Date of this Version
A telephone survey was conducted in which the objective was to obtain information from the entire population of livestock producers in New Mexico who had losses to cougars (Felis concolor) in 1983 and the first six months of 1984. A total of 103 ranchers reported losses in 1983 and 60 reported losses in the first six months of 1984. Verified (by examination of kills) losses of sheep and lambs to cougars totaled 1,202 in 1983 and 525 in the first half of 1984. Verified losses of cattle and calves totaled 230 in 1983 and 102 in the first half of 1984. Suspected losses (not verified) of sheep and cattle were similar in number to verified losses. Other verified livestock losses reported were 3 goats and 4 colts in 1983, and 25 goats and 2 colts in the first half of 1984. The value of reported losses to cougars in 1983 was at least $125,000 (producer-verified losses) and may have been as much as $220,000 (when suspected losses are included. The data suggested statewide cougar predation losses are substantially underrepresented by the passive reporting system used by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF). Respondents reported a total of 217 cougars that were taken to control predation on livestock in the 18 months covered by the survey; 49% were reportedly taken on sport hunting tags suggesting that sport hunting has been a major method used by ranchers to address cougar predation problems.