Female cougars spend most of their adult lives pregnant or raising kittens. If hunters misidentify the sex of a cougar or inadvertently kill a mother traveling without her kittens, the orphaned kittens will likely starve to death or die of exposure. In Panthera’s Teton Cougar Project study area, the leading cause of death for kittens <6 months old is wolves, whereas the leading cause of death for kittens 6-18 months is starvation.
Meanwhile, male cougars travel great distances to find a home of their own—sometimes hundreds of kilometers. This period of dispersal is especially dangerous for young cougars, whose wanderings lead them across highways and into other life-threatening situations with humans and other predators.