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-   -   Cougars and Karst topography (http://www.adkforum.com/showthread.php?t=16616)

Gman 01-10-2012 12:31 PM

Cougars and Karst topography
 
Karst topography: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karst

The Canadian Shield is the largest continuous forested region on the face of the earth. The granite bedrock is some the oldest and hardest on earth. Karst topography depends upon water and wind soluble rock and so Karst formations are rare on the Shield. Other than around the perimeter there are no Cougars on the Shield and no historical evidence they existed there. Odd considering Cougars are found in such diverse habitats all over the Amerca's.

Some of the regions across North America with highest incidence of Karst topography, IE: Black Hills, Vancouver Island etc. also have the highest Cougar populations. Coincidence?

One of requirements for a breeding Cougar population it seems is the need for secure den sites. Do areas without Karst topography not have sufficient den sites?

It is only my theory because I found no reason why a breeding population could not and does not exist on the Shield. The only area of my home Province of Ontario that has historical evidence of a breeding Cougar population is the Niagara Escarpment and Bruce Peninsula areas which....you guessed have the highest incidence of Karst topography in Ontario.

The Adirondacks are an extension of the Canadian Shield. Would Cougars if introduced to the Adirondacks stay or leave the Park for favorable den sites outside the Park?

producer 01-11-2012 01:21 PM

Assuming you are correct that cougars have never lived in canadien shield, the hypothesis still doesnt work because in the past cougars have lived in the adks, among other locations without karst topography. Might they move in search of better dens sites? Once a population is overcrowded enough, dont they move out anyways to find dens, mates, etc? Be hard to determine why they move unless they all do it simultaneously for no other apparent reason. They survived here for a long time until we interviened, not because of den sites. Maybe your observation is an example of evolution and they have evolved to find certain habitats avoiding ones they had previously used hundreds of years ago? Who knows....

Gman 01-11-2012 11:52 PM

I believe the last cougar in NY was killed in southern Hamilton County. Were the last cougars driven out of the Mohawk Valley? A cougars range is such that one born in the Mohawk Valley would certainly have the Southern ADK's as a territory.

Audubon said the Eastern Cougar lived south of the 45th parallel which just include the ADK's however the temperature, geology, flora, fauna (moose, lynx etc.) are of 100 - 300 miles north.

Does anyone have any historical evidence of cougars in the Northern Adirondacks? I have found none.

Most of the historical evidence I have seen of the last cougars shot in the east did not come from remote northern forests which I found rather odd considering any species that was near extinction would more apt to make its last stand in remote areas.

The last cougar shot in Vermont was not from the North East Kingdom home to most of Vermonts moose but was shot in Southern Vermont. The last cougar shot in Minnesota was not in the wild north part of the state, last refuge of wolves in the lower 48 but rather south of the Twin Cities near Rochester. In Ontario the last was shot only 50 miles north of Toronto.

I know a man who speaks Anishnabek Algonquin of Eastern Ontario and he said his language has no word for cougar. I don't think the Abenaki do either. The tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy who occupied the valleys and Southern Tier all have a word for cougar.

gulo 01-12-2012 08:50 AM

The last cat taken in the state was from Herkimer County in 1893-94. In one of these threads, I posted 19th century bounty records for the Daks. There are such records from every eastern state.

Where there are no bounty records is for all but southwestern Maine, all of New Brunswick, and only two from Quebec. Those were moose and caribou country - not white-tail habitat, the cougar's favored prey.

Their northernmost range extends into southern Yukon. It's more about prey and prey density than habitat. They are as adaptable as coyotes and occupy more ecosystems than any mammal in the western hemisphere.

Eastern Puma 01-12-2012 09:32 AM

Cougars don't need rock dens for their kittens. A "den" could be under the roots of a large tree or simply in a tangle of bushes. In Florida, a panther den is often a dense growth of palmettos. Mother cougars often move their kittens to new "dens." As gulo says, panthers need suitable prey (probably large deer-sized prey to successfully rear kittens) and habitat that provides cover for stalking, resting and protecting young kittens.

poconoron 01-12-2012 10:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gulo (Post 180301)
It's more about prey and prey density than habitat. They are as adaptable as coyotes and occupy more ecosystems than any mammal in the western hemisphere.

While they are extremely adaptable, they of course existed at far lower population densities then coyotes do today due to their much, much larger home range territories. A cougar, of course, is a much larger predator requiring alot more food per predator than a coyote.

