The Beautiful Cougar Waits

It's one of the largest cats in North America, and a top predator. It's the Yellowstone cougar (puma concolor), also known as the mountain lion. Cougars are beautiful, sleek creatures.

Seeing a cougar in Yellowstone is rare. If you do see one, consider yourself lucky, and go buy a lotto ticket! They are stealthy, and are good at keeping out of sight. One could be staring at you from a ledge, a tree, or the brush and you will never know it or see it.

There are few documented cases of cougars attacking people in Yellowstone, even so, it's always wise to hike in groups. If you encounter one, pick up any small children that may be with you, make noise, act dominate by staring into its eyes, and show your teeth while making noise. Yes, really. Never run. If you do, it will likely chase you. Never bend down, whether to pick up something from the ground or to crouch. In most cases, a bit of noise will scare it off.

The average male can weigh 145 to 170 pounds and live from 8 to 10 years. The average female weighs 85 to 120 pounds and can live 14 to 14 years. Their length, including the tail can be around 6.5 to 7.5 feet. Their litters usually include 2 or 3 kittens with a 50% survival rate the first year.

Male cougars will often kill other male cougars in their territory. Wolves are known to kill adult cougars as well as their kittens.

Cougars like and thrive in rocky areas. They also like forested areas because it provides cover for hunting their prey and to get away from bears and wolves. They usually prey on elk, mule deer, marmots and other small mammals. many times, bears and wolves will chase the cougar away after it makes its kill and will claim the kill for themselves. Not very neighborly!

Unfortunately, in the early 1900's cougars, and wolves (canis lupus), were killed throughout the lower 48 states, even in the national parks. Even though cougars were eradicated from Yellowstone, the species survived in the west, probably because of its preference for rocky terrain where it is difficult to track. Thankfully, the survivors reestablished themselves in Yellowstone and thrive here today. =]:)

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