This weekend, visitors from around the world will visit National Parks in the United States. August 25 marks the 103rd anniversary of the legislation that established the National Park Service. All national parks will offer free admission to the public for the day. The parks and programs of the National Park Service connect Americans and visitors from around the world with the nation’s notable landscapes, history, and outdoor opportunities. Each of the 419 national parks tells an important part of the collective story of America.
National Parks are refuges for mountain lions, who are killed by trophy hunters and on depredation in high numbers throughout their current range. Not only do these places benefit lions, but their presence in these parks enrich our experiences, too.
Ripple and Beschta’s work in Zion National Park was one of the first major studies to help demonstrate the importance of top predators in maintaining healthy, diverse landscapes. When the park gained popularity and more people visited, cougars were scared off. Without natural predators, mule deer over-browsed cottonwoods, causing a shift in vegetation, more erosion along stream banks, and ultimately fewer reptiles, amphibians, fish, and insects. These results, replicated in Yellowstone National Park , have broad implications with regard to our understanding of ecosystems where large carnivores have been removed or are being recovered. Read more about the study here.
So dust off those hiking shoes and get yourself to a National Park this weekend! Before you head out on the trail, check out Mountain Lion Foundation’s Safety Portal to learn how to recreate responsibly in mountain lion habitat. We have information such as: