As a generous CFC supporter, your gift helps provide foundational support for priority projects in the world’s first national park. Each and every day you help maintain facilities, support education for the next generation, and protect wildlife through programs like the Yellowstone Cougar Project. And for that, I want to say thank you and give you an exclusive look at some of the work you’ve helped to make possible this year.
In November, the busy winter season is just beginning for the Yellowstone Cougar Project. The Cougar Project team monitors the habitat of Yellowstone’s elusive cougar population, which reestablished itself naturally after these top feline predators were nearly killed off in the early 1900s. Biologists estimate up to 45 cougars now inhabit Yellowstone’s northern range. This past summer, the Cougar Project documented four female GPS-collared cougars that denned and gave birth to kittens.
This winter the team plans to increase the number of remote cameras to provide better coverage in higher density winter use areas of the Yellowstone River corridor. These remote cameras detect recognizable GPS-collared cougars, as well as uncollared individuals using the landscape. Collectively, this data is used to help estimate the annual population of cougars across their northern Yellowstone home ranges.
The cameras also continue to provide exciting footage of cougar behaviors, including females interacting with young kittens. And the cameras document numerous other carnivores including wolves, bears, foxes, coyotes, members of the weasel family (including a wolverine!), and nearly all the large ungulate species using cougar habitat.
The team will also replace the GPS collars on several currently collared cougars to swap out older batteries with new ones. In addition, biologists are hoping to collar up to four new adult males and females to fill in research gaps left by recently deceased collared cougars.
Project staff will also continue to work with the Yellowstone Wolf Project to locate deceased prey. This data provides valuable insights into carnivore competition for food, impacts on prey, and changes in choice of prey through the winter season.
The Yellowstone Cougar Project continues to provide new information about these secretive and ecologically important top predators. The success of the project relies greatly on the passion and commitment of CFC supporters like you.
Thank you again for your commitment to our mission to safeguard this awe-inspiring place for generations to come.