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Cougar - Puma concolor
Topic Started: Feb 11 2012, 05:21 PM (37,129 Views)
Taipan
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Cougar - Puma concolor

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The cougar is a large feline that inhabits the Americas.

Common Names - I think it holds the record for the animal with the most number of common names - cougar, panther, catamount, painter, American lion, Mountain lion, Mexican lion, Florida panther, silver lion, red lion, red panther, red tiger, brown tiger, deer tiger, ghost cat, mountain screamer, Indian devil, sneak cat, king cat, and painted cat.

Subspecies - over 30, but currently theres a push to cut this down to six, those being -
1. Puma concolor cougar - North American Cougar : includes the previous subspecies coryi, shorgeri, cougar, azteca, improcera, missoulensis, hippolestes, oregonensis, vancouverensis, californica, kaibabensis, browni, stanleyana, and mayensis
2. Puma concolor costaricensis - Costa Rican Cougar
3. Puma concolor concolor - Northern South American Cougar : includes the previous subspecies concolor, bangsi, soderstromi, incarum, and osgoodi
4. Puma concolor puma - Southern South American Puma : includes the previous subspecies patagonica, puma, pearsoni, and araucanus
5. Puma concolor capricornensis - Eastern South American Cougar : includes the previous subspecies discolor and acrocodia
6. Puma concolor cabrerae - Argentine Puma

Range - as you can see from the subspecies the cougar has an extensive range which runs continuosly from Alaska to the Southern tip of Sth america

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Physical Characteristics - Size
In terms of length & weight the cougar is the fourth largest member of the feline family (after the tiger, lion & jaguar).

In terms of length they vary between about 7 - 10 foot, head to tip of tail.
Weight varies too depending on sex & subspecies. The largest subspecies are Puma concolor cougar & Puma concolor puma - the most northerly & southerly subspecies. The smallest subspecies is Puma concolor concolor.
Size is not determined by Bergmanns Rule, but rather prey size & availabilty.
Puma Concolor Cougar - Male - average weight 150 - 160 pounds, Females 100 - 120 pounds.
Most males don't exceed 200 pounds, but some do. The largest ever cougar killed was a 276 pound male in Arizona.

Colour - Thecougar’s normal colour is reddish tawny or tawny grey to dark chocolate brown. The backs of the ears and the tip of the tail are black, and there are black markings on the face. The kittens are spotted at birth, but the spots disappear before the end of their first year.

Cub -
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Adult -
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There has been reports of 'black' cougars in Sth America, but I've seen little evidence to support this.


The cougar has the long powerful limbs - in fact proportionally the longest hind legs to weight in the feline family. Paws too are proportionally large. Cougars have five digits on the forepaw and four on the hindpaw. Each digit is equipped with a claw, which the cougar sheathes while walking, but which it uses with deadly effectiveness when grasping its prey. The front feet and claws are larger than their counterparts in the rear, again adaptations for clutching large prey.

The Cougar's tail makes up about a third of the total length of its body and serves to improve balance.

Skull, Jaws and teeth

Head size relative to pantherine cats is smaller, and varies between the sexes. Males have larger heads than females. In terms of skull growth, female skulls stop developing after 2 years of age, whereas the male cougars skull continues the grow up to 6 years of age.

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Compared to canids, the rostrum of cougars is short and occipital orbits are large . The shortened rostrum allows for a more powerful bite but reduces a cougars smelling ability; however the larger occipital orbit increases their vision, the sense which they rely on the most.

The cougar has muscular jaws, a wide gape, and long canine teeth are designed for clamping down on and holding onto prey larger than itself. The cougar has, in addition, teeth that are specially adapted for cutting meat, tendons, and sinews.
" Puma’s also have a remarkable array of 28 teeth, eight of which are especially crucial for hunting. “The four long canines are for puncturing and gripping, and the four carnassials at the rear snip the meat into pieces”

In terms of canine length an adults cougars canines vary in length between 1 1/2 - 2 inches, with Sth American cougars having longer canines proportionally to Nth American cougars.

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The cougars jaw strength & sharp enables it to penetrate and crush the skulls & spines of large prey. The have been recorded penetrating wolf & horse skulls and even crushing a human skull.

The Wroe Bite Force Study estimates a cougars bite force at the canines to be around 470 Newtons, and a bite force quotient (bite force/body weight) of 108.
http://www.bio.usyd.edu.au/staff/research/swroe/Wroeetal2005Biteclub.pdf

Diet

Cougars are associated with predation on various type of deer but are opportunistic hunters and will feed on a variety of prey items.

White-tailed deer, Mule Deer, Moose (Alces alces), Elk, Eastern cottontail, Ground squirrel, Beaver, Porcupine, Raccoon, Badger & skunk.
Some bird species such as wild turkey, Duck, Grouse and quail. Raptors - Eagles, and turkey vultures
Carnivores- coyote, Red & Grey Fox, black bear, wolverine
Domestic animals included cattle, sheep, and pigs; although they seem to prefer horse. Dog and cat feature highly too.

Prey depends much on location eg. - Nth America - deer, Sth Nth America - Javelina, Nth Sth America - monkeys, Sth Sth America - llama.

Hunting

Cougars have a very high success rate in hunting attempts. One researcher reported 82 percent success rate on elk and deer. The other intersting aspect is cougars do not target the sick or injured, more the animal in the most advantageous position to catch.

"Maurice Hornocker observed that on final stalk a puma takes down an elk eighty percent of the time (Kobalenko 1997). The great size of such prey makes this efficiency even more remarkable. A one-hundred pound female puma can take down an eight-hundred pound elk on her own (Kobalenko 1997)"

Technique - Stealth - numerous descriptions include -

"Cougars usually do not chase down their prey, but stalk and ambush; a cougar mayleap as far as 20 feet onto a deer's backand can kill an animal with one bite to the neck. "

"When hunting the larger ungulates, cougar do not crouch over or near a game trail waiting for the unsuspecting prey to pass nearby. The kill is usually made following a careful stalk of the intended victim. Cougar hunters have observed that cats must make a kill within two or three jumps, usually 20 to 50 feet after their stalk. If the prey escapes, the cougar will rarely follow, and the stalk will be repeated upon a different animal. The kill follows a sudden leap from the ground onto the shoulders and neck of the prey. The most effective kills are made when the cougar holds the head with a forepaw and bites down through the back of the neck, near the base of the skull."

The most frequent method of killing prey is a bite to the back of the neck or skull, although they have been recorded crushing skulls and suffocating prey.

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Once prey is killed it is usually dragged away out of the view of scavengers and is most commonly covered in debris like leaves, hidden in bushes or ravines or occassionaly treed.

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Interactions with other species

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The cougar has little to fear from other predators or carnivores apart from a few recorded incidents of wolf packs killing cougars.
Bears, Grizzly & Black frequently scavenge from cougar kills as do wolf packs.

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Mortality

The biggest killer of cougars is humans. Of natural causes the leading cause of deaths is intraspecific - cougars killing cougars.
Other causes include hunting accidents & disease.

