By Shannon Perry
Some research indicates that cougar overhunting may lead to problem interactions with humans. These issues arise when mature male cougars are removed from their territory. These cats have survived to adulthood because they didn’t attack livestock, etc, Their deaths leave room for younger males to move into these areas and it is generally the younger cougars who tend to be problematic. Rob Wielgus has studied cougar populations in the Northwest. While not everyone agrees with him, other studies have supported his findings and theories.
It’s also very hard to estimate cougar populations accurately. Oregon is one of the few states that counts kittens in the total population. This is relevant because hunting quotas are based on these estimates. By overhunting, the social balances get out of kilter and tragedies such as the death of the hiker on Mt. Hood are more likely to occur.For more information, see this OPB article.