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Historical Timeline

From the Pleistocene Age to the Modern Age the cougar has been a feature of the American wilderness.

Tags:
Cougar, History, Extinction, Legislation, Bounty Hunting

Image of Cougar Hunt, Vancouver

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.

 

5-9 million years ago

Cougars Evolve

Cougars (Puma concolor) evolve from a common ancestor with the African cheetah and American jaguarundi.

300,000 BC

Oldest Cougar Fossils

Oldest known fossil records of cougars.

10,000 BC

Pleistocene Extinctions

Cougars in North America believed to have been extirpated during the Pleistocene extinctions.

8,000 BC

North American Recolonization

Cougars believed to have recolonized North America from a small founder group in South America.

Early 1500s

Spanish Explorers & Cougars

Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca observes a cougar in Florida, becoming perhaps the first European in North America to see one.

1500s

Jesuit Priests Encourage Cougar Killings

Jesuit priests in Southern California offer a bounty of one bull to Native Americans for every cougar killed.

1684

Bounty Hunting in Connecticut

Connecticut enacts bounty on cougar.

1742

Bounty Hunting in Massachusetts

Massachusetts enacts bounty on cougar.

1807

Bounty Hunting in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania enacts bounty on cougar.

1843

Bounty Hunting in Oregon

Oregon territory enacts bounty on cougar.

1850

Cougars Become Rare in the East

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.

1881

Vermont Cougars Disappear

Last cougar believed killed in Vermont.

1888

Utah's "Obnoxious Animals"

Utah Territorial Legislature classifies cougars as an "obnoxious animal" and establishes bounty.

1891

Pennsylvania's Cougars Disappear

Last cougar believed killed in Pennsylvania.

1900

Cougars Disappear, East of Mississippi River

Cougars effectively exterminated from most states east of the Mississippi River, with a small population remaining in Florida.

1905

Bounty Hunting in Washington

Washington enacts bounty on cougar.

1907

Bounty Hunting in California

California enacts bounty on cougar.

1908

Last Wisconsin Cougar Killed

Last "official" native cougar killed in Wisconsin.

1910

Bounty Hunting in British Columbia

British Columbia enacts bounty on cougar.

1914

Bounty Hunting in Idaho

Idaho enacts bounty on cougar.

1923

New Mexico Ends Bounty Hunting

New Mexico ends cougar bounty program.

1929

Bounty Hunting in Colorado

Colorado enacts bounty on cougar.

1933

Aldo Leopold publishes "Game Management"

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.

1934

First Scientific Studies of Cougars

Frank Hibben begins in New Mexico and Arizona one of the first scientific studies of cougars.

1946

"The Puma: Mysterious American Cat"

Stanley Young and E.A. Goldman publish "The Puma: Mysterious American Cat" - the most comprehensive review of information on cougar at that time.

1947

Bounty Hunting in Arizona

Arizona enacts bounty on cougar.

1950

Cougars Classified as Game Animals

Florida classifies cougar as a game animal.

1957

British Columbia Ends Bounty Hunting

British Columbia ends bounty program.

1958

Protection for Florida Panthers

Florida fully protects Florida panthers.

1959

Utah Ends Bounty Hunting

Utah ends bounty program.

1960

Idaho Ends Bounty Hunting

Idaho ends bounty program.

1961

Washington Ends Bounty Hunting

Washington ends bounty program.

1962

Montana Ends Bounty Hunting

Montana ends bounty program.

1963

California Ends Bounty Hunting

California ends bounty program.

1964

Hornocker Begins Field Study of Cougar Ecology

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

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."

1965

Colorado Reclassifies Cougars

Colorado reclassifies cougar as big game species

Nevada Reclassifies Cougars

Nevada reclassifies cougars as a game animal.

1966

Washington Reclassifies Cougars

Washington reclassifies cougars as a game animal.

Endangered Species Preservation Act

Congress passes the Endangered Species Preservation Act

1967

Oregon Reclassifies Cougars

Oregon reclassifies cougar as big game animal.