1 in 4 cougars die a year in unhunted populations, whereas in hunted populations 1 in 2 die!
"Annual mortality rate in an unhunted population in Utah was 26%, over 50% in resident adults in a hunted population in Montana"

Favourite Quotes

"The mountain lion works a strong magic in the imagination of many Americans. It is the ultimate loner, a renegade presence in the wildest canyons and wildest mountains, the sign of everything that is remote from us, everything we have not spoiled."

"Cougar are without doubt the epitome of the predator species, fascinating creatures, the embodiment of the spirit and aura of vast, rugged and uninhabited places."

"the big horse-killing cat, the destroyer of deer, the lord of the stealthy murder facing his doom with a heart both craven and cruel. . ."
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Intrapecific Conflict

Some information from 'Desert Puma' by K. Logan

"Moreover, of the adult males we captured, 97 percent (twenty eight of twenty nine) had wounds inflicted during fights with other pumas."

"New immigrant M19 and M219 both usurped area from resident males they had killed. Almost all adult males exhibited scars from fighting at one time or another during the course of the study, evidence that they occasionally tested one another and directly competed for space and mates"

"Intraspecies strife was identified as the single-greatest natural cause of death of Florida panthers (Maehr 1997a) and of pumas in California (Beier and Barrett 1993)."

"Furthermore, fighting has occurred in puma populations with a wide range of adult puma densities among them, such as in Alberta (1.5-2.2/100km2, Ross and jalkotzy 1993), British Colombia (0.93-1.1/100km2 Spreadbury et al, 1996), Wyoming (1.4-1.5/100km2, Logan et al 1986) and Utah (0.3-0.6/100km2 Lindzey et al 1988) ."

" Detailed studies on natural mortality in unhunted cougar populations have reported that intraspecific killing by adult male cougars is the most common cause of death; adult males have killed kittens, subadults, and adults of both sexes (Beier and Barrett 1993, Maehr 1997, Logan and Sweanor 2001, Taylor et al. 2002). "
wfs.sdstate.edu/wfsdept/Publications/ Theses/Fecske,%20Dorothy%20M.%20PHD-2003.pdf

""Intraspecific strife is reported in most studies of mountain lions (Hemker et al. 1984, Lindzey et al. 1989, Ross and Jalkotzy 1992, Beier and Barrett 1993, Spreadbury et al. 1996, Sweanor et al. 1996). Aggressive behavior may be the single greatest cause of death in lion populations isolated from humans (Logan et al. 1996). Males accounted for all the killing by conspecifics in the New Mexico population studied by Logan et al. (1996). Males killed all age classes and both sexes of mountain lions. Infanticide or cannibalism accounted for 44% of the known deaths among cubs. Hemker et al. (1984), Ross and Jalkotzy (1992), and Spreadbury et al. (1996) reported evidence of mortality from intraspecific strife elsewhere. Males, through territoriality, were also hypothesized by Hornocker (1969) to regulate numbers of mountain lions in a given area. Logan et al. (1996) indicated males may also be the chief internal regulation mechanism by direct killing of conspecifics."
www.fw.msu.edu/people/riley/PHD-DISS%2520Complete.pdf

"Many cougars are killed by larger cougars. Half of cougar deaths in White Sands study resulted from cougars. Almost always males are the aggressors. Males kill other males (and occasionally females - not ones mated by the male) that enter home range, or kittens; even those belonging to the male, if the female wasn't present. One story of a large young male taking over range of an older male; the elder moved to the northern limits of his range, but the youngster continued pushing elder north into other male ranges. Eventually, the elder took on and killed the younger, reclaiming its range."
http://www.bobpickett.org/cougarart.htm

Excerpts from Desert Puma

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Cougars & Wolves

Douglas Smith, who leads the Yellowstones National Park Service's Yellowstone Wolf Project.

"Smith saw a male grizzly drive a pack of wolves away from an elk carcass, then make a "king of the hill" defense as the wolves darted in and out, trying, but failing, to wear him out.

But wolves do not always win. Males (Wolves), at 125 pounds, can go after a 110-pound female cougar if they are in a pack, but a lone wolf is a bagatelle for a 160-pound male cougar. Smith has recorded two instances of cougars ambushing and killing single wolves -- one an adult, the other a pup.

"A lion has two sets of lethal weapons -- teeth and claws, whereas wolves' principal weapon is just teeth," said National Park Service cougar specialist Kerry Murphy. Cougars can dominate as long as they stay in the rocks or in the forest, where they can climb a tree. "We're still talking about dogs and cats," he said.

May 19, 2003

In Yellowstone, It's a Carnivore Competition

By Guy Gugliotta
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 19, 2003; Page A07

http://www.wildraven.net/AmericanGrizzly/recent_grizzly_bear_news.html

Cougars killing wolves -

"Autopsy Indicates Lion Killed Wolf"
An investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has found no evidence of human-caused mortality in the death of a female Mexican gray wolf found dead in Eastern Arizona's Apache National Forest in October, 1999. A preliminary examination found the presence of premortem-induced puncture wounds characteristic to bites from another animal. The actual cause of death is suspected to be a bite wound to the neck inflicted by a cougar."

http://www.igorilla.com/gorilla/animal/1999/cougar_kills_wolf.html

Wolf B4 Killed by Mountain Lion?

It appears that Kelly, the six-year old gray female whose remains were recently found in Montana, was killed by a mountain lion. At
least it appears that way from the scrape marks. There is some possibility that Kelly (wolf B4), was partially consumed by a lion after her death.

The FBI lab in Ashland, Oregon is examining the remains. My report is unofficial, subject to change.

The dead wolf was found near Drummond, Montana. She had a puncture would from a mountain lion through her skull.

B4 was one of the first wolves reintroduced to Idaho. She was released with three other wolves at Corn Creek on the main fork of the Salmon River in Central Idaho in January 1995.


She migrated to Montana and spent the summer and fall in the vicinity of Rock Creek, SE of Missoula.

http://www.forwolves.org/ralph/32596.html

Park wolf pack kills mother cougar
A cougar with two new kittens was killed near Mt. Everts in Yellowstone National Park the last week of March by the Swan Lake or the Leopold wolf pack. Evidence at the scene indicated that 7 to 11 wolves participated in the attack. Mt. Everts is the steep, cliff-sided mountain just northeast of Mammoth Hot Springs.

The dead cougar was found by researchers from the Yellowstone Cougar Project. The cougar had 2 kittens about 4 months old. They will almost certainly perish. Two years ago Yellowstone wolves killed 4 cougar kittens. The mother cougar survived.

Wolves killing cougar and vice versa is not uncommon. Wolf 163M, a beautiful gray from the Druid Peak pack was found dead in February 2000 just outside the Park, high in the Absaroka Mountains. His body showed that cougar were present at about the time of his death, and might have killed him.

This January, 297F, a pup from the Mill Creek Pack, north of the Park, was killed by a cougar. Biologist Val Asher found the dead pup, partially consumed and buried. Tracks indicate 297F was ambushed while traveling with another wolf. Asher said prints in the snow indicated the wolf might have caught between two fence lines. Tracks showed the dead wolf's companion rapidly fled the area.

Wolf B4F, one of the first wolves reintroduced to Idaho, was killed by a cougar near Drummond, Montana early in 1996.

