CONSERVATION BIOLOGY RESEARCH
In addition to information on prey availability, knowledge of the food habits of mountain lions, including where and when they are hunting and what they are consuming, is necessary to understand the potential impact mountain lions may be having on prey populations in west Texas.
We used GPS collar data to identify potential mountain lion kill sites and investigated these sites to confirm whether or not a kill had taken place. GPS collars were programmed to record 6 locations a day at 0100, 0400, 0600, 1200, 1800, and 2100 hours. We identified potential kill sites as areas with at least 2 locations within a distance of 200 meters on the same night or consecutive nights.
We identified 200 kill sites and 4 scavenged carcasses made by 6 male and 10 female mountain lions. We identified the species, age, and sex of the prey when possible. We also estimated prey weight using average known weights of the prey species from this region, to get an idea of each prey species’ biomass contribution to mountain lion diet.
Scavenged carcasses consisted of 3 feral hogs and a bull elk, all killed during feral hog control programs or by hunters. Fourteen species were preyed upon in total, including 6 ungulates, 6 mesocarnivores, 1 lagomorph, and 1 rodent. Mule deer, followed by elk, and white-tailed deer, respectively, were the primary prey species taken by mountain lion. Due to their larger size, however, elk made up the majority of prey biomass eaten, potentially contributing 17% more biomass to the mountain lion diet than mule deer.