A recent study by researchers at the University of Washington found that mountain lions could have a significant impact on deer populations, suggesting that reintroduction efforts may be beneficial in areas with a high deer population. While too much deer may seem like a dream come true for many hunters, experts say that overpopulation is a very real threat in some parts of the East Coast, and could lead to die-offs from mass starvation—not to mention property damage and presenting a road hazard for motorists. According to the study, deer are responsible for 1.2 million crashes in the US annually, resulting in more than 200 deaths and $1.66 billion in damages. Researches predict that if cougars manage to recolonize eastern states, the deer population could be cut by nearly 22 percent over the next three decades. While that number may be dramatic, researchers pointed out that the average cougar can consume up to 260 deer over the course of its lifetime.

However, reintroducing a large predatory animal into a region where they have been long absent is not a simple matter. Some experts say that the states where cougars will be most valuable, such as Delaware, Maryland, Illinois, and Maine, simply do not have the right conditions to support a recolonization effort. Mountain lions are also dangerous animals, who have a history of opportunism when it comes to livestock. Human attacks are rare, but still happen frequent enough to be cause for concern.

Some critics of any proposed plan to reintroduce cougars to eastern states have also raised the question of price. They say that cost-effective measures, such as hunting, already exist. With the departure of the whitetail’s natural predators, state agencies now rely on humans to keep the population under control, something that sportsmen undertake with gusto every fall. Moreover, fees from licenses go directly back to conservation efforts, making sure that wildlife agencies have the funds they need.

The researchers admitted that they expected some opposition to their proposals, and that not everyone may see new cougar populations as a good thing.

“It is likely that livestock producers, rural residents that fear cougars, and hunters bear the brunt of the costs of large carnivores, while agricultural producers, home-owners with landscaping, drivers, local governments, and insurance agencies reap the majority of benefits,” the study stated.

It should be noted that another study conducted last year found that mountain lions may be moving east on their own. In that study, researchers at the University of Minnesota and Southern Illinois University Carbondale found that cougars may be recolonizing the Midwest within 25 years. Understandably, if these results hold up, it could mean big changes in the realm of wildlife management.

“Given that cougars are expected to inhabit areas where they haven’t been for more than 100 years, this will pose considerable challenges for wildlife managers and the general public in the future,” said  study author Michelle LaRue, a University of Minnesota research associate in the College of Science and Engineering Department of Earth Sciences.

 

Image courtesy Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

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10 thoughts on “University Study Suggests Reintroducing Mountain Lions to Maintain Deer Populations

  1. What a no-brainer! Hunters have failed miserably at controlling deer over-population, mainly because of the vast areas of private property where there is little or no hunting allowed. The average deer hunter is pretty incompetent anyway. The forest damage that has occurred over huge areas of eastern forests has been truly enormous. Cougars are living quite well near human populations in the west. The main resistance to reintroduction has been from ignorant and alarmist humans. Cougars should be reintroduced is suitable habitat, such as New York’s Adirondacks and other wild areas.

    1. Polite and respectful so calling deer hunters incompetent is polite and respectful. I for one am I deer hunter and am a very competent person. If you want to lower the population of deer then they need to get hunters access to land where they are overpopulated.

  2. Sure, reintroduce them! I’ll go out of my way to poison them just like I do feral cats and coyotes!.. There are a lot of ways to hive them a belly ache and unless I do so, I won’t get caught. Let these college phuctards reintroduce them in their back yard!!

    1. whether you want to accept it or not you rural inbred white red necks who want to kill evything that you dislike are on your way out. Everybody both inside and outside the US hates your guts and if you don’t play ball with wildlife then the American people who are overwelmingly not like you will eventually make the government remove you from your lands and give it protected status for widlife. The choice is yours.

  3. It seems Muddy Mudskipper and tom warner woke up on the wrong side of a hangover or something . Muddled wants to poison everything , tommy seems to think hunters clear cut the forrest to hunt deer . Wow , that is some pair !
    Perhaps mountain lions are the wrong predator to re-introduce if the object is to reduce the deer herds to minimal numbers . Some if not all follow-up studies on bringing wolves into an area where they have been absent for more than a few decades show a great reduction of deer ,elk and moose ; with a commensurate drop in hunting derived income in those states .

    1. I guess you misunderstood what I said. Deer themselves have damaged eastern forests by extreme over-browsing from too many deer for a lot of years. All the under-story is gone in any areas and the deer have eaten themselves out of house and home, they are extremely underweight and unhealthy and many die during the Winters. It has a bad effect on all other wildlife also. Eastern game departments have known this for years. Nobody thinks hunters “have clear cut the forests”. The east is now pretty much unsuitable for Wolves, who need much larger territories than Cougars require . It sure would be nice if you guys gave polite responses instead of this. The jerkoid Muddy MS reply is rude and idiotic.

      1. Sorry , I re-read your post it still comes out a little sideways when I read it . Your second post straightened me out .I apologise . But I am still steamed up over that Mud for brains poisoning idiot . What is he going to poison next ……. ?

      2. Thanks Snug. If we are to have interesting discussions on this thread, we all need to be polite and respectful of each other. Persons like Muddy just poison the entire thing and keep people from bothering to send in their comments.

  4. It is sad that people that havent spent an hour in the woods or the ones that live in cities will try and reintroduce Vermin species into the places country Folk live. Go ahead and do it I say. They will find their beloved Mountain Lions poisoned or better yet sick and dying. If you want these things then let em go in your backyard and YOU live with em. Im not having my sheep killed because YOU feel the need to do something that YOU think is gonna help ecosystems. I trapp Coyotes every year, i dont have a problem with wolves anymore because they get Sick and go away and Mountain Lions? Oh yea , i see their future too if you insist on doing what you plan on doing! LOL

  5. We need
    cougars like we needed the coyote back, Not at all! They were hunted out for a reason; they kill
    the livestock and pets of good hardworking people. Now we don’t have many hunters and trappers
    left anymore so these predators are running wild, devastating wildlife
    populations, like the wild turkey and whitetail deer; as well as local
    livestock and peoples pets. You say that
    it will save lives because it will reduce the # of auto deer collisions. How about we make hunting deer by man a more
    interesting prospect? For instance:

    – The insurance industry could offer reduced rates, a small percentage
    off, to hunters, for every deer checked in: I believe my limit would be 7 deer
    if I took advantage of all the hunting opportunities in my area. If some of the major companies offered 5% off
    for the first deer and maybe 1/2% for each additional there would be a lot more
    people hunting.

    – Even if I had freezer space for that many deer I wouldn’t
    take them all, we can’t eat that much.
    Fortunately donating is an option in my area and I did that for the
    first several years I hunted (just to reduce the deer population in my area). Unfortunately the only place I can donate now
    is just over 20 miles from my home, that’s a 40+ mile round trip, possibly multiple
    times, and just feeling good about it doesn’t fill my gas tank. However, if we could get tax deductible
    receipts for donations, like we do when we donate to the Salvation Army, or the
    Church, then it would help encourage more donations.

    – Human Life! I don’t
    want to have to start hunting and trapping these things. I have a hard enough time protecting my
    livestock from the predators we have now, and thanks to the ‘rerelease’ of the
    coyote (which wasn’t in this area until the wolves were hunted out) it makes
    keeping animals and pets even more difficult.
    Furthermore, I don’t want my friends and loved ones hunted by these apex
    predators. If one person gets killed by
    them, I hope the entire agency that released them gets sued into extinction.

    Please,
    just think about hunter initiatives, education, early introduction, and encouragement!

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