This combined with the facts enumerated here by others relating to less than ideal habitat (moose country, vs. deer country) probably explains why cougars may have existed at a lower density in the ADKs and similar habitat than in other areas with larger game populations.

Gman 01-12-2012 11:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Eastern Puma (Post 180302)
Cougars don't need rock dens for their kittens. A "den" could be under the roots of a large tree or simply in a tangle of bushes. In Florida, a panther den is often a dense growth of palmettos. Mother cougars often move their kittens to new "dens." As gulo says, panthers need suitable prey (probably large deer-sized prey to successfully rear kittens) and habitat that provides cover for stalking, resting and protecting young kittens.

Before I posted this thread I looked into all your points.

Florida has very dense year round vegetation. It also is rife with sinkholes and perhaps the most concentrated region of Karst topography in the US. Whether they are flooded with water or not I do not know. While Florida has reptilian predators I would not see them as equal threats to northern mammalian predators and raptors. In the northeast ground cover is sparse in late winter and early spring. The best den sites may still be occupied by bears. Although not confirmed it is speculated that a cougar will not use a den site recently occupied by bears.

The kittens are immobile for 4-6 weeks and the mother needs a secure den site during that period but after the kittens are mobile and the mother takes them with her they are more apt to have left the den site for good and in turn use "day sites" which could be a log, roots, heavy vegetation.

In many areas especially in the northern part of there range cougar do in fact prey on moose. In Alberta's Elk Island Park moose constitute up to 69% of the kills and 95% of the biomass.

gulo 01-12-2012 03:51 PM

Depending on what's available, some become specialists - moose, elk, bighorns, wild horses etc. Panthers survived their bottleneck on feral hogs, when the deer population was nearly wiped out in the Big Cypress.

Gman 01-12-2012 10:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gulo (Post 180319)
Depending on what's available, some become specialists - moose, elk, bighorns, wild horses etc. Panthers survived their bottleneck on feral hogs, when the deer population was nearly wiped out in the Big Cypress.

Okay they become specialists then what was is it about the Canadian Shield? And why were the ADK's different than other areas of the Shield? Was it because relative to a Cougars territory it (ADK's) are a small island surrounded by better habitat?

gulo 01-13-2012 09:00 AM

Two thoughts. Just because we're seeing some cats specialize in bigger ungulates now, typically a young cat forced into marginal habitat learns to take down moose and elk because that's what's around, doesn't mean they did pre-colonial, or, pre-Pleistocene. Hence, little or no bounty record from eastern Canada. The cougar densities we're seeing may be a reflection of hunting pressure that increases breeding rates and subsequent range expansion. Perhaps more importantly, how far north was the pre-colonial deer population?

Second, genetics tells us that the cougars that are here now migrated back into North America from Central America after being wiped out at the end of Pleistocene. Some speculate that there was a human hand in the extinction of many megafauna at the time, since these animals had all survived previous cooling and warming events over the millenia, but suddenly died off as soon as modern humans appeared. Maybe cougars hadn't yet reached the Shield.

The availability of denning sites just doesn't strike me as the issue.

Lionsandtigers 01-13-2012 11:41 AM

I have no doubt that the large red cat I saw dead on the shoulder of I-81 with a round face and long tail (with straight fur on a very long tail) was a young mountain lion. It did not have an elongated snout and it would have been only about 2 feet high if standing so it must have been young. It was right after Whitney point exit and well before Castle Creek exit. I am bummed I did not stop but I did call police and the dispatcher went to see it but not until much later and she said it was gone. It was solid in color and quite red-like a red tabby rather than tan or creamy red. Long rope like tail-not stripped. No spots-at least not visible at 55 mph. What do you all think? I am not a nature person and have no reason to conjour up anything as I did not know that there was any sort of discussion about large cats in NY until I saw the dead one and became alarmed by the dispatchers discussion about big animals. I have seen one wild wolf with very matted fur, lots of those little things that seem to pop out of the ground to get hit by cars, and tons of deer and tons of mallard and wild turkeys. I have seen one fox in Syracuse. That is about it except for in the zoo. So my sighting has nothing to do with confirming or disconfirming whether these animals live around here but I am really curious about what I saw. It was November 2011. I tried to find others who saw it and maybe figure out what it was and what might have happened to it but nobody responded-except sarcastically.

Lionsandtigers 01-13-2012 11:44 AM

Ammending my post to say that the height of the back/spine, would have been between 2-3 feet-2 is probably underestimate.


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