Saturday, 01 April 2017 10:46

Cougar collaring project underway in Alberta

Written by Michael Short
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Provincial biologists with a tranquilized cougar and newly installed tracking collar Provincial biologists with a tranquilized cougar and newly installed tracking collar

In what is expected to be a five-year project, provincial biologists are tracking down Alberta’s largest cat and one of the most efficient predators, the cougar. Wildlife managers are traveling the backcountry to catch and fit electronic collars on these impressive cats to get a better idea of their movements. Over the last number of years, as deer populations increase and move, the cougar has followed, and this has led to more encounters with people, livestock, and pets.

One of the tools wildlife managers have in controlling the expanding range of cougars is to allow for additional hunting opportunities. This approach achieves a number of objectives:

  • Help maintain healthy populations
  • Reduce conflicts with people
  • Manage predation on wild ungulates

Cougar is treed by the dogs - biologists need to decide if it can then be safely tranquilized and lowered from the tree

Additional information about the Alberta Cougar hunt can be found here: http://mywildalberta.com/hunting/game-species/cougar-hunting-alberta/documents/CougarHuntingInAlberta-Nov2016.pdf

Any person who is the owner or occupant of privately owned land might at any time of the year, without the use of dogs, hunt (but not trap) cougar on such lands without a licence. Under this authority, registration is required within one week of the kill.

Cougars may be removed in situations when livestock or pets are killed or public safety is threatened. Cougars are never relocated as a wildlife management tool to control deer populations.

Measurements and bio samples are taken from the cougar

Some additional facts about Alberta’s big cat:

A male cougar can be between 1.6 and 2.5 meters long (5.5 to 8.5 feet), including the tail. It can weigh between 56 and 64 kilograms (125-140 pounds, but they can get up to 200 pounds). A female cougar is a bit smaller than a male.

How fast?

A cougar can leap 18 meters (60 feet) in two bounds. They can also jump up to five meters (18 feet) high. They can sprint up to 56 km/hr.

How long do they live?

Cougars live between 13 to 15 years.

How many kittens in a litter?

The largest litter ever recorded was six kittens. The gestation period is 80 to 96 days. Female cougars are monogamous, but males are polygamous. They can breed year round, although it’s more common in winter and early spring. Kittens stay with their mother for 12 to 19 months. The father plays no role in raising the kittens.

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