UM Wildlife Biology Student Awarded $20,000 Grant to Study Mountain Lions

October 03, 2016

Wildlife biology master’s degree candidate Lara Brenner works in the lab at UM.MISSOULA – University of Montana wildlife biology master’s degree candidate Lara Brenner recently was awarded $20,000 from the Summerlee Foundation to investigate the effects of hunting on mountain lions, which are also known as cougars.

Brenner, from Houston, will use a social-ecological approach to understand the public’s views of mountain lion hunting. She’ll also measure how stressed the cougars are by analyzing hormones in hair samples.

She is advised by Professor Elizabeth Covelli Metcalf in UM’s College of Forestry and Conservation and also will work with Professor Creagh Breuner on the stress-hormone analysis and with Hugh Robinson, who directs the landscape analysis lab for Panthera.

“This is one of the first studies that looks at wildlife from a social-ecological perspective,” Metcalf said.

Brenner will conduct research in communities in several different states where cougar hunting restrictions vary. For example, in Montana hunting mountain lions with dogs is allowed while in Washington dogs are not allowed. Brenner will ask residents how hunting impacts the social tolerance for the species.

The Summerlee Foundation supports big cat research projects.

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Contact: Elizabeth Covelli Metcalf, UM associate professor of recreation management and human dimensions of natural resources, 406-243-4448, elizabeth.metcalf@umontana.edu.