It is a strange way to think about it, but mountain lions are in the fertilizing business. The ambush predators pick spots that increase their odds of a kill. When they are successful, the carcass left behind leaches nutrients into the soil. That nutrient rich soil increases plant growth and nutrition, potentially attracting prey animals like elk and deer to dine. Then the cycle may continue. This theory was outlined in a recent study conducted south of Yellowstone by the conservation group Panthera. The group collared 50 mountain lions and tracked them over several years, documenting their kill sites. By the group’s calculation, a dozen lions could kill enough animals in a year to equal the weight of a blue whale, about 220,000 pounds. This isn’t the first study to look at the role of predators in feeding their prey. Similar research was conducted at Michigan’s Isle Royale where wolves live with moose, their main prey. To read more about the study, check out my story at https://billingsgazette.com/outdoors/study-near-yellowstone-finds-gardening-cougars-help-feed-their-prey/article_456d5f30-e5ed-11ed-9946-7f0ef1e47236.html.
Written by Brett French | Outdoors editor | Billings Gazette Communications