• Member Since 28th Dec, 2018
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PantheraMan


I do not consider myself a brony, but I like the show. I'm also passionate about animals, both living and extinct and I just like talking with other people about them and teaching about them.

More Blog Posts27

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  • 58 weeks
    Hunting the Mountain Lion: Not all it Seems

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  • 61 weeks
    How to Control The Prey

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Apr
8th
2021

Hunting the Mountain Lion: Not all it Seems · 12:08am Apr 8th, 2021

The big cats are supreme hunters. Their keen senses allow them to track prey and their paws let them move through the land without making a single sound, one could pass by a bobcat and they wouldn't even know it. Despite this, they face their own set of challenges. In Asia, tigers are poached for their fur and bones and lions in Africa also have to put up with poaching for their bones and paws. All of them get into conflict with local people over attacks and livestock and on people. In North America, our own big cat, the cougar aka mountain lion aka puma or whatever you want to call it faces its own set of challenges. Ranchers who use public lands occasionally lose livestock to them, people do lose pets to the cats, and on occasion, they do attack humans. How do we coexist with mountain lions? The answer many people go to is regulated hunting, arguing that by hunting mountain lions there will be fewer incidences with livestock, pets, and people, and it will increase populations of deer and other game species hunters love. At first, this makes perfect sense, the science on the other hand disagrees.

A study published in 2009 titled "Does hunting regulate cougar populations? A test of the compensatory mortality hypothesis" was conducted in Washington which compared a heavily hunted cougar population to a lightly hunted population. The study found the following:

" We found no differences in rates of maternity or natural mortality between study areas, and kitten survival was lower in the heavily hunted population. We rejected the compensatory mortality hypothesis because vital rates did not compensate for hunting mortality. Heavy harvest corresponded with increased immigration, reduced kitten survival, reduced female population growth, and a younger overall age structure. Light harvest corresponded with increased emigration, higher kitten survival, increased female population growth, and an older overall age structure."

Another study in Washington published in 2014 called "Effects of hunting on cougar spatial organization"compared a lightly hunted population to a heavily hunted population to see what the effects on the spatial organization was. These are the findings:

"Cougar densities and predation rates were similar among areas, suggesting no difference in per capita resources. We compared home range size, two‐dimensional home range overlap, and three‐dimensional utilization distribution overlap index (UDOI) among annual home ranges for male and female cougars. Male cougars in the heavily hunted area had larger-sized home ranges and greater two‐dimensional and three‐dimensional UDOI overlap than those in the lightly hunted area. Females showed no difference in size and overlap of home range areas between study populations – further suggesting that differences in prey quantity and distribution between study areas did not explain differences in male spatial organization."

Another study was done and published in 2013, in Washington once again, called "Effects of Remedial Sport Hunting on Cougar Complaints and Livestock Depredations" compared the lightly hunted population to the heavily hunted population to see which one had more complaints. The results were the following:

"As expected, we found that complaints and depredations were positively associated with human population, livestock population, and cougar population. However, contrary to expectations we found that complaints and depredations were most strongly associated with cougars harvested the previous year. The odds of increased complaints and livestock depredations increased dramatically (36 to 240%) with increased cougar harvest. We suggest that increased young male immigration, social disruption of cougar populations, and associated changes in space use by cougars - caused by increased hunting resulted in the increased complaints and livestock depredations."

In British Columbia, Canada, a study published in 2016 titled ""Hunting as a Management Tool? Cougar-Human Conflict is positively related to trophy hunting" had the objective to see if there was a correlation between hunting and cougar attacks on humans and as you can guess from the title, these were the findings:

"Using a 30-year dataset on human-caused cougar (Puma concolor) kills in British Columbia (BC), Canada, we examined relationships between hunter-caused and conflict-associated mortality. Individuals that were killed via conflict with humans were younger than hunted cougars. Accounting for human density and habitat productivity, human hunting pressure during or before the year of conflict comprised the most important variables. Both were associated with increased male cougar-human conflict. Moreover, in each of five regions assessed, conflict was higher with increased human hunting pressure for at least one cougar sex."

In February of the year we don't mention for our sanity, a study called ""The Elephant in the room: What can we learn from California regarding the use of sport hunting Pumas as a management tool?" was published. The authors compared the number of incidences in California, the only western state that doesn't allow cougar hunting, to other western states that do allow sport hunting of cougars and the results were pretty straightforward:

"Our results indicated, respectively, that relative to the 10 states where puma are hunted, California had 1) similar puma densities, 2) the 3rd lowest per capita problematic puma-human encounters, 3) similar per capita loss of cattle (P = 0.13) and a significantly lower (t = 5.7, P < 0.001) per capita loss of sheep, and 4) similar average deer densities while changes in annual deer populations correlated with changes in other states (F = 95.4, P < 0.001, R2 = 0.68). In sum, our analysis of the records obtained from state and federal wildlife agencies found no evidence that sport hunting of pumas has produced the management outcomes sought by wildlife managers aside from providing a sport hunting opportunity. Consequently, and particularly because other research suggests that sport hunting actually exacerbate conflicts between pumas and humans, we recommend that state agencies re-assess the use of sport hunting as a management tool for pumas."

Another study in California called "Fear of the human superpredator reduces feeding time of large carnivores" was done using recorded human voices at cougar kill sites found that the big cats fled from the sounds of human chatter and a good amount if the time they never returned to the carcasses. Eariler this year, a study called ""Pumas' fear of humans precipitates changes in plant architecture" which was also done in California found that the deer take advantage of the cougar's fear of humans by sticking closer to places with more people which in turn made the plants look more "sculped" if you will.

"We examined spatial patterns in puma feeding sites and found that pumas preferentially kill deer away (>340 m) from human development. This aversion appears to create refugia for deer, as deer more than doubled their relative activity near (<70 m) human development. In addition, deer more than quadrupled their consumption of woody vegetation at low‐risk sites close to humans relative to comparable high‐risk sites far from humans and consumed a greater percent of the forage available in sites near humans than in comparable sites farther away. Increased browsing by deer in near human, or low‐risk, sites induced woody plants to become bushier (by removing apical dominance) than those away from humans, or high‐risk sites. "

So the science says hunting cougars does not reduce attacks on people or livestock and it appears cougars are afraid of humans regardless if hunting's legal or not. True, cougars are killed by people in California, but they take out the individuals that cause problems, leaving the rest alone.

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Comments ( 4 )

So if it makes no difference, why are we still hunting them?

5492835
I believe the answer has to do with money. Mountain lions are managed by state wildlife agencies which receive most of their funding from the sale of hunting licenses, hunting gear, and an excise tax on firearms. Prey animals like deer and elk are the biggest reason why hunters buy that stuff and thus the agencies have what's called a "management objective" which is the amount they want to have for hunters and they see predators like mountain lions as a threat to that goal and hunters hate predators like mountain lions because, in their minds, every deer or elk killed by a mountain lion means one less animal for them to kill and because these people have the wildlife agencies in their wallets naturally the agencies will cater to their interests. Plus a permit to hunt a mountain lion means more money.

5492858
Of course. The short term issue of earning money always outweighs the long term issue of maintaining biodiversity and ecosystems and stopping climate change. It's pretty stupid, but that seems to be the way most people's brains work.

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