Find the best places to hunt Cougar in Canada and discover the Cougar's Physical Description, Range, Habitat, Food Source, Breeding Habits, and Status.

Provinces with Cougar Hunting

British Columbia Resident and Non-Resident
Alberta Resident Only
Saskatchewan Trapping Only

Selecting a Calibre for Cougar

 Vital Shot Placement for Cougars

Vital Shot Placement for Cougars

Photo From National Park Service

Modified by Canada-Hunts.ca

This cat is often hunted with the use of dogs and treeing the animal. Because of this method of hunting, typical shots are taken at about 25 yards.Calibers that get the most mention are the 7x57, .308, and .223 with a heavy jacketed bullet with a weight of about 180 grains would do fine so as to not damage the pelt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cougar Paw

 
Cougar's Paw

Normally only 4 round toes show in cougar's track. There is an inside toe (toe 1) but it is higher up the leg and does not usually leave an imprint.

It's sharp, retractable claws rarely show.

Front Paw: 2.2 – 4.2 in (5.7 – 10.5 cm) long.

Front Paw: 1.6 – 4.3 in (4.1 – 10.9 cm) wide.

Rear Paw: 2 – 4.2 in (5.1 – 10.6 cm) long.

Rear Paw: 2.5 – 4.8 in (6.5 – 12.1 cm) wide.

Trail Width: 5-9 inch (12.7 - 22.9 cm)

   

 

 

 

Cougar Scat

Cougar Scat Photo By: Dave Gingrich - Flickr

 

Range - Distribution and Habitat of Cougar In Canada

 Cougar Range Map of Canada

 

Cougar Range Map of CanadaOriginal map of Canada: By Nzeemin [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Modified By: Canada-Hunts.ca

The cougars' range in Canada is primarily in British Columbia and Alberta, although some sightings are reported in almost all provinces, but not in the territories.

The cougar does prefer a habitat with a dense underbrush and rocky areas for stalking. But it is capable of living in open areas.

Territories by individuals can include areas with features like cliffs, Deserts, Conifer, Hardwood, MixedForests.

This big cat is generally associated with mountainous and remote undisturbed areas. However, they can occupy a wide variety of habitats like swamps and wooded areas of land adjacent to a body of water such as a river, stream, pond, lake, marshland, estuary, canal, sink or reservoir. 

The cougar’s home range will depend on the landscape, plants for cover, and the quality and numbers of food sources. This home range will consist of hundreds of square kilometers and a population density of not greater than 3-4 adults per 100sqkm (8-10 per 100sqmi).  

Males generally have a larger territory (200 to several hundred sq km) than females and they will tolerate several females to be in their zone.

The cougar is quite territorial, solitary (except females with kittens and the mating season) and can survive at low population densities.

Despite its size, it is not always at the top of the food chain and gives way to the gray wolf, American black bear, and grizzly bear.

Cougar (Puma concolor)

Cougar

Males Females
Life Span 8-13 years 8-13 years
Shoulder Height 58.4–71 cm (23–28 in) 
Overall Length 2.4 m (7.9 ft)  2.05 m (6.7 ft)
Weight 53 to 100 kg (115 to 220 lb) 29 to 64 kg (64 and 141 lb)
Weight at Birth

1 lb (0.45 kg)

Tail Length 53.3 to 91.4 cm (21 – 36) inches
Hearing Good Hearing 
Eyes

Excellent 

Dental Formula  I 3/3, C 1/1, Pm 3/2, M 1/1 X 2 = 30
Body Temperature 101.5 degrees F
Track Paw - normally 4 toes show.
Can Travel 64-80 KM/hour (40 - 50 Miles per Hour)
Diet Carnivour
Sexual Maturity   1.5-3 Years
Breeding Time Anytime of the Year
Gestation N/A 82-100 days
Birthing N/A  
# in Litter N/A 1-4 cubs
Weaning 2-3 months
Communication Visual, olfactory (scent), and postural signals, and vocalizations such as low guttural growls, spitting, snarls, and hissing.

Also known as the mountain lion, puma, panther, or catamount and it is the second-heaviest cat after the Jaguar in the New World.

