Cougars—or mountain lions—have generally been considered solitary animals that rarely interact, unless in violent confrontation. In recent years, though, advances in technology have allowed new insights that challenge those well-established assumptions. Researchers have discovered that mountain lions are in close proximity to each other far more often than previously expected.
At the next Draper Natural History Museum Lunchtime Expedition at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Dr. Mark Elbroch, Project Leader of Panthera’s Teton Cougar Project, offers an intimate look at the life of the elusive mountain lion. Combining ongoing research and distinctive video footage caught by well-placed remote cameras, Elbroch paints a rare portrait of cougars in the Jackson area in the free talk titled The Secret Social Lives of Mountain Lions. The program takes place August 7, 12:15 p.m. in the Center’s Coe Auditorium.
In his surprising and visually compelling presentation, Elbroch answers several questions: Do cougars only come together to breed? Are all interactions between cougars vicious and violent? How do kittens interact with their mother? He shares how evolving GPS (Global Positioning System) technology is changing our view of mountain lions.
The Teton Cougar Project has been researching cougar ecology in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Grand Teton National Park, and surrounding areas since January 2001, and is one of few long term studies of this charismatic, controversial species. In his role as the Project Leader, Elbroch has undertaken research on mountain lions in California, Colorado, and Patagonia, and is currently working with Panthera and other collaborators to launch new projects near San Francisco, in northern Yellowstone, and in southernmost Patagonia.
Elbroch earned his doctorate at the University of California, Davis, where his dissertation research focused on puma ecology in central Chilean Patagonia. His current research ranges from cougar foraging, to the ecological roles of mountain lions, to cougar-livestock conflict, to intraspecific interactions between cougars and other large carnivores, and highlights conservation imperatives for this species. He has authored and coauthored ten books, including Mammal Tracks and Sign: A Guide to North American Species and the new Peterson Reference Guide: Behavior of North American Mammals, as well as several scientific publications.
For more information on this lecture and other natural science topics, visit the Draper Museum’s pages on the Center’s website. The September 4 talk highlights the Wyoming Game & Fish Department’s nongame wildlife management. The Draper Museum’s Lunchtime Expedition series is supported in part by Sage Creek Ranch. Visit Panthera’s website and the Teton Cougar Project’s Facebook page to learn more about Elbroch’s work.
Since 1917, the award-winning Buffalo Bill Center of the West has devoted itself to sharing the story of the authentic American West. The Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For additional information, visit centerofthewest.org or the Center’s Facebook page.