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WILDLIFE SPECIES:  Puma concolor


AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Tesky, Julie L. 1995. Puma concolor. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : PUCO SYNONYM : Felis concolor Linnaeus [12,19] COMMON NAMES : mountain lion cougar puma panther Yuma puma Florida panther eastern cougar Wisconsin puma Texas panther TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for the mountain lion is Puma concolor Linnaeus [63]. It is in the family Felidae and subfamily Felinae. Thirty subspecies are generally recognized worldwide. Thirteen of these occur in North America north of Mexico [12,19]: Puma concolor azteca Merriam Puma concolor browni Merriam (Yuma puma) Puma concolor californica May Puma concolor costaricensis (Costa Rican puma) Puma concolor coryi Bangs (Florida panther) Puma concolor couguar Kerr (eastern cougar) Puma concolor hippolestes Merriam Puma concolor kaibabensis Nelson and Goldman Puma concolor missoulensis Goldman Puma concolor olympus Merriam Puma concolor oregonensis (Rafinesque) Puma concolor shorgeri Jackson (Wisconsin puma) Puma concolor stanleyana Goldman (Texas panther) Puma concolor vancouverensis Nelson and Goldman ORDER : Carnivora CLASS : Mammal FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : Eastern pumas, Costa Rican pumas, and Florida panthers are listed as Endangered. In Florida, mountain lion subspecies other than the Florida panther are listed as Threatened due to Similarity of Appearance [61]. OTHER STATUS : Information on state-level status of animals in the United States is available at NatureServe.


GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Mountain lions have the widest distribution of any native mammal in the western hemisphere [12,56,34]. During presettlement times, mountain lions ranged from northern British Columbia to southern Chile and Argentina, and from coast to coast in North America [12]. Although still covering over 100 degrees latitude from the Straits of Magellan to the Canadian Yukon Territory and now also Alaska, there has been an overall reduction in mountain lion distribution. In North America substantial mountain lion populations occur only in the western United States and Canada, and these ranges have been reduced from presettlement times [56]. Isolated populations and incidental sightings have been reported in the central and eastern United States [10,12]. At present the only known mountain lion population east of Texas exists in southern Florida, although a small population may exist in western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma [30]. The specific distributions of the North American subspecies are listed below: P. c. azteca - Occurs in Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico [19]. Yuma puma - Yuma pumas live along the lower Colorado River in California, Arizona, and Mexico [20]. P. c. californica - Occurs in southern Oregon, California, and Nevada [19]. Florida panther - Historically Florida panthers ranged from the lower Mississippi River valley east through the southeastern states to the Florida Everglades. At present the Florida panther is found only south of Lake Okeechobee, Florida, in four areas: the Fakahatchee Strand; Big Cypress National Preserve; the southern portion of the Everglades Conservation Area; and Everglades National Park, from the Hole-in-the-Donut area north [16,34,53]. In addition to the above areas, a number of recent, verified reports or specimens have come from Highlands, Palm Beach, Broward, Martin, Osceola, Volusia, and St. Johns counties. However, no reproduction has been recorded in these areas [34]. Only 30 to 50 Florida panthers are believed to exist in the wild [34,53]. The population of Florida panthers that existed in Everglades National Park in the mid-1980's is now functionally extinct, with only one male remaining [3]. Eastern cougar - Historically eastern cougars ranged throughout the eastern United States from Michigan and Indiana east to the Atlantic coast, and from southern Canada south to Tennessee and South Carolina. Today eastern cougars may be extinct. No breeding populations have been positively identified within the historic range since the 1920's. Unconfirmed sightings continue to be reported from the mountains of North Carolina and the Virginias. Tracks and scat were observed in the Jefferson-George Washington-Monongahela National Forest as recently as 1981, but no positive confirmation was made [53]. P. c. missoulensis and P. c. hippolestes - Historically, P. c. missoulensis ranged from British Columbia east to Manitoba, and south to eastern Oregon, Idaho, Montana, northern Wyoming, and northern North Dakota. P. c. hippolestes ranged from southern Idaho and northern Utah east to eastern