(Ballard et al. 2001). The standard bag limit

for mountain lions has been altered in

specific areas to allow for the harvest of 1

mountain lion per day until a predetermined

number of mountain lions are removed that

equal about 50-75% of the estimated

mountain lion population within that unit, at

which time the bag limit reverts back to the

standard bag limit of 1 mountain lion per

calendar year. The only exception to this is

in the southwestern portion of the state

where if even a single mountain lion is

taken, the hunt area will be closed.

Multiple bag limits were implemented in

Units 13A and 13B in 1999, 16A South and

18B South in 2001, 22 South in 1999, and

Units 21 West, 28 South, and 37B North

will be implemented this year. Research

studies in Unit 22 South on bighorn sheep,

that included investigations into nutrition,

disease, and predation, indicate that the

multiple bag limit on mountain lions in that

area, with increased effort by sportsmen to

harvest mountain lions, seems to be

positively influencing desert bighorn sheep

recruitment and adult female survival. To

implement a multiple bag limit on mountain

lions, biologists must identify a prey species

that has been reduced due to mountain lion

predation (e.g., a declining population below

management objectives) or a management

action that is likely to be impacted by

mountain lion predation (e.g., a planned

translocation) to initiate and identify what

management objectives must be met (e.g., 3

years of 50:100 lamb:ewe ratios) before the

multiple bag limit is removed. Because this


is a relatively recent management approach

in Arizona, refinements to implementation

and new opportunities will undoubtedly

develop. For instance, portions of Arizona

have robust mountain lion populations that

sustain large amounts of depredation

removal (Cunningham et al. 1995) and may

be able to provide recreational harvest at a

higher level. These areas might provide

opportunities to manage recreational harvest

with multiple bag limits in the future, and

attempt to transfer depredation take into

recreational harvest.

The Department has recently established

an internal team to review management

approaches for several predator species, to

include mountain lions. This team will be

reviewing social and biological issues and

best management practices, and

recommending possible changes to

Arizona's management. This team will

serve as an umbrella team for several

subteams that will work on the biological

basis for management, gather information on

social acceptance, and conduct public

outreach and education.

DISTRIBUTION AND ABUNDANCE

Mountain lions are distributed

throughout most of Arizona, in varying

densities (Figure 2). This distribution was

reevaluated in 2002 by Department

biologists and wildlife managers, and

although subtle changes have been noted in

the densities of lions, little change to the

distribution was identified. This map is still

undergoing refinement and should be

considered a draft. Additional information

used by the Arizona Game and Fish

Department in managing mountain lion

population trends includes harvest,

depredation reports, and age and gender

from mandatory hunter reports.

Mountain lion population estimates are

based on density estimates developed from

research studies, literature, and professional

experience within Arizona habitats. These

STATUS OF MOUNTAIN LION POPULATIONS IN ARIZONA · Wakeling 3

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

Figure 2. Mountain lion distribution and

density estimates (draft) in Arizona

excluding tribal lands, 2002.

density estimates are reevaluated at

infrequent intervals. Prior to 2002, the last

reevaluation was conducted in 1993,

although a few management units were

reevaluated in 1998.

HARVEST INFORMATION

Licensed hunters may pursue mountain

lions in Arizona if they purchase a

nonpermit tag prior to hunting. The annual

bag limit is 1 lion, except for areas where a

multiple bag limit is in place as discussed in

the introduction. Strategic plan objectives

for statewide harvests are based on historical

harvest that removed about 10-15% of the

estimated statewide population. Recently,

harvest combined with depredation removal

has exceeded the strategic plan objective

(Table 1). Phelps (2003) reported data on

harvest prior to 1998. Still, statewide

harvest is probably


4 STATUS OF MOUNTAIN LION POPULATIONS IN ARIZONA · Wakeling

Table 1. Arizona mountain lion harvest summary excluding tribal lands, 1998-2002.

Total Harvest

Sport

Harvest

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

Gender of Sport

Harvest

Year

Tags

Issued Sport Depredation Other b

Using Dogs Male Female

1998 6590

1999 6885

2000 7478

2001 8109

2002 7900 a

289 52 1 192 150 136

247 49 2 161 126 120

276 53 0 193 133 141

326 58 0 214 176 144

263 50 5 175 154 115

a

2002 tags sold is preliminary.

b

Includes known kills other than sport or depredation (e.g., highway mortality, capture mortality, and illegal take).

limits are established to take 50-75% of the

mountain lions that occupy an area when the

aforementioned criteria are met. To date,

none of the multiple bag limits have been

achieved.

Arizona mountain lion seasons are

currently open yearlong. About 7,900

nonpermit tags were sold to hunters in 2002

(Table 1). During 1998-2002, about 67%

were taken with the aid of hounds, whereas

24% were taken incidental to other

activities. Currently, Arizona does not have

a pursuit-only season.

DEPREDATIONS AND HUMAN

INTERACTIONS-CONFLICTS

Complaints that come to the Arizona

Game and Fish Department can take 1 of 2

routes: nuisance wildlife or depredation.

Nuisance complaints are dealt with through

advice and education. Should a mountain

lion pose a threat to public safety, the

Department will dispatch a wildlife manager

to deal with the immediate situation,

although we frequently contract with USDA

APHIS Wildlife Services to conduct

removal efforts. Between 1998 and 2002,

312 public safety incidents have been

reported involving mountain lions. The

trend of these reports over time has been

steeply increasing (29 in 1998, 105 in 2002;

Table 2). This increase in reports may be

Table 2. Public incident reports that included

mountain lions in Arizona excluding tribal

lands, 1998-2002.

Year

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

Number of Incidents

Reported

29

43

46

89

105

attributed to mountain lions pursuing prey

near residential areas (which may be

exacerbated by drought conditions),

increasing residential development in

mountain lion habitat, and the public's

greater familiarity with the reporting

process. During that time, few mountain

lions (


objectives for mountain lions and ranges

between 49 and 58 mountain lions annually

(Table 1). The actual number of depredation

incidents by year is difficult to accurately

ascertain.

ONGOING RESEARCH

Arizona is fortunate to have a Research

Branch within our Wildlife Management

Division that may focus on issues

surrounding wildlife management. In the

past, this has included many studies directly

relating to mountain lions and that we

currently base much of our mountain lion

management. Currently, the Department

does not have any ongoing research directly

aimed at mountain lion management,

although a study in Unit 22 that includes the

impacts of mountain lions on desert bighorn

sheep is being completed. Studies by other

organizations involving urban mountain

lions are in the initial phases near Flagstaff

and Tucson.

LITERATURE CITED

ARIZONA GAME AND FISH DEPARTMENT.

2001. Wildlife 2006. Arizona Game

and Fish Department, Phoenix.

BALLARD, W.B., D.L. LUTZ, T.W. KEEGAN,

L.H. CARPENTER, AND J.C. DEVOS, JR.

2001. Deer-predator relationships: a

review of recent North American studies

with emphasis on mule and black-tailed

STATUS OF MOUNTAIN LION POPULATIONS IN ARIZONA · Wakeling 5

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

deer. Wildlife Society Bulletin 29:99-

115.

CUNNINGHAM, S.C., L.A HAYNES, C.

GUSTAVSON, AND D.D. HAYWOOD.

1995. Evaluation of the interaction

between mountain lions and cattle in the

Aravaipa-Klondyke area of southeast

Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish

Department Technical Report 17,

Phoenix.

KAMLER, J.F., R.M. LEE, J.C. DEVOS, JR.,

W.B. BALLARD, AND H.A. WHITLAW.

2002. Survival and cougar predation of

translocated bighorn sheep in Arizona.

Journal of Wildlife Management

66:1267-1272.

OCKENFELS, R.A. 1994a. Factors affecting

adult pronghorn mortality rates in central

Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish

Department Wildlife Digest Abstract 16,

Phoenix.

OCKENFELS, R.A. 1994b. Mountain lion

predation on pronghorn in central

Arizona. Southwestern Naturalist

39:305-306.

PHELPS, J. 2003. Status report on mountain

lions in Arizona. Pages 8-10 in L. A.

Harveson, P. M. Harveson, and R. W.

Adams, eds. Proceedings of the Sixth

Mountain Lion Workshop, Texas Parks

and Wildlife Department, Austin.


CALIFORNIA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT

DOUG UPDIKE, Wildlife Programs Branch, California Department of Fish & Game, 1812 9 th

Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, USA, email: dupdike@dfg.ca.gov

INTRODUCTION

California has a statewide mountain lion

management plan. In 1990, mountain lions

were legally classified as a “specially

protected mammal” by the passage of a

voter initiative (Proposition 117, June 1990

ballot). Prior to that initiative, lions were

classified as “game mammals.”

The objectives for mountain lion

management in California is to maintain

healthy, wild populations of mountain lions

for the benefit and enjoyment of the people

in the State, to alleviate public safety

incidents and reduce damage to private

property (pets and livestock) by mountain

lions. Mountain lions are not hunted in

California, and they may be killed only to

preserve public safety, alleviate damage to

private property or to protect listed bighorn

sheep.

Number

350

300

250

200

150

100

50

0

Mountain Lion Depredation Permits (1972 - 2002)

6

Proceedings of the Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop

DISTRIBUTION AND ABUNDANCE

Lions are currently distributed

throughout all suitable habitats within

California. Lion numbers appear to be

stable at an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 adults.

The number of lions in California is

based upon extrapolating densities

determined with the use of radio collars.

These studies have been conducted in

various locations of the State. The number

of lions is determined by multiplying the

densities and the area represented by the

ecological province. The studies that

provide local lion density data have been

conducted over a period of a couple decades.

Consequently, the Department recognizes

the estimate has limited application.

The Department issues depredation

permits to property owners who have

experienced damage from a mountain lion

(Figure 1).

1972

1974

1976

1978

1980

1982

1984

1986

1988

1990

1992

1994

1996

1998

2000

2002

Year

Permits Issued

Lions Killed

Figure 1. The number of mountain lion depredation permits issued and the number of

lions that have been killed as a result in California, 1972-2002.


HARVEST INFORMATION

Mountain lion hunting is prohibited in

California. No lions have been taken by

licensed hunters since 1972. It is also illegal

for lions that have been legally taken in

other states to be imported into California.

DEPREDATIONS AND HUMAN

INTERACTIONS/CONFLICTS

The Department’s Public Safety

Guidelines are attached. This policy is

intended to guide the actions and decisions

of Department personnel who respond to

mountain lion incidents.

A summary of the number of human/lion

incidents is provided in Table 1.

We provide educational material to the

public to foster an understanding and

appreciation of lions. A recent (May-June

2000) issue of Outdoor California was

devoted entirely to mountain lions. Most of

the articles are viewable at:

http://www.dfg.ca.gov/coned/ocal/features.html

In addition, we have produced a

brochure, “Living with California Mountain

Lions” which is viewable at:

http://www.dfg.ca.gov/lion/index.html

Depredation permits may be issued by

the Department subject to the conditions

found in Section 402, California Code of

Regulations, as follows:

CALIFORNIA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Updike 7

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

a. Revocable permits may be issued by the

department after receiving a report, from

any owner or tenant or agent for them, of

property being damaged or destroyed by

mountain lion. The department shall

conduct and complete an investigation

within 48 hours of receiving such a

report. Any mountain lion that is

encountered in the act of inflicting injury

to, molesting or killing livestock or

domestic animals may be taken

immediately if the taking is reported

within 72 hours to the department and

the carcass is made available to the

department. Whenever immediate

action will assist in the pursuit of the

particular mountain lion believed to be

responsible for damage to livestock or

domestic animals, the department may

orally authorize the pursuit and take of a

mountain lion. The department shall

investigate such incidents and, upon a

finding that the requirements of this

regulation have been met, issue a free

permit for depredation purposes, and

carcass tag to the person taking such

mountain lion.

b. Permittee may take mountain lion in the

manner specified in the permit, except

that no mountain lion shall be taken by

means of poison, leg-hold or metaljawed

traps and snares.

Table 1. Summary of the number of human/lion incidents in California, 1995-2002.

1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002

# of incidents 381 587 539 353 697 372 456 379

# of safety

incidents

18 14 15 11 16 8 14 13

take 9 7 11 12 10 7 11 13

male 3 3 1 6 6 4 8 6

female 3 1 6 6 3 3 3 5

unknown 3 3 4 0 1 0 0 2

# of sightings 191 346 340 214 382 174 240 224


8 CALIFORNIA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Updike

c. Permittee may take mountain lion in the

manner specified in the permit, except

that no mountain lion shall be taken by

means of poison, leg-hold or metaljawed

traps and snares.

d. Both males and females may be taken

during the period of the permit

irrespective of hours or seasons.

e. The privilege granted in the permit may

not be transferred, and only entitles the

permittee or the employee or agent of

the permittee to take mountain lion.

Such person must be 21 years of age or

over and eligible to purchase a

California hunting license.

f. Any person issued a permit pursuant to

this section shall report by telephone

within 24 hours the capturing, injuring

or killing of any mountain lion to an

office of the department or, if

telephoning is not practical, in writing

within five days after capturing, injuring

or killing of the mountain lion. Any

mountain lion killed under the permit

must be tagged with the special tag

furnished with the permit; both tags must

be completely filled out and the

duplicate mailed to the Department of

Fish and Game, Sacramento, within 5

days after taking any mountain lion.

g. The entire carcass shall be transported

within 5 days to a location agreed upon

between the issuing officer and the

permittee, but in no case will a permittee

be required to deliver a carcass beyond

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

the limits of his property unless he is

willing to do so. The carcass of

mountain lions taken pursuant to this

regulation shall become the property of

the state.

h. Animals shall be taken in a humane

manner so as to prevent any undue

suffering to the animals

i. The permittee shall take every

reasonable precaution to prevent the

carcass from spoiling until disposed of in

the manner agreed upon under

subsection (f) of these regulations

j. The permit does not invalidate any city,

county, or state firearm regulation.

k. Permits shall be issued for a period of 10

days. Permits may be renewed only

after a finding by the department that

further damage has occurred or will

occur unless such permits are renewed.

The permittee may not begin pursuit of a

lion more than one mile nor continue

pursuit beyond a 10-mile radius from the

location of the reported damage.

CURRENT RESEARCH

a. Population genetics of lions

b. Lion/deer/bighorn sheep predator prey

relationships in Inyo/Mono counties and

San Diego County

c. Lion movements and corridors in Los

Angeles/Ventura counties

d. Impacts of habitat conversions and

transportation corridors or lion

movements and habitat use.


PUBLIC SAFETY WILDLIFE GUIDELINES – 2072

Consistent with Section 1801 of the Fish

and Game Code, these Public Safety

Wildlife Guidelines provide procedures to

address public safety wildlife problems.

Mountain lions, black bears, deer, coyotes,

and large exotic carnivores that have

threatened or Attacked humans are wildlife

classified as public safety problems. Public

safety wildlife incidents are classified into

three types:

A. Type Green (sighting)

A report (confirmed or unconfirmed) of

an observation that is perceived to be a

public safety wildlife problem. The mere

presence of the wildlife species does not

in itself constitute a threat.

B. Type Yellow (threat)

A report where the presence of the

public safety wildlife is confirmed by a

field investigation, and the responding

person (law enforcement officer or

Department employee) perceives the

animal to be an imminent threat to

public health or safety. Imminent threat

means there is a likelihood of human

injury based on the totality of the

circumstances.

C. Type Red (attack)

An attack by a public safety wildlife

species on a human resulting in physical

contact, injury, or death.

These guidelines are not intended to

address orphaned, injured, or sick wildlife

that have not threatened public safety. To

achieve the intent of these guidelines, the

following procedures shall be used.

I. Wildlife Incident Report Form

Fill out a Wildlife Incident Report

Form (WMD-2) for all reports of public

safety wildlife incidents. The nature of

the report will determine the response or

CALIFORNIA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Updike 9

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

investigative action to the public safety

problem. For those reports that require a

follow-up field investigation, the

Wildlife Incident Report Form will be

completed by the field investigator. All

completed Wildlife Incident Report

Forms shall be forwarded through the

regional offices to the Chief, WPB.

II. Response to Public Safety Wildlife

Problems

The steps in responding to a public

safety wildlife incident are diagramed

below (Figure 3).

Any reported imminent threats or

attacks on humans by wildlife will

require a follow-up field investigation.

If a public safety wildlife species is

outside its natural habitat and in an area

where it could become a public safety

problem, and if approved by the Deputy

Director for the WIFD, it may be

captured using restraint techniques

approved by the Wildlife Investigations

Laboratory (WIL). The disposition of the

captured wildlife may be coordinated

with WIL.

A. Type Green (sighting)

If the investigator determines that no

imminent threat to public safety exists,

Figure 3. Steps in responding to a public

safety wildlife incident.


10 CALIFORNIA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Updike

the incident is considered a Type Green.

The appropriate action may include

providing wildlife behavior information

and mailing public educational materials

to the reporting party.

B. Type Yellow (threat)

Once the field investigator finds

evidence of the public safety wildlife

and perceives the animal to be an

imminent threat to public health or

safety, the incident is considered a Type

Yellow. In the event of threat to public

safety, any Department employee

responding to a reported public safety

incident may take whatever action is

deemed necessary within the scope of

the employee's authority to protect

public safety. When evidence shows that

a wild animal is an imminent threat to

public safety, that wild animal shall be

humanely euthanized (shot, killed,

dispatched, destroyed, etc.). For Type

Yellow incidents the following steps

should be taken:

1. Initiate the Incident Command

System. The Incident Commander

(IC) consults with the regional

manager or designee to decide on the

notification process on a case-bycase

basis. Full notification includes:

the field investigator's supervisor, the

appropriate regional manager, the

Deputy Director, WIFD, Chief,

Conservation Education and

Enforcement Branch (CEEB), Chief,

WPB, WIL, Wildlife Forensics Lab

(WFL), the designated regional

information officer, and the local law

enforcement agency.

2. If full notification is appropriate,

notify Sacramento Dispatch at (916)

445-0045. Dispatch shall notify the

above-mentioned personnel.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

3. Secure the scene as appropriate.

Take all practical steps to preserve

potential evidence. The IC holds

initial responsibility and authority

over the scene, locating the animal,

its resultant carcass, and any other

physical evidence from the attack.

The IC will ensure proper transfer

and disposition of all physical

evidence.

4. In most situations, it is important to

locate the offending animal as soon

as practical. WIL may be of

assistance. The services of USDA,

Wildlife Services (WS) can be

arranged by the regional manager or

designee contacting the local WS

District Supervisor. If possible, avoid

shooting the animal in the head to

preserve evidence.

5. If an animal is killed, the IC will

decide on the notification process

and notify Sacramento Dispatch if

appropriate. Use clean protective

gloves while handling the carcass.

Place the carcass inside a protective

durable body bag (avoid dragging

the carcass, if possible).

C. Type Red (attack)

In the event of an attack, the

responding Department employee may

take any action necessary that is within

the scope of the employee's authority to

protect public safety. When evidence

shows that a wild animal has made an

unprovoked attack on a human, that wild

animal shall be humanely euthanized

(shot, killed, dispatched, destroyed, etc.).

For Type Red incidents the following

steps should be taken:

1. Ensure proper medical aid for the

victim. Identify the victim (obtain

the following, but not limited to:

name, address, phone number).


2. Notify Sacramento Dispatch at (916)

445-0045. Dispatch shall notify the

field investigator's supervisor, the

appropriate regional manager, the

Deputy Director, WIFD, Chief,

CEEB, Chief, WPB, WIL, WFL, the

designated regional information

officer, and the local law

enforcement agency.

3. Initiate the Incident Command

System. If a human death has

occurred, an Enforcement Branch

supervisor or specialist will respond

to the Incident Command Post and

assume the IC responsibilities. The

IC holds initial responsibility and

authority over the scene, locating the

animal, its resultant carcass, and any

other physical evidence from the

attack. The IC will ensure proper

transfer and disposition of all

physical evidence.

4. Secure the area as needed. Treat the

area as a crime scene. In order to

expedite the capture of the offending

animal and preserve as much onscene

evidence as possible, the area

of the incident must be secured

immediately by the initial responding

officer. The area should be excluded

from public access by use of flagging

tape or similar tape (e.g., "Do Not

Enter") utilized at crime scenes by

local law enforcement agencies. One

entry and exit port should be

established. Only essential

authorized personnel should be

permitted in the excluded area. A

second area outside the area of the

incident should be established as the

command post.

5. In cases involving a human death,

WFL personnel will direct the

gathering of evidence. Secure items

such as clothing, tents, sleeping bags,

CALIFORNIA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Updike 11

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

objects used for defense during the

attack, objects chewed on by the

animal, or any other materials which

may possess the attacking animal's

saliva, hair, or blood.

6. If the victim is alive, advise the

attending medical personnel about

the Carnivore Attack-Victim

Sampling Kit for collecting possible

animal saliva stains or hair that

might still be on the victim. If the

victim is dead, advise the medical

examiner of this evidence need. This

sampling kit may be obtained from

the WFL.

7. It is essential to locate the offending

animal as soon as practical. WIL

may be of assistance. The services of

WS can be arranged by the regional

manager or designee contacting the

local WS District Supervisor. If

possible, avoid shooting the animal

in the head to preserve evidence.

8. If an animal is killed, the IC will

notify Sacramento Dispatch. Treat

the carcass as evidence. Use clean

protective gloves and (if possible) a

facemask while handling the carcass.

Be guided by the need to protect the

animal's external body from: loss of

bloodstains or other such physical

evidence originating from the victim;

contamination by the animal's own

blood; and contamination by the

human handler's hair, sweat, saliva,

skin cells, etc. Tape paper bags over

the head and paws, then tape plastic

bags over the paper bags. Plug

wounds with tight gauze to minimize

contamination of the animal with its

own blood. Place the carcass inside a

protective durable body bag (avoid

dragging the carcass, if possible).

9. WFL will receive from the IC and/or

directly obtain all pertinent physical


12 CALIFORNIA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Updike

evidence concerning the primary

questions of authenticity of the

attack and identity of the offending

animal. WFL has first access and

authority over the carcass after the

IC. WFL will immediately contact

and coordinate with the county

health department the acquisition of

appropriate samples for rabies

testing. Once WFL has secured the

necessary forensic samples, they will

then release authority over the

carcass to WIL for disease studies.

10. An independent diagnostic

laboratory approved by WIL will

conduct necropsy and disease studies

on the carcass. The WIL will retain

primary authority over this aspect of

the carcass.

D. Responsibilities of WIL

WIL investigates wildlife disease

problems statewide and provides

information on the occurrence of both

enzootic and epizootic disease in

wildlife populations. Specimens

involved in suspected disease problems

are submitted to WIL for necropsy and

disease studies. Most animals killed for

public safety reasons will be necropsied

to assess the status of health and whether

the presence of disease may have caused

the aggressive and/or unusual behavior.

Type Yellow public safety animals

killed may be necropsied by WIL or an

independent diagnostic laboratory

approved by WIL. Contact WIL

immediately after a public safety animal

is killed to determine where it will be

necropsied. Arrangements are to be

made directly with WIL prior to

submission of the carcass to any

laboratory.

Type Red public safety animals

killed will be necropsied by an

independent diagnostic laboratory

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

approved by WIL. Contact WIL prior to

submission of the carcass to any

laboratory to allow the Department

veterinarian to discuss the disease testing

requirements with the attending

pathologist. A disease testing protocol

has been developed for use with Type

Red public safety wildlife.

E. Responsibilities of WFL

WFL has the statewide responsibility

to receive, collect, examine and analyze

physical evidence, issue reports on

evidence findings, and testify in court as

to those results. WFL's primary

functions in public safety incidents is to

verify or refute the authenticity of the

purported attack and to corroborate or

refute the involvement of the suspected

offending animal.

Type Yellow public safety animals

killed may be examined by WFL

personnel. The examination of the

carcass will be coordinated with WIL.

All Type Red public safety animals

killed must be examined by WFL

personnel or a qualified person approved

by WFL supervisor using specific

procedures established by WFL.

If a human death occurs,

coordination of the autopsy between the

proper officials and WFL is important so

that WFL personnel can be present

during the autopsy for appropriate

sampling and examination. In the event

of human injury, it is important for WFL

to gather any relevant physical evidence

that may corroborate the authenticity of

a wildlife attack, prior to the treatment of

injuries, if practical. If not practical,

directions for sampling may be given

over the telephone to the emergency

room doctor by WFL.

F. Media Contact

Public safety wildlife incidents


attract significant media attention. Issues

regarding site access, information

dissemination, the public's safety,

carcass viewing and requests to survey

the scene can be handled by a designated

employee. Each region shall designate

an employee with necessary ICS training

to respond as a regional information

officer to public safety wildlife

incidents.

Type Yellow public safety wildlife

incidents may require the notification of

a designated employee previously

approved by the regional manager or

designee to assist the IC in responding to

CALIFORNIA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Updike 13

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

the media and disseminating

information. The IC has the authority to

decide if the designated employee

should be dispatched to the site.

All Type Red public safety wildlife

incidents require that a designated

employee, previously approved by the

regional manager or designee, to assist

the IC in responding to the media and

disseminating information, is called to

the scene.

The Department will develop and

provide training for designated

employees to serve as information

officers for public safety wildlife

incidents.


COLORADO MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT

JERRY A. APKER, Colorado Division of Wildlife, 0722 South Road 1 East, Monte Vista, CO

81144, USA, email: jerry.apker@state.co.us

MOUNTAIN LION CLASSIFICATION

Mountain lion (Puma concolor) received

no legal protection and were classified as a

predator in Colorado from 1881 until 1965.

During this time take of puma at any time,

any place was encouraged by bounties and

other laws. The first bounty was enacted in

1881 at $10, in 1925 laws instructed game

wardens to destroy predatory animals by

trapping, poisoning, or hunting, and in 1929

the bounty was increased to $50. For

comparison the 1929 bounty, if offered in

2003 dollars, would be $540. The bounty

was abolished in 1965, but some provisions

for landowner take of a depredating puma

remains in Colorado laws to this day. In

1965, puma were reclassified as big game.

Each Data Analysis Unit (DAU) within

the State has a management plan developed

with objectives for hunter harvest, game

damage, and human-puma conflicts.

Objectives are stated as the maximum level

on a three-year running average.

Implementation of DAU plans began in

2001. Recent interest in annual puma kill

revealed conflicting direction depending

upon which objectives managers weighed

most heavily. These conflicts pointed out a

shortfall within the plans in that they do not

state a specific strategic goal for the DAU.

Currently this must be inferred in the text of

the plan. Some DAUs are managed to

suppress puma populations while others are

managed to maintain stable populations –

recognizing the inherent difficulty in

determining population changes. Within the

next year all management plans will be

required to develop a strategic goal. We

14

Proceedings of the Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop

consider this an essential step for informing

management decisions within a DAU about

season structure and annual license

allocation.

In 1996 the Colorado Department of

Agriculture (CDA) was granted “exclusive

jurisdiction over the control of depredating

animals that pose a threat to an agricultural

product or resource”. Thus, CDA has

exclusive authority to determine the

disposition of an individual puma if it is

depredating on livestock, while the Colorado

Division of Wildlife (CDOW) retains

authority to manage puma populations and

all forms of recreational or scientific use.

DISTRIBUTION, ABUNDANCE AND

MONITORING

The state is divided into 21 DAUs for

the purposes of puma management (Figure

1). DAUs are assemblages of Game

Management Units (GMUs) within which

Figure 1. Data analysis Units and relative

abundance of puma within each DAU in

Colorado.


Figure 2. Areas of puma occupancy in

Colorado.

puma occupancy has been mapped (Figure

2).

Colorado does not regularly estimate

puma populations because no reliable, cost

effective sample based population

estimation technique currently exists. A

projection of possible population has been

made based on densities reported in

literature for intensively studied populations.

Low and high densities were selected from

study areas that had habitat types most

similar to Colorado. Densities were then

applied by biologists to area of puma habitat

within DAUs. Areas not considered puma

habitats, such as extreme high elevations,

intensively farmed land, cities, highways, or

reservoirs, were first deleted. Biologists

were allowed to apply more constrained

densities based upon their knowledge of

prey abundance or relative puma abundance.

Finally, biologists were asked to pinpoint

the puma density most applicable to DAUs

within their management responsibility.

These exercises resulted in a crude projected

puma population of 3,000 to 7,000, with

3,500 to 4,500 most probable. Based upon

the foregoing, each DAU is assigned a

relative abundance rating of high, moderate,

or low with intergrades where estimated

puma density is close to break points. High

COLORADO MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Apker 15

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

abundance is assigned at DAU densities of

over 3 puma/100 km 2 , moderate abundance

at 2 to 3 puma/100 km 2 , and low abundance

at anything less than 2 puma/100 km 2

(Figure 1).

Hunter harvest and total mortality is

examined at the DAU level to monitor

mortality for crude indications of population

change. Puma mortality is documented

through mandatory checks of hunter kill and

mandatory reports for non-hunter mortality

and is kept in a database. The database for

hunter kill has been kept since 1980, and for

non-hunter mortality since 1991. Mortality

data is examined on three and ten year

running averages due to relatively high

annual variation. Data on depredation

claims since is also maintained in a

database.

HARVEST AND HUNTING

REGULATION

Since 1972 a quota system has been used

to manage hunter distribution and kill. From

1992 the quota has increased from 459 to

790 in 2002. However, the quota does not

represent the harvest objective since the

quota is never achieved. Through

compilation of DAU management plan

objectives the harvest objective for the state

is about 350 puma. Annual license sales

have also increased since 1992 from about

900 to just over 1,700 in 2002. While both

quotas and license sales have increased over

the past 10 years, percent of quota

achievement and success relative to license

sales have declined gradually (Figure 3).

These trends are expected with increased

available hunting opportunity toward a

cryptic species. With more potential hunters

there is an increased likelihood that there

will be proportionately more hunters with

less experience and less commitment or

impetus to harvest an animal. Some have

speculated that the trends indicate that overharvest

has occurred, however the female


16 COLORADO MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Apker

Percent Q. Achievement & Success

90%

80%

70%

60%

50%

40%

30%

20%

10%

1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001

% Quota Achievement % Harvest Success by licenses sold

Quota # Licenses Sold

1700

1500

1300

1100

Figure 3. Colorado license sales, quota,

percent success and percent quota

achievement for puma.

component of hunter harvest has not

increased substantially which would be an

indicator of over-harvest.

Criteria used to guide quota setting are

as follows:

1. Strategic objective of the DAU or

group of GMUs within a DAU. If

management is directed at

maintaining a stable population, then

the following also apply.

2. Population for the DAU is projected

based upon low and high density

potential. Off-take should not

exceed a bracketed range of 15% of

low-end population estimate and 8%

of high-end population estimate.

3. Short (3 year) and long-term trend

(10 years) in proportion of females in

mortality should be stable or

downward and not over 50%.

4. Damage claim amounts on 3-year

average should not exceed DAU

objective levels.

5. Catch per unit effort indice (effort of

houndsmen to harvest).

900

700

500

300

100

Quota or License #'s

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

Hunter harvest and total mortality

figures for 2002 have not been completely

tabulated at the time of this report. The

average hunter harvest from 1992-1994 is

308 with 41% female. The average hunter

harvest from 1999-2001 is 365 with 45%

female (Figure 4).

Generally, from 1965 to the mid-late

1970s seasons were mid fall through early

spring. In the late 1970s through 1994

seasons were liberalized, running almost

continually through the year excluding late

August – mid November deer or elk hunting

seasons. Since 1995, seasons were revised

to provide greater protection for pregnant

females or females with dependent young,

running on a calendar year basis from

January 1 – March 31 and mid November –

December 31. With a few exceptions the

bag limit has remained 1 per year of either

sex and some form of puma license has been

required since 1965.

Hunting with hounds is permitted with

hunting pack size limited to 8 dogs. Almost

all puma are harvested with the use of

hounds. There is no pursuit only season.

With certain technical restrictions on each,

legal weapons for take include rifle,

500

450

400

350

300

250

200

150

100

50

0

1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001

Hunter Harvest

- Male

Hunter Harvest

- Female

Total

Mortality

Figure 4. Puma harvest and total mortality

levels in Colorado.


handgun, shotgun, muzzleloading rifles,

hand-held bows, and crossbows. It is illegal

to kill a kitten or a female accompanied by

kittens.

DEPREDATION AND PUMA-HUMAN

CONFLICT

Colorado is liable for damage caused by

big game, with certain limitations and

restrictions. From 1972 until 2001 CDOW

had to pay for damage by puma and black

bear to any real or personal property. Black

bear damage claims often included vehicles,

buildings, appliances, etc., as well as

livestock, but puma damage claims have

been restricted to cattle, sheep, or other

animals. Beginning in 2001, State liability

was limited to agricultural products and

property used in the production of raw

agricultural products. Liability was also

changed so that the State is not liable for

more than $5,000 per animal.

With the exception of 2000 the number

of damage claims and the cost of damage

have declined since 1997 (Figure 5). High

damage costs in 2000 were mostly due to 6

claims for the loss of 8 exotic domestic

animals such as alpaca, llama, and

250000

225000

200000

175000

150000

125000

100000

75000

50000

25000

0

1979

1981

1983

1985

1987

1989

1991

1993

1995

Sheep Cattle Other Stock

Figure 5. Amount paid on claims for

depredation by puma in Colorado.

1997

1999

2001

COLORADO MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Apker 17

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

commercially owned elk. Procedures for

handling damage claims are governed by

statute, regulations, and a game damage

procedures manual.

The State has no specific policy

document providing direction for handling

puma-human conflicts. However, following

a human fatality in 1991, DOW staff

developed procedures that have generally

been adopted. Encounters involving puma

are categorized as sightings, encounter

involving pets, aggressive behavior toward

humans, or attack on humans. Agency

responses to these types of encounters vary

from providing education and information to

pursue-kill the puma. In the past 5 years,

fewer than 5-10 encounters beyond sightings

are documented each year.

On average over the past 5 years about

20 puma per year are killed for reasons other

than hunting. Most of these, 12 per year, are

control actions on depredating animals. The

remainders are the result of road kills or

illegal kills. Less than 1 per year on average

are killed due to human safety concerns.

PUMA RESEARCH PROGRAMS

There are no current research

investigations being conducted on puma.

The Division of Wildlife is in the process of

hiring a research scientist specializing in

carnivores with emphasis on puma initially.


FLORIDA FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COMMISSION STATUS REPORT

MARK LOTZ, Panther Section Biologist, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission,

566 Commercial Blvd., Naples, FL 34104-4709, USA, email: Mark.Lotz@fwc.state.fl.us

E. DARRELL LAND, Panther Section Leader, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation

Commission, 566 Commercial Blvd., Naples, FL 34104-4709, USA, email:

Darrell.Land@fwc.state.fl.us

INTRODUCTION

The Florida panther (Puma concolor

coryi) has been classified as endangered by

the state of Florida since 1958 and by the

federal government since 1967. Formerly,

panthers inhabited the southeastern United

States, ranging from southern Florida to

Arkansas and northward to Tennessee and

South Carolina. Loss and fragmentation of

habitat coupled with unregulated killing

over the past two centuries have reduced and

isolated the panther to the point where only

one population exists on approximately

8,810 km 2 of habitat in south Florida (Maehr

1990). The Florida Fish and Wildlife

Conservation Commission (FWC) and the

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)

are the two lead authorities involved in all

aspects of Florida panther recovery and

protection. Other agencies involved in

panther recovery include the Florida

Department of Environmental Protection,

Florida Division of Forestry, National Park

Service, South Florida Water Management

District, as well as numerous nongovernmental

organizations such as Florida

Wildlife Federation, National Wildlife

Federation, The Nature Conservancy, and

the Florida Audubon Society. A recovery

plan for the Florida panther was written in

1981 with revisions in 1987 and 1995 with

the objective of achieving three viable selfsustaining

populations within the historic

range. FWC initiated intensive research

efforts in 1981 and these studies continue

18

Proceedings of the Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop

today. By the end of 2002, FWC has

handled 115 panthers for radio-telemetry

studies and marked 142 neonate kittens at

dens. FWC and many collaborators have

published more than 200 papers and reports

detailing panther life history, habitat use,

mortality, dispersal, home range dynamics,

biomedical findings, genetics, population

modeling, and food habits.

Florida panthers are threatened by

demographic instability inherent in small,

geographically isolated populations and

erosion of genetic diversity from restricted

gene flow and inbreeding. Genetic diversity

is the basis for production of fit individuals

as well as providing population elasticity in

order to respond to changing environmental

and habitat conditions. Historically, natural

exchange of genetic material occurred

among the Florida panther population in the

southeastern United States and contiguous

populations of P. c. cougar to the north, P.

c. hippolestes to the northwest and P. c.

stanleyana to the west (Young and Goldman

1946). Genetic exchange between

populations ceased as the coastal plain was

gradually cleared and settled. Florida

panthers steadily declined in abundance and

distribution as a result. Inbreeding increased

when potential breeders could no longer

move among fragmented populations and

the declining population size compounded

demographic and genetic factors. A

population viability analysis was conducted

in 1992, which predicted the extinction of


the Florida panther within 24-63 years (Seal

1992) and lead to the creation of A Plan for

Genetic Restoration and Management of the

Florida Panther (Seal 1994).

