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
Taxonomic Notes: 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: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Caso, A., Lopez-Gonzalez, C., Payan, E., Eizirik, E., de Oliveira, T., Leite-Pitman, R., Kelly, M., Valderrama, C. & Lucherini, M.
Reviewer(s): Nowell, K., Breitenmoser-Wursten, C., Breitenmoser, U. (Cat Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Listed as Least Concern as it is a widespread species. However, it is considered to be declining, and as a large predator its conservation presents numerous challenges. It has been extirpated from large areas of its historic range in North America (Nowell and Jackson 1996).
Previously published Red List assessments:
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 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 subpopulation persists in Florida, and records of pumas in northeastern Canada and the eastern US are on the rise, indicating possible recolonization (M. Kelly pers. comm. 2007).
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 rougly 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 70-80, is isolated, and has been supplemented by a reintroduction of pumas from Texas (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). In Brazil it is considered Near Threatened but subspecies outside the Amazon basic are considered VU (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)

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 km² (Crawshaw and Quigley unpubl. in Nowell and Jackson 1996)

Belize 2-5/100 km², in Argentina 0.5-0.8/100 km², Bolivia 5-8/100 km² (Kelly et al. in press)

W 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: The 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 favor 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 armadilllos, 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

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: Included in CITES Appendix II (eastern and Central American subspecies (P. c. coryi, costaricensis and cougar) Appendix I). The 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: Caso, A., Lopez-Gonzalez, C., Payan, E., Eizirik, E., de Oliveira, T., Leite-Pitman, R., Kelly, M., Valderrama, C. & Lucherini, M. 2008. Puma concolor. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T18868A8650385. . Downloaded on 07 October 2015.
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