Cougar (Puma concolor) predation on Northern Mountain Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) in central British Columbia
Keywords:Predator–prey dynamics, apparent competition, feral Horses, Cougar, Puma concolor, Northern Mountain Caribou, Rangifer tarandus caribou, British Columbia
Caribou (Rangifer tarandus) populations are sympatric with Cougars (Puma concolor) in only a few areas, primarily in western Canada. Records of Cougar–Caribou interactions are limited and no published accounts describe Cougar predation on the shallow-snow, terrestrial-lichen-eating Northern Mountain Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), referred to as Designatable Unit (DU) 7 by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. In 2018 and 2019, two incidents of confirmed Cougar predation on radio-collared Caribou were documented in the declining Itcha-Ilgachuz subpopulation in west-central British Columbia. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first published record of Cougar predation on DU7 Northern Mountain Caribou. Increased landscape disturbance and climate change may be increasing apparent competition between deer (Odocoileus spp.), feral Horses (Equus ferus caballus), and Caribou, leading to Cougar predation in areas of Caribou range where it previously has not been documented. Cougar predation may become a conservation concern, as declining Caribou herds are susceptible to any increased predation pressure.
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