Genetic restoration of the Florida

panther was implemented in 1995 with the

release of 8 female Texas cougars (P. c.

stanleyana) into areas occupied by Florida

panthers. Five of the 8 cougars produced a

total of 20 offspring and many of these

offspring have survived and reproduced.

The genetic restoration plan identified a goal

of incorporating a 20% introgression of

Texas puma genes into the panther

population and a preliminary assessment

suggested that we may have achieved or

slightly exceeded that level (Land and Lacy

2000). As of January 2003, 5 of the original

8 released Texas puma have since died and

the remaining 3 females, thought to be

reproductively senescent, were removed

from the wild. We will continue monitoring

panther genetic restoration by comparing

reproductive performance, survival,

phenotypic traits, and genetic characteristics

among Texas and Florida descendants. Our

goal is to develop a long-term management

plan based on our study results to maintain

genetic diversity, health, and long-term

survival of the south Florida panther

population.

DISTRIBUTION AND ABUNDANCE

Florida panthers occupy a core range in

south Florida primarily in Collier, Hendry,

Lee, and Dade counties. Major public lands

include Big Cypress National Preserve,

Everglades National Park, Florida Panther

National Wildlife Refuge, Fakahatchee

Strand State Preserve, Picayune Strand State

Forest, and Okaloacoochee Slough State

Forest. Large privately held ranches, used

primarily for cattle and crop production, also

constitute some of the most important

habitat for panthers. Verified evidence,

through road-kills, photos, or tracks, has

also been found in Glades, Sarasota, and

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

FLORIDA STATUS REPORT · Lotz and Land 19

Palm Beach Counties within the past 2 years

(Land et al. 2002, Shindle et al. 2001).

However, these have all been dispersed or

transient males. No females have been

documented outside of the core range. One

radio-collared male panther dispersed a

straight-line distance of 224 km from his

natal range (Maehr et al. 2002).

The first Florida panther was radiocollared

in 1981 by the Florida Game and

Fresh Water Fish Commission (renamed to

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation

Commission in 2000). Throughout the

1980’s the population was estimated to be

30-50 adults. The population has been

increasing since about the mid 1990’s and

today is estimated to be 80-100 adults. The

release of Texas cougars for genetic

restoration purposes in 1995 has contributed

to this increase. Our population estimate is

derived by counting currently radio-collared

panthers and tallying observations of

uncollared panther sign encountered during

yearly field activities.

DEPREDATIONS AND HUMAN

CONFLICTS

FWC does not have a specific panther

depredation or other human conflict protocol

in place, but we do have a nuisance black

bear policy that could provide guidance.

The nuisance bear policy involves

addressing the source of the problem,

typically the removal or protection of bear

attractants, prior to any stepwise progression

of capture/handling of bears, removals, and

ultimately, euthanasia. There have been no

documented panther attacks on humans in

Florida with only anecdotal accounts of

attacks prior to 1900 (Tinsley 1970). FWC

regularly receives complaints about wildlife

attacks on domestic livestock, many of

which are claimed to be panther

depredations. However, upon investigation,

the vast majority of these incidents involve

other predators including black bear, bobcat,

fox, raccoon, opossum, coyote, and


20 FLORIDA STATUS REPORT · Lotz and Land

domestic dog. We are aware of three valid

panther depredations that were reported to

FWC. The first involved a panther that

seized a small dog by the head and

subsequently dropped the dog alive after the

owner appeared at the door. A second

depredation involved the killing of small

goats from a rural homeowner’s yard in an

area occupied by panthers. These

complainants were given advice on how to

protect their pets/livestock and to date no

further depredations have been reported.

The last case was more complicated because

it involved panthers that were taking

advantage of a hunting preserve that was

newly created by the Seminole Tribe on

tribal lands. Non-native ungulates were

stocked in an area known to be occupied by

panthers and predictably, the panthers

preyed upon these ungulates. FWC and the

USFWS could do very little to address these

depredations because of the Endangered

Species Act and because the preserve was

developed on areas used by panthers.

Although the tribe made a request for

reimbursement of losses, no compensation

was provided. Over time, the Seminole

Tribe has adjusted the type of game animals

that are stocked in the preserve, primarily

stocking and selling wild hog hunts, and

these lower cost animals that are taken by

panthers are less of a financial loss than the

various exotic deer species they once

stocked. Cattle ranchers apparently are

unconcerned about potential panther

depredations based on the lack of

complaints, and FWC food habits work has

revealed that cattle are rarely taken by

panthers. The presence of feral hogs on

cattle ranches provide an abundant, easily

taken prey base that may obviate the need

for panthers to tackle cattle.

RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS

Current Research

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

Florida Panther Genetic Restoration and

Management

This has been our focal study since 1995

when 8 female Texas cougars were

released to offset the problems of

inbreeding. Genetic diversity and health

of the Florida panther population needs

to be restored to ensure survival, even

with adequate habitat conservation and

other enhancement measures. Genetic

restoration is a direct and immediate

action that will restore genetic variability

and vitality for a healthier, more resilient

population. The Plan for Genetic

Restoration and Management of the

Florida Panther (Seal 1994) called for a

20% introgression level of Texas genes

throughout the population and

preliminary analysis indicates we are on

target. All Texas females have died or

been removed. A minimum of 59

intercross animals were produced and it

is assumed that 44 still exist within the

population. Fifteen are radio-collared.

This study was extended in order to

collect and analyze critical samples from

subsequent generations of Texas puma

descendants. Our goal is to develop a

long-term management plan based on

our study results to maintain genetic

diversity, health, and long-term survival

of the south Florida panther population.

A final report is anticipated next year.

Feasibility of Using GPS Radio-collars

on Florida Panthers

The use of GPS technology in wildlife

applications has garnered much interest

in recent years but the current state of

the technology and its applicability to

panthers has yet to be determined.

Among the objectives of this study are to

compare and evaluate GPS and aerial

telemetry relocations, calculate the

percentage of successful GPS

relocations, and evaluate the use of GPS

collars on Florida panthers and make


ecommendations for future use. We

placed 4 GPS collars from Telemetry

Solutions (1130 Burnett Avenue, Suite J,

Concord, CA 94520) on panthers during

our 2001-2002 capture season. Two

were Posrec collars that stored data on

board until the collar was retrieved and

the other two were Simplex units that

had the ability to transmit data for

remote downloads as well as store-onboard

capabilities. Additionally, each

collar was equipped with a VHF beacon

in order to detect and recover carcasses,

pinpoint and visit dens, and enable

comparisons between GPS locations and

aerial VHF relocations. Each panther

equipped with a GPS collar was located

thrice weekly during our regularly

scheduled telemetry flights. All GPS

collars have been recovered and we are

currently evaluating data and

performance. Two panthers wearing

Posrec collars died 7 months after

deployment, one Simplex model

failed completely after only 4 months,

and the remaining Simplex’s main

battery failed after 6 months, disrupting

GPS capabilities, but VHF function was

maintained through the back-up battery.

A final report is scheduled to be

completed by the end of 2003.

Feasibility of Using Remote Cameras to

Survey Florida Panthers

Most of what is known about Florida

panthers, including population

demographics, has come from radiotelemetry

studies over the past 20 years.

However, standardized survey

techniques that estimate panther

population parameters with associated

measures of statistical confidence and

that document significant changes in

these parameters over time have not

been applied. The objective of this study

is to assess whether infrared-triggered

camera surveys for panthers provide

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

FLORIDA STATUS REPORT · Lotz and Land 21

adequate data for inclusion into capturerecapture

models based on the Lincoln-

Peterson estimator. Remote camera

surveys could complement existing labor

and cost-intensive survey methodology

to provide a more accurate estimate of

panther population parameters and

document significant changes in these

parameters over time. Passive infrared

cameras (Cam Trakker, CamTrak

South Inc., Watkinsville, GA) were

deployed systematically on two areas

within the current occupied range of

Florida panthers. The Florida Panther

National Wildlife Refuge provided an

opportunity to assess camera survey

methodology in a core area with a

sample population of radio-collared and

uncollared panthers. Long Pine Key

within Everglades National Park

provided an opportunity to assess

camera survey methodology in a quasigeographically

closed population of

radio-collared and uncollared panthers.

Cameras were systematically placed in

each study area and trials of 15 and 30

days were run with 15 and 30 cameras

per session. Field work was completed

in 2002 and a final report is expected

later this year.

Feasibility of Extracting Florida Panther

DNA from Scats

Panther scats could potentially offer the

safest and most cost effective tool for

censussing numbers of panthers,

measuring population genetic health, and

identifying origins of Puma sign found

outside of core panther areas. The

purpose of this study is to evaluate the

use of panther scats as a source of DNA

samples for on-going genetic

monitoring. Existing tissue samples

were used to calibrate and verify the

utility of extracting and analyzing DNA

from scats. Scat collection routes were

established along existing trails on four


22 FLORIDA STATUS REPORT · Lotz and Land

areas and regularly surveyed by ATV.

Over 400 km of trail were surveyed with

scats encountered every 45 km on

average. Additionally, scats were

collected opportunistically during other

field activities. Results are currently still

being analyzed but microsatellite

amplification of Florida panther DNA

was successfully extracted in 60% of the

samples. Although collecting panther

scat is labor intensive, utilizing DNA

extracted from Florida panther scat holds

promise as an unobtrusive technique to

monitor the genetic health and individual

makeup of the population. A final report

will be completed later this year.

Panther Peripheral Area Survey

The only verified breeding population of

Florida panthers is in the southern

portion of the state, south of the

Caloosahatchee River and Lake

Okeechobee, in the Big Cypress and

Everglades physiographic regions. This

population has been growing since the

mid 1990’s and so far 3 radio-collared

panthers have crossed the river.

Additionally, three uncollared panthers

have been verified north of the river in

recent years: two by tracks and/or

photos, the other was road-killed. All of

these have been males that dispersed

from the core population. Only three are

presumed to still be alive. Since resident

male panthers typically encompass

several females within their territory it is

hypothesized that searching these ranges

will afford the best opportunity of

finding other panthers if they exist. This

5-year study to determine the occurrence

and status of panthers on peripheral

areas of their presently known range has

entered its final year. Systematic sign

surveys have been conducted in areas

where two male panthers had established

territories. No sign of other panthers

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

was found. A final report is scheduled

for 2003.

Effect of Genetic Introgression on

Prevalence and Intensity of

Gastrointestinal Helminth Infections in

Florida Panthers

The effects of genetic restoration of the

Florida panther are being examined on

many fronts. Complementing other

projects, this study will indirectly assess

the suspected improvement in immune

function in intergrades by comparing

gastrointestinal tract parasite burdens to

that seen in original Florida panthers.

Concurrently we will assess the efficacy

of field anthelmintic treatment of

panthers. Before introgression,

gastrointestinal parasite burdens were

assessed in 11original Florida panthers.

Gastrointestinal tracts from a minimum

of 7 panthers descended from Texas

puma will be assessed by 2005 at which

time a final report will be prepared.

RECENT PUBLICATIONS

CUNNINGHAM, M.W., M.R. DUNBAR, C.D.

BUERGELT, B. HOMER, M. ROELKE-

PARKER, S.K. TAYLOR, R. KING, S.B.

CITINO, AND C. GLASS. 1999. Atrial

septal defects in the Florida panther.

Journal of Wildlife Diseases 35(3): 519-

530.

DEES, C.S., J.D. CLARK, AND F.T. VAN

MANEN. 2001. Florida panther habitat

use in response to prescribed fire.

Journal of Wildlife Management 65:141-

147.

DUNBAR, M.R., M.W. CUNNINGHAM, AND

S.T. LINDA. 1999. Vitamin A

Concentrations in Serum and Liver from

Florida Panthers. Journal of Wildlife

Diseases 35(2): 171-177.

JANIS, M.W. AND J.D. CLARK. 2002.

Response of Florida panthers to

recreational deer and hog hunting.


Journal of Wildlife Management.

66:839-848.

KRAMER, P.C. AND K.M. PORTIER. 2001.

Modeling Florida panther movements in

response to human attributes of the

landscape and ecological settings.

Ecological Modeling 140:51-80.

LAND, E.D., D.R. GARMIN, AND G.A. HOLT.

1998. Monitoring female Florida

panthers via cellular telephone. Wildlife

Society Bulletin. 26(1): 29-31.

LAND, E.D. AND R.C. LACY. 2000.

Introgression level achieved through

Florida panther genetic restoration.

Endangered Species Update 17: 99-103.

MAEHR, D.S. 1998. The Florida panther in

modern mythology. Natural Areas

Journal. 18(2): 179-184.

MAEHR, D.S. AND J.P. DEASON. 2002.

Wide-ranging carnivores and

development permits: constructing a

multi-scale model to evaluate impacts on

the Florida panther. Clean Technologies

and Environmental Policy. 3:398-406.

MAEHR, D.S., R.C. LACY, E.D. LAND, O.L.

BASS, JR., AND T.S. HOCTOR. 2002.

Evolution of population viability

assessments for the Florida panther: a

multiperspective approach. Pages 284-

311 in: Population Viability Analysis.

University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

MAEHR, D.S., E.D. LAND, D.B. SHINDLE,

O.L. BASS, AND T.S. HOCTOR. 2002.

Florida panther dispersal and

conservation. Biological Conservation

106:187-197.

MANSFIELD, K.G. AND E.D. LAND. 2002.

Cryptorchidism in Florida panthers:

prevalence, features, and effects of

genetic restoration. Journal of Wildlife

Diseases 38(4):693-698.

ROTSTEIN, D.S., S. TAYLOR, J. HARVEY, J.

BEAN. 1999. Hematologic effects of

Cytauxzoonosis in Florida Panthers and

Texas Cougars in Florida. Journal of

Wildlife Diseases 35(3): 613-617.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

FLORIDA STATUS REPORT · Lotz and Land 23

ROTSTEIN, D.S., R. THOMAS, K. HELMICK,

S. CITINO, S. TAYLOR, M. DUNBAR.

1999. Dermatophyte infections in freeranging

Florida Panthers (Felis concolor

coryi). Journal of Zoo and Wildlife

Medicine 30(2): 281-284.

ROTSTEIN, D.S., S.K. TAYLOR, J. BRADLEY,

AND E.B. BREITSCHWERDT. 2000.

Prevalence of Bartonella henselae

antibody in Florida panthers. Journal of

Wildlife Diseases 36(1):157-160.

ROTSTEIN, D.S., S.K. TAYLOR, A.

BIRKENHAUER, M. ROELKE-PARKER,

AND B.L. HOMER. 2002. Retrospective

study of proliferative papillary vulvitis

in Florida panthers. Journal of Wildlife

Diseases 38:115-123.

TAYLOR, S.K., E.D. LAND, M. LOTZ, M.

ROELKE-PARKER, S.B. CITINO, AND D.

ROTSTEIN. 1998. Anesthesia of freeranging

Florida panthers, 1981-1998.

Proceedings of American Association of

Zoo Veterinarians, Omaha, Nebraska.

TAYLOR, S.K., C.D. BUERGELT, M.E.

ROELKE-PARKER, B.L. HOMER, AND

D.S. ROTSTEIN. 2002. Causes of

mortality of free-ranging Florida

panthers. Journal of Wildlife Diseases

38:107-114.

LITERATURE CITED

LAND, D., M. CUNNINGHAM, R. MCBRIDE,

D. SHINDLE, AND M. LOTZ. 2002.

Florida panther genetic restoration and

management. Annual Report 2001-

2002. Florida Fish and Wildlife

Conservation Commission, Tallahassee.

111pp.

LAND, E.D. AND R.C. LACY. 2000.

Introgression level achieved through

Florida panther genetic restoration.

Endangered Species Update 17: 99-103.

MAEHR, D.S. 1990. The Florida panther

and private lands. Conservation Biology

4(2): 167-170.

MAEHR, D.S., E.D. LAND, D.B. SHINDLE,

O.L. BASS, AND T.S. HOCTOR. 2002.


24 FLORIDA STATUS REPORT · Lotz and Land

Florida panther dispersal and

conservation. Biological Conservation

106:187-197.

SEAL, U.S., AND WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTS.

1992. Genetic management strategies

and population viability of the Florida

panther. Yulee, Florida: U.S. Fish and

Wildlife Service.

SEAL, U.S., editor. 1994. A plan for genetic

restoration and management of the

Florida panther (Felis concolor coryi).

Conservation Breeding Specialist Group,

Apple Valley, MN. 24pp.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

SHINDLE, D., D. LAND, M. CUNNINGHAM,

AND M. LOTZ. 2001. Florida panther

genetic restoration and management.

Annual Report 2000-2001. Florida Fish

and Wildlife Conservation Commission,

Tallahassee. 102pp.

TINSLEY, J.B. 1970. The Florida Panther.

Great Outdoors Publishing Company.

St. Petersburg, FL.

YOUNG, S.P. AND E.A. GOLDMAN. 1946.

The puma – mysterious American cat.

Dover Publications, Inc., New York.

385pp.


IDAHO MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT

STEVE NADEAU, Wildlife Staff Biologist, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, 600 South

Walnut, Box 25, Boise, Idaho 83707, USA, email: snadeau@idfg.state.id.us

INTRODUCTION

Lions were classified as big game

animals in 1972. The 1990 Mountain Lion

Management Plan, called for the reduction

in harvest of female lions, and maintain a

harvest of approximately 250 lions

statewide. However, lion harvest peaked

statewide in 1998 when 798 lions were

harvested. Consequently, a new lion plan

was developed to address the changes in the

populations and allow more hunting

opportunity. Idaho completed the latest

Mountain Lion Management Plan in 2002.

The lion plan called for maintaining current

lion distribution statewide as a goal.

However, individual regions may adjust

harvest to either increase or decrease

populations depending upon the objectives

for that area. Seasons were made more

lenient, running from August 30 – March 31

in most units. In some areas, 2-lion bag

limits were initiated. Hounds were allowed

in most units, and non-resident hound

hunting was expanded. Female quotas were

still used in most of the southern part of the

state.

HISTORY

The legal status and public perception of

mountain lions in Idaho has changed over

time. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s,

mountain lions and other predators such as

wolf, coyote, grizzly and black bears were

perceived as significant threats to livestock

and human interests and were systematically

destroyed. Between 1915 and 1941, hunters

employed cooperatively by the State,

livestock associations, and the Federal

25

Proceedings of the Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop

Government killed 251 mountain lions in

Idaho; the take by private individuals is not

known. During the period 1945-1958,

bounties were paid for mountain lions in

Idaho with an annual average of 80

mountain lions turned in for payment

(Figure 1). The 1953-54 winter period

yielded the highest recorded bounty harvest

of 144 mountain lions (Figure 1). Bounty

payments ranged from $50 in the early

1950’s to $25 per lion during the last 4 years

of payments.

Mountain lion sport harvest became

increasingly popular after 1958. Average

annual harvest was estimated at 142 lions

from 1960 through 1971 (Figure 2). During

this period there were no restrictions or

regulations on the harvest of mountain lions.

An estimated 303 lions were harvested

during the 1971-72 season.

Research conducted by Maurice

Hornocker in the Frank Church River of No-

Number of Lions Killed

160

140

120

100

80

60

40

20

0

1950

1951

1952

1953

1954

1955

1956

1957

1958

1959

Figure 1. Mountain lion bounty records,

1950 – 1959. From 1950-1954 bounty was $50

per lion; 1955-1959 the bounty was $25 per

lion.


26 IDAHO MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Nadeau

Lion Harvest

350

300

250

200

150

100

50

0

1960

1962

1964

1966

1968

1970

1972

1974

1976

Unregulated Harvest Regulated

1978

1980

Figure 2. Unregulated mountain lion harvest

from 1960-71, and regulated harvest from

1972 -1981.

Return Wilderness from 1964-1973 added

significantly to our knowledge. As a result

of the research, the mountain lion was

reclassified as a big game species in 1972.

Harvest was then able to be regulated and

resulted in some closed units, bag limits, and

shortened seasons. Mandatory reporting

was started in 1973, and a tag has been

required since 1975.

Populations of elk and deer continued to

increase across the state during the 1980’s

and early 1990’s, and the resulting mountain

lion population did as well. The apparent

increase in lion populations allowed the

department to increase opportunity for

harvest. Harvest continued to increase as a

result of liberalized seasons and increased

populations and peaked in 1997 (Figure 3).

DISTRIBUTION AND ABUNDANCE

Lions were distributed across most of the

suitable habitat in the state (Figure 4).

Management tended to keep lion

populations at a low density in developed

areas or areas with high road density.

However, most of the areas that received

high harvest lay adjacent to lightly roaded

reservoir areas that seemed to continue to

provide dispersing animals. Distribution

900

800

700

600

500

400

300

200

100

0

1982

1984

1986

1988

1990

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

Harvest

1992

Year

1994

1996

1998

2000

Lion Harvest

Figure 3. Statewide mountain lion harvest.

The year on the x-axis represents the date the

season started, i.e. seasons run from fall

through spring.

Figure 4. Statewide mountain lion harvest by

management unit and lion DAU where

rankings are based on lions harvested/100mi 2

where very low=. 03, low=. 3-.5, moderate=.

6-1.0, high=1.1-2.0, and very high=2.6-3.0.

The shaded units have female lion quotas.


appeared to be somewhat stable, though

overall abundance may be declining.

Population estimates have not been

made for Idaho in recent years, though some

radio collaring mortality information in

Idaho indicated a high rate of sustainable

harvest in some areas. Given an estimated

harvest rate statewide of approximately

15%, we would estimate approximately

4,600 lions (+ 2,000). Research has been

ongoing to attempt to develop a population

index, however, nothing has been finalized

(Zager et al. 2002). All lions harvested must

be reported. Pelts were tagged and a

premolar was removed for aging. Prior to

2000, lion ages were estimated using tooth

drop measurements. Based on various tests,

tooth sectioning replaced tooth drop as a

more reliable estimate of age and has been

used since 2000. For data analysis purposes,

units were grouped by similar characteristics

into Data Analysis Units (DAUs). Age data

and harvest rates were used to attempt to

identify population trends for a lion by

DAU. Populations modeling using these

harvest data were used to estimate

population demographics and relative

abundance.

Lion densities were highest in the

northern part of the state where white-tailed

deer and elk were common. Harvest by

DAU size was used to standardize and

compare lion harvest rates and estimated

lion abundance (Figure 4).

HARVEST INFORMATION

There were 99 big game management

units in Idaho, which were grouped into 18

mountain lion management DAUs (Figure

4). The southern part of the state was

predominantly managed under a female

quota system, and the northern part of the

state was mostly general hunts with most

seasons running from August 30 – March

31. Quotas and seasons were set by unit or

DAU, usually based on historical harvest

rates, big game objectives, depredations,

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

IDAHO MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Nadeau 27

perceived lion population condition, lion

hunter success rates and perceptions, public

input, and commission desires.

Biological objectives for lions were not

well established by DAU, though age data

were collected on all lions harvested. A

minimum of 20% males 5+ years of age in

the harvest was established as a test

objective in some DAUs to adaptively

manage populations by attempting to grow

or reduce populations through harvest

management, and monitor resultant age

structures in the harvest. Regional wildlife

managers in the state were given a great deal

of flexibility to be able to set objectives for a

given DAU. Lion harvest increased steadily

through the 1980’s and 1990’s and peaked at

798 mountain lions harvested in 1997. Lion

harvest declined in most areas of the state

following the 1997 season despite a

liberalized lion hunting season in most of

the state (Figure 3).

Hunting with hounds accounted for

about 80% of the annual lion harvest in

Idaho. The rest of the harvest occurred

incidentally to other big game hunting

(13%), spot and stalk (5%), or predator

calling (1%). The use of electronic calls

was allowed in 2 management units where

predation was a concern and access was

limited. Dogs were prohibited through

much of the general deer and elk rifle

seasons. Pursuit with dogs was allowed in

units with female quotas once the quota was

reached. In a few of these units, hunting for

males was allowed once the female quota

was reached.

Mountain lion tag sales increased 25%

from 1998–2002, and in 2002 were at an all

time high of 20,640 total tags sold (Table 1).

Reduced prices, increased nonresident sales

of special tags, and liberalized seasons and

nonresident hound hunter regulations all

added to increased sales. Additionally, in

some parts of the state outfitters were

engaged to increase harvest of lions to help


28 IDAHO MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Nadeau

Table 1. Mountain lion tag sales in Idaho

from 1998 through 2002.

Year Resident

Tags

Nonresident

Tags

Total

Tags

Sold

1998 16,196 351 16,547

1999 17,072 813 17,885

2000 18,369 961 19,330

2001 18,561 888 19,449

2002 19,757 883 20,640

reduce predation problems on elk and

bighorn sheep.

DEPREDATIONS AND HUMAN

CONFLICTS

Currently, Idaho law allows for killing

lions or bears that are in the act of

“molesting” livestock. This law also

requires that lions killed in this fashion need

to be reported to the Department. Idaho law

also allows lions that are perceived as

threats to human safety to be killed.

Department policy provides that lions that

have caused problems or have depredated

should be captured and euthanized. Most

depredations are reported to U.S. Wildlife

Services and they handle the removal.

Policy also provides that lions that present a

threat due to proximity to residential

housing or other area of human habituation

or activity should be moved or chased in a

preemptive fashion. Depending on the

circumstance, if the animal has become

habituated or caused problems, the lion can

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

be destroyed. Orphaned kittens are not

rehabilitated for release back into the wild.

Idaho averaged 3-4 safety related

complaints annually from 1998-2002 and

about 50% required capture or removal of a

lion. There has been 1-recorded human

injury in Idaho caused by lions, and that

occurred in 1999 to a 13-year-old boy.

Lion related depredations that required

compensation averaged about 1-2 per year.

Average annual compensation form 1998-

2002 was $4717 for lion depredations on

livestock. During that same time, 46 lions

were removed due to depredation situations.

RESEARCH

The Department has been researching

techniques for population monitoring in

north central Idaho by conducting aerial

track surveys (Gratson and Zager 2000), and

a mark-recapture technique using rub

stations and biopsy darts (Zager et al. 2002).

These efforts are still preliminary in nature.

LITERATURE CITED

GRATSON, M.W., AND P. ZAGER. 2000. Elk

ecology. Study IV. Factors influencing

elk calf recruitment. Job No. 2. Calf

mortality causes and rates. Federal Aid

in Wildlife Restoration, Job Progress

Report, W-160-R-26. Idaho Department

of Fish and Game, Boise.

ZAGER, P., M.W. GRATSON, AND C. WHITE.

2002. Elk ecology. Study IV. Factors

influencing elk calf recruitment. Job No.

2. Calf mortality causes and rates.

Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration, Job

Progress Report. W-160-R-29. Idaho

Department of Fish and Game, Boise.


MONTANA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT

RICH DeSIMONE, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 1420 East Sixth Avenue, Helena, MT

59620, USA, email: rdesimone@state.mt.us

ROSE JAFFE, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 1420 East Sixth Avenue, Helena, MT 59620,

USA, email: rjaffe@state.mt.us

INTRODUCTION

Mountain lions in Montana are classified

as a big game species. Overall management

direction is provided in the Montana Fish,

Wildlife & Parks’ (MFWP) 1996

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) –

Management of Mountain Lions in

Montana. According to the EIS, objectives

concerning lion management are “… to

maintain mountain lion and prey

populations, to maintain mountain lion

populations at levels that are compatible

with outdoor recreational desires, and to

minimize human-lion conflicts and livestock

depredation”.

DISTRIBUTION AND ABUNDANCE

Figure 1. Montana mountain lion hunting districts.

29

Proceedings of the Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop

Mountain lions are currently distributed

over approximately 75% of the state. Lions

have filled habitats in western and central

Montana and are continuing to expand in the

eastern part of the state. Montana does not

estimate lion populations, however, trends

are monitored through harvest/mortality

data, tooth age information, damage/conflict

reports, and information from houndsmen.

HARVEST INFORMATION

Lion harvest objectives are guided by

balancing concern for human safety and

demand for sport hunting. Montana’s 155

deer and elk hunting districts are combined

into 74 mountain lion hunting districts

(Figure 1).


30 MONTANA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · DeSimone and Jaffe

Table 1. Montana lion hunting statistics, 1998-2002.

1998 1999 2000 2001 2002

License sales

Resident 5421 5886 5138 5116 6337

Non-resident 510 519 493 421 281

Total 5931 6405 5631 5537 6618

Lion Quota

Harvest

868 758 661 620 581

Female 417 335 293 252 188

Male 351 319 291 257 219

Unknown 8 0 0 0 0

Total 776 654 584 509 407

Harvest is regulated through quotas and

only one lion can be taken per hunter per

year. Quotas include any lion, male and

female, and female sub quotas. During the

fall hunting season (last week of Oct

through Nov), the use of dogs is not

allowed. Harvest during the fall season has

been in affect for 4 years and less than 10

lions were harvested each year (Table 1).

Hunting with dogs is allowed during the

winter season (Dec 1 – Apr 14) and accounts

for over 95% of the harvest. Licensed

hunters are also allowed to chase lions

during the winter season. Recent legislation

will allow the purchase of non-harvest chase

licenses.

DEPREDATIONS AND HUMAN

INTERACTION/CONFLICTS

MFWP’s Mountain Lion Depredation

Table 2. Montana mountain lion incidents and removals, 1998-2002.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

and Control Guidelines are used to deal with

different types of incidents. Depending on

the situation, management actions include

education, relocation, and removal (Table

2). Montana does not pay for losses

attributed to lions.

RESEARCH

Garnet Mountains – Mountain Lion

Research, 1998 – present.

The goal is to document the influence of

hunting on population characteristics and

evaluate the ability of various survey

techniques to detect trends in lion

abundance.

1998 1999 2000 2001 2002

Incidents 1

Public safety 41 18 37 30 20

Depredation 2 58 44 35 37 29

Total

Removals

99 62 72 67 49

Public safety 20 2 3 5 2

Depredation 30 20 20 11 14

Total 50 22 23 16 16

1

Incident: A conflict between a human and lion that may have serious results (i.e. a lion killing a dog or a lion that must be

forced to back down).

2

Depredation: Includes death of pets and death and injury of livestock.


NEVADA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT

RUSSELL WOOLSTENHULME, Nevada Department of Conservation & Natural Resources,

1100 Valley View Road, Reno, NV 89512, USA, email: rwoolstenhulme@ndow.org

INTRODUCTION

The Nevada Division of Wildlife

completed its Comprehensive Mountain

Lion Management Plan in January 1995.

The Nevada Board of Wildlife

Commissioners approved the plan in

October of that year. The plan is scheduled

for revision during 2003.

The goals and objectives of the mountain

lion plan are to maintain lion distribution in

reasonable densities throughout Nevada, to

control mountain lions creating a public

safety hazard or causing property damage,

and to provide recreational, educational and

scientific use opportunities of the mountain

lion resource. Additional goals include

maintaining a balance between mountain

lions and their prey, and finally to manage

mountain lions as a metapopulation.

The mountain lion’s legal classification

in Nevada was changed by regulation from

unprotected (predator) to game animal in

1965. The change in classification resulted

in the requirement of a valid hunting license

to hunt mountain lion, along with some

restrictions in the method of take. This

provision precluded the taking of lions at

any time other than from sunrise to sunset

and it also defined legal weapons as

shotgun, rifle, or bow and arrow. The

season was defined as either sex, yearround,

and no limit was set nor was a tag

required. Mountain lion harvest

management has changed substantially from

1965 to the present.

In 1968, a tag requirement was

instituted, and although no limits were

established, it became possible to record

31

Proceedings of the Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop

sport hunter harvest. Another major change

occurred in 1970, when a limit of one lion

per person was set, and a six-month season

was established. During that year, the

requirement that all harvested lions be

validated by a representative of the

Department within five days after the kill

was also established. This regulation

presented the Department the first real

opportunity to collect biological data from

the mountain lion.

In 1972, the Nevada Department of

Wildlife initiated a study of the mountain

lion as a part of the Ruby-Butte deer project

in eastern Nevada. The objective was to

determine the status of lion populations

within this high-density deer area, and, to

evaluate them in relation to deer

populations. Within two years, this

objective was changed to: a) establish

population estimates of mountain lions by

mountain range or management area

statewide, b) establish basic habitat

requirements, c) establish a harvest

management program. From that period on,

increased emphasis was placed upon lion

capture and marking with the more

sophisticated telemetry devices which were

being manufactured. This program involved

lion monitoring from both land and air and

was instrumental in expanding our life

history information base, as well as

providing an approach toward estimating the

annual population status in key mountain

ranges. The findings from this study were

then utilized in formulating an approach

toward estimating statewide lion

populations. This ten (10) year study formed


32 NEVADA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Woolstenhulme

the basics for most management activities

that have been implemented since

publication of this study in 1983.

In 1976, 26 mountain lion management

areas were described statewide, and a

harvest quota established for each to control

the sport harvest. This “Controlled Quota

Hunt” was the most restrictive season ever

established for mountain lion in Nevada.

In 1979, the “Controlled Quota Hunt”

was modified utilizing six management

areas whereby a harvest objective was

established which allowed the hunting of

lions in each of the six areas until the

predetermined number of lion were taken.

In 1981, the “Harvest Objective” hunting

season concept was applied statewide.

Initially this system required a hunter to

obtain a free hunt permit for the opportunity

to hunt in one (1) management area. In

1994, hunters were allowed to obtain a free

hunt permit that authorized the hunter to

hunt in two (2) management areas until the

established harvest objective was reached.

Both of these permit systems allowed

hunters to change management areas at will

as long as the harvest objective had not been

reached in the desired management area(s).

In 1995, the hunt permit approach was

modified to eliminate the physical issuance

of a permit in favor of establishing a 1-800

telephone number. This system allows

hunters to hunt in any management area in

which the harvest objective has not been

reached. The hunter must, however, call the

1-800 number before starting to hunt to

determine which management area(s) are

still open to hunting.

In 1997, changes were made to mountain

lion regulations to increase mountain lion

harvest, while maintaining the integrity of

the harvest objective limits system. Those

changes included the reduction of tag fees,

over-the-counter tag sales, increasing bag

limits from one tag per hunter to two tags

per hunter, and consolidation of some of the

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

harvest unit groups.

In 1998, Nevada’s southern region was

modified to provide for a year-round hunting

season on mountain lions. The entire state

went to a year-round season in 2001.

New changes were made again for the

2003 season. These changes modified

harvest unit groups from 24 groups

throughout the state to three statewide

regions corresponding with the Division’s

three management regions. The mountain

lion season continues to be year-round but

season dates were changed to March 1 st of

each year to the last day of February,

corresponding with the dates on a Nevada

hunting license.

DISTRIBUTION AND ABUNDANCE

Mountain lions seem well adapted to the

wide variety of habitat and environmental

conditions that exist in Nevada. They have

been observed to live or wander through

almost every mountain range from the

Mojave Desert in extreme southern Nevada

to alpine forests at the highest elevations in

the northern part of the state. Distribution

appears to be primarily influenced by prey

availability, and has remained fairly

consistent through time.

Mountain lion populations are estimated

utilizing a life table model (retrospective

harvest/ mortality). The model utilizes

known harvest/ mortality rates and

recruitment rates (as determined from markrecapture

and telemetry studies) to calculate

a retrospective estimate of minimum viable

population size needed to sustain known

harvest rates over the same time period.

Although no defined confidence limit is

used during this process, our confidence in

this model is relatively high based on the

fact that harvest rates have continued over

time at a constant rate without signs of

extirpation, reduced harvest rates, or

increased average age of harvested lion.

Based on our current estimation methods,


NEVADA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Woolstenhulme 33

Table 1. Mountain lion tag sales, sport hunter harvest, and hunter success by class of hunter.

Tag Sales Harvest Hunter Success

Year Resident Nonresident Total Resident Nonresident Total Resident Nonresident Total

1998 643 124 767 73 67 140 11% 54% 18%

1999 680 109 789 70 56 126 10% 51% 16%

2000 883 169 1052 104 81 185 12% 48% 18%

2001 838 98 936 103 58 161 12% 59% 17%

2002 1030 202 1232 105 63 168 10% 31% 14%

2003 1060 131 1191 89 39 128 8% 30% 11%

Total 5,134 833 5,967 544 364 908 11% 44% 15%

Average 856 139 995 91 61 151 11% 44% 15%

lion populations within Nevada are between

3000-4000 animals.

HARVEST INFORMATION

Mountain lions have been classified as a

big game species since 1965. They have

been hunted annually since that time. A

Nevada resident mountain lion tag costs

$25.00, and a Nevada nonresident mountain

lion tag costs $100.00. On the average,

nonresident hunters account for

approximately 14% of tag sales, but harvest

a greater proportion of lions than do resident

hunters (Table 1). Total sport hunter harvest

has averaged 151 lions per year for the last 6

years (Table 2).