North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and western Kansas [19]. Hansen [20] stated that both subspecies are now restricted to the western portion of their historic ranges. However, sightings still occur in Kansas, the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the Nebraska panhandle [20]. P. c. kaibabensis - Occurs from southern Oregon south through Nevada, western Utah, and northern Arizona [19]. P. c. olympus - Occurs in the Olympic Mountains of Washington [12]. P. c. oregonensis - Occurs in southwestern British Columbia, western Washington, and Oregon [19]. Wisconsin puma - The current distribution of this subspecies was not described in the available literature. Texas panther - This subspecies formerly occupied most of Texas and Oklahoma, but is now restricted to eastern New Mexico and western Texas [20]. P. c. vancouverensis - Occurs on Vancouver Island, British Columbia [19]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES20 Douglas-fir FRES21 Ponderosa pine FRES22 Western white pine FRES23 Fir-spruce FRES24 Hemlock-Sitka spruce FRES25 Larch FRES26 Lodgepole pine FRES27 Redwood FRES28 Western hardwoods FRES29 Sagebrush FRES30 Desert shrub FRES31 Shinnery FRES32 Texas savanna FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub FRES35 Pinyon-juniper FRES37 Mountain meadows FRES41 Wet grasslands FRES44 Alpine STATES :


BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 1 Northern Pacific Border 2 Cascade Mountains 3 Southern Pacific Border 4 Sierra Mountains 5 Columbia Plateau 6 Upper Basin and Range 7 Lower Basin and Range 8 Northern Rocky Mountains 9 Middle Rocky Mountains 10 Wyoming Basin 11 Southern Rocky Mountains 12 Colorado Plateau 13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont 14 Great Plains 15 Black Hills Uplift 16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K002 Cedar-hemlock-Douglas-fir forest K003 Silver fir-Douglas-fir forest K004 Fir-hemlock forest K005 Mixed conifer forest K006 Redwood forest K008 Lodgepole pine-subalpine forest K009 Pine-cypress forest K010 Ponderosa shrub forest K011 Western ponderosa forest K012 Douglas-fir forest K013 Cedar-hemlock-pine forest K014 Grand fir-Douglas-fir forest K015 Western spruce-fir forest K016 Eastern ponderosa forest K017 Black Hills pine forest K018 Pine-Douglas-fir forest K019 Arizona pine forest K020 Spruce-fir-Douglas-fir forest K021 Southwestern spruce-fir forest K022 Great Basin pine forest K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland K024 Juniper steppe woodland K025 Alder-ash forest K026 Oregon oakwoods K028 Mosaic of K002 and K026 K027 Mesquite bosque K029 California mixed evergreen forest K030 California oakwoods K031 Oak-juniper woodlands K032 Transition between K031 and K037 K033 Chaparral K034 Montane chaparral K035 Coastal sagebrush K036 Mosaic of K030 and K035 K038 Great Basin sagebrush K039 Blackbrush K040 Saltbush-greasewood K041 Creosotebush K042 Creosotebush-bursage K043 Paloverde-cactus shrub K044 Creosotebush-tarbush K049 Tule marshes K052 Alpine meadows and barren K055 Sagebrush steppe K056 Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe K058 Grama-tobosa shrubsteppe K059 Trans-Pecos shrub savanna K079 Palmetto prairie K081 Oak savanna K092 Everglades K071 Shinnery SAF COVER TYPES : 67 Mohrs (shin) oak 201 White spruce 202 White spruce-paper birch 203 Balsam poplar 204 Black spruce 205 Mountain hemlock 206 Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir 207 Red fir 208 Whitebark pine 209 Bristlecone pine 210 Interior Douglas-fir 211 White fir 212 Western larch 213 Grand fir 215 Western white pine 216 Blue spruce 217 Aspen 218 Lodgepole pine 219 Limber pine 220 Rocky Mountain juniper 221 Red alder 222 Black cottonwood-willow 223 Sitka spruce 224 Western hemlock 225 Western hemlock-Sitka spruce 226 Coastal true fir-hemlock 227 Western redcedar-western hemlock 228 Western redcedar 229 Pacific Douglas-fir 230 Douglas-fir-western hemlock 231 Port-Orford-cedar 233 Oregon white oak 234 Douglas-fir-tanoak-Pacific madrone 235 Cottonwood-willow 236 Bur oak 237 Interior ponderosa pine 238 Western juniper 239 Pinyon-juniper 240 Arizona cypress 241 Western live oak 243 Sierra Nevada mixed conifer 244 Pacific ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir 245 Pacific ponderosa pine 246 California black oak 247 Jeffrey pine 248 Knobcone pine 249 Canyon live oak 250 Blue oak-foothills pine 251 White spruce-aspen 252 Paper birch 253 Black spruce-white spruce 254 Black spruce-paper birch 255 California coast live oak 256 California mixed subalpine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : 104 Antelope bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass 105 Antelope bitterbrush-Idaho fescue 107 Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass 108 Alpine Idaho fescue 109 Ponderosa