Mountain lions, known as “pumas” and “cougars,” are large, powerful predators that have an important role in the ecosystem. Their main food source is deer, but they can also prey on smaller animals such as raccoons, rabbits, pets, and livestock.
The historical range of the mountain lion was, aside from humans, the largest of any land mammal in the western hemisphere. The mountain lion is still found from the southern tip of South America to British Columbia but was apparently extirpated in the eastern United States (except southern Florida) and eastern Canada in the late 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. They expanded their distribution into states like Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota.
Much of this expansion occurred after cougars were reclassified from unregulated status to wild animals in most states and after the use of venoms was restricted in the early 1970s. Similarly, the lions of the mountains in Wyoming increased in abundance and distribution and currently occur in most regions with timber or tall-shrub cover statewide.
In addition, much of the habitat occupied by mountain lions in Wyoming consists of mountain ranges that extend into surrounding states. These long-distance movements represent a very effective means of gene transfer, helping to maintain lion populations in distant regions.
The recovery of the cougars throughout Wyoming (and probably much of the former area of the species) is probably due to favorable changes in the management practices and guidelines, and the habitat conditions, which favor the increases of some prey such as elk and white-tailed deer.
More than half of California including most of the undeveloped San Mateo and Santa Clara counties is a prime mountain lion habitat. Cougars are a particularly protected species in California.
Cougars are America’s most widespread cats, found from Canada to Argentina. They are found in almost all habitats. They live in mountainous, semi-arid terrain, in subtropical and tropical forests, and in swamps. Cougars are most commonly found where prey is plentiful, rugged terrain, and suitable vegetation. They are active all year round. While cougars tend to avoid humans, they can and do live in close proximity to humans. They tend to be more active when fewer people are around.
There is no breeding population of cougars in Iowa. Dental age and DNA data have shown that the majority of mountain lions in Iowa are young males (2-3 years old) hailing from the Black Hills region of South Dakota or Nebraska. The oldest male mountain lion killed in Iowa in 2013 was a 4-year-old male. who came from Nebraska. A female puma has not been documented in Iowa in recent history.
Mountain lions are most commonly found in habitats where prey is plentiful. In Utah, mountain lions prefer areas with pine and juniper scrub. Within these habitat types, lions prefer areas with rocky cliffs, ledges, and tall trees or bushes that can serve as cover. Cougars often climb trees to avoid detection and danger. Lions generally avoid areas of low-growing sagebrush and shrubs, areas used for agriculture and grazing, and any other areas without high enough cover.
Previous studies in the western US indicate that mountain lions select coniferous, deciduous, riparian, and tall shrub habitat types at mid-elevations on steep or rugged terrain. prey and brood rearing. Aside from prey scarcity, the only other conditions that limit lion distribution are wide open areas with few hiding places and extremely cold winter temperatures in northern climates.
Lionesses with cubs prefer areas with large conifers, rocks, and dense bushes that provide shelter and shelter for the kittens.
Overall, gene flow in the Central Rocky Mountains would indicate that the region supports a large population of mountain lions with a rapid genetic exchange between patches of suitable habitat.
Overall, gene flow in the Central Rocky Mountains would suggest that the region supports a large population of mountain lions with a rapid genetic exchange between patches of suitable habitat.
Despite the cougar’s large geographic range and adaptability, evolution and habitat fragmentation can negatively impact lion populations. The construction of new roads and housing in cougar habitat not only reduces the quantity and quality of habitat available to cougars and their prey [p. deer (Odocoileus spp.) and elk (Cervus spp.)], but the human presence in these areas is also increasing. Increased human activity ultimately leads to more frequent conflicts and ultimately higher mortality rates of cougars in these areas. Even in sparsely populated states like Wyoming, where most of the lion’s range is still relatively untouched, subdivisions, new road construction, and oil and gas development can negatively impact the habitats occupied by cougars.