Frequently Asked Questions
What is The Cougar Fund’s mission?
The Cougar Fund protects the cougar – also known as a mountain lion, puma, and panther – and other large carnivores throughout the Americas by educating children and adults on their value, by funding and promoting the use of sound science, and by monitoring state policies to assure a lasting place for these creatures.
What are the objectives of The Cougar Fund?
1) To advocate for cougar conservation and management policies that are based on the best available peer-reviewed science. To promote conservation research and disseminate scientific information that informs cougar conservation.
2) Educate people on the ecological values of cougars, the issues and controversies surrounding this species, and how to live and recreate wisely and safely in cougar country.
3) Call on wildlife agencies to enact stronger protections for female cougars and dependent cubs by implementing new policies where sport hunting is allowed.
4) Fund and support the acquisition and protection of cougar habitat when appropriate opportunities arise.
Where does The Cougar Fund work?
The Cougar Fund is based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but works throughout the United States. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-733-0797.
With whom does The Cougar Fund work?
The Cougar Fund is willing to work with a variety of organizations and individuals with a stake in cougar conservation, including wildlife agency personnel, cougar researchers and conservation scientists, non-governmental organizations, community groups, and individuals.
Where does The Cougar Fund get its funding?
The Cougar Fund a not-for-profit organization (IRS 501-C3) and is funded through private donations and grants from individuals and foundations.
How can I help The Cougar Fund conserve and protect cougars?
There are a number of things you can do. Head to our “How To Help” page to get started.
By becoming involved with The Cougar Fund, you become an active partner in our mission to protect and conserve this majestic species. We keep you updated on news and developments with e-mail alerts, newsletters and information on our web site. We let you know when and where important decisions about cougar management are being made and how you can participate, whether by writing a letter or attending a public meeting, to help ensure they advance and not hinder the conservation of cougars. Whether you decide to become a member or not, we encourage you to use this website as a resource to help educate your friends, family and neighbors about cougars, their important ecological role, the challenges and threats they face, and how to live and recreate wisely in cougar country.
We encourage you to learn more about how cougars are managed in your state. Every citizen has a stake in cougar management, even if you live in a city and never visit cougar habitat. Make sure your perspective is included in management decisions by calling and writing your state’s wildlife department and attending agency commission meetings.
The Cougar Fund believes that there is NO peer-reviewed scientific research that indicates the need for sport-hunting of large carnivores like the cougar. We also believe that expressing disagreement with policies that allow hunters to kill females (thereby leading to the orphaning and ultimately and inhumane death of countless kittens) is very important. We believe that every agency MUST have an education program that teaches hunters how to identify gender and age of mountain lions. Does YOUR state expect hunters to know what they are shooting at?
What is The Cougar Fund’s approach to conserving cougars?
The Cougar Fund seeks to ensure the conservation of this magnificent large carnivore across its range by promoting the use of sound science in conservation and management and providing for education, habitat conservation, and research. We are willing to collaborate with state wildlife agencies, cougar researchers, sportsmen and other non-governmental organizations. We educate the public so that they are aware of the important ecological role of cougars, and how to live and recreate safely in cougar country.
Reflecting our broad-based and inclusive approach, our board of directors includes scientists, artists, hunters, and professionals in a variety of different fields. We embrace dialogue with all interested parties and believe the public needs to be better educated in order to ensure public safety.
The Cougar Fund is interested in a balanced approach that considers the integrity of ecosystems and takes all species into consideration. We have funded the acquisition and protection of habitat that benefits myriad wildlife species, including elk, bison, moose, pronghorn, mule deer, wolves, and grizzly bears. The Cougar Fund has helped to fund and support research to examine the many factors that can negatively impact cougars, their prey, and their habitat.
What is The Cougar Fund’s position on hunting?
We are against the sport hunting of cougars and other large carnivores. Here is why:
The Cougar Fund was founded because of many people’s frustration with traditional cougar management practices by state game agencies—sport-hunting cougars and the proposed increases in kill quotas with no scientific reasoning—and more specifically, the real possibility that the most-watched family of wild cougars in history could be killed.
