Mountain lion and human activity in California: Testing speculations

Steven G. Torres, Terry M. Mansfield, Janet E Foley, Thomas Lupo, Amy Brinkhaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


We compiled and analyzed 24 years (1972-1995) of verified incidents of mountain lions killing domestic animals (n = 2,663) to examine trend, distribution, and types of conflicts in California. To model the relationships between mountain lion depredation and various human activity and habitat factors, we tested 2 predictive models. Domestic sheep depredation in counties was significantly (P < 0.05) related to amount of suitable mountain lion habitat. We hypothesize that increasing domestic sheep depredation may reflect regional increases in the distribution and abundance of mountain lions. A regression model of percent pet depredation indicated a significant (P < 0.05) association with average annual new house development (1979-1993). Counties with significant pet depredation are in the same regions where public safety problems have occurred and reflect a radiation of human activity into mountain lion habitat. Mountain lion depredation data may be a useful index of regional mountain lion activity. Livestock and pet depredation problems are increasing in different regions of the state for different reasons; pet depredations are increasing the most rapidly. Pet depredation may be a useful indicator of mountain lion proximity to humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)451-460
Number of pages10
JournalWildlife Society Bulletin
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996


  • California
  • depredation
  • development
  • domestic sheep
  • human activity
  • livestock
  • mountain lion
  • pets
  • Puma concolor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology


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