pine shrubland 110 Ponderosa pine-grassland 201 Blue oak woodland 202 Coast live oak woodland 203 Riparian woodland 204 North coastal shrub 205 Coastal sage shrub 206 Chamise chaparral 207 Scrub oak mixed chaparral 208 Ceanothus mixed chaparral 209 Montane shrubland 210 Bitterbrush 212 Blackbush 213 Alpine grassland 216 Montane meadows 217 Wetlands 314 Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass 315 Big sagebrush-Idaho fescue 316 Big sagebrush-rough fescue 317 Bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass 318 Bitterbrush-Idaho fescue 319 Bitterbrush-rough fescue 320 Black sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass 321 Black sagebrush-Idaho fescue 322 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany-bluebunch wheatgrass 401 Basin big sagebrush 402 Mountain big sagebrush 403 Wyoming big sagebrush 404 Threetip sagebrush 405 Black sagebrush 406 Low sagebrush 407 Stiff sagebrush 408 Other sagebrush types 409 Tall forb 411 Aspen woodland 413 Gambel oak 415 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany 416 True mountain-mahogany 417 Littleleaf mountain-mahogany 418 Bigtooth maple 419 Bittercherry 420 Snowbrush 421 Chokecherry-serviceberry-rose 422 Riparian 502 Grama-galleta 203 Riparian woodland 503 Arizona chaparral 504 Juniper-pinyon pine woodland 505 Grama-tobosa shrub 509 Transition between oak-juniper woodland and mahogany-oak association 612 Sagebrush-grass 730 Sand shinnery oak 733 Juniper-oak 735 Sideoats grama-sumac-juniper 818 Florida salt marsh 819 Freshwater marsh and ponds 822 Slough PLANT COMMUNITIES : Mountain lions occupy a wide variety of plant communities. They are found in montane coniferous forests, lowland tropical forests, swamps, grasslands, dry brushlands, and any other area with adequate cover and prey [16,20,31,46,56]. Typical mountain lion habitat in western North America is open woodland such as oak (Quercus spp.) scrub, pinyon (Pinus spp.), juniper (Juniperus spp.), curlleaf mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius), snowbrush ceanothus (Ceanothus velutinus), and manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.) communities [56]. Logan and Irwin [31] investigated habitat use by mountain lions in the Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming, and found that mixed conifer and curlleaf mountain-mahogany communities were preferred. In southern Utah mountain lion habitat consists of desert shrub and sagebrush (Artemisia spp.)-grassland communities at lower elevations (4,445 to 5,940 feet [1,330-1,780 m]). Mountain lions also occupy pinyon-juniper woodlands, Gambel oak (Q. gambelii) scrub, open ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests which dominate at mid-elevations (5,940 to 8,910 feet [1,780-2,670 m]) [20,46], and higher elevation stands of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii), or white fir (Abies concolor) interspersed with subalpine meadows. Mountain lions also inhabit deep, rocky, vertical-walled river canyons containing riparian vegetation including Fremont cottonwood (P. fremontii) and willows (Salix spp.) [46]. In the Idaho Primitive Area, mountain lion habitat consists of Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) and ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) associations at higher elevations. At lower elevations mountain lions inhabit curlleaf mountain-mahogany, antelope bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata), and big sagebrush (A. tridentata)-bunchgrass associations [46]. In California mountain lions occur primarily between 1,980 and 5,940 feet (590-1,780 m) in mixed conifer and brush habitats. Mountain lions are rare at higher elevations in pure stands of conifers and at lower elevations in pure stands of chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum) [46]. In New Mexico mountain lions commonly occur in pinyon-juniper plant communities [25]. Florida panthers inhabit most types of vegetation in southern Florida including tropical hammocks, pine flatwoods, cabbage palmetto (Sabal palmetto), mixed swamps, baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) swamps, live oak (Q. virginiana) hammocks, sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense) marshes, and Brazilian peppertree (Schinus terebinthifolia) thickets [4,14,28,34]. Belden and others [4] found that Florida panthers used mixed swamp forests and hammock forests more than expected based on the availability of these habitats within their home range. Day-use sites typically are dense patches of saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) surrounded by swamp, pine flatwoods, or hammocks. Open agricultural lands are common around most publicly owned land in southern Florida and receive some use by Florida panthers if cover nearby is adequate [14,34].