The open season for hunting mountain

lions in Nevada currently runs year-round

(March 1 – last day of February) (Table 3).

Table 2. Mountain lion harvest by harvest type and sex.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

Any legal weapon may be used to harvest a

mountain lion, and dogs may be used to hunt

a mountain lion under the authority of a

current State of Nevada hunting license and

mountain lion tag. Because the mountain

lion season is year-round no pursuit only

season exists. A resident or a non-resident is

eligible to obtain two mountain lion tags

each year. A person who harvests a

mountain lion in Nevada must, within 72

hours after harvesting it, personally present

the skull and hide to a representative of the

division for inspection. The representative

shall affix a State of Nevada mountain lion

seal permanently to the hide. A seal must be

permanently affixed to the hide of a

mountain lion before it can be possessed by

an individual or removed from the state. It

is unlawful to kill a female mountain lion

Sport Hunter Harvest Depredation Take Total

Year Male Female Total Male Female Total Male Female Total

1998 85 55 140 12 8 20 97 63 160

1999 77 49 126 12 10 22 89 59 148

2000 102 83 185 8 3 11 110 86 196

2001 95 66 161 8 8 16 103 74 177

2002 99 69 168 10 16 26 109 85 194

2003 77 51 128 7 8 15 84 59 143

Average 89 62 151 10 9 18 99 71 170


34 NEVADA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Woolstenhulme

Table 3. Nevada Mountain Lion Units and Quotas 2003 – 2005.

Unit Group

UNIT 1 (Western Region)

011 - 015, 021, 022, 031,

032, 034, 035, 041 - 046,

051, 181 – 184, 192, 194 -

196, 201 - 206, 291

2003-2004 Season

Dates

March 1, 2003 –

Feb 29, 2004

2003-2004

Harvest Objectives

114

2004-2005 Season

Dates

March 1, 2004 –

Feb 28, 2005

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

2004-2005

Harvest Objectives

033 Closed 0 Closed 0

UNIT 2 (Eastern Region)

061, 062, 064 – 068, 071 -

078, 081, 101 – 108, 111 –

115, 121, 131 – 134, 141 –

145, 151, 152, 154, 155

079*

UNIT 3 (Southern Region)

161 - 164, 171 - 173, 211,

212, 221 – 223, 231, 241 –

244, 251 - 253, 261 - 268,

271 – 272

March 1, 2003 –

Feb 29, 2004

March 1, 2003 –

Feb 29, 2004

March 1, 2003 –

Feb 29, 2004

163

4

68

March 1, 2004 –

Feb 28, 2005

March 1, 2004 –

Feb 28, 2005

March 1, 2004 –

Feb 28, 2005

280 – 284 Closed 0 Closed 0

* Interstate hunt with Utah. Nevada and Utah hunters may hunt within open units in both states. Nevada hunters

hunting in Utah must abide by Utah regulations.

that is accompanied by a spotted kitten, or to

kill or possess a spotted mountain lion

kitten. It is also unlawful in Nevada to trap

a mountain lion, if a mountain lion is

accidentally trapped or killed, the person

trapping or killing it shall report the trapping

or killing within 48 hours to the division.

The animal must be disposed of in

accordance with state law.

Mountain lion harvest objectives are

calculated for each administrative region on

a semi-annual basis using standardized

methodology. Harvest objectives are

calculated and recommended in order to

achieve a specific management action over a

short-term period (no more than two years).

Management actions may be designed to

increase, stabilize and maintain, or decrease

mountain lion populations within each of the

three administrative regions in Nevada.

114

163

Calculations of harvest objectives by

administrative region incorporate the use of

scientific data to determine the current

population trend and population density. A

“political index” may be employed to adjust

harvest objectives within smaller geographic

areas (big game management areas) in order

to achieve the desired management goal.

Biologists make annual adjustments to

harvest objective recommendations for each

administrative region only after careful

review of the following data and information

that is collected, assembled and distributed

by the Game Bureau by October of each

year.

A. Data used to assess population trend,

including, but not limited to:

4

68

1) The current regional population

model.


2) Sex, weight and age data from

harvested mountain lions for the

previous recording period (March 1

- February 28).

B. Data used to assess population density,

including, but not limited to:

1) The current regional population

model.

2) Data showing the unit of effort to

observe or harvest mountain lions.

3) Average weight information,

comparing weights of harvested

animals by sex and cohort group to

the long-term data set (1968 -

2003).

C. Data to quantify “bio-political”

considerations, including, but not

limited to:

1) A summary of the public safety

complaint forms involving

mountain lions as received by the

Bureau for the previous recording

period.

2) A report of damage to private

property caused by mountain lions

as annually prepared by ADC.

3) A prey species accounting

spreadsheet as prepared by the

region for the previous recording

period. Adjustments from the

baseline harvest objective level for

each administrative region will be

recommended in order to achieve

the short-term (two-year) goal of

maintaining, increasing, or

decreasing mountain lion

populations within the respective

administrative region, utilizing

harvest management as the primary

tool to achieve the desired

population goal.

See Figure 1 for State of Nevada

mountain lion hunt unit reference map.

NEVADA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Woolstenhulme 35

Figure 1. Nevada mountain lion hunt unit

reference map.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

DEPREDATIONS AND HUMAN

INTERACTIONS/CONFLICTS

The Nevada Division of Wildlife

Comprehensive Management Plan

specifically addresses policy and procedure

for dealing with nuisance or problem

mountain lions.

The Division of Wildlife is responsible

by statute for controlling wildlife causing

damage to personal property or endangering

personal safety. The Division also has a

responsibility to provide sport-hunting

opportunities to Nevada sportsmen. This

protocol sets forth procedures to be followed

in controlling and preventing lion damage,

addressing public safety issues and

responding to sport hunting opportunities.

In carrying out this policy where mountain

lion/human interactions are involved, agents

shall have the discretion to choose the most


36 NEVADA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Woolstenhulme

applicable management option, following

guidelines outlined in this protocol. All

efforts will be directed at the individual lion

causing the problem.

Mountain lion/human interactions have

increased throughout the West and in

Nevada in the last several decades. During

the same period, the number of depredation

complaints and the number of lions taken on

depredation complaints has also increased.

The Division desires to reduce multiple

depredations from the same animal and

prevent harm to humans.

The Division recognizes three distinct

categories of mountain lions involved in

human/lion interactions.

A. Nuisance Lion - a lion involved in a

direct meeting with a human but did

not exhibit aggressive behavior toward

the human, a lion repeatedly observed

in an area, or a situation where

personal property is at risk.

B. Depredating Lion - a lion that has

injured or killed livestock or domestic

pets.

C. Dangerous or Aggressive Lion - a

lion that has exhibited aggressive

behavior towards humans. A lion that

has an unnatural interest in humans

without provocation and is perceived

to be a threat to public safety. A lion

located in a place or situation where

human safety is of concern may be

considered dangerous.

Various management options are

available to Division employees when a

mountain lion conflict arises. The Division

employee responding to or assigned to

handle a lion/human conflict will have the

primary responsibility to assess mountain

lion involvement in an incident and conduct

the necessary investigation. Agents may be

required to make an assessment "on the

spot" or if time permits make an assessment

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

with consultation.

At all opportunities, the Division will

provide educational and informational

materials to individuals concerned with lion

management and people-lion conflict

prevention. These materials will include

options for pet and livestock protection and

avoidance of dangerous encounters with

mountain lions. Site-specific education and

prevention efforts will be made in historic

conflict areas.

A field response by either a Division

employee or his/her designated agent is

required for all lion/human interactions

involving the categories of lions defined.

1. Nuisance Mountain Lions

a. No management action combined

with education effort.

b. Deterrent methods combined with

education effort.

c. Capture, mark and relocate cougars

if deterrent methods are

unsuccessful or impractical. Lions

identified for relocation will be

transported to the following release

sites in priority order.

1) Instate release locations within

low conflict areas

2) Out of state governmental

agencies

3) University or research facilities

4) Zoological gardens or Zoos

d. Nuisance lions will be destroyed if

relocating or deterrent methods are

unsuccessful or impractical.

2. Depredation Mountain Lions

a. No management action combined

with education effort.

b. Deterrent methods including

prevention materials (if applicable)

combined with education effort.

c. Capture, mark and relocate cougars

if deterrent methods are

unsuccessful or impractical. Lions


identified for relocation will be

transported to the following release

sites in priority order.

1) Instate release locations within

low conflict areas

2) Out of state governmental

agencies

3) University or research facilities

4) Zoological gardens or Zoos

d. Depredating lions will be destroyed

if deterrent methods or live capture

is unsuccessful or impractical.

3. Aggressive (Dangerous) Mountain

Lions

a. If a lion is dangerous because of its

location and not its behavior it may

be trapped, marked and relocated.

If a lion is frequenting a city or

town, it may be destroyed if capture

methods fail or are impractical.

Lions identified for relocation will

be transported to the following

release sites in priority order.

1) Instate release locations within

low conflict areas

2) Out of state governmental

agencies

3) University or research facilities

4) Zoological gardens or Zoos

b. If the mountain lion is dangerous

because it has exhibited aggressive

behavior toward humans or is

otherwise perceived to be a threat to

human safety, or if the lion is

involved in an attack on a human,

destroy and necropsy the lion.

Lions exhibiting aggressive

behavior in remote areas should not

be killed but instead an aggressive

publicity and educational campaign

should be made to alert people of

the danger in the remote area and

promote human avoidance of the

area over the short-term.

NEVADA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Woolstenhulme 37

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

c. A detailed narrative report on each

incident involving handling of

dangerous lions will be prepared by

the agent in control of the incident

and forwarded to the Supervising

Regional Game Biologist.

Mountain lion incidents involving

attacks or injury to people will be

immediately reported through the

chain of command to the Regional

Manager, Administrator, Chief of

Game and Chief Game Warden.

All lions destroyed will be reported

on the 351-harvest form. A copy of

the detailed report, including any

necropsy, coroner's report or other

supporting information shall be sent

to the Game bureau staff biologist

responsible for mountain lions. A

lion/human interaction form will be

completed for each interaction.

In those incidences where control

becomes necessary, a regional list of persons

who have requested consideration and are

qualified to do control work, including

private hunters/ trappers and outfitters/

guides will be a source of control, as well as

U.S.D.A. APHIS/ADC personnel.

Hunters/trappers, outfitters/guides or

U.S.D.A. agents will not initiate control

unless requested to do so by the Division.

Hunters or trappers may be authorized to

control problem animals during open or

closed seasons. The hunter or trapper will

buy a license and tag for use during the open

season until the hunter or trapper's tag is

filled. The hunter may continue control

work after the tag is filled only under the

authority of a depredation permit. Hunting

during a closed season will be conducted

only under the authority of a depredation

permit. Depredation permits will only be

issued to landowners/livestock owners for

the control of specific depredating lions.

Hunters or trappers may keep the lion if

harvested under the authority of a valid


38 NEVADA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Woolstenhulme

license and tag. All other lions become the

property of the State.

The USDA, APHIS/ADC, may be

contacted to do control work any time of

year. The APHIS/ADC agent shall attempt

to control only the animal(s) causing

damage. The agent will use discretion in the

control of young animals. All lions taken by

APHIS/ADC are the property of the State.

A mountain lion harvest report form is

completed for all mountain lion mortalities.

A mountain lion/human interaction form is

completed for all lion/human interactions.

Records of lion mortality and human/ lion

interactions are kept in computer databases

in Reno.

RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS

ERNEST, HOLLY B., WALTER M. BOYCE,

VERNON C. BLEICH, BERNIE MAY, SAN

J. STIVER, AND STEVEN G. TORRES. In

Press. Genetic structure of mountain

lion (Puma concolor) populations in

California. Journal of Conservation

Genetics.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

This paper used 412 samples from

California and 19 samples collected in

western Nevada within 50 km of California.

The work helped define the geographic

ranges of mountain lion populations in

California. Population structure differed

greatly by region - mountain lions in many

California regions have significant barriers

to genetic interchange and therefore are very

different from one population to another.

This paper, plus the work done for the

Nevada DOW report indicate that

populations in Nevada tend not to have as

much obstruction to genetic interchange as

those in most ecological regions of

California, in general. This study shows that

mountain lion management and conservation

efforts should be individualized according to

region and incorporate landscape-level

considerations to protect habitat

connectivity.

A follow up study by Dr. Holly Ernest,

on mountain lion genetic variation and

phylogeography in Nevada is currently

being finalized for future publication.


NEW MEXICO MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT

RICK WINSLOW, Large Carnivore Biologist, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, P.O.

Box 25112, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504, USA, email: Rwinslow@state.nm.us

INTRODUCTION

The New Mexico Department of Game

and Fish has almost completed

implementation of its cougar management

plan. We are beginning to develop a new

five-year plan.

Mountain lions have been classified as

protected big game animals in New Mexico

since 1971 and are currently hunted

throughout most of the occupied habitat in

the state.

Mountain lion management in New

Mexico is multi-faceted. The department is

attempting to develop a conservation

strategy that allows both hunting and

enjoyment of cougars by the non-hunting

public. We also need to balance differing

management issues: (1) depredation control

to minimize economic losses to livestock

operators, (2) minimizing human/cougar

conflicts, (3) cougar removal where

increasing deer and bighorn populations is

the management priority.

In 1999 we initiated a zone quota system

for harvest management. Our zone quotas

are based upon management decisions for

either increasing, maintaining stable, or

decreasing lion populations.

DISTRIBUTION AND ABUNDANCE

Since their protection as a big game

animal in 1971, mountain lions have steadily

returned to suitable habitat throughout the

state. Mountain lions generally inhabit the

rougher country in New Mexico avoiding

the low elevation desert areas and eastern

plains. They do however occur in these

areas in conjunction with pockets of mule

39

Proceedings of the Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop

deer and areas of topographic diversity. Our

current estimate of the cougar population in

New Mexico is approximately 2150 cougars

derived by multiplying density estimates by

(Logan et al. 1996) the estimated amount of

mule deer habitat. For regional estimates,

we use a population model based on rates of

recruitment and mortality from Logan et al.

(1996), quantity of habitat and population

density.

Since 1979, successful hunters have

been required to present their cougar to a

Department official within 5 days of their

harvest to have the pelt tagged, a tooth

collected for aging, sex verified, and other

information gathered. Reports of cougar

depredation and damage are also kept.

Harvest strategies have varied during the

32 years cougars have been classified as a

game animal. In 1971 only the southwestern

corner of New Mexico was open to cougar

hunting with a bag limit of one cougar and a

4-month season. More areas of the state

were opened to cougar hunting and seasons

lengthened in subsequent years. From 1979

to 1983 the season was 11 months long

statewide with a bag limit of 2 cougars.

In 1983 a bill was introduced to the New

Mexico House of Representatives to return

the cougar to its status prior to 1971 as a

varmint. It was tabled but the legislature

requested that the department gather more

information on the cougar’s status. Evans

(1983) investigated harvest trends and

population estimates and determined that

cougar populations had probably declined.

His determination and public opinion


40 NEW MEXICO MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Winslow

resulted in more conservative harvest

strategies.

In 1984 the cougar season was shortened

to 3 months in most of the state, with longer

seasons in units that had high numbers of

depredation complaints. From 1985 until

1999 the season was 4 months long

throughout the state with a bag limit of one

cougar. In 1999 the state instituted a zone

management system with harvest objectives

and quotas. The season was extended to 6

months throughout the majority of the state

with low-elevation bighorn sheep ranges

open year round.

In 2002, the cougar season remained at 6

months with a 1 cougar bag limit throughout

most of the state with the following

exceptions: year around hunting in selected

desert bighorn sheep areas and Rocky

Mountain bighorn sheep areas in the

southern part of the state and on private

property, and year round hunting in specific

units in the southeastern corner of the state

that have historically suffered high

depredation losses. The bag limit was

increased to 2 cougars in bighorn areas.

Currently the state has 15 cougar

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

Figure 1. Cougar Harvest Management

Zones in New Mexico during 2002-03.

management zones (Figure 1). Each is

managed through a quota system for

increasing, decreasing or stable populations

of cougar (Table 1). The ratio of males to

females harvested generally equals 60:40

Table 1. Cougar harvest objectives by management zone in New Mexico, 2002-03.

Zone Game Management Units Included in Zone Harvest Objective

A 2 and 7 14

B 5 and 50-51 20

C 43-46, 48-49, and 53-55 38

D 41-42, 47, and 56-58 16

E 9 and 10 16

F 6 and 8 16

G 13-14, and 17 17

H 19, 20, and 28-29 3

I 18, 30, 34, and 36-38 20

J 15-16, 21, and 25 38

K 22-24 22

L 26-27 Unlimited

M 31-33, and 39-40 5

N 4 and 52 3

O 12 3

231 a

a Not including unlimited areas.


(Table 2). Hunters tend to selectively

harvest the larger male lions.

Since sport hunting was implemented in

1971, use of hounds has been allowed but

cubs and females with cubs cannot be taken.

At least 90% of the harvest is through hound

hunting. There is no pursuit season.

Approximately 2000 lion licenses are

sold per year currently. This number has

gone up during the past decade. There is no

limit to the number of lion licenses sold per

year.

Since 1998 cougar depredation

complaints have ranged from 28 to 45 per

year with 1 to 20 cougars killed per year.

Mountain lion depredation incidents are

typically dealt with on a case-by-case basis

NEW MEXICO MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Winslow 41

Table 2. Permits issued and cougars harvested in New Mexico, 1981-2003.

Hunt Year

Permits

Issued

Male Harvest

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

in New Mexico. Department policy is to

resolve depredation and to minimize

property damage, conflict and threat to

human safety. When department or Wildlife

Services investigation confirms a

depredation incident, a depredation permit

may be issued. Generally, either snares or

hounds are used to capture the offending

animal. Lions involved in depredation

incidents are destroyed. Landowners may

also kill lions in defense of human safety or

property. The southeastern corner of the

state has a preventative control program,

which is in effect in Unit 30 to reduce

depredation on domestic sheep. The

preventative control program destroyed 110

mountain lions between 1989 and 1999 and

Female

Harvest

Unknown Total Harvest

1981-82 360 78 44 3 125

1982-83 481 55 44 1 101

1983-84 661 67 65 0 132

1984-85 443 47 32 0 79

1985-86 472 56 48 0 104

1986-87 437 55 46 0 101

1987-88 456 43 35 0 78

1988-89 450 58 33 0 91

1989-90 482 71 41 0 112

1990-91 781 73 35 0 108

1991-92 765 77 42 0 119

1992-93 826 68 37 0 105

1993-94 926 75 52 0 127

1994-95 1145 87 61 2 150

1995-96 842 74 45 0 119

1996-97 980 114 62 1 177

1997-98 974 108 58 2 168

1998-99 1485 95 58 0 153

1999-00 1702 98 58 0 156

2000-01 NA 1 140 96 0 236

2001-02 NA 1 127 91 1 219

2002-03 NA 1 161 120 3 284 2

1

Not yet determined.

2

Numbers may not be complete.


42 NEW MEXICO MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Winslow

has continued in the years since.

In situations where depredation cannot

be confirmed, the district wildlife officer

will offer advice and suggestions as to how

the complainant can avoid incidents with

lions. Lions captured for reasons other than

depredation are relocated to another area of

the state.

Human safety incidents with lions are

rare in New Mexico. Any lion involved in a

human safety type of incident would be

destroyed if caught.

RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS

Ligon (1926) conducted the first

investigation on cougars in New Mexico and

determined that they were uncommon but

preyed heavily upon domestic animals and

deer. Hibben (1937) investigated lion

biology in northern and western portions of

the state. Prey use and movements in the

southwestern corner of the state were

documented via radio telemetry in the

1970’s (Donaldson 1975, Johnson 1982).

Cougar ecology in Carlsbad Caverns

National Park, New Mexico and the

Guadalupe Mountains National Park across

the border in Texas was studied from 1982-

85 (Smith et al. 1986). Ecology and

population dynamics of cougars in the San

Andres Mountains of south central New

Mexico were studied from 1985-95 (Logan

et al. 1996). This was the most intensive

investigation of desert-dwelling cougars

ever conducted. Beausoleil (2001) reviewed

historic and current status of mountain lions

in New Mexico.

LITERATURE CITED

BEAUSOLEIL, R.A. 2001. Status of the

Mountain Lion in New Mexico, 1997-

2000. New Mexico Naturalist’s Notes

3(1) pp. 33-47.

DONALDSON, B. 1975. Mountain lion

research. Final Report, Pittman

Robertson Project W-93-17, Work plan

15, Job 1. New Mexico Department of

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

Game and Fish, Santa Fe, New Mexico

USA.

EVANS, W. 1983. The cougar in New

Mexico: biology, status, depredation of

livestock, and management

recommendations. Response to House

Memorial 42. New Mexico Department

of Game and Fish, Santa Fe, New

Mexico USA.

HIBBEN, F.C. 1937. A preliminary study of

the mountain lion (Felis oregonenis

spp.). University of New Mexico

Bulletin, Biological Series 5(3) 5-59.

JOHNSON, J. 1982. Mountain lion research.

Final Report, Pittman Robertson Project

W-124-R-4, Job 1. New Mexico

Department of Game and Fish, Santa Fe,

New Mexico USA.

LIGON, J.S. 1927. Wild Life of New Mexico,

Its Conservation and Management.

Being a Report on the Game Survey of

the State, 1926 and 1927. State Game

Commission Department of Game and

Fish, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

LOGAN, K.A., L.L. SWEANOR, T.K. RUTH,

AND M.G. HORNOCKER. 1996. Cougars

of the San Andres Mountains, New

Mexico. Federal Aid in Wildlife

Restoration, Project W-128-R, for New

Mexico Department of Game and Fish,

Santa Fe, New Mexico USA.

NEW MEXICO DEPARTMENT OF GAME AND

FISH. 1997. Long range plan for the

management of cougar in New Mexico.

Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration

Grant W-93-R-39, Project 1, Job 5. New

Mexico Department of Game and Fish,

Santa Fe, New Mexico USA.

SMITH, T.E., R.R. DUKE, M.J. KUTILEK, AND

H.T. HARVEY. 1986. Mountain lions

(Felis Concolor) in the vicinity of

Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico and

Guadalupe Mountains National Park,

Texas. Harvey and Stanley Associates

Incorporated, Alvisa, Texas USA.


STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT

MIKE KINTIGH, Regional Supervisor, South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks, 3305 West South St.,

Rapid City, SD 57702, USA, email: Mike.Kintigh@state.sd.us

INTRODUCTION

South Dakota (SD) is currently

developing a management plan for mountain

lions. The second draft of this document is

currently under review by South Dakota

Department of Game, Fish and Parks (SD

GFP) staff. This document is also available

to the public and interested parties for

review and comment. A copy can be

obtained by contacting Regional Supervisor

Mike Kintigh (listed above) or Dr. Larry

Gigliotti at 605-773-4231. This summer/fall

SD GFP will be taking further steps to

solicit public comments on the management

plan.

Mountain Lions are currently classified

as a State Threatened Species in SD.

However, in July that classification will

likely change significantly. Legislative

action in January of 2003 closed a legal

loophole by defining the lion as a big game

animal. This action will facilitate the

removal of the lion from the State’s

Threatened Species List. Game

Commission action is still required to

finalize the delisting and this is expected to

occur in early June. Forty-five days is

required for any commission finalization

actions to take effect and this will occur in

mid July, after the legislative action

becomes law on July 1, 2003.

It is important to note that while the lion

will be taken off the threatened species list

in South Dakota, it will actually gain

additional protection under law by being

defined as a big game animal. Criminal

penalties will increase from class 2

misdemeanors to class 1 misdemeanors,

43

Proceedings of the Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop

carrying higher fines and longer jail

sentences.

A misconception exists in that by

classifying the lion as a big game animal a

hunting season will immediately be

implemented. This is absolutely false! The

lion will continue to be fully protected as a

big game animal with a continuously closed

season until at some undetermined point

when additional management decisions are

made.

South Dakota has many objectives

concerning mountain lion management.

They are as follows:

A) Evaluate the Legal status of the

Mountain Lion in SD by April 1,

2003.

B) Evaluate strategies for monitoring &

censusing Mountain Lion

populations in SD by 2005.

C) Maintain a statewide database of Mt.

Lion activity including sightings,

human interactions, depredation

events and lion mortality.

D) Develop a list of Mt. Lion research

needs. Evaluate and prioritize

annually.

E) Develop Mt. Lion population

management methods that are

consistent with established goals and

objectives.

F) Identify and describe suitable habitat

areas and parameters for Mt. Lions

in SD by Sept. 2003.

G) Develop a comprehensive Public

Education strategy for informing and

educating the Staff, citizens and


44 SOUTH DAKOTA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Kintigh

visitors about Mt. Lions and personal

safety while in Mt. Lion country.

H) Develop a public involvement plan

for implementation during 2003 and

2004 for inclusion in our

management planning process.

Over the last 10 years South Dakota has

not significantly changed the way we

manage lions. During this period of time

they remained on the State’s Threatened

Species List and very little was done to

manage them other than offering them full

protection of the law. Our awareness of

lions did increase significantly during this

time as we observed a steady apparent

increase in their numbers. In recent years an

Action Plan was developed to guide staff in

dealing with problem lions. This Action

Plan is currently under revision and will be

included in the overall Management Plan.

We also created a system for documenting

and tracking lion activity. More significant

changes are looming on the horizon as we

remove the lion from the Threatened Species

List and focus on concerted effort to manage

our lions.

DISTRIBUTION AND ABUNDANCE

Lions are currently distributed

throughout the Black Hills, which contains

the most suitable habitat in South Dakota.

Some evidence of breeding populations also

exists in the Custer National Forest in

Harding County, the Badlands of eastern

Pennington County and on the Pine Ridge

Reservation of Shannon, Jackson and Bennett

counties.

Reports of lion activity have been

received across all of South Dakota.

Verification of reports outside of the Black

Hills has proven to be very difficult,

especially east of the Missouri River. Most

occurrences outside of the Black Hills have

been associated with river drainages that

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

provide marginal habitat.

The lion population in South Dakota

appears to be still growing slowly at this

time. Some uncertainty exists as to what the

carrying capacity of the Black Hills for lions

may be, though it is generally felt we are

very close to that level now. Some evidence

of dispersal from the Black Hills exists. To

date we have only detected young males

dispersing from the Black Hills. One young

female was radio collared on the very edge

of the Black Hills and some thought that she

might disperse was expressed. She was

poached before that determination was

made.

The cougar population in the Black Hills

was estimated using program PUMA (Beier

1993), incorporating parameters obtained

from radio-collared cougars and habitat

quality derived from a habitat-relation

model. Annual home ranges were generated

for 10 adult cougars monitored > 8 months,

and spatial distribution of established males

was analyzed using a home range overlap

index. The area of the Black Hills was

estimated at 8,400 km 2 , comprised of

6,702.9 km 2 of high quality and 1,697.1 km 2

of lower quality habitat (based on a habitatrelation

model developed for the species).

Mean annual home range size of established

adult male cougars (n = 3) was 809.2 km 2 ,

and was significantly larger (P < 0.05) than

that of adult females (n = 4), 182.3 km 2 .

Based on sightings of family groups and

radio-collared females, we documented up

to 5 females occurring in established male

ranges. Percent overlap for 3 established

cougars averaged 33% (range = 18.0 -

52.0%). Based on 5 population simulations,

the total number of cougars in the Black

Hills was estimated to be 127 to 149

cougars; 46 to 49 adult females, 12 to 29

adult males; 21 to 24 yearling females and

males; and 45 to 48 female and male kittens.


HARVEST INFORMATION

South Dakota has not had any form of

legalized mountain lion hunting since 1978.

The future management of lions in South

Dakota will include consideration of a

hunting season as a management tool.

Concerns about the impacts of hunting to the

stability of the population will weigh heavily

when those decisions are made.

DEPREDATIONS AND HUMAN

INTERACTIONS/CONFLICTS

South Dakota does operate with an

“Action Plan For Managing Mountain

Lion/Human/Property Interactions.” An

Action Plan was first developed in May of

1995 and has been revised since then. This

plan is included in the overall Mountain

Lion Management Plan, which is currently

under development. For our agency,

addressing “problem” lions is the most

difficult aspect of maintaining a population

of lions. Public emotions are strong and

varied which results in many

comments/opinions being expressed directly

at the “Action Plan.”

South Dakota’s Action Plan categorizes

Human/Lion interactions into five types:

1. Sighting - a visual observation of a

lion or a report of lion tracks or other

sign on unpopulated lands or rural

areas within the Black Hills.

2. Encounter - an unexpected direct

neutral meeting between a human and

SOUTH DAKOTA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Kintigh 45

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

a lion without incident (Mountain lion

sightings in close proximity to homes,

stables or livestock in rural areas and

unpopulated lands outside of the

Black Hills). A mountain lion is

observed for the first time in close

proximity or within residential

developments and occupied

recreational area.

3. Incident - a conflict between a human

and lion that may have serious results

(e.g. a lion that must be forced to back

down). Recurring observations of a

lion in close proximity or within

residential developments and

occupied recreational areas.

Livestock is killed in rural areas.

4. Substantial public threat - a mountain

lion that is observed within a city near

areas where children are regularly

congregated, killing wildlife/pets

residential developments or occupied

recreational areas or repeatedly killing

livestock.

5. Attack - when a human is bodily

injured or killed by contact with a

mountain lion.

Each occurrence requires an

understanding of all the circumstances and

any history involved before an action is

decided upon. In general, with every report

of a lion a field investigation is highly

encouraged by agency personnel (Table 1).

Verification is key to any response.

Table 1. Public Safety reports and resulting lion removals in South Dakota, 1998 – 2002.

Year Number

Reports

Number

Incidents

Number

Encounters

Threatening

Encounters

Number of Public

Safety Incidents

Number Lions

Removed

1998 57 5 2 2 5 0

1999 54 1 0 0 1 0

2000 66 5 4 1 1 1

2001 144 4 8 3 4 0

2002 198 5 6 2 2 1


46 SOUTH DAKOTA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Kintigh

Table 2. Mountain lion depredations, verified depredations, and resulting lion removals in South

Dakota, 1998 – 2002.

Year Number Depredations

Number Depredations

Verified

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

Number Lions

Removed

1998 1 1 0

1999 0 0 0

2000 2 1 0

2001 3 2 1

2002 4 2 0

Note – one lion has been removed due to livestock depredation in 2003 already.

Personnel are encouraged to take every

opportunity to educate the public regarding

all aspects of living with lions. Each lion

reporting person receives an agency

produced brochure on Mountain Lions.

Public education is emphasized at this time

and every opportunity is taken.

Keeping all options available to

responding staff is very desirable to our

agency. However, we will not pay for any

damages incurred due to wildlife of any

species.

Relocation of problem lions was once

considered, but, due to the geographically

limited area of the Black Hills and the

existing lion population, it has been deemed

an option that was unlikely to produce

desirable results. Unusual circumstances

may arise in which it may be attempted and

the option has not been made totally

unavailable.

In rare cases, usually involving a single

livestock producer, a permit has been issued

for that individual to kill a lion that has been

causing livestock depredation. Usually this

only happens after agency efforts to remove

the offending lion have failed.

Our agency is equipped with a trio of

trained lion hounds managed by an

experienced houndsman. In most situations

that necessitate a lion removal, the action is

lead by our houndsman. Our state trappers

are also equipped with leg snares, which are

generally only set around livestock kills as

the houndsman prepares to arrive on scene.

On a few occasions, when a lion was a

concern, but did not warrant removal we

have chased the lion with hounds to haze the

lion. On at least one occasion the lion was

treed and a radio collar was fitted to increase

our knowledge of its activity.

In regards to livestock depredation, we

currently investigate every report of this but

take slightly different approaches to

resolution depending upon the location.

Livestock kills within the Black Hills

typically require multiple kills before action

to remove the offending lion is initiated.

We are hesitant to remove lions from the

limited quality habitat available in South

Dakota (Table 2). Livestock depredation

complaints on the plains of South Dakota,

where limited habitat and a strong

agricultural industry exists, are addressed

much more decisively and quickly.

RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS

The Department of Wildlife and

Fisheries Sciences at South Dakota State

University is currently completing a 5-year

research project on cougars in the Black

Hills. The main objectives of the research

were to 1) develop and evaluate a cougar

habitat-relation model to predict the current

distribution 2) estimate the population size,

and evaluate survey techniques to document


population trend. A digital habitat relation

model was constructed for cougars that

ranked land in the Black Hills National

Forest according to its suitability to cougars.

The model was based on the distribution of

prey (white-tailed deer and mule deer),

stalking topography (slopes), concealment

habitat (riparian habitat), and anthropogenic

characteristics (high-density residential

areas, presence of highways). During the

winters of 1998 – 2001, we captured, radiocollared,

and obtained weekly locations of

12 cougars in the Black Hills; locations of

cougars were used to validate the habitatrelation

model. The cougar population in

the Black Hills was estimated using program

PUMA, incorporating parameters obtained

from radio-collared cougars and habitat

quality derived from the habitat-relation

model. The total number of cougars in the

Black Hills was estimated to be 127 to 149

cougars.

A 3-month pilot study, testing the

efficacy of detecting cougars using scent

lures (skunk essence, Powder River cat call)

and camera stations was conducted in

cooperation with the University of North

Dakota. The camera-scent-station survey

was not effective at detecting cougar

presence. Zero photos of cougars were

recorded although other species (whitetailed

deer, Odocoileus virginianus, mule

deer, O. hemionus, raccoon, Procyon lotor,

red squirrel, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus,

turkey vulture, Cathartes aura, free-ranging

cattle, feral dogs, and bobcat, Lynx rufus)

were detected, and cougars were known to

be in the area during the survey. A snowtracking

helicopter survey (Vansickle and

Lindzey 1991) using a probability sampling

technique was attempted during the winter

of 2001-2002. Although cougar tracks of a

radio-collared female and her 2 kittens could

clearly be identified, weather conditions

(poor snow conditions) did not permit the

survey to be completed. However, a

SOUTH DAKOTA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Kintigh 47

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

database of consecutive winter daily

locations of 3 male and 3 female cougars

was established to aid in analyses of any

future helicopter surveys.

During the Fall 2002, a second 5-year

study was initiated. The objectives of the

research are 1) to estimate survival and

document causes of mortality of cougar

kittens, 2) Determine longevity of

established radio-collared cougars 3)

Document dispersal distances, routes, and

destinations of subadult cougars, and 4)

conduct snow tracking helicopter population

survey to document population trends.

Currently, 12 cougars (6 females, 6 males)

including 2 subadult males are being

monitored weekly from fixed wing aircraft

using aerial radio-telemetry techniques.

PUBLICATIONS

FECSKE, D.M., J.A. JENKS, AND F.G.

LINDZEY. 2001. Characteristics of

mountain lion mortalities in the Black

Hills, South Dakota. Proceedings of the

6th Mountain Lion Workshop, San

Antonio, Texas: In Press.

FECSKE, D.M., AND J.A. JENKS. 2001. The

mountain lion returns to South Dakota.

South Dakota Conservation Digest

68(4):3-5.

FECSKE, D.M., AND J.A. JENKS. 2001.

Status report of mountain lions in South

Dakota. Proceedings of the 6th

Mountain Lion Workshop, San Antonio,

TX. In Press.

FECSKE, D.M., J.A. JENKS, AND F. G.

LINDZEY. 2003. Mortality of an adult

cougar due to a forest fire in the Black

Hills. The Prairie Naturalist 00:

Submitted.

GIGLIOTTI, L.M., D.M. FECSKE, AND J.A.

JENKS. 2002. Mountain lions in South

Dakota: A public opinion survey. South

Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and

Parks, Pierre, SD. 182 pp.

LONG, E.S., D.M. FECSKE, R.A. SWEITZER,

J.A. JENKS, B.M. PIERCE, AND V.C.


48 SOUTH DAKOTA MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Kintigh

BLEICH. 2003. Efficacy of photographic

scent stations to detect mountain lions.

Western North American Naturalist 00:

In Press.

LITERATURE CITED

BEIER, P. 1993. Puma: a population

simulator for cougar conservation.

Wildl. Soc. Bull. 21:356-357

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

VAN SICKLE, W.D., AND F.G. LINDZEY.

1991. Evaluation of a cougar population

estimator based on probability sampling.

Journal of Wildlife Management 55:738-

743.


MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT FOR TEXAS

JOHN YOUNG, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 3000 IH 35 South Suite 100, Austin, TX

78612, USA, email: john.young@tpwd.state.tx.us

Texas does not currently have a

statewide management plan for mountain

lions and the species is classified as nongame.

