When the first Europeans arrived in the Americas, the mountain lion had a wider distribution in the Western Hemisphere than any other land mammal. From northern Canada to the tip of South America, these remarkable felines thrived, under an astounding variety of climates and conditions. From steaming equatorial jungles, to parched deserts; Florida swamps to frigid alpine mountains, these cats have proven themselves to be highly adaptable survivors.
An early trapper and woodsman of the northeast reported in the late 1600's that he alone had killed over 500 of them in the space of several years. Another testament to the species previous abundance was a contest held in Pennsylvania between 1820 and 1845. In one county alone, 600 pumas were killed in that time span. Colonial governments were known to pay out bounties for their hides.
With over 40 different names in English, including my favorite - catamount, and another 60 in Spanish and Indian dialects, cougars must have been an ever present threat to indigenous and early colonial peoples, no doubt the reason the species has earned so many monikers. Imagine what a walk in those early woodlands old have been like with vast numbers of silent, powerful and large predators stalking about.