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Montana Animal Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Mountain Lion - Puma concolor
Other Names:  Catamount, Cougar, Painter, Panther, Puma, Screamer

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Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4

Agency Status
USFWS:
USFS:
BLM:
FWP Conservation Tier: 3


 

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General Description
A large cat with an elongate body, powerful limbs, small head, short face, short rounded ears, long neck and long, round, black-tipped tail. Two color phases: buff, cinnamon, and tawny to cinnamon rufous and ferruginous, and silvery gray to bluish and slaty gray; young are buffy with dark spots, and the eyes are blue for the first few months; color of upperparts is most intense midorsally; sides of muzzle and backs of ears are black; underparts are dull whitish with buff wash across the belly; end of tail is dark brown or blackish; adult total length 171 to 274 cm in males, 150 to 233 cm in females; adult tail length 53 to 81 cm; greatest length of skull 172 to 237 mm in males, 158 to 203 mm in females (Nowak 1991, Hall 1981, Maehr 1992). Eyes set forward on head for sight hunting. Adult males weigh 150 to 190 lbs., females 70 to 120 lbs. Solitary, except for females accompanied by males or kittens. Females den in caves, rock crevices, brush piles, etc. with kittens and leave them there while hunting; usually hunt by stealth at night and cover unused food for later use. Males territorial, and large male home ranges may overlap smaller ones of females.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Differs from the Jaguarundi in much larger size (maximum total length of Jaguarundi is 137 cm). Differs from the Canada Lynx and Bobcat in having a much longer tail (less than 25 cm in Bobcat and Canada Lynx). Differs from other cats in lack of spotting in adult pelage. Young Mountain Lion differ from the Ocelot in having the spot not arranged in rows or chain-like streaks. See Hoffmeister (1986) for cranial differences between Mountain Lion and Jaguar.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Montana Distribution


Western Hemisphere Range

 


Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 3591

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

 

(Records associated with a range of dates are excluded from time charts)



Migration
Non-migratory.

Habitat
Mostly mountains and foothills, but any habitat with sufficient food, cover and room to avoid humans. In western MT, spring and fall ranges at higher elevation than winter areas. Cover types in winter: 42% pole stands, 30% selectively logged (pole or mature), 18% seral brushfields (Murphy 1983). In eastern MT apparently uses riparian and breaks (Matthews and Swenson 1982).

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at bmaxell@mt.gov or (406) 444-3655.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2001.  The wild mammals of Montana.  Special Publication No. 12.  Lawrence, KS: The American Society of Mammalogists.  278 p.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana’s amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
Deer, Elk, and Porcupine most important in Montana, but may take prey ranging in size from grasshoppers to Moose. In Fish Creek Drainage, White-tailed Deer appeared to be primary food, followed by Elk, Mule Deer, and Snowshoe Hare (Murphy 1983).

Ecology
Harvest intensity in Fish Creek mostly determine by snow conditions. Road access, hunting pressure and prey base are management concerns. Some areas require more conservative management than others. In Fish Creek: 4.3 adults/100sq km, 7.1 lions/100sq km (Murphy 1983)

Reproductive Characteristics
Breed any time, but young most commonly born in May. Two to four spotted young born about every 2 years per female. Females keep males away from kittens, which may otherwise eat them. Females first breed at 2 to 4 years of age. In Fish Creek Drainage, litters raised at approximately 2 year intervals. Average 2.6 kittens/litter (Murphy 1983).

References
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View WorldCat Record   View Online Publication
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    • Allen, A.W. 1987. The relationship between habitat and furbearers. Pages 164-179 in M. Novak, J.A. Baker, M.E. Obbard, and B. Malloch, eds. Wild Furbearer Management and Conservation in North America. Ontario Trappers Assn. and Ontario Ministry Nat. Res., Toronto, Ontario.
    • Aune, K. 1991. Increasing mountain lion populations and human-lion interactions in Montana. Proc. of Human/Lion Interactions Symposium. Denver, Colo.
    • Barnes, C. T. 1960. The cougar or mountain lion. Salt Lake City, UT. 176 pp.
    • Beier, P. 1993. Determining minimum habitat areas and habitat corridors for cougars. Conservation Biology 7(1):94-108.
    • Boggs, Keith., , Field inventory of wildlife resources . . . WICHE Proj. No. D117. Spec. Oc./Habitat Type.
    • Camp Dresser & McKee, Inc., 1990, Stillwater Chromite Project Baseline Data Report: Hydrology and Wildlife Monitoring, Hydrology - November 1988 through November 1989, Wildlife - November 1988 through February 1990. June 30, 1990
    • Camp Dresser & McKee, Inc., Wheat Ridge, CO., 1981, Anaconda Stillwater Project 6-month environmental baseline report. CDM Project No. 3139. Vol. I Appendix. Jan. 15, 1981.
    • Casebeer, R. L., M. J. Rognrud and S. M. Brandberg. 1950. Rocky Mountain goats in Montana. Montana Fish and Game Comm., Wildl. Rest. Div. Bull. No.5. 107 pp.
    • Chapman, J. A., and G. A. Feldhamer, editors. 1982. Wild mammals of North America: biology, management, and economics. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
    • Clark, T. W., H.A. Harvey, R.D. Dorn, D.L. Genter, and C. Groves (eds). 1989. Rare, sensitive, and threatened species of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, Montana Natural Heritage Program, The Nature Conservancy, and Mountain West Environmental Services. 153 p.
    • Currier, M. J. P. 1983. Puma concolor. American Society of Mammalogists, Lawrence, KS. Mammalian Species No. 200:1-7.
    • Eaton, R.L. 1973. The status, management, and conservation of the cougar in the United States. The World's Cats, 1:68-86.
    • Farmer, Patrick J., and Thomas W. Butts, Western Technology & Eng., Inc., Helena, MT., 1994, McDonald Project Terrestrial Wildlife Study, November 1989 - November 1993. April 1994. In McDonald Gold Project: Wildlife & Fisheries. [#18]. Seven-up Pete Joint Venture, Lincoln, MT. Unpub. No date.
    • Farmer, Patrick. J., et al., Western Technology and Eng., Inc., Helena, MT., 1984, Montana Tunnels Project Baseline Terrestrial Wildlife Study. December 14, 1984. In Application for a Hard Rock Operating Permit, Montana Tunnels Project, Jefferson County, Montana. Vol. 3. Environmental Baseline Reports. (Centennial Minerals, Inc., Hydrometrics, 1984?)
    • Foresman, K. R. 2001. The wild mammals of Montana. American Society of Mammologists, Special Publication Number 12. Lawrence, KS. 278 p.
    • HANSEN, C. G., 1967, BIGHORN SHEEP POPULATIONS OF THE DESERT GAME RANGE
    • Hansen, K. 1992. Cougar: the American lion. Northland Publ. Co., Flagstaff, Arizona. xiii + 129 pp.
    • Hoffmann, R. S. and D. L. Pattie. 1968. A guide to Montana mammals: identification, habitat, distribution, and abundance. University of Montana, Missoula. 133 p.
    • Homocker, M. G., J. J. Craighead, and E. W. Pfeiffer. 1965. Immobilizing mountain lions with succinylcholine chloride and pentobarbital sodium. J. Wildt. Manage. 29:880-883.
    • Homocker, M. G., K. M. Murphy, and G. S. Felzien. 1990. The ecology of the mountain lion (Felis concolor) in the northern Yellowstone Ecosystem. Ann. Rep. No.3. Homocker Wildlife Research Institute, University of Idaho, Moscow. 32 pp.
    • Homocker, M. G., K. M. Murphy, and G. S. Felzien. 1991. The ecology of the mountain lion (Felis concolor) in the northern Yellowstone Ecosystem. Ann. Rep. No.4. Homocker Wildlife Research Institute, University of Idaho, Moscow. 17 pp.
    • Homocker, M. G., K. M. Murphy, and J. W. Tischendorf. 1988. The ecology of the mountain lion (Felis concolor) in the northern Yellowstone Ecosystem. Ann. Rep. No. 1. Hornocker Wildlife Research Institute, University of Idaho, Moscow. 30 pp.
    • Hornocker, M. 1970. An analysis of mountain lion predation on mule deer and elk in the Idaho Primitive Area. Wildl. Monogr. No. 21:1-39.
    • Hornocker, M. G., K. M. Murphy, and J. W. Tischendorf. 1989. The ecology of the mountain lion (Felis concolor) in the northern Yellowstone Ecosystem. Ann. Rep. No.2. Homocker Wildlife Research Institute, University of Idaho, Moscow. 45 pp.
    • Hornocker, M. G., K. M. Murphy, G. S. Felzien, and S. E. Relyea. 1992. The ecology of the mountain lion (Felis concolor) in the northem Yellowstone Ecosystem. Ann. Rep. No.5. Hornocker Wildlife Research institute, University of Idaho, Moscow. 39 pp.
