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Cougar (Puma concolor) distribution is the largest of any western hemisphere mammal. Ranging from the Yukon to Chile, they inhabit deserts, temperate and tropical forests, and areas with harsh winters. They prefer habitat with large prey, cover for ambushing, and low human activity levels. In Alberta, their population has seen significant declines, in part due to prey reduction and persecution following human settlement. Today, with the recovery of prey populations, and their declaration as big game, which saw them managed by regulated hunting since 1971, the population has increased and their range expanded.
The RAM, in collaboration with Alberta Environment and Parks, and the Universities of Alberta and Calgary are working to better understand the ecology of Alberta’s cougars, including their genetics, how they use and move across the landscape, what habitats are important, and what factors influence kitten and adult survival. Knowledge gained will be used to develop a new Cougar Adaptive Management Plan.