Cougar Vs Ram

Whichever name you wish to call them by: mountain lion, cougar, panther or puma, the ghost-like image of a large, predatory, beige cat stealthily slipping through a forest's understory dominates the human imagination.
We recently received the following images of a cougar making a spectacular kill on a bighorn ram in our email inbox. We can't verify the source or date, but from the email chain and some online digging it looks as if it took place on Lake Roosevelt above Grand Coulee Dam in eastern Washington state in April of 2009.
Whether or not these shots actually came from that area during that time or from someplace else, the pictures are, as the text accompanying the email chain states, a once-in-a-lifetime happenstance for humans to witness, not to mention document with a camera.
Here is the original text: "Last night a couple of the staff went fishing on the lake and captured this incredible sequence of photos of a cougar making a kill. To see this is once in a lifetime. At the same time, the 6:00 pm wildlife cruise had just left the dock and the staff members in the fishing boat had the presence of mind to call on their cell phone to alert our tour drivers. This is what they saw happening. The cougar is about 6 feet long, not including tail (a big full grown cougar) and his victim was a 4 year old Rocky Mountain Bighorn Ram. He never had a chance."
Perhaps the most elusive predator stalking North America, cougars live in varied habitats and are rarely seen by humans…even when living in close proximity to each other. Unless it's sick, starving or injured, the big cats maintain a healthy respect for humans and would usually watch us from the shadows than have a confrontation over resources.
This apt and accurate description of the cougar appears on Wikipedia: A capable stalk-and-ambush predator, the cougar pursues a wide variety of prey. Primary food sources include ungulates such as deer, elk, moose, and bighorn sheep, as well as domestic cattle, horses and sheep, particularly in the northern part of its range. It will also hunt species as small as insects and rodents. This cat prefers habitats with dense underbrush and rocky areas for stalking, but it can also live in open areas. The cougar is territorial and persists at low population densities. Individual territory sizes depend on terrain, vegetation, and abundance of prey. While it is a large predator, it is not always the dominant species in its range, as when it competes for prey with other predators such as the jaguar, grey wolf, American Black Bear, and the grizzly bear. It is a reclusive cat and usually avoids people. Attacks on humans remain rare, despite a recent increase in frequency.
Other facts and trivia concerning the cat include: Cougars hold a spot in the Guinness Book of Records for the animal with the most names, most likely due to its wide distribution across North and South America and the numerous languages (from English to Portuguese to French to Spanish) spoken throughout those areas. It has more than 40 names in English alone, including: cougar, catamount, puma, panther, mountain screamer, painter and mountain lion. Do you know of any others?
Male cougars average 5- to 9-feet long, nose to tail, and weigh between 115 and 198 pounds. Females typically go 65 to around 140 pounds. Cat size is smallest near the equator and increases toward the North and South poles.
Also according to Wikipedia, cougars have large paws and proportionally the largest hind legs in the cat family. This physique allows it great leaping and short-sprint ability. An exceptional vertical leap of 18 feet has been reported and a horizontal jumping capability from standing position is suggested anywhere from 20 to 40 feet. The cougar can run as fast as 35- to 45-miles per hour.
Under the "Hunting and Diet" portion of the Wikipedia entrance for cougars, this is listed: Investigation in Yellowstone National Park showed that elk, followed by mule deer, were the cougar's primary targets; the prey base is shared with the park's gray wolves, with whom the cougar competes for resources. Another study on winter kills (November-April) in Alberta showed that ungulates accounted for greater than 99% of the cougar diet.
Interestingly, this addition sheds light on cougar psychology, learned behavior and prey selection, directly relating to the photographs seen here: Learned, individual prey recognition was observed, as some cougars rarely killed bighorn sheep, while others relied heavily on the species.
Cougars will make a kill on average about every 12 days and will feed on it for several days.
The territory range of cougars is a varied and deeply contested subject with estimates running from 10-square miles to more than 500-square miles. Generally agreed upon, the upper limits of the cat's range run from 100- to 150-square miles for males; females are generally about half the size.

AMAZING PHOTOS: An adult mountain lion takes down a bighorn!