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Old 01-13-2012, 09:00 AM   #10
gulo
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: the Gunks
Posts: 244
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.
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