TIMING OF MAJOR LIFE HISTORY EVENTS : Breeding season - Mountain lions are polygamous. They are capable of breeding throughout the year, and successful litters can be produced any month of the year [56]. However, there is generally a peak in litter production during the summer [1,56]. The estrous cycle lasts approximately 23 days, with estrus usually lasting 8 days. However, periods of estrus lasting up to 11 days have been reported [56]. Mountain lions are generally solitary except during the breeding season and when the female is raising young [10]. The breeding season of Florida panthers starts in October and continues through April, with the majority of conceptions occurring from November to March. Over half of the births occurring during the period form April through August [3]. Age at sexual maturity - Mountain lions first breed when they are 2 to 3 years old [10,56,51]. Females born during the summer generally first breed during the winter following their second birthday [20,56]. Females usually do not breed until they have established a home range [20]. The earliest published instance of first reproduction in the Florida panther was an 18- to 19-month-old female that raised four kittens in her mother's home range. Male Florida panthers appear to reach sexual maturity after 3 years of age [3]. Gestation and litter size - Following a gestation period of 82 to 98 days (90-98 days for Florida panthers), a litter of one to six young is produced, with a mean of 2.67 [1,3,10,20,30]. Florida panther litter sizes range from one to four kittens [3]. Female mountain lions may produce only one kitten in their first litter [30]. A litter may be produced every year under "optimal conditions" [56], but usually one litter is produced every other year or at 3-year intervals [3,56]. If the female loses her kittens to predators or other circumstances, she may breed again soon after the loss [20]. Growth of young - Kittens begin nursing within minutes after birth and gain weight rapidly. Males usually grow faster than females. At 2 weeks of age, eyes and ears are open, and kittens are able to walk. In 10 to 20 days kittens may weigh over 2 pounds. The female leads kittens to kills when they are 7 to 8 weeks old [20]. The kittens are weaned when they are 2 to 3 months old. Kittens can survive on their own at 6 months of age, but they typically remain with their mother until they are 1 to 2 years old [1,20,30,56]. Siblings sometimes disperse as a group and may remain together for 3 months or longer [37]. Longevity - The maximum longevity of wild mountain lions is unknown. Once established on home ranges, mountain lions may live 12 to 13 years [12,37]. There is evidence of a 15- to 18-year life span in the wild for Florida panthers, but 8 to 12 years is considered old [3]. Three captive male mountain lions lived at least 12, 15, and 18 years, and one female lived at least 10 years. A 9-year average and a 20-year maximum lifespan have been reported for captive mountain lions [1,12]. PREFERRED HABITAT : Mountain lion habitat is essentially the same as that of their primary prey. Within this habitat, mountain lions tend to prefer rocky cliffs, ledges, vegetated ridgetops, or other areas that provide cover for undetected surveillance of prey [46,56]. Stream courses and ridgetops are frequently used as travel corridors and hunting routes. Riparian vegetation along streams provides cover for mountain lions traveling in open areas [46]. Florida panthers generally inhabit ecotones and subtropical, dense forests in low-lying swampy areas composed mainly of trees, shrubs, and vines. They also occur in pine forests [20,53]. In Everglades National Park, edge habitat provides good forage and cover for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), which in turn may attract Florida panthers [20]. In the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, Idaho, mountain lions preferred steep, rocky areas covered with "dense" Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine mixed with sagebrush and grassland. Mountain lions avoided crossing large open areas with sparse cover, preferring to travel around perimeters [20,43]. In the Bighorn Mountains of northern Wyoming, mountain lions frequented canyons with steep, rugged slopes (> 45 deg). Areas with gentle slopes (< 20 deg) were generally avoided [31]. Den sites - In rough terrain mountain lion dens are usually located in a shallow nook on the face of a cliff or rock outcrop. In less mountainous areas dens are located in dense thickets or under fallen logs. Little bedding is used in dens. Females may use the same den for several years [56]. A radio-collared female Florida panther chose the same large sawpalmetto thicket surrounded by hammock and freshwater marsh for her den in 1986 and 1988 [34]. Home range - The home range consists of a first-order home area, used primarily for resting, and a much larger area used for hunting [56]. Home ranges are maintained by resident mountain lions but not transient mountain lions [56]. Mountain lions are capable of covering large distances in short periods of time [30]. Home range size varies by sex and age of the mountain lion, season, and spatial