Florida Panthers on Endangered List

Isolated population of cougars in Florida (Florida panther) listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Preservation Act.

Utah Reclassifies Cougars

Utah reclassifies cougars as game animal.

1969

California Reclassifies Cougars

California reclassifies cougars as game animal.

1970

Arizona Ends Bounty Hunting

Arizona ends bounty program.

Hornocker Publishes Research

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.

1971

New Mexico Reclassifies Cougars

New Mexico reclassifies cougars as game mammal.

Montana Reclassifies Cougars

Montana reclassifies cougars as a game animal.

California Enacts Hunting Moratorium

California legislature passes a bill, signed by Governor Ronald Reagan, enacting a moratorium on cougar hunting.

Arizona Reclassifies Cougars

Arizona reclassifies cougars as a big game animal.

1973

Endangered Species Act Passsed

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 Listed as Endangered

Eastern cougars are listed as a federally endangered subspecies under the Endangered Species Act.

Wyoming Reclassifies Cougars

Wyoming reclassifies cougars as a trophy game animal.

1976

1st Mountain Lion Workshop

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 Published Cougar Assessment

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.

1978

South Dakota Cougars On Threatened List

South Dakota lists cougars as a state threatened species.

1984

2nd Mountain Lion Workshop

2nd Mountain Lion Workshop held in Zion National Park, Utah.

1987

Oregon Releases Management Plan

Oregon's first Cougar Management Plan released.

1988

3rd Mountain Lion Workshop

3rd Mountain Lion Workshop held in Prescott, Arizona.

1990

California Bans Cougar Hunting

California voters approve Proposition 117, which bans cougar hunting and allocates funds for habitat acquisition.

1991

Mountain Lion & Human Interaction Symposium

Mountain lion & Human Interaction Symposium and Workshop held in Denver, Colorado.

1994

Oregon Bans Use of Hounds

Oregon voters approve Measure 18, which in part bans the use of hounds to hunt cougar and black bear.

1995

5th Mountain Lion Workshop

5th Mountain Lion Workshop held in San Diego, California.

1996

Washington Bans Use of Hounds

Washington voters approve Initiative 655, which in part bans the use of hounds to hunt cougar and black bear.

Californians Uphold Prop 117.

California voters do not affirm Proposition 197, which would have overturned Proposition 117.

1999

6th Mountain Lion Workshop

6th Mountain lion Workshop held in San Antonio, Texas.

Utah Creates Management Plan

Utah completes its first cougar management plan.

2001

The Cougar Fund is founded

The Cougar Fund is founded by writer Cara Blessley Lowe and photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen.

Logan and Sweanor Publish "Desert Puma"

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.

Cougars Classified as Near Threatened Species

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) reclassifies the cougar as a 'near threatened' species from its former status of 'least concern.'

2003

7th Mountain Lion Workshop

7th Mountain Lion Workshop held in Leavenworth, Washington.

South Dakota Removes Cougars from Threatened List

South Dakota removes cougars from state threatened list and reclassifies as a game animal.

2004

South Dakota Holds Hunting Season

South Dakota holds first cougar hunting season.

2005

Cougar Management Guidelines Published

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

8th Mountain Lion Workshop held in Jackson, Wyoming.

North Dakota Hunting Season

North Dakota holds first cougar hunting season.

South Dakota Management Plan

South Dakota releases cougar management plan.

2006

Oregon Management Plan

Oregon completes third Cougar Management Plan.

Wyoming Management Plan

Wyoming completes cougar management plan.

2007

North Dakota Expands Hunt Season

North Dakota expands hunting season to include 2 zones, one of which has no restrictions on how many can be killed.

2008

9th Mountain Lion Workshop

9th Mountain Lion Workshop held in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Cougar Reclassified as "Least Concern" Species

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) reclassifies the cougar as a species of 'least concern' from its former status of 'near threatened.'

2011

10th Mountain Lion Workshop

10th Mountain Lion Workshop is held in Bozeman, Montana.