Puma concolor 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Felidae

Scientific Name: Puma concolor
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1771)
Common Name(s):
English Puma, Mountain Lion, Cougar, Red Tiger, Deer Tiger
Spanish León Americano, León Bayo, León Colorado, León De Montaña, Mitzli, Onza Bermeja
Felis concolor Linnaeus, 1771
Taxonomic Notes: The taxonomy is currently under review by the IUCN SSC Cat Specialist Group. While 32 subspecies have been classically described, on the basis of genetic analysis Culver et al. (2000) suggest six subspecies as follows:

P. c. cougar: North America
P. c. costaricensis: Central America
P. c. capricornensis: eastern South America
P. c. concolor: northern South America
P. c. cabrerae: central South America
P. c. puma: southern South America.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-04-17
Assessor(s): Nielsen, C., Thompson, D., Kelly, M. & Lopez-Gonzalez, C.A.
Reviewer(s): Nowell, K., Hunter, L., Schipper, J., Breitenmoser-Würsten, C., Lanz, T. & Breitenmoser, U.
Contributor(s): Araguillin, E., Bonacic, C., Caso, A., Corrales-Gutiérrez, D., Eizirik, E., Gollop, M., Guarda, N., Hernández, S., Huaranca, J., Jordan, C., Leite-Pitman, M.R.P., Lucherini, M., Osorio Popiolek, C.T., Paviolo, A., Payan, E., Petracca, L., Robinson, H., Salom, R., Saucedo, C., Tether, R., Trottier, T., Valderrama, C., Villalba Murillo, M., Wallace, R., Watkins, W., Weir, R., Zapata-Ríos, G., de Angelo, C. & de Oliveira, T.
This species is listed as Least Concern because it is one of the most widely-distributed mammals in the Western Hemisphere. Although it has been extirpated from its former range in midwestern and eastern North America (Nowell and Jackson 1996), it is attempting to recolonize this region (Thompson and Jenks 2010, LaRue et al. 2012) and populations are healthy enough for regulated harvest in western North America. However, it is considered to be declining elsewhere in its range, and as a large carnivore intricately linked to other wildlife and habitat associations, from a social and political perspective its conservation and management presents numerous challenges.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Least Concern (LC)
2002 Near Threatened (NT)
1996 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The geographic range of the Puma is the largest of any terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002), from Canada through the US, Central and South America to the southern tip of Chile. While the Puma is an adaptable cat, being found in every major habitat type of the Americas, including the high Andes (5,800 m asl in southern Peru; Sunquist and Sunquist 2002), it was eliminated from the entire eastern half of North America within 200 years following European colonization (Nowell and Jackson 1996). A remnant Endangered supopulation persists in Florida. Recent confirmations and suitable habitat in the Midwestern U.S. indicate attempts at recolonization (LaRue and Nielsen 2011, LaRue et al. 2012).
Countries occurrence:
Argentina; Belize; Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Brazil; Canada; Chile; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; El Salvador; French Guiana; Guatemala; Guyana; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Suriname; United States; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
Upper elevation limit (metres): 5800
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The Canadian population was roughly estimated at 3,500-5,000 and the western US population at 10,000 in the early 1990s (Nowell and Jackson 1996). The population of Central and South America is likely much higher, although it is unclear how abundant Pumas are in the dense rainforest of the Amazon basin (Nowell and Jackson 1996). The Florida subpopulation, numbering 100-180, is isolated, and has been supplemented by a reintroduction of pumas from Texas (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 2014). In Brazil it is considered Near Threatened but subspecies outside the Amazon basic are considered Vulnerable (Machado et al. 2005). It is also considered Near Threatened in Peru (Inrena 2006), Argentina (Diaz and Ojeda 2000) and Colombia (Rodriguez-Mahecha et al. 2006), and Data Deficient (inadequately known) in Chile (CONAMA 2005).

Density estimates include:
  • Utah, US: 0.3-0.5/100 km2 (Hemker et al. 1984)
  • Washington, US:  5.03/100 km2 (Robinson et al. 2008)
  • Idaho, US: 0.77-1.04/100 km2 (Laundre and Clark 2003)
  • Peru: 2.4/100 km2 (Janson and Emmons 1990)
  • Patagonia: 6/100 km2 (Franklin et al. 1999)
  • Pantanal 4.4/100 km(Crawshaw and Quigley unpubl. in Nowell and Jackson 1996)
  • Belize 2-5/100 km(Kelly et al. 2008)
  • Argentina 0.5-0.8/100 km(Kelly et al. 2008)
  • Bolivia 5-8/100 km2 (Kelly et al. 2008)
  • West Mexico 3-5/100 km2 (Nunez et al. 1998)
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is found in a broad range of habitats, in all forest types, as well as lowland and montane desert. Several studies have shown that habitat with dense understory vegetation is preferred, however, Pumas can live in very open habitats with only a minimum of vegetative cover (Nowell and Jackson 1996). Pumas co-occur with Jaguars in much of their Latin American range, and may favour more open habitats than their larger competitor, although both can be found in dense forest (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002).

Pumas are capable of taking large prey, but when available small to medium-sized prey are more important in their diet (in tropical portions of the range). This is true of wild prey as well as livestock (IUCN Cats Red List workshop 2007). In North America, deer make up 60-80% of the Puma's diet, and the mean weight of prey taken is 39-48 kg. In Florida, however, where deer numbers are low, Pumas take smaller prey including feral pigs, raccoons and armadillos, and deer account for only about 1/3 of the diet (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002).

Home range sizes of Pumas vary considerably across their geographic distribution, and the smallest ranges tend to occur in areas where prey densities are high and prey are not migratory (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). In North America, home range sizes ranged from 32-1,031 km2 (Lindzey et al. 1987).
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Pumas are legally hunted in many western US states, although hunting was banned by popular referendum in California in 1990.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Pumas are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, and poaching of their wild prey base. They are persecuted across their range by retaliatory hunting due to livestock depredation, and due to fear that they pose a threat to human life (IUCN Cats Red List workshop 2007). Pumas have killed a number of people in western Canada and the US in recent years. Pumas are legally hunted in many western US states, although hunting was banned by popular referendum in California in 1990. Road kills are the principal cause of mortality in the endangered Florida Panther subpopulation, and heavily travelled roads are a major barrier to Puma movements and dispersal (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is included in CITES Appendix II and the eastern and Central American subspecies (P. c. coryi, costaricensis and cougar) on Appendix I. This species is protected across much of its range, with hunting prohibited in most of Argentina, and all of Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela and Uruguay, and hunting regulations in place in Canada, Mexico, Peru and the United States (Nowell and Jackson 1996).

There is a need for the implementation of programs to mitigate conflict resolution for livestock depredation and to study the real effect of Puma vs. Jaguar depredation on livestock (IUCN Cats Red List workshop 2007). Puma occasionally kill humans, especially in North America.

Citation: Nielsen, C., Thompson, D., Kelly, M. & Lopez-Gonzalez, C.A. 2015. Puma concolor. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T18868A50663436. . Downloaded on 29 November 2015.
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