Non-Invasive Cougar Monitoring Project

The Non-Invasive Monitoring Project (NIMP) was initiated in 2011 to assess and compare several non-invasive techniques for estimating cougar populations. This research examined the use of camera traps, scat-detection dogs and snow-tracking to detect cougars in the Gros Ventre and Buffalo Valley areas of Jackson Hole. Our findings demonstrated several benefits and drawbacks to these increasingly popular methods. One important finding was that individual cougars are extremely difficult to distinguish in photographs taken by camera traps, making the resulting population estimates unreliable. Currently we are exploring novel camera trap designs to resolve this issue. Additionally, we are investigating the feasibility of applying these novel methods to other carnivores, including black bears and red foxes.

Publications

Comparing conventional and noninvasive monitoring techniques for assessing cougar population size in the southern Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. 2016. Peter D. Alexander. Master of Science (Wildlife Biology) at Utah State University. 

Cougar den site selection in the Southern Yellowstone Ecosystem. 2015. L.M. Elbroch, P.E. Lendrum, P. Alexander and H. Quigley. Mammal Research 60: 89-96.

Apparent Adoption of Orphaned Cougars (Puma concolor) in Northwestern Wyoming. 2014. Travis D. Bartnick, Marilyn Cuthill, Derek Craighead, and Howard B. Quigley. Western North American Naturalist. 74:1, 133-137.

Human-caused mortality influences spatial population dynamics: Pumas in landscapes with varying mortality risks. 2013 Jesse R. Newby, L. Scott Mills, Toni K. Ruth, Daniel H. Pletscher, Michael S. Mitchell, Howard B. Quigley, Kerry M. Murphy, Rich DeSimoneBiological Conservation. 159:230-239

Photo Gallery

Click here for a PDF slide show of remote camera images: includes cougars, bears, wolves, and more!

Collaborators and Cooperators:
  
Panthera
  Grand Teton National Park (GTNP)
  Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD)
  National Elk Refuge
  US Fish and Wildlife Service Wolf Recovery Program for Wyoming
  US Geological Survey (USGS)
  Utah State University
  US Forest Service (USFS)