Cougars Crossing

Although wildlife crossings have been a priority in some states for a while, for the first time, the federal government is including considerable funding for wildlife crossings in the new infrastructure bill. The first major project planned for spending this money will be in one of the largest and busiest cities in the country. A wildlife crossing bridge over Hwy 101 near Los Angeles, California, will be 200-feet long complete with sound barriers and vegetation, and it will not only make it safer for humans and wildlife on the road, but it will also help the health of the lions. 

Studies have found genetic abnormalities in the populations of mountain lions near LA, which have contributed to reduced fertility. These abnormalities stem from inbreeding because the animals can not roam away from the Santa Monica Mountains to find genetically different cougars. They are barred by the freeway. Most who attempt to cross the barrier are hit and killed by cars. This crossing will connect different populations and allow them to mate, creating healthier genetically diverse populations of mountain lions. Wildlife crossings are so important to the health of cougars and other wildlife, not only to connect isolated populations, but also to allow animals to move freely without the threat of vehicles, and to protect people from injury in collisions.

Research Finds Cougars Avoid Humans even in Urban Settings

A recent mountain lion study in California highlights the big cats’ avoidance of urban and residential areas. Even though the Santa Monica Mountains cougars in the study lived in close proximity to Los Angeles, they only ventured into urban areas about 1% of the time. The study also found that they stayed much closer to developed areas, in the chaparral shrublands, than previously thought, perhaps because deer, their main source of food, also stayed close to developed areas. 

Although it seems like we are constantly hearing about mountain lions in backyards and close to human development, this study shows us how truly rare it is for them to venture into residential areas. Even in a population right on the edge of a huge city, it is exceedingly uncommon for cougars to seek out areas near humans. Avoidance is practiced almost 99% of the time. Even urban cougars are wild animals that want to stay wild and away from people when possible.  

From Wyoming to California

Photo from Wildlife Health Center UC Davis.

Scientists and collaborative effort often bring together the most unexpected partners. From the wide open spaces of Wyoming, where the largest urban area is less than 100,000 people, the wildlife biologists of the University of Wyoming, led by Holly Ernest found that extensive fragmentation and encroachment of massive development and sprawl are having a critical impact on Southern California urban and coastal mountain lions. Like the canary in the mine, this is a wake up call for how we, as humans, plan our development and impact fragile and declining habitat for species across the planet.

Read the article >

Finding a home

New research conducted by biologists at the University of Alberta has uncovered novel insight into the various determinants that influence the habitats of cougars. 

What started as an extensive project concerning predation on elk promptly changed gears to focusing on the habitat patterns of cougars after researchers placed Global Positioning System (GPS) collars on the animals. The team was left with a pattern of detailed animal movements leading them to the discovery that daylight, traffic, and topography are three fundamental factors influencing cougars to select habitats near roadways. 

Photo credit David Neils.

Let us entertain and educate the ‘littles’ for you!

We understand that everyone is getting a bit frazzled…home schooling, working remotely, worrying about loved ones, and health, and jobs, and bills. The Cougar Fund is willing to help by offering free online classrooms. Our certified elementary school teacher will take your little ones on a journey through nature. Just email us at or call (307) 733 0797 to make arrangements for how we can bring the outside in, to your family and your home.

Has science gone by the wayside?

Recently an article appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune about the decision by legislators to bring a Bill to increase the removal of mountain lions, black bears, and coyotes. This issue is disturbing and it allows us to explore the complexities that lie beyond the binary position of hunt/don’t hunt.

It was in the late 19th Century that the negative impact of westward expansion became realized. Leaders, such as Theodore Roosevelt developed attitudes and practical applications that would later become known as ‘conservation’. The damage that had been done by commercial hunting was not only responsible for the demise of large ungulate populations, but also contributed to a reduction in predators because their prey base was decimated. There was another threat on the landscape for predators in the form of Bounties. Fast forward to today in Utah, where hunt areas where harvest mortality limits that have already been met, have been re-opened under pressure from Legislators. There is not even the pretense that this has any kind of scientific basis. It is merely scapegoating the mountain lion as something that the human predator sees as competition for habitat, for herds, and feels that they can actually control, unlike climate change and other stochastic events.

