Can Cougars Control Eastern Deer?

posted on October 3, 2016

Should mountain lions be reintroduced to control expanding deer populations in the East? A recent study released by the University of Washington suggests such a move could be effective, concluding the reintroduction of mountain lions could be a good way to help control whitetail deer populations on the East Coast. According to the New York Times, this latest university study cites there are more than 1.2 million automobile-deer collisions each year, resulting in 200 deaths and $1.66 billion in damages.

While the suggestion is to use the mountain lion as a management tool, hunters and outdoorsmen see potential problems with the use of a management tool that is, by its very nature, unmanageable. The university study calculates that one cat kills 266 deer in its lifetime, and as Western hunters know all too well, mountain lions, like wolves, are opportunistic feeders. Critics of the study say mountain lions will undoubtedly spread into areas where there are no overpopulation problems, creating danger for not only deer herds in those areas, but the human population, livestock and pets as well.

“We agree with what critics of the proposal have said, which is that cost-effective measures such as hunting already exist,” said Susan Recce, director of NRA-ILA Conservation, Wildlife and Natural Resources. “The added bonus: Hunting license fees are used to protect the future of wildlife and account for the primary source of funding for most state wildlife conservation efforts.”

Headed by university scientist Laura R. Prugh, the study analyzed scenarios in 19 states, ultimately excluding Delaware, Illinois, Maryland and Rhode Island for having insufficient habitat to sustain viable populations. While Prugh and her colleagues realize many people would not support the use of lions, a 2015 study by the University of Minnesota and Southern Illinois University Carbondale reported the cats already may be moving east. Regardless of how the cats get there, Prugh says the number of human lives lost due to mountain lions would be far fewer than the number of lives saved through a resulting drop in vehicle-deer collisions.


Olsen Shooting Matrix
Olsen Shooting Matrix

#SundayGunday: TriStar Matrix

Get a closer look at the TriStar Matrix, the latest addition to our #SundayGunday series.

Late-Season Whitetail Muzzleloader Tactics

To be successful in late-season muzzleloader seasons, it’s best to focus on feed available this time of year, the whitetails’ need to rest, and the fact that as much as 10 percent of the doe population will come into estrus in December.

First Look: Savage Arms KLYM Rifles

Designed for the modern hunter, Savage’s new KLYM rifles feature exclusive partnerships with PROOF Research and Fine Ballistic Tools to deliver lightweight rigs that are accurate and durable.

10 Great Long-Range Hunting Bullets

If you want to extend your maximum effective range with a hunting rifle, you must have a purpose-built long-range hunting bullet. These loads are up to the task.

#SundayGunday: Mossberg Patriot LRT

Get a closer look at the Mossberg Patriot LRT, the latest addition to our #SundayGunday series.

Member’s Hunt: Dad’s Lifetime Buck

This latest Member's Hunt comes from Rodney Harrison of Lawson, Mo.


Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.