ABOUT THE COUGAR
The cougar has been a feature of the North American landscape for thousands of years. However, in late the 19th and early 20th century, bounty hunting brought the cougar to the brink of extinction.
5-9 million years ago
Cougars (Puma concolor) evolve from a common ancestor with the African cheetah and American jaguarundi.
Oldest Cougar Fossils
Oldest known fossil records of cougars.
Cougars in North America believed to have been extirpated during the Pleistocene extinctions.
North American Recolonization
Cougars believed to have recolonized North America from a small founder group in South America.
Spanish Explorers & Cougars
Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca observes a cougar in Florida, becoming perhaps the first European in North America to see one.
Jesuit Priests Encourage Cougar Killings
Jesuit priests in Southern California offer a bounty of one bull to Native Americans for every cougar killed.
Bounty Hunting in Connecticut
Connecticut enacts bounty on cougars.
Bounty Hunting in Massachusetts
Massachusetts enacts bounty on cougars.
Bounty Hunting in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania enacts bounty on cougars.
Bounty Hunting in Oregon
Oregon territory enacts bounty on cougars.
Cougars Become Rare in the East
Due to extermination by humans, cougars are considered rare in the eastern two-thirds of the continent, with some perhaps surviving in the remote areas of Maine, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia and Florida.
Vermont Cougars Disappear
Last cougar believed killed in Vermont.
Utah’s “Obnoxious Animals”
Utah Territorial Legislature classifies cougars as an “obnoxious animal” and establishes bounty.
Pennsylvania’s Cougars Disappear
Last cougar believed killed in Pennsylvania.
Cougars Disappear, East of Mississippi River
Cougars effectively exterminated from most states east of the Mississippi River, with a small population remaining in Florida.
Bounty Hunting in Washington
Washington enacts bounty on cougars.
Bounty Hunting in California
California enacts bounty on cougars.
Last Wisconsin Cougar Killed
Last “official” native cougar killed in Wisconsin.
Bounty Hunting in British Columbia
British Columbia enacts bounty on cougars.
Bounty Hunting in Idaho
Idaho enacts bounty on cougars.
New Mexico Ends Bounty Hunting
New Mexico ends cougar bounty program.
Bounty Hunting in Colorado
Colorado enacts bounty on cougars.
Aldo Leopold publishes “Game Management”
Aldo Leopold, at the time the nation’s foremost expert on wildlife management, advocated the scientific management of wildlife habitats as a technique for restoring and maintaining diversity in the environment rather than primarily as a means of producing a surplus for sport hunting.
First Scientific Studies of Cougars
Frank Hibben begins in New Mexico and Arizona one of the first scientific studies of cougars.
“The Puma: Mysterious American Cat”
Stanley Young and E.A. Goldman publish “The Puma: Mysterious American Cat” – the most comprehensive review of information on cougars at that time.
Bounty Hunting in Arizona
Arizona enacts bounty on cougars.
Cougars Classified as Game Animals
Florida classifies cougars as game animals.
British Columbia Ends Bounty Hunting
British Columbia ends bounty program.
Protection for Florida Panthers
Florida fully protects Florida panthers.
Utah Ends Bounty Hunting
Utah ends bounty program.
Idaho Ends Bounty Hunting
Idaho ends bounty program.
Washington Ends Bounty Hunting
Washington ends bounty program.
Montana Ends Bounty Hunting
Montana ends bounty program.
California Ends Bounty Hunting
California ends bounty program.
Hornocker Begins Field Study of Cougar Ecology
Maurice Hornocker and associates begin their seminal field study of cougar ecology and behavior in the Idaho Primitive Area in central Idaho.
Congress Passes The Wilderness Act
Congress passes The Wilderness Act, creating the Natural Wilderness System and defining wilderness as “…an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”
Colorado Reclassifies Cougars
Colorado reclassifies cougars as big game species.
Nevada Reclassifies Cougars
Nevada reclassifies cougars as game animals.
Washington Reclassifies Cougars
Washington reclassifies cougars as game animals.
Endangered Species Preservation Act
Congress passes the Endangered Species Preservation Act.
Oregon Reclassifies Cougars
Oregon reclassifies cougars as big game animals.
Florida Panthers on Endangered List
Isolated population of cougars in Florida (Florida panther) listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Preservation Act.
Utah Reclassifies Cougars
Utah reclassifies cougars as game animal.
California Reclassifies Cougars
California reclassifies cougars as game animal.
Arizona Ends Bounty Hunting
Arizona ends bounty program.
Hornocker Publishes Research
Maurice Hornocker publishes the results of his cougar research in “An analysis of mountain lion predation upon mule deer and elk in the Idaho Primitive Area.” The study helped dispel many of the myths of cougars as insatiable killers and decimators of deer populations.
New Mexico Reclassifies Cougars
New Mexico reclassifies cougars as game mammal.
Montana Reclassifies Cougars
Montana reclassifies cougars as a game animal.
California Enacts Hunting Moratorium
California legislature passes a bill, signed by Governor Ronald Reagan, enacting a moratorium on cougar hunting.
Arizona Reclassifies Cougars
Arizona reclassifies cougars as a big game animal.
