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Conserving cougars in a rural landscape: habitat requirements and local tolerance in west-central Alberta

  • Author / Creator
    Knopff, Aliah Adams
  • Maintaining large carnivores in human-dominated landscapes poses a significant conservation challenge. Extirpation is common because of habitat loss or direct persecution. I studied cougar habitat selection and human perception of cougars in west-central Alberta to better understand human-cougar coexistence. Cougars that were exposed to higher levels of development at the home-range scale exhibited less avoidance of anthropogenic features and altered habitat use temporally to accommodate variation in human activity, indicating behavioral resilience to development. Survey results showed that cougars were valued and tolerated by people, provided cougars did not occur near residences. Where human densities are increasing in moderately developed landscapes in west-central Alberta, therefore, human tolerance may currently be more important than habitat change for conserving cougar populations. Tolerance was negatively affected primarily by the risk (real and perceived) cougars pose to people, livestock, and game. Public education to counteract overestimation of risk may increase tolerance.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2011-06
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3Q66Q
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Master's
  • Department
    • Department of Biological Sciences
  • Specialization
    • Ecology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • St. Clair, Colleen Cassady (Biological Sciences)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Boyce, Mark (Biological Sciences)
    • Krogman, Naomi (Rural Economy)