), also Puma
, Mountain Lion
, is a mammal
of the Felidae
family, native to the Americas
. This large, solitary cat has the greatest range
of any terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere other than humans, extending from Yukon
to the southern Andes
of South America
. An adaptable, generalist
species, the Cougar is found in every major New World habitat
type. It is the second heaviest cat in the New World, after the Jaguar
, and the fourth heaviest in the world, after the Tiger
, and Jaguar, although it is most closely related to smaller felines.
A capable stalk-and-ambush predator, the Cougar pursues a wide variety of prey. Its primary food is ungulates such as deer, particularly in the northern part of its range, but it hunts species as small as insects and rodents. It prefers habitats with dense underbrush for stalking, but it can live in open areas.
The Cougar is territorial and persists at low population densities. Individual territory sizes depend on terrain, vegetation, and abundance of prey. While it is a large predator, it is not always the dominant species in its range, as when it competes for prey with animals such as the Gray Wolf. It is a reclusive cat and usually avoids people. Attacks on humans remain rare, despite a recent increase in frequency.
Due to persecution as a dangerous pest animal following the European colonization of the Americas, and continuing human development of Cougar habitat, populations have dropped in many parts of its historical range. In particular, the Cougar was extirpated in eastern North America, except an isolated sub-population in Florida; the animal may be recolonizing parts of its former eastern territory. With its vast range, the Cougar has dozens of names and various references in the mythology of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and in contemporary culture.
James McMillan (1783-1858) was a fur trader and explorer for the North West Company and Hudson's Bay Company. He led some of the earliest surveys of the lower Fraser River and founded Fort Langley for the HBC in 1827, and was its first Chief Trader.
Born in Scotland, McMillan moved to North America at about age 20 and began work as a clerk for the North West Company in what is now Saskatchewan. Notably, he joined David Thompson's 1808 North West Company expedition west across the Rocky Mountains. Later, he assisted in purchasing Astoria, Oregon from the Pacific Fur Company. In June 1824, following the merger of the North West Company and the HBC, McMillan accompanied HBC Governor George Simpson from York Factory far west to the lower Columbia River, arriving in Fort George on November 8 of that year. Simpson described McMillan as a “Staunch & Manly Friend and Fellow Traveller”. Ten days later, Simpson assigned McMillan with commanding an expedition to survey the mouth of the Fraser River and assess it for navigability, settlement potential and agricultural suitability. He led an exploration party of 40 men from Fort George to Puget Sound and on to Mud Bay, just east of present day Point Roberts. On local advice of a shortcut, McMillan's party proceeded east up the Nicomekl River through what is now South Surrey, British Columbia where they then portaged to the Fraser River. The expedition traveled and surveyed up the Fraser River as far as Hatzic Slough, before returning to Fort George.