At the recent Interagency Wolf Conference at Chico, Montana, researchers Jim and Holly Akenson from the Hornocker Wildlife Institution gave a presentation about the interactions of predators and ungulates before and after the huge fires of 2000 in the Big Creek area of the Franck Church Wilderness of Idaho. Among many other findings, they found that wolves consistently displaced cougars from the cats' kills both before and after the fires.

Research by Diane Boyd and others in the North Fork of the Flathead in the early 1990s (NW Montana) found that wolves consistently killed cougar in the area.

There are estimated to be 15-20 cougar on Yellowstone's northern range. Prior to the current denning, there were about 80 wolves on the Park's northern range.

http://www.forwolves.org/ralph/wolves-deadcougar.htm

Wolves killing cougars at Yellowstone NP.

This information comes from "Yellowstone Science" volume 12 • number 1 • winter 2004

"IN DECEMBER 1999, we documented the first cougar mortalities due to wolves in Yellowstone National Park. In this apparently rare interaction, female cougar F107’s four kittens were killed in two separate events. We were able to document all four mortalities within less than 24 hours of their occurrence because F107 and the kittens were radio marked, and because of the collaboration between the cougar and wolf projects, which provided the ability to simultaneously monitor wolves and cougars. Field efforts by both projects provided as complete an interpretation of events proceeding and subsequent to the mortalities as possible. Each radio collar is equipped with a special feature called a mortality mode. Thus, any collar that remains stationary for longer than six hours will switch to a different pulse rate; in this case a faster pulse than when the collar is not stationary.
On December 16, 1999, a check for the F107 family group indicated that two of the kitten signals (F108 and M138) were in mortality mode and in the direction of the location of the cougar family group and Druid wolf pack from the previous day. We continued to monitor the remaining kittens in the family group, and on December 21, 1999, radio signals of the remaining two kittens (M140 and M142) indicated the kittens were dead. We hiked in to the sites and collected three of the kittens and all four of the radio collars within 45–815 yards of a cow elk carcass that had been killed by F107 between December 8 and 13. Sometimes, females with kittens may stay on a large elk kill for 8–10 days. Although details of the interaction and deaths were obscured by snow deposition, “troughs” through the snow and the location of the bodies suggested that three of the four kittens had run through the deep snow while being pursued by wolves. In particular, M138 had run upslope, out of tree cover, and was killed on top of a small sagebrush knoll. His body was found 139 yards from the elk carcass. His ears and nose had been chewed on and his lower left front leg was missing. After removing the kittens from the fi eld, we had project veterinarian Dr. Kathy Quigley assist with the necropsies. While few external wounds were visible, the amount of internal damage the kittens had sustained was extensive. The ribcages of three kittens had been crushed, inducing trauma to their hearts. Their lungs and livers were hemorrhaged and macerated from bite wounds, and canine punctures were evident into the stomach lining of two kittens. Kitten M138 also had a fracture of the first cervical vertebrae.
Several factors may have played a role in the cougar mortalities. Although adult cougars are proficient at seeking rock outcrop and trees as escape habitat from aggressors, kittens generally lack the experience or knowledge of their home range to seek out appropriate escape habitat. Kittens may seek cover on the ground or by climbing trees that lack ample branches for perching for long periods of time. Adult cougars typically choose to climb Douglas-fir trees with large branches when escaping pursuit by hounds during our capture efforts. Another factor that may have played a role in the deaths of the kittens was their small body mass. Kittens F108 and M138 weighed 16 pounds at death. Kittens typically weigh about25–35 pounds at four to five months of age. The small size of the kittens may have been negatively influenced by the size of the litter and the fact that this was F107’s first litter. The low body weight and snow depth may have affected the ability of the kittens to run effectively during pursuit by wolves. In deeper snow, kittens usually follow their mother through the path she has made in the snow. However, pursuit by an aggressor generally results in separation of the family unit. Finally, the Druid pack spent an unusual amount of time in the Rose Creek area compared to their typical movements about the Lamar Valley (Rick McIntyre, YellowstoneNational Park, personal communication). Whether they showed an affinity to this area because of the cougars is unknown; however, the wolves returned to the Rose Creek drainage between the times that they made two elk kills in Lamar Valley. It seems as though their foray into Rose Creek between elk kills may have been to re-investigate F107’s kill site. In either case, they encountered F107 with her kittens during their travels to or near her kill.

More recently, on April 4, 2003, at 7:05 AM, Polly Buotte and Jesse Newby of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Yellowstone Cougar Project detected a mortality signal on adult female cougar F106. At 8:30 AM, Buotte and Newby contacted Daniel Stahler of the Yellowstone Wolf Project, who was conducting an aerial telemetry flight for wolves. Buotte informed Stahler of the mortality signal and inquired if Stahler could obtain a location for them. From the air, Stahler and pilot Roger Stradley located F106 on top of Mt. Everts, andthey obtained a visual of the cat lying motionless on the ground. Stahler and Stradley also located F106’s two fourmonth- old kittens (M164 and M166) nearby; their collars were still transmitting active signals. At 2:30 PM, Buotte, Newby, Sawaya and Stahler hiked in to the site to investigate the cause of F106’s death. The kittens, which were still alive, were in the vicinity of F106’s carcass, but a few hundred meters away. The investigation revealed that F106 had been killed in a fight with a wolf pack. Evidence to suggest this included visible bite wounds on her neck, entrails pulled from her body, wolf hair in her claws and teeth, wolf tracks in the area, and clumps of both wolf and cougar hair. Extensive snow tracking suggests that F106 had been in the area hunting without her kittens, though we found no evidence of a kill. At least eight sets of wolf tracks came into the area at a walk; at one point, ~40 meters out, all the wolves were bounding toward the fi ght scene. They came in from several directions, at ~45º to F106. A swath of snow ~30 m wide was trampled and contained large clumps of both cougar and wolf hair, blood, and other body fluids. A depression in the snow~15 m away seemed to be where F106 lay down, severely injured. This area was melted and contained large clumps of cougar hair frozen into the snow. Her body was found ~10 m further away, which seems to indicate the wolves left her barely alive, then she crawled a short distance and died.
On the morning of April 3 at 9 AM, 10 members of the Swan Lake pack were seen crossing the road below Mt. Everts, heading towards the Beaver Ponds (Phil Perkins, YNP personal communication). One of the wolves was lagging far behind its pack mates and was limping badly from an injury to its left front leg. It seems very likely that these wolves were the ones involved in the altercation with F106, and they happened to be spotted as they were leaving the area. The Leopold wolf pack, which also uses this area, was known to be further east during this time (Dan Stahler, YNP, personal communication).
While monitoring for radio signals on the afternoon of April 2, cougar project personnel heard an active VHF signal on F106 from “Bear Rock” along the Jardine Road. With a directional antenna, her signal seemed to be coming from the top of Everts, where she waslater found dead. We did not hear F106’s signal on April 3; however, we did not listen from Bear Rock that day. We did hear her kittens on April 2 and April 3. Given the sighting of the Swan Lake pack in the area on April 3, it seems likely this interaction occurred during the night of April 2 or the morning of April 3. F106’s two male kittens eventually died after being orphaned at 4½ months of age.
Since the initiation of our study, these seven cougar mortalities have been the only ones directly linked to wolves. If direct interactions such as this tend to be rare events, the loss of six kittens may not be significant to the actual population size of cougars in Yellowstone. However, if all the kittens had survived to dispersal (an unlikely scenario), the five male kittens would have been highly likely to have dispersed to other areas and potentially contributed to other populations. If dispersal success is lower for cougars living with wolves, immigration rates to other populations may be affected, and harvest of cougars outside source areas such as Yellowstone may need to be altered. Our long-term study is focusing on trying to answer questions such as these."

http://www.nps.gov/yell/publications/yellsciweb/images/YS12(1).pdf

Seems since the re-intoduction of wolves to Yellowstone in 1995 7 cougars have been killed by wolf packs. Those being 1 female & 6 kittens. More may have died in the last two years but I haven't seen any accounts of them.