Texas Parks and Wildlife

Department (TPWD) non-game codes

authorize the agency to establish hunting

seasons, to close seasons, set bag limits,

establish management zones, in other words,

to utilize all of the management tools

available for game species. With the

exception of a short list of non-game species

of concern to TPWD, non-game species may

be taken at any time of the year in any

numbers, which is the case for mountain

lions at the present time. TPWD’s objective

for mountain lions is to maintain a viable

population, while minimizing human

conflicts. No changes in mountain lion

status have occurred in the past decade.

DISTRIBUTION AND ABUNDANCE

Based on confirmed sightings and

mortality records mountain lions are most

common in the Trans Pecos and the brush

country of South Texas. Mortality records

49

Proceedings of the Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop

over the last 20 years combined with photos

confirm at least the occasional presence of

lions in all other sections of the state; more

information is needed to determine

population levels. Based on sightings, and

voluntarily reported mortalities dating back

to 1983, mountain lion populations appear

stable. Table 1 presents mountain lion

mortality information by ecological region

for the time frame 1998/99 to 2001/02

Texas does not currently estimate mountain

lion populations, opting to monitor the

species using sightings and mortality

reports. The lack of a satisfactory

scientifically rigorous method to estimate

mountain lions has been the primary reason

TPWD has not attempted to do so. Texas

has recently provided funding to a

university-based scientist to estimate

mountain lion population size, structure, and

habitat factors utilizing new, highly credible

molecular genetics. The study will be

conducted over the next 2 years and will

provide an estimate for Texas’ mountain

lion population.

Table 1. Mountain lion mortalities by ecological region, September 1998 through September 2002.

Ecological Region 1998/99 1999/00 2000/01 20001/02

Pineywoods 0 0 0 0

Gulf Prairie & Marshes 0 3 0 0

Post Oak Savannah 0 0 0 0

Blackland Prairies 0 0 0 0

Cross Timbers 0 0 0 1

South Texas Plains 7 10 0 4

Edwards Plateau 30 14 6 12

Rolling Plains 0 0 0 0

High Plains 0 0 0 0

Trans-Pecos 92 60 64 48


50 TEXAS MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Young

HARVEST INFORMATION

Texas relies primarily on hunters, private

landowners, and trappers to voluntarily

report mountain lion kills. Texas also

obtains an annual report from Texas

Wildlife Damage Management Services

(Table 1). There is an open season on

mountain lions in Texas year-round. TPWD

does not set harvest guidelines or bag limits

for this species. Mountain lions may be

taken by trap, shooting, hunting with dogs,

aerial hunting, or M44. Records on the

number of lions harvested by different

methods are not collected.

TPWD does not have a predator incident

manual/policy/guideline for mountain lions

although such has been developed for black

bear. In the past 10 years there are only 3

known public safety incidents in Texas

related to mountain lion. Due to their rarity,

TPWD does not formally record/collect

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

information on public safety incidents

involving mountain lion. Depredation

complaints received at TPWD are referred to

Texas Wildlife Damage Management

Services (TWDMS). In 2001/02 a total of

53 lions were killed by TWDMS personnel.

Information on cougars removed by

TWDMS prior to 2001/02 had been

combined with other mortalities and has not

been available separately.

Individuals wishing to report a sighting

or a problem with mountain lions are

encouraged to contact TPWD. The

department provides individuals

experiencing depredation problems with the

number for their local TWDMS office for

action. Relocation of mountain lions is

discouraged but may be conducted by

private organizations if they acquire the

appropriate permits.


UTAH MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT

CRAIG R. McLAUGHLIN, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, 1594 W. North Temple, Salt

Lake City, UT 84114, USA, email: craigmclaughlin@utah.gov

Abstract: Mountain lions have been managed as a protected game species in Utah since 1967. In 1999 the Division

of Wildlife Resources completed the Utah Cougar Management Plan, developed with the assistance of a publicbased

Cougar Discussion Group that will guide management of cougars through 2009. Cougar harvests are

managed under both harvest objective (quota) and limited entry strategies. The Division manages to sustain cougar

densities on all management units except those that have approved predator management plans, where cougar

harvests are increased to reduce cougar numbers and predation on big game. All cougar complaints are handled

under the guidance of a Nuisance Cougar Complaints policy. Most cougar conflicts are handled through lethal

control. Cougar habitat encompasses about 92,696 km 2 (35,790 mi 2 ). The statewide population was estimated at

2,528-3,936 cougars in 1999 in conjunction with the Cougar Management Plan. Cougar harvests have ranged from

492 to 373 annually since the 1997-1998 season. Both the hunting and pursuit seasons run from mid-December

through June, although some units have extended or shortened seasons. Cougars have been implicated in 74-114

separate depredation incidents per year since 1998, with livestock losses ranging from $53,700 to $97,700 per year.

Harvest-based indicators of sustainable harvesting have not been met in recent years. Currently, management is

operating on an individual-unit scale, where interpretation of harvest data is hampered by small sample sizes. In

addition, the Division should develop a means to monitor both reproduction and survival. Harvest management

should improve with understanding of cougar movements and dispersal, particularly between lightly hunted and

heavily harvested cougar populations.

51

Proceedings of the Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop

Key words: Cougar, livestock damage, harvest, management plan, mountain lion, Puma concolor

INTRODUCTION

Mountain lions (Puma concolor), or

cougars, were persecuted as vermin in Utah

from the time of European settlement (in

1847) until 1966. In 1967 the Utah State

Legislature changed the status of cougars to

protected wildlife and since then they have

been considered a game species with

established hunting regulations. The Utah

Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR)

developed the Utah Cougar Management

Plan in 1999 (UDWR 1999b) with the

assistance of a Cougar Discussion Group

composed of representatives of various

public interest groups. This plan will guide

cougar management in Utah through 2009.

Its goal is to maintain a healthy cougar

population within existing occupied habitat

while considering human safety, economic

concerns and other wildlife species.

Management objectives include: 1)

maintaining current (1999) cougar

distribution, with a reasonable proportion of

older age animals and breeding females,

balancing population numbers with other

wildlife species; 2) minimizing the loss in

quality and quantity of existing critical and

high priority cougar habitat; 3) reducing the

risk of loss of human life and reducing

chances of injury by cougar; 4) maintaining

a downward trend in the number of livestock

killed by cougar; and 5) maintaining quality

recreational opportunity for a minimum of

800 persons per year through 2009.

Utah’s cougar harvests are controlled on

specific geographic areas, or management

units (Figure 1), using two harvest

strategies: harvest objective and limited

entry. Under the harvest objective

strategy, managers prescribe a quota, or

number of cougars to be harvested on the

unit. An unlimited number of licensed


52 UTAH MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · McLaughlin

Figure 1. Wildlife Management Units used

by Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to

manage cougar harvests. Some of the units

have been subdivided for additional control

of harvests.

hunters are allowed to hunt during a season

that is variable in length, as the hunting

season closes as soon as the quota is filled or

when the season end date is reached. Under

the limited entry strategy, harvests are

managed by limiting the number of hunters

on a unit. The number of hunters is

determined based upon an expectation of

hunting success and the desired harvest size.

Individuals are usually selected for hunting

on the unit through a random drawing

process.

In 1996 the Utah Wildlife Board

approved a Predator Management Policy

(UDWR 1996) that allows UDWR to

increase cougar harvests on management

units where big game populations are

depressed, or where big game has recently

been released to establish new populations.

Most predator management plans directed at

cougars have been designed to benefit mule

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and bighorn

sheep (Ovis canadensis). Cougar harvests

have been liberalized where big game

populations are far below objective (


Figure 2. Cougar habitat in Utah. All

colored areas represent occupied cougar

habitat.

Wasatch Mountains in northern and central

Utah.

The last statewide cougar population

estimates were developed in conjunction

with the Utah Cougar Management Plan in

1999 (UDWR 1999b). These estimates used

extrapolations of cougar densities from

published studies in the southwestern United

States to: 1) the total area within all

management units that comprise cougar

range, and 2) the total amount of occupied

cougar habitat within Utah. The habitat

quality within each management unit was

classified as either high, medium or low

based on vegetative characteristics, terrain

ruggedness (following Riley 1998) and prey

density. Cougar densities derived from

research within Utah, California and New

Mexico were associated with each habitat

quality level (UDWR 1999b). High quality

habitat was assigned a density range of 2.5-

3.9 cougars/100 km 2 , medium quality

UTAH MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · McLaughlin 53

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

habitat was assigned a density of 1.7-2.5

cougars/100 km 2 and a density of 0.26-0.52

cougar/100 km 2 was assigned to low quality

habitat.

The first statewide population estimate

of 2,528-3,936 cougars resulted from

summing unit population estimates. The

number of cougars on each unit was

estimated by first multiplying the total area

contained within the unit by the highest

density of the range assigned to it, and then

by the lowest density of the range assigned

to it.

For comparison, a second estimate of

2,927 cougars statewide was generated

based upon mean cougar densities and total

occupied cougar habitat within the state.

Each management unit’s cougar population

was estimated by extrapolating the mean

cougar density assigned to the unit (based on

the respective range indicated above) to the

amount of occupied cougar habitat within

the unit, and unit estimates were summed to

obtain the statewide figure. The two

methods produced population estimates that

show considerable agreement, but they

should be only viewed as general

approximations of the statewide cougar

population.

Utah’s cougar population is monitored

through mandatory reporting of all hunterharvested

cougars, cougars that are killed on

highways or in accidents and those taken by

animal damage control programs (Table 1).

Location of kill, sex and age (through a

premolar for age estimation) are recorded

for every cougar killed, and provide the data

used to assess management performance in

relation to established target values that

serve as indicators of population status.

“Rules of thumb”, expressed as threshold

values of 1) a minimum percentage of older

aged animals in the harvest, 2) a maximum

percentage of females in the harvest, and 3)

minimum adult survival were set to ensure

that cougar densities are maintained within


PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

Table 1. Utah cougar harvests, 1989-1990 thru 2001-2002.

Total Percent Percent

Percent Treed

Hunters Harvest Adult Adult Sub-adult Sub-adult Sport Average Quota Percent Female+ ADC Other Total Adult > per

6 years Pursuit

Year Afield Permits Objective Males Females Males Females Harvest Age Success Filled Females Sub-adult Harvest Mortality Mortality Survival old Day

1989-90 478 527 123 44 23 27 217 41.2% 32.7% 43.3% 48 10 275 0.41

1990-91 480 525 144 46 40 35 265 50.5% 30.6% 45.7% 38 22 325 0.49

1991-92 485 525 128 51 32 30 241 45.9% 33.6% 46.9% 34 22 297 0.45

1992-93 598 591 206 64 54 48 372 62.9% 30.1% 44.6% 53 42 467 0.49

1993-94 575 659 165 87 51 49 352 53.4% 38.6% 53.1% 53 10 415 0.57

1994-95 656 791 205 103 57 66 431 54.5% 39.2% 52.4% 54 24 509

1995-96 787 872 160 105 109 78 452 3.5 51.8% 40.5% 64.6% 33 39 524 0.67 16.7% 0.48

1996-97 1376 595 275 172 172 125 107 576 3.8 56.0% 88.3% 48.4% 70.1% 40 50 666 0.67 20.0% 0.33

1997-98 1370 509 270 204 159 57 72 492 3.2 54.4% 79.6% 47.0% 58.5% 27 23 542 0.63 14.5% 0.36

1998-99 1201 446 230 156 100 50 67 373 3.1 49.0% 64.0% 44.8% 58.2% 13 1 387 0.62 10.1% 0.29

1999-00 817 343 304 194 106 64 71 435 2.9 60.0% 81.0% 40.7% 55.4% 25 9 469 0.57 9.7% 0.28

2000-01 272 371 165 127 77 80 449 3.3 52.0% 35.4% 46.1% 63.3% 73 20 542 0.63 12.8% 0.37

2001-02 258 339 159 108 55 71 393 2.9 45.5% 59.5% 12 7 412 0.61 9.0%

Total 2181 1272 794 801 5048

Average 802.1 531.8 298.2 167.8 97.8 61.1 61.6 388.3 3.2 52.6% 69.7% 39.8% 55.1% 38.7 21.5 448.5 62.7% 13.3% 0.41

Performance Targets: 40.0% 65.0% 15.0% 0.38

54 UTAH MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · McLaughlin


UTAH MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · McLaughlin 55

Table 2. Confirmed livestock losses due to cougar depredation in Utah, FY1992 to FY2002.

Total Cougar

Fiscal Year

Number of Confirmed Losses:

Incidents Ewes Lambs Bucks Calf Goat Other

Confirmed

Losses

Value

Losses

Taken by

WS

1992 103 175 745 0 4 0 922 34

1993 114 263 722 1 2 0 988 $94,644.00 53

1994 115 258 646 5 6 0 915 $120,615.00 53

1995 152 335 760 24 12 0 1130 $111,495.00 54

1996 112 257 621 2 6 0 878 $79,277.00 33

1997 110 375 531 20 11 0 937 $106,210.00 46

1998 114 253 506 19 13 0 805 $97,703.00 27

1999 69 244 406 18 4 0 730 $92,945.00 11

2000 82 160 371 2 15 0 548 $60,750.00 22

2001 74 136 361 12 3 1 587 $61,395.00 18

2002 95 167 453 18 11 2 1 652 $53,748.42 74

TOTAL 1140 2623 6122 121 87 3 1 8957 $825,034.00 351

all management units, except where predator

management plans are in place. Threshold

values of the harvest criteria were obtained

from the literature and from past evaluations

of cougar population dynamics in Utah. This

approach is likely conservative, but it is

justified based upon our limited knowledge

of the abundance of deer and alternate prey

in Utah (UDWR 1999b). Ongoing research

on 2 study sites, under the direction of Dr.

Michael Wolfe (Utah State University), is

supplying comparative data on the dynamics

of cougars subjected to varying levels of

hunting harvest. This information should

help the Division refine management criteria

in the near future. The Division also

monitors trends in numbers of cougar

incident reports, which have fluctuated in

recent years (Table 2). Attempts to reduce

the number of cougar management units that

are subject to predator management plans

have met with little success, mostly due to

continued drought and deteriorating range

conditions.

HARVEST INFORMATION

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

Cougar hunting in Utah is regulated on a

management-unit basis to address

differences in cougar densities, hunter

access and management objectives.

Annually, the composition of each unit’s

harvest is compared to performance targets

that were selected to maintain cougar

densities: 1) maintain an average of 15% or

greater of the harvest in older age classes

(>6 years of age); 2) maintain total adult

survival at or above 65%; 3) restrict the

female component to


56 UTAH MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · McLaughlin

The harvest objective strategy is often

used on units where managers want to

ensure a substantial harvest. This strategy

can result in hunter crowding and less hunter

selectivity toward males, as many hunters

take the first cougar they encounter.

Consequently, the harvest may be weighted

toward young animals and females.

Conversely, limited entry hunts allow

managers to spread hunting effort over a

longer time period and shift harvesting

pressure toward adult males. This strategy

is commonly used on management units that

are readily accessible to hunters to minimize

crowding and promote hunter selectivity for

adult males.

Since 2001, a few units have been

harvested under a hybrid strategy, where

both harvest objective and limited entry

hunts are held. This approach attempts to

produce a large harvest while encouraging

some hunter selectivity. Under the hybrid

strategy, a limited entry hunt is opened

early, followed by a harvest objective hunt

that is delayed until mid-winter. In the past,

managers have used female sub quotas in

conjunction with harvest objective strategies

to protect females in the face of increased

harvest pressure. This strategy has been

discontinued because it biased the harvest

sex composition toward females (through

early closure when the sub quota was

attained) and prevented meaningful

evaluations of harvest sex composition

under criterion 3 above.

Each year, regional wildlife managers

review the size and composition of harvests

from individual units in relation to

management rules of thumb and then make

recommendations for the forthcoming

season. Often, their evaluations result in

changes in the number of permits allocated,

the size of quotas and/or changes in harvest

strategy. These regulation changes often

result in year-to-year fluctuation in harvest

strategy and hence harvest pressure. As a

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

result, variances in harvest size and

composition are difficult to interpret. Total

harvest has varied from 492 to 373 since the

1997-1998 season, with no definite trend

(Table 1).

Nearly all cougars harvested in Utah are

taken with the aid of dogs. An individual

hunter is restricted to holding either a

limited entry permit or a harvest objective

permit per season, and must wait 3 years to

reapply once he/she acquires a permit. The

bag limit is 1 cougar per season and kittens

and females accompanied by young are

protected from harvest. Currently the

cougar-hunting season runs from December

14, 2002 through June 1, 2003 on both

limited entry and harvest objective units.

However, some units are open year-round

and some have earlier or later opening dates.

Because harvest objective units close as

soon as the objective (quota) is reached,

hunters must call a toll-free number daily to

ensure that the season in their hunt unit is

still open.

Pursuit (chase or no-kill) seasons

provide additional recreational opportunities

over most of the State. The pursuit season

generally runs December 14, 2002 through

June 1, 2003, but specific units have yearround

pursuit and a few units are closed to

pursuit hunting. In recent years, the Division

has sold about 600-700 cougar pursuit

permits annually (Table 3).

The Division began managing cougar

harvests through statewide limited entry

hunting in 1990 and increased numbers of

Table 3. Number of cougar pursuit permits

sold in Utah, 1999-2002.

Year Resident Non-Resident Total

1999-2000 572 49 621

2000-2001 595 59 654

2001-2002 621 84 705

Combined 1788 192 1980


UTAH MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · McLaughlin 57

Table 4. Comparison of harvest characteristics for Utah management units that have predator

management plans (designed to reduce cougar numbers) and units that are managed to sustain

cougar populations.

Criteria (Threshold for

sustaining population)

Predator Management Plan in Place

1999-2000 2000-2001 2001-2002

% Females ( 6 years (>15) 9.7 9.8 10

Adult Survival (>0.65) 0.60 0.61 0.52

Cougar treed/day (0.38) 0.24 0.16

permits through 1995-1996 (Table 1). In

1996-1997, additional harvest pressure was

added by switching some management units

to the harvest objective (quota) system and a

record high of 1,376 hunters was afield

(Table 1). Since then, the number of hunters

afield has declined nearly one-third. The

hunting harvest has declined over the same

period (Table 1).

Units with predator management plans

designed to reduce cougar densities produce

harvests of similar composition to areas

where the management objective is to

sustain higher population densities (Table

4). Throughout the State, the proportion of

harvest comprised of females has usually

been above the prescribed threshold for

maintaining cougar densities, the percent of

older aged cougars in the harvest has

remained below the desired threshold level,

adult survival is below the desired level, and

the cougar treeing rate is below the value

ascribed as an indicator of secure population

abundance. Given the relative abundance of

de facto refugia for cougars in Utah

(National Parks, wilderness and inaccessible

tracts) and the species’ propensity to

disperse long distances, current harvest

prescriptions may not prove effective for

attaining either of the State’s management

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

No Predator Management Plan

1999-2000 2000-2001 2001-2002

38 46 47

7.6 12.3 9

0.59 0.61 0.62

0.30 0.24

objectives (maintenance of population

density, or substantial reduction in

population density).

Evaluation of Harvest Information

The harvest-based criteria used in Utah’s

cougar management system are based upon

published research, and represent the

expectation of harvest statistics that are

associated with sustained population

densities. However, managers have not

been able to fully meet all threshold values

since the Cougar Management Plan was

adopted in 1999. There may be several

explanations for this difficulty, including the

geographic scale of management actions and

differences in the vital rates of cougar

populations within Utah.

The proportion of mature (>6 years of

age) cougars in the harvest is used as an

index of the presence of mature cougars in

the underlying population. If this proportion

declines below 15%, the management plan

assumes that the harvest rate is

unsustainable. However, scarcity of olderaged

cougars in harvests could also result

from light (sustainable) harvesting of a

productive cougar population by

nonselective hunters, where relatively few

cougars are taken and the harvest is


58 UTAH MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · McLaughlin

composed of mostly subadults and youngeraged

adults.

The proportion of adult females in the

harvest is assumed to increase with

increasing harvest pressure, and the

threshold level chosen for sustainability in

Utah (>40%) is based upon research from

several western states. However, managers

are evaluating small management units,

some containing


understanding with UDWR. Their reports

are compiled on a fiscal year basis (and

therefore numbers/year differ from those

reported in Table 1), and confirm livestock

losses ranging from $53,700 to $97,700 per

year since 1998 (Table 2). Cougars were

implicated in 74-114 separate depredation

incidents per year during this period, killing

548-805 sheep, cattle and goats annually

(Table 2).

RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS

UDWR is funding research conducted

through the Utah State University, under the

direction of Dr. Michael Wolfe. This

research has been ongoing on two study

sites since 1995, and is directed at

determining means of quantifying cougar

populations and evaluating the effects of

harvesting on them. Field research is

currently underway by David Stoner, MS

candidate.

Recent Publications

MAXFIELD, BRIAN D. 2002. Utah cougar

harvest report 1998-1999. Annual

UTAH MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · McLaughlin 59

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

performance report, Fed. Aid Project No.

W-150-R-8. Publ. No. 02-07, Utah Div.

Wildlife Res., Salt Lake City. 38 pp.

MAXFIELD, BRIAN D. 2002. Utah cougar

harvest report 1999-2000. Annual

performance report, Fed. Aid Project No.

W-150-R-8. Publ. No. 02-08, Utah Div.

Wildlife Res., Salt Lake City. 41 pp.

LITERATURE CITED

RILEY, S.J. 1998. Integration of

environmental, biological, and human

dimensions for management of mountain

lions (Puma concolor) in Montaina. Ph.

D. Diss., Cornell Univ. 158 pp.

UDWR. 1996. Predator Management

Policy. Utah Div. of Wildlife Res. Salt

Lake City. UDWR. 1999a. Nuisance

Cougar Complaints. Policy No.

W5WLD-5. Utah Div. of Wildlife Res. 4

pp.

UDWR. 1999B. UTAH COUGAR MANAGEMENT

PLAN. UTAH DIV. OF WILDLIFE RES. SALT

LAKE CITY. 60 PP.


WASHINGTON COUGAR STATUS REPORT

RICHARD A. BEAUSOLEIL, Bear / Cougar Specialist, Washington Department of Fish and

Wildlife, 3515 Chelan Highway, Wenatchee, Washington, 98801, USA

DONALD A. MARTORELLO, Bear, Cougar, and Special Species Section Manager,

Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, Washington, 98501,

USA

ROCKY D. SPENCER, Dangerous Wildlife Specialist, Washington Department of Fish and

Wildlife, 42404 North Bend Way SE, North Bend, Washington, 98045, USA

INTRODUCTION

Cougar (Puma concolor) occur

throughout most of the forested regions of

Washington State, encompassing

approximately 88,497 km 2 or 51% of the

State (Figure 1). Cougar became a protected

big game species in 1966 and hunting

seasons and harvest limits were established

under the management authority of

Washington Department of Fish and

Wildlife (WFDW). In 1967, the

Washington State Legislature passed a bill

establishing a tag system in Washington. In

1970, WDFW began mandatory reporting of

cougar kills and in 1979 inspection and

sealing of cougar pelts was required for data

collection. In the mid-1980’s WDFW began

collecting cougar teeth for age analysis.

Figure 1. Distribution of cougars (gray) and

cougar management units in Washington.

60

Proceedings of the Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop

Currently, the statewide cougar management

goal is to maintain healthy, self-sustaining

cougar populations within each cougar

management unit (CMU), except CMU 9,

while minimizing the number of negative

human-cougar interactions.

HUNTING SEASONS AND HARVEST

TRENDS

Cougar seasons have changed

significantly over the last several years

(Figure 2). During the November 1996

general election, Washington voters passed

Initiative 655 (I-655) that banned the use of

hounds for hunting cougar and bobcat, and

the use of bait and hounds for hunting black

bear. In an effort to mitigate the anticipated

decrease in cougar harvest (i.e., post I-655),

permit-only seasons were replaced with

general seasons, cougar seasons were

lengthened from approximately 6 weeks to 7

and one-half months, and bag limit was

increased from 1 to 2 cougar/year.

Legislation was also passed that provided

the authority to the Fish and Wildlife

Commission to establish reduced costs for

cougar and black bear transport tags, which

they did from $24 to $5 in 1996 (cougar tags

can also be purchased as part of a big game

package). The outcome of these strategies is

that the number of hunters purchasing a

cougar tag in Washington has increased

from 1,000 to 59,000. As a result, annual


350

300

250

200

150

100

50

General Seasons

Dogs Allowed

Kill report required

WASHINGTON COUGAR STATUS REPORT · Beausoleil et al. 61

1979 - 1986

1987 - 1995 1996 - 2002

Figure 2. Cougar season structure and harvest in Washington, 1979-2002.

cougar harvest during post I-655 years has

increased slightly; however, the composition

of the harvest has changed dramatically.

The majority of cougar harvested pre-I 655

was done so with the aid of dogs, thus

mostly males and older animals were taken.

Since 1996, the majority of cougars are

harvested either as opportunistic encounters

by deer/elk and cougar hunters, or by using

tracking and calling techniques. These

harvest methods are not as selective as using

dogs. Therefore, since 1996, hunters have

harvested more females and younger

cougars (see oral presentation titled Cougar

Harvest Characteristics With and Without

the Use of Dogs in this proceedings).

POPULATION STATUS AND TREND

ANALYSIS

The status of cougar populations is

currently estimated through computer

population simulation models, harvest

characteristics, and, to a lesser degree,

trends in human-cougar interactions.

Based on population reconstruction

models, harvest age data, and statewide

cougar habitat estimates (using GAP

analysis), the cougar population in

Permit Seasons

Dogs Allowed

I 655

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

General Seasons

Dogs Banned

Washington is likely between 2,400–4,000

animals, and cougar population size is likely

declining in a few areas of the state.

Typically, the status of local or regional

cougar populations are monitored via hunter

effort and success, median age data, and

percentage of females in the harvest; but

only when viewed over several years with

consistent harvest methods. Due to the

changes in harvest methods during the last

several years (predominantly hound hunters

during pre I-655 years versus entirely spotstalk

hunters during post I-655 years), no

reliable trend data exist to accurately assess

regional cougar populations or exploitation

levels. As such, new population monitoring

efforts are beginning in 2003, where cougar

density and adult female survival will be

evaluated and monitored in key areas of the

State.

HUMAN CONFLICT

Human-cougar interactions are managed

through public education, capture-removal,

depredation permits, and public safety

cougar removals. Since 1995, WDFW has

recorded information on human-cougar

interactions. Of particular concern is the


62 WASHINGTON COUGAR STATUS REPORT · Beausoleil et al.

To address human safety

To protect threatened and

endangered species

To prevent loss of domestic

animals

To increase game populations

0 20 40 60 80 100

Figure 3. During a general public opinion

survey, the percent of Washington

respondents that supported reducing

predator numbers for specific purposes

(Duda et al. 2002).

increasing trend in human safety incidents,

and pet and livestock depredations. When

Washington citizens were asked about their

attitudes regarding cougars, over 80%

responded that reducing predator numbers

for public safety is acceptable (Figure 3).

Recognizing the widespread scope of the

issue and its importance to cougars and

people in the future, current cougar

management goals include maintaining

sustainable cougar populations and reducing

human-cougar interactions. In some cases,

reducing cougar populations to a lower, but

sustainable level may help achieve both of

these goals (Table 1). Given the recent

Confirmed complaints

1000

900

800

700

600

500

400

300

200

100

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

0

247

495

563

927

694

936

498

378

1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002

Year

Figure 4. Total confirmed cougar complaints

in Washington, 1995-2002 (includes human

safety and pet/livestock incidents).

history of high human-cougar interactions,

WDFW developed a special cougar removal

process to address cougar densities in areas

with high levels of human-cougar

interactions. Under rules adopted by the

Fish and Wildlife Commission, public safety

cougar removals occurred in 17 Game

Management Units from Dec 15 – Mar. 15,

in both the 2001-2002 and 2002-03 seasons;

in those seasons 109 and 76 cougar were

identified for removal and licensed hunters

Table 1. Cougar population objectives for each cougar management unit in Washington, 2002.

CMU Geographic Area Population Objective

1 Coastal Maintain a stable cougar population

2 Puget Sound Reduce * cougar population to enhance public safety and protection of property

3 North Cascades Maintain a stable cougar population

4 South Cascades Maintain a stable cougar population

5 East Cascades North Reduce * cougar population to enhance public safety and protection of property

6 East Cascades South Maintain a stable cougar population

7 Northeastern Reduce * cougar population to enhance public safety and protection of property

8 Blue Mountains Maintain a stable cougar population

9 Columbia Basin Unsustainable; not considered suitable cougar habitat

* Implement cougar population reductions over a 3-year period and monitor annually.


emoved 67 and 54 animals, respectively

(61% and 71% success rate, respectively).

Confirmed human-cougar incidents

decreased by 47% during the 2001 calendar

year from 936 in 2000 to 498 and an

additional 24% in 2002 to 378 (Figure 4).

MANAGEMENT CONCLUSIONS

The statewide cougar population appears

to be declining at this time due to increased

female harvest and objectives to address

public safety and protection of property.

Given the distribution of cougars in

Washington and the projected growth of

human populations, interactions between

humans and cougars will likely continue.

WASHINGTON COUGAR STATUS REPORT · Beausoleil et al. 63

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

As such, the long-term future of cougar in

Washington ultimately rests in our ability to

co-exist. Therefore, management efforts

should continue to look for ways to

minimize human-cougar interactions,

particularly at the local population level.

LITERATURE CITED

DUDA, M.D., P.E. DE MICHELE, M. JONES,

W. TESTERMAN, C. ZURAWSKI, J.

DEHOFF, A. LANIER, S.J. BISSELL, P.

WANG, AND J.B. HERRICK. 2002.

Washington residents’ opinions on and

attitudes toward hunting and game

species management. Harrisonburg,

Virginia, USA.


WYOMING MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT

SCOTT A. BECKER, Trophy Game Section, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, 260 Buena

Vista, Lander, WY 82520, USA, email: Scott.Becker@wgf.state.wy.us

DANIEL D. BJORNLIE, Trophy Game Biologist, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, 260

Buena Vista, Lander, WY 82520, USA, email: Dan.Bjornlie@wgf.state.wy.us

DAVID S. MOODY, Trophy Game Section Coordinator, Wyoming Game and Fish Department,

260 Buena Vista, Lander, WY 82520, USA, email: Dave.Moody@wgf.state.wy.us

INTRODUCTION

Management of mountain lions (Puma

concolor) has changed markedly since the

nineteenth century. In 1882, the Wyoming

Territorial government enacted legislation

placing a bounty on mountain lions and

other predators. This allowed for lion

hunting throughout the year and no bag

limits were enforced. In 1973, the mountain

lion was reclassified as a trophy game

animal, which made the Wyoming Game

and Fish Department (WGFD) fiscally liable

for confirmed livestock losses. The

following year, the first hunting season was

established that included the entire state as a

single hunt area, a bag limit of 1 lion per

year was enacted, kittens and females with

kittens at side were protected, and hunters

were required to present skulls and pelts of

harvested lions to the nearest WGFD

District Office or local game warden.

In 1997, the WGFD prepared a draft

management plan for mountain lions, but the

plan has yet to be finalized. However, six

main objectives outlined in the draft

management plan continue to guide lion

management objectives for the state of

Wyoming, they are: 1) maintain mountain

lion populations within suitable habitat

throughout Wyoming; 2) provide mountain

lion-related recreational opportunities; 3)

minimize female lion harvest in areas where

population stability or increase is desirable;

4) minimize mountain lion depredation and

64

Proceedings of the Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop

lion/human interactions; 5) tailor

management objectives to conditions present

within each Mountain Lion Management

Unit (MLMU) where possible; and 6)

implement more specific, quantifiable

objectives within each MLMU as

information on the state’s lion population

allows. Using these objectives as

guidelines, the WGFD attempts to balance

recreational demand and harvest with the

biological needs of lion populations

throughout the state.

DISTRIBUTION AND ABUNDANCE

Mountain lions are distributed

throughout nearly all habitats in Wyoming

although densities are not uniform. Lion

densities are thought to be highest in the

Bighorn, Owl Creek, and Laramie mountain

ranges (Wyoming Game and Fish

Department 1997), while some of the lowest

densities may be found in the grasslands of

northeastern Wyoming. In the Bighorn

Mountains, Logan and Irwin (1985) found

that mixed conifer and curl leaf mountain

mahogany habitats were used most in

relation to availability, whereas sagebrush

grass habitat types were generally avoided.

In the Snowy Range Mountains of

southeastern Wyoming, lions were found at

lower elevations during the winter and

concentrated their use near the timber/prairie

interface (Chuck Anderson, personal

communication).


Figure 1. Mountain lion management units

and hunt areas in Wyoming, 2002.

WYOMING MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Becker et al. 65

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

HARVEST INFORMATION

Data on mountain lions are gathered

annually among 28 hunt areas that are

grouped into 5 MLMUs (Figure 1), the

boundaries of which encompass large areas

with contiguous topographic features and

are believed to encompass population

centers. Each hunt area has a maximum

annual mortality quota that varies from 2 –

34, with 5 areas also having a maximum

female mortality quota (Table 1). If either

quota is filled, the hunting season in that

hunt area automatically closes. Currently,

hunting seasons open on September 1 and

close on March 31 for all hunt areas except

Table 1. Wyoming mountain lion management units, hunt areas, season dates, and quotas for

harvest year 2002.

Mountain Lion

Management Unit

Northeast

Southeast

Southwest

North-Central

West

Hunt Area Season Dates

Annual Mortality

Quota

Annual Female

Mortality Quota

1 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 7

24 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 2

5 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 12

6 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 34

7 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 6

8 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 8

9 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 3

25 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 3

27 Sept. 1-Aug. 31 20

10 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 6

11 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 2

12 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 6 3

13 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 3

16 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 6

15 Sept. 1-Aug. 31 25

21 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 25

22 Sept. 1-Aug. 31 15

23 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 15 8

2 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 12 6

3 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 8 4

4 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 4

14 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 9

17 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 5

18 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 12

19 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 20

20 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 15

26 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 12 7

28 Sept. 1-Mar. 31 3


66 WYOMING MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Becker et al.

15, 22, and 27, in which year round seasons

exist. Quotas begin at the start of each

hunting season and include all legal and

illegal hunting mortalities.

Mountain lion data in Wyoming are

limited to information obtained annually

from harvest or other documented forms of

mortality. Since 1974, hunters have been

required to present the skull and pelt of

harvested lions to a district game warden or

biologist at the nearest WGFD regional

office within 72 hours after the harvest.

Information collected during these

inspections include: harvest date, location,

sex, lactation status, estimated age, number

of days spent hunting, whether or not dogs

were used, and number of lions observed

while hunting. Skulls and pelts must be

presented in an unfrozen condition so teeth

can be removed. Evidence of sex must

remain naturally attached to the pelt for

accurate identification.

Legal shooting hours are from one-half

hour before sunrise to one-half hour after

sunset. The individual bag limit for lions is

1 lion per hunter per calendar year, except

for 1 hunt area in central Wyoming, where 1

additional lion may be taken each calendar

year. Kittens (


Total Lion Harvest

250

200

150

100

50

0

78

1993

1994

95 110

145 144

206

214

201

186

172

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

Figure 2. Total Wyoming mountain lion

harvest, 1993-2002.

information into mountain lion harvest

analyses in order to better assess mountain

lion population trends. This will eventually

aid in adjusting population objectives and,

thus quotas, to ensure sustainable lion

populations statewide.

There has been a steady increase in

harvest since 1993, which has leveled off in

recent years at around 200 (Figure 2). Since

1993, the average percent of females in the

harvest has been 43%, ranging from 32% in

1993 to 51% in 2000 (Figure 3). The

percent of adults in the female harvest has

steadily declined in the past 10 years, falling

from around 70% adult females in 1993 and

1994 to around 40% adults in 2001 and 2002

(Figure 4). This decline in the past two

years is likely due in part to a change in the

criteria used to classify adults and juveniles

prior to the 2001 hunting season. Since

1993, hunter effort has ranged from 3.3 to

5.8 days per lion for an average of 3.9 days

per lion. Ninety-two percent of all

successful hunters in Wyoming harvested

lions with the aid of dogs from 1993 – 2002.

DEPEDATIONS AND HUMAN-LION

INTERACTIONS/CONFLICTS

Currently, Wyoming uses a statewide

protocol for managing trophy game

WYOMING MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Becker et al. 67

Percent

100%

75%

50%

25%

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

0%

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

Percent Females Percent Males

Figure 3. Percent male and female mountain

lion harvest in Wyoming, 1993-2002.

depredations and interactions with humans.

A depredating lion is defined as a lion that

injures or kills livestock or domestic pets.

In addition, 4 types of human/mountain lion

interactions are defined by the WGFD, they

are 1) recurring sighting – repeated sightings

of a particular lion; 2) encounter – an

unexpected meeting between a human and a

lion without incident; 3) incident – an

account of abnormal lion behavior that could

have more serious results in the future (e.g.,

a lion attacking a pet, or a lion exhibiting

aggressive behavior, without attack, toward

Percent

100%

75%

50%

25%

0%

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

Adult Females Juvenile Females

2001

2002

Figure 4. Percent adult and juvenile female

mountain lion harvest in the total female

harvest in Wyoming, 1993-2002.


