Cougar cubs lead precarious lives. Other predators – even male cougars – prey on them. They can also become sick or get injured. But perhaps the worst thing that can happen is losing their mom.
Most young adult cougars head out on their own when they’re 18-months to two-years old. By that time they have rudimentary hunting skills and are usually large enough to take down prey on their own. Even then some young cougars don’t survive.
But if mom is shot by a hunter, hit by a car or killed taking down prey when her cubs are younger than 18-months old, their chances of survival decrease dramatically.
Cougars are secretive carnivores so much about their day-to-day lives and relationships with each other remains unknown. So it was a real surprise when researchers with Panthera’s Teton Cougar Project in Jackson Hole, Wyoming discovered a female cougar with young of her own had adopted three orphaned cubs.
Teton Cougar Project director, Howard Quigley, tells the story in New Insight into Cougar Behaviour.