Mountain lions are one of the most secretive cats in America. Most people have never even seen one, despite living amongst them. They are mostly active at night but sometimes pop out during the day. If you’re ever out hiking in the mountains, and you hear a purr, it could very well be one of these cats!
But do they reside in Georgia? Let’s find out!
Are There Mountain Lions In Georgia?
When it comes to names and habitats, the mountain lion has plenty of both. In the name department, it also goes by a panther, puma, catamount, or cougar. Different people prefer to call them by different names. But, they all refer to the same cat.
In terms of habitat, they once lived throughout the United States. They were as common as day. However, due to hunting and deforestation, their population went from millions to thousands. Today, many states no longer have mountain lions.
Georgia, like many of its eastern neighbors, does not have any mountain lions. Eastern cougars were once quite widespread, but now they’re confined to only one state- Florida.
Mountain lion Sightings in Georgia
Presently, there are around 30,000 to 40,000 mountain lions in the U.S. Most of these are mountain lions that are native to the Wild West. The eastern cougar, which once lived in Georgia as well, likely disappeared around the early 1900s.
There are no mountain lions in Georgia. Yet, people have managed to spot some from time to time. Georgia’s Wildlife Resources Division receives many phone calls on the subject. However, few of these can be considered legitimate.
Most mountain lion sightings in Georgia turn out to be other wild animals – mainly bobcats, coyotes, wild dogs, house cats, or even bears. Georgia’s wildlife officials still investigating them, in case the sighting is real.
Sometimes, people do actually spot a mountain lion- one that has either escaped or come from Florida. This was the case in 2008 when a man witnessed and accidentally killed a Florida panther that had wandered into Georgia territory.
Another possible explanation for sightings is the fact that some animals are illegally kept captive. If and when these mountain lions escape, or are released illegally into the wild, people may happen to see them.
Can You Shoot A Mountain Lion In Georgia?
In some western states, where plenty of wild mountain lions roam, hunting is allowed. However, in eastern states, shooting a mountain lion is considered unlawful.
To understand this better, let’s look at their heartbreaking history. These animals once thrived in the eastern part of the country. Then, over the course of a few years, they were hunted and killed into extinction by early settlers. Today, they haven’t made any eastern state their home, apart from Florida. Only 120 eastern cougars live in Florida, and they too are sometimes killed illegally.
There are glimmers of hope that the mountain lion will slowly repopulate the east. Western cougars have started cross-country relocation in search of habitats and food. With hopes of restoring their numbers, many states like Georgia do not allow the shooting of mountain lions. However, in the case of mountain lion attacks, where you would shoot one in self-defense, you may be pardoned.
Also, Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions In the U.S.
Can you own a mountain lion in Georgia?
The short answer- probably not. There are only a few facilities in Georgia that are permitted to house mountain lions. They are usually western cougars that were transported to Georgia to be kept captive. To prevent illegal captivity, there are strict state laws. However, some people ignore these laws and keep mountain lions illegally.
Mountain lions are wild cats with a distinct hatred for humans. They are extremely territorial and prefer solitude and large expanses of land. Having a pet mountain lion would be an extremely difficult and expensive affair. If you live in Georgia and still dream of owning a mountain lion, you’ll need to jump through several legal hoops to make that a reality.
What To Do If You See A Mountain Lion In Georgia?
It’s been years since the last mountain lion encounter in Georgia. Since they don’t live there, it’s highly unlikely you’ll see one. You’re more likely to face a bobcat or a wild dog, than a mountain lion.
If you beat the odds and do see a mountain lion, you need to stay alert. Keep your distance as best you can. No matter how much you want to, don’t panic.
Follow these safety precautions, in case the mountain lion has spotted you back. First, make yourself appear larger than you are by standing tall and waving your arms around. This will make you seem like the predator, not the prey.
Make loud noises while maintaining eye contact. Don’t bend down or crouch. In case they still attack, fight back with whatever items you have nearby- rocks, camping equipment, or even your bare hands.
What Big Cats Live In Georgia?
You may never cross paths with a mountain lion in Georgia, but you will definitely see other wild animals. One wild cat that is commonly found in Georgia is the bobcat.
Bobcats and mountain lions share many similarities, which is why one is often mistaken for the other. From afar, they can look the same. But they both have unique characteristics and personalities.
Bobcats are also called red lynxes. They are closely related to the Canadian lynxes, which are found in Canada, Alaska, and northern parts of the States. Bobcats are medium-sized cats, standing slightly smaller than mountain lions. They have spotted fur and “bobbed tails.” They’re the most common wild cat in North America, but like mountain lions, they are seldom seen.
Also, Read About Mountain Lions in Griffith Park
And that was everything about the Mountain Lion in Georgia. I hope this article answers all your queries.