Cougars (more commonly called mountain lions) are the biggest cats found in the Upper Rio Grande region and require large land areas to hunt for food. Estimates of individual territory size vary greatly and depend on terrain, vegetation and abundance of prey. Male cougars can inhabit a territory ranging from 58 to 386 square miles; females require half that area. Cougars are solitary creatures and only interact to mate.
Because their territories are so large, cougar migration routes are frequently impacted by roads, development and other forms of habitat fragmentation. There has also been a rise in human-cougar conflicts as more people are building homes in cougar habitat. Cougars utilize many of the same migration pathways as mule deer, elk and big horn sheep, so ensuring forest-wide connectivity will help all species thrive in the Upper Rio Grande.