I have yet to come across any accounts of a wolf killing a cougar 1 on 1.

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Some information from 'Desert Puma' by K. Logan

"Moreover, of the adult males we captured, 97 percent (twenty eight of twenty nine) had wounds inflicted during fights with other pumas."

"New immigrant M19 and M219 both usurped area from resident males they had killed. Almost all adult males exhibited scars from fighting at one time or another during the course of the study, evidence that they occasionally tested one another and directly competed for space and mates"

"Intraspecies strife was identified as the single-greatest natural cause of death of Florida panthers (Maehr 1997a) and of pumas in California (Beier and Barrett 1993)."

"Furthermore, fighting has occurred in puma populations with a wide range of adult puma densities among them, such as in Alberta (1.5-2.2/100km2, Ross and jalkotzy 1993), British Colombia (0.93-1.1/100km2 Spreadbury et al, 1996), Wyoming (1.4-1.5/100km2, Logan et al 1986) and Utah (0.3-0.6/100km2 Lindzey et al 1988) ."

" Detailed studies on natural mortality in unhunted cougar populations have reported that intraspecific killing by adult male cougars is the most common cause of death; adult males have killed kittens, subadults, and adults of both sexes (Beier and Barrett 1993, Maehr 1997, Logan and Sweanor 2001, Taylor et al. 2002). "
wfs.sdstate.edu/wfsdept/Publications/ Theses/Fecske,%20Dorothy%20M.%20PHD-2003.pdf

""Intraspecific strife is reported in most studies of mountain lions (Hemker et al. 1984, Lindzey et al. 1989, Ross and Jalkotzy 1992, Beier and Barrett 1993, Spreadbury et al. 1996, Sweanor et al. 1996). Aggressive behavior may be the single greatest cause of death in lion populations isolated from humans (Logan et al. 1996). Males accounted for all the killing by conspecifics in the New Mexico population studied by Logan et al. (1996). Males killed all age classes and both sexes of mountain lions. Infanticide or cannibalism accounted for 44% of the known deaths among cubs. Hemker et al. (1984), Ross and Jalkotzy (1992), and Spreadbury et al. (1996) reported evidence of mortality from intraspecific strife elsewhere. Males, through territoriality, were also hypothesized by Hornocker (1969) to regulate numbers of mountain lions in a given area. Logan et al. (1996) indicated males may also be the chief internal regulation mechanism by direct killing of conspecifics."
www.fw.msu.edu/people/riley/PHD-DISS%2520Complete.pdf

"Many cougars are killed by larger cougars. Half of cougar deaths in White Sands study resulted from cougars. Almost always males are the aggressors. Males kill other males (and occasionally females - not ones mated by the male) that enter home range, or kittens; even those belonging to the male, if the female wasn't present. One story of a large young male taking over range of an older male; the elder moved to the northern limits of his range, but the youngster continued pushing elder north into other male ranges. Eventually, the elder took on and killed the younger, reclaiming its range."
http://www.bobpickett.org/cougarart.htm

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Cougars v LGDs

""If I was concerned about protecting a farm from mountain lions, I'd get dogs from the LGD breeds. The big ones, and those still bred for LGD work. Like maybe the Kangal Dog. And I'd get several of these dogs, so they can work in small groups. No single dog is a match for a mountain lion that decides it wants to make a meal of the dog. These cats are extraordinarily powerful.
Laura Sanborn"
http://list.uvm.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0408&L=farmcollie&T=0&F=&S=&P=5024

""For years I've been on discussion lists and promoting the use of Livestock Guardian dogs for ranchers to help avoid this situation, but this does put the LGDs at risk and many die in the line of duty. A 120 lb guard dog bred to deal with predators is not a match for a Mt. Lion and many die protecting their flocks. Predators can get very aggressive when times are hard."

"Most of the people with stock in Mt. Lion country do have multiple livestock guardian dogs, but if they are just starting out or have dog losses, they could end up down to one or two. The point really is that a single or even a few normal pet dogs are not going to be a match for a Mt. Lion.

One rancher/breeder had 3 Anatolian Shepherd Dogs try to drive off a lion. Lost one, one was crippled for life, the other one badly injured."
http://www.rimoftheworld.net/discuss/23/11051?PHPSESSID=7ab79dc73b3aefdeaef0b46b83b246db

"This from Orysia Dawydiak Co-President of Akbash Dogs International & Breeder.

"There is at least one other rancher in Oregon who uses several Akbash Dogs to protect her stock from coyotes and lions. Apparently it does take several tough dogs to stand up to lions or at least to deter them. One or even two dogs cannot successfully fight a mountain lion, so ranchers tend to use several dogs who actively patrol to discourage the cats from even approaching the stock. In other words, they make it more risky for the lions to prey on those particular animals."

www.whitelands.com/akbash...ge&id=1533
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An extensive study was conducted into the causes of deaths of 'Florida Panthers' the smallest subspecies of cougar.

CAUSES OF MORTALITY OF FREE-RANGING FLORIDA PANTHERS
Sharon K. Taylor,1,2, 6 Claus D. Buergelt,3 Melody E. Roelke-Parker,1, 4 Bruce L. Homer,3 and
Dave S. Rotstein1,5
Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 38(1), 2002, pp. 107–114

Here is the abstract -

"The Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) is one of the most endangered mammals, with the entire population estimated to consist of only 30–50 adult animals. Between 1978 and 1999, 73 free-ranging Florida panther carcasses were submitted for postmortem evaluation, of which 47 (64%) were radiocollared and 26 (36%) were uncollared cats. Overall, mortality of panthers 6-mo-old was due to vehicular trauma in 25 (35%), intraspecific aggression in 19 (26%), illegal kill in seven (10%), research activities in two (3%), infectious diseases in two (3%), esophageal tear in one (1%), pleuritis in one (1%), pyothorax in one (1%), aortic aneurysm in one (1%), atrial septal defect in one (1%), and causes of death were undetermined in 13 (18%) due to autolysis. Of the 25 panthers that were killed by vehicular trauma, 20 (80%) died between October and April. This coincides with increased number of winter visitors to south Florida. Among radiocollared panthers, intraspecific aggression was the primary cause of mortality for 19 (41%) dead cats. Of these cats, 16 (84%) were males and 14 (88%) were either less than 3 or more than 8-yr-old. These animals were probably fighting to establish or retain territory. Among the 26 uncollared panthers, vehicular trauma was the primary cause of mortality and was responsible for 16 (62%) deaths. This study documents the causes of mortality and the age, sex, and seasonal mortality trends for both radiocollared and uncollared free-ranging endangered Florida panthers over a 21-yr-period."

