Puma Research and Conservation
Vitally important to this ecosystem as top predators, pumas have been persecuted throughout Patagonia by ranchers who considered them a threat to livestock. Diminished from their pre-settlement numbers and distribution, pumas have changed their predation habits due to the introduction of exotic prey such as European hares and sheep.
The major changes that have occurred in the area are benefiting pumas. Understanding how puma interact with other native species (in particular with endangered huemul) has been among the top conservation priorities for Conservación Patagónica. Simultaneously, we're determining how pumas within the park interact with neighboring livestock operations, of critical importance for the park's relationship with local communities.
The CP team of professionals and park rangers are tracking pumas with GPS collars to understand their choice of prey, hunting methods, and interactions with the landscape. This scientific study will determine what effect, if any, predation by wild cats is having on the endangered huemul deer in the valley. This is an important question considering the area's recent land use changes—from ranching with more than 25,000 sheep and active predator control, to a conservation area with very few domestic animals that forbids puma hunting. In addition, the study has uncovered a wealth of new information about puma ecology and behavior. Very limited information about pumas of this region was known before we began this study in 2008.