Main content area

Winter hunting habitat of pumas Puma concolor in northwestern Utah and southern Idaho, USA

Laundré, John W., Hernández, Lucina
Wildlife biology 2003 v.9 no.2 pp. 123-129
Odocoileus hemionus, Puma concolor, deer, forest types, habitats, predation, predators, prediction, shrubs, snow, tree and stand measurements, trees, winter, Idaho, Utah
Pumas Puma concolor are stalking predators of large ungulates that usually cache their prey. We hypothesize that they require specific habitats to successfully stalk their prey and that they select cache sites based on some set of criteria. We tested these predictions during a study of predation by pumas on mule deer Odocoileus hemionus in south-central Idaho and northwestern Utah, USA. We found cache points of puma-killed deer in winter by locating radio-collared pumas. We then located where pumas had killed deer (kill points) by tracks in the snow. We classified these kill points relative to the dominant forest type and association with open, edge or forested areas. At a subset of the kill points and associated cache points, we also estimated tree and shrub density, tree diameter at breast height (dbh), shrub height and slope. Pumas killed deer more often than expected (P < 0.001) in juniper-pinyon habitat and in edge areas. Tree densities and dbh at cache points were significantly greater (P < 0.001) than at kill points or surrounding areas. We concluded that pumas relied on specific habitat characteristics to kill mule deer, and selected cache sites with older, larger trees.