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Vehicular Trauma
Vehicular trauma was the predominant documented cause of mortality for panthers. Of the 25 cats hit by cars, 20 (80%) died between October and April, while only five (20%) were hit between June and September. Of the 25 panthers that died this way, there were nine (36%) females, 14 (56%) males, and two (8%) of undetermined sex. Of these there were 15 (60%) adults, eight (32%) juveniles, and two (8%) of undetermined age. When both age and sex were counted together, overall vehicular trauma of the 25 panthers included four (16%) adult females, four (16%) juvenile females, 10 (40%) adult males, four (16%) juvenile males, and three (12%) undetermined.

Intraspecific Aggression
Intraspecific aggression, was the second highest cause of mortality in panthers but was only documented in radiocollared cats and consisted of two distinct bite patterns.
- One was a bite to the head in which the panther’s canine penetrated through the skull into brain causing immediate death.
- The other pattern entailed multiple bite wounds to one or more distal limbs which became infected and led to septicemia and death usually within 7–10 days.
Of the 19 panthers that died from intraspecific aggression, there were two (11%) females over 11-yr-old, one (5%) female under 3- yr-old, five (26%) males over 8-yr-old, two (11%) males 5-yr-old, and nine (47%) males under 3-yr-old. Seasonally, only four (21%) panthers died between March and
July, while 15 (79%) died between August and February.

Why Vehicular Truama was so high
There is a bias in carcass recovery of non-radiocollared panther carcasses. Animals that die away from a major road probably remain undiscovered. Highway mortality is one of the most visible sources of mortality for free-ranging wildlife (Lotz et al., 1996). This bias leads to an interesting conclusion. Since there were 16 uncollared panthers found dead by roads as a result of vehicular trauma compared to nine radiocollared panthers, there is a possibility that the uncollared population is larger than the radiocollared population.

Intrraspecific Mortality Rates
Intraspecific aggression has been documented to occur in other cougar populations (Anderson, 1983; Logan et al., 1996). Intraspecific aggression was the highest natural cause of mortality in the panthers, but was only documented in radiocollared cats. It would be virtually impossible to find the carcass of a free-ranging uncollared panther that died of intraspecific aggression before scavengers or autolysis affected its suitability for post-mortem examination. The majority of cats that died of intraspecific aggression were either young males that were probably trying to establish a territory or older males that were probably defending and losing territories. It is possible that the prevalence of intraspecific aggression within the panther population has been increased by habitat limitation (Maehr et al., 1991b).

Florida Pantheress & Cub
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Life & Death of M138

By Toni K Ruth, Yellowstone Science
v o l u m e 1 2 • n u m b e r 1 • w i n t e r 2 0 0 4

Who was M139 & where did he come from?

OUR STORY with M139 first began on a late winter day, April 2, 2000. Our monitoring of radio-collared female F107, “Abbie,” indicated that she was breeding with an uncollared male in the Slough Creek area. Loud, guttural, yowling vocalizations, indicative of a breeding pair, were emanating from the rocky ledges along Slough Creek and in the same general location as female F107’s radio signal. Scanning the area with binoculars from afar, field technician Erin Shanahan was able to observe F107 and see the uncollared male After receiving capture permission from YNP biologist Kerry Gunther on April 4, we quickly captured the male, who became study animal M139.
Each cat we capture is radio-collared and receives a special ID number in the form of a colored ear tag (white for males, orange-brown for females) and the corresponding number is tattooed as a permanent ID in the untagged ear. Ear tags and tattoos have provided valuable information on dispersed cougars, which have been seen or shot in other areas after their collars have dropped off. At capture, we discovered that this new male already had a large ear tag in his left ear. Male M139 had previously been captured and marked by someone else; we suspected a state wildlife agency because of markings on the tag. We noted the tag color, size, and number, collected blood samples from the cat, and monitored his recovery from the anesthesia. Soon, we would be learning the boundaries of M139’s home range, how much of his range overlapped with the dominant wolf pack in the area—the Druid Pack—as well as what prey M139 relied on for survival, and his reproductive contribution within the YNP cougar population.
The day following his capture we checked M139’s signal and location; he had moved away from the capture site and appeared to be doing fine. Back in Gardiner, I started making phone calls. My first call was to Kevin Frye at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Within minutes of describing the tag and providing the number, Kevin had information for me. Male 139 had been captured as a 19–24 month-old yearling cougar in Clyde Park, Montana, and he had been translocated to and released in a remote area outside of Cooke City, Montana. By translocating M139 to a more remote area, Montana Fish,
Wildlife and Parks used a non-lethal means of dealing with a cougar that had not done anything wrong, but was of some concern due to its nearness to humans. Translocations of young, dispersal-age cougars are successful (Ruth et al. 1998), as these animals are typically searching out new areas in which to establish a home range. Moving the animal to a new area may mimic their long-range dispersal movements, and young cougars that are translocated quickly establish a home range near where they are released. Movement of such animals to a remote area away from human activity provided for the safety of the cougar and people in this case, as M139 successfully established a home range overlapping the park.

M139 becomes a father

Ninety-two days after her breeding association with M139 (about the average gestation period for cougars), female F107 gave birth to a litter of two female kittens in a cliffy, bouldered area near Barronette Ridge. These female kittens successfully dispersed to other areas in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, moving south towards Togwottee Pass and Dubois, Wyoming.

M139 appears to have died

Slightly more than a week and a half had elapsed since we had picked up a radio signal from male cougar M139’s collar, and now we were receiving a radio transmission from pilot Stan Monger: M139’s radio collar was transmitting in mortality mode. My breathing paused as I imagined the rapidly-beating radio signal I would soon hear, and my mind raced with questions and ideas of what fate had befallen male 139, otherwise dubbed “Pilgrim” in our study population of cougars. Slowly, I responded to Stan in the plane overhead while field technician Mike Sawaya jotted down the Global Positioning System (GPS) map coordinates to assist us in locating the signal on the ground. Although Stan located M139 at 11:30 AM, he was unable to contact us until approximately 1 PM to relay the news. Stan additionally indicated that he had observed part of a carcass and blood in the snow below the cliffs of Mount Norris in Yellowstone National Park.

Suspicions

Was M139 still alive and his collar simply malfunctioned? Could his collar have slipped off while he was killing an elk, deer, or bighorn sheep? Or, did he fall off the cliff while trying to kill prey?
Although we have detected few sheep in the items of prey killed by cougars in our study here in Yellowstone, we knew that bighorn sheep frequented this cliffy area of Mount Norris and that, in another study, a cougar had died after falling off a cliff while trying to kill a bighorn sheep (Ross and Jalkotzky). Perhaps M139 had been dead for at least a week, and we would not be able to determine what had killed him. The possibilities were numerous, and we were anxious to find the answers to our questions.

