Landscape of Fear for Naïve Prey: Ungulates Flee Protected Area to Avoid a Re-established Predator

Posted on May 17, 2016


Michelle M. BACON and Mark S. BOYCE

Correspondence: Mark S. Boyce, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E9, Canada. Email:

Received 9 January 2016 – Accepted 18 March 2016


Populations of large carnivores are re-establishing in many areas, resulting in direct and indirect effects on prey that can influence community structure and create conflicts with humans. We documented the rapid return of cougars (Puma concolor) to an isolated, protected mountain range in southeast Alberta and southwest Saskatchewan, Canada, establishing the highest population density ever reported. Cougars changed both the abundance and the distribution of large ungulates, causing them to move out of forested habitats in the park and onto adjacent agricultural lands. Balancing tradeoffs for people, predators, and their prey will be a challenge for conservation biologists as large carnivores continue to expand to their former range, especially in small protected islands of habitat where there is potential for conflict with adjacent agricultural interests.

Key Words: Alberta, Cougar, Deer, Elk, Human-carnivore Conflicts, Landscape of Fear, Puma concolor, Saskatchewan.



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