Most mountain lion research in the state has been conducted by Idaho Department of Fish and Game, APHIS, the University of Idaho, or universities in neighboring states. Much of the wildlife research has been focused on game species, but there have been several research projects that focused on mountain lions.
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Dissertation work conducted by Donald Katnik at Washington State University addressed the influence of mountain lion predation on endangered mountain caribou in the southern Selkirk Mountains. This project was run for 4 years and collected tracking collar data on both mountain lions and caribou. His work found that selective removal of caribou-killing mountain lions, rather than reduction the mountain lion population overall, is more effective for decreasing lion predation on caribou. He also found that mountain lions tend to select deer habitat over caribou habitat.
Janet Loxterman at Idaho State University conducted research addressing the impact of habitat fragmentation on population genetic structure of pumas in Idaho. Her work used nuclear microsatellite loci to find that habitat fragmentation is having subtle effects on the levels of genetic variation within and between subpopulations. Fragmented subpopulations of mountain lions exhibited reduced genetic diversity and increased inbreeding. In addition, genetic analyses suggest that most local reproduction is sired by resident males rather than transient males, which has implications for gene flow.
APHIS and Idaho Fish and Game conduct a variety of research projects aimed at answering a diverse set of questions, from the economics of predator damage management to assessing the status of mountain lions in Idaho.
Records show that Idaho's human population is one of the fastest in the nation. Many of these new residents will end up living in what was once mountain lion habitat, the following points are poignantly appropriate.
According to Bob Davies, senior terrestrial biologist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, "It's up to people to decide [how] to manage our lives to accommodate these wild beings. In the West, the bulk of their habitat is probably relatively secure, in the public domain--national forests, BLM lands, state parks, state wildlife areas, etcetera. . . . However, there is a lot of development that tends to perforate and fragment that habitat that puts people in close proximity with those large carnivores. We will continue to impact them because more people will be living in puma habitat than ever before in the history of humanity."