Collaring Cougars In Yellowstone National Park, Behind The Scenes With The National Parks Service

Mountain lion collar
Yellowstone NPS

Ever wonder how mountain lions get collared? Here’s your chance to find out.

Undeniably, one of America’s most spectacular places is Yellowstone National Park.

Nearly 3,500 square miles of pristine nature sitting on top of a volcanic hot spot, bubbling with enormous mountain ranges, hot springs, rivers, waterfalls, canyons, and geysers being roamed by all sorts of incredible wildlife, from bison to grizzly bears to elk, available for anyone to experience.

Truly, it’s one of the wonders of the world. Shoutout to President Ulysses S. Grant for making it a national park back in 1872, it would have been such a tragedy if it filled up with Burger Kings and Nordstrom Racks…

But to maintain a property of this size and aid the numerous species that call it home, you can’t just let things go completely, which is where rangers and researchers from the National Park Service come in.

According to the NPS, 800 employees work within the park at any given time. These roles range from park rangers to service workers at the local lodging options and everything in between, but undoubtedly, the rangers and researchers have the coolest job.

Whether it’s protecting tourists from their own stupidity or removing huge snow drifts, these men and women do the dirty work to make sure the park is safe for people to visit while maintaining stability in the native species.

One of the wildest tasks these officers have to do is tag certain animals to monitor their whereabouts and keep data on the population’s health and well-being. Of all the species that are tagged, cougars have to be the most intense.

The NPS estimated there are 34 to 42 cougars currently living in the park. That’s not a lot and the idea of actually getting a collar around the neck of one, let alone many, of them seems insane.

So how exactly do they do it?

Fortunately, they let us in on the behind the scenes work and took a short video explaining the process of tagging a cougar.

First, they set up trail camera which alert them when an animal walks past. When an untagged cougar is spotted, the plan a trip out into the park to locate its exact whereabouts.

They utilize trained dogs who sniff out the cougar and work as a team to tree the cat. From there, rangers shoot it with a sedative which makes it safe for a brave soul to climb up and carry it down.

Side note, how do you even apply for that job? Call them up and say “Hello, yes I am interested in climbing a tree that a man eating cougar is sitting in, do you have any openings?”

Once the cat is out of the tree, they secure the animal and begin completing all sorts of tests before finally slapping a tracking collar on the animal and setting it free.

Gosh, there’s some really cool people doing really cool things out there and I feel lucky just to be able to learn about it.

I really need to get myself out to Yellowstone…

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock