Despite its rich history, Arizona didn’t become a state until 1912. Today, Arizona is home to more than 7 million people, including 27 Native American tribes. Arizona is the southwesternmost state in the Four Corners region; its lands include the Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest National Parks. The state is known for its basin and mountainous landscapes, which alternate between low-elevation deserts and high-elevation ridges. Arizona is home to a diverse and striking collection of animals, including the elusive mountain lion. But just how big was the largest mountain lion ever caught in Arizona?
Read on to learn more about this southwestern state’s cougars.
Species Profile: Mountain Lion
Cougars are the largest cat species in North America. They are rarely seen by humans and occasionally come into conflict with settlements encroaching on their homes. For some, cougars are a source of fear, while for others, a source of beauty and respect.
The largest cougars caught in Arizona were indeed large, however, most cougars (also known as cougars, panthers or cougars) are not that big. Males are easily larger than females, reaching up to around 220 pounds. Females grow to around 140 pounds and take full responsibility for raising the litter of kittens.
Cougars are tawny in color, ranging from light sandy to deep reddish tan. They have muscular bodies and large claws that retract. Their ears are round, and like all predators, their eyes face forward. To help with balance, they have long tails that usually end in a tuft of darker fur. Because of their ability to blend in, humans rarely notice cougars—even when they’re nearby.
habitat and range
Cougars are able to adapt to an incredible variety of habitats and climates. Because of this, they can be found as far north as the Yukon Territory in Canada and as far south as the southern tip of South America. Cougars have been confirmed in at least 15 states in the United States and most of Central and South America.
Cougars need only a few things to be successful in any given environment; shelter, prey, and available water. These stealthy predators can be found in forested areas, deserts and even wetlands. However, unlike herbivores, which have relatively high population densities, mountain lions are solitary hunters. This means that, like a tiger, a single mountain lion usually controls a large territory, keeping all other lions out.
Largest mountain lion ever seen in Arizona
Discovering the size of the largest mountain lion ever captured in Arizona was no easy feat. However, it’s easy to see how big these felines can grow in this desert state. According to one listing, the skull of the largest cougar ever hunted by an archer scored 15 7/16 — that’s almost as big as the largest cougar that ever lived. Based on more listings, it appears that the largest felines caught in any given year score between 14 and 15.
But how are these scores derived? Official Cougar scoring is based on total skull length plus total skull width. This allows for an accurate measurement of the size of the cougar when it was killed. The largest cougars rarely exceed 200 pounds. But the largest puma ever recorded far outstripped any other. Let’s find out more.
What was the largest mountain lion ever?
The biggest cougars caught in Arizona may look big, but they’re still not the biggest. The largest puma ever recorded by Boone and Crockett had a skull measuring 16 4/16. It was killed in British Columbia in 1979. Before that, the largest mountain lion ever recorded was from Garfield County, Utah, with a score of 16. There are further reports that the largest puma ever recorded weighed 276 pounds, an extraordinary weight for the largest cat in North America.
Are mountain lions endangered?
Cougars have long been a source of debate and disagreement among landowners, residents and conservationists. Like other large carnivores such as wolves and bears, cougars have long been vilified by ranchers and farmers. They have been hunted relentlessly for decades, even as their habitat and prey resources are severely reduced. Today, mountain lions are still routinely hunted in their few remaining strongholds, much to the ire of those who want to protect them.
For many, the mountain lion has become a symbol of the most protected and respected wild animal. For many more, however, cougars are nothing more than a threat to livestock, pets and even children. While there’s no clear answer on whether hunters should hunt cougars, it’s always important to protect the animals. Thanks to careful conservation and conservation, the cougar is not endangered.
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I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.
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