LINCOLN NATIONAL FOREST, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico wildlife officials say new technology is allowing the state to estimate its cougar population more accurately.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the state’s Department of Game and Fish is using long-lasting motion-capture wildlife cameras, mathematical models and GPS collaring devices to count its elusive cougars.
The big cat is secretive, has a broad range of movement, and often doesn’t live close to its kind.
The state believes the most abundant population lives in a 6,000 square-mile (15,540 square-kilometer) stretch that extended from Albuquerque to the east of Santa Fe and north of Abiquiú.
Officials say having an accurate count informs the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish’s quota on hunting and trapping of cougars. The department’s quota is 17% of the population.