68 WYOMING MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Becker et al.

humans); and 4) attack – human injury or

death resulting from a lion attack. Each

incident is handled on a case-by-case basis

and is dealt with accordingly based on the

location of the incident, the threat to human

safety, the severity of the incident, and the

number of incidents the animal has been

involved in. Every effort is made to prevent

unnecessary escalation of incidents through

an ascending order of options and

responsibilities:

1) No Management Action Taken

- Informational packets are provided

to the reporting party that describe

mountain lion natural history and

behavior, damage prevention tips,

and what to do in the event of an

encounter.

2) Deterrent Methods

- Removal or securing of attractant

- Removal of depredated carcass

- Removal or protection of livestock

3) Aversive Conditioning

- Use of rubber bullets

- Use of pepper spray

- Use of noise making devices or

flashing lights

- Informational packets provided to

the reporting party

4) Trapping and Relocation

- If the above efforts do not deter the

lion from the area, if public safety

is compromised, if it is a first

offense, of if it has been a lengthy

span of time between offenses

- Informational packets provided to

the reporting party

5) Lethal Removal of the Animal by the

WGFD

- If the above methods do not deter

the lion, if public safety is

compromised, or if the offending

lion has been involved in multiple

incidents in a short span of time

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

- Wyoming statute 23-3-115 allows

property owners or their employees

and lessees to kill mountain lions

damaging private property, given

that they immediately notify the

nearest game warden of the

incident

- Lions that have been removed from

the population will be used for

educational purposes

- Informational packets provided to

the reporting party

Education is a very important aspect of

human and mountain lion interaction

prevention. Therefore, the WGFD works

closely with hunters, outfitters,

recreationalists, livestock operators, and

homeowners in an attempt to minimize

conflicts with trophy game animals. Every

spring, the WGFD hosts bear and lion

workshops throughout the state to inform the

public about bear and lion biology, front and

back-country food storage techniques, and

what to do in the event of an encounter with

a bear or lion. In addition, numerous

presentations are given throughout the year

to civic, private, and school groups. Media

outlets are also used to inform, and in rare

incidents warn, the general public about bear

and lion safety issues and any recent

sightings.

Even with all the educational efforts

undertaken by the WGFD and preventive

measures taken by the public, conflicts with

mountain lions do occur. The number of

mountain lion conflicts have ranged from a

low of 13 reported incidents in 2002 to a

high of 64 reported incidents in 1997. There

have been a total of 40 mountain lion/human

interactions in Wyoming since 1996 with no

major injuries or deaths reported.

Wyoming statute 23-1-901 provides

monetary compensation for confirmed

livestock damage caused by mountain lions.

The number of damage claims for the last 10

years range from 11 in 1995 to 28 in 1998,


and payments made to claimants range from

a low of $22,627 paid in 1999 to a high of

$44,071 paid in 1998 (Table 2). One

hundred percent of the mountain lion

damage claims paid in 2002 was for sheep

depredations. From 1996 to 2002, 84% of

reported lion depredations in Wyoming have

involved sheep, 6% have involved horses,

6% unknown livestock species, and 4% have

involved cattle. An average of 4.9 nuisance

lions were removed annually in the last 10

years while an average of 1 lion was

translocated annually from 1996 – 2002 (no

translocation data available prior to 1996).

PUBLIC ATTITUDES

In 1995, the WGFD contracted with the

Survey Research Center at the University of

Wyoming to determine attitudes and

knowledge of Wyoming residents on

mountain lions and mountain lion

management (Gasson and Moody 1995).

Over 71% of the approximately 500

WYOMING MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Becker et al. 69

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

respondents believed lions were a benefit to

Wyoming. Attitudes toward mountain lion

hunting were generally supportive, with

49.6% agreeing or strongly agreeing that

mountain lion hunting should continue and

29.3% disagreeing or strongly disagreeing.

The remaining respondents were either

neutral or did not answer. However, most

(57%) disagreed or strongly disagreed that

hunting lions with dogs should continue as a

legal method of take. Only 25.3% of

respondents agreed or strongly agreed, while

the remaining respondents were neutral or

did not respond to the question. A large

majority of respondents (80.7%) agreed or

strongly agreed that mountain lion hunting

seasons should be modified to avoid

harvesting kittens or running females with

kittens. A large majority of respondents

(71%) were also opposed to the use of dogs

to run and tree lions during non-harvest,

chase seasons.

Table 2. Wyoming ten-year mountain lion damage claim and translocation/removal history (all

causes).

Year # Claims $ Claimed $ Paid Translocations Removals

1993 29 33,214.56 30,002.53

0

1994 26 30,498.51 24,646.00

a

5

1995 11 40,634.67 34,594.67

a

4

1996 14 28,540.96 24,947.95 0 6

1997 20 28,935.16 28,761.50 1 10

1998 28 56,171.39 44,070.79 2 5

1999 21 32,307.63 22,627.43 2 6

2000 20 42,352.69 30,773.59 0 5

2001 15 38,322.79 25,592.46 1 6

2002 13 35,870.99 32,075.05 0 2

Mean 19.7 36,686.74 29,809.20 0.86 4.9

a

No data available.

a


70 WYOMING MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT · Becker et al.

RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS

ANDERSON, C.R., JR., AND F.G. LINDZEY.

2003. Estimating cougar predation rates

from GPS location clusters. Journal of

Wildlife Management 67(2): 307-316.

ANDERSON, C.R., JR., F.G. LINDZEY, AND

N.P. NIBBELINK. In review. Estimating

cougar abundance using probability

sampling: an evaluation of transect

versus block design. Journal of Wildlife

Management 00(0): 000-000.

ANDERSON, C.R., JR., AND F.G. LINDZEY.

In press. Monitoring changes in cougar

sex/age structure with changes in

abundance as an index to population

trend.

ANDERSON, C.R., JR., F.G. LINDZEY, AND

D.B. MCDONALD. In press. Genetic

structure of cougar populations across

the Wyoming Basin: metapopulation or

megapopulation.

ANDERSON, C.R., JR., AND F.G. LINDZEY.

2000. A guide to estimating mountain

lion age classes. Wyoming Cooperative

Fish and Wildlife Research Unit,

Laramie, Wyoming.

GASSON, W., AND D. MOODY. 1995.

Attitudes of Wyoming residents on

mountain lion management. Planning

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

rep. #40, Wyoming Game and Fish

Department, Cheyenne. 7 pp.

WYOMING GAME AND FISH DEPARTMENT.

1997. Mountain Lion Management

Plan. Wyoming Game and Fish

Department. 30 pp.

WYOMING GAME AND FISH DEPARTMENT.

1999. Protocol for managing aggressive

wildlife/human interactions. Wyoming

Game and Fish Department. 17 pp.

WYOMING GAME AND FISH DEPARTMENT.

2003. Annual mountain lion mortality

summary: harvest year 2002. Trophy

Game Section, Lander, Wyoming. 22

pp.

LITERATURE CITED

GASSON W. AND D. MOODY. 1995.

Attitudes of Wyoming residents on

mountain lion management. Planning

rep. #40, Wyoming Game and Fish

Department, Cheyenne, 7 pp.

LOGAN, K.A. AND L.L. IRWIN. 1985.

Mountain lion habitats in the Bighorn

Mountains, Wyoming. Wildlife Society

Bulletin 13: 257-262.

WYOMING GAME AND FISH DEPARTMENT.

1997. Mountain Lion Management

Plan. Wyoming Game and Fish

Department. 30 pp.


CRYPTIC COUGARS - PERSPECTIVES ON THE PUMA IN THE EASTERN,

MIDWESTERN, AND GREAT PLAINS REGIONS OF NORTH AMERICA

JAY W. TISCHENDORF DVM, Director, American Ecological Research Institute (AERIE),

Post Office Box 1826, Great Falls, MT 59403, USA, email: TischendorfJ@Hotmail.com

Abstract: The subject of cougars in eastern North America continues to intrigue and perplex wildlife biologists,

managers, and nature enthusiasts. Almost uniformly considered extirpated throughout states and provinces in

eastern and midwestern North America over a century ago, growing numbers of reports, some accompanied by

incontrovertible evidence such as full specimens, blood, scat, track, or film documentation, suggest that Puma

concolor is re-establishing, or has re-established, itself in some areas of this vast region. Similar evidence exists for

the Great Plains. This paper, while probably raising more questions than it answers, examines the best and most

current evidence for the occurrence of cougars in the East, Midwest, and Great Plains; discusses the official status of

the species; and provides a perspective on the scientific, social, and political opportunities and challenges posed by

this fascinating and compelling situation.

71

Proceedings of the Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop

Key words: cougar, recovery, East, Midwest, Great Plains, prairie, North America, Puma concolor

INTRODUCTION AND OBJECTIVES

The possible existence of the puma

(Puma concolor) in eastern and midwestern

North America today, approximately 100

years since its supposed extirpation from the

region, is among the most provocative and

exciting mysteries in the modern realms of

natural history, ecology, wildlife

management, and conservation biology.

Importantly, the story of the cougar in the

East, the ghost of North America, as it was

dubbed by Bruce Wright, an early champion

for its recovery, has far-reaching, global

implications for carnivore conservation,

continental ecological equilibrium, and

perhaps most of all, our own fulfillment as

stewards of the planet (Wright 1959). To

understand this yet unfolding story, several

fundamental concepts need review:

1. Throughout North America from the

Great Plains eastward, with the

exception of Florida, the puma was

generally considered extirpated by the

early 1900s (Young and Goldman

1946).

2. Since that time, in virtually every state

and every province across this vast

region, scores of people, including

professional scientists, biologists,

naturalists, and foresters, have been

reporting observations of cougars or

their sign (Wright 1972, Tischendorf

and Henderson 1994).

3. While many of these reports are

unverifiable or erroneous, a surprising

number have been confirmed, often

with the details published in peerreviewed

literature. This history of

confirmed reports since the time of

supposed extirpation suggests, at a

minimum, the periodic presence of freeranging

cougars in the region.

4. Several plausible explanations exist for

these cryptic cats: 1) continued

existence of native pumas; 2)

immigration of western cats; 3)

presence of feral escaped or released

captives (FERCs); or 4) combinations

of any or all of these (Nowak 1976,

Downing 1984).


72 CRYPTIC COUGARS · Tischendorf

From ecological, social, and political

standpoints there are three main questions

that this paper seeks to answer. One, are

there cougars in the aforementioned region

today? Two, if pumas are present, do they

represent a breeding population(s)? Finally,

what is the future of Puma concolor east of

the Rocky Mountains? What truly does the

public want when it comes to large

carnivore recovery or restoration in the

East? Possibilities here include active

recovery, passive recovery (i.e., the animals

establish viable populations on their own

without active, direct human intervention),

or overt efforts to preclude recovery.

DISCUSSION

Puma Presence, Populations, and the Big

Picture Perspective

To effectively understand the cryptic

cougar situation, it is critical to maintain a

big picture perspective (Tischendorf 1992c,

1996a, b). Among the many who have

commented on the subject over the years,

and especially among those skeptical of

cougar presence or recovery east of the

Rockies, this perspective, “from Nova

Scotia to Nebraska” (Tischendorf 1996a:43),

has often been lacking (Tischendorf 1992c;

1996a, b). Such a perspective was,

however, utilized by Bruce Wright and,

more recently, by United States Fish and

Wildlife Service (USFWS) researcher

Robert Downing. Downing authored the

eastern cougar recovery plan and speculated

on the presence of an extremely low density,

widely dispersed puma population in the

eastern United States (USA) (Downing

1981, 1984; United States Fish and Wildlife

Service 1982).

Downing’s views, coupled with updated

range information synthesized by Allen

Anderson and intensive independent review

of 100 years’ worth of reports and

documentation, led one author to

subsequently suggest that there were

actually upwards of four loosely interrelated

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

puma populations in the East and Midwest

(Downing 1981, 1984; Anderson 1983;

Tischendorf 1993c). Each of these lowdensity

puma populations was believed to

consist of widely dispersed, widely roaming,

and perhaps transient animals (Tischendorf

1993c). These populations were believed to

have their epicenters in the Canadian

Maritimes-New England region, the Great

Lakes-northern Midwest region, the

Missouri-Arkansas-Oklahoma area, and the

Southeast.

This theory of course remains unproven,

although it was revisited at a previous

Mountain Lion Workshop by several of this

author’s colleagues similarly associated with

the West Virginia-based Eastern Cougar

Foundation (ECF) (Bolgiano et al. 2000).

Members of the ECF, formed in 1999, are

utilizing automatic cameras in an attempt to

document consistent cougar presence or

family groups that could support the above

hypothesis. The ECF (website at

www.easterncougar.org) is notable in that it

has been able to positively partner with

several governmental agencies and share in

the efforts to recover pumas in the East.

Such critical cooperation is also

demonstrated with the Eastern Cougar

Network (ECN). This group’s website,

www.easterncougarnet.org, is a nonadvocacy

amalgamation of peer-reviewed

contributions on the subject of cougars from

essentially every state and provincial

resource agency from the Great Plains

eastward. The site thus serves effectively as

a real-time source of scientifically based

status information on the cat, and perhaps

one day other predators including gray

wolves (Canis lupus), black bears (Ursus

americana), lynx (Lynx canadensis), and

wolverines (Gulo gulo) east of the Rockies.

Seemingly integral to the subject of

cougars east of the Rockies is the question

of whether the species persisted in its native

state beyond the days of its supposed


extirpation. In the big picture, however, if

free-ranging pumas are present and

behaving in wild puma ways, then their

origin, whether from native eastern or

western stock or sanctioned or unsanctioned

releases, should not alter their proper

management and may be irrelevant. While

the cats in many confirmed puma reports are

written off as FERCs and denied

consideration as legitimate ecological

entities, the North American continent teems

with a host of wildlife populations having

their origins in captivity. These span the

spectrum from critically endangered species

to non-native exotics raised like barnyard

fowl and annually introduced solely for

sporting opportunities. Yet these former

captives continue to benefit from official

recognition, management, and protection.

Should mountain lions that happen to show

up in areas where their presence is

considered improbable be any different?

Having said this, the historically

consistent pattern of sightings and periodic

confirmations, while circumstantial,

suggests native pumas did persist in many

areas of their former midwestern and eastern

range at least into the 1940s and 1950s.

After World War II, however, ownership of

cougars and other wild, exotic, or novelty

animals became part of mainstream

Americana and some captive cougars likely

ended up as FERCs. Unfortunately this

phenomenon continues today and is not

necessarily limited to the eastern USA. As a

result, the ultimate origin of almost any freeranging

puma today, even with genetic

testing, may truly be indeterminate.

Summary of Occurrence Records

In keeping with a big picture perspective

of the cryptic cougar subject, it is useful to

review a sampling of bonafide puma reports.

Examples of confirmed or highly credible

reports, mostly peer-reviewed, follow.

“Confirmed kill” indicates that a puma was

killed and the incident documented both

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CRYPTIC COUGARS · Tischendorf 73

photographically and by written or verbal

elaboration of substantial details, or without

photos but with written or verbal elaboration

of substantial details by a professional

scientist or wildlife manager associated with

or employed by a governmental natural

resource agency or academic institution.

“Reported kill” involves highly credible

documentation by a natural resource

professional of a mountain lion being killed,

but reflects a lack of substantial details.

“Confirmed tracks” indicates that a track or

tracks consistent with those of a puma were

located and documented via measurements

and/or photographs subsequently published

in mainstream scientific or popular literature

and thus widely available for independent

scrutiny and authentication.

Reported kill - Williston, North Dakota,

1902 (Bailey 1926)

Reported kill - Bears Paw Mountains,

Montana, 1910 (White 1967)

Reported kill - Fontana Village area,

Tennessee, 1920 (Linzey and Linzey

1971)

Confirmed kill - Mundleville, New

Brunswick, 1932 (Wright 1972)

Confirmed kill - Little Saint John Lake,

Maine-Quebec border, 1938 (Wright

1972)

Confirmed kill - Madison, Saskatchewan,

1939 (Clarke 1942)

Confirmed kill - Pasquia Hills,

Saskatchewan, 1948 (White 1963)

Confirmed kill - Asheville, Alabama, 1948

(Anonymous 1948)

Confirmed kill - Mena, Arkansas, 1948

(Lewis 1969, Nowak 1976)

Confirmed kill - Sims, Arkansas, 1949

(Sealander 1951)

Confirmed kill - Black Hills, South Dakota,

1958 (Mann 1959)

Reported kills (2) - Newcastle, Wyoming,

ca 1950s-1960s (Roop 1971)

Reported kills (2) - Van Tassell, Wyoming,

ca 1959-1960 (Roop 1971)


74 CRYPTIC COUGARS · Tischendorf

Confirmed kill - Keithville, Louisiana,

1965 (Goertz and Abegg 1966)

Confirmed kill - Edinboro, Pennsylvania,

1967 (Doutt 1969)

Confirmed carcass - Checotah, Oklahoma,

1968 (Lewis 1969)

Confirmed kill - Hamburg, Arkansas, 1969

(Noble 1971)

Reported kill - Ekalaka, Montana, ca 1970

(Nowak 1976)

Confirmed kill - Pikeville, Tennessee, 1971

(Nowak 1976)

Confirmed kill - Stead, Manitoba, 1973

(Nero and Wrigley 1977)

Confirmed kill - Cutknife, Saskatchewan,

1975 (White 1976)

Cougar reportedly trapped - Baca County,

Colorado, 1976 (Boddicker 1980)

Confirmed hematological evidence -

Menominee County, Michigan, 1984

(Bill Adrian, Colorado Division of

Wildlife, personal communication)

Puma trapped, radio-collared, translocated

to Black Hills - central South Dakota,

1990 or 1992 (Ted Benzon and Ron

Sieg, South Dakota Department of

Game, Fish and Parks, personal

communication; Tischendorf and

Henderson 1994) (Note: This cat was

killed in the Black Hills in 1996 [Ron

Sieg, South Dakota Department of

Game, Fish and Parks, personal

communication])

Confirmed kill - Golden Valley County,

North Dakota, 1991 (Tischendorf and

Henderson 1994)

Confirmed kill - Pine Ridge area, Nebraska,

1991 (Tischendorf 1992a, Tischendorf

and Henderson 1994)

Cougar trapped and translocated to

Colorado - Worthington, Minnesota,

1991 (Tischendorf 1992a, b)

Confirmed kill - Lowery, South Dakota,

1992 (Tischendorf and Henderson

1994)

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

Confirmed kill - Lake Abitibi, Quebec,

1992 (Tischendorf 1993a)

Confirmed tracks - McKiel Lake, New

Brunswick, 1992 (Tischendorf 1993b,

Cumberland and Dempsey 1994)

Confirmed kill - Texas County, Missouri,

1994 (Hardin 1996, Bolgiano et al.

2000)

Confirmed kill - Mitchell, Nebraska, 1996

(Frank Andelt, Nebraska Game and

Parks Commission, personal

communication)

Confirmed kill - Floyd County, Kentucky,

1997 (Bolgiano 2001)

Confirmed kill - Randolph County, Illinois,

2000 (Clark et al 2002)

Confirmed kill - Duluth, Minnesota, 2001

(Anonymous 2002)

Confirmed kill - Harlan, Iowa, 2001

(Anonymous 2002, Clark et al 2002)

Confirmed kill - Callaway County,

Missouri, 2003 (Graham 2003)

Almost 30 years ago Nowak (1976:143-

144) commented, “The sum of evidence

suggests that native cougar populations have

maintained themselves in southeastern

Canada, within the former range of F. c.

cougar (sic: should be couguar), and in the

Ozark Plateau and adjoining forests of

Arkansas, southern Missouri, eastern

Oklahoma, and northern Louisiana.”

Indeed, even if ecologically significant

populations did not persist, the above list

suggests it is doubtful that these furtive

felids were ever totally extirpated from the

vast, and in many cases relatively

inaccessible, environs of this area.

Relatively pristine areas within New

Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba,

for instance, could possibly have sustained

individual pumas or even vestigial, remnant

populations of these cats through the “Dark

Age” of wildlife and habitat management

late in the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries.

In the USA, a number of areas could

also have served as similar refugia. As late


as the mid-1940s, for instance, noted

mammalogist Victor Cahalane

acknowledged cougar presence in

Shenandoah National Park and adjacent

Blue Ridge country of Virginia (Cahalane

1948). Other plausible refuges include

northern Maine, the Adirondacks, the

Quabbin Reservoir area in Massachusetts,

northern Pennsylvania, the impenetrable

southeastern and southern coastal swamps,

the Great Smoky Mountains area, the

Tennessee-Virginia-Kentucky-West

Virginia border country, the dense

northwoods of Michigan and Minnesota, the

Ozark and Ouachita Mountain complex of

Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, and the

Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming.

White-tailed deer (Odocoileus

virginianus) and mule deer (Odocoileus

hemionus) irruptions in many of these same

areas were identified circa 1940, confirming

that within only a few generations of the

puma’s supposed demise these sites had an

adequate prey base to sustain or attract the

species (Leopold et al. 1947). While an

alternative argument is of course that the

irruptions resulted from lack of predators,

irruptions were also noted in the Rocky

Mountains, where historically we know

mountain lion populations may have been

depleted but were never decimated.

Indeed, in seminal biological

publications as late as the mid-1970s and

1980s several noted mammalogists and

wildlife scientists postulated the continued

presence of puma populations in these very

same areas (Cahalane 1964, Burt and

Grossenheider 1976, Nowak 1976, Deems

and Pursley 1978, Russell 1978, Hall 1981,

Anderson 1983).

Nonetheless, such reports seemingly

generated merely passing interest from

mainstream science and remained largely off

the radar screen of wildlife biologists.

Today, with the growing groundswell in

conservation biology and corridor ecology,

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CRYPTIC COUGARS · Tischendorf 75

scientists are more inclined to recognize the

importance and implications of the presence

of small, insular predator populations or

even remnant, wandering, or dispersing

individuals. Indeed, such enclaves or

individuals may provide the necessary seed

for recolonization or recovery.

Natural resource agencies responsible

for some of these above-mentioned areas

today, such as the Black Hills, have in fact

confirmed extant puma populations

(Tischendorf and Henderson 1994).

Additionally, for quite some time other

states such as North Dakota, Minnesota,

Wisconsin, Missouri, and Arkansas have

acknowledged at least limited and sporadic

puma presence (Sealander and Gipson 1973,

Gerson 1988, Tischendorf and Henderson

1994, Clark et al. 2002, Graham 2003,

Heisel 2003). Michigan Department of

Natural Resources officials acknowledge the

presence of pumas in the Great Lakes State

as well, and ongoing work there at least

suggests the possibility of a resident,

breeding population (Johnson 2002,

Zuidema 2002, Mike Zuidema, Michigan

Department of Forestry, retired, personal

communication). Given the habitat, cover,

prey base, and presence of a thriving

carnivore guild that includes populations of

wolves, bears, coyotes (Canis latrans),

bobcats (Felis rufus), fishers (Martes

pennanti), and probably an occasional lynx,

it would perhaps be more surprising if

Michigan did not have a resident puma

population.

The situation in the Prairie Provinces of

Canada, with their seemingly less

sensational and less controversial approach

to the cat, is similar, if not even more

definitive. In Saskatchewan, the late Tom

White documented the presence of a small

population of pumas filtering among the

coulees and more rugged reaches of this

sprawling province (White 1982). The

Yukon and Northwest Territories, and


76 CRYPTIC COUGARS · Tischendorf

Alaska as well, have a consistent history of

credible puma reports, suggesting occasional

dispersal, while Manitoba Conservation

continues to recognize a stable and perhaps

growing puma population in that province

(Cahalane 1964; Weddle 1965; Kuyt 1971;

White 1982; Wrigley and Nero 1982; Robert

W. Nero, Manitoba Museum of Man and

Nature, retired, personal communication).

Cougar Comeback

Some researchers believe that pumas, as

wolves did in the northern Rocky Mountains

in the 1980s, are in fact re-colonizing many

areas in the Great Plains and central

mountains eastward (Tischendorf and

Henderson 1994). As is true for the Dakotas

and Minnesota, most of the prairie states,

including Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and

Iowa acknowledge, if not resident then

transient occurrences of pumas (Tischendorf

and Henderson 1994; Johnson 1998, 2000).

The same is true for the eastern portions of

Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Texas,

where, in some cases, sporadic puma

presence has been noted for years but where

documented occurrences of these “prairie

panthers” are clearly on the increase

(Boddicker 1980; Berg et al. 1983; Johnson

1998, 2000; Riley 1991; Roop 1971; Russ

1997).

Deer-rich riparian zones along river

systems such as the Yellowstone, Missouri,

North and South Platte, Arkansas, Canadian,

Red, and Colorado River in Texas, can

undoubtedly serve as effective corridors for

puma immigration all the way to the

southeastern Texas coast, Mississippi River,

and beyond. Additionally, the

documentation of puma deaths along

railroad tracks in Nebraska and Illinois

suggests the possibility that railroad rightof-ways

and associated brush belts may also

be effective pathways for pumas (Frank

Andelt, Nebraska Game and Parks

Commission, personal communication;

Clark et al. 2002).

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

The same pattern of puma recolonization

discussed above could be

occurring from the mid-continent’s northern

reaches south and eastward. For instance,

Manitoba’s puma population may be linked

with Ontario to the east and northern

Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan to the

south. Conversely, if low numbers of pumas

have in fact inhabited some of these areas all

along, their acknowledged presence today

may be a function of both immigration and

numerical local growth.

In the Northeast, a similar phenomenon

of range reestablishment may be taking

place. This sentiment was first voiced by

Canadian biologist Bruce Wright, famed

World War II frogman-commando, Leopold

student, early champion for the eastern

cougar, and a strong advocate for eastern

carnivore recovery (Wright 1959, 1972;

Tischendorf 1996a; Allardyce 2001). It was

Wright’s belief that throughout European

man’s settlement of the region panthers

persisted in the central highlands of New

Brunswick and by the mid-1900s were, like

the spokes of a wheel, re-populating and

reclaiming their former range in the East.

This belief, while perennially difficult to

reconcile with the lack of confirmed puma

populations in New Brunswick, or anywhere

else in the East outside of Florida, is

exemplified by growing numbers of not

simply puma reports, but of highly credible

or even verified puma reports (Gerson 1988,

Cumberland and Dempsey 1994, Snow

1994, Stocek 1995, Bolgiano et al. 2000).

These include specimens, scats, tracks, and

videotapes depicting these cats across a wide

geographical zone extending essentially

from Ontario to Newfoundland and

southward to Georgia.

In the northeast USA, Maine and New

York are perhaps the most promising in

terms of numbers of credible puma reports.

One rather compelling report from Maine

involved a shaken hunter who, at extremely


close range, came upon the gripping scene

of what he described as a puma mortally

ravaging a bobcat (Tischendorf 1994a). A

sampling of other data from Maine on file at

the American Ecological Research Institute

(AERIE) includes a hair sample

confirmation from 1995, a track photograph

from the mid-1990s, and a credible 2000

report of what was thought to be a female

puma and kitten. This author has also seen

puma track photos taken by biologist George

Matula of the Maine Department of Inland

Fisheries and Wildlife at a deer yard during

routine winter surveys circa 1984 or 1985.

Credible New York puma reports on file

with AERIE include the killing of a puma

kitten by a bobcat hunter in the early 1990s

and three believable sightings of individual

pumas by professional natural resource

workers. All of these events stem from the

vast Adirondack Park area and occurred

during the 1990s.

Other areas of the Northeast are not

without their own intriguing data. In 1994,

for instance, a group of 3 pumas was

observed and tracked near the community of

Craftsbury, Vermont (Theodore Reed,

Friends of the Eastern Panther, personal

communication). Presumably an adult

female with 2 kittens, a scat deposited by the

group was collected; subsequent analysis

confirmed presence of puma hairs (Bonnie

Yates, USFWS Wildlife Forensic

Laboratory, personal communication). A

hair sample from the remote and

untrammeled Gaspe’ Peninsula in northern

Quebec was also recently confirmed as that

of a puma by Marc Gauthier and his

Canadian research team (Mark Dowling,

Eastern Cougar Network, personal

communication).

Evidence of Breeding and Validity of

Sighting Reports

The questions of confirmed puma

breeding and actual puma numbers are

problematic. In the absence of systematic,

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CRYPTIC COUGARS · Tischendorf 77

scientifically objective, replicable, and

typically expensive multi-year studies, such

as those involving mark and recapture

techniques or radio telemetry, it is difficult

to extrapolate population-level

characteristics of any animal. And, as

several speakers at this conference have

noted, even with robust, million dollar

studies, it is difficult to quantify puma

populations. Even more difficult and more

expensive is monitoring a puma population

over substantial periods of time. What does

this bode for eastern and midwestern

resource agencies trying to decode the issue

of cryptic cats that many seem to report but

few can verify?

Complicating the issue is the fact that

agencies and their human constituency east

of the Rocky Mountains have limited

exposure to large carnivores and their

management. In this geographic area there

truly is a different mindset and comfort level

towards research and management involving

these animals, especially those capable of

attacking and killing people. In the Black

Hills of South Dakota, for instance, radiotracking

of a young male puma in the early

1990s was discontinued after only a short

time due to concerns over liability if the

animal were implicated in damage to a

human or to human property (Tischendorf

and Henderson 1994).

Again due to concerns over liability,

Missouri officials are reluctant to approve

any studies involving handling or marking

of black bears, which are apparently

repopulating the Show-Me-State (Lynn

Robbins, Southwest Missouri State

University, personal communication).

Confounding the matter further are the

controversial predatory and wide-ranging

characteristics of the animal and local

uncertainty regarding its actual status as an

endangered species versus a FERC. Not

surprisingly then, in the case of the puma in

the East, Midwest, or prairies where it is


78 CRYPTIC COUGARS · Tischendorf

frequently perceived by natural resource

agencies as a “species non grata”, few

intensive prospective documentation efforts

have ever been undertaken (Van Dyke1983,

McGinnis 1988, Humphreys 1994). To this

author’s knowledge, east of the Black Hills

and north of Florida and southern Georgia

no free-ranging puma has ever been radioinstrumented

or otherwise marked and

tracked.

What we are left with in the case of

pumas east of the Rockies are largely

sighting reports and compilations of sighting

reports. Such data are often met with

incredulity, yet historically the scientific

literature, particularly that related to

carnivores, is replete with papers involving

nothing more than sighting reports. Articles

by Berg et al. (1983), involving pumas, and

Quinn (1995), who worked with urban

coyotes, are but two of many peer-reviewed

examples of which this author is aware.

Where people are reporting unknown or

unsuspected animals, it often seems one is

eventually killed and populations are

subsequently substantiated, vindicating

those who originally reported sightings.

Furthermore, the survival of rare animals

often depends on timely and critical

decision-making. If sighting reports are the

best with which a researcher has to work,

and particularly if some level of scientific

rigor can be applied to their interpretation,

as demonstrated by Quinn’s coyote research

involving sighting reports in Washington, D.

C., then it is unscientific and ill advised to

carte blanche ignore such reports (Quinn

1995).

In the case of colonization or repopulation,

by definition there is a temporal

continuum of occurrence. Early in the

process, the animals in question are few.

Colonization, re-colonization, or repopulation

ends, if successful, with a selfsustaining

population. The puma

phenomenon east of the Rocky Mountains is

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

presumably somewhere along this

continuum. Evidence presented at this

conference suggests puma presence in some

areas of the West, for instance east-central

and eastern New Mexico, is on the same

continuum (Rick Winslow, New Mexico

Game and Fish Department, personal

communication).

The question of breeding is, of course,

pivotal in the discussion of purported puma

populations and presence. Here again,

however, other than efforts to collect

sighting reports, there has been little formal,

proactive modern research on the species in

eastern North America so information on

this topic is limited. Nonetheless, some

useful information can be derived from the

available data. In the 1970s or early 1980s,

a string of credible eyewitness reports

suggested the presence of an adult puma and

kitten(s) along the Blue Ridge Parkway

(Robert Downing, USFWS, retired, personal

communication). A carnivore biologist

claims to have observed a family group of

pumas in northern Minnesota in the 1970s

(Bill Berg, Minnesota Department of

Natural Resources, retired, personal

communication). More recently in

Minnesota, breeding was also implied in the

case of the female puma killed outside

Duluth in 2001 (Anonymous 2002). In her

company were two kittens, both later

captured and placed into captivity (Mark

Dowling, Eastern Cougar Network, personal

communication). The cougar killed in Floyd

County, Kentucky in 1997, cited earlier, had

spotted pelage and was in the company of at

least one other, larger cat, when it was

struck by a car (Bolgiano 2001). A

biological scientist observed a puma and

several kittens in Missouri in the early

1990s. This is one of several episodes,

including the poaching of a cougar (Texas

County, cited earlier) and the videotaping of

a puma at a deer kill that triggered a

substantial increase in public and agency


awareness of the puma in the state (Lynn

Robbins, Southwest Missouri State

University, personal communication). As

noted above, recent credible reports of

females with kittens have also originated

from both Vermont and Maine. Many other

instances of apparent puma breeding in the

East were discussed by Wright (1972). Such

isolated incidents are certainly not

unequivocal proof of a puma population or

breeding, but in the big picture they do tend

to support the belief that at least a few

pumas are present and sporadic reproduction

is occurring.

Predator Parallels - Bobcat, Black Bear,

Jaguar, and Coyote

Many of those skeptical of puma

presence in eastern North America cite the

vast suburbanization and urbanization of the

region as an effective limiting factor. Yet, if

populations of the versatile puma can exist

in human dense areas of California,

Colorado, and Florida, the species could

surely inhabit portions of the East and

Midwest, especially given the high

populations of deer, feral hogs, and other,

mid-sized and smaller game found

throughout the region. Furthermore, other

eastern carnivores including bobcats, black

bears, and wolves are apparently acclimating

to evolving habitats and human presence and

expanding their populations and/or ranges

(Stoll 1996). Benchmarking with these

species supports the contention that the even

more elastic puma can do the same. A

similar comparison can be made with the

jaguar (Panthera onca) in the West, which,

while noted in the region only rarely for

decades, has been probing borderland

Mexico-Arizona-New Mexico habitat with

increasing frequency in recent years (Brown

and Lopez-Gonzalez 2000).

The coyote provides an additional case

study in relation to the possible existence of

the puma east of the Rocky Mountains

(Tischendorf 1994b). This adaptable, mid-

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CRYPTIC COUGARS · Tischendorf 79

sized, quintessentially western carnivore

arrived on the midwestern and eastern

landscape as a veritable newcomer in

approximately the 1960s and 70s (Gerry

Parker, Canadian Wildlife Service, retired,

personal communication). Similar to what

transpires today with many puma reports,

coyote presence was initially refuted or

attributed to feral individuals or

hybridization with dogs. In retrospect, these

assessments were not entirely correct. It is a

convincing reflection of the regional habitat

quality and prey base that so successfully

has the species colonized the eastern half of

the continent it is today a thriving, legally

trapped, hunted, and pursued game animal.

If the puma is as adaptable as its history

suggests, then intuitively it is simply a

matter of time before it follows the coyote’s

lead.

Biolegal Issues

While current theories support the

contention that North American pumas are

genetically panmictic, the Endangered

Species Act (ESA) specifically identifies

only the subspecies P. c. couguar (the

supposed true “eastern puma”) and P. c.

coryi (the “Florida panther” or more

correctly “southern puma” [Greenwell

1996:18, 36]) as endangered (Florida

Panther Interagency Committee 1993,

Greenwell 1996, Culver et al 2000).

Florida, with its mongrel mix of native,

Texan, “Piper”, and illicitly released

animals, has overcome this issue by working

with the federal government to enact

similarity of appearance protection laws for

all of its pumas. Thus, Florida’s pumas,

regardless of origin, now all fall under the

convenient, albeit taxonomically outdated

umbrella moniker of “Florida panther”

(Alvarez 1993).

Elsewhere in the East and the Midwest

there exists much confusion and feline

filibustering about what constitutes a puma

meriting ESA protection versus one that can


80 CRYPTIC COUGARS · Tischendorf

be considered a western wanderer or

escaped or released captive (Tischendorf

1994b, Cardoza and Langlois 2002).

Clouding the issue is the fact that much of

the Midwest was considered original range

of F. c. schorgeri, the supposed “Wisconsin

puma” which technically fits neither into the

ESA nor the eastern cougar recovery plan of

1982, which in any case has never been

implemented (Nowak 1976, Hall 1981,

USFWS 1982).

As Albert Einstein reportedly said,

“Perfection of means and confusion of goals

seem, in my opinion, to characterize our

age.” More simply, sometimes the process

can get in the way of the purpose. Clearly,

the Endangered Species Act is meant to

protect rare animals. Equally apparent, the

puma from the Great Plains eastward is rare.

