Study Aims to Protect Kittens

Mountain lions (Puma concolor) are hunted in most of the western states where they are found. Nevada is no exception. That’s why researchers with Panthera’s Puma Program set out to understand not only the lives of mothers and their kittens, but also how to best prevent young lions from being orphaned by hunters.

Mountain lion kittens are dependent on mom for up to 18 months. They rely on her for food, protection, and to learn the skills necessary for survival. Without her, orphaned kittens face an uncertain fate. The researchers learned that even older kittens struggle as they are lacking “mature teeth and hunting skills.”

Today, hunting is the primary cause of death for mountain lions. In many states where these wild cats are protected, it is illegal to kill a female with dependent young. However, it can be difficult for hunters to determine if a female has kittens. With the hopes of protecting kittens from being orphaned, the researchers made a recommendation: delay the start of hunting seasons until December 1 so that hunters can better detect if a female has dependent young.

Click here to read:  Aligning Mountain Lion Hunting Seasons to Mitigate Orphaning Dependent Kittens

According to Mark Elbroch, Puma Program Director for Panthera, “This is one step that would make a real difference for mountain lion families.”

Denise Peterson

Leave a Reply Text

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *