Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Montana Wildlife
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Montana Wildlife Project

Population Dynamics and Modeling - Cougars

February 2017 - December 2019


Participating Agencies

  • Idaho Department of Fish and Game

We will deploy camera stations in suitable habitat predicted by IDFG’s mule deer and elk winter RSF model in GMUs 33-35. Cameras will be active from 2 Oct – 30 April. Detections of cougars at camera stations will be used to estimate cougar abundance with spatial mark-resight models. Cougar detection data will be rarified so that we can compare models populated with detections of single cougars to extended models that include multiple states, including females with kittens. To provide a comparison and test of camera stations, we will tree cougars in winter using hounds and biopsy dart them to obtain DNA samples and generate an independent measure of abundance. We will attempt to enlist local hound hunters to tree cougars and obtain samples by providing them with dart guns, sample kits, and reimbursement for expenses while sampling. We estimate 36 capture events per year in GMUs 33-35 and the same in GMUs 70, 73A, 56. We will radiocollar 18 of the captured cougars in each of the study areas to estimate space use and detection probability.