Because of increasing concerns about puma (Puma concolor) attacks on people and the desire to minimize dangerous puma–human encounters while conserving puma populations, we examined spatial and temporal relationships between pumas and people that used Cuyamaca Rancho State Park (CRSP), California, USA. From 2001 to 2003, we studied 10 adult pumas outfitted with Global Positioning System collars. Although number of visitors to CRSP was increasing, no dangerous puma–human encounters were reported during our study. Male and female pumas typically moved short distances during the day (mean of means of individual hourly movements = 168 m and 131 m each hr, respectively) and moved the most at night (mean of means = 690 m and 390 m each hr, respectively). Of 10 pumas, 9 were least active during the day and most active during the evening or at night. In contrast, most visitor use of trails (x̄ = 85%) occurred during the day. Based on puma and human activity patterns, risk of a puma–human encounter was greatest during the evening. Puma prey caches were randomly distributed in relation to trails and park facilities; however, 8 of 33 caches were still within 100 m of a trail and 2 were within 300 m of a facility. Individual puma behavior relative to human activity areas was variable. Some pumas appeared to temporally avoid human activity areas; others used the park randomly in relation to human activity areas; none appeared to be attracted to human activity areas. Pumas that did not show detectable responses to human activity may have been exhibiting some level of habituation; if so, this level of habituation did not result in puma–human conflicts. When human activity peaked during the day, adult male and female pumas were within 100 m of a trail an average of 9% and 19% of the time they were located in the park, respectively. Thus, there were opportunities for puma–human encounters. Management personnel can take a proactive approach to deal with puma–human interactions through education and protocols that help to minimize probability of conflicts; this may provide the best chance for a continued puma presence in habitat used by pumas and people.
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Vol. 72 • No. 5