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Document Type

Dissertation - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Jonathan A. Jenks


Historically, mountain lions (Puma concolor) in North America were persecuted, at least since European colonization. The distribution of mountain lions declined for decades until in the mid-1900s, when they persisted only in the mountains of western North America and wetlands of the Florida peninsula. After legal protection and human regulation of mortality in the 1970s, mountain lion distribution increased, which is evident by the return of breeding populations in both, North and South Dakota, as well as increased sightings in Nebraska. Mountain lions interact with humans throughout their distribution but many aspects of the mountain lion/human interface remains unknown. The Black Hills of South Dakota are dominated by human activity; from residences interspersed in mountain lion habitat to the recreational opportunities that involve the species. Based on the distribution of humans and mountain lions in the Black Hills ecosystem, there is scarcely a mountain lion home area that does not contain at least 1 human residence; because of the presence of humans, mountain lions are forced to interact with people in some way. In 1998, the first mountain lion was captured in South Dakota for scientific research. Intensive research with numerous individual mountain lions began in 2002. In 2005, South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks, deemed it prudent to permit sport-hunting of mountain lions and because scientific research had been occurring, the opportunity to investigate the relationship between mountain lions and sport-hunting arose. The objectives of this research project were to investigate the relationship between mountain lions and humans in the Black Hills, South Dakota. To this end, we (1) investigated the impact of sport-hunting on mountain lion population demographics, and (2) investigated whether subadult males were more prone to conflict with humans or if they were simply more prevalent in the population, and (3) investigated the relationship between density of human residences and mountain lion survival and disease exposure. We found that sport-hunting of mountain lions negatively impacted cub survival, subadult survival, adult survival, and subadult emigration. Survival of cubs, subadults, and adults was higher in Custer State Park/Wind Cave National Park, where mountain lions were legally protected, than in areas where both sport-hunting and government removal of mountain lions occurred. Subadult dispersal from the study area was high and rates were similar regardless of protected status, although population emigration was higher for animals subjected to hunting, in time and space. We found no changes in litter size or population size in the study area between study periods, suggesting that the population remained stable following the onset of sport-hunting. Human-caused mortality accounted for 65% of deaths of radiocollared animals from 2005 to 2009, with sport-hunting being the largest source of mortality (30%). Department removal, intraspecific strife, and diseases each accounted for 16% of total mortality of radiocollared animals, 2005–2009. We found no evidence that compensation occurred with an increase in sport-hunting and decrease in other forms of human-caused or natural-caused mortality.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Puma -- Effect of human beings on -- Black Hills (S.D. and Wyo.)
Puma -- Effect of human beings on -- South Dakota


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 2011 Brian D. Jansen. All rights reserved.