The first cougar mortalities due to wolves in Yellowstone National Park were documented in December 1999, four years after wolves were re-introduced to the park.
About 50% of the kittens born in Yellowstone National Park live long enough to establish their own home ranges.
During the 12-year-old Teton Cougar Project, researchers in Wyoming say wolves have cut the cougar population in the study area in half.
Meanwhile, in Montana’s Bitterroot Mountains, cougars have killed at least two wolves fitted with research collars.
One of the first wolves reintroduced to Idaho was found dead in Montana shortly after its release in 1995. There was a large puncture in the top of the wolf’s skull, which researchers later determined was caused by a cougar’s large incisor tooth.
Mountain lions have a distinctive kill pattern. They approach from behind, and bite prey through the top of the skull or back of the neck.
Male mountain lions, known as toms, roam a 100-square-mile “home range,” and they are solitary except during courtship.
Out-of-state hunters pay $5,000 for the opportunity to stalk and kill a mountain lion in Montana.
Bounty hunters in Montana killed more than 200 mountain lions a year in the early 1900s.
In Montana in 1902, bounty hunters were paid $7 for each dead cougar and $5 for each dead wolf they turned in.
Bounty hunting hit the wolves harder than the cougars, which were able to sustain small remnant populations in remote corners of Montana. The wolves, on the other hand, thrived in ranching and farming areas. This put them in the crosshairs of bounty hunters more often than cougars.
In the effort to eradicate big predators from Montana, poison was used to kill wolves but was not as effective on cougars.
Today, mountain lion hunters in Montana kill about 500 cats a year. The total kill numbers for wolves are lower, with 225 wolves killed during the 2012-13 hunting season by rifles and traps.