Should the ESA unequivocally and

ultimately serve as a tool to protect this lithe

and golden ghost as it reestablishes itself

across its original range? Or can the case be

made that federal delisting, in concert with

state or multi-state management plans and

agreements, unencumbered by federal

oversight, may more favorably serve the

puma of the Great Plains, Midwest, and

East?

The Jaguar Conservation Team

(JAGCT), a diverse coalition of agencies

and individuals working together to develop

and implement a sound plan for protecting

and conserving jaguars in the Southwest,

may serve as a template organization for

those involved with puma recovery east of

the Rocky Mountains. Formed in 1997,

prior to listing of the jaguar as an

endangered species north of Mexico by the

USFWS, the JAGCT operates under a

formal conservation agreement with the

USFWS and today functions as an ad hoc

jaguar recovery team (Bill Van Pelt, Arizona

Game and Fish Department, personal

communication). In essence, the JAGCT

attempts to preempt the potential for heavy-

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

handedness and long-distance directives of

the ESA by working locally with all its

stakeholders to proactively find effective

solutions to conflict (Bill Van Pelt, Arizona

Game and Fish Department, personal

communication).

For now the future of eastern or

midwestern pumas is largely tied to the

ESA. Certainly similarity of appearance

semantics related to pumas and the ESA in

Florida have symbiotically done much to

pave the way for puma recovery elsewhere

east of the Rockies. Still, if the ESA is to

play a pivotal role, it clearly requires

modification to recognize P. concolor in

terms of individuals and populations,

without regard to an obsolete concept of

subspecies, as the rare animal that east of the

Rocky Mountains it truly is (Tischendorf

1994c, 1995). Such modification would

thus effectively resolve the unintentional but

critical double standard for recovery that

exists for pumas in Florida versus those

elsewhere in the East and Midwest. Based

on the powerful southern precedent,

similarity of appearance protection for all

free-ranging non-nuisance pumas and

potential puma populations today and

tomorrow, not only in Florida, but those

from the Great Plains eastward, would be a

simple, logical, and consistent step

(Tischendorf 1994c, 1995; Cardoza and

Langlois 2002).

In the northern Rockies with the wolf,

and in Florida with the puma, recovery has

been facilitated by formal restoration efforts.

It is questionable whether such

governmentally sanctioned activities will be

carried out to enhance natural cougar

recovery in eastern or midwestern North

America. Economic issues certainly exist,

witness the budgets necessary for not only

gray wolf and panther restoration, but those

for other high-profile endangered species

like the red wolf (Canis rufus), black-footed

ferret (Mustela nigripes), whooping crane


(Grus americana), California condor

(Gymnogyps californianus), and peregrine

falcon (Falco peregrinus).

Additionally, given that the species in

question is not just endangered but large,

carnivorous, potentially hazardous to

humans, and an effective ecological

regulator of ungulates that figure

prominently in a deeply entrenched hunting

tradition, there is certainly potential for

controversy and conflict among various

public constituencies.

Still, there are intriguing possibilities for

the future of the puma in eastern North

America. Even despite the limitations of the

ESA, given nothing more than appropriate

deer management, can the once ubiquitous

puma survive, re-populate, and thrive in the

East, Midwest, and Great Plains? Evidence

presented in this paper tends to support this

scenario.

What truly are the public attitudes

toward this widely ranging and exquisitely

adaptable carnivore? Do agency attitudes

mirror public sentiment? These critical

human dimension wildlife topics would

make excellent subject matter for a graduate

student project.

As pumas return to the Great Plains,

Midwest, and East, there will inevitably be

conflict, as occurs in the West, with

agricultural and suburban interests.

Exemplifying this, uncannily, as this paper

was being revised in October 2003, a freeranging

young male puma, presumably

dispersing from the west, was captured and

placed into captivity after causing public

unrest and alarm in urban Omaha, Nebraska.

Meanwhile, in Iowa another young male

puma was shot and killed by a farmer.

Can we as wildlife professionals devise a

new ESA or state-level paradigm for

carnivore management, and specifically the

phenomenon of novel puma presence, that

provides effective oversight for scientific,

evidence-based decisions while allowing for

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

CRYPTIC COUGARS · Tischendorf 81

sensible managerial flexibility and creativity

at the key stakeholders’ state and local

level? Does the JAGCT, with its formal and

proactive conservation agreement with the

USFWS, provide a workable model for this?

Are there in fact several low density,

highly mobile puma populations and

breeding foci in eastern and mid-western

North America? This question remains

unresolved, but the growing body of

evidence discussed herein suggests that this

possibility should not be discounted.

Finally, despite the substantial evidence

to the contrary, if pumas are in fact absent

from the landscapes of the prairies,

Midwest, and East, what is the prognosis for

their human-aided restoration in seemingly

viable ecosystems like the Adirondack

Mountains, the prey-rich Alleghenies, the

Ozark or Ouachita Mountains, or the

expansive northern forests of Minnesota,

Michigan, and Maine?

Many of these and other questions were

raised and addressed in detail at the historic

“Eastern Cougar Conference, 1994” held in

Erie, Pennsylvania in June 1994

(Tischendorf and Ropski 1996). This was

the first, and remains the only, formal

conference ever devoted entirely to the

subject of pumas in eastern North America.

A second conference is planned for

Morgantown, West Virginia, in April 2004.

This conference will roughly mark the tenth

anniversary of the first gathering, providing

a centralized forum for ongoing discussions

and updates on research related to this

intriguing subject.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, 4 key points:

1. Adaptable animals adapt and the

puma is one of the most adaptable

land mammals in the New World.

2. There are no ecological reasons why

the puma could not exist in eastern


82 CRYPTIC COUGARS · Tischendorf

North America today. Across much

of the Great Plains, midwestern, and

eastern portions of the continent the

evidence suggests that in low

densities it does.

3. Using the model of the JAGCT, a

diverse but integrated Conservation

Team should be formed as soon as

possible to promulgate appropriate

changes to the ESA (including even

possible delisting) and to critically

evaluate the long dormant recovery

plan for cougars in the East, which

requires updating to reflect recent

knowledge related to the puma east of

the Rocky Mountains (Tischendorf

1996b, Cardoza and Langlois 2002).

4. As mankind enters this new

millennium, return of the puma to its

former range in the Great Plains,

Midwest, and East provides an

opportunity for wildlife professionals

with limited firsthand experience with

large carnivores to demonstrate their

expertise in scientifically and

sociologically managing this

relatively secretive predator on the

many-faceted modern ecological

interface of private and public lands,

politics, and public opinion.

In today’s anthropocentric world, the

puma, as is the case for large carnivores

everywhere, is unfortunately a victim of its

own three “E’s” - its evolution, its ecology,

and its ethology. Widely ranging, oblivious

to human-delineated boundaries, a large and

potentially dangerous predator that preys

effectively and efficiently on ungulates both

wild and domestic, the puma is an

irrefutable, anachronistic, and controversial

symbol of our primeval wild.

In the end, the message that emerges

today for the puma in the East is this: even

at its highest densities, few people will ever

see a living, wild puma. Certainly we can

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

live without this great cat. Even more

certainly, it can live without us. Enmeshed

in controversy, entrenched in folklore,

history, and legend, endangered across a

huge portion of its historic range, the largely

secretive puma presents us with the great

challenge of, and the magnificent

opportunity for, harmonious coexistence.

Hopefully mankind will rise to this rare

occasion to ensure that the puma is again a

celebrated and wisely managed part of our

Great Plains, midwestern, and eastern

wildlife heritage.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This paper is dedicated to the memory of

Frank C. Craighead, Jr., of Moose,

Wyoming, whose life and career were an

inspiration to a generation of wildlife

biologists. Kerry Murphy and Randy

Matchett served knowledgeably and capably

as manuscript referees. A special thank you

is extended to the Wyoming Game and Fish

Department, coordinator and host for this

Mountain Lion Workshop.

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MOUNTAIN LION STATUS REPORT: BRITISH COLUMBIA

MATT AUSTIN, Large Carnivore Specialist, Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, PO

Box STN PROV GOVT, Victoria BC V8W 9M4, Canada, email:

Matt.Austin@gems7.gov.bc.ca

Abstract: Mountain lions are classified as “Big Game” in British Columbia under the provincial

Wildlife Act. There is no provincial mountain lion management plan, however, there is a species

account within the provincial Wildlife Harvest Strategy. The harvest management goal for

mountain lions is “to optimize population sustainability within ecosystems while allowing for

options and opportunities associated with hunting and viewing.” Mountain lions occupy all

suitable habitats within BC. The distribution of mountain lions has been expanding northward in

recent years due deer population increases resulting from less severe winters. The current

provincial mountain lion population estimate is 4,000-6,000 and likely declining after peaking in

the late 1990s. Declines are related to the severe winter in 1996/97 that reduced deer

populations. Population estimates are based on the “best guesses” of regional biologists based

on anecdotal and harvest/conflict information. Confidence in the population estimate is low but

we have greater confidence in the trend estimate. Mountain lion hunting is allowed under

General Open Seasons in all but two northern regions with negligible populations. There are no

explicit harvest criteria or objectives aside from quotas for female harvest in one region. Both

harvest and mortalities resulting from conflicts increased from 1985 until 1996 and then declined

through 2002. Conservation Officers respond to conflicts with mountain lions through

education, translocation or destruction; compensation is not provided for losses. Known

mountain lion attacks increased during the 20 th century, peaking in the 1990s.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

87


88

IMPROVING OUR UNDERSTANDING OF MOUNTAIN LION MANAGEMENT

TRENDS: THE VALUE OF CONSISTENT MULT-STATE RECORD KEEPING

CHRISTOPHER M. PAPOUCHIS, Mountain Lion Foundation, PO Box 1896, Sacramento, CA

95814, USA, email: cpapouchis@mountainlion.org

LYNN MICHELLE CULLENS, Mountain Lion Foundation, PO Box 1896, Sacramento, CA

95814, USA, email: cullens@mountainlion.org

Abstract: The sound management and conservation of mountain lions relies on comprehensive

scientific data. Yet the cost of mountain lion research can be prohibitive and the results are often

difficult if not impossible to extrapolate. Wildlife managers, field researchers, and conservation

organizations would benefit from more complete and consistent records of validated mountain

lion sightings, hunting mortalities, depredation incidents, and road kills. Scientists who have

mined such data in the past have isolated important variables, generated important hypotheses,

and targeted future research. But their work is usually limited by funding, academic or agency

agendas. Further, there is no long-term multi-state repository for mountain lion data. The task

of data collection is made more difficult because there is no multi-state standard, and therefore

states collect and store data inconsistently. This presentation explores the potential for

developing a multi-state database, and examines the existing state data sets in order to identify

the essential variables that might be included.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP


LESSENING THE IMPACT OF A PUMA ATTACK ON A HUMAN

E. LEE FITZHUGH, Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology, University of

California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616-8751, USA, email:

elfitzhugh@ucdavis.edu

SABINE SCHMID-HOLMES, Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology,

University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616-8751, USA

MARC W. KENYON, Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology, University of

California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616-8751, USA

KATHY ETLING, 6830 St. Tropez Circle, Osage Beach, MO 65065, USA

Abstract: We reviewed current data on puma (Puma concolor) attacks and near-attacks on humans to identify better

ways for people to protect themselves. Not since Paul Beier’s paper in 1991 has anyone documented, established

criteria for validity, and analyzed puma attacks on humans, and much more data are now available. In attempting to

examine human-puma behavioral interactions to 2003, the authors have collected accounts of 16 fatal and 92 nonfatal

attacks that meet Beier’s criteria. In addition, we have an additional 32 fatal and 84 non-fatal attacks that failed

to meet Beier’s criteria, either for lack of physical contact, lack of verification, occurrence in Latin America,

occurrence prior to 1890, or because they were attacks on hunters. We also have accumulated 155 accounts of

behavioral interactions between pumas and humans at close proximity that did not result in an attack. We contrasted

these with incidents that resulted in an attack. We analyzed the use of Beier’s fatal:non-fatal attack ratio to predict

missing incidents, and suspect that the criterion of validation may bias data for attacks prior to 1950. However,

most of Beier’s statements and conclusions are confirmed. While the analysis is yet incomplete, this presentation

includes highlights of our tentative analysis concerning common questions about puma attacks, illustrated by stories

of real situations. Being aggressive and making loud noises helps protect people from a possible puma attack.

Warning gunshots are much less effective than is yelling. Charging the puma seems to make it run away, but may

result in some injury to the person who is charging. Groups of 5 people or more are relatively safe, but children in

those groups may still be attacked. Hunters imitating animal sounds or smells may attract pumas, but these

situations usually do not result in serious injuries. People attacked while sleeping on the ground often receive only

minor injuries because the puma runs away when the person or companions awake, yell, and resist. The strategies

will usually work, but not always, because pumas have different personalities and seem to react differently to the

same situation.

89

Proceedings of the Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop

Key words: Animal damage, attacks on humans, conflict with wildlife, cougar, human dimensions of wildlife

management, mountain lion, pest control, predation, Puma concolor

INTRODUCTION

In this paper we use the common name

“puma” to describe Puma concolor.

Occasionally, when we quote other people,

we retain their terminology, and they often

use “cougar” instead of “puma.” Beier

(1991) analyzed 9 fatal and 44 non-fatal

attacks by pumas on humans that occurred

between 1890 and 1990 in the United States

and Canada. In order to include an attack in

his analysis, it must have been published,

included statements from agency or medical

personnel, and involved contact in which the

human was bitten, clawed, or knocked down

by the puma. Excluded were situations

involving captive pumas and in which

people deliberately approached or harassed a

puma. He found that 64% of victims were

children, and only 13 of 37 (35%) of these

were alone, while 11 of 17 (65%) adult

victims were alone when attacked. He also

found that an aggressive response might

avert and/or repel an attack. Yearlings and

underweight cougars were most likely to


90 REDUCING PUMA ATTACKS · Fitzhugh et al.

attack humans. Beier believed he had

discovered all fatal attacks since 1890 that

met his criteria, and all non-fatal attacks

since 1970. Based on the ratio of fatal to

non-fatal attacks during 1970-1990, he

estimated that he had failed to identify about

12 non-fatal attacks between 1890 and 1970.

Beier documented an increase in frequency

of attacks from the 1890-1969 period to

1970-1990. While Beier did not tabulate

“near-attacks,” he did analyze the victim’s

actions that may have served to prevent the

attack. “Fighting back” and shouting loudly

were actions that seemed to avert or repel

attacks, as did waving arms, poking or

hitting with sticks, throwing rocks, etc.

Beier also reported an attempt at aversive

conditioning of one puma, but it failed to

prevent future aggression. We substantiated

most of Beier’s findings and, because we

have more data, we produced some

additional tentative findings.

We have accounts of a total of 224

attacks by pumas on humans and 155

behavioral interactions that did not result in

an actual attack. The number of accounts

through April 2003 that have information

useful for analyzing any specific question is

variable, but only 108 accounts meet Beier’s

(1991) criteria. Of the 116 attacks that failed

Beier’s criteria, 32 were fatal and 84 were

non-fatal. Reasons for failure include lack of

physical contact, lack of verification,

occurrence in Latin America, occurrence

prior to 1890, or because they were attacks

on hunters. Beier’s strict criteria avoid

errors of commission, but allow for many

omissions. Because we are interested in

behavior more than just counting attacks, we

decided to relax the Beier limitations as long

as accounts seemed plausible and contained

useful information. Our intent is to analyze

human and puma behavior in these

situations where data are available and

compare attacks with encounters to try to

provide better advice for people who come

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

face-to-face with a puma, or who want to

prepare for that eventuality. We are still

organizing the data, so this report is not the

final one, but we do have a few

recommendations to make at this time, and

we will make some observations about

reliability of reports and frequency of

attacks in general.

METHODS

We defined “non-attack encounters” as

behavioral interactions between pumas and

humans at close proximity that do not result

in an attack. We purposely did not define

“close proximity” to place emphasis on

“behavioral interactions.” We excluded

incidents in which the puma was sighted and

then left, and included incidents in which the

puma and human exchanged multiple

behaviors. “Close proximity” is necessary

for this to occur, but the distance may vary,

and we were more flexible regarding

distance criteria than for behavioral criteria.

If we believed we could learn from the

interaction, we included it. Most of our data

are from published popular accounts,

sometimes substantiated by an agency

incident report. Etling (2001), in particular,

solicited personal accounts from individuals

in their own words, both before and after

publication of her book. We categorized

incidents in several ways to better analyze

and evaluate the data. One mentioned in

this paper is a category we called “attacks

terminated by humans.” These are incidents

in which a puma was shot while charging, or

at least clearly intent on creeping up very

close to a human in spite of the person’s

efforts to discourage such behavior. We

have 20 such accounts, 10 of which are from

hunters. In only 3 of the hunting accounts

was it clear that the hunter was doing

something that might attract a puma (e.g.,

using deer scent, calling turkeys, etc.). Six

accounts were of agency employees

investigating previous encounters between

humans and pumas.


We defined a child as a person under 13

years of age, whereas Beier (1991) defined a

child as being under 16. We differed from

Beier because we believed that the younger

age better represented when girls and boys

reach adult size and behavior.

We entered data into a spreadsheet and

made inferences where they were defensible.

For example, when the victim fired a shot,

and the attack was fatal to the victim, we

inferred that the shot did not deter the

attacking puma, even though the account did

not specifically say so. The matrix was

organized with individual incidents in rows,

separated into various categories such as:

Beier fatal, Beier non-fatal, non-verified

(otherwise meeting Beier’s criteria), fatal

prior to 1890, nonfatal prior to 1890, Latin

American incidents, close encounters,

provoked attacks, encounters while hunting,

and 10 other categories. Columns included

raw data and data coded into categories for

analysis, all of which made 193 columns,

including 147 columns of original data.

Broad categories of data in columns

included descriptions of the habitat and

setting, identification and descriptions of the

victims, and detailed descriptions of the

incident, including a written description and

data parsed into separate columns.

Information sources, previous reported

puma activities in the area, necropsy results,

and injuries sustained by the victim(s) also

were entered. An example of data sought

and entered is in the partial questionnaire

mentioned below.

On a few recent occasions, when it was

possible, we sent a 4-page questionnaire to

the witness of an attack to get more detailed

information. The questionnaire was generic

and designed to help people remember detail

without leading them to specific answers.

Thus, we did not ask whether the puma was

pumping its rear feet up and down, but

instead we asked what the puma was doing

with its feet. Although the situations were

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

REDUCING PUMA ATTACKS · Fitzhugh et al. 91

serious, the responses sometimes interacted

with the generic nature of the questions in a

humorous manner. A real example of a

questionnaire we recently received from a

man who gave permission to use it will

illustrate both the detail of the questions and

some of the humor that occasionally occurs.

It also illustrates an incident that is not

classified as an attack under the Beier

(1991) criteria, because no contact was

made. We have called it a “terminated

attack.”

To appreciate the humor, it helps to

imagine the victim’s perspective on the

attack and his response to the “ivory-tower”

nature of the questions that came from some

stranger at a far-off university. The victim

was hunting deer in a remote area when he

was charged from behind. The puma

vocalized with a “growl-hiss” sound, which

alerted the victim to the charge. He killed

the puma during its charge, after missing his

first shot. After the second shot the puma

fell only 5.2 m (17 feet) from him. Here are

a few of the questions and the victim’s

responses:

How was the puma identified (what

evidence or characteristics)?

The cougar died, not much question that

it was a cougar.

Condition of teeth:

Perfect teeth, no fillings.

Condition of claws:

Damned sharp.

Did attack involve a fatality?

Yes, the cougar.

Puma posture and position of ears at time of

first sighting:

The cat was charging me. I later

measured the distance from where it

started the charge, which was 86 feet. I

don’t recall what position the ears were

in. [86 feet is 26.2 m].

What was puma doing with eyes and tail at

time of first sighting?

Tail seemed to be floating out behind the


92 REDUCING PUMA ATTACKS · Fitzhugh et al.

cat.

What was puma doing with its feet at time

of first sighting?

Bounding toward me.

Victim behavior just after first sighting?

Putting rifle to shoulder and firing.

Were there signs of aggression by puma?

The cougar was charging me, full speed

ahead, which seemed pretty aggressive to

me at the time.

Did victim fight back?

Yes.

How?

I shot the puma in the throat/chest.

Puma response:

Puma rolled and died.

Was puma injured by victim?

Yes, severely.

Quality of Data

Some accounts are not included in this

analysis. The 224 attacks and 155

encounters we analyze do not include 14

incidents for which we believe additional

investigation is needed to validate their

accuracy. Nor do we include 8 other

incidents we suspect, but cannot prove, are

duplicates of incidents included in the tally.

In addition, we have 10 more reports that we

decided not to use because they included too

little information or were of doubtful

validity. Our data do include incidents that

do not meet Beier’s criteria, but we kept

those separate in order not to invalidate

comparison with Beier’s (1991) findings. As

we analyze data more completely, more of

the incidents may be excluded, primarily for

lack of information. Our files also include

several accounts that have recently come to

our attention that are not yet entered in the

database and are not included in this paper.

These latter data, and additional details from

the accounts we have analyzed will be

included in a later, more complete treatment.

As already mentioned, we included all

the accounts we have discovered, and we

tried to estimate the validity of each. The

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

editor of Outdoor Life, from 1897 to 1925,

asked his readers to provide accounts of

puma attacks on humans. He then tried to

verify the accuracy of each account,

generally without success. In each case, he

was either unable to locate the respondent,

or the knowledgeable people from the area

where the attack was supposed to have

occurred claimed no knowledge of it

(Anonymous 1925, cited by Beier 1991).

During this same period, Forest and Stream,

which became Field and Stream, also

printed numerous personal accounts of

encounters with pumas. At this time, we

have been able to locate only 1 reference to

incidents that may have been confirmed

(Marsh 1917), or failed confirmation, by

Outdoor Life (Anonymous 1917). We are

aware of one, and perhaps three fraudulent

accounts in recent years, and we also

questioned the validity of one unusual

account that we later found had been

confirmed by an agency. We recently tried,

unsuccessfully, to obtain agency

confirmation of an account, only later to find

that the confirmation had been provided to

Etling several years earlier. Therefore, the

verifications themselves can be erroneous in

either direction. It is possible that we have

analyzed a few spurious reports, but if so,

their effect on our findings should be minor.

We have placed our 379 useful incidents

in categories of similar types of incidents

and levels of reliability. The 108 fatal and

non-fatal incidents that meet Beier’s (1991)

criteria may be considered to be a complete

count of well-defined and verified attacks.

(See a more complete defense of this

assumption in the results and discussion

section). The few verified non-fatal

incidents we may have missed would not

affect group values in an important way.

The 116 other attacks and 155 encounters

represent neither a total count nor a

statistical sample, nor do we know anything

about the underlying statistical distribution


except that attacks by pumas on humans are

rare. We know nothing of bias caused by

missing data. We can speculate that missing

cases may not have been considered

important enough to report; there may have

been nobody to report to; fatal incidents may

have been undiscovered; they may have

been reported and the records lost; they may

have been printed in obscure references that

we did not find; we may have wrongly

discarded some incidents recorded from

word-of-mouth accounts, etc. Thus, we

have a core of strictly defined data that we

treat as a total count. These data are

restricted by the verification criterion in

such a way that the passage of time reduces

opportunity for verification. The core exists

in a matrix of less well-defined incidents,

the statistical properties of which are

unknown.

At a finer level, even the welldocumented

cases have many blank cells in

the data matrix because specific items were

unknown or not reported, and there was no

way to infer the information. In these

situations, we usually cannot assume the

nature of possible biases caused by missing

data, if they exist.

To summarize, we have nearly total

counts of incidents in Beier-quality

categories, missing incidents in others, and

missing data in all incidents. The categories

in which we can assume total counts may be

subject to a time-related bias that may affect

the statistical distribution of the data. We

have little a priori information to guide us.

Therefore, we are restricted mostly to

descriptive statistics and forming hypotheses

that may later be independently verified.

We do use a Chi-square test to explore the

similarity of the distributions in three

different categories, two of which we

assume are total counts.

Statistical Methods

We have no a priori models or

hypotheses. We had believed that most, if

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

REDUCING PUMA ATTACKS · Fitzhugh et al. 93

not all, puma attacks were predatory, but

information provided by Sweanor et al.

(personal communication) contradicts that

belief. Thus, our analysis is exploratory,

examining the data to find hypotheses and

descriptive models that may later be

subjected to data collection and statistical

interpretation. In the few cases where

statistical testing was warranted, we report

the test used along with the results, but for

the majority of situations, descriptive

statistics are the only analysis used.

Nevertheless, we feel secure in drawing

some conclusions about how to reduce risk

of serious injury during a puma encounter.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

What Can We Tell About the Data?

With respect to counting attacks and

comparing frequencies, we can be a little

more specific about statistical qualities of

the data. Like Beier (1991), we believe we

have a near-complete count of verified fatal

attacks from 1890 to 2003 in the U. S. and

Canada. Authors of new books (Danz,

1999, Deurbrouck and Miller 2001, and

Etling 2001) did extensive new searches,

and failed to find any fatal attacks that meet

Beier’s criteria that were not included by

Beier in his original list, or else occurred

after his publication. The 108 attacks we

analyze that meet Beier’s criteria include 7

fatal and 38 non-fatal attacks that occurred

after Beier published his list, and 9 fatal and

54 non-fatal attacks that meet Beier’s

criteria and occurred between 1890 and

1991. On the basis of additional information

(personal communication, Dale Elliot to

Etling, July 2000), we moved one of Beier’s

non-fatal attacks (Bird and Sieh, Nevada,

1971) to the “provoked attack” category and

added 11 new non-fatal attacks between

1890 and 1991. It is possible that attacks,

even fatal ones, occurred in the U. S. that

were never known, especially during the

depression years of the 1930s and the

various gold rushes in localities in the


94 REDUCING PUMA ATTACKS · Fitzhugh et al.

Table 1. Calculations of non-fatal attacks by pumas in the U.S. and Canada between 1890 and 1969

that might not have been detected.

Source

Beier (1991)

1970-1990

Our data

1970-2001

Ratio NF/F

from 1970

onward

× Fatal

attacks 1890-

1969

= Calculated

non-fatal

attacks

− Attacks

detected

1890-1969

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

= Calculated

attacks not

detected

31÷5 = 6.2 4 25 13 12

69÷12 = 5.75 4 23 21 2

western U.S. It is certain that attacks

occurred in Latin America for which no

records are available. Written accounts of

attacks occur in some obscure publications,

not susceptible to easy location. One

example is the killing of Henry Ramsey in

1876 (Hunter 1922:110). That account was

found by scanning the table of contents of a

county history that was in a fund-raising

auction of “white elephant” donations. All

of these missing accounts would, of course,

fail Beier’s criterion of verification, and

perhaps other criteria as well. We believe

we can use the 16 fatal attacks that meet

Beier’s criteria as a complete count, not

requiring statistical measures of variability.

The 92 Beier-quality non-fatal attacks

probably include a large majority of all nonfatal

attacks (Table 1). They should be

representative, and probably can be treated

as a complete count. However, they were

not sampled according to a statistical design.

The remaining 116 attacks and 155

encounters have unknown statistical

properties, with variable report quality and

amounts of information.

Beier (1991) estimated that he might

have missed finding 12 non-fatal accounts

between 1970 and 1990. He did this by

assuming that he found all the accounts from

1970 to 1990, and multiplying the ratio of

non-fatal to fatal attacks during that period

by the number of fatal attacks from 1890 to

1969. We discovered 8 of the 12 missing

accounts, and also 3 more between 1970 and

1990, so we recalculated the potentially

missing non-fatal accounts (Table 1). These

were calculated through 2001, as the 2002

data are yet incomplete. The analysis in

Table 1 assumes a constant rate of attacks

across years. Puma populations, prey

populations, and the number, age, sex, and

group size of people at risk may have

changed considerably since 1890. These

factors may affect the attack rate. Thus, the

calculation may be invalid to the degree that

these parameters have changed.

Even if the analysis in Table 1 is valid,

the number of fatal attacks is small enough

that a change in even one attack can alter the

calculation of non-detected non-fatal

attacks. Because there is a chance that we

may have missed some fatal attacks prior to

1970 (and especially prior to 1950 as

discussed later), this is a tentative

calculation that serves only to illustrate that

there likely are some incidents we have not

found, but that number is relatively small.

We will return to this topic later with respect

to possible bias caused by Beier’s

verification criterion.

Comparing Verified and Unverified Data

Figure 1 shows the relationship through

time between the 15 Beier-quality fatal

attacks, the 86 non-fatal attacks, and the 27

non-verified, non-fatal attacks, 1890-1999.

The Beier-quality non-fatal attack curve


Figure 1. A comparison of patterns of fatal

and non-fatal attacks that conform to Beier’s

(1991) criteria with non-verified non-fatal

attacks.

diverges from the other two beginning in

1950. All three types of data have been

subject to the same bias from a conscious

increase in collecting attack reports

beginning with Barnes (1960), our effort

from 1984 (Fitzhugh and Gorenzel 1986),

and intensive searches beginning about 1990

(Beier 1991) and increasing in 1998-2001

(Danz 1999, Deuerbrouck and Miller 2001,

Etling 2001).The Beier-quality fatal attacks

curve (Figure 1) began to exceed past levels

in the 1970s, and increased even more in the

1990s. We confirmed that Beier

documented all the verified fatal attacks

since 1890, and Figure 1 shows that the nonverified,

non-fatal attacks coincide closely

with Beier-quality fatal attacks. The

difference in the shape of the curves in

Figure 1 may be partly attributable to an

increase in agency funding, staffing, and

attention to puma incidents beginning in

about 1950, allowing for more verification

and recording of non-fatal incidents (Harley

Shaw, personal communication). Thus, the

post-1950 non-verified data may be

depressed because a greater proportion of

those incidents were verified than happened

pre-1950. The post-1950 verified non-fatal

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

REDUCING PUMA ATTACKS · Fitzhugh et al. 95

Figure 2. Non-fatal to fatal attack ratios.

Bars represent a 20-year running average

beginning with 1890-1909, 1900-1919, etc.,

except that 1990 represents only 1990-1999.

Includes only data that conform to Beier’s

(1991) criteria. The zero value at 1890

represents a 20-year period, 1890-1909, with

no verified non-fatal attacks. The zero value

at 1950 represents a 20-year period, 1950-

1969, without fatal attacks. (N = 101; 15 =

fatal, 86 = non-fatal.)

data would have increased by the same

amount.

The proportional change in the Beierquality

non-fatal attack curve after 1949,

applied to higher numbers of non-fatal

incidents compared with fatal incidents,

magnifies the visual comparison between

the curves, although prior to 1950 the nonfatal

curve is only slightly higher than the

fatal curve. The effect of magnification can

be removed by examining proportions

directly, using non-fatal to fatal ratios by 20year

periods (Figure 2). The 1960-1990

ratios seem consistent, with an average

value of 6.5. The 1890-1930 average is less,

at 2.4 (including 1890-1909, when there

were no recorded non-fatal attacks), but is

more variable. Only the 1940-1959 ratio

seems unusually high, created by the first

big increase in non-fatal attacks, which

occurred during the 1950s, while no fatal

attacks occurred 1950-1959. While non-


96 REDUCING PUMA ATTACKS · Fitzhugh et al.

Table 2. The effect of including non-verified puma attack incidents on the non-fatal:fatal attack

ratios before and after 1950, U. S. and Canada.

Data 1890-1949 1950-1999 Difference

Beier-quality only 6 ÷ 4 = 1.5 86 ÷ 12 = 7.2 5.7

Beier-quality & all non-verified 16 ÷ 7 = 2.3 96 ÷ 13 = 7.3 5.0

Beier-quality & non-verified non-fatal only 16 ÷ 4 = 4.0 96 ÷ 12 = 8.0 4.0

fatal attacks did not decrease after that, fatal

attacks increased starting in 1970, bringing

the ratios down. Some of the variation in

Figure 2 is caused by zero values. The nonverified,

non-fatal data (Figure 1) are

approximately of the same value as the

Beier-quality fatal data, and the curves are

very similar, so we may be justified in

combining the non-verified non-fatal data (n

= 23) with the Beier-quality non- fatal data

(n = 86). Four non-verified fatal attacks also

were included with the 15 verified fatal

attacks to be consistent. Ratios for the

periods before and after 1950 (Table 2)

show that adding all non-verified incidents

(fatal and non-fatal) increased the ratios

slightly; ratios were even greater when only

non-verified, non fatal incidents were added.

The non-verified data also reduced the

differences between the earlier and later

periods. If we assume that the underlying

ratio of non-fatal to fatal attacks is

consistent across years, it appears that

excluding non-verified data changes the

ratios. The changes represent bias if we are

justified in using the non-verified data.

Beier’s (1991) calculation of ratios from

1970-1990, to estimate missing non-fatal

attacks prior to 1970, assumed a constant

relationship. It seems logical that we have

detected a larger proportion of the actual

non-fatal attacks in recent years, and the

data seem to indicate that this is so (Figures

1-3). However, some biological,

demographic, and cultural differences may

have caused a change in ratios not related to

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

reporting frequency. These changes have to

do with changes in persecution of pumas,

especially before, during, and after World

Wars I and II, the number of people using

puma habitat, changes in the degree of puma

habituation to humans, changes in the

proportion of children versus adults exposed

to pumas, and changes in the inclination or

ability of people to report incidents. We

believe the underlying non-fatal to fatal ratio

may have changed about the middle of the

20 th century, but measurement of this

potential change is confused by changes in

Figure 3. Non-fatal to fatal attack ratios.

Bars represent a 20-year running average

beginning with 1890-1909, 1900-1919, etc.,

except that 1990 represents only 1990-1999.

Included are data that conform to Beier’s

(1991) criteria and non-verified data, both

fatal and non-fatal. The zero value at 1950

represents a 20-year period, 1950-1969,

without fatal attacks. (n = 128; 19 = fatal, 109

= non-fatal.)


the rate of detection of attacks and changes

in verification of detected attacks.

We did subject the Beier-quality data to

2 Chi-square comparisons with 27 of the

accounts that were not verified, but met

other Beier criteria. These are the same data

shown in Figure 1. We used the Beierquality

data as the observed value and the

non-verified non-fatal data, paired with the

Beier-quality data by decades, as the

expected value. The Beier- quality fatal data

were not different from the non-verified,

non-fatal data (χ 2 = 13.7, 10 df, P =


98 REDUCING PUMA ATTACKS · Fitzhugh et al.

Figure 4. Puma responses to noise, including

lethal shots from firearms (n = 133).

to draw out the duration of the sound. For

example, a puma was recently stalking

chickens in the yard of a lighthouse

compound, with people around and active,

in broad daylight. One man banged doors,

without effect, then got a .22 rifle and fired a

shot into the ground without even causing

the puma to flinch or look up. It was fixated

on the chickens. The man then fired 7-8

shots rapidly into the ground, upon which

the puma looked up and walked into the

nearby brush, but did not leave the area. It

stayed on a nearby high area and watched

while people put the chickens into a pen

(Robert Hansen, Pacific Rim National Park,

Vancouver Island, B.C., personal

communication, 8 May, 2003). This

indicates that the puma did not react to a

single shot or to slamming a door, but did

react to a subsequent rapid series of shots.

We conclude that noise is effective, but

the kind of noise makes a difference. The

best deterrent in the event of a puma

encounter is to yell or scream as loudly as

possible. If you are going to shoot a gun,

you should fire in rapid succession to

frighten the animal away or shoot to kill the

puma.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

What if You Charge the Puma?

Our data include 6 accounts in which the

primary victim either charged the puma and

fought with it, or engaged in “mock lunges”

toward the puma. In 3 cases in which

people actually charged and made contact

with the puma, the puma left the area,

sometimes after a brief scuffle in which the

human suffered light degrees of injury. Two

examples follow: a man heard a commotion

in his back yard and went to investigate. He

thought his Scottie dog was being attacked

by a large German shepherd. It was really a

mountain lion, but he didn’t realize it until

he had jumped onto the attackers back.

When the man realized it was a puma, he let

go after a brief scuffle and the puma ran off.

The man received stitches for cuts behind

his ear (Colorado Division of Wildlife

2002). In the other case, a man noticed a

puma eating his daughter’s house cat, and

decided to save the cat by wrestling with the

puma. The puma swatted the man in the

face, and the man then decided to let go. The

puma left with the house cat in its mouth

(The New York Times 2002).

Two cases involved repeated “mock

lunges” by people causing the pumas to

leave the area without attacking. In the first

case, a woman came upon a puma crouched

about 1.8 m (6 feet) away. It began to move

toward her in a crouched position, growling.

She lunged forward, holding arms wide and

growled back at it. It retreated a bit, began

to approach again. She growled and lunged

again; the puma retreated again, not as

startled as it was the first time. Then the

puma took a last glance and turned into the

forest. The woman walked backwards

awhile, then turned around and ran (Personal

correspondence to K. Etling on 4 Dec, 2001,

from K. Hogland).

In the second example, a puma

confronted 2 biology students gathering data

in Alum Rock Park, San Jose, California.

The women yelled and made themselves


look bigger, but the cat continued to

advance. One of the women snarled like a

dog and “mock lunged,” and the puma ran

into some bushes. A nearby rancher

approached on horseback, accompanied by 2

dogs. When they directed their attention

toward where the girls thought the puma

was, it bounded off (Linda Lewis, web site:

, citing personal communications

with Jessie Dickson, April 18-19, 2001).

In probably the most dramatic example

demonstrating puma behavior following

human aggressiveness, a deer hunter and a

puma were stalking the same deer when the

deer detected the puma and fled. From 27

m (30 yards) away, the puma transferred its

stalk to the hunter. The hunter hid behind a

tree while the puma approached, crouching.

As the puma got close the hunter jumped out

and yelled. That puma left running (Ford

1994). The puma obviously knew the hunter

was behind the tree, but the hunter’s actions

probably appeared to the puma as an attack

coming from a hidden (ambush) position.

The action successfully interrupted the

predatory stalking behavior and instigated a

flight behavior.

Is It Safer to Hike in Groups?

Solitary people are 3 times as likely to

be attacked or to have an encounter as

people in pairs or larger groups (Figure 5).

However, only groups of 5 or more seem

fairly secure against attack. We were much

less likely to find data on non-attack

encounters than on attacks. Thus, the

relative levels of the paired bars in Figure 5

cannot be used to compare attack and nonattack

encounters. We assumed that the

reporting rates for attacks and non-attacks

are different but are not affected differently

by group size. Figure 5 shows that the

relationship (but not absolute proportions) of

attack and non-attack encounters is similar,

regardless of group size. The similar

percentages within group size categories

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

REDUCING PUMA ATTACKS · Fitzhugh et al. 99

Figure 5. Relationship of human group size

and age composition with type of encounter

(n = 379).

and the consistent pattern among them

indicates to us that the tendency of a puma

to approach humans (or for humans to come

close to pumas) is related to group size and

is independent of whether an attack occurs.

It seems to indicate that once a puma is in

close proximity to humans, whether an

attack occurs or not may be explained,

statistically speaking, as a random or

systematic decision, affecting all group sizes

to the same extent once the initial approach

is made. Such a mechanism could be

created either by the

physiological/behavioral state of the puma

or size and behavior of the human(s), or

both interacting. If we could detect and

record non-attack encounters as thoroughly

as we do attack encounters, we might be

able to create more hypotheses based on the

ratios and timing of one to the other. Data

presented by Sweanor et al., at the Seventh

Mountain Lion Workshop, help

considerably in this direction. We

encourage all who study radio collared

pumas to record and publish similar data.

In Figure 5, adults strongly predominate

in the single person attack and non-attack


100 REDUCING PUMA ATTACKS · Fitzhugh et al.

Figure 6. Proportions of human age classes

in different types of incidents, as affected by

human group size (n = 379).

categories and in the two-person non-attack

category. This may reflect the relative use

of wildland trails by single and paired adults

versus children. However, the categories of

attacks on two people and on 3-5 people

show increasing proportions of groups

mostly composed of children, while the nonattack

categories for the same size groups

still show a predominance of groups mostly

composed of adults. This indicates that,

while attacks on groups of two or more

people are much fewer than attacks on

individuals, children in these larger groups

are at only slightly less risk than children

alone.

Another way of viewing the same data is

to scale each column separately and

proportion the age groups within columns

rather than being based on total incidents

(Figure 6). When we do this, the increased

proportion of attacks on mostly-children

groups in the larger group sizes becomes

more noticeable, although sample size is

small (n = 16 for children in groups of >2

people; n = 17 for adults in the same size

groups). Among the 17 groups of 3 or more

people composed mostly of adults, children

were attacked in 11 of those groups. For

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

example, a group of 2 or 3 children (11-12

years of age) plus 5-6 adults were on a

kayak tour, camped on Compton Island in

Johnstone Strait, V.I., B.C. recently. The

group had just gotten out of the kayaks and

was on the beach, standing in a group with

the children in the middle, when a 100-lb.

puma charged out of the brush, grabbed a

12-year-girl and dragged her off. Shouting

and noise made by the adults made the cat

drop the girl, who survived the incident

(Robert Hansen, Pacific Rim National Park,

Vancouver Island, B.C., personal

communication, 8 May, 2003).

Is It Safe to Sleep on the Ground?

We know of 12 victims who were

accosted in their sleep (Figure 7). Only one,

a man in Argentina in 1898, was seriously

injured, and details of that account are

lacking (Pritchard 1902; Roosevelt 1914:29;

Barnes 1960:119,122). Seven victims were

uninjured, and 4 others suffered minor

injuries. For example, a boy was sleeping

on a mat at night when a puma walked up,

pawed him, and tried to drag the mat away.

His father rescued him. The boy suffered

scratches and had 10 stitches in his ear.

(Phoenix Gazette and Tucson Citizen 1994;

Danz 1999: 276-277; personal

Figure 7. Injuries that occurred when victim

was attacked while sleeping (n = 12).


communication with Kevin Bergersen,

Arizona Game and Fish Department, 15 Jul

2002.)

We speculate that in most of these

situations the innate attack behavior either

never was initiated, or was satisfied when

the puma determined that the prey already

was moribund, and only needed dragging to

a protected location to be fed upon. The

puma simply examines the sleeper, and then

drags the sleeping bag or mat away from the

site. When the victim or companions awake

and begin making noise, the puma is

frightened and leaves. Perhaps there is an

element of surprise or ambush by humans;

perhaps the attack behavior is not initiated

and therefore does not need to be fulfilled.

We found, in addition to the 12 mentioned

above, several oral history accounts (not

included in our data)of pumas covering

sleeping people with debris (e.g., Seton

1929:98-99).

Are You Safer Riding Horseback?

Of 9 incidents involving riders on

horseback, none was seriously injured and

most were unharmed. In 8 of these cases,

the puma failed in the initial attack and the

horse outran it. In the other case, the rider

killed the puma. If the rider dismounted,

accidentally or otherwise, the situation

became more similar to a puma attacking a

person afoot.

Risk of Attacks

Puma attacks on humans are rare by

almost any measure. Bear attacks are much

more common. But rarity may be a matter

of scale, proximity and individuality. Risk

depends on where people are and what the

conditions are in that area. Statistics that

compare the frequency of puma attacks with

that of some other phenomenon, such as

lightning strikes, are misleading. Such data

normally fail to account for risk levels. For

example, the risk of being attacked by a wild

puma in a large metropolitan area is close to

zero, but the large urban areas include most

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

REDUCING PUMA ATTACKS · Fitzhugh et al. 101

of the people who make up the denominator

in the attack rate. The risk of being attacked

in a puma’s natural territory is higher, only

because the puma may be present. The

same logic applies to bites by domestic

dogs. Mail carriers are more at risk from

dog bites than are other people because they

periodically enter yards that the dogs

consider to be their territory. In fact, the

mail carriers’ risk level increases

dramatically the instant they enter a yard

containing a dog.

The situation is similar with puma

attacks. Most of us have almost no risk, but

under certain conditions the risk rises

considerably. Data presented by Mattson et

al, at the Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop,

was an effort to predict conceptually some

of these risk factors. Our presentation, on

the other hand, is mostly an effort to help

people manage an attack situation. Data

presented by Sweanor et al., at the Seventh

Mountain Lion Workshop, is a strong

beginning toward collecting data to identify

risk factors.

A person in an encounter should always

judge the puma’s responses and adjust

defensive measures according to the puma

response. Each puma has its own

personality, as the following incident

illustrates. A United States Forest Service

employee was in a remote area away from

roads doing silvicultural analysis. While in

her sleeping bag in camp she noticed a puma

at her feet near the edge of her sleeping bag.

She calmly said, ”excuse me,” whereupon

the puma moved 4.6 m (15 feet) away and

sat. It seemed to be a healthy, curious puma.

If she got upset and tried to make it leave, it

got aggressive; if she lay there quietly, it

calmed down, reclined, and licked itself. If

she yelled at it, it would pin its ears and

charge. The puma started to circle her, so

she threw sticks and rocks at it to keep it at

bay and lit the fire. She called in coordinates

via radio to her supervisor. The puma


102 REDUCING PUMA ATTACKS · Fitzhugh et al.

watched all night and finally left the area as

rescuers arrived. (Personal communication

from Kathleen Kavalok to K. Etling).

The incident above illustrates the

presence of mind needed when confronted

by a puma. This person did everything just

right, but the puma responded almost the

opposite way from what was expected. We

believe the information we have provided is

correct in a statistical sense. It is very

important to remember what to do, but also

be prepared to adapt to the puma’s behavior.

With luck and aggressiveness on your part,

you may avoid an attack and also teach the

puma that humans may not be food after all.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We thank S. C. Reed for helping build

the spreadsheet, verify data, review files,

and enter new data. J. Schmidt helped with

the original compilation in 1985-86. R.W.

Riley, K. J. Stahle, S. E. Gordon, M. A.

Whittaker, B. R. Campos, M. E. Jackson, E.

Chen, A. M. White helped with data

organization and entry. E. L. Blake

provided some new ideas for analysis.

Details of incidents were provided by P.

Swift, California Department of Fish and

Game, R. Beausoleil, formerly of the New

Mexico Department of Game and Fish, K.

Bergersen, Arizona Game and Fish

Department, T. R. Collom, W. Castillo, and

D. Whittaker, of the Oregon Department of

Fish and Wildlife, M. Austin and B. Guiltner

of the B.C. Ministry of Environment, M.

Gillett, R. Skiles E. Myers, A. Davis, J.

Case, K. McKinlay-Jones, of the National

Park Service, A. Barton, M. Shuey, L.

Lewis, and S. Galentine. We made

extensive use of new information in books

by K. Etling (2001), by J. Deurbrock and D.

Miller (2001), and by H. P. Danz (1999).

We thank the many who have provided

information about their personal

experiences, either to us or to previous

authors. P. Beier (1991) provided the first

scientific analysis of puma attack data, and

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

inspired us to continue our work. Finally,

the very foundation, without which this

effort may not have ever begun, is C. T.

Barnes’ (1960) book. His book stimulated,

and to a large extent, enabled this project

during its infancy. R. G. Coss, H. G. Shaw,

L. L. Sweanor, W. F. Laudenslayer, W. E.

Howard, and R. E. Marsh improved the

paper with reviews of the draft manuscript,

but errors remain the author’s responsibility.

LITERATURE CITED

ANONYMOUS. 1917. Untitled comment by

editor following Marsh 1917. Outdoor

Life 38:194.

ANONYMOUS. 1925. An old question.

Outdoor Life 46:113.

ANONYMOUS. 1994. Phoenix Gazette and

Tucson Citizen. 20 July 1994.

ANONYMOUS. 2002. The New York Times.

12 November 2002.

BARNES, CLAUDE T. 1960. "The Cougar or

Mountain Lion." The Ralton Co. Salt

Lake City, Utah, USA. 175 pp.

BEIER, P. 1991. Cougar attacks on humans

in the United States and Canada.

Wildlife Society Bulletin 19:403-412.

COLORADO DIVISION OF WILDLIFE. 2002.

News Report. 8 January 2002.

DANZ, HAROLD P. 1999. Cougar! Swallow

Press/Ohio University Press. Athens,

Ohio, USA. 310 pp.

DEURBROCK, JO AND DEAN MILLER. 2001.

Cat attacks: true stories and hard lessons

from cougar country. Sasquatch Books.

Seattle, Washington, USA. 221 pp.

ETLING, KATHY. 2001. Cougar attacks:

encounters of the worst kind. The Lyons

Press/Globe Pequot Press. Guilford,

Connecticut, USA. 246 pp.

FITZHUGH, E. LEE AND W.P. GORENZEL.

1986. Biological status of mountain

lions in California. pp. 336-346 in

Proceedings, Twelfth Vertebrate Pest

Conference. T. P. Salmon (ed.).

Vertebrate Pest Council of the


Vertebrate Pest Conference. University

of California, Davis, California, USA.

FORD, PHIL. 1994. Burney bowhunter

stalked by fearless mountain lion.

Fishing and Hunting News. September

15-29, 1994.

HUNTER, J. MARVIN. 1922. Pioneer history

of Bandera County; seventy-five years of

intrepid history. Hunter’s Printing

House. Bandera, Texas, USA. 241 pp.

MARSH, CHARLES. 1917. Children attacked

by cougar. Outdoor Life 38:193-194.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

REDUCING PUMA ATTACKS · Fitzhugh et al. 103

PRITCHARD, C. HESKETH. 1902. Through

the heart of Patagonia. New York, USA.

346 pp.

ROOSEVELT, THEODORE. 1914:29. Through

the Brazilian wilderness. New York,

USA.

SETON, E.T. 1929. Lives of game animals.

Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc.

Garden City, New York, USA. Vol I,

Part I.


104

A CONCEPTUAL MODEL AND APPRAISAL OF EXISTING RESEARCH RELATED

TO INTERACTIONS BETWEEN HUMANS AND PUMAS

DAVID J. MATTSON, USGS Southwest Biological Science Center, Colorado Plateau Field

Station, P.O. Box 5614, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011-5614, USA,

email: David.Mattson@nau.edu

JAN V. HART, USGS Southwest Biological Science Center, Colorado Plateau Field Station,

P.O. Box 5614, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011-5614, USA, email:

Jan.Hart@nau.edu

PAUL BEIER, School of Forestry, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011-5018,

USA, email: Paul.Beier@nau.edu

JESSE MILLEN-JOHNSON, Bates College, Lewiston, ME 04240, USA, email:

jmillenj@bates.edu

Abstract: Recorded encounters between humans and pumas have been increasing throughout the

western contiguous U.S., as have puma-caused human injuries and deaths. We developed a

conceptual model of interactions between humans and pumas to aid the design of a study in the

Flagstaff uplands of Arizona, USA, and to appraise the scope and strength of existing related

research. The model represents contact and resulting human injuries as the outcome of 2

processes: (1) the frequency of encounter between humans and pumas, and (2), given an

encounter, the probability that it will turn injurious to a human. Conceptually, different suites of

factors govern these 2 phenomena. The model representing frequency of encounter includes 15

putative explanatory variables, 7 of which relate directly to pumas. The model representing

probability of injury also includes 15 explanatory variables, 7 of which pertain directly to pumas.

The remaining variables in both models relate directly or indirectly to human presence or

behavior. Of the 44 identified relations among these variables, 6 have been well studied and an

additional 18 have been subject to some level of systematic analysis. The remaining 20

relations, including many plausibly critical ones, are currently informed only by speculation,

anecdote, or deduction. Much research yet needs to be done before the level and nature of

contact between humans and pumas can be adequately explained and predicted. Moreover,

much of this additional research needs to address human behavior and factors related to

distributions and numbers of humans. Of the uninvestigated factors with plausibly major effects,

habituation of cougars promises to be the most difficult to study. Otherwise, numbers and

distributions of human facilities (including roads and trails), puma population sizes, human

behavior, and human knowledge of pumas are potentially important explanatory factors

amenable to inquiry. We argue that all of these putative effects should be considered before

reaching conclusions about the “causes” of human-puma encounters and puma-caused human

injuries, whether for a region or a given study area.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP


RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN LAND TENURE SYSTEM, MOUNTAIN LION

PROTECTION STATUS, AND LIVESTOCK DEPREDATION RATE

MARCELO MAZZOLLI, Projeto Puma - R. Liberato Carioni 24, Lagoa, 88062-005,

Florianópolis – SC, Brazil, email: marcelo_puma@yahoo.com

Abstract: Mountain lion depredation impact on managed livestock in ranching-dominated

landscapes was compared with depredation in forestry-dominated landscapes. In forestrydominated

landscapes, twenty-one depredation incidents were recorded at three ranches,

resulting in the loss of 58 sheep and goat. An additional 11 head were killed during an unknown

number of attacks. These losses amounted to 14 to 60 percent of total stock per year (in number

of animals). Confining or corralling flocks during the night at first provoked a reduction of

livestock depredation, but subsequently depredation begun to occur during daylight. In the

ranching-dominated landscape, on the other hand, depredation losses were not reported on flocks

corralled during the night, but reached 85% of the total stock when free-ranging. I hypothesize,

based on field data and on available information in literature, that mountain lion depredation in

forestry areas during the day and higher depredation on corralled livestock during the night may

result from lower hunting pressure on mountain lions than in ranching areas. Understanding

mountain lion predation behavior may help to modify livestock husbandry, allowing wildlife

managers and ranchers to minimize depredation without direct persecution of mountain lions.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

105


106

MOUNTAIN LION MOVEMENTS AND PERSISTENCE IN A FRAGMENTED, URBAN

LANDSCAPE IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

SETH P.D. RILEY, Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area, 401 W. Hillcrest Dr.,

Thousand Oaks, CA 91360, USA, email: seth_riley@nps.gov

RAYMOND M. SAUVAJOT, Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area, 401 W.

Hillcrest Dr., Thousand Oaks, CA 91360, USA

ERIC C. YORK, Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area, 401 W. Hillcrest Dr.,

Thousand Oaks, CA 91360, USA, email: eric_york@nps.gov

Abstract: As natural habitat is increasingly eliminated and fragmented by human land uses the

long-term prospects for conservation of carnivore populations become correspondingly worse.

This is especially true for larger carnivores such as mountain lions, which require significant

amounts of both space and prey. In rapidly urbanizing southern California, conservation of

carnivores in general, and of mountain lions in particular, is particularly challenging. In the

Santa Monica Mountains and surrounding areas, we have begun a project using GPS collars to

determine mountain lion movement and space use in a fragmented landscape. Our goal is to

determine whether lions are successfully traversing freeways and other human-made barriers

between large areas of natural habitat. Ultimately, we hope to determine whether enough natural

habitat can be preserved, and enough connectivity maintained between core habitat areas, to

maintain lion populations in such a landscape. We have collared lions already in the Santa

Monica Mountains, and determined that one large male is using the entire mountain range (home

range of 394 km 2 ), from a major freeway to the east to a developed agricultural valley to the

west, and from the Pacific Ocean to the south to a major freeway to the north. Given the small

number of lions likely persisting in the Santa Monica Mountains, connectivity is as important, if

not more important, than we anticipated. We continue to collar other lions in the study region to

evaluate whether any exchange occurs across barriers created by freeways and urban

development. While both the male and the female in the Mountains have approached the

freeway to the north, neither one has crossed it in the 9-12 months that we have been following

them. We are also investigating kill sites to determine kill rates, species of kills, and whether

lions are preying on any domestic animals. So far in the Santa Monica Mountains our data

indicate that lions are killing 3-4 deer/month of all different age/sex classes, and an occasional

coyote or raccoon. The collared animals are almost never seen by anyone, including the

researchers tracking them, even though they cross numerous roads and trails and sometimes

venture close to residential areas.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP


PUMA RESPONSES TO CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH RESEARCHERS

LINDA L. SWEANOR, Wildlife Research Biologist, Wildlife Health Center, University of

California at Davis, Southern California Puma Project Field Station, P.O. Box 1114,

Julian, CA 92036-1114, USA, email: lsweanor@mindspring.com

KENNETH A. LOGAN, Wildlife Research Biologist, Wildlife Health Center, University of

California at Davis, Southern California Puma Project Field Station, P.O. Box 1114,

Julian, CA 92036-1114, USA

MAURICE G. HORNOCKER, Senior Scientist, Wildlife Conservation Society, Box 929,

Bellevue, ID 83313, USA

Abstract: Recent books and articles have provided information on relatively rare, but violent

attacks where people were injured or killed by pumas. However, there is a paucity of data on the

type and variation in behavior wild pumas exhibit when approached by humans. During a 10year

puma study in New Mexico, we approached pumas and visually observed their behavior on

262 occasions. The study area was remote and was closed to most human activity; consequently

the pumas living there had rare opportunities for contact with people. We categorized the

approach based on the status of the puma, the number of people involved, the distance between

the puma(s) and people, and the puma’s subsequent response to the approach. Pumas we

approached included adult females with nursing (


108

PRELIMINARY RESULTS OF FLORIDA PANTHER GENETIC ANALYSES

WARREN E. JOHNSON, National Cancer Institute, Frederick, MD 21702-1201, USA, email:

johnsonw@ncifcrf.gov

DARRELL LAND, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 566 Commercial

Blvd., Naples, FL 34104, USA, email: darrell.land@fwc.state.fl.us

JAN MORTENSON, National Cancer Institute, Frederick, MD 21702-1201, USA, email:

martenoj@ncifcrf.gov

MELODY ROELKE-PARKER, National Cancer Institute, Frederick, MD 21702-1201, USA,

email: roelkem@ncifcrf.gov

STEPHEN J. O’BRIEN, National Cancer Institute, Frederick, MD 21702-1201, USA, email:

obriens@ncifcrf.gov

Abstract: Previous genetic analyses showed that Florida panthers (Puma concolor coryi) had the

lowest genetic diversity among all North American puma and subsequent modeling suggested

that further declines could increase the probability of extinction. Currently, there are fewer than

100 panthers in south Florida. Although on-going habitat conservation strategies may provide

long-term stability for today’s population extents, these same strategies are unlikely to allow the

population to grow to 500 or more individuals whereby genetic viability is more assured. As a

result, a plan for Florida panther genetic restoration was created in 1994 and implementation

began in the spring of 1995 with the release of 8 female Texas puma into areas occupied by

panthers. Our objectives were to monitor the effectiveness of genetic restoration by developing

an array of molecular genetic markers that characterized the status of current and past

populations, to construct a pedigree among Florida panthers to follow inheritance patterns, to

infer degrees of relatedness among individuals, and to help predict the future viability of the

population. We have completed genotyping over 175 samples from Florida panthers at 23

microsatellite loci and these included individuals from canonical Florida panthers, the

Everglades subpopulation (Piper stock), released Texas puma, crosses among all stocks, and

captive animals of unknown ancestry from the early 1970’s to the present. Genetic restoration

has increased hetereozygocity within the population, but we have documented the loss of some

panther matrilines. Certain morphological traits such as cryptorchidism, kinked tails, cowlicks,

and atrial septal defects observed in canonical panthers are not present in the Texas puma

descendants. We have identified several subgroups within our population and these subgroups

seem to be partially the product of philopatric tendencies among dispersing female offspring.

Male panthers may be physically and behaviorally capable of siring offspring earlier than

suggested by radiotelemetry work and resident and resident males are not siring all litters with

females within the respective males’ home ranges. Intraspecific aggression, a common mortality

agent for young male panthers, may not be removing panthers prior to producing offspring.

Future monitoring should ensure sampling across all panther subgroups in order to adequately

estimate total population genetic characteristics.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP


GENETIC STRUCTURE OF COUGAR POPULATIONS ACROSS THE WYOMING

BASIN: METAPOPULATION OR MEGAPOPULATION

CHUCK R. ANDERSON, JR., Zoology and Physiology Department, University of Wyoming,

Box 3166, University Station, Laramie, WY 82071, USA, email: cander@uwyo.edu

FRED G. LINDZEY, Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Box 3166,

University Station, Laramie, WY 82071, USA, email: flindzey@uwyo.edu

DAVE B. McDONALD, Zoology and Physiology Department, University of Wyoming,

Bioscience Room 413, University Station, Laramie, WY 82071, USA, email:

dbmcd@uwyo.edu

Abstract: Using microsatellite DNA analyses at 9 loci, we examined genetic structure of 5

geographically distinct cougar (Puma concolor) populations separated by the Wyoming Basin

and a distant cougar population from southwest Colorado. Observed heterozygosity was similar

among populations (Hobs = 0.49-0.59) and intermediate to that of other large carnivores.

Estimates of genetic structure (FST = 0.029, RST = 0.028) and number of migrants per generation

(Nem) suggested high gene flow across the central Rocky Mountains. Estimates of the number of

migrants per generation were lowest between the southwest Colorado cougar population and

cougar populations north of the Wyoming Basin (northwest WY, north-central WY, and the

Black Hills, SD; Nem = 2.9-3.0) and highest among cougar populations from adjacent mountain

ranges (Nem = 10.2-30.2), suggesting an effect of both isolation by distance and of habitat

matrix. We applied a model-based clustering method to infer population structure from

individual genotypes and noted that both males and females from throughout the region were

best described as a single panmictic population. Estimates of relatedness (rxy) did not differ (P >

0.05) between males and females. Estimated relative effective population size did not differ

significantly among populations (P > 0.05), but the higher estimates were from contiguous

mountain ranges (i.e., northwest WY, southwest WY, and southwest CO) and lower estimates

were from less contiguous terminal mountain ranges (i.e., north-central WY and Snowy Range

WY). Based on measures of gene flow we examined, extinction risk in the near future appears

extremely low, even for the relatively isolated Black Hills cougar population. Cougars in the

central Rocky Mountains appear to constitute a large panmictic population rather than a

metapopulation. Estimated effective population size for cougars in the central Rocky Mountains

ranged from 1,797 to 4,532 depending on analysis method and the mutation model assumed.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

109


110

ECOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE AND EVOLUTION OF A COMMON COUGAR

RETROVIRUS

ROMAN BIEK, Fish and Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana, Missoula, MT

59812, USA, email: rbiek@selway.umt.edu

MARY POSS, Fish and Wildlife Biology Program and Division of Biological Sciences,

University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812, USA, email: mposs@selway.umt.edu

Abstract: As for most wildlife species, little is known about the organisms that infect cougars in

the wild. In an ongoing project, we are studying a retrovirus related to domestic cat-FIV that is

naturally found in North American cougars with the aim of assessing the virus’ possible

demographic consequences on the cougar host as well as its epidemiology and short-term

evolution. Tests for possible effects on survival and reproduction as well as secondary exposure

to other pathogens in infected individuals are conducted based on a large data set compiled from

several intensively studied cougar populations. In addition, DNA sequences of virus obtained

from infected individuals are used to determine the genetic population structure of cougar-FIV in

the Rocky Mountain region. We determined that that this virus is changing its genetic

composition within a matter of decades. Because restrictions of cougar movement will be

reflected in the distribution of closely related viruses, distributional data for the virus are thus

likely to contain information about current patterns of connectivity among cougar populations. A

preliminary analysis of these data indicates that spread of the virus occurs mainly locally but also

showed evidence for recent transmission events over distances > 300 km. These results show that

studying the ecology of cougar-FIV can provide important insights into the ecology of the cougar

host even beyond immediate disease impacts.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP


CHARACTERISTICS OF MOUNTAIN LION BED, CACHE AND KILL SITES IN

NORTHEASTERN OREGON

JAMES J. AKENSON, Taylor Ranch Field Station, HC 83 Box 8070, Cascade ID 83611, USA,

email: tayranch@directpc.com

M. CATHY NOWAK, Cat Tracks Wildlife Consulting, P.O. Box 195, Union, OR 97883, USA,

email: mcnowak@eoni.com

MARK G. HENJUM, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, 107 20 th Street, La Grande, OR

97850, USA

GARY W. WITMER, USDA APHIS National Wildlife Research Center, 4101 La Porte Avenue,

Fort Collins, CO 80521, USA

Abstract: We described mountain lion (Puma concolor) habitat characteristics during two studies in the same area of

northeastern Oregon during the 1990s. In the first study (1992-1994) we evaluated micro-habitat features associated

with 61 diurnal bed sites that were not associated with kills. We used similar techniques in the second study (1996-

1998) to evaluate habitat features at 79 cache sites near lion-killed prey. A dog was used to find 93% of the diurnal

bed sites. Radio telemetry triangulation was used in the second study. Characteristics of diurnal bed sites and cache

sites were compared with random habitat plots. Rock structure and downed logs were identified as important habitat

components at diurnal bed sites. Canopy cover at cache sites was significantly higher than at random sites. Cache

sites also were associated with rock structure, but not to the same degree as diurnal bed sites. In both studies

mountain lions used sites in close proximity to habitat edges more frequently than expected based on random plots.

Understanding the similarities and differences of habitat use at diurnal bed, cache and kill sites sheds light on the

ecological adaptation of mountain lions to the multiple environmental influences and disturbances of managed

forests.

111

Proceedings of the Seventh Mountain Lion Workshop

Key words: Puma concolor, microhabitat use, diurnal bed site, cache site, kill site, habitat edge, forest management

Mountain lion recovery has been one of

the great wildlife conservation success

stories of the 20 th century. As we move into

the 21 st century, the challenges for mountain

lion conservation are less related to species

persecution, and more related to concerns

with habitat fragmentation and issues of

human-lion coexistence on the expanding

fringe of urbanization. The interface

between human resource development and

mountain lion habitat use has persisted for

centuries in North America. Historically,

mountain lions have occupied most habitats

occurring on this continent. Mountain lions

have typically been associated with the

rugged, rocky, forested terrain of the Rocky

Mountains in the western United States;

however, this species is so adaptable it can

thrive in deserts, swamps, tropical jungles,

and sub-alpine forests (Hornocker 1976).

The lion has come into conflict with humans

on several fronts. In the past, the majority

of interactions between humans and

mountain lions were associated with

settlement and agricultural practices (Young

1946). With increasing human population

and urban sprawl, the zone of conflict has

shifted to the urban-wildland interface

(Beier 1995).

Habitat fragmentation can take a more

subtle form than the direct effect imparted

by urbanization. Across much of the

mountain lion’s range, logging has occurred

at various intensities. Studies in Utah and

Arizona, found that mountain lions either

avoided active timber sale areas (Van Dyke


112 MOUNTAIN LION BED, CACHE AND KILL SITES · Akenson et al.

et al. 1986) or adjusted their activity pattern

from the norm (Ackerman 1982), to

maximize night-time concealment from

human contact. Timber sale size, relative to

a resident mountain lion’s home range, was

a big factor on the degree of disturbance and

influence on a lion’s willingness to maintain

its home range (Van Dyke et al. 1986).

Small-area logging operations were less of a

negative factor for resident adults. Van

Dyke et al. (1986) also concluded that

dispersing young animals were more

adversely affected by logging and road

system development than were established

adults. By comparison, Gagliuso (1991) did

not find avoidance by radio-collared lions to

either recent logging or high road densities

in his southwestern Oregon study area.

Differences in his findings from Van Dyke

et al. were related to under-story density and

rapid recovery of brush in newly logged

areas. The southwest Oregon study area had

more than twice the precipitation of the

Arizona and Utah studies.

We compare the results of our studies

within the same northeast Oregon study area

and discuss similarities and differences with

studies in Utah, Arizona and southwest

Oregon (Van Dyke et al. 1986, Gagliuso

1991). Our studies in northeast Oregon

were conducted in a climatological,

geographical, and anthropogenic situation

somewhere in-between those areas described

by Van Dyke et al., and Gagliuso. The

objectives of this paper are to: 1) connect 2

habitat investigations to gain a more

complete understanding of microhabitat use

relative to mountain lion life history, and 2)

compare mountain lion microhabitat use in

northeast Oregon with similar work in other

regions of the western United States.

STUDY AREA

Both of these studies were conducted in

the Catherine Creek Wildlife Management

Unit in northeast Oregon. The Catherine

Creek study area is approximately 845 km 2

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

in size. Elevations range from 940 to 2,450

m. This area is flanked on the west by range

and agricultural lands of the Grande Ronde

Valley and on the east by the Wallowa

Mountains within the Eagle Cap Wilderness

Area. Most of the area (60%) is on the

Wallowa Whitman National Forest, with the

remaining being divided between Boise

Cascade Corporation lands and other private

ownership. Vegetation varies from

subalpine coniferous forest to mixed conifer

forest to rangeland and cropland. Road

density varies from medium-high density

(1.4 km/km 2 ) to small road closure areas.

Approximately 20% of the work from these

studies was conducted within a Boise

Cascade road closure area that had received

various levels of logging activity. The

majority of this area is mid-elevation

coniferous forest with various forms of rock

structure including rimrocks and outcrops.

METHODS

We compared the primary findings of

habitat characteristics at diurnal bed sites in

Akenson et al. (1996) and at kill and cache

sites in Nowak (1999). The 2 studies were

compared qualitatively and the similarities

and differences were described and

discussed in an ecological context. The

methods utilized in the 2 studies are briefly

described below.

Akenson et al. (1996) used various

methods of locating and identifying

mountain lion diurnal bed sites including

snow tracking, radio telemetry, and a trained

lion hound that located scent at bed sites.

These methods were modified from

Anderson (1990) for locating bobcat loafing

sites in Colorado. A bed site was confirmed

through visible evidence of either soil or

litter disturbance or tracks, and by alert

reactions of a reliable dog. Beds were

typically visible as a depression in snow or

duff, or flattened grass. Once a bed site was

identified, the surrounding area was

searched for prey remains to determine


whether the bed was associated with a kill.

The actual bed site became the center of a

50-meter radius plot for collection of data to

determine the physiographic and vegetative

composition of the site. Habitat descriptions

were aided by the handbook “Plant

Associations of the Wallowa - Snake

Province” (Johnson and Simon 1987).

Akenson et al. (1996) evaluated 6

primary habitat features at each plot site

including rock structure, forest structure,

canopy cover, shrub cover, plot visibility

and overall security from human

disturbance. This study emphasized the

structural influence of vegetation and

topography on a mountain lion’s security

from detection. Other environmental

influences such as distance to roads and

abrupt habitat edges were also recorded.

The distance to road measurement was

recorded from the plot center to the nearest

drivable road. A habitat edge typically

marked a forest break or the beginning of a

rock wall or large rock outcrop. For

comparison, habitat data were also collected

at randomly selected sites distributed

throughout the study area. Random sites

corresponded to the same square-mile

section corner in 30 sections drawn from a

pool of 185 possibilities, which all occurred

in the known home ranges of the 5 subject

mountain lions. All mountain lion age and

sex classes were included. Habitat plots

were categorized as summer (April 15 to

September 1), winter (December 15 to

March 15) or random, and data were

summarized and compared using chisquared

tests for differences between the 3

plot types. Values were considered

significant at α = 0.05.

Nowak (1999) applied the term “cache

site” to the location where a mountain lion

kill was first found, whether or not the lion

had moved it after making the kill. The

exception to this was if the kill had

obviously been moved from the original

MOUNTAIN LION BED, CACHE AND KILL SITES · Akenson et al. 113

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

cache site for subsequent feeding and the

original cache site could be identified. The

term “kill site” referred to the location

where the mountain lion actually killed its

prey. The distinction between cache and kill

site involved a combination of telemetry

triangulation when the lion was present, and

then an investigation of the area after the

lion moved a safe distance away. As with

other studies on lions, the majority of

information was obtained from locating

radio instrumented animals on the ground

(Anderson et al. 1992). Once the cache or

kill site was determined, then this site

became the center of a 25-meter radius plot

for collection of physiographic and

vegetative data.

Work closely followed Akenson et al.

(1996) to facilitate comparisons between the

2 studies. Data were collected for 25 habitat

variables to evaluate rock structure, forest

structure, canopy cover, plot visibility and

proximity to potential disturbance. This

study likewise emphasized the influences of

vegetation and topography on mountain lion

security but also on the security of kills,

which may be left unattended for long

periods of time. In this study, distance was

recorded to both the nearest open, drivable

road and to the nearest road of any kind,

open or closed. As with Akenson et al., a

habitat edge was typically a relatively abrupt

change in stand composition and/or structure

or topography. For comparison, habitat data

were also collected at randomly selected

sites distributed throughout the study area

but within the subject lions’ home ranges.

UTMs for random plots were generated by a

computer random number generator

(Microsoft Excel) using known study animal

home ranges as limits to the generated

coordinates. Habitat plots were categorized

as cache, kill or random, and data were

summarized and compared using forward,

stepwise, logistic regression for differences

between the 3 plot types. Values were


114 MOUNTAIN LION BED, CACHE AND KILL SITES · Akenson et al.

considered significant at α = 0.05. Only

adult female mountain lions, with and

without young, were included.

RESULTS

Akenson et al. (1996) recorded habitat

characteristics at 61 diurnal bed sites, 32

during winter and 29 during summer. Most

(87%) of these sites were not associated

with kills. They collected the same habitat

data at 30 randomly selected plots. Nowak

(1999) collected habitat data at 79 cache

sites, 19 kill sites and 101 randomly selected

sites.

Akenson et al. (1996) found significant

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

differences between diurnal bed sites and

randomly selected sites in presence of rock

structure, number of down logs in the plot,

distance to habitat edge, sight distance (the

median distance at which a person could be

seen from plot center at about lion height),

understory density and management status

(Table 1). Nowak (1999) found significant

differences between cache sites and

randomly selected sites in canopy cover,

understory density, elevation, and

management status. Significant differences

between kill and random sites were in

elevation, management status and plot

visibility (the mean distance at which a

Table 1. Habitat characteristics at mountain lion diurnal bed sites, summer and winter, at cache

sites, and at randomly selected sites associated with each study (Akenson et al. 1996, Nowak 1999).

