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Word of the Day free climbing. Read More. New Words super pea. In the southern portion of its range, the cougar and jaguar share overlapping territory.
As with any predator at or near the top of its food chain , the cougar impacts the population of prey species.
Predation by cougars has been linked to changes in the species mix of deer in a region. For example, a study in British Columbia observed that the population of mule deer, a favored cougar prey, was declining while the population of the less frequently preyed-upon white-tailed deer was increasing.
In the southern part of South America, the cougar is a top level predator that has controlled the population of guanaco and other species since prehistoric times.
Like other cats, it is an obligate carnivore , meaning it must feed on meat to survive. The mean weight of vertebrate prey MWVP that pumas attack increases with the puma's body weight; in general, MWVP is lower in areas closer to the equator.
Other species taken include the bighorn and Dall's sheep , horses , fallow deer , caribou , mountain goat , coyote , American badger and pronghorn.
Only the Florida panther showed variation, often preferring feral hogs and armadillos. Investigations at Yellowstone National Park showed that elk, followed by mule deer, were the cougar's primary targets; the prey base is shared with the park's gray wolves , with which the cougar competes for resources.
Learned, individual prey recognition was observed, as some cougars rarely killed bighorn sheep, while others relied heavily on the species.
In the Central and South American cougar range, the ratio of deer in the diet declines. Small to mid-sized mammals are preferred, including large rodents such as the capybara.
Competition with the larger jaguar in South America has been suggested for the decline in the size of prey items. Although capable of sprinting, the cougar is typically an ambush predator.
It stalks through brush and trees, across ledges, or other covered spots, before delivering a powerful leap onto the back of its prey and a suffocating neck bite.
The cougar is capable of breaking the neck of some of its smaller prey with a strong bite and momentum bearing the animal to the ground.
The period shrinks for females raising young, and may be as short as one kill every three days when cubs are nearly mature around 15 months.
The cougar is generally reported to not be a scavenger , but deer carcasses left exposed for study were scavenged by cougars in California, suggesting more opportunistic behavior.
Females reach sexual maturity between one-and-a-half to three years of age. They typically average one litter every two to three years throughout their reproductive lives,  though the period can be as short as one year.
Chronic stress can result in low reproductive rates when in captivity as well as in the field. Only females are involved in parenting.
Litter size is between one and six cubs; typically two. Caves and other alcoves that offer protection are used as litter dens. Born blind, cubs are completely dependent on their mother at first, and begin to be weaned at around three months of age.
As they grow, they begin to go out on forays with their mother, first visiting kill sites, and after six months beginning to hunt small prey on their own.
Young adults leave their mother to attempt to establish their own territories at around two years of age and sometimes earlier; males tend to leave sooner.
One study has shown high mortality amongst cougars that travel farthest from the maternal range, often due to conflicts with other cougars intraspecific competition.
Life expectancy in the wild is reported at eight to 13 years, and probably averages eight to 10; a female of at least 18 years was reported killed by hunters on Vancouver Island.
Causes of death in the wild include disability and disease , competition with other cougars, starvation, accidents, and, where allowed, human hunting.
Feline immunodeficiency virus , an endemic HIV-like virus in cats, is well-adapted to the cougar. Like almost all cats, the cougar is a mostly solitary animal.
Only mothers and kittens live in groups, with adults meeting rarely. While generally loners, cougars will reciprocally share kills with one another and seem to organize themselves into small communities defined by the territories of dominant males.
Cats within these areas socialize more frequently with each other than with outsiders. Ranges of females may overlap slightly with each other.
Scrape marks, urine , and feces are used to mark territory and attract mates. Males may scrape together a small pile of leaves and grasses and then urinate on it as a way of marking territory.
Home range sizes and overall cougar abundance depend on terrain, vegetation, and prey abundance. Because males disperse farther than females and compete more directly for mates and territory, they are more likely to be involved in conflict.
Where a juvenile fails to leave his maternal range, for example, he may be killed by his father. The cougar is threatened by habitat loss , habitat fragmentation , and depletion of its prey base due to poaching.
In Florida, it is threatened by heavy traffic, which causes frequent fatal accidents involving cougars. Highways are a major barrier for dispersal of cougars.
Between one and four new individuals entering a population per decade markedly increases persistence, thus highlighting the importance of habitat corridors.
In the United States east of the Mississippi River , the only unequivocally known cougar population is the Florida panther. With the taxonomic uncertainty about its existence as a subspecies as well as the possibility of eastward migration of cougars from the western range, the subject remains open.
This uncertainty has been recognized by Canadian authorities. The Canadian federal agency called Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada rates its current data as "insufficient" to draw conclusions regarding the eastern cougar's survival and its website says that "despite many sightings in the past two decades from eastern Canada, there are insufficient data to evaluate the taxonomy or assign a status to this cougar.
Regulated cougar hunting is still common in the United States and Canada. Although cougars are protected from all hunting in the Yukon ; hunting is permitted in every U.
The cougar cannot be legally killed without a permit in California except under very specific circumstances, such as when a cougar is in act of pursuing livestock or domestic animals, or is declared a threat to public safety.
Texas is the only U. In Texas, the cougar is considered as nuisance wildlife and any person holding a hunting or a trapping permit can kill a cougar regardless of the season, number killed, sex or age of the animal.
The project aims at raising awareness of local people about the status and ecological role of the cougar, and mitigating conflict between landowners and cougars.
The pertinent North American subspecies is P. Due to the expanding human population , cougar ranges increasingly overlap with areas inhabited by humans.
Attacks on humans are very rare, as cougar prey recognition is a learned behavior and they do not generally recognize humans as prey.
