|The cougar is a solitary, mostly nocturnal hunter. They seek fellow cougars only during mating season. Only young siblings or a female with her cubs may hunt together.
Its sense of smell and hearing are good, but eyesight is its main tool for locating prey. The cougar's relatively small lungs do not give it great endurance as a running hunter. Therefore, it relies on stalking and ambush, with explosive and rapid attacks. If the prey is small, like a snowshoe hare, a rapid charge and a paw swipe is all that is needed to capture its prey..."if the animal is larger, the cougar usually attacks from the side, reaches out with both forepaws, claws extended, and gets a solid grip of the animals neck and shoulders"(Grambo 1999). After leaping on its prey, "it is followed by either twisting their head to the side to snap the neck or biting through the back of the neck. Death is often due to one of the cougar's large canine teeth forcing the vertebrae apart and severing the prey's spinal cord"(Busch 1996).
Deer, moose,elk,beaver,raccoon,rabbit,porcupine, birds, and various small rodents are the cougars' main diet. The majority of cougars eat very few domestic animals as long as their wildlife food supply is sufficient. However, one has heard occasional unconfirmed stories of attacks on horses, goats, cats and dogs in Manitoba.
Young cats forced out of their territory by a senior male, or weakened, older cougars may resort to easier domestic prey if wildlife is not abundant.
Manitoba is reported to have a deer population of approximately 150,000. Deer are the main prey species of cougars, so Manitoba has ample food supply. It is estimated that a cougar will consume approximately 50 deer a year.
After a kill, the cougar drags its eaten prey into cover and then covers it with sticks, leaves and earth. "When satiated, it covers the carcass with leaves or snow, which protects it from the hot sun, and to some extent, from scavengers"(Wrigley and Nero 1982).The cougar can then return and feed another day; with a deer usually supplying a week's feeding.
A COUGAR'S DIET