We compared injuries resulting from two different capture methods, i.e. trailing hounds and foot snares, for pumas Puma concolor in a mixed landscape with open grasslands and limited ‘retreat’ habitat in southern Chilean Patagonia. Injury scores were not significantly different for the two methods, although the small sample size for captures made with snares likely influenced our findings. Based on a potential range of 0-400, the mean injury score for pumas caught using hounds was 56.3 ± 132.9 (SD). The mean puma injury score for five animals caught in snares was 3.8 ± 1.1. Pumas were injured and/or killed in 86% of captures using trailing hounds. The number of hounds used in a capture attempt did not predict the likelihood of successfully catching a puma (P = 0.35), whereas there was a strong relationship between the number of dogs and the likelihood of a fight with the puma (P < 0.0001). The odds ratio calculation predicted a 14.7% increase in the likelihood of a fight between puma and hounds with the addition of each dog to the chase. Our results highlight the potential risks associated with trailing hounds in open landscapes. We suggest guidelines for the use of hounds in predominantly open landscapes, and that alternative capture methods such as foot snares should be considered as a potentially safer alternative. Lastly, we make recommendations for the development of injury assessment systems more relevant to catch-and-release research.
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Vol. 19 • No. 2