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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Natural Resource Management

First Advisor

Jonathan A. Jenks


Mountain lions (Puma concolor) have recently recolonized the North Dakota Badlands nearly a century after their extirpation; due to the relatively recent reappearance of mountain lions in the region, most population metrics are unknown. From 2011‒2013, we fitted 14 mountain lions with GPS collars and ear-tagged an additional 8 to study the characteristics of this mountain lion population and the potential impacts of mountain lion predation on prey populations in the region. Annual adult home ranges averaged 231.1 km2 ± 21.8 [SE] for males and 109.8 km2 ± 20.2 for females; we did not see seasonal shifts in home range size or distribution for either sex. Home range overlap between adult males averaged 13.7% ± 2.4 [SE]. Average male dispersal within the region was 45.13 km ± 11.7 [SE]; however, we also documented 2 long-range dispersers (375.87 km and 378.20 km) immigrating into North Dakota from Montana. Estimated annual survival was 42.1% ± 13.5 [SE]. All documented mortalities (n = 12) of marked mountain lions were human-caused; hunter harvest (n = 7) was the highest cause of mortality. Deer (Odocoilieus spp.) were the most prevalent item (76.9%) in mountain lion diets. Ungulate kill rates were 1.09 ungulates/week ± 0.13 [SE] in summer and 0.90 ungulates/week ± 0.11 in winter. Estimates of total biomass consumed were 5.8 kg/day ± 0.56 [SE] in summer and 7.2 kg/day ± 1.01 in winter. Scavenge rates were 3.7% in summer and 11.9% in winter. Prey composition included higher proportions of nonungulates in summer (female = 21.54%; male = 24.80%) than in winter (female = 4.76%; male = 7.46%). Proportion of juvenile ungulates in mountain lion diets increased following the ungulate birth pulse in June (June–August = 60.67% ± 0.09 [SE]; September–May = 37.21% ± 0.03), resulting in an ungulate kill rate 1.61 times higher during the fawning season (1.41 ungulates/week ± 0.15) than during the remainder of the year (0.88 ungulates/week ± 0.13). Our study provides region-specific population characteristics of a newly recolonized and previously unstudied mountain lion population within the Little Missouri Badlands of North Dakota.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Puma -- Ecology -- North Dakota -- Badlands


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 2014 David Wilckens. All rights reserved.