 Description of Cougar

 Photo From Pixabay

Modified By: Canada-Hunts.ca

A large cat with an elongated body, powerful limbs, small head, short face, short rounded ears, and long neck and tail;

The cougar has two color variations: The first one is a buff, cinnamon, and tawny to cinnamon reddish brown color. The second is a silvery gray to bluish and slate gray.

The young are born a buff color with dark spots, and strikingly blue eyes. The sad part is those blue eyes will turn to a yellowish orange color after 3-4 months and those spots will be gone by the age of 2 ½ years.

The colour of the upper part of its body is most intense along its back. The sides of its muzzle and the back of its ears are black. The belly is a dull whitish colour with buff wash, white also appears on its chest, and under its chin. It has a long tail (length 53-91 cm) with a dark brown or blackish tip that distinguishes it apart from a Lynx or Bobcat.

Adult males have an overall length 171-274 cm while females are 150-233 cm. The weight of a male cougar is 36-120 kg while females weigh 29-64 kg.

This mammal does most of its hunting at night and has a reputation of being secretive and solitary by nature.

 

Gray Phase of Cougar

Gray phase of CougarPhoto By: Anthony Trumbo - Flickr

It avoids contact with people and because of this confrontation between these big cats and humans is rare. However, as we enter this animal’s territory and their source of food diminishes, human – cat interactions are on the rise with increasing noted fatalities.

 

Diet and Foraging Strategy of Cougars

 Adult Cougar

Cougar in tree Photo By: - USWFS - Flickr

The cougar is successful generalist carnivore that can prey on almost anything and will eat anything it can catch. Its diet will range from insects to large ungulates that can weigh over 500 kg.,

The cougar is closely related to the house cat and like all cats; it is a carnivore feeding exclusively on meat to survive.

A North American survey found that 68% of its prey was ungulates with deer topping the list of preferred species.

Its prey species of the deer family are mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, caribou, and even adult Bull Moose.

Other species on its diet or agenda includes the Bighorn and Dall's sheep, Black Bear (cubs), horses, mountain goat, coyote, pronghorn, raccoons, rabbits and hares, rodents, wild turkey, and domestic livestock such as cattle and sheep.

Though capable of sprinting, the cougar is typically an ambush predator by stalking its intended prey from the brush at the side of the trail. The cougar typically does not chase its prey it will only make two or three bounds of 20 to 50 ft. If it does not catch its prey in that period, it will not generally pursue the chase, but wait for another victim to come by. The cougar’s killing tactic is to get on the back of its victim, hold down the prey’s head with a front paw, and bite through the back of animal’s neck bone near the base of the prey’s head.

A solitary cougar may only require one large ungulate in a two week period in order to sustain itself. However, a female with older kittens (15 months) may require the same large ungulate to be taken every 3 days. The cougar generally does not scavenge prey but it will cache its larger kills under piles of leaves or grass to return at a later time/

Cougars are efficient in the consumption of their prey and studies show that they consume up to 70% of the entire carcass. 

Breeding and Reproduction of Cougars

Cougar Kittens (young)
cougar cubs Photo From: - Pixabay

A female cougar will reach her sexual maturity somewhere between one-and-a-half to three years of age and can come into estrus any time of the year. Through their lifetime they will typically produce a litter every two to three years. Although this period can be as short as one year and she will come into heat if she looses the complete litter.

Females are in estrus for about 8 days of a 23-day cycle and the gestation period will last approximately 82-100 days. Litter size is between one and six cubs; typically two. The female is the only partner that is involved in the raising of the cubs.

Female cougars are a formidable foe when it comes to the defense of her cubs. In order to protect them she will take on a wolf or even Grizzly Bear and they have been seen to be successful at it. Caves and other alcoves that offer protection are used as litter dens. Young are born in secluded places among rocks or dense vegetation.

The cubs come into this world blind, weighing about 1 pound, and in litter sizes of 1-4 cubs (usually 2-3). The cubs are completely dependent on their mother at first and begin to be weaned at around 2-3 months of age. As the cubs grow, they begin to go out on hunting expeditions with their mother. Their first trips are to simply visit the kill site, then the mother introduces them to live small prey that she has caught and lets them play with. Finally, at about six months she will get them to hunt for small prey of their own. Mortality of kittens is high and typically only one will survive in a litter.

