Trends in populations of mountain lion in Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks
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In the United States, the mountain lion (Puma concolor) is limited to the western states arid an isolated population in Florida. Recent reports suggest that numbers of mountain lions in the west are increasing; however, most estimates are based on biased harvest records, mortality reports, or sightings. Our purpose was to assess trends in mountain lion populations in two areas within the Chihuahuan Desert by use of multiple-sign surveys. Transects were monitored in spring and fall 1987 to 1996 in Carlsbad Caverns (CCNP) and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks (GMNP). Amount and type of mountain lion sign in each park differed and was likely related to the dominant substrate. A decreasing trend in mountain lion sign was observed on GMNP from fall 1987 to fall 1991 and an increasing trend in mountain lion sign was observed from Spring 1992 to Spring 1996. No trend was observed on CCNP from fall 1987 to spring 1996. Mortalities on adjacent lands may have reduced numbers of mountain lions at GMNP. Multiple-sign transects may provide a useful tool for monitoring populations of mountain lions in other regions of the Southwest.