distribution and density of prey [20,30,43,56]. Home ranges as large as 196 square miles (510 sq. km) and as small as 25 square miles (65 sq. km) have been reported. Resident male mountain lion home ranges are typically larger than those of females and overlap a number of female home ranges, but only occasionally overlap those of other resident males. Mean home range for resident male Florida panthers is between 168 and 196 square miles (437-510 sq. km); for resident females it is between 68 and 74 square miles (177-192 sq. km) [34]. Home ranges of resident females commonly overlap, but females avoid each other in the areas of overlap [20,30,56]. Female mountain lions probably select areas with relatively high prey densities. Male home ranges may reflect the density and distribution of females [34]. Mountain lions move from summer range to winter range in areas where their main prey congregates during the winter [10,30,37]. The smallest documented home ranges appear to occur in areas where deer (Odocoileus spp.) do not exhibit seasonal movements [30]. Seasonal and sex differences in home range size were reported by Seidensticker and others [43] on the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. COVER REQUIREMENTS : Stalking cover - The best stalking cover for mountain lions is thick enough for mountain lions to remain hidden, and sparse enough for them to see their prey [20]. Mountain lions commonly use terrain such as steep canyons, rock outcroppings, and boulders, or vegetation such as dense brush and thickets to remain hidden while stalking [3,20]. Protective cover - Dense vegetation or piles of boulders are often selected as den sites to help protect kittens from harsh weather and predators [20,32]. FOOD HABITS : In North America mountain lions feed primarily on large ungulate species. Small mammals are also eaten depending on local abundance [10,20,34,56]. Occasionally, grass and carrion are eaten [1]. The main prey seems to be a function of abundance [10,12]. Composition of the diet may shift seasonally, reflecting the adundance and availability of small prey and the dispersion of large prey such as deer and elk (Cervus elaphus) [30]. Deer dominate the diet of mountain lions in most areas [30]. In the western United States, mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) are the major prey species. Other prey species include white-tailed deer, elk, moose (Alces alces), bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), porcupines (Erthizon dorsatum), American beavers (Castor canadensis), snowshoe hares (Lepus californicus), ground squirrels (Citellus spp.), marmots (Marmota spp.), smaller rodents (Rodentia), other carnivores, and domestic livestock [9,30]. Porcupines are a preferred food item wherever they occur in mountain lion range [56]. In most temperate regions, small mammals represent a minor part of the diet and probably are taken opportunistically. In British Columbia moose comprised a large portion of diet of mountain lions, as did snowshoe hares during a peak snowshoe hare population [56]. In the Cascade Range of Oregon, black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) were the most important prey item in the mountain lion diet. Domestic sheep (Ovis aries), porcupines, and a variety of small mammals were also recorded [48]. In the southwestern United States, collared peccary (Pecari angulatus) can be an important part of the mountain lion diet [56]. In Florida, Florida panthers commonly prey on feral pigs (Sus scrofa), raccoons (Procyon lotor), and nine-banded armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus) in addition to white-tailed deer [16,32,34]. In southwestern Florida from 1977 through 1989, 270 scat samples indicated that feral pigs were the most common prey species followed by white-tailed deer, raccoons, and armadillos [32]. The most important food items, based on contents of six Florida panther stomachs, were armadillos and white-tailed deer. All of the stomachs also contained 3 to 8 grams of grass. Another study in southern Florida found white-tailed deer in 46 percent of Florida panther scat, rabbits (Sylvilagus spp.) in 31 percent, cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus) in 20 percent, feral pigs in 15 percent, raccoons in 11 percent, armadillos in 7 percent, and birds (Aves) in 3 percent [5]. PREDATORS : Biologists working near the North Fork of the Flathead River, Montana, have reported gray wolves (Canis lupus) killing mountain lions as well as driving them from prey [37]. Adult male mountain lions are known to kill mountain lion kittens and sometimes eat them [12,30,56]. Adult female mountain lions are occasionally killed by other mountain lions [30]. MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Hunting - One of the largest causes of mountain lion mortality is hunting [56]. Currently almost all states and provinces that support viable mountain lion populations provide sport hunting opportunities. Season lengths range from 1 month to year-round and often vary within a jurisdiction [30]. Most states allow hunters to kill only one mountain lion per season, with the exception of Texas, which places no limit on the number of mountain