    • Humphris, Michael., 1994, Wildlife Monitoring Report. Spring Creek Coal Company 1994 Mining Annual Report. Appendix I. April 1994.
    • Joslin and Brown. 1978. Capture and reintroduction of a mountain lion kitten. Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildt. and Parks, Region One Rep. 7 pp.
    • Joslin, G. 1988. Montana mountain lions. Montana Outdoors 19(6):17-20.
    • MATHEWS, F. S., 1927, FIELDBOOK OF AMERICAN WILDFLOWERS
    • Matthews, W. L. and J. E. Swenson. 1982. The mammals of east-central Montana. Proc. Mont. Acad. Sci. 39: 1-13.
    • Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. 1971-1992. Annual mountain lion deer hunting and harvest statistics. Helena.
    • Murphy, K. M. 1983. Relationships between a mountain lion population and hunting pressure in western Montana. M.S. thesis. University of Montana, Missoula. 48 pp.
    • Murphy, K. M. 1984. The status of the mountain lion in Montana. Pages 39-43 in J. Roberson and F. Lindzey, eds., Proc. of the Second Mountain Lion Workshop, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Salt Lake City, UT. 271 pp.
    • Reid, F. 2006. Peterson Field Guide to Mammals of North America, 4th Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston and New York, 608 pp.
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    • Riley, S. J. 1992. One hundred years of cougar management in Montana: It's cause to pause. Pp. 49-59 in G. L. Dusek, comp., Proc. Mont. Chapt. The Wildt. Soc., Whitefish. 67 pp.
    • Rust, H. J. 1946. Mammals of northern Idaho. J. Mammal. 27(4): 308-327.
    • Thompson, Richard W., Western Resource Dev. Corp., Boulder, CO., 1996, Wildlife baseline report for the Montana [Montanore] Project, Lincoln and Sanders counties, Montana. In Application for a Hard Rock Operating Permit and Proposed Plan of Operation, Montanore Project, Lincoln and Sanders Counties, Montana. Vol. 5. Stroiazzo, John. Noranda Minerals Corp., Libby, MT. Revised September 1996.
    • Thunderbird Wildlife Consulting, Inc., Gillette, WY., 2003, 2002 wildlife monitoring report: Big Sky Mine. February 2003.
    • TVX Mineral Hill Mine, Amerikanuak, Inc., Gardiner, MT., 2002, Yearly summary of wildlife observation reports. 1990-2002 Letter reports.
    • U.S. Forest Service, Kootenai National Forest. Montana Dept. of State Lands., 1978?, Final Environmental Impact Statement. Proposed Plan of Mining and Reclamation. Troy Project, Asarco, Inc., Lincoln County, Montana. Vol. III.
    • Van Dyke, F. G., et al. 1986. Reactions of mountain lions to logging and human activity. J. Wildl. Manage. 50:95-102.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 1993, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report; 1992 Field Season. December 1993.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 1993, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report; 1993 Field Season. April 1993.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 1997, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: 1996 Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report; December 1, 1995 - November 30, 1996 Survey Period. February 28, 1997.
    • Waage, Bruce C., 2002, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana. 2001 Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report; December 1, 2000 - November 30, 2001. Febr. 26, 2002.
    • Westech Environmental Services, Inc., 2003, Wildlife monitoring: Absaloka Mine area, 2002. April 2003
    • Western Technology and Eng., Inc., 1991, Wildlife resources of the Little Rocky Mountains Environmental Study Area. March 1991. In Application for Amendment to Operating Permit No. 00096, Zortman Mining, Inc., Phillips County, Montana. Vol. 3. Jan. 3, 1995.
    • Western Technology and Eng., Inc., Helena, MT., 1996, Terrestrial Wildlife Reconnaissance: Stillwater Mining Company Hertzler Tailings Facility and Tailings Line, 1996. October 1996. In Stillwater Mining Co. Mine Waste Management Plan Amendment to Permit #00118 Supplemental Baseline Reports: Terrestrial Wildlife, Vegetation, Soils, Land Application Disposal, Waters of the U.S. January 1997.
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    • Williams, J. S. 1992. Ecology of mountain lions in the Sun River area of northern Montana. M.S. thesis, Montana State University, Bozeman. 109 pp.
    • Williams, J. S., and J. McCarthy. 1992. An update on the Rocky Mountain Front mountain lion study. Pp. 60-65 in G. L. Dusek, comp., Proc. Mont. Chapt. The Wildl. Soc., Whitefish. 67 pp.
    • Zackheim, Karen, 1973?, Exhibit H: Wildlife Study. In Ash Grove Cement Co. files.
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Citation for data on this website:
Mountain Lion — Puma concolor.  Montana Field Guide.  Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Retrieved on December 20, 2014, from http://FieldGuide.mt.gov/speciesDetail.aspx?elcode=AMAJH04010
 
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