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  • Cougars hunt primarily from sunset to sunrise. Their primary prey is deer, but they also eat porcupines, raccoons, birds, small mammals, and even grass.

  • Cougars live about 10 to 20 years in the wild and over 20 years in captivity.

  • A cougar can jump upward 18 feet from a sitting position. They can leap up to 40 feet horizontally.

  • Cougar kits are born with their eyes closed like the domestic cat. Their baby-blue eyes open at around two weeks and change to greenish-yellow in about 16-months.

  • Typical litters have 1 to 6 kittens born after a 3-month pregnancy. The kittens may remain with the mother into their second year.

The cougar (Puma concolor, also called mountain lion, panther, and puma) once roamed across most of North America, but human persecution has now almost completely eradicated the species from all areas but the western regions of Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The only eastern U.S. state with a known breeding population is Florida. The Florida panther, a subspecies, is critically endangered, with an extimated population of 100 to 160 adults and yearlings, a figure that does not include panther kittens. As recently as the 1970s, the Florida panther was close to disappearing, with as few as 20 animals in the wild. There are sporadic reports of cougar sightings in the central and eastern United States, but these reports are rarely confirmed. Experts suspect that some of the more credible reports may be sightings of escaped "pet" cougars.

In March 2011, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service officially declared the Eastern cougar as extinct.  In part, the report concluded:

We acknowledge that a small number of pumas are occasionally encountered in the wild in eastern North America in the historical range of the listed eastern puma. Based on the best available scientific evidence, we believe these are released or escaped captive animals. Breeding, if it occurs, seems to be extremely rare, and there is no evidence of a persisting population established from released captive animals.

Basically, cougars are roaming animals and can be found in diverse habitats such as the cold woods of Canada, the rain forests of Brazil, the western United States and the vast grassy plains (pampas) of Argentina. They are very adaptable and can survive in tropical forests, swamps, grasslands, mountain conifer forests, desert scrub, and any location with adequate cover and prey. Cougars prefer densely forested areas in coastal swamps, rocky cliffs and mountain ranges as their habitat.

The biggest threat to cougars is loss of habitat. As humans venture farther into cougar habitat, not only for residential development and ranching but also for recreational activities, cougars find it harder to establish sufficient hunting territories without risking human encounters. That’s when this predator becomes the prey, for trophy hunting, protecting livestock and the general safety of pets and sometimes children.

Cougars are most active at dawn and dusk. Solitary by nature (except in the case of mothers with kittens) they tend to avoid human contact. Cougars are ambush predators, which means they depend upon stealth and the element of surprise to capture their prey—primarily deer and elk, the occasional porcupine or moose, or at times such smaller species as raccoons, rabbits, beaver, or even mice.

Cougars are solitary animals with individual territories. Only mothers along with the cubs roam around in groups. They have large territories, which are usually oval or circular in shape. The area of cougar territories and their population depends on the abundance of prey, vegetation and terrain. If there is a scarcity of prey in a particular area, the size of individual territories would be large. They don't have permanent dens, but they are found resting in the caves, among rocky outcrops, and in dense vegetation. Cougars have a tendency to migrate to the mountains in winter, mainly for hunting purposes. They have a lifespan of 8 to 13 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity.

 

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