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Ecology and Conservation

With a Foreword by Alan Rabinowitz

The cougar is one of the most beautiful, enigmatic, and majestic animals in the Americas. Eliciting reverence for its grace and independent nature, it also triggers fear when it comes into contact with people, pets, and livestock or competes for hunters’ game. Mystery, myth, and misunderstanding surround this remarkable creature.

The cougar’s range once extended from northern Canada to the tip of South America, and from the Pacific to the Atlantic, making it the most widespread animal in the western hemisphere. But overhunting and loss of habitat vastly reduced cougar numbers by the early twentieth century across much of its historical range, and today the cougar faces numerous threats as burgeoning human development encroaches on its remaining habitat.

When Maurice Hornocker began the first long-term study of cougars in the Idaho wilderness in 1964, little was known about this large cat. Its secretive nature and rarity in the landscape made it difficult to study. But his groundbreaking research yielded major insights and was the prelude to further research on this controversial species.

The capstone to Hornocker’s long career studying big cats, Cougar is a powerful and practical resource for scientists, conservationists, and anyone with an interest in large carnivores.  He and conservationist Sharon Negri bring together the diverse perspectives of twenty-two distinguished scientists to provide the fullest account of the cougar’s ecology, behavior, and genetics, its role as a top predator, and its conservation needs. This compilation of recent findings, stunning photographs, and firsthand accounts of field research unravels the mysteries of this magnificent animal and emphasizes its importance in healthy ecosystem processes and in our lives.

304 pages | 36 color plates, 70 halftones, 19 line drawings, 25 tables | 8 1/2 x 11 | © 2009

Biological Sciences: Behavioral Biology, Biology--Systematics, Conservation, Evolutionary Biology, Natural History

Table of Contents

Range Map


Alan Rabinowitz


Maurice Hornocker and Sharon Negri


Part I. Research and Management Come of Age

The Bitterroot Tom

Maurice Hornocker

1 To Save a Mountain Lion: Evolving Philosophy of Nature and Cougars

R. Bruce Gill

2 The Emerging Cougar Chronicle

Harley Shaw

3 Lessons and Insights from Evolution, Taxonomy, and Conservation Genetics

Melanie Culver

4 Cougar Management in North America

United States: Charles R. Anderson Jr. and Frederick Lindzey

Canada: Kyle H. Knopff, Martin G. Jalkotzy, and Mark S. Boyce

Part II. Populations

Tracking for a Living

Kerry Murphy

5 Cougar Population Dynamics

Howard Quigley and Maurice Hornocker

6 What We Know about Pumas in Latin America

John W. Laundré and Lucina Hernández

7 The World’s Southernmost Pumas in Patagonia and the Southern Andes

Susan Walker and Andrés Novaro

Part III. Cougars and Their Prey

Notes from the Field

Linda L. Sweanor

8 Behavior and Social Organization of a Solitary Carnivore

Kenneth A. Logan and Linda L. Sweanor

9 Diet and Prey Selection of a Perfect Predator

Kerry Murphy and Toni K. Ruth

10 Cougar-Prey Relationships

Toni K. Ruth and Kerry Murphy

11 Competition with Other Carnivores for Prey

Toni K. Ruth and Kerry Murphy

Part IV. Conservation and Coexisting with People

Death of a Towncat

Harley Shaw

12 A Focal Species for Conservation Planning

Paul Beier

13 Cougar-Human Interactions

Linda L. Sweanor and Kenneth A. Logan

14 People, Politics, and Cougar Management

David J. Mattson and Susan G. Clark

15 Cougar Conservation: The Growing Role of Citizens and Government

Sharon Negri and Howard Quigley

16 Pressing Business

Maurice Hornocker

Appendix 1: Genetics Techniques Primer

Appendix 2: Cougar Harvest in the United States

Appendix 3: Groups Participating in Cougar Management

Appendix 4: Cougar Litigation Summary, a Partial Listing

Appendix 5: Summary of Cougar Ballot Initiatives in the United States





The Wildlife Society: Wildlife Society Publications Award

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