Description and Life History

The cougar typically weighs between 90 and 180 lbs, with a few large males topping 200 lbs. Cougars are tan to brown. Adult cougars have a body length about 5-6 feet long from nose to base of tail. The tail is long and thick with a black tip. The head is relatively small compared to the body. Cougars are primarily nocturnal although they can be active during the day. They are solitary and secretive animals that prefer to hunt from cover. Cougars have a relatively short life span - 8 to 12 years. Over most of its range the cougar's primary wild prey is deer. Cougars are opportunistic predators and will take prey of varying sizes up to and including young moose. Occasionally, livestock and domestic dogs are also taken as prey. Prey is most frequently killed by a bite to the neck, which severs the spinal column. Cougars are most often found in rural or relatively remote areas with ample cover and adequate prey populations. They are extremely secretive animals. In the western states, they may exist in close proximity to people.

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