Historical Timeline

The cougar has been a feature of the North American landscape for thousands of years. However, in late the 19th and early 20th century, bounty hunting brought the cougar to the brink of extinction.

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.


Jesuit Priests Encourage Cougar Killings

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


Bounty Hunting in Connecticut

Connecticut enacts bounty on cougars.


Bounty Hunting in Massachusetts

Massachusetts enacts bounty on cougars.


Bounty Hunting in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania enacts bounty on cougars.


Bounty Hunting in Oregon

Oregon territory enacts bounty on cougars.


Cougars Become Rare in the East

Due to extermination by humans, cougars 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.


Vermont Cougars Disappear

Last cougar believed killed in Vermont.


Utah's "Obnoxious Animals"

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


Pennsylvania's Cougars Disappear

Last cougar believed killed in Pennsylvania.


Cougars Disappear, East of Mississippi River

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


Bounty Hunting in Washington

Washington enacts bounty on cougars.


Bounty Hunting in California

California enacts bounty on cougars.


Last Wisconsin Cougar Killed

Last "official" native cougar killed in Wisconsin.


Bounty Hunting in British Columbia

British Columbia enacts bounty on cougars.


Bounty Hunting in Idaho

Idaho enacts bounty on cougars.


New Mexico Ends Bounty Hunting

New Mexico ends cougar bounty program.


Bounty Hunting in Colorado

Colorado enacts bounty on cougars.


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.


First Scientific Studies of Cougars

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


"The Puma: Mysterious American Cat"

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


Bounty Hunting in Arizona

Arizona enacts bounty on cougars.


Cougars Classified as Game Animals

Florida classifies cougars as game animals.


British Columbia Ends Bounty Hunting

British Columbia ends bounty program.


Protection for Florida Panthers

Florida fully protects Florida panthers.


Utah Ends Bounty Hunting

Utah ends bounty program.


Idaho Ends Bounty Hunting

Idaho ends bounty program.


Washington Ends Bounty Hunting

Washington ends bounty program.


Montana Ends Bounty Hunting

Montana ends bounty program.


California Ends Bounty Hunting

California ends bounty program.


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."


Colorado Reclassifies Cougars

Colorado reclassifies cougars as big game species.

Nevada Reclassifies Cougars

Nevada reclassifies cougars as game animals.


Washington Reclassifies Cougars

Washington reclassifies cougars as game animals.

Endangered Species Preservation Act

Congress passes the Endangered Species Preservation Act.


Oregon Reclassifies Cougars

Oregon reclassifies cougars as big game animals.

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.


California Reclassifies Cougars

California reclassifies cougars as game animal.


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.


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.


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.


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.


South Dakota Cougars On Threatened List

South Dakota lists cougars as a state threatened species.


2nd Mountain Lion Workshop

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


Oregon Releases Management Plan

Oregon's first Cougar Management Plan released.


3rd Mountain Lion Workshop

3rd Mountain Lion Workshop held in Prescott, Arizona.


California Bans Cougar Hunting

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


Mountain Lion & Human Interaction Symposium

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


Oregon Bans Use of Hounds

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


5th Mountain Lion Workshop

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


Washington Bans Use of Hounds

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

Californians Uphold Prop 117

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


6th Mountain Lion Workshop

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

Utah Creates Management Plan

Utah completes its first cougar management plan.


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.'


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 them as a game animal.


South Dakota Holds Hunting Season

South Dakota holds first cougar hunting season.


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.


Oregon Management Plan

Oregon completes third Cougar Management Plan.

Wyoming Management Plan

Wyoming completes cougar management plan.


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.


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.'


10th Mountain Lion Workshop

10th Mountain Lion Workshop held in Bozeman, Montana.


Nebraska Implements Hunt Season

Nebraska implements its first cougar hunting season in over a century, with an estimated population of 15-22 cats.

11th Mountain Lion Workshop

11th Mountain Lion Workshop held in Cedar City, Utah.

South Dakota Implements Hunter Education

South Dakota becomes the sixth state to require cougar-specific sex/age identification education, joining Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Utah.

Utah Adds Non-Consumptive Advisors

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources adds two non-consumptive advisors to help draft the state's next cougar management plan.