Why Research Matters to Mountain Lions in Wyoming
Mountain lions live like shadows around us, and most people have never seen one. Most never will. Yet on July 8, the Wyoming Game Commission granted these wraiths of forests and mountains a reprieve in several parts of the state, including Unit 2 in the northwest wherePanthera’s Teton Cougar Project (TCP) operates. Unit 2 extends north of Jackson through the Bridger-Teton National Forest to Yellowstone National Park. Thanks to the diligent efforts of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Large Carnivore Section (WGFD LCS) and researchers on the ground, research-driven mountain lion management is taking hold in Wyoming.
Since 2007, Wyoming has been aggressively trying to reduce its mountain lions in many areas to support mule deer populations and reduce real and perceived risks to people. Statewide, the number of mountain lions killed by hunters increased from 180 in 2006 to 306 in 2013, before dropping to 243 in 2015. Hunter success followed similar trends, with a steep drop of several percentage points after 2013. The proportion of older male mountain lions (the larger trophy animals hunters prefer) killed each year has also decreased. As a result, over the last 10 years, statewide harvest numbers have included 20% more young mountain lions. More adult females are being killed in many hunting units as well, and at younger ages. We know this thanks to improved tracking initiated by LCS biologists.
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Photo by Mark Elbroch with Panthera.