Mountain Lion Home Ranges

Home ranges, or the area an animal uses day-to-day to survive, must provide all of its habitat requirements including food, cover, and water.  Home ranges are commonly measured to better understand how much space an animal needs. 

Solitary carnivores, like mountain lions, require a tremendous amount of space to survive.  The number of carnivores a habitat can sustain are limited by the amount of prey that are available.  Areas with low prey support fewer predators and areas with more prey support higher levels of predators.

Since April 2011, we have caught and radioed 11 mountain lions in the Davis Mountains including 4 kittens (1 litter with 1 F, 1 M; and 2 older dependent young [1 F, 1 M]), 3 subadults (2 M, 1 F), and 4 adults (3 F, 1 M).

Using over 4,000 GPS data points that have been downloaded via the satellite collars, we estimated the home ranges of adult mountain lions using mapping software and standard analysis (95% MCP).  Home ranges of adult females varied from 13,195 to 40,806 acres and averaged 30,822 acres.  The home range of the adult male was considerably larger at 128,915 acres. 

Although our sample size is small, the home ranges of mountain lions in the Davis Mountains are similar to those reported for the Big Bend Ranch study conducted in the 1990s.  In that study, home ranges averaged 51,000 acres  for females and 86,000 acres for males.

 

dart gun

Mountain lions are captured with foot-hold snares or treed using trained hounds. Once captured, researchers use a tranquilizer gun to sedate the mountain lion, as shown here.

home ranges

Home ranges of adult female mountain lions (yellow, red, and green) in the Davis Mountains averaged 30,822 acres and the male home range (blue) was 128,915 acres.