Endangered Species Act Passsed
Congress passes the Endangered Species Act, designed to protect critically imperiled species from extinction as a ‘consequence of economic growth and development untendered by adequate concern and conservation.’
Eastern Cougars Listed as Endangered
Eastern cougars are listed as a federally endangered subspecies under the Endangered Species Act.
Wyoming Reclassifies Cougars
Wyoming reclassifies cougars as a trophy game animal.
1st Mountain Lion Workshop
The first Mountain Lion Workshop (that is held in decades following) is held in Nevada. The workshop provides a forum for mountain lion managers, research biologists, and others to share information about mountain lion and puma research and management in Central and North America.
Ronald Nowak Published Cougar Assessment
Ronald Nowak, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, publishes “The Cougar in the United States and Canada”, a comprehensive assessment of cougars in the U.S. and Canada.
South Dakota Cougars On Threatened List
South Dakota lists cougars as a state threatened species.
2nd Mountain Lion Workshop
2nd Mountain Lion Workshop held in Zion National Park, Utah.
Oregon Releases Management Plan
Oregon’s first Cougar Management Plan released.
3rd Mountain Lion Workshop
3rd Mountain Lion Workshop held in Prescott, Arizona.
California Bans Cougar Hunting
California voters approve Proposition 117, which bans cougar hunting and allocates funds for habitat acquisition.
Mountain Lion & Human Interaction Symposium
Mountain lion & Human Interaction Symposium and Workshop held in Denver, Colorado.
Oregon Bans Use of Hounds
Oregon voters approve Measure 18, which in part bans the use of hounds to hunt cougars and black bears.
5th Mountain Lion Workshop
5th Mountain Lion Workshop held in San Diego, California.
Washington Bans Use of Hounds
Washington voters approve Initiative 655, which in part bans the use of hounds to hunt cougars and black bears.
Californians Uphold Prop 117
California voters do not affirm Proposition 197, which would have overturned Proposition 117.
6th Mountain Lion Workshop
6th Mountain lion Workshop held in San Antonio, Texas.
Utah Creates Management Plan
Utah completes its first Cougar Management Plan.
The Cougar Fund is founded
The Cougar Fund is founded by writer Cara Blessley Lowe and photographer Thomas D. Mangelsen.
Logan and Sweanor Publish
Ken Logan and Linda Sweanor publish “Desert Puma: Conservation of an Enduring Carnivore” that is based on 10 years of cougar research in New Mexico.
Cougars Classified as Near Threatened Species
The World Conservation Union (IUCN) reclassifies the cougar as a ‘near threatened’ species from its former status of ‘least concern.’
7th Mountain Lion Workshop
7th Mountain Lion Workshop held in Leavenworth, Washington.
South Dakota Removes Cougars from Threatened List
South Dakota removes cougars from state threatened list and reclassifies them as a game animal.
South Dakota Holds Hunting Season
South Dakota holds first cougar hunting season.
Cougar Management Guidelines Published
1st Edition of the Cougar Management Guidelines published. Written by 11 leading cougar experts, the Guidelines represent the most authoritative resource on cougar biology and management to date. The book explores various cougar management approaches and strategies for dealing with human-cougar interactions.
8th Mountain Lion Workshop
8th Mountain Lion Workshop held in Jackson, Wyoming.
North Dakota Hunting Season
North Dakota holds first cougar hunting season.
South Dakota Management Plan
South Dakota releases Cougar Management Plan.
Oregon Management Plan
Oregon completes third Cougar Management Plan.
Wyoming Management Plan
Wyoming completes Cougar Management Plan.
North Dakota Expands Hunt Season
North Dakota expands hunting season to include 2 zones, one of which has no restrictions on how many can be killed.
9th Mountain Lion Workshop
9th Mountain Lion Workshop held in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Cougar Reclassified as “Least Concern” Species
The World Conservation Union (IUCN) reclassifies the cougar as a species of ‘least concern’ from its former status of ‘near threatened.’
10th Mountain Lion Workshop
10th Mountain Lion Workshop held in Bozeman, Montana.
Nebraska Implements Hunt Season
Nebraska implements its first cougar hunting season in over a century, with an estimated population of 15-22 cats.
11th Mountain Lion Workshop
11th Mountain Lion Workshop held in Cedar City, Utah.
South Dakota Implements Hunter Education
South Dakota becomes the sixth state to require cougar-specific sex/age identification education, joining Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Utah.
Utah Adds Non-Consumptive Advisors
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources adds two non-consumptive advisors to help draft the state’s next cougar management plan.
Utah Management Plan
Utah completes third Cougar Management Plan.
Arizona Management Plan
Arizona completes Cougar Management Plan.
Nebraska Management Plan
Nebraska completes first Cougar Management Plan.
Oregon Management Plan
Oregon completes fourth Cougar Management Plan.
Montana Management Plan
Montana completes Cougar Management Plan.
South Dakota Management Plan
South Dakota completes first Cougar Management Plan.
Colorado Management Plan
Colorado completes Cougar Management Plan for the western half of the state.
April 2022 Oregon holds 13th WAFWA Mountain Lion Workshop virtually, delayed from 2020 because of COVID 19 pandemic.