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Mountain Lion Puma concolor (Felis concolor)


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Mountain Lion
credit: USDA

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Alternate name: Cougar/Puma/Florida Panther

Family: Felidae, Cats view all from this family

Description An unmistakable large cat with uniform color and long black-tipped tail. Monotone pelage varies geographically and seasonally from gray to reddish brown. Cubs have a soft, spotted coat.

Dimensions 1.7-2.5m, 68-96cm, 36-120kg; / 1.2-1.6m, 27-37cm, 29-64kg

Endangered Status Two subspecies of the Mountain Lion are on the U.S. Endangered Species List. The Eastern Puma is classified as endangered throughout the eastern U.S., and the Florida Panther is classified as endangered in Florida. Because the Mountain Lion requires isolated or undisturbed game-rich wilderness, it has declined or been exterminated in much of the habitat where it once thrived early in the 20th century. Its habitat was overtaken by development in many areas, and its main prey, the White-tailed Deer, disappeared over much of its range. For many years, this large wildcat was pursued by bounty hunters and persecuted as a threat to livestock. In recent years, there have been a few sightings of animals or tracks in Canada’s Maritime Provinces and in upper New England, New York State, and elsewhere in the East, but most reports have turned out to be false. Radio-tracking is being used to study the behavior of Florida Panthers, and an office has been established to investigate reports of Eastern Puma sightings in the southern Appalachians. Currently the species is fully protected where rare, and classified as a game animal where abundant.

Warning Occasionally Mountain Lions have been known to injure or even kill people, usually children, but they tend to avoid humans unless cornered or extremely hungry.

Habitat Alpine & subalpine habitats, Meadows & fields, Scrub, shrub & brushlands, Deserts, Swamps, marshes & bogs, Forests & woodlands, Canyons & caves

Range Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Florida, Texas, California, Northwest, Western Canada

Discussion Hunts deer and other large and medium-sized mammals. Commonly called Mountain Lion or Puma. Subspecies in Florida (P. c. coryi) is Endangered. Subspecies from northeastern United States (P. c. couguar) is apparently extinct; modern sightings in this area are from escaped captive animals. Population densities low, as each animal needs 100-500km_ of home range. Crepuscular and nocturnal, they may cover about 10km per night when hunting. Large prey is cached under brush and leaves, and retuned to on subsequent nights. Ungulates are the main food, but Cougars also take rabbits, beavers, porcupines, opossums, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, skunks, and occasionally domestic livestock. Uses most habitats in range that offer cover and prey; avoids shrubless deserts and agricultural areas.