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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Collection: Species Details Lewis and Clark as Naturalists
Mammal    Species Name:
Puma concolor
Original name, or synonym Felis concolor Linnaeus, 1771. 

Common Name:
Puma, Cougar, Panther, Mountain Lion, Catamount (archaic)


Jefferson River, Montana
Collected on Pipestone Creek (Lewis' Panther Creek), near Whitehall, MT.
  August 3, 1805

Panther Creek

Along with grizzly bear and wolves, and possibly the wolverine, the puma is one of the largest predatory animals the men encountered.  Pumas never gather in large groups, preferring a solitary life and lots of room to roam.  They are night active, that is, nocturnal, and quite wary, so there was scant opportunity for observing them.  Mainly feeding on hooved mammals, puma of the U.S. are mostly deer specialists, which they take by ambushing, and according to the journals, one cat may have made off with some of the deer pelts the men had hung to dry in a tree.  One cat was killed along the Jefferson River in Montana's Gallatin Valley.  It was shot by Reubin Fields at the mouth of a creek along the river, so the stream was given the name, Panther Creek.

The puma's distribution once extended to the eastern states, although today only a small population exists in Florida isolated from the nearests populations in Texas, other Rocky Mountain states, and Minnesota.

For more information about this North American mammal, click here.

Journal Entries:

Capt. Lewis, May 16, 1805--The morning was fair and the day proved favorable to our operations . . . in the early part of the day two of ...  more>>

References Linné, Carl von, Mantissa Plantarum altera, Generum editionis VI et Specierum ed., Supplement to Genera Plantarum and Species Plantarum., Holmiæ: Impensis Direct. L. Salvii, 1771

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