Panthera’s Puma Program seeks to protect pumas across their expansive range by conducting critical ecological research, communicating the puma’s role in ecosystems, and addressing the wide-ranging persecution facing the species.
Despite their broad range, pumas are elusive and therefore often mischaracterized as vicious, solitary predators, leading to persecution and fueling human-puma conflict. Panthera is conducting novel research into the behavior and ecology of the species in order to determine how to effectively and sustainably manage pumas in landscapes that are increasingly dominated by humans.
Panthera is focusing on key areas where pumas face imminent threats, including the southern Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the central coast of California and the area surrounding Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. Program activities include conflict mitigation, education, studying puma prey selection, addressing livestock predation, and studying the impact of reintroduced wolves in different parts of the puma’s range.
Pumas exist in 28 countries across the Americas. Panthera’s Puma Program operates in 2 puma range states.
The puma has the largest geographic range of any native terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere, from southern Alaska down to the southern tip of Chile.
See puma range map
The State of the Puma
Pumas were eliminated from the entire eastern half of North America, except for a tiny population in Florida, within 200 years of European colonization. Today, the remnant puma population in Florida is endangered but recovering.
The status of puma populations in Central and South America is largely unknown, but many are suspected to be in decline.
The species is threatened by legal and illegal killing, including bounty hunting and poaching; human-puma conflict, which is exacerbated by old mythology perpetuating fear of pumas; loss of prey due to overhunting by people and agricultural land developments; and habitat loss and fragmentation.
The puma is listed as a species of “Least Concern” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
Panthera research shows pumas are subordinate to other carnivores nearly half the time across their range. They adapt to survive given this competition--and this raises important questions about sustainable hunting.