New Mountain Lion Study Shows Increased Ungulate Impact
While wolves take most of the press these days, it seems that the other big North American predator may have been overlooked in its effectiveness at taking game. Cougar populations in the U.S. are increasing but what is not as well understood is how many ungulates (deer, elk, moose) they consume in a given time frame. A new study in the Journal of Wildlife Management suggests that mountain lions may be taking far more game then previously thought.
The Missoulian.com has a good write up about the study and its impacts.
"One of the most interesting things we found was how much more prey they kill in summer," said Kyle Knopff, lead author of a three-year Canadian mountain lion study that was recently published in the Journal of Wildlife Management. "Just how focused they become on young of the year ungulates was surprising." "Our kill rate estimates indicate that adult cougars are highly effective predators, killing at rates at the upper end of those recorded for wolves in both frequency and biomass," Knopff wrote.
Based on the Canadian data, the cougars killed on average 0.8 ungulates (mainly whitetail deer and moose) a week, an average of about 18 pounds a day. That statistic varied widely, though, based on the individual - from a low of 0.24 ungulates to a high of 1.38, or 18 to 41 pounds a day.