“As solitary carnivores, mountain lions are efficient at their job of acquiring prey while remaining elusive on the landscape,” says Dr. Dan Thompson of Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department. Thompson is the speaker at the next Draper Natural History Museum Lunchtime Expedition at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Thursday, August 1, 12:15 p.m. The lecture takes place in the Center’s Coe Auditorium and is free to the public.
Thompson’s talk, titled Ghosts in the Darkness: Wyoming’s Big Cat, the Mountain Lion, focuses on all aspects of mountain lion ecology and how it relates to conservation and management of the species. He discusses the role of this rarely-seen animal on the landscape, as well as how a mountain lion adapts to the rigors of being a large carnivore in the wilds of Wyoming and beyond.
“Mountain lions are true survivors with a distribution spanning the greatest distance of any wild mammal in the Western Hemisphere,” notes Thompson. “The opportunities and challenges of working with these cryptic carnivores,” he adds, “has given me a great deal of respect for the species.” In his program, Thompson shares stories, some laughs, and insights into the world of mountain lions from both the human and mountain lion perspective. He also speaks of the controversy the animals can spark because of the range of emotions—from contempt to admiration—they can invoke in people.
Thompson is a large carnivore biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, specializing in monitoring and management of mountain lions throughout the state. For the past decade, he has worked with mountain lions in the American West and Midwest. For his doctorate, he studied the recently recolonized mountain lion populations in Wyoming and South Dakota’s Black Hills, and currently is involved with four graduate research projects evaluating mountain lion ecology in Wyoming and the Dakotas. Thompson has authored several articles and co-authored the book Managing Cougars in North America.
For more information on the Draper Museum’s free Lunchtime Expeditions series, now in its thirteenth year, visit centerofthewest.org/explore/greater-yellowstone-natural-history. An additional August lecture takes place August 8, when the Center welcomes Dr. Ingrid “Indy” Burke, Director of the University of Wyoming’s Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources.
Since 1917, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West has been committed to the greatness and growth of the American West, keeping western experiences alive. The Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, weaves the varied threads of the western experience—history and myth, art and Native culture, firearms, and the nature and science of Yellowstone—into the rich panorama that is the American West.