Cougars in the San Andres Mountains, NM 1996
The first rule of wildlife management is understanding the animal you wish to manage. Understanding cougars, however, is a tough task because they are stealthy, rare, and live in the wildest, hard-to-reach places in New Mexico and so are not easy subjects for study.
Yet, in 1995, the Hornocker Wildlife Institute of Idaho sought to do just that. Over a period of ten years, biologists Ken Logan and Linda L. Sweanor of the Hornocker Wildlife Institute tagged and tracked the cougars of New Mexico’s San Andres Mountains. The study area was located in the White Sands Missile Range, an area in southern New Mexico where cougars behave naturally and have little interaction with people, making it an ideal place to study cougars.
In 1996, the Hornocker Wildlife Institute completed and released the study, called Cougars of San Andres Mountains, NM. Given the extended period of time of the study and the relatively undisturbed conditions of White Sands Missile Range, the research is considered by many to be one of the best studies of a predator (an animal that hunts other animals) in the United States. The life histories of nearly 300 cougars in the San Andres were studied, as well as 175 radio-collared mule deer and 36 radio-collared desert bighorn sheep.
All of Animal Protection of New Mexico’s recommendations to New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the New Mexico Game Commission on cougar management in New Mexico are based upon the research and recommendations of this exhaustive, science-based study. Yet there is no law in New Mexico that wildlife be managed based upon the best available science, and unfortunately, the New Mexico Game Commission has failed to follow the recommendations of the Hornocker Wildlife Institute’s study in managing cougars.
Animal Protection of New Mexico is working to have cougars managed in line with the recommendations of the Hornocker Wildlife Institute study, and we need your support to make sure that New Mexico remains a place where our magnificent cougars still have a home.
Click here to download an executive summary of the Cougars of the San Andres Mountains, NM study.
Click here to view a copy of a letter to New Mexico Game & Fish Director Bruce Thompson outlining how the state’s cougar management plan significantly fails to meet the recommendations of the Hornocker Wildlife Institute.