Mountain lions (puma concolor) are listed as ‘Least Concern’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). That is not to say that cougar’s population is not facing any threats. Its population is on the falling trend in much of the major habitats. Furthermore mountain lions are listed federally and in Virginia as endangered species. This shows that
Are Mountain Lions Endangered?
Humans—the Biggest Threat!
Humans are unable to control their population which indeed is a bad news for many unlucky animals. Unfortunately mountain lion is one such species that has been badly hit by the humans. Some of the cougar’s habitats are not only occupied but completely destroyed and their entire lives are in grave danger.
The fight to save mountain lions is far from over. As conservation societies are trying to save animals from extinction, humans are still the greatest possible threats to these endangered animals.
The debate started especially when a new survey conducted in Southern California came up with terrible results. The report said that the mountain lions (in California) are killed not by any weather changes nor by any disease—they are disappearing quickly at the hands of humans. Some of the possible causes are: illegal shootings, vehicle collisions, wildfire, depredation permits.
Most lions are now forced to leave their habitats as humans are attempting to disturb the natural habitats of mountain lions. They were once widespread all along the hills of Los Angeles and San Diego but currently they are redundant even in their own primitive habitats.
“Nowhere in the U.S., outside of the endangered Florida panther, have mountain lion populations been documented that are this cut off and with survival rates this low,” Winston Vickers, an associate veterinarian with the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
Hunting Mountain Lions for Sports
In California people are not allowed to hunt mountain lions but if the lion becomes too dangerous for humans or livestock to live then the hunting get legal status. Apart from human protection, it has been illegal in California to kill mountain lions in for 30 years.
Cougars in New Mexico
Mountain lions find it extremely hard to search prey animals. They are most likely to prey on endangered bighorn sheep the population of which is rapidly decreasing. Cougars are given protection in New Mexico. According to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, there are no more than 130 bighorns left in the state. Cougars are mainly responsible for the declining trend in bighorn’s population. As it turns out the authorities have allowed hunters to kill as many mountain lions as they can in specified habitats.
Karen Terwilliger, John R. Tate A Guide to Endangered and Threatened Species in Virginia