Cougar



The Cougar, subfamily Felinae is the 4th largest Feline of the western hemisphere. Though it is often reffed to as a Mountain Lion and looking something like an African Lion, it is not in the subfamily of “Big Cats”, Pantherinae. One characteristic separating these felines, is the “Big Cats” have an adapted larynx allowing them to roar. In actual fact the Cougar is closer related to the domestic cat, Cheetah and Lynx and is the largest cat able to purr. A adult male can weigh 115 to 220 pounds and can have a territory sometimes over 300 miles.  A female can weigh  64 to 150 pounds and holds a smaller territory of about half that of the male.  The cougar will eat what ever prey it can catch from insects to large mule deer.  Though it can sprint up to 40 mph and can make a horizontal leap of 45 feet, it tends more to ambush it's prey hiding in brush or on ledges  This beautiful solitary and reclusive animal lives in the surrounding wilderness of the Darrington area.
The female is ready to mate at 1.5 to 3 years of age.  The litter size averages at 2 to 3 kittens born blind and completely dependent on their mother, the sole parent. It is common that only one kitten will reach maturity even though the mother fiercely guards her young. At 3 months the kittens will be weaned and led from the den to kill sites where their mother has left fallen prey. At 6 months they will begin to hunt small prey on there own but will still remain with their mother for up to 2 years. 

Never approach a cougar, enjoy wildlife from afar with binoculars and telephotography.  If you find the remains of a dead animal, this could be a kill site of a cougar thus it likely will be returning to this site, walk away from this area.  It is a good idea to hike in groups and be heard.  If surrounding wildlife can hear you, they are more likely to avoid you.  Here is some advise if you encounter a cougar from the BC Ministry of the Environment:  Cougars normally avoid confrontation, leave an avenue of escape open for the animal.  Keep small children close by and in the event of confrontation pick them up or restrain them from fleeing.  Do not turn your back on a cougar and never run away.  Stay calm, with a strong calm voice talk to the cougar, slowly backing away.  In the case of aggression from the animal, arm yourself with a large stick, throw rocks, speak loudly and firmly. Convince the cougar that you are a threat not prey.