Arrival at the Scene

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With adrenaline-assisted motivation, we hiked to the site, arriving around 3 PM. The signal “bounced” off the nearby cliff, confusing our location of the collar, so we tacked in a slight arc to a point above the signal. We first detected blood and carcass fragments in a slide path on a 38-degree slope directly below a vertical cliff face. We surveyed the treacherous slope with caution. A slight skiff of snow covered the hard, frozen ground, and there were few footholds and little room for error. If one of us slipped, we would slide easily and quickly down slope, potentially impacting one of the trees below. Slowly, we investigated the area and worked with the signal. Within 20 minutes we located M139’s carcass and, lying nearby, the carcass of a very large bighorn sheep ram.



Cause of Death Investigated

The mortality scene was fresh and provided evidence of what had transpired. We estimated that both animals died between 4 and 6 AM, based on the time the mortality signal was first located, the freshness of the carcass (the bodies of both animals were still warm and very pliable), and the switch into mortality mode of M139’s transmitter. Each radio collar is equipped with a special feature called a mortality mode. Thus, any collar that remains stationary for longer than six hours will switch to a different pulse rate; in this case a faster pulse than when the collar is not stationary. From the site evidence, we suspect that M139 attacked the ram somewhere near or on top of the cliff (7,600 ft elevation) and both animals fell approximately 400 feet to the base of the cliffs. Another scenario is that one animal impacted with the ground prior to the other animal. In either event, the sheep, and possibly M139, then slid and impacted a Douglas-fir tree with great force. This impact was evident on the tree, as blood, muscle tissue, sheep hair, and rumen contents covered the tree upwards of 15 feet above the ground, and on the slope adjacent to the tree. The impact appeared to have eviscerated the sheep of all internal organs including those in the upper body cavity (heart and lungs). Both cougar and sheep continued to slide down the slope, but separated approximately halfway down, with both sliding to final resting places approximately 150 feet down slope and about 60 feet apart. Upon quick examination in fading daylight, we documented the numerous injuries to the two animals, and collected samples for later analysis of body condition and age. In addition to the evisceration, the bighorn sheep had a shattered pelvis, fractured jaw, and an angulated open fracture of the left metatarsus (lower hind leg bone). The cougar had massive internal and subcutaneous hemorrhaging as well as comminuted fractures of both femurs and his right humorous. In my 15 years of studying cougars in Florida, Texas, New Mexico, and Montana, I had never observed a scene such as what lay before me. Mike and I wrapped up our examination with a final note of scavenging by coyotes and magpies at the ram carcass, but no such scavenging was observed at the cougar carcass.

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Cougars - Deaths during Predation

During winter, cougars consistently seek prey larger than themselves to kill. As solitary hunters, attacking large prey can sometimes prove fatal or result in injuries to the cats. Other studies have documented similar dramatic and violent struggles between cougars and their prey. Researchers in Alberta, Canada, reported a cougar that was speared by a sharp branch when the elk that she eventually killed tried to shake her loose. In another report from a study in New Mexico, a female cougar was killed by a desert mule deer when, during the struggle, the deer’s browtine pierced the braincase of the cougar. Most studies on cougars report one to a few cougar deaths due to struggles with prey; however, the greatest source of mortality in most cougar populations is due to human hunting.

M139's Replacement Moves In

Sometime during the summer of 2002, a new male immigrated into the area vacated by M139’s death. We captured male M178, an approximately three-year-old male, in February 2003. Monitoring his radio collar during the summer indicated that he uses similar areas as M139 and overlaps a portion of female F107’s home range. We’re excited to continue to learn M178’s story and his role in the Yellowstone cougar population.

M138's Contribution

Although we lost an important study animal with the death of M139, the information we collected during the year and a half we monitored him, including his mortality, will prove valuable to answering the questions posed by our study on the effects of wolf reintroduction on cougar population characteristics (such as causes of mortality and survival rates) and rates of predation on prey. This includes documenting how quickly another cat replaces M139.
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'P1' The Family Killer!

I find ALL cougars to be highly aggressive to one another. Even in the smallest of populations like Santa Monica. Read about "P1", and how many of his own kind he kills. Bad news for "P1" though, is a new male has moved into his area. If they clash, should be a hell of a fight.

"Look who's stalking: a new cougar killer

Another cub is killed. Was it the usual suspect or a newcomer?

By Amanda Covarrubias, Times Staff Writer

November 25, 2006

On Sept. 25, when the radio tracking collar of a young male mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains emitted a "mortality signal," indicating it had not moved for at least eight hours, biologists feared the worst.

The 2-year-old puma, one of only three known mountain lions left in the coastal range, was either seriously wounded or dead.

Wildlife ecologist Seth Riley went to investigate, pinpointing the puma's location from its collar and then heading out to the scrubby hills west of Topanga Canyon. There, he found the lifeless cat, its forelegs chewed and its head bearing several puncture wounds.

It appeared that P1 had struck again.

P1, short for Puma 1, is the dominant male mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains and the father of the dead cougar.

Riley and the other National Park Service scientists who track the region's mountain lions (also known as cougars or pumas) had been joyous in 2004 when P1 mated with the only other big cat researchers knew to live in the Santa Monicas. Later that year, she bore four kittens.

But since then, for reasons that remain unclear, P1 has gone on the attack, killing his mate and one of their offspring in 2005 and another cub in June. Now a third cub was dead, and P1 was the logical suspect.

When Riley returned to the ranger station to review the global positioning system data from P1's collar, he was surprised at what he found.

GPS data showed that at the time the latest cub was killed, P1 was at least 35 miles from Topanga Canyon, roaming an area far to the west near Point Mugu. And that opened the door to an interesting possibility: Perhaps there was another cougar in the range.

Genetic tests of swabs taken from the dead lion's claws confirmed that he had fought an adult mountain lion other than P1.

For Riley and his colleagues at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, it was the latest twist in what has been an emotional saga.

For five years, they had tracked the mountain lions' movements, hoping their research would help them and the public better understand how this resilient species adapts and survives in urban parkland.

Now, the idea of another adult male, one that had never been tagged by scientists and whose whereabouts were unknown, had added another layer of mystery to the tale.

"We have always said, just because these are the lions we know about these aren't necessarily the only lions," Riley said. "Another lion could move in, or there's lions out there we just don't know about."



A solitary species

Riley and his colleagues at the largest urban national park in the U.S. began monitoring cougars in 2002, when they received state funding to launch the Mountain Lion Project. The scientific study was designed to allow researchers to learn more about the habits of cougars in the 154,000-acre park.

When they started the project, scientists had only a rough idea of how many pumas lived in the mountain range. Solitary by nature, the buff-colored cats generally avoid people. Bobcats, which look similar but are smaller, with tufts of hair sprouting from their ears, are much more prevalent.

To find the mountain lions at the beginning of the project, biologists looked for signs of the cats, then set up remote-controlled cameras in the hills and canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains and in the nearby Simi Hills.

Using the information they gathered, researchers were able to capture all four of the pumas caught on camera and fit them with collars containing radio transmitters.

The lions dubbed P1 and P2 roamed a huge territory in the Santa Monica Mountains south of the 101 Freeway.

