Van Dyke, F.G. and R.H. Brocke. 1987. Sighting and
track reports as indices of mountain lion presence. Wildlife
Society Bulletin, 15(2):251-256.
Abstract: Reports of mountain lions (Felis
concolor) in the East, based on sightings, have continued
after the eastern subspecies' (F. c. couguar) supposed
demise. Reports increased substantially in the 1940s and 1950s,
coincident with the work of Wright (1948, 1959) and increased
coverage in the popular press (Sass 1954). Scientists and nature
writers began to assert that mountain lions were extant in the
East (Sass 1954, Thornton 1954, Robb 1955, Backus 1956, Halloran
1957, Wright 1959, Larson 1966, Sealander and Gipson 1973). Such
reports and assertions contributed to listing the eastern
mountain lion as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in
1973 (Public Law 93-205), although there was no physical evidence
of self-sustaining populations. Sightings and kill records were
used to document the existence and geographic ranges of mountain
lions in New Brunswick (Wright 1959), Arkansas (Sealander and
Gipson 1973), and Louisiana (Yenke 1982).
We assessed the validity of sighting reports, with special reference to their use in determining the status of the endangered eastern mountain lion. We sought to (1) assess the frequency and reliability of mountain lion sightings, (2) identify observer characteristics related to sightings, (3) evaluate observer reliability in identifying and describing mountain lion tracks (which are often reported along with the sighting itself), and (4) determine if such information can be used to assess mountain lion presence.