The Arizona Game and Fish Department, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is using modern technology to build a data set on mountain lion predation on bighorn sheep. It is worth noting, that contrary to popular opinion, the mountain lion population is neither threatened, endangered, or at risk, and they are the most broadly distributed large mammal species in North America. 

In less than six months, one radio collared mountain lion killed fourteen bighorn sheep.

At this pace, this mountain lion could remove thirty-seven bighorn sheep annually. To put this in perspective, annual yearling recruitment for this herd of bighorn sheep is only thirty-nine animals. Mountain lion predation on bighorn sheep is a big deal.

Once a localized wildlife population has zero recruitment or less, meaning it’s not replacing lost animals from standard mortalities, it’s just a matter of time before you will lose that population.

Proposed predation management plans “do not set out to eliminate mountain lions, but to manage the level of mountain lion predation on bighorn sheep,” say biologists. “Mountain lions are a valued game species, and are managed as an important part of the fauna and to provide mountain lion hunting recreation opportunity while maintaining existing occupied habitat and the present range of mountain lions.”

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14 Comments

  1. Tom Sorenson at 10:07 am

    Wow! Awesome pics – sad ending! Too bad he didn’t have a cougar tag in his pocket and he could have ended that little kitties plans. Maybe next time. Great sequence of pics, though…not many people that have seen something like that, let alone caught it on film.

  2. Cory Glauner at 3:38 pm

    Yeah, It would have been awesome to have a lion tag. Then you’d have a ram skull and a lion. A good day for sure.

  3. Mike Peterson at 3:40 pm

    Cool pictures! Where at?

  4. b boehm at 11:30 am

    incredible sequence of cougar stalking a bighorn sheep. was this a salt lick or clay lick…idaho area? i have been attempting to photograph cougar, mostly video in the wild, and in my 45 years, came across one fresh kill, and have only seen three passing quicly,two in logging roads inthe olympics, and my wife and i spotted a small female on the queets river this spring moutain biking. i have followed elk herds for part of the day…but i know this is just chance to encounter one. but i hadnt thought about clay or salt licks, where an intelligent predator like a cougar would probably imprint as a prey area.

    i work with salmon restoration in puget sound, but would love to document with high def video one of your hunts, or to witness an area like you depict in your photos of bighorn. thank.s b boehm, bothell, wa

  5. J Cross at 5:22 pm

    The pictures were taken on Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park. A few of my friends whom I worked with at the lake were on their day off and were fortunate enough to get these photos. I was actually giving a tour on a boat at that time and was able to see the aftermath. Amazing animal.

  6. clayton at 9:19 am

    Sweet photos were were they taken?!!!

  7. Samantha Virk at 3:35 pm

    GREAT PHOTOS – I would love to be able to use them in some of my “hunting justification” speeches…. I am actually going into the San Bernardino Mountains later this week trying to see Big Horn Sheep. The lion population (non-hunted) is wiping out the Big Horn’s in California. Check out my site and pics on http://www.myspace.com/SamPlays and search Samantha Virk on facebook. I just shot a real nice whitetail last week. My BEST to YOU.
    Pro-Staff – Hunterspot.com

  8. Angie at 4:16 pm

    A tag wouldn’t have mattered in this case since the photo’s were taken at Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park Canada. They believe the cougar is the one named Doug. He’s known for hunting around the townsite. This kill was a total of about 10 miles from the town of Banff in the summer of 2008

  9. Carrolle Knowles at 4:32 am

    Is this really Lake Roosevelt…. shores don't look familar.

  10. Dan Hunter at 5:22 am

    Its on Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park, Canada.

  11. Joyce Rife at 7:49 pm

    It's time to start eliminating mountain lions!

  12. William Garza at 5:12 am

    awesome shots! that's real hunting!

  13. Contrary to popular belief, the mountain lion population is neither threatened, endangered, or at risk, and they are the most broadly distributed large mammal species in North America.

  14. Devonte Collins at 11:18 am

    why would you do that? It's like killing a human!

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