The other two, P3 and P4, lived in the Simi Hills north of the 101.

When P2 gave birth in 2004, the biologists were understandably excited. The known cougar population had climbed to eight, although only six lived in the Santa Monicas.

But at the time, scientists quietly worried that the fragmented mountain range would not be large enough to support so many of the large cats, especially as freeways, business parks and houses steadily encroached on open space.

Male mountain lions, weighing up to 200 pounds, need about 150 square miles of "home range" to survive, and the smaller females about 40. Although male and female territories may overlap, males must stake out their own turf in which to roam and hunt prey, or eventually they will fall victim to the prevailing male.

In August 2005, scientists received the news they had been dreading: P1's radio collar showed him near a wooded area north of Mulholland Highway between Kanan and Las Virgenes roads. That put him in the exact area where P2 and her cubs were living.

Rangers believe P1 approached P2 as she was feasting on a freshly killed mule deer and that all or some of the pair's yearling cubs were nearby.

The two big cats brawled fiercely for several hours in the forested area. At the time, park biologist Jeff Sikich was close enough to hear the growls and howls.


But he could not see the pair and was uncertain if they were breeding or fighting. The park's policy is not to interfere, so he did not approach the lions.

The next day, researchers in the office heard the radio transmitter around the female lion's neck giving off the mortality signal, a fast beeping sound that indicates a lack of activity.

Biologists waited a day to give P1 time to clear out, then hiked in to collect P2's body. It was covered with wounds from the struggle.

"It's not surprising when males run into females with kittens, the female will often try to protect them, and the male will try to kill the young males," Riley said.

"We're thinking maybe she was trying to defend those kittens, and that's how she got in the fight."

Earlier that year, P3 and P4 had died after eating coyotes that had ingested rat poison. Now there were only four known mountain lions left in the study area.

In June, P1 struck again, killing one of his female offspring, P7, who was found with puncture wounds in her skull. Through genetic testing, scientists determined that P1 was the culprit.

Riley and his colleagues are not sure why P1 killed P7 but speculate that she may have been guarding a kill that P1 coveted.

Last fall, biologists noticed that the two male cubs, P5 and P8, had moved to the farthest reaches of P1's territory, one on the east end, the other on the west.

"P5 and P8 were looking for somewhere to go," Riley said. "They were trying to stay clear of P1."

Perhaps, eventually, they would have crossed over the 101 Freeway into the Simi Hills and farther beyond into the Santa Susana Mountains or Angeles National Forest.

"If lions are to survive in the Santa Monicas, it's critical for them occasionally to get from north to south," Riley said. "That's where the new genetic material is."

But neither of the cubs made it to a new range. On Sept. 8, P5 was found dead on the western edge of the range near Point Mugu. Veterinary pathologists confirmed that he had died in a fight, and park service biologists were able to download information from their radio collars showing that P5 and P1 were in the same area in the days leading up to the fatal confrontation.

"It looks like they had run into each other, and P1 had chased him," Riley said.

Eighteen days later, P8 was killed by the previously unknown puma just west of Topanga Canyon.



Insufficient habitat

Biologists are still puzzling over what the presence of an unknown cougar tells them. They doubt there are many more lurking in the coastal wilderness because the habitat is not large enough to sustain them.

Still, surveying cougars is an imperfect science. Researchers learn of them through sightings by hikers and campers and by the carcasses left behind when a lion kills a deer for food. A few years ago, an unknown cat turned up dead after being struck by a car near Pepperdine University.

Riley said they will try to incorporate the new puma into their study if they can find it, but he is keenly aware that it could have been injured in its fight with P8 and perhaps even died. Researchers would love to know whether it was a new arrival, a temporary visitor or a longtime resident.

"If we see evidence that the lion is out there, we're interested to see what it's up to," Riley said. "We'll spend time walking trails, streams, ridges, looking for tracks and things. We may even put out remote cameras to get photos."

But Riley said further research is contingent on attracting new funding. The budget for the Mountain Lion Project, which was cobbled together with private donations and a grant from the state of California, is scheduled to run out at the end of the year. Riley and his colleagues are now attempting to raise money to continue their work.

In the meantime, the researchers continue to traverse the craggy hilltops and steep cliffs of the Santa Monica Mountains in search of clues to mountain lion behavior.

On a recent morning, Riley bushwhacked his way through deep underbrush in Nicholas Flat near Malibu hoping to find evidence of a kill made by P6, a 2-year-old female and the sole remaining offspring of P1 and P2.

Data downloaded from P6's collar had shown that the cougar had recently stayed in the same location for more than 24 hours, or about the amount of time it would take to kill and consume a deer.

Crawling on hands and knees, spiny branches tugging at his backpack, Riley finally spotted the lower portion of a fawn's leg on the ground, its black hoof still intact. A few yards away lay a small pelvis bone. He picked up the body parts, looked at them closely, then dropped them back on the ground.

A good hour later, the area thoroughly canvassed, Riley moved on to another spot where P6's collar showed she had recently spent a day and a half. As Riley moved over the terrain, branches and twigs breaking under his weight, all he uncovered were a few samples of dried puma scat that he collected in his backpack. Later, he would wash and inspect the fecal matter to determine what P6 had eaten.

Although no signs of the mystery cat turned up, wildlife biologists are hopeful. They look forward to the rainy season, when paw prints are easier to detect than when the earth is hard and dry.

"This just highlights that the Santa Monica Mountains and the open space in Los Angeles and Ventura County areas are true wilderness areas in many respects," said Rorie Skei, president of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, a group that works to buy and preserve undeveloped land.

"And the fact that there does seem to be a heretofore unidentified lion is a very good sign. It signifies that the ecosystem is still healthy."

http://ktla.trb.com/news/la-me-pumas25nov25,0,1834655.story?coll=ktla-news-1

So this poor cougar family not only has to put up with "P1" trying to kill them, it seems a new unidentified cougar has moved into the area and is doing the same thing.

As I said "P1" v the New Unidentified Cougar, should be a great battle! I've been following this saga on & off for a while now. If I find out the result, I'll let you know.

P1 wearing radio collar
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Don Juan doing fine at his new home

Monday 25 December 2006

He is the Florida panther that almost single-handedly (single-pawedly?) kept his species from disappearing by fathering at least 30 kittens over five years. No wonder he earned the nickname "Don Juan." Now, more than 10 months after his capture and removal from the wilderness in eastern Collier County, the big cat is "doing fine" and "in good health," his caretakers say. The 11-year-old panther resides in a small enclosure surrounded by a chain-link fence in an area out of public view at Tampa Bay Busch Gardens. The enclosure is connected to a larger, concrete-covered area where the cat likes to roam at night. "He's doing fine. There's really no change. He's in good health," said Aimee Jeansonne Becka, a Busch Gardens spokeswoman. Although panthers and other cougar subspecies tend to acclimate well to captivity, biologists worried whether Don Juan would adjust to his new surroundings.


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Wildlife biologist Deborah Jansen (second from left) places a radio collar on a panther that was captured near Ochopee while veterinarian Emmett Blankenship, right, and other researchers from Big Cypress National Preserve examine the panther. The panther was later named Don Juan.

