GPS Tracking Reveals Hungry Mountain Lions Hunt in Residential Area

18 Apr 2018

A new research study conducted by both Colorado State University and Colorado Parks and Wildlife found that big cats are less fearful of humans when they get hungry. This important research may explain why mountain lions are increasingly hunting around human areas.

Researchers equipped GPS trackers onto a number of wild mountain lions and tracked their behaviors across the state. These tracking devices were attached to the cats as collars, and they provided researchers with important data like the cat’s location and acceleration speed. In addition, these bio-collars relayed information regarding the dates and times of the predator’s last meal.

The study showed revealed that big cats showed little to no avoidance of human populated areas when they hadn’t eaten in around four to seven days. Typically, mountain lions fear humans and prior studies indicated that they actually avoided people. But it seems to not necessarily be the case when they are hungry. These animals appear to make riskier decision and engage in more perilous behaviors when they haven’t eaten for awhile.

The research team further documented that the cats would go longer periods without eating from winter to late spring.

Female mountain lions were less likely to avoid housing areas. While the study found that prey was more likely to be encountered away from houses, mountain lions were more successful at catching and killing prey closer to housing units.

These unsettling findings prove that a big cat’s hunger is crucial in its decision-making process, and these dangerous animals are more likely to hunt near houses when hunger strikes. Homeowners are advised to keep their pets indoors when they aren’t being supervised because mountain lions will consider their pets prey.

GPS tracking confirms that these large predators are not as timid as previously believed. Prior to these findings, it was generally believed that mountain lions and other big cats intentionally avoided humans out of fear.

With spring here, it’s important to avoid contact with these mountain lions and keep your pets safe. Colorado’s increasing human and mountain lion populations make these types of interactions more and more frequent.

 

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