Beyond their intrinsic value as one of nature's magnificent creatures, cougars play an important role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. Conservation biologists consider cougars to be keystone predators, meaning their ecological influence is disproportionate to their relatively small population size. By preying on deer and elk, for instance, cougars help prevent wild herbivores from overgrazing vegetation. The ability of predators to keep prey in check benefits other animals that depend on intact plant communities, like birds, butterflies, and beavers. This process is called a trophic cascade.
Cougars also help provide food for scavengers. Prey killed by cougars are a nutritional resource for bears, raptors, and other wildlife.
Lastly, in addition, cougars serve as an "umbrella" species for conservation. When we accommodate the cougar's need to move across vast areas of land by providing them with space and pathways (wildlife corridors) for movement, we also help conserve less charismatic wildlife with overlapping habitat needs.
Females and Kittens
|State||Policies||Harvest of kittens and/or females with kittens?||Backtracking if suspected female with kittens killed?||Regulation/Education notes from State Resources|
|Arizona||“Any lion except spotted kittens or females accompanied by spotted kittens.” No female subquota.||No – Illegal||No||“Any lion except spotted kittens or females accompanied by spotted kittens”|
|California||No hunting per state law|
|Colorado||“It is illegal to kill a kitten or lion accompanied by one or more kittens. A kitten is a lion with spots.” No female subquota.||No – Illegal||No||“Gender identification of cougars will help: 1. reduce unwanted female cougar mortality; 2. reduce cougar kitten mortality associated with orphaning; 3. increase hunter satisfaction; 4. the Department meet management objectives.”|
|Florida||No hunting – Federal Endangered Species List|
|Idaho||“Neither spotted mountain lion young nor female mountain lions accompanied by spotted young may be taken.” Female subquota in some GMUs.||No - Illegal||No||“Kittens, Female With Young: Neither spotted mountain lion young nor female mountain lions accompanied by spotted young may be taken.”|
|Montana||“Female mountain lions with kittens may not be taken. No mountain lion with body spots shall be killed.” Female subquota in some GMUs.|
|Nebraska||No 2016 Mountain Lion Hunting Season|
|Nevada||“It is unlawful for any person to:
||No – Illegal||No||“4. It is unlawful for any person to: (a) Transport the hide of a mountain lion from this state without the seal, required by this section, permanently affixed to the hide. (b) Except as otherwise provided in subsection 3, possess the hide of a mountain lion without a seal permanently attached to it. (c) Kill a female mountain lion which is accompanied by a spotted kitten. (d) Kill or possess a spotted mountain lion kitten.”|
|New Mexico||“No hunter may take any spotted kitten(s) or any female accompanied by a spotted kitten(s).” Female subquotas.||No – Illegal||No||“Bag limit is two adult cougars. No hunter may take any spotted kitten(s) or any female accompanied by a spotted kitten(s).” “Gender identification of cougars will help: 1. reduce unwanted female cougar mortality; 2. reduce cougar kitten mortality associated with orphaning; 3. increase hunter satisfaction; 4. the Department meet management objectives.”|
|North Dakota||“Kittens (mountain lions with visible spots), or females accompanied by kittens may not be harvested.” No female subquota.||No – Illegal||No||Kittens (mountain lions with visible spots), or females accompanied by kittens may not be harvested. Any mountain lion harvested must be reported to the Department within 12 hours|
|Oregon||“it is unlawful to take spotted kittens or females with spotted kittens.” No female subquota.||No - Illegal||No||“BAG LIMIT: One cougar per tag, except that it is unlawful to take spotted kittens or females with spotted kittens.”|
|South Dakota||“No person may harvest or attempt to harvest a mountain lion with a spotted coat (kitten) or any mountain lion accompanying another mountain lion. No person may release dogs (where allowed) on tracks indicating multiple mountain lions traveling together.” Female subquota.||No – Illegal||Referred to in MLMP||A total of 13 kittens were found by department staff
and placed in licensed zoological parks throughout the United States. It is the department work direction that kittens that are younger than 3 months of age will be found, if possible, and held at the facility at South Dakota State University until placed in an accredited Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums public facility.
|Texas||No Restrictions – Species classified as varmints|
|Utah||“You may not:
||No – Illegal||No||“Whether you are harvesting or pursuing cougar, you may not:
|Washington||“It is unlawful to kill or possess spotted cougar kittens (usually <80 lbs.) or adult cougars accompanied by spotted kittens.” No female subquota.||No - Illegal||No||“It is unlawful to kill or possess spotted cougar kittens (usually <80 lbs.) or adult cougars accompanied by spotted kittens. Since cougars are solitary, observing multiple tracks suggests a female with offspring. However, smaller kittens may not be visible to hunters so please observe and be patient before shooting.”|
|Wyoming||“Hunters may harvest any mountain lion, except dependant young and female mountain lions with dependant young at side shall not be harvested.” No female subquota.|