Humans responsible for 62% of cougar deaths in re-established populations

Mar 03, 2014

The reintroduction of mountain lions across the mid-western United States has made species management an urgent area of research for conservationists. A report in the Wildlife Society Bulletin explores the fatal cost of human interaction with cougars and asks what state agencies can do to protect both species.

Cougars (Puma concolor) are slowly recolonizing their historic habitats, including the Black Hills of South Dakota, but since they've been away, the land has become crossed with roads and home to many human communities.

"The cougar population in the Black Hills Region is unique, as it is separated by 180 km of prairie and agricultural land from the nearest breeding population," said Dr. David Thompson from South Dakota State University. "Yet, it is a viable population, which is safe from hunting and it has increased in recent decades through natural immigration."

The authors studied 31 , captured between 1999 and 2005. Over the course of 1,570 days, 12 mortalities were recorded. Despite being protected from hunting nearly 62% of cougar deaths were attributed to human influences.

A further 85 dead cougars were analyzed during the study, with collisions being the most common cause of death. Snaring and illegal hunting were also identified as causes.

"Our work evaluated the types of mortality that occur in a naturally re-established cougar on the eastern edge of the current range of the species in North America," concluded Thompson. "Our findings will be valuable to areas experiencing re-colonization of the as well as providing insight into regions where populations overlap with cougars from a management perspective."

Explore further: PacifiCorp Energy pleads guilty in bird deaths (Update)

More information: Daniel J. Thompson, Jonathan A. Jenks, Dorothy M. Fecske, 'Prevalence of human-caused mortality in an unhunted cougar population and potential impacts to management', Wildlife Society Bulletin, DOI: 10.1002/wsb.390

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

US declares eastern cougar extinct

Mar 02, 2011

The US Fish and Wildlife Service declared the eastern cougar officially extinct Wednesday, even though the big cat is believe to have first disappeared in the 1930s.

Recommended for you

Study finds tropical fish moving into temperate waters

Dec 19, 2014

Tropical herbivorous fish are beginning to expand their range into temperate waters – likely as a result of climate change – and a new international study documents the dramatic impact of the intrusion ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.