Long-Distance Dispersal of a Female Cougar in a Basin and Range Landscape

Stoner et al. (2010)

Abstract: We used Global Positioning System technology to document distance, movement path, vegetation, and elevations used by a dispersing subadult female cougar (Puma concolor) through the fragmented habitat of the Intermountain West, USA. Over the course of 1 year, female number 31 moved 357 linear km, but an actual distance of 1,341 km from the Oquirrh Mountains, Utah to the White River Plateau, Colorado, constituting the farthest dispersal yet documented for a female cougar. This cougar successfully negotiated 4 major rivers and one interstate highway while traversing portions of 3 states. Our data suggest that transient survival, and therefore total distance moved, may be enhanced when dispersal occurs during the snow-free season due to low hunting pressure and greater access to high elevation habitats. Long- distance movements by both sexes will be required for the recolonization of vacant habitats, and thus inter-state management may be warranted where state boundaries do not coincide with effective dispersal barriers.

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