Habitat alteration and human disturbance : their impact on cougar habitat utilization in southwest Oregon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/bv73c2642

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  • Eight cougars were radio-collared and monitored during 1985 - 1987. Home range size, determined by minimum convex polygons, averaged 153.1 km2 for females, 543.5 km2 for males. Core home range size, determined by harmonic mean analysis, averaged 21.7 km2 for females, 17.9 km2 for males. Home ranges of males and females overlapped, but core areas never overlapped, regardless of sex. Two juvenile females and one juvenile male displaced over 60 km. Cougars utilized habitats in a preferential manner, avoiding clearcuts and preferring mature forest stands. Cougars did not appear to select for riparian areas, although continuous monitoring periods revealed that cougars traveled extensively along riparian areas and topographic features. Cougars did not avoid active timber harvest sites, but rather were closer to them than random locations scattered throughout their home ranges. Cougars did not avoid paved, arterial, feeder, or spur roads but rather were closer to them than random locations. Cougars did not avoid campsites, but did appear to avoid permanent residences. However, movement patterns of cougars also suggested that they did not avoid roads, campsites, or permanent residences. These results were contrary to the only other published study addressing the impacts of huniail disturbances on cougar habitat use. It is hypothesized that difference in vegetative cover between the two studies (the other study was in an area of sparse understory vegetation) is the primary reason for the differing results. Perhaps the most important impact of humans on cougars in this study was heightened mortality (legal and illegal harvest, road kills) resulting from increased human access to cougar habitat.
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