Cougars are the largest wild cat in Idaho. They are also called mountain lions. Cougars are mainly nocturnal and while they are common across the state, they aren’t spotted frequently. Cougar hunting is a common recreational activity in Idaho. The hunting season runs from November 1 to March 31. Are you curious to know the largest cougar ever caught in Idaho? Follow along to find out and learn more fun facts about these large cats.
Mountain lions are native to the Americas. You can find them from the Canadian Yukon to the southern Andes in South America. Cougars also have many names, depending on the region. They are sometimes referred to as pumas, catamounts, and panthers.
Size And Appearance
Cougars are unique wild cats. There are six subspecies, but until the 1980s, scientists believed there were 32 cougar zoological specimens. Cougars have round heads and large erect ears. On its hind paws, it has four retractile claws, while on its forepaws there are five. These large cats are also slender and muscular. They are strong and built for speed. Cougars are the fourth largest cat species.
Generally, cougars have one-color plain coats, but the color varies. Sometimes cougars have lighter patches of color on the underbody. Young cougars are born with blue eyes and ring markings on their tail. Although they are born spotted, as they grow, the spots become pale but leave dark spots on their flanks.
Since cougars are the fourth largest wild cat species, they are tall. Adult cougars are about 24 to 35 inches tall. Adult males are longer and heavier than female cougars. For example, adult male cougars are approximately 7 feet and 10 inches long, while adult females are 6 feet long and 9 inches. Some adult male cougars can grow up to 9 feet long from nose to tail. Cougars also have long tails. Their tails are about 25 to 37 inches long in larger cougars.
Not only are these impressive cats tall, but they are also heavy! Their weights are comparable to those of humans. Adult male cougars weigh about 117 to 159 pounds, while females weigh 75 to 106 pounds. Although these are the average weights, cougars can surpass 200 pounds. Interestingly, their size depends on where they live. Cougars closer to the equator are smaller, while those closer to the poles are larger.
Cougars are hypercarnivores. They are great hunters and prefer larger mammals. These large animals hunt and eat white-tailed deer, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, and moose. Although they prefer hunting for large mammals, they occasionally will eat smaller prey like birds, rodents, and domestic animals.
The only subspecies with a slightly different diet is the Florida Panther. They regularly consume feral hogs and armadillos. Wolves and cougars share space and resources at Yellowstone National Park. In this park, the cougars mainly consume elk and mule deer.
There are no known natural cougar predators. Humans are the only species that prey on cougars. However, this doesn’t mean they don’t run into conflict. Scientists have observed conflict between cougars and wolves as well as cougars and grizzly bears. These large predators all consume the same prey and will sometimes fight over a kill.
However, grizzly bears are typically stronger, driving away other predators. It’s more common for gray wolves and cougars to compete in the winter. Pack of wolves are stronger and have been documented killing cougars. For instance, one report found that a female cougar and her kittens were killed by a pack of 7 to 11 wolves.
While a cougar stands a chance against a lone wolf, the odds are stacked against them with a pack of wolves.
The Largest Cougar Ever Caught In Idaho
The top 26 largest cougars caught in Idaho were caught before the 2010s. In 1988, Gene R. Alford caught the largest cougar ever in Idaho in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. It scored 16 3/16 and has remained the largest for almost four decades. The owner of this large catch is B&C National Collection. The second largest cougar ever caught in Idaho isn’t much smaller. Rodney E. Bradley in 2007 caught an impressive 15 14/16 cougar. He kept the cougar and fully mounted it.
The Largest Cougar Caught In the World
Douglas E. Schuk caught the largest cougar in the world in Tatlayoko Lake, British Columbia in 1979 and it scored a skull size of 16-4/16. Douglas took down the cougar with a shot from his 0.38 rifle before it could harm his dogs that assisted in the hunt.
It wasn’t measured until Charles M. Travers acquired the skull. The largest cougar caught in the world is very close in size to Idaho’s record.
Where Is Idaho Located On A Map?
Idaho is located in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is bordered by Washington and Oregon to the west, Montana and Wyoming to the east, Utah and Nevada to the south, and the Canadian Province of British Columbia to the north.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Geoffrey Kuchera/Shutterstock.com
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
How large was the largest cougar ever caught in Idaho?
In 1988, Gene R. Alford caught the largest cougar ever in Idaho. It scored 16 3/16 and has remained the largest for almost four decades. The owner of this large catch is B&C National Collection.
What might prey on a cougar?
Pack of wolves are stronger and have been documented killing cougars. For instance, one report found that a female cougar and her kittens were killed by a pack of 7 to 11 wolves. While a cougar stands a chance against a lone wolf, the odds are stacked against them with a pack of wolves.
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.