For the first 7 to 8 weeks of the cub’s life, they are brought their meals of fresh meat as the mother hunts close to the den site. Nourishment for the kittens is through that meat and the mothers’ milk. But once the cubs are weaned (2-4 months), the mother cougar will move out further in her home range and move the kittens to other den sites in that territory. This process of moving is in order to get the kittens to follow her to kill sites. It is important for hunters to note that because of these facts that the absence of young with a female cat does not exclude the fact that a female not without dependent young.

These cubs will stay with their mother for about 1-2 years and will have a life expectancy of 8-13 years with 10 years cited as the norm.

Status of Cougar in Canada

Provinces Status
Nunavut No Data
Northwest Territories Not Ranked
Yukon No Data
British Columbia Apparently Secure
Alberta Apparently Secure
Saskatchewan Imperilled
Manitoba Imperilled
Ontario Not Ranked
Quebec Critically Imperilled
New Brunswick Not Ranked
Nova Scotia Not Ranked
Prince Edward Island No Status
New Foundland No Status
Labrador No Status

Historically, humans have hunted cougars that prey on their livestock and the odd attack of a cougar on people. Disease, parasites, injury, and making free-ranging or unsupervised livestock the easiest food source available are the cited justifications for these attacks. The recourse by humans was to eradicate the species from their (human) territories.

Cougars are harvested through trophy hunting in jurisdictions where cougars are allowed to be hunted with hounds. The dog is used to detect the presence of a cougar and tree it. The cats' size and sex is determined and then it harvested by the hunter if it meets the hunters' criteria. This hunting technique can cause a drastic decline in a cougar population if left unchecked. But it should not be an issue if only male cougars are taken. Another male cougar will soon overtake the males' territory that was harvested and the species will continue to go on with the new cat breeding the females.

Cougars can die from serious injuries sustained that can be had when they pursue prey larger than themselves. If this happens to a female with a litter, odds are the litter will not survive unless they are more than nine to 12 months old and they are at the point where they are catching food for themselves. Young cougars that have recently struck out on their own are susceptible to starvation as their hunting skills are not honed like those of their elders. Male adult cougars are a source of concern for female cougars as these males have been known to kill cubs, young cougars, and other adults.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, Version 2016-3. (01 March 2017) lists the cougar as of least concern and with a declining population.

Originally designated “endangered” in 1978 by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, since 1998 the cougar has been designated as “data deficient.”

Thoughts that this cat was extinct from eastern Canada and sightings were those of a Lynx, Bobcat, or escaped zoo specimen led to the conclusion that there was “insufficient information” to assign a status.

" Editorial Note: Some provinces like Ontario (2009) and Nova Scotia (2016) are now admitting to fact that the cougar DOES EXIST.

The base population of cougars occurs in western Canada and populations are considered stable. However, the cougar has reported sightings across the country and there are definite signs of this cat but not enough data determine the status or likely hood of cougar survival. DNA hair sampling, occasional shooting by authorities protecting ourselves and pets, car collisions, photos, and trapping activities seem to point to the fact the cougar may well be spreading its population eastward across the country. 

References

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cougar
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cougar#Conservation_status
  • Hinterland Who's Who - http://www.hww.ca/en/wildlife/mammals/cougar-1.html?referrer=http://www.hww.ca/en/wildlife/mammals/?referrer=http://www.hww.ca/en/wildlife/
  • https://wildcatconservation.org/canadian-cats/
  • https://www.nps.gov/romo/learn/nature/mountain-lion.htm
  • http://a100.gov.bc.ca/pub/eswp/speciesSummary.do?id=15552
  • http://www.protectadks.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/MontanaMountainLionEducationAndIdentification.pdf
  • http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/wld/documents/cougar.htm
  • https://wildcatconservation.org/wild-cats/north-america/cougar/

Photo Credits - Background

Cougar in tree - USWFS - Flickr

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