Due to their solitary nature, large home-ranges and low densities on the landscape, cougars have been an extremely difficult animal to research. In particular, accurate estimates of predation rates and prey selection have been nearly impossible to obtain. Previous studies have relied largely on snow-tracking to obtain cougar predation rates and prey composition. However, these studies were only able to estimate seasonal predation rates and were often limited by small sample sizes.
The advent of GPS collars has made it possible to collect large, continuous data sets on animals with much less expense and effort than conventional radio-telemetry studies. Chuck Anderson and Fred Lindzey pioneered a technique to estimate cougar predation rates and prey composition using GPS collars. The use of GPS collars allows researchers to accurately calculate year round predation rates and prey selection of cougars. Estimating accurate predation rates and determining prey selection of cougars is critical to understanding the role cougars play in ungulate population dynamics.
We are placing GPS collars on cougars in the Mt Emily Wildlife Management Unit to identify predation rates and prey selection of cougars in northeast Oregon. This information will be useful in identifying the impacts of cougars on declining ungulate populations in northeast Oregon.
The Mt Emily Cougar Predation Study is a collaborative effort between the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and Oregon State University. The research project began in the winter of 2008 and will conclude in the spring of 2012.
Last update: July 10, 2012
A female cougar with a malfunctioning GPS collar that was treed so the collar could be replaced. The batteries on the GPS collars have a lifespan of approximately 15 months. Once the battery fails the VHF portion of the collar continues to work so that we are able to still locate the cougar and replace the collar.