lions a hunter can take [20]. In California mountain lion hunting has been banned since 1990 [37]. Accidents - Road-killed mountain lions comprise the largest number of accidental deaths [12,20,56]. Collisions with motor vehicles are the primary cause of death of Florida panthers. From 1979 to 1991, almost 50 percent of the documented mortalities of Florida panthers were road-kills [20]. Drownings in drainage canals in California have been reported [12,56]. Habitat loss - Loss of habitat is probably the greatest threat to mountain lion populations. Not only are large tracts of habitat necessary to maintain individual populations of mountain lions, but corridors that connect these tracts are required for dispersal of mountain lions between populations. Any permanent loss of habitat, especially deer and elk winter range in the West and white-tailed deer and feral pig habitat in Florida, may cause a reduction in the mountain lion population [20,34,56]. Habitat acquisition, enhancement, restoration, and protection are fundamental to survival of all mountain lion subspecies [20]. Specific recommendations for managing mountain lion habitat in North America have been described by Hansen [20]. The long-term survival of mountain lions depends in part on the availability of large tracts of roadless habitats [21]. Roads increase human access to mountain lion habitat, thus increasing mountain lion vulnerability to hunters. Mountain lions tend to avoid roaded areas. In Arizona mountain lions crossed hard-surfaced roads and maintained dirt roads less frequently than smaller dirt roads, suggesting that they may select against areas with maintained roads [50]. Areas that are disturbed by habitat alteration associated with human activities or by permanent human presence appear to be less acceptable to mountain lions than undisturbed areas. Mountain lion reactions to logging and other human activities were studied in northern Arizona from 1976 to 1980 and in south-central Utah from 1979 to 1982. Resident males on both study areas generally inhabited areas that were relatively free of human disturbance. They were rarely found in or near (within 1 km) sites that had been logged within the past 6 years [50]. Development related to oil exploration has been extensive in occupied Florida panther habitat. The construction of roads, pads, and associated petroleum production activities has changed some areas, but the effects on Florida panthers are difficult to measure [34]. Florida panthers are found only in one small part of its original range. Its decline has resulted primarily from habitat lost to expanding urbanization and agriculture. Continued habitat loss and fragmentation may cause extinction of this subspecies. However, where pasture or vegetable crops exist in a mosaic of forest cover, Florida panthers may persist. Interspersion of forested and early successional habitats seems to benefit Florida panther prey [34]. Intensive efforts to protect Florida panther habitat on private lands are essential for its survival. About half of the presently known Florida panther range in southern Florida occurs on private lands where agricultural and urban development are increasing rapidly [33]. Acreage devoted to citrus production in prime Florida panther habitat has increased by approximately 400 percent in Collier and Hendry counties during the last 20 years. The human population in Collier County was the fastest growing in the nation in 1992 [34]. Another threat to the survival of Florida panthers is low genetic diversity which has resulted in reproductive disorders within the population. Abnormal sperm comprised over 94 percent of the total sperm count in the semen analysis of six Florida panthers [22]. Genetic studies are continuing to address specific questions regarding the long-term reproductive viabiltiy of remaining populations and the feasibility for enhancement of their survivability through selective introduciton of genetic material from Texas panthers [6]. A progam to reintroduce Florida panthers into "suitable" habitat in Florida is underway. A captive male Florida panther and three female Texas panthers are being breed in initial breeding trials. Any offspring produced between these two subspecies will be sterilized and released into suitable unoccupied habitat in Florida as "surrogates" to determine the survivability of captive-bred mountain lions [6,22]. After a 1-year evaluation of the surrogate groups' response to their habitat as well as the public's response to their presence, these mountain lions will be removed from the wild. Pure Florida panthers will then be released into these areas if, based upon the results of the surrogates study, it appears feasible [22]. Depredations by mountain lions - Mountain lions sometimes kill livestock and are hunted to prevent further depredations [30,56]. Cattle losses are most common in southwestern states. Sheep losses may occur in any area occupied by mountain lions [30]. Evidence suggests that predation on livestock is opportunistic rather than habitual. None of the mountain lions captured and released following depredations in California were involved in further incidents of depredation [56].