There are many dedicated scientists at work trying to figure out ways to reduce conflict between domestic livestock and large carnivores. Looking to creativity and experimentation is a way of actually finding a solution. Removal is temporary, and plainly speaking a landscape that provides, food, water, shelter and space, will be quickly re-inhabited by new residents, if the existing ones are indiscriminately killed.

There are many biologists that work for State Wildlife Agencies, that are committed to ensuring stable and sustainable populations of large carnivores on the landscapes. Every animal whether predator or prey is part of a much larger picture. We must urge our decision makers to concentrate on the ecological contributions that large carnivores make, and not be swayed by the idea that removal is the only way to manage.

Join in the Birthday Celebrations!

Encourage your friends to “Honor” you on your Birthday!

We all have birthdays (even though some of us try to avoid the topic). Did you know that Facebook has created an amazing movement to use birthdays for good?

Thanks to people around the world, thousands of dollars have been raised to support non-profit organizations. We can’t help but feel an overwhelming amount of gratitude for those who’ve dedicated their birthday to the Cougar Fund. It’s a simple and impactful way that you can help us raise awareness for the cougar and other large carnivores.

Kitten Screen Shot

We want to share a few steps for your facebook fundraiser. Don’t worry, it’s easy to setup and launch your campaign.

  1. Open your Facebook account (or create one here)
  2. On your homepage, find the Fundraiser option in the column on the left. Click on the Fundraiser button and then Select Nonprofit. If you don’t see the Cougar Fund, just type this into the box.
  3. That’s it…Facebook will guide you through the remaining steps.

Don’t forget to set an achievable fundraising goal. Try starting with $200 or $300. You can always raise the amount based on your success.

Invite people on your friends’ list and engage with them! The more people you invite, the more money you’ll raise. Don’t forget to share your campaign frequently on your timeline: remember that not everyone will see something when you post just once.

Most importantly, thank people as they donate and watch numbers go up! Your friends and family are donating because of you…make sure to post frequent thank you messages on your campaign. Most importantly, have fun!!

At the Cougar Fund, we don’t want to miss out on the celebration. You might even find a special birthday present after launching your campaign.

Storytelling at its best.


“Heart of a Lion” by Will Stolzenburg

The value of storytelling can never be underestimated. Stories are the purveyors of history,  vehicles by which facts are disseminated, and the wings that let imagination soar.

Our earliest communication, whether as a culture or as individual human babies, comes through the magic of stories. We learn of feats and failures, adoration and abhorrence,  winning and losing, right and wrong, hope and despair. Our minds attend the lessons of a well taught tale, and this tale  has all these elements. “Heart of a Lion” is the compellingly told story of a young male mountain lion, that left South Dakota in search of his own territory, commonplace for dispersing adolescents. Yet, his story will inspire you and leave you in awe of the tenacity of the natural world because this lion traveled over 1500 miles, through some of the most developed areas of the north east in search of a home, food, and love . In the same way that sagas, both ancient and modern, plot out the lives of incredible humans, so “Heart of a Lion”, by author William Stolzenburg, skillfully plots out the life of an incredible animal. Marginally unchanged in biology, from when it shared the earth with nothing but wildlife, the mountain lion has traveled through the tunnel of time, and the dark days of persecution, to emerge, singularly whole, spectacularly unique, and determined to etch out a place, not only in the wildness of our landscapes, but also in our hearts. Will’s incredible storytelling will make you care deeply about a valiant lion, who like Odysseus, would find his home only through his wandering…

You can find “Heart of a Lion” on Will’s website. It is a story that had to be told and like all classics, one which we should retell over and over again.

Thank you Greater Yellowstone Coalition!

Thank you to Carolyn Byrd and her staff for directly addressing the disturbing downward trend that will result from state management of the grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Grizzly delisting gets attention from Politicians, Scientists and Celebrities

As the decision to delist grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem enters its final stages many people are weighing in on the premature rush to release the care and protection of the bears to states with a historical mandate to provide the recreational opportunity to kill them for sport.

These two letters show clearly that the doubts about relegating the great bear to trophy game status not only run deep but are heard in the highest places in the land.