In the wild, his territory spanned 617 square miles, mostly in Big Cypress National Preserve. The dominant male prowled between Interstate 75 and the Ten Thousand Islands and as far west as State Road 29 and east to the Miami-Dade County line. "Within a pretty short while, he adjusted pretty well," said Mark Cunningham, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission veterinarian who oversaw the cat's capture. Don Juan sealed his fate after he attacked several pets and livestock in Copeland and Ochopee in southern Collier County earlier this year. Fearing the panther would strike again, officials with the National Park Service and state Fish and Wildlife decided Feb. 16 to capture the cat.

It was the first time biologists had ever decided to remove a panther from the wild because of bad behavior. Don Juan, known as Florida panther 79, is a symbol of the successes and drawbacks of the effort to boost the panther's population. In the mid-1990s, when there were fewer than 30 panthers left, biologists introduced eight female Texas cougars into South Florida to restore the health of the panther gene pool. For years, scientists had been troubled with genetic problems such as kinked tails and males born without testicles.

Born in September 1995, Don Juan was the offspring of one of the female cougars and an unknown male panther, according to state Fish and Wildlife records. Between February 1999 and July 2004, he fathered 30 cats with seven different female panthers. With few options for a partner, he mated with one of his female offspring twice and another of his female offspring once. There now are between 70 and 100 panthers living in Southwest Florida, scientists estimate.

After attacking a turkey at an Ochopee petting zoo earlier this year, biologists decided to check on Don Juan's health. After tranquilizing the cat and performing a quick physical, the biologists agreed to relocate the panther to Raccoon Point, an area on the eastern edge of his territory. Within a few days, he returned to his marauding ways. After Don Juan killed a hog in Copeland, a team of biologists and veterinarians corralled him again just north of the small town along Jane's Scenic Drive.

This time, it was for good. Don Juan became one of eight Florida panthers in captivity across the state. Don Juan's encounters with humans produced half of the six reported panther incidents this year — the most on record. Wildlife officials were so concerned with the sudden outburst that they convened a meeting with residents a few weeks ago to give them tips on how to live safely around panthers. Deborah Jansen, a biologist at the Big Cypress preserve who monitored Don Juan's actions for years, paid the big cat a visit in November. "It went from a large home range to what he has now," she said, "but at least he's not fighting his captivity."

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2006/dec/25/virile_panther_doing_fine_new_home/?local_news
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"the big horse-killing cat, the destroyer of deer, the lord of the stealthy murder facing his doom with a heart both craven and cruel. . ." T Roosevelt

More From Roosevelt -
"Among domestic animals, while they at times kill all, including, occasionally, horned cattle, they are especially destructive to horses. Among the first bands of horses brought to this plateau there were some of which the cougars killed every foal. The big males attacked full-grown horses. Uncle Jim had killed one big male which had killed a large draft-horse, and another which had killed two saddle-horses and a pack-mule, although the mule had a bell on its neck, which it was mistakenly supposed would keep the cougar away. We saw the skeleton of one of the saddle-horses. It was killed when snow was on the ground, and when Uncle Jim first saw the carcass the marks of the struggle were plain. The cougar sprang on its neck, holding the face with the claws of one paw, while his fangs tore at the back of the neck, just at the base of the skull; the other fore paw was on the other side of the neck, and the hind claws tore the withers and one shoulder and flank. The horse struggled thirty yards or so before he fell, and never rose again. The draft-horse was seized in similar fashion. It went but twenty yards before falling; then in the snow could be seen the marks where it had struggled madly on its side, plunging in a circle, and the marks of the hind feet of the cougar in an outside circle, while the fangs and fore talons of the great cat never ceased tearing the prey. In this case the fore claws so ripped and tore the neck and throat that it was doubtful whether they, and not the teeth, had not given the fatal wounds."
A COUGAR HUNT ON THE RIM OF THE GRAND CANYON

Wild Horses have also long been on the cougars diet -

Scientists tracking mountain lion to find out impact on wild horses Media Source: Reno Gazette-Journal (Nevada)
Author: Jeff DeLong

Movements of a mountain lion that may be making a staple diet out of wild horses are being tracked by scientists at University of Nevada, Reno.

The female lion, trapped in the Virginia Range last month and fitted with a radio collar, may provide researchers with important clues into the elusive animal's behavior and predation habits, said David Thain, an assistant professor of veterinary medicine.

"It's an important study because we still don't have a clear idea what the cats in our local mountains are doing," Thain said. "By tracking them, we'll be able to get a better sense of what they're doing, what species they're eating."

The current study is an offshoot of previous research Thain and colleagues started in 2005, when he was state veterinarian for the Nevada Department of Agriculture. That work, part of the state's effort to control and stabilize the wild horse population in the Virginia Range, attempted to determine how wild horse behavior is altered when mares are injected with contraceptive chemicals.

While doing field work associated with that research, UNR graduate student Meeghan Gray kept coming across the remains of dead horses, generally foals or young adults with trauma to the neck or chest that were partially covered in dirt.

"It was pretty obvious a mountain lion was doing this," Gray said. "They're really the only thing that can take down an adult horse or a young horse."

While known to prey upon livestock, mountain lions more commonly hunt deer and antelope, rabbits and beavers, Thain said.

"We were surprised a mountain lion would be feeding on them," Thain said, adding that the number of dead foals or young horses Gray was finding, about one or two a week, led researchers to wonder if the lion was making wild horses its primary source of food.

They wanted to find out.

Since September, researchers attempted to trap the lion but didn't succeed until early December. The 6-foot-long, 125-pound cougar was trapped, sedated and fitted with a global positioning system collar.

After its release, the lion was set free to roam the Virginia Range. The collar beams the lion's location to UNR researchers four times a day. By checking on the locations where the lion was during the time of day it was most likely to hunt and feed, researchers hope to determine more about what it is eating and whether horses are indeed its primary source of food.

It worked last Wednesday. Gray found another dead horse where radio telemetry indicated the lion had been the previous night.

"Sure enough, it was the lion's kill," Thain said. "We would like to get a good understanding of what kind of prey it's living off of, whether it stays with horses all year long or whether it switches" to other prey.

Information collected from the lion research should show more than what the animal eats. Researchers also hope to determine how far the big cat roams and how often it might enter areas more densely inhabited by people.

As more people move into areas abutting the backcountry, more interactions between lions and humans are likely. Reports of lions wandering through residential areas of the foothills are common, usually in spring, according to the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

In February 1998, a mother mountain lion and her two yearlings were shot after being spotted near homes and within a quarter mile of Verdi Elementary School. Experts determined the cougars posed a danger because they were using the area as a hunting ground.

"We do know that mountain lions come down into urban areas, and we want to see what this one is doing," Thain said.

http://www.mountainlion.org/newsroom_article.asp?news_id=564







Sean Shea, a research biologist with the United States Geological Survey, tracks mountain lions for the wildlife department and guides hunting trips in Nevada.
They’re solid muscle,” he said. “You gotta think, they take down anything, you name it.”
Shea even scared a lion off a kill — an adult mustang. He examined the wild horse carcass to confirm the lion killed it and then took photos to document the unusual sight.
On the trail of the mountain lion
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