Attacks are most frequent during late spring and summer, when juvenile cougars leave their mothers and search for new territory. Between and , in North America there were 53 reported, confirmed attacks on humans, resulting in 48 nonfatal injuries and 10 deaths of humans the total is greater than 53 because some attacks had more than one victim.
Within North America, the distribution of attacks is not uniform. The heavily populated state of California saw a dozen attacks to after just three from to , including three fatalities.
As with many predators, a cougar may attack if cornered, if a fleeing human stimulates their instinct to chase, or if a person " plays dead ". Standing still may cause the cougar to consider a person easy prey.
Fighting back with sticks and rocks, or even bare hands, is often effective in persuading an attacking cougar to disengage. When cougars do attack, they usually employ their characteristic neck bite, attempting to position their teeth between the vertebrae and into the spinal cord.
Neck, head, and spinal injuries are common and sometimes fatal. The same study showed the highest proportion of attacks to have occurred in British Columbia , particularly on Vancouver Island where cougar populations are especially dense.
There have sometimes been incidents of pet cougars mauling people. Research on new wildlife collars may be able to reduce human-animal conflicts by predicting when and where predatory animals hunt.
This may save the lives of humans, pets, and livestock as well as the lives of these large predatory mammals that are important to the balance of ecosystems.
Pumas in the Southern cone of America — often called Argentine cougars by North Americans — are reputed to be extremely reluctant to attack man; in legend, they defended people against jaguars.
Hudson, citing anecdotal evidence from hunters, claimed that pumas were positively inhibited from attacking people, even in self-defense.
In fact, attacks on humans, although exceedingly rare, have occurred. An early, authenticated, non-fatal case occurred near Lake Viedma , Patagonia in when a female mauled the Argentine scientist Francisco P.
Moreno ; Moreno afterwards showed the scars to Theodore Roosevelt. In this instance, however, Moreno had been wearing a guanaco -hide poncho round his neck and head as protection against the cold;  in Patagonia the guanaco is the puma's chief prey animal.
Forensic analysis found specimens of the child's hair and clothing fibers in the animal's stomach. Despite prohibitory signs, coatis are hand-fed by tourists in the park, causing unnatural approximation between cougars and humans.
This particular puma had been raised in captivity and released into the wild. Claw incisions, which severed a jugular vein, indicated that the attacker was a felid; differential diagnosis ruled out other possible perpetrators.
Fatal attacks by other carnivores such as feral dogs can be misattributed to pumas without appropriate forensic knowledge.
During the early years of ranching, cougars were considered on par with wolves in destructiveness. According to figures in Texas in , 86 calves 0.
In both reports, sheep were the most frequently attacked. Some instances of surplus killing have resulted in the deaths of 20 sheep in one attack.
Coyotes also typically bite the throat but the work of a cougar is generally clean, while bites inflicted by coyotes and dogs leave ragged edges.
The size of the tooth puncture marks also helps distinguish kills made by cougars from those made by smaller predators.
Remedial hunting appears to have the paradoxical effect of increased livestock predation and complaints of human-puma conflicts. In a study the most important predictor of puma problems were remedial hunting of puma the previous year.
Remedial hunting enables younger males to enter the former territories of the older animals. Predation by cougars on dogs "is widespread, but occurs at low frequencies" .
The grace and power of the cougar have been widely admired in the cultures of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
The Inca city of Cusco is reported to have been designed in the shape of a cougar, and the animal also gave its name to both Inca regions and people.
The Moche people represented the puma often in their ceramics. To the Apache and Walapai of Arizona , the wail of the cougar was a harbinger of death.
In professional hockey, the cougar was used by two mid-western teams and one northwestern team. The Detroit Cougars were actually related to the Victoria Cougars of the Western Hockey League , which had won the Stanley Cup in , in that when the Victoria Cougars, which had operated as the Aristocrats from to and as the Cougars from to , disbanded in , the owners of the newly formed Detroit club purchased the rights to many of the players of the Victoria club and retained the Cougar nickname.
The University of Vermont also uses the mascot, but uses the term "catamount" instead of cougar, as was traditional in the region where the school is located.
The University of Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania also uses the cougar as its sports mascot and for many other clubs and organizations, but also uses the locally preferred name, "panther", corresponding to nearby geographic features Panther Hollow and Panther Hollow Lake which were named that by , 24 years before the University selected the name for its teams.
Many high schools also use the cougar as their sports team mascot. The Carolina Panthers of the National Football League have a black cat on their uniforms as opposed to a brownish- or tawny-coloured cat so it is most often presumed to represent a black panther , the black melanistic phase of either the jaguar , which actually only lived in the far southwestern United States not the southeastern United States where Carolina is located, or the leopard of Africa and Asia.
Most sports team named the "Wildcats" use a logo similar to a bobcat, or in some cases in Canada, a lynx, names which are often used for sports teams in their own right.
By contrast, Wildcat Lager Beer brewed by Labatt, has always shown a picture of a cougar on its label. A pumapard is a hybrid animal resulting from a union between a puma and a leopard.
Whether born to a female puma mated to a male leopard or to a male puma mated to a female leopard, pumapards inherit a form of dwarfism.
Those reported grew to only half the size of the parents. They have a puma-like long body proportional to the limbs, but nevertheless shorter than either parent , but short legs.
The coat is variously described as sandy, tawny or greyish with brown, chestnut or "faded" rosettes. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This is the latest accepted revision , reviewed on 7 December Large species of the family Felidae native to the Americas.
For other uses, see Cougar disambiguation and Mountain lion disambiguation. Temporal range: 0. Conservation status.
Linnaeus , . Front paw print of a cougar. North American cougar cub at Malibu Springs. See also: List of fatal cougar attacks in North America.
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