Asterisks (*) indicate features significantly different (p


person could be seen from plot center at

about lion height). Kill and cache sites

differed only in canopy cover (Table 1).

Large rock structure (forested rimrock)

and down logs were present in significantly

more diurnal bed site plots than expected but

that was not the case for cache sites,

although cache sites were slightly more

likely to contain rock ledges than were the

random sites in that study. Canopy cover

was significantly greater in cache sites than

in either kill or random sites but was not

different between bed sites and random

sites. Understory density was lower in

cache sites but higher in summer diurnal bed

sites. Akenson et al. (1996) found greater

use of the old logged management type for

diurnal beds in winter; Nowak (1999) found

cache sites in old logged with similar

frequency to random plots (Table 2). A

relatively high percentage of cache sites

were located in shelterwood but diurnal beds

were in that management type with similar

frequency to random plots. Cache sites were

in the rangeland management type with less

frequency than the random sites but bed

sites were located in rangeland with about

the same frequency as random sites.

Neither study documented significant

differences in the distance to the nearest

open road although both winter bed sites and

cache sites tended to be farther from open

roads than random sites. In Akenson et al.

MOUNTAIN LION BED, CACHE AND KILL SITES · Akenson et al. 115

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

(1996), summer diurnal beds were

significantly closer to a habitat edge than

were random sites. Although not

statistically significant, Akenson et al.

(1996) and Nowak (1999) found that winter

diurnal beds and cache sites both tended to

be closer to a habitat edge than the random

sites. Both studies documented significantly

lower plot visibility/sight distance in sample

plots compared with random sites. Both

studies also showed seasonal variation, in

elevation with both bed sites and caches at

lower elevation in winter than in summer.

When 4 seasons were considered, Nowak

found cache sites were at higher elevation in

fall than in summer, spring, or winter.

DISCUSSION

Several authors have addressed the

question of mountain lion habitat use,

conducted studies in some diverse

environments, and concluded that a primary

factor in habitat selection for this carnivore

was the presence of vegetation and terrain

cover to enhance the stalking of prey,

usually deer or elk. Hornocker (1970) felt

that lions in his Idaho study area selected

habitat on the basis of prey density and

terrain features that were advantages for

hunting. Logan and Irwin (1985) also noted

a high occurrence of lion caches within

canyon vegetation, draws, and on steep

ridges demonstrating the importance of both

Table 2. Management status at mountain lion diurnal bed sites, summer and winter, at cache sites,

and at randomly selected sites associated with each study (Akenson et al. 1996, Nowak 1999).

Asterisks (*) indicate features significantly different (p


116 MOUNTAIN LION BED, CACHE AND KILL SITES · Akenson et al.

vegetative and terrain cover. Seidensticker

et al. (1973) concluded that a “vegetation –

topography/prey numbers – vulnerability

complex” determined both lion home range

size and population density. We agree that

the need for cover while bedding, hunting,

or guarding a cache site is ecologically

important. Our findings indicate that forest

management strategies contribute to both

prey abundance and enhanced stalking cover

for mountain lions (Table 2).

Van Dyke et al. (1986) concluded that

resident lions avoided portions of their home

ranges with active logging activity, and

found that transient lions were the primary

users of areas with active timber harvest, or

even newly logged areas. By contrast,

Gagliuso (1991) found in southwestern

Oregon that lions did not avoid timber

harvest sites but rather were closer to these

activities than expected at random. We

observed a similar attraction to new logging,

which we believed was related to the

abundant “candy food” made newly

available to deer and elk by logging that

brought branches laden with lichen and

mosses down to ground level. Once this

resource was exhausted, deer and elk quit

using these sites, as did hunting lions. We

concluded from track evidence made in

snow during winter, or dust during summer,

that lions were using newly logged areas at

night. Nocturnal movement patterns, in

association with sub-optimal habitat cover,

was also documented by Beier (1995) in

California and Van Dyke et al. (1986) in

Utah where they documented mountain lions

using the most undisturbed habitats in their

home ranges for diurnal localization. Our

findings concur with these authors. On a

micro-habitat scale, our findings also show

the importance of specific features, such as

forested rimrock and downed logs for

diurnal bed sites, understory density for

hunting and stalking cover, and canopy

cover for kill cache sites.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

The documentation of micro-habitat use

is essential in understanding mountain lion

daily adaptation to multiple environmental

influences and disturbances. The use of

specific habitat types by lions is largely

dependent on the activity of the individual.

A cougar that is bedding for the day selects

a location that offers both concealment and

nearby escape terrain, as indicated in our

study by a strong selection for forested

rimrock structure with a component of

downed logs. Whereas a lion that is hunting

is going to use areas preferred by prey

species that also afford stalking

concealment, usually in the form of understory

vegetation or other close to the ground

structure. Then, once the kill has been

made, there is typically an effort made by

the lion to cache the kill under a tree or

brush, presumably to reduce detection by

avian scavengers.

MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS

Our findings on mountain lion habitat

use have implications to both wildlife and

habitat managers. There are many complex

variables influencing mountain lion habitat

use in different regions and levels of human

influence. Several factors influence the way

in which lions use their environment, or

conduct “land tenure” as described by John

Seidensticker (1973). Obtaining food,

establishing and defending territories,

breeding, reproducing, and raising kittens to

dispersal age all have a bearing on how

mountain lions use a given landscape. In

comparing findings from this study with

other studies, it appears that factors vary

from region to region. However, habitat use

seems to be driven by three ecological

needs: security, cover, and food.

The mountain lions that we studied have

co-existed with timber harvest for several

lion generations. The literature suggests that

lions will still use habitats that have been

logged as long as the harvest areas are


Gagliuso 1991). Leaving strips of trees for

buffers, in conjunction with small harvest

units, creates an extensive habitat edge

effect beneficial to mountain lions. Other

important features are vegetative cover

around rock structure for bedding security,

downed logs, and ample understory density

to allow for successful stalking. All of the

diurnal bed-sites occurring in rimrock had

either brush or trees at the bed. We did not

document bed-use in newly logged areas or

in rock structure without some form of

vegetative cover. A timber management

practice that leaves a forested buffer around

rock structure is advantageous for mountain

lion security. The size of the buffer would

vary with vegetation type and density, but

generally a 50-meter buffer would afford

concealment for lions in our study area. We

did not find a significant aversion to roads in

the Catherine Creek study area, but our

methods may not have effectively addressed

this issue since most of our data was

gathered in or near a Boise Cascade

Corporation road closure area. The two

primary land managers, the US Forest

Service and Boise Cascade Corporation,

have implemented travel management plans

that vastly reduce human disturbance

through established road closure areas. In

general, our findings are more similar to

results produced in southwest Oregon by

Gagliuso (1991) than those described by

Van Dyke et al. (1986) in Arizona and Utah.

We feel these differences are due to

mountain lions in Oregon having long-term

exposure to logging, and the habitat having a

quicker capability for regrowth with higher

amounts of precipitation in two areas of

Oregon than the more arid Southwest.

SUMMARY

In conclusion, we have added more

information to the pool of knowledge

supporting the concept of mountain lions as

an adaptable, yet vulnerable species. Logan

MOUNTAIN LION BED, CACHE AND KILL SITES · Akenson et al. 117

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

and Sweanor (2001) emphasize the

importance of gaining a better understanding

of mountain lion habitat use through

identifying critical habitats, landscape

linkages, and by assessing how human

development, resource extraction, and

habitat modification can degrade or enhance

these habitats. We have demonstrated the

importance of small-scale physiographic

features within the larger scale habitat

complex. Scientific management of

mountain lions depends on both wildlife

managers and land managers understanding

this species’ requirements of security, cover,

and food, and how obtaining these

ecological needs varies between regions and

physiographic and climatological situations

and conditions.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We are indebted to several agencies and

individuals who made our studies

successful. The study by Akenson et al. was

for the Oregon Department of Fish and

Wildlife. Funding was mostly from a grant

from the Federal Aid in Fish and Wildlife

Restoration Act. The generous contributions

of time, knowledge, and hound services by

Ted Craddock, Gale Culver, Loren Brown

and field assistant Paul Alexander were

invaluable. Financial support for the study

by Nowak came from Washington State

University, the National Wildlife Research

Center of the U.S.D.A. Animal and Plant

Health Inspection Service, and the Oregon

Department of Fish and Wildlife. Nowak is

greatly indebted for assistance from her field

crew of: Craig Whitman, Gail Collins, Brett

Lyndaker, Jeff Olmstead, Tracy Taylor, and

volunteers: Renan Bagley, Doug Wolf,

Mark Berrest, Kate Richardson, Keith

Wehner, Eric Macy, and Mark Squire. The

authors wish to thank Kerry Murphy and

Mark Penninger for their constructive

comments on an earlier version of the

manuscript.


118 MOUNTAIN LION BED, CACHE AND KILL SITES · Akenson et al.

LITERATURE CITED

ACKERMAN, B.B. 1982. Cougar predation

and ecological energetics in southern

Utah. Thesis, Utah State University,

Logan, Utah, USA.

ANDERSON, A.E., D.C. BOWDEN, AND D.M.

KATNER. 1992. The Puma on the

Uncompahgre Plateau. Colorado

Division of Wildlife. Tech. Pub. No. 40.

ANDERSON, E.M. 1990. Bobcat diurnal

loafing sites in southeastern Colorado.

Journal of Wildlife Management.

54:600-602.

AKENSON, J.J., M.G. HENJUM, AND T.J.

CRADDOCK. 1996. Diurnal bedding

habitat of mountain lions in northeast

Oregon. Abstract in Fifth Mountain

Lion Workshop, 27 February-1 March,

1996, San Diego, California.

BEIER, P. 1995. Dispersal of juvenile

cougars in fragmented habitat. Journal

of Wildlife Management. 59:228-237.

GAGLIUSO, R.A. 1991. Habitat alteration

and human disturbance: their impact on

cougar habitat utilization in southwest

Oregon. Thesis, Oregon State

University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA.

HORNOCKER, M.G. 1970. An analysis of

mountain lion predation upon mule deer

and elk in the Idaho Primitive Area.

Wildlife Monograph No. 21: 1-39.

_____. 1976. Cougars up close. National

Wildlife. 14(6):42-47.

JOHNSON, C.G. AND S.A. SIMON.1987. Plant

Associations of the Wallowa-Snake

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

Province. U.S. Forest Service handbook

No. R-6 ECOL-TP-225B-86.

LOGAN, K.A. AND L.L. IRWIN. 1985.

Mountain lion habitats in the Bighorn

Mountains, Wyoming. Wildlife Society

Bulletin 13:257-262.

LOGAN, K.A. AND L.L. SWEANOR. 2001.

Desert Puma, evolutionary ecology and

conservation of an enduring carnivore.

Island Press. Washington, D.C., USA.

NOWAK, M.C. 1999. Predation rates and

foraging ecology of adult female

mountain lions in northeastern Oregon.

Thesis. Washington State University,

Pullman, Washington, USA.

SEIDENSTICKER, J.C. IV, M.G. HORNOCKER,

W.V. WILES AND J.P. MESSICK. 1973.

Mountain lion social organization in the

Idaho Primitive Area. Wildlife

Monograph 35:1-60.

SEIDENSTICKER, J.C. IV. 1973. Mountain

lion social organization in the Idaho

Primitive Area. Dissertation, University

of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, USA.

VAN DYKE, F.G., R.H. BROCK, H.G. SHAW,

B.B. ACKERMAN, T.P. HEMKER AND

F.G. LINDZEY. 1986. Reactions of

mountain lions to logging and human

activity. Journal of Wildlife

Management, 50:95-102.

YOUNG, S.P. 1946. History, life habits,

economic status, and control, Part 1.

Pages 1-173 in S.P. Young and E.A.

Goldman, eds. The puma, mysterious

American cat. The American Wildlife

Institute, Washington, D.C. USA.


IMPACT OF EDGE HABITAT ON HOME RANGE SIZE IN PUMAS

JOHN W. LAUNDRÉ, Instituto de Ecología, A.C. Apartado Postal 632, 34100 Durango, Dgo.,

México, email: launjohn@prodigy.net.mx

LUCINA HERNÁNDEZ, Instituto de Ecología, A.C. Apartado Postal 632, 34100 Durango,

Dgo., México, email: lucina@sequia.edu.mx

Abstract: In the previous workshop in San Antonio, researchers from Wyoming reported that

pumas from two areas with different amounts of fragmentation still had home range areas that

contained equal amounts of periphery (= edge). In the same workshop, we reported that edge

habitat was critical for successful hunting of deer by pumas. These two results indicate that the

amount of edge habitat in an area may be an important factor in determining home range size of

pumas. We tested this hypothesis with data we have on home ranges of pumas in southern

Idaho/northwestern Utah. The study area is highly fragmented into forest patches and sagebrush

open areas. We tested three predictions: 1) the amount of edge habitat in the home ranges of

pumas would be similar, regardless of the size of the home range, 2) the percent of edge would

be negatively related to home range size, and 3) there would be more edge habitat within home

range boundaries than in general areas of similar size. We tested these predictions by overlaying

telemetry locations on habitat maps of the area, determining the home range boundaries with the

minimum convex polygon method and then estimating the amount of forest edge (km 2 ) that

occurred in each home range. The analysis was conducted with standard GIS software and we

had 20 pumas where the home range was adequately determined (> 30 relocations). Home

range size varied from 38 to 120 km 2 . However, 14 (70%) of the home ranges were between 38

to 105 km 2 . The amount of edge habitat within all the home ranges varied from 13 to 35 km 2 .

Within the 14 smaller home ranges, the amount of edge varied from 13 to 20 km 2 . The percent

of edge within home ranges was negatively correlated with home range size. The amount of

edge within the home range boundaries was significantly greater (F = 15.05, P < 0.001) than

general areas of similar size. We concluded that the amount of edge within an area was

influencing the size of home ranges. We proposed that pumas needed a certain minimum

amount of edge (hunting habitat) to successfully hunt their prey and that the amount of

“catchable” prey was more important than just general prey abundance.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

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120

EFFECT OF ROADS ON HABITAT USE BY COUGARS

DOROTHY M. FECSKE, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, South Dakota State

University, Brookings, SD 57007, USA, email: gdf@rapidnet.com

JONATHAN A. JENKS, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, South Dakota State

University, Brookings, SD 57007, USA, email: Jonathan_Jenks@sdstate.edu

FREDERICK G. LINDZEY, USGS Biological Resources Division, Wyoming Cooperative Fish

and Wildlife Research Unit, University Station, Laramie, WY 82071, USA, email:

Flindzey@uwyo.edu

STEVEN L. GRIFFIN, South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, 3305 W. South

Street, Rapid City, SD 57702, USA, email: Steve.Griffin@state.sd.us

Abstract: We examined effect of roads on habitat use by cougars, Puma concolor, in the Black

Hills, South Dakota. A total of 768 daytime locations of 12 radio-collared cougars were

obtained during weekly flights (1999 - 2001) using aerial telemetry techniques. Locations were

incorporated into a geographic information system (GIS) of roads (Class 1, 2, 3, and 4). We

tested the null hypotheses that cougars select habitat at random distances to roads and at random

road densities and cougar use of habitat near roads did not differ with respect to road class, sex,

age class, and habitat quality (based on a ranked cougar habitat-relation model). We examined

use of habitat near roads for an adult female cougar fitted with a Global Position System (GPS)

collar during crepuscular, diurnal, and nocturnal periods. Also, we identified road classes where

cougar snow tracks were located and cougar/vehicle collisions occurred. During daylight hours,

cougars avoided habitat near Class 3 roads (P < 0.001), the predominant road class in the Black

Hills. However, on occasions where cougars were located near Class 3 roads, high quality

habitat was selected. Cougars in the 5 to 6-year age class were located farther from Class 1 roads

than younger animals (P < 0.0001). Females in the 1 to 2-year age class were located closer to

Class 1 and Class 2 roads than older females (P < 0.0001). Females in 5 to 6 and 7 to 8-year age

classes were located closer to Class 4 roads (P = 0.0047) than younger females. Road densities

(km road/km 2 ) in annual home ranges of male cougars did not differ (P = 0.5000) from road

densities throughout the Black Hills study area but densities in annual ranges of females were

greater (P = 0.0078) than those of the study area. Cougars in the Black Hills have adapted to a

heavily roaded landscape but presence of roads is impacting cougar use of habitat and survival.

We suggest use of habitat near Class 3 roads by cougars would increase if roads were closed or

had limited access, and if thinned ponderosa pine stands adjacent to Class 3 and 4 roads were

managed for understory vegetation.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP


ECOLOGY OF SYMPATRIC PUMAS AND JAGUARS IN NORTHWESTERN

MEXICO

CARLOS A. LOPEZ GONZALEZ, Universidad Autonoma de Queretaro, Cerro de las

Campanas s/n, Mexico, email: Cats4mex@aol.com

SAMIA E. CARRILLO PERCASTEGUI, Northern Jaguar Project, 2114 W. Grant Rd. #121,

Tucson, AZ 85745, USA, email: Cats4mex@aol.com

Abstract: Pumas (Puma concolor) are usually considered subordinate species where jaguars

(Panthera onca) are present. Most of the current information on resource partitioning by these

two species comes from tropical sites. Out study area is located in the limits of the tropical realm

and consequently could be characterized as puma habitat. Our objectives were to describe the

ecology of both large felids in an area located 135 s. of the United States border, in the state of

Sonora, Mexico. From July 1999 to December 2002 using a suite of methodologies (cameratraps,

radio-telemetry, scat, track and prey surveys), we surveyed an area ≈1000 km². The study

area is a matrix of oak-woodland, tropical thornscrub, and upper sonoran desert; ranging in

elevation from 200 to 1200 m. The main economic activity within the region is ranching. We

determined through radio-telemetry a density of 3 pumas/100 km², and through camera-trap

surveys a density of 1.4±0.4 jaguars/100 km². Camera-trap capture rates are three times higher

for pumas than jaguars. Both species are feeding on white-tailed deer and to a lesser extent on

livestock. Pumas are a cathemeral species whereas jaguars are nocturnal-crepuscular. Jaguars are

using oak woodlands more than expected by chance, where pumas are using habitats according

to availability. The number of pumas present may be an artifact of less prosecution by cowboys

(only 1 puma killed since 1999), where jaguars are constantly prosecuted as they are perceived as

liable of most livestock depredations (22 jaguars killed since 1999). During 2002 we began a

program to help local ranchers on maintaining infrastructure, and apparent result has been less

pressure on the jaguar population within the area.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

121


122

COUGAR ECOLOGY AND COUGAR-WOLF INTERACTIONS IN YELLOWSTONE

NATIONAL PARK: A GUILD APPROCH TO LARGE CARNIVORE CONSERVATION

TONI K. RUTH, Associate Conservation Scientist, Wildlife Conservation Society, 2023 Stadium

Dr. Suite 1A, Bozeman, MT 59030, USA, email: truth@montanadsl.net

POLLY C. BUOTTE, Research Assistant, Wildlife Conservation Society, 2023 Stadium Dr.

Suite 1A, Bozeman, MT 59030, USA, email: polly_thornton@hotmail.com

HOWARD B. QUIGLEY, Beringia South, 3610 W. Broadwater, Suite 111, Bozeman, MT

59715, USA

MAURICE G. HORNOCKER, Senior Scientist, Wildlife Conservation Society, 2023 Stadium

Dr. Suite 1A, Bozeman, MT 59030, USA

Abstract: Successful restoration of large carnivores in the Northern Rockies and the concomitant

increase in carnivore abundance and distribution will challenge humans as human development

increases throughout the West. Presently, there is little understanding of how

reintroduction/reestablishment of endangered large carnivores (wolves and grizzly bears) may

affect the population characteristics, distribution, and behavior of other large carnivore

populations, such as cougars. If restored wolves limit cougar populations in number or

distribution, this limitation may have synergistic effects with current relaxation of cougar

hunting regulations and rapid development. An added stress such as low prey availability (e.g.

caused by hard winter or disease) could further impact populations. Understanding competitive

relationships between large carnivores and the role that habitat and prey availability play is

paramount to predicting and preparing for changes in the Greater Yellowstone region. In order

to assess population-level effects of wolf (Canis lupus) reestablishment on cougars (Puma

concolor) in and near Yellowstone National Park (YNP), we initiated a Phase II study of YNP

cougars in 1998. The study is designed to examine the characteristics of the cougar population

including: sex and age structure, density, reproductive and survival rates, dispersal and

recruitment events, rate of predation on prey, and spatial and temporal movements. These

parameters will be compared with analogous estimates made prior to the wolf restoration event

in 1995 (Phase I data, Murphy 1998) and similar parameters documented for the wolf population

to assess competition and resource partitioning between the two species. During 1998-2002, 56

cougars were captured in and adjacent to areas used by 35-88 wolves within 3-5 wolf packs on

the Northern Yellowstone Study Area, Montana and Wyoming. A sample of 3 to 10 radiocollared

wolves was maintained within each wolf pack by the Yellowstone Wolf Restoration

program. In this paper we summarize current research findings relative to cougar population

changes pre- and post-wolf reintroduction, species interactions, and discuss future study

direction.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP


EVALUATION OF HABITAT FACTORS THAT AFFECT THE ABUNDANCE OF

PUMAS IN THE CHIHUAHUAN DESERT

JOEL LOREDO SALAZAR, Instituto de Ecología, A.C. Apdo. Postal 63. CP 91070 Jalapa, Ver.

México, email: loredosj@ecologia.edu.mx

LUCINA HERNÁNDEZ, Instituto de Ecología, A.C., Apartado Postal 632, 34100 Durango,

Dgo., México, email: lucina@sequia.edu.mx

JOHN W. LAUNDRÉ, Instituto de Ecología, A.C., Apartado Postal 632, 34100 Durango, Dgo.,

México, email: launjohn@prodigy.net.mx

Abstract: Pumas originally occupied all of Mexico but their current status is not well known.

This is especially true in the Chihuahuan desert of Northern Mexico. To manage this species in

this area, it is important to have some estimation of their status. To evaluate the status of pumas

in this area we need to first identify factors that may contribute to their rarity or abundance.

Such factors can be placed into three separate but related groups: habitat quality, prey

abundance, and human impacts. To evaluate these various factors, we selected two mountain

ranges in the northern Chihuahuan desert where previous work indicated differences in the

relative abundance of pumas. The area of low puma abundance was El Cuervo near Aldama,

Chihuahua and the area of high abundance was Sierra Rica in the Canyon de Santa Elena

protected area. In the field we estimated habitat quality by measuring shrub density, cover, and

height. We also estimated prey (wild and domestic) abundance by counting fecal groups along

random transects. With the use of GIS technology we assessed human impacts by determining

the number of roads, number and size of towns, and overall density of humans in a 20 km radius

around each range. Our results indicate that habitat quality was similar between the two areas.

However, wild and domestic prey was higher in Santa Elena and all measurements of human

impact were higher in El Cuervo. We concluded that habitat quality was not a factor

contributing to relative puma abundance. However, the increased presence of and access by

humans in El Cuervo is the main contributing factor via illegal hunting of pumas and their prey.

Future work will test this hypothesis in other areas of the Chihuahuan desert. If this hypothesis

is supported, it indicates that conservation efforts of pumas in Northern Mexico need center on

environmental education rather than habitat protection/restoration.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

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124

ARE PUMAS OPPORTUNISTIC SCAVENGERS?

JIM W. BAUER, University of California-Davis, Wildlife Health Center, Southern California

Puma Project Field Station, P.O. Box 1203, Julian, CA 92036, USA, email:

jwbauer@uia.net

KENNETH A. LOGAN, University of California-Davis, Wildlife Health Center, Southern

California Puma Project Field Station, P.O. Box 1114, Julian, CA 92036, USA, email:

klogan2@mindspring.com

LINDA L. SWEANOR, University of California-Davis, Wildlife Health Center, Southern

California Puma Project Field Station, P.O. Box 1114, Julian, CA 92036, USA, email:

lsweanor@mindspring.com

WALTER M. BOYCE, University of California-Davis, Wildlife Health Center, One Shields

Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA, email: wmboyce@ucdavis.edu

Abstract: We examined scavenging on mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) carcasses by pumas

(Puma concolor) in the Peninsular Ranges of Southern California. Between 23 January 2001

and 21 November 2002, a total of 42 deer carcasses from road kills, depredation permits, and

euthanized deer were used to determine scavenging events. Seventeen of 42 deer carcasses

(40.5%) were scavenged by 7 to 10 different pumas. Two of the scavenging pumas (males) were

previously telemetered, while 4 pumas (3 male, 1 female) were captured and instrumented at the

scavenging site. Telemetered pumas ranged in age from 11 months to 9 years. Deer carcasses

were found and scavenged by pumas within 1 to 14 days, when carcass conditions ranged from

fresh to rotting and maggot infested. Pumas treated scavenged carcasses as they would their own

kills, dragging untethered carcasses to preferred sites and caching, as well as depositing scats and

making scrapes in the area. However, pumas did not always attempt to cache tethered carcasses.

During the course of our fieldwork we also discovered that one telemetered puma was repeatedly

visiting a domestic livestock graveyard and scavenging on surface-discarded horse and cattle

carcasses. While pumas are known to be opportunistic predators, our results would suggest that

they are opportunistic scavengers as well. Due to pumas’ propensity to scavenge, it is likely that

some perceived puma kills may in fact be scavenging events. Frequent monitoring and timely

field investigation of mortality signals detected from telemetered prey species will help

investigators identify those events. Scavenging behavior should be considered when evaluating

or predicting the effects of puma predation on prey species.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP


COUGAR-INDUCED INDIRECT EFFECTS: DOES THE RISK OF PREDATION

INFLUENCE UNUGULATE FORAGING BEHAVIOR ON THE NATIONAL BISON

RANGE?

DAVID M. CHOATE, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre

Dame, 107 Galvin Life Science Center, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA; and, Department

of Forestry, Range & Wildlife, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA, email:

dchoate@nd.edu

GARY E. BELOVSKY, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre

Dame, 107 Galvin Life Science Center, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA, email:

Gary.E.Belovsky.1@nd.edu

MICHAEL L. WOLFE, Professor, Department of Forestry, Range & Wildlife, Utah State

University, Logan, UT 84322, USA, email: mlwolfe@cc.usu.edu

Abstract: Ecologists have long debated whether predators (“top-down”) or nutrients/food

(“bottom-up”) limit prey populations. Evidence supporting the importance of predation is

frequently based on the number of prey killed by predators – a direct effect. By examining only

this direct effect many predation studies fail to consider behavioral changes arising from the risk

of predation - indirect effects. Furthermore, these behavioral indirect effects can be more

important than the direct effect of predator-caused mortality, influencing both top-down and

bottom-up processes. In this study we capitalize on a “natural experiment” on a suite of large

mammalian herbivores, in a system (National Bison Range, MT) where the behavior and

population dynamics of ungulate prey species (whitetail deer, Odocoileus virginianus; mule deer,

O. hemionus; elk, Cervus elaphus) can be compared before and after an increase in risk of

predation by cougar (Puma concolor). We present preliminary data demonstrating that cougars

can influence several aspects of prey behavior. With an increase in predation risk, mule deer and

elk total daily activity time has declined by 35.9% and 31.8% (P


126

COUGAR PREDATION ON PREY IN YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK: A

PRELIMINARY COMPARISON PRE- AND POST-WOLF REESTABLISHMENT

TONI K. RUTH, Wildlife Conservation Society, 2023 Stadium Dr. Suite 1A, Bozeman, MT

59030, USA, email: truth@montanadsl.net

POLLY C. BUOTTE, Wildlife Conservation Society, 2023 Stadium Dr. Suite 1A, Bozeman, MT

59030, USA, email: polly_thornton@hotmail.com

KERRY M. MURPHY, Yellowstone Center for Resources, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National

Park, Mammoth, WY 89210, USA, email: kerry_murphy@nps.gov

MAURICE G. HORNOCKER, Wildlife Conservation Society, 2023 Stadium Dr. Suite 1A,

Bozeman, MT 59030, USA

Abstract: On Yellowstone National Park’s Northern Range cougars and wolves rely on

economically important prey species, particularly elk. Understanding how these large carnivores

partition prey resources and their combined affect on prey is important for management and

conservation of cougars, wolves, and ungulate species. As part of a cougar-wolf interactions

study, we quantified predation rates and prey selection by cougars on Yellowstone’s northern

range prior to (Phase I) and post wolf (Phase II) reestablishment. During Phase II, cougars spent

an average of 3.7 days at kills and 4.4 days between each kill. The mean annual rate of cougar

predation in Phase I was 9.4 (SD = 4.0; 95% CI = 7.8 to 11.0) days per ungulate kill, and

10.9(SD = 8.5; 95% CI = 6.7 to 15.1) days per ungulate kill in Phase II. Rate of predation varied

by cougar social class. When converted to biomass killed per day, cougars averaged 12.2 kg per

day during Phase I and 12.9 kg per day during Phase II. We documented a total of 306 and 256

positive and probable cougar kills during Phase I and Phase II, respectively. During Phase II,

70% (n = 179) of cougar kills were elk, 17% (n = 43) were mule deer and 13% (n = 34) were

other prey. During both Phase I and II more than 50% of cougar kills were elk calves, with cow

elk making up the next largest category. During Phase I, cougar predation was neither a major

source of mortality nor a significant factor limiting the numbers or growth rates of elk and mule

deer populations in northern Yellowstone. Cougars present on the study area killed 2-3% of the

elk and 3-5% of the mule deer estimated to be available during 5 years spanning the Phase I

study. Simultaneous to our Phase II study, the Yellowstone Wolf Project quantifies wolf

predation rates and prey selection. Cougars killed proportionally more elk calves and fewer bull

elk than wolves between 1998 and 2002. We are continuing our data collection and analyses and

plan to: 1) compare cougar and wolf per capita rate of predation, 2) contrast femur marrow fat

content of cougar and wolf kills, by season killed and prey age, and 3) compare yearly off-take

of elk and mule deer by cougars and wolves. Cougar per capita predation rate averaged across

social classes was 0.06 kills/cougar/day. When kittens were included with maternal females, that

group had the lowest predation rate of 0.01. Without including kittens, maternal females

averaged 0.15. Subadult males had an equally high rate of 0.15. Wolf predation ranged from

0.03 to 0.078 kills per wolf per day (Smith et al., In Press).

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP


FOUR DECADES OF COUGAR-UNGULATE RELATIONSHIPS IN THE CENTRAL

IDAHO WILDERNESS

HOLLY A. AKENSON, University of Idaho, Taylor Ranch Field Station, HC 83 Box 8070,

Cascade, ID 83611, USA, e-mail: tayranch@direcpc.com

JAMES J. AKENSON, University of Idaho, Taylor Ranch Field Station, HC 83 Box 8070,

Cascade, ID 83611, USA; e-mail: tayranch@direcpc.com

HOWARD B. QUIGLEY, Beringia South, 2023 Stadium Drive, Suite 1A, Bozeman, MT

59715, USA

MAURICE G. HORNOCKER, Wildlife Conservation Society, 2023 Stadium Drive, Suite 1A,

Bozeman, MT 59715, USA

Abstract: Research conducted on cougars (Puma concolor) in the Big Creek drainage in each of

the last four decades has enhanced the understanding of the dynamic nature of cougar – ungulate

relationships. In 1964, Maurice Hornocker initiated his benchmark research on this cougar

population and assessed the role of cougar predation in regulating ungulate populations. Each

study that followed has had different objectives, yet, combined these projects provide a rare

continuum of ecological information on the dynamics of cougar – prey relationships. This

cougar population has been influenced by significant environmental changes over the last 40

years. The ungulate prey base has fluctuated, but generally elk numbers have increased and deer

have decreased. Total ungulate biomass was similar in the 1960’s and 1980’s, but was 12%

lower in the study just completed. The dynamics of carnivore competition, both inter-specific

and intra-specific, has changed since introduced wolves recolonized the drainage in the 1990s. A

large-scale forest fire 2 years ago drastically altered winter and summer ranges and affected

predator – prey relationships. We compared cougar population size, structure, reproduction, and

mortality factors; prey selection during 3 time periods; and evaluated pre and post-fire data in the

recent study. The estimated resident cougar population was 9 adults during the first 2 studies in

the 1960’s and early 1970’s. The resident population grew to an estimated 13 adults in the mid-

1980’s, but dropped to 10 individuals by 2000, and down to 6 resident cougars by 2002. The

population increase during the 1980’s was in the adult female segment and it corresponded with

an increasing elk population. The current low population is a result of a decreasing elk

population, ungulate displacement from fire, increased hunter harvest of cougars, increased

intraspecific strife, and competition with wolves for the same prey base. Cougars selected for

elk rather than mule deer during the first study, but killed elk in proportion to their relative

abundance during the study in the 1980’s and recent study (2000). Historical perspectives from

pioneer diaries indicate similar cougar population numbers. In 1888 a bounty hunter removed 12

cougars from the drainage, then ten years later a different cougar hunter noted trapping and

poisoning 12 individuals on Big Creek. Archeological evidence, old newspaper articles and

diaries, and early agency field notes are all integrated into this discussion of long-term predator -

prey relationships. The lengthy record of information on predator and prey populations in the

Big Creek drainage arguably makes this cougar population the best understood in North

America.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP

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128

COUGAR TOTAL PREDATION RESPONSE TO DIFFERING PREY DENSITIES: A

PROPOSED EXPERIMENT TO TEST THE APPARENT COMPETITION

HYPOTHESIS

HUGH ROBINSON, Large Carnivore Conservation Lab, Department of Natural Resource

Sciences, Washington State University, PO Box 646410, Pullman, WA 99614-6410,

USA, email: hsrobins@wsunix.wsu.edu

ROBERT WIELGUS, Large Carnivore Conservation Lab, Department of Natural Resource

Sciences, Washington State University, PO Box 646410, Pullman, WA 99614-6410,

USA, email: wielgus@wsu.edu

HILARY CRUICKSHANK, Large Carnivore Conservation Lab, Department of Natural

Resource Sciences, Washington State University, PO Box 646410, Pullman, WA 99614-

6410, USA, email: hcruicks@mail.wsu.edu

CATHERINE LAMBERT, Large Carnivore Conservation Lab, Department of Natural Resource

Sciences, Washington State University, PO Box 646410, Pullman, WA 99614-6410,

USA, email: lambertcath@wsu.edu

Abstract: Mule deer populations throughout the west are declining whereas white-tailed deer

populations are increasing. We compared abundance, fetal rate, recruitment rate, and causespecific

adult (≥1 yr. old) mortality rates of sympatric mule and white-tailed deer in south-central

British Columbia to assess the population growth of each species. White-tailed deer were three

times as abundant (908±152) as mule deer (336±122) (± 1SE). Fetal rates of white-tailed deer

(1.83) were similar to mule deer (1.78) (t = 0.15, df = 13, P = 0.44) as was recruitment of whitetailed

deer (56 fawns:100 does) and mule deer (38 fawns:100 does) (χ 2 = 0.91, df = 1, P=0.34).

Annual adult white-tailed deer survival (SWT = 0.81) was significantly higher (z = 1.32, df = 1, P

= 0.09) than mule deer survival (SMD = 0.72). The main source of mortality in both populations

was cougar predation. The lower survival rate of mule deer could be directly linked to a higher

predation rate (0.17) compared to white-tailed deer (0.09) (z = 1.57, df = 1, P = 0.06). The finite

growth rate (λ) of mule deer was 0.88 and 1.02 for white-tailed deer. We suggest that the

disparate survival and predation rates are caused by apparent competition between the two deer

species, facilitated through a shared predator; cougar. The apparent competition hypothesis

predicts that as alternate prey (white-tailed deer) densities increase, so do densities of predators,

resulting in increased incidental predation on sympatric native prey (mule deer). Apparent

competition can result in population declines and even extirpation of native prey in some cases.

Such a phenomenon may account for declines of mule deer throughout the arid and semi-arid

West where irrigation agriculture is practiced. We are in year two of a proposed five-year study.

We will test the apparent competition hypothesis by conducting a controlled, replicated “press”

experiment in 2 treatment and 2 control areas in North-eastern Washington by reducing densities

of white-tailed deer and observing any changes in cougar predation on mule deer. Washington

Fish and Wildlife personnel using annual aerial surveys and/or other trend indices will monitor

deer densities. Predation rates and population growth rates of deer will be determined using radio

telemetry. Changes in cougar functional (kills/unit time), aggregative (cougars/unit area),

numerical (offspring/cougar), and total (predation rate) responses on deer will also be monitored

using radio telemetry. Results will be used to determine the effect of increased white-tailed

densities on cougar predation of mule deer.

PROCEEDINGS OF THE SEVENTH MOUNTAIN LION WORKSHOP


CHARACTERISTICS OF COUGAR HARVEST WITH AND WITHOUT THE USE OF

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