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The ecology of a re-established cougar (Puma concolor) population in southeastern Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan Open Access


Other title
prey selection
Cypress Hills
indirect effects
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Bacon, Michelle
Supervisor and department
Boyce, Mark (Biological Sciences)
Examining committee member and department
Cassady St. Clair, Colleen (Biological Sciences)
Krogman, Naomi (Rural Economy)
Department of Biological Sciences

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
Cougars (Puma concolor) have recently begun to reclaim former range and also are expanding into new territory. The Cypress Hills of southeast Alberta and southwest Saskatchewan now hosts the most eastern confirmed breeding population of cougars in Canada. However, with the return of cougars come new issues about human safety and risk of livestock depredation. Using GPS radiocollars, scat analysis, snowtracking and wildlife cameras, I found that the Cypress Hills boasts one of the highest densities of cougars ever reported, yet the large cats avoid human-use areas and have not been documented to prey on livestock. Using aerial ungulate survey data, I also show that the increase in cougar abundance is associated with a shift in distribution of naïve ungulate prey to areas outside the park. Provided that cougars continue to avoid humans and cattle, this island habitat could prove to be an important stepping stone to further expansion eastward.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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