Male and female predators are often assumed to have the same effects on prey. Because of differences in body size and behavior, however, male and female predators may use different species, sexes, and ages of prey, which could have important implications for wildlife conservation and management. We tested for differential prey use by male and female cougars (Puma concolor) from 2003 to 2008 in Washington State. We predicted that male cougars would kill a greater proportion of larger and older prey (i.e., adult elk [Cervus elaphus]), whereas females would kill smaller and younger prey (i.e., elk calves, mule deer [Odocoileus hemionus]). We marked cougars with Global Positioning System (GPS) radio collars and investigated 436 predation sites. We located prey remains at 345 sites from 9 male and 9 female cougars. We detected 184 mule deer, 142 elk, and 17 remains from 4 other species. We used log-linear modeling to detect differences in species and age of prey killed among cougar reproductive classes. Solitary females and females with dependent offspring killed more mule deer than elk (143 vs. 83, P < 0.01), whereas males killed more elk than mule deer (59 vs. 41, P < 0.01). Proportionately, males killed 4 times more adult elk than did females (24% vs. 6% of kills) and females killed 2 times more adult mule deer than did males (26% vs. 15% of kills). Managers should consider the effects of sex of predator in conservation and management of ungulates, particularly when managing for sensitive species.
Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 75 • No. 5
Vol. 75 • No. 5
global positioning system (GPS)