Date of Award:

1986

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Wildland Resources

Department name when degree awarded

Fisheries and Wildlife

Advisor/Chair:

Frederick G. Lindzey

Abstract

Forty radio-collared cougars (Felis concolor) were monitored for 630 cougar months. Track searches were conducted and tracking information was gathered over a 20-month period. Vulnerability was estimated to be greatest for 0 to 6-month-old kittens. This age class is the most susceptible to starvation after being orphaned, or being killed by hounds when the hunter is unaware of their presence, since their tracks were found with their mother's tracks only 19 percent of the time. Tracks of 7 to 12-month old kittens were found with their mother's tracks 43 percent of the time. Relative road-crossing frequencies of seven classes of transients and resident adults were derived from sequential, aerial telemetry locations. Significant differences (P < 0.043) in crossing frequencies were found among these classes. A relative vulnerability index, based on road-crossing frequencies, was calculated for each class. Compared to an average vulnerability index of one for all classes, resident females without kittens, and those with 0 to 6-month, 7 to 12-month, and 13 to 18-month-old kittens, had relative vulnerability indices of 0 . 6, 0.5, 0.83, and 0.78, respectively. Transient females, resident males and transient males had indices of 0.93, 0.95, and 1.35, respectively.

After two years of experimental hunts, where the average density of harvestable cougars (kittens and females accompanied by kittens excluded) 2 was 0.71/100 km, hunters found an average of 1.3 tracks per day and started their hounds on 1 in 3.8 of these tracks. Treeing a cougar required an average of 8.7 hunting days and covering 559 km of road during track searches. The level of experience of the hunter and his hounds appeared to be very important in determining hunting success. How the differential vulnerability between cougar classes may affect the composition of the hunter harvest was also discussed.

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