King of the Beasts in North America
February 28, 2023
The species Puma concolor, also known as a Cougar, is a large cat found in both North and South America. It is believed that the species came across the Bering land bridge between 8 and 8.5 million years ago. Over time the animal became prevalent on both continents.
Today, the Cougar is considered extirpated (not present) in the eastern half of the United States due to habitat destruction.
The Infallible Wikipedia shares this about the Cougar:
“Its range spans from the Canadian Yukon to the southern Andes in South America and is the most widespread of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere. It is an adaptable, generalist species, occurring in most American habitat types. This wide range has brought it many common names, including puma, mountain lion, catamount and panther (for the Florida sub-population). It is the second-largest cat in the New World, after the jaguar (Panthera onca). Secretive and largely solitary by nature, the cougar is properly considered both nocturnal and crepuscular, although daytime sightings do occur. Despite its size, the cougar is more closely related to smaller felines, including the domestic cat (Felis catus) than to any species of the subfamily Pantherinae.”
According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), there are approximately 2000 adult cougars in this state. Their primary prey are deer and elk, but they have been known to consume smaller mammals also. Human attacks are very rare and only two have been recorded in Washington State in the past 100 years.
A truly amazing animal, cougars can jump up to 18 feet and have been seen leaping from the ground up into the tree branches. The male of the species are about 7 feet 10 inches from nose to the tip of the tail and weigh between 117 and 159 pounds. Females are slightly smaller at 6 feet 9 inches and weigh between 75 and 106 pounds.
Now, for anyone from the state of Washington we hear the word ‘Cougar’ all the time. It would be almost impossible to NOT know of the animal. But like many things, it’s really more of a concept rather than a reality.
At least it is until someone’s Ring or trail camera captures a digital image. Which occurred just last week right here in Mount Vernon. With the advent of such electronic imaging capture systems, we can now get a better glimpse into what the world looks like when we are sleeping… or even in broad daylight.
The hubby shared in our family chat a couple of photos which showed up on a local Facebook group to which he belongs. Alarming photos.
Alarming, that is, as they clearly show a cougar within two miles of our home. As many of my readers know the hubby and I go Geocaching which often takes us out on trails in the area. When I saw this photo of the cougar the terrain looked just like the terrain of many a local trail.
In reading the WDFW site it does offer some comfort by sharing the following:
“Adult male cougars roam widely, covering a home range of 50 to 150 square miles, depending on the age of the cougar, the time of year, type of terrain, and availability of prey. Adult male cougars’ home ranges will often overlap those of three or four females.”
Well! That is good news. Chances are that we live in this one particular male’s home range and only have to be concerned about him and his harem of three females. Of course I also learned that the male Cougar’s main job is to keep other cougars out of his territory. So he spends most of his time patrolling the borders of his range. When he’s not romancing the ladies that is.
So that means it’s possible that the male depicted was on the southern boundary of his range and that there’s ANOTHER cougar patrolling the northern side of HIS range! Egads! The possible nearby cougar population just doubled.
Now truly, I’m not worried about Cougars from a personal standpoint. I don’t tend to be out tromping around in the woods at night or even during the crepuscular time of day.
(Crepuscular: Zoology. appearing or active in the twilight, as certain bats and insects. And Cougars, apparently)
But it does make me want to get that motion detector camera which the hubby got at Costco well over a year ago up and active. Sounds like a good project for this week so I can know for sure what is lurking outside our backdoor.
As always, the Infallible Wikipedia is a plethora of information to make your mind go numb:
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has a very informative and interesting website. Good job WDFW!
This video from WDFW on Cougar territoriality was very good: