You may have heard of lions living in Africa and Asia, but are there any Mountain lion in United States? The mountain lion, also known as the puma, panther, catamount, or cougar, is a wild cat native to the Americas. They are large cats that, surprisingly enough, cannot roar.
Instead, they communicate through growls, purrs, hisses, and shrieks. Their tan, slender bodies can be seen stealthily moving across mountains, forests, deserts, and even swamps.
Are There Mountain Lions In The United States?
Yes, the United States is home to mountain lions! These highly adaptable animals have the largest territorial range of any land mammal, other than humans. They live in both North America and South America- right from Canada all the way south to Chile.
Cougars have been roaming the Americas for thousands and thousands of years. The species was so widespread that they had multiple subspecies, depending on their location. Some of these included the North American cougar, the Costa Rican cougar, and the Eastern cougar.
How Many Mountain Lions Live In The United States?
Currently, the US has around 30,000-40,000 cougars. This number is a rough estimate because cougars are sneaky and difficult to track. Most of them live in isolated, uninhabited regions.
The cougar population in the States used to be much higher. The wild cats were so widely distributed, that their numbers probably touched the millions. However, things took a turn for them when humans came into the picture.
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, cougars were viewed as nuisance animals. Across the country, they were hunted for their fur and for bounties. They were killed by landowners who viewed them as threats to livestock and property. Their population decreased drastically and even disappeared from many eastern and central states. The western states have managed to have a stable population, thanks to various conversation efforts. Even then, the current numbers are far from what they once were.
What States In The US have Mountain Lions?
Historically, mountain lions lived in every part of the US. Their current state of affairs is much different. Only 17 states in the US have a native mountain lion population- most of which lie in the west.
Other states may see some from time to time, but they’re almost always cats who have just come for a visit.
Colorado boasts the highest known population of cougars, with numbers that could reach 7,000. This is due to Colorado’s array of landscapes and its abundance of deer. Arkansas is believed to have the smallest population of these felines, with around 20-30 of them. Florida is the only state with the Florida Panther, an east-American subspecies.
Here are the estimated populations of mountain lions in each of the 17 states:
|No.||State||Estimated Mountain Lion Population|
|14.||Texas||Unknown. Few hundred confirmed|
Many other states like Michigan, Kansas, and Illinois have confirmed sightings. Experts believe that the mountain lion is slowly re-expanding its range.
Read About Mountain Lions In the United States in Detail
How Common Are Mountain Lions In United States?
There are around 30,000-40,000 mountain lions living in the US. However, it doesn’t often feel that way because of the cat’s nature.
Mountain lions are solitary animals. They hunt alone, eat alone, and roam alone. They are extremely territorial and can have individual territories of up to 150 square miles. They also prefer to live far away from humans and other predators. While they are found in virtually every type of habitat, they choose areas that are rather inaccessible to humans.
So, while there are a large number of cougars in certain states, they aren’t quite common to encounter.
What Do Mountain Lions Eat In The United States?
Mountain lions are hunters with many tricks up their sleeves. They hunt at night and use ambush tactics to kill their prey. They quietly stalk their prey and launch a surprise attack from behind. Once they’re finished eating, they bury the leftover carcass under soil, to keep it safe from other animals.
Mountain lions in the US mostly eat deer, specifically whitetail deer and mule tail deer. In times of deer shortage, they also eat animals like rabbits, turkeys, bighorn sheep, raccoons, and smaller rodents. They are even known to eat porcupines- spines and all!
How Big Are Mountain Lions In The United States?
Mountain lions can look really big and scary up close, and that’s because they are! These cats are the second largest cats in all of America. They can grow up to 24-30 inches tall, and 6-8 feet long. Most of their length comes from their long tails, which help them maintain balance when they run. Before they turn one year old, mountain lion kittens weigh between 15-45 pounds.
Cougars are quite light, compared to their size. Most males weigh around 120-200 pounds, while females weigh anywhere between 90 and 150 pounds. Their slenderness comes from their diet, as well as their need to move quickly and stealthily.
Funnily enough, despite being larger than most humans, mountain lions are not part of the “big cat” family. This is because they do not belong to the Panthera genus, and because they cannot roar like other big cats can.
What is the largest mountain lion in the USA?
Depending on where they live, mountain lions vary in size and other physical attributes. Most mountain lions weigh between 90-180 pounds. The largest mountain lion in the US weighed 276 pounds. However, it is extremely rare for mountain lions to reach this level of heaviness.
It’s also important to note that collecting mountain lion data is extremely difficult. Many mountain lions go undocumented, especially if they live far away from human establishments.
Can You Own A Mountain Lion In The US?
Yes, you can own a mountain lion in the US. However, it depends on which state you live in. Each state has its own laws regarding the ownership of wild cats and exotic pets.
Many states, like Alabama and Arkansas, have completely banned people from owning a pet cougar. In states like Missouri, you can own a mountain lion but you’ll need to register with the local law enforcement first. States like North Dakota require a permit and license to house a cougar.
If you are interested in owning a mountain lion, you will need to do thorough research about your particular state’s laws on exotic and wild animals.
Mountain Lion Attacks In The U.S. Per Year
Unless you live in a mountain lion area, you needn’t worry too much about attacks. In fact, even in cougar-populated areas, attacks are very rare. This is because mountain lions don’t think of humans as prey.
In fact, research has shown that they’re quite scared of humans (based on their history with us, we can’t really blame them). There are many safety precautions you can follow to prevent mountain lion encounters, such as keeping your pets on a leash at all times.
In the past 100 years, there have been around 120 mountain lion attacks. On average, that’s around 1.2 attacks per year. Out of these attacks, only a few dozen were unfortunately fatal for humans. Statistics show that more mountain lions are killed by humans per year, than the other way around.
What Other Big Cats Live In The United States?
Mountain lions aren’t the only wild American cats! The US is home to 5 other cat species, which are jaguars, bobcats, Canada lynx, ocelots, and jaguarundis. Of these cats, only the jaguar is considered to be a “big cat,” and the others are classified as wild cats.
Bobcats are mid-sized cats that are found throughout the United States. They are the most common wild cats, with an estimated population of 2.5-3.5 million. It’s a member of the Lynx genus, like the Canadian lynx, and therefore shares many similarities. They are named after the “bobbed” appearance of their tails. Their coat is spotted and is usually orange-red or grayish.
Jaguars are the largest cat species in the United States, as well as the rest of the continent. They’re mainly found in the Amazonian rainforests but occasionally make their way up to Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico. These sleek cats not only lend their name to a sleek car but are infamous for their camouflaging skills.
Canada lynx are found in Alaska, Canada, and the cold northern states of the US. Since they mostly live in snowy areas, their paws have adapted to help them move more easily. They have thick gray-brown fur and tufted ears.
The ocelot is another mid-sized cat that’s mainly found in Arizona and Texas. They prefer warm, tropical climates like rainforests and marshes. They are excellent tree climbers, and unlike house cats, aren’t scared to climb down. They have pale yellow-golden fur and are often called “mini jaguars.”
Jaguarundis are native to Central and South America. A few of them have been occasionally spotted in Florida and Texas. They are the smallest wild cats found in North America- standing only a few inches taller than the average house cat. They have a long body with short legs and a short head. They either have gray or dark red coats.
All of these cats are nocturnal, apex predators. At the top of their respective food chains, they are responsible for regulating the deer and rabbit populations in their territories.
And that was everything about the Mountain lions in the US. I hope this article answers all your questions.