Old-timers Keep Mountain Lions Stable

In January, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will begin using “equilibrium management” to determine the number of mountain lions (or cougars, Puma concolor) taken by hunters in each management unit, according to a press release from Washington State University. This will limit the take to the natural amount of reproduction — 14 percent, according to the release.

Research by Washington State University’s Large Carnivore Conservation Lab has found that mature, adult male mountain lions are the lynchpin of the species’ population dynamics. According to the press release, mature males will kill younger males to protect their territories, keeping the overall population low. The mature males are also less likely to prey on livestock.

There is no word, however, on how using equilibrium management will prevent hunters from killing all the mature males in an area, therefore releasing the less stable younger males.

Several news outlets have published the press release with no additional reporting. Read the press release here.
Find the current studies of the Large Carnivore Conservation Lab, including many studies on Puma, here.

Photo courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation