If you close your eyes and try to picture a mountain lion, what comes to mind? A beautiful tan-colored big cat slipping between tree trunks or through rocks? A smaller version of the African lion, much shyer and lonelier? Numerous pictures you might have seen? Well, pictures are as close as you can get to seeing a mountain lion for most people. These elusive animals are masters at avoiding us, noisy humans.
But do they reside in the state of Louisiana? Let’s find out!
Are There Mountain Lions In Louisiana?
According to Louisiana wildlife experts, there are no native mountain lions living in the state of Louisiana.
There haven’t been mountain lions officially living in any of the eastern states in a century. Our ancestors made sure to systematically wipe out their populations by hunting them a long time ago.
But don’t blame them that much. They felt threatened by the big predators and thought the stealthy big cats would make off with all their livestock (a myth, by the way, since mountain lions tend to avoid humans and conflict with humans).
We know there are some free-ranging young males because they’ve been seen and captured on camera. That doesn’t make them official residents of the state. They’re wild animals, after all, and they don’t recognize state boundaries. Young mountain lions walk around for hundreds of miles, away from their birthplace, in search of mates and territories.
Unless a large number of mountain lions settle down in a state and begin breeding there, the state doesn’t claim to have an official mountain lion population.
Where Do Mountain Lions Live In Louisiana?
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fishing would say that lions don’t live in Louisiana at all. The ones that have been spotted were all wanderers, strolling in from other states like Texas and New Mexico.
It’s not like Louisiana has any lack of forest and wildlife. It’s got plenty of marshland as well as hilly areas with pine forests. We know that mountain lions can thrive in either of these. But they’d have to share these territories with other top predators, from the black bear to the alligator. And they probably aren’t too keen on that.
The sightings so far have been mostly from the western half of the state – the Allen, Vernon, and Bossier parishes.
Mountain Lion Sightings In Louisiana?
There have been a handful of confirmed sightings in Louisiana since 2002. Cougars leave signs when they pass by, in the form of tracks, hair samples, scat, and kills. Trail camera photographs have become useful in spotting them recently.
In 2008, a mountain lion passed through Allen, Vernon, and Winn parishes and was repeatedly captured on camera. That same year, Bossier police shot a lion that was originally from New Mexico. Was it the same one? Maybe. Lions were also spotted in 2011 and 2016. That’s four sightings in 20 years. Pretty low compared to a lot of states in the Midwest.
Black mountain lions seem to be a popular myth in Louisiana. We call it a myth because there’s literally no evidence that mountain lions can be black. It’s never been recorded before. The only big cats that have that coloring are jaguars (usually found in South America) and leopards (found only in Africa and Asia). If you think you’ve seen a black mountain lion, we’re sorry to say your eyes are tricking you.
How Big Are Mountain Lions In Louisiana?
Cougars aren’t the biggest of big cats (that honor would go to the tiger, specifically the Siberian tiger). But they’re still big enough that it would be terrifying to encounter them in the wild. Adult males can grow to about 8-9 feet in length and 150 pounds in weight. Females are smaller – about 7 feet long and 90 pounds in weight.
Two interesting facts about the mountain lion? When we count their length, we’re counting nose to end of tail and the tail actually makes up half their size. Secondly, baby mountain lions have spots, which go away as they mature. Makes them look more like leopard cubs or jaguar cubs.
Can You Shoot a Mountain Lion In Louisiana?
Absolutely not. Mountain lions are protected both by state and federal law. If you shoot a mountain lion in the state, you’ll be fined and possibly even jailed.
If you see a mountain lion on your property, your first instinct shouldn’t be to shoot but to let the wildlife officials know. They’re really not that dangerous to human beings.
Also, Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions In the U.S.
Can I Own a Cougar In Louisiana?
No, you can’t. Louisiana has stringent laws about owning exotic pets and it’s absolutely illegal to own a mountain lion in the state. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t people doing it on the sly.
The authorities think some of the sighted mountain lions could easily be captives who have gotten free.
What To Do If You See a Mountain Lion In Louisiana?
Report the sighting. If you see a mountain lion on your property or from a distance, it’s best to let the authorities know. They should be aware that there’s a mountain lion roaming around. You’re witnessing a one-in-a-million scene.
If you’re unfortunate enough to come face to face with a mountain lion while on foot (highly unlikely), remember not to run. They’re natural predators and it would be instinct to give chase.
Instead, the best thing you can do is keep eye contact, make yourself look taller, and speak loudly and firmly. These big cats hate confrontations and they’ll probably just slink away. Really, their motto is live and let live and yours should be too.
Also, Read About Mountain Lions in Los Angeles
What Other Big Cats Live In Louisiana?
The only big cats in the whole of the US are the mountain lion and the jaguar. Neither live in Louisiana. If you think you’ve seen a big cat in the state, it’s most likely the bobcat. It’s not a big cat but it’s often mistaken for a cougar. These smaller lynxes have much shorter tails though, so you should keep an eye out for that.
And that was everything about the Mountain Lions in Louisana. I hope this article answers all your questions.