The mountain lion (Puma concolor), also known as puma, cougar, and catamount, is an adaptable animal, historically occupying a variety of landscapes from the Canadian Yukon to the southern tip of South America, including nearly all of the contiguous 48 US states. In fact, among mammal species of the Western Hemisphere, only Homo sapiens inhabit a larger range. In the United States, however, that range has been drastically reduced. By the early 20th century, mountain lions were eliminated from nearly all of the midwestern and eastern parts of the country. As human settlers pushed west, they took their fear and animosity toward lions with them. On page 6 of this issue, Lynn Cullens, Tim Dunbar, and Amy Rodrigues of the Mountain Lion Foundation discuss the persecution lions continue to face in many western states, where they are still legally hunted despite great uncertainty as to their numbers and continued viability.
Photo by Matthias Breiter/Minden Pictures