This cougar was the fifth plague victim in recent years in the Greater Yellowstone-

Well-known female cougar dies from plague. Carcass found in Grand Teton National Park. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

The plague is generally carried by rodents. I wonder how common it is among the rodents of the Greater Yellowstone.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

13 Responses to Well-known female cougar dies from plague. Carcass found in Grand Teton National Park.

  1. Disease transmission when handling wild animals should always be a concern. Disease organisms can go many directions: animal to animal, human to animal and animal to human.
    Wildlife biologists that I have observed over the past 40 years are often very sloppy when it comes to protecting their study animals against disease transmission. Pick up any book or report written by a wildlife biologist and you will generally see several photos of the biologist and his staff posing with a captured animal with no gloves and no protective masks. I suspect you could find the cougar that just died in similar photos.
    They use the same dirty cloth to cover the eyes of every animal they dart, the same culvert trap, the same dirty coveralls, the same capture nets, and often transport animals in the same trailer, year after year and from state to state, without ever disinfecting their equipment. Anytime disease shows up in studied animals, the biologists themselves should be considered as a possible source of infection.

  2. avatar Save bears says:

    Larry,

    When I worked for FWP we routinely cleaned our culvert traps with bleach water before they were put back out in the field for the next capture..

  3. avatar Steve C says:

    Larry,
    As soon as I read this story I thought that you might turn it into an attack on biologists. Having worked with many animals in my life, I can tell you that disease transmitted through “sloppy” handling is very unlikely.

  4. avatar Carl says:

    Larry, in what state have you observed this happening? I have been with researchers in Arkansas, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. During the times I have been fortunate enough to be with these researchers they took great care in cleaning everything. They at times did not wear gloves but the cleaned their hands with anti -septics. I have participated with a variety of species including canada geese, trumpeter swans, bald eagles, red-cockaded woodpeckers, Kirtland’s warblers, gray wolves, whitetailed deer, and black bears. The animals were treated humanly and when they came across an injury to an animal they treated the injury. (Twice I observed young eagles with fish hooks that had to be removed once from the mouth and once from a talon). As a part of my volunteering on these events I helped clean and sterilize various types of equipment. Since it sounds like you have observed this alot maybe you could volunteer to help sterlize the equipment.

  5. avatar Anon says:

    The bacteria responsible for the ‘plague’ is endemic in rodent and mustelid populations throughout the west. You can’t throw a rock without finding it.

  6. Thank you (Anon),

    I know it is endemic, but I think you exaggerate.

  7. avatar Dave says:

    F13 gave birth to at least two kittens in recent months. Cain said it is National Park Service policy not to intervene in situations such as orphaned kittens unless a human is involved. [This is his polite way of saying that they’re going to let the kittens starve to death.]

  8. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    F13 gave birth to at least two kittens in recent months. Cain said it is National Park Service policy not to intervene in situations such as orphaned kittens unless a human is involved. [This is his polite way of saying that they’re going to let the kittens starve to death.]

    Gotta love euphemisms.

  9. avatar Gerry Miner says:

    So GTNP should go rescue these kittens? And then what, put them in a zoo? Great life for these wild animals. Things die in the wild–they starve, they are killed by other animals, hunted, etc…it is natural!!!!!!! We already feed all the elk in Wyoming and keep them like livestock, maybe we could leave some things alone and let them live, or die in this case, naturally.

  10. avatar steve c says:

    How long would F13 have been sick? If she was failing for days/weeks the kittens are probably already gone.

  11. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Gerry, I’m just pointing out the euphemism. I agree that there should be more hands off management, especially with elk feeding.

  12. avatar Dave says:

    What to do with the kittens besides letting them starve to death? Well, I don’t know. According to the report, here’s what Cain said: “… it is National Park Service policy not to intervene in situations such as orphaned kittens unless a human is involved.” So, if a human is involved, what does the National Park Service do with the starving kittens? Frankly, I don’t see why this distinction should be made. After all, starving cougar kittens don’t pop up every day.

  13. avatar Richie,NJ says:

    It may be nature of course letting them starve, but being humans know about them, I think it is a human thing to try and save the kittens. It adds a little kindness to try and save these beautiful creatures.

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