On Valentine’s Day 1999, a mother cougar and her three kittens took up residence in a cave on Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. By the Refuge’s estimate at least fifteen thousand people came specifically to observe and experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Shortly after this, the state game agency more than doubled the kill quota for cougars in the hunt area that included the home range of the Miller Butte family.
Nearly half of all cougars killed are females; a female cougar is either pregnant or has dependent young for approximately 75% of her life. If the mother is shot and killed, the orphaned kittens may starve to death or be killed by other predators. Oftentimes the orphans that do survive may seek out easier prey, such as pets.
Game agencies control the management of America’s most precious resource—its wildlife. However, current management has become less about conservation and more about hunting. According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Hunter Education Course, only 10% of Americans hunt, another 10% are actively against it, and a whopping 80% are unaware of how unnecessary and cruel, and how geared to minority demand, sport hunting is.
Nevertheless, in an attempt to work with all stakeholders, The Cougar Fund chose not to take an anti-cougar-hunting stance during our first decade of working to protect mountain lions. For years we tried to work with game agencies, in most cases only to have them use their own version of science to simply maintain a population that will continue to allow them to provide “recreational opportunities” for their constituents. To this end they also REMOVED protective measures for females from their management guidelines. This allowed more cougars to be killed and more kittens to be orphaned, it disregarded the importance of an apex species in the ecosystem, and ignored the will of the vast majority of stakeholders.
We are a politically diverse board and staff with a single viewpoint: we firmly believe that sport-hunting cougars has no place in their management. The latest research supports this position– there is no biological rationale for sport-hunting this species, no environmental benefit, it does not increase ungulate populations, and it does not reduce the risk of human-cougar encounters. In fact, studies have shown that hunting leads to an increase in young males who are the most “problematic” individuals. Only in the rare, unlikely, and imminent threat to humans, livestock, or pets should a cougar be removed. Morally and ethically, killing cougars for “sport” is indefensible.
“The time has come for all Americans to reevaluate our attitudes and our tolerance toward not only the ghost cat but all predators on the landscape.”
-article from The Cougar Fund Official Newsletter, Spring 2012 Issue
Does The Cougar Fund work with biologists and other scientists?
Yes. The Cougar Fund has a number of biologists on the Board of Directors and the Advisory Board, including Dr. Jane Goodall, Dr. Marc Bekoff, Dr. Rick Hopkins, and Linda Sweanor, co-author of Desert Puma: Ecology and Conservation of an Enduring Carnivore.
In addition, we are in frequent contact with scientists conducting cougar research in California, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Montana as well as state game agency biologists throughout the West and mid-West.
Does the Cougar Fund work with other groups and agencies?
The Cougar Fund works diligently to create collaborative relationships with state game agencies, scientists, and conservationists. Through these efforts, The Cougar Fund is able to track and respond to the many issues facing cougars and other wildlife.
How is The Cougar Fund helping to reduce conflicts between cougars and people?
Reducing conflicts between cougars and humans benefits people and cougars alike, and is crucial for cougar conservation. We are working to reduce conflicts by educating the public about cougars, by promoting the use of best practices when living or recreating in cougar country (e.g., sound husbandry practices, put pets in at night, etc.), and through increasing public appreciation and tolerance for cougars as essential parts of the ecosystem. We also seek to end the sport-hunting of cougars that often results in orphaned kittens who become the cats who conflict with humans. We believe that people who live or recreate in cougar habitat have a responsibility to learn about cougar ecology and behavior and the ways they can reduce the likelihood of negative interactions with them. There are a number of prudent measures recommended by cougar scientists and game and fish agencies that people can take to further reduce the already low risk of an adverse encounter with a cougar (click here). Research shows that cougars usually avoid human dominated landscapes and rarely pose a threat to human safety.
How many cougars are there in the United States?
No one really knows. At present, cougars are absent from the eastern two-thirds of their historic range in the U.S. No western U.S. state has provided a scientifically defensible estimate of the number of cougars.