From the Pleistocene Age to the Modern Age the cougar has been a feature of the American wilderness.
The cougar has been a feature of the North Amercian landscape for thousands of years. However, in late 19th and early 20th century bounty hunting brought the cougar to the brink of extinction. Below is a timeline marking a series of important events that directly effect the ongoing human and cougar relationship.
Cougars (Puma concolor) evolve from a common ancestor with the African cheetah and American jaguarundi.
Oldest known fossil records of cougars.
Cougars in North America believed to have been extirpated during the Pleistocene extinctions.
Cougars believed to have recolonized North America from a small founder group in South America.
Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca observes a cougar in Florida, becoming perhaps the first European in North America to see one.
Jesuit priests in Southern California offer a bounty of one bull to Native Americans for every cougar killed.
Connecticut enacts bounty on cougar.
Massachusetts enacts bounty on cougar.
Pennsylvania enacts bounty on cougar.
Oregon territory enacts bounty on cougar.
Due to extermination by humans, cougar are considered rare in the eastern two-thirds of the continent, with some perhaps surviving in the remote areas of Maine, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia and Florida.
Last cougar believed killed in Vermont.
Utah Territorial Legislature classifies cougars as an "obnoxious animal" and establishes bounty.
Last cougar believed killed in Pennsylvania.
Cougars effectively exterminated from most states east of the Mississippi River, with a small population remaining in Florida.
Washington enacts bounty on cougar.
California enacts bounty on cougar.
Last "official" native cougar killed in Wisconsin.
British Columbia enacts bounty on cougar.
Idaho enacts bounty on cougar.
New Mexico ends cougar bounty program.
Colorado enacts bounty on cougar.
Aldo Leopold, at the time the nation's foremost expert on wildlife management, advocated the scientific management of wildlife habitats as a technique for restoring and maintaining diversity in the environment rather than primarily as a means of producing a surplus for sport hunting.
Frank Hibben begins in New Mexico and Arizona one of the first scientific studies of cougars.
Stanley Young and E.A. Goldman publish "The Puma: Mysterious American Cat" - the most comprehensive review of information on cougar at that time.
Arizona enacts bounty on cougar.
Florida classifies cougar as a game animal.
British Columbia ends bounty program.
Florida fully protects Florida panthers.
Utah ends bounty program.
Idaho ends bounty program.
Washington ends bounty program.
Montana ends bounty program.
California ends bounty program.
Maurice Hornocker and associates begin their seminal field study of cougar ecology and behavior in the Idaho Primitive Area in central Idaho.
Congress passes The Wilderness Act, creating the Natural Wilderness System and defining wilderness as "...an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."
Colorado reclassifies cougar as big game species
Nevada reclassifies cougars as a game animal.
Washington reclassifies cougars as a game animal.
Congress passes the Endangered Species Preservation Act
Oregon reclassifies cougar as big game animal.
Isolated population of cougars in Florida (Florida panther) listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Preservation Act.
Utah reclassifies cougars as game animal.
California reclassifies cougars as game animal.
Arizona ends bounty program.
Maurice Hornocker publishes the results of his cougar research in "An analysis of mountain lion predation upon mule deer and elk in the Idaho Primitive Area." The study helped dispel many of the myths of cougars as insatiable killers and decimators of deer populations.
New Mexico reclassifies cougars as game mammal.
Montana reclassifies cougars as a game animal.
California legislature passes a bill, signed by Governor Ronald Reagan, enacting a moratorium on cougar hunting.
Arizona reclassifies cougars as a big game animal.
Congress passes the Endangered Species Act, designed to protect critically imperiled species from extinction as a 'consequence of economic growth and development untendered by adequate concern and conservation.'
Eastern cougars are listed as a federally endangered subspecies under the Endangered Species Act.
Wyoming reclassifies cougars as a trophy game animal.
The first Mountain Lion Workshop (that is held in decades following) is held in Nevada. The workshop provides a forum for mountain lion managers, research biologists, and others to share information about mountain lion and puma research and management in Central and North America.
Ronald Nowak, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, publishes "The Cougar in the United States and Canada", a comprehensive assessment of cougars in the U.S. and Canada.
South Dakota lists cougars as a state threatened species.
2nd Mountain Lion Workshop held in Zion National Park, Utah.
Oregon's first Cougar Management Plan released.
3rd Mountain Lion Workshop held in Prescott, Arizona.
California voters approve Proposition 117, which bans cougar hunting and allocates funds for habitat acquisition.
Mountain lion & Human Interaction Symposium and Workshop held in Denver, Colorado.
Oregon voters approve Measure 18, which in part bans the use of hounds to hunt cougar and black bear.
5th Mountain Lion Workshop held in San Diego, California.
Washington voters approve Initiative 655, which in part bans the use of hounds to hunt cougar and black bear.
California voters do not affirm Proposition 197, which would have overturned Proposition 117.
6th Mountain lion Workshop held in San Antonio, Texas.
Utah completes its first cougar management plan.
The Cougar Fund is founded by writer Cara Blessley Lowe and photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen.
Ken Logan and Linda Sweanor publish "Desert Puma: Conservation of an Enduring Carnivore" that is based on 10 years of cougar research in New Mexico.
The World Conservation Union (IUCN) reclassifies the cougar as a 'near threatened' species from its former status of 'least concern.'
7th Mountain Lion Workshop held in Leavenworth, Washington.
South Dakota removes cougars from state threatened list and reclassifies as a game animal.
South Dakota holds first cougar hunting season.
1st Edition of the Cougar Management Guidelines published. Written by 11 leading cougar experts, the Guidelines represent the most authoritative resource on cougar biology and management to date. The book explores various cougar management approaches and strategies for dealing with human-cougar interactions.
8th Mountain Lion Workshop held in Jackson, Wyoming.
North Dakota holds first cougar hunting season.
South Dakota releases cougar management plan.
Oregon completes third Cougar Management Plan.
Wyoming completes cougar management plan.
North Dakota expands hunting season to include 2 zones, one of which has no restrictions on how many can be killed.
9th Mountain Lion Workshop held in Sun Valley, Idaho.
The World Conservation Union (IUCN) reclassifies the cougar as a species of 'least concern' from its former status of 'near threatened.'
10th Mountain Lion Workshop is held in Bozeman, Montana.
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All images and videos are of wild, not captive, cougars. For more info, please read this Point of View by Co-founder Tom Mangelsen.