Cougar running courtesy of Webweavers clipart    "The Phantom Cat"" Cougar running courtesy of Webweavers clipart

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   "Where does that gosh darn cat live anyhow?"  


One of the reasons that cougars have so many names is that they have a very widespread habitat in the Western Hemisphere.  A cougar is sometimes called the “American lion” due to its wide distribution throughout the Americas. Cougars live anywhere from the southern tip of Canada to the southern tip of South America.  The map to the side illustrates the distribution of cougars.

Distribution of cougars from Wikipedia commons
Distribution map of cougars- highlighted in green
Most scientists are convinced that cougars who once lived in the upper and central parts of the Eastern United States are now extinct, but no one knows for sure.  Many cougar sightings have been reported in the Midwestern states which may represent the beginning of re-colonization from the West.  Cougar populations in the Western part of the United States appear to be growing- this may be the cause of their expansion into the Midwest.  It is important for us to keep track of the distribution of cougar populations so we protect  them and ourselves. BIG PICTURE MAP- Distribution of cougars in the US
  distribution map of cougars throughout the United States. Green indicates established cougar ranges whereas the red and blue dots indicate confirmed sightings outside of the normal range

Cougars typically live anywhere there is cover, wilderness and ungulates (animals with hooves). Female cougars most often live in dens when breeding. Male cougars do not live in dens at anytime after childhood.
 Cougars avoid open habitats such as flat,
shrub-less deserts and farm fields but can make a living in almost any other habitat. They live solitary lives at low population densities. Each male cougar is usually somewhat tolerant of another  male's presence, but he will attack an approaching male cougar when he feels as if his territory has been intruded for the right to access females.

 Photo courtesy of Valerie

Cougars leave many signs that can be smelled and seen by others of its kind. A cougar will rake leaves with its hind feet over a small pile upon which it urinates or deposit feces to warn other cougars away. Male and female cougars only live with one another during breeding which can last up to two weeks. When a cougar’s home range is vacated, usually due to death, it may be taken by another cougar. Cougars live approximately 10-12 years in the wild but can live up to 20 years in captivity.

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