Source populations in carnivore management: Cougar demography and emigration in a lightly hunted population

  • Cooley H
  • Wielgus R
  • Koehler G
 et al. 
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Abstract

Carnivores are widely hunted for both sport and population control, esp where they conflict with human interests. It is widely believed that sport hunting is effective in reducing carnivore populations and related human-carnivore conflicts, while maintaining viable populations. However, the way in which carnivore populations respond to harvest can vary greatly depending on their social structure, reproductive strategies, and dispersal patterns. For example, hunted cougar (Puma concolor) populations have shown a great degree of resiliency. Although hunting cougars on a broad geographic scale (>2000 km2) has reduced densities, hunting of smaller areas (i.e., game management units, 1.0). The observed growth rate of 1.00 was significantly higher than our predicted survival/fecundity growth rates (using a Leslie matrix) of 0.89 (deterministic) and 0.84 (stochastic), with the difference representing an 11-16% annual immigration rate. We observed no decline in density of the total population or the adult population, but a significant decrease in the average age of independent males. We found that the male component of the population was increasing (observed male population growth rate, ^Om = 109), masking a decrease in the female component (>oF = 0.91). Our data support the compensatory immigration sink hypothesis; cougar removal in small game management areas (

Author-supplied keywords

  • Carnivore
  • Cougar
  • Emigration
  • Hunting
  • Mortality
  • Populationdynamics
  • Populationgrowth rate
  • Survival

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Authors

  • H. S. Cooley

  • R. B. Wielgus

  • G. Koehler

  • B. Maletzke

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