DIRECT FIRE EFFECTS ON ANIMALS : Information was not found in the literature regarding direct effects of fire on mountain lions. Kittens are probably most vulnerable to fire. The activities of eight radio-tagged mountain lions were monitored during and after the 1988 fire season in Yellowstone National Park. Movement patterns of five adults and two kittens suggested that they avoided areas with fires in progress, but used them afterward where prey numbers and cover were not greatly reduced [38]. HABITAT RELATED FIRE EFFECTS : Mountain lion habitat can be enhanced or expanded by fires that improve habitat for prey species [42,54]. Preferred forage for deer is generally more productive and easily accessible following fire. Frequent fire over large areas maintains many stands in a successional stage favorable to deer. Deer populations commonly increase dramatically following forest fire, provided 40 percent or more escape cover remains after the burn [54]. Mountain lion numbers increased after fire in a western redcedar (Thuja plicata)-western hemlock (Tsuga heteropylla) forest in British Columbia. This increase may have been related to an increase in mule deer populations. Mountain lions became so common that one hunter killed 18 during one season where a few years previous it was unusual to even see mountain lion tracks [13]. In California chaparral communities, mountain lions are attracted to the edges of recent burns where deer tend to congregate [29]. During the late 1940's and early 1950's, logging and wildfires in the pines and cypress of Florida provided ideal habitat for white-tailed deer, and their numbers increased until the forest canopy began closing over in the mid-1960's. Florida panther populations also increased during this period [20]. Mountain lions may change their home range in response to fire. The activities of eight radio-tagged mountain lions were monitored during and after the 1988 fire season in Yellowstone National Park. After the fire season, two adult mountain lions and two kittens showed pronounced changes in their home ranges. A comparison of home ranges of three adult mountain lions from winter 1987 through 1989 showed that each individual is presently using a different area. The changes may have been due to fire; however, differences in snow accumulations, temperature, drought, and distribution of prey animals could also account for the new patterns. Eleven percent of the radio-locations of the eight radio-tagged mountion lions have occurred in burned habitat. Eleven percent of the mountain lion prey has been captured in burned areas [38]. For more information concerning fire effects on species of mountain lion prey (i.e., mule deer, elk, white-tailed deer, and moose) refer to write-ups on these species in the Fire Effects Information System. FIRE USE : Prescribed burning programs designed to improve habitat for large ungulates such as deer and elk also benefit mountain lions. Prescribed fires to improve winter range for mule and white-tailed deer have been conducted in the Southern East Kootenay Strategic Plan Area, British Columbia, in recent years [47]. Prescribed fire is currently being used in Florida panther habitat for fuel reductions to prevent catastrophic wildfires. To provide maximum benefits for deer and other important Florida panther prey species, prescribed fires should be conducted on a 2- to 5-year rotation, depending upon fuel type and site conditions. Burn areas should be less than 6,177 acres (2,500 ha); annual partial fires or fires every 2 to 5 years should be used when possible to increase habitat heterogeneity [42]. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes".


REFERENCES : 1. Anderson, Allen E. 1983. A critical review of literature on puma (Felis concolor). Special Report No. 54. Project No.: CO W-126-4; Co W-144-R. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado Division of Wildlife. 91 p. [24576] 2. Ashman, Darrol L.; Christensen, G.; Hess, M. L.; [and others]. 1983. The mountain lion in Nevada. Final Report. Project No. NV W-048-15/Job OS/Study S&T 1; NV W-048-15/Job 01/Study R-V. Reno, NV: Nevada Department of Wildlife. 83 p. [24578] 3. Belden, Robert C. 1988. The Florida panther. In: Audubon Wildlife Report: 515-532. On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. [24557] 4. Belden, Robert C.; Frankenberger, William B.; McBride, Roy T.; Schwikert, Stephen T. 1988. Panther habitat use in southern Florida. Journal of Wildlife Management. 52(4): 660-663. [24564] 5. Belden, Robert C. 1986. Florida panther recovery plan implementation--a 1983 progress report. In: Miller, S. 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