If you’re a wildlife photographer, roaming around with a camera in hand and hoping to get a glimpse of the infamous mountain lion, you’ve probably got your work cut out for you.
The mountain lion (or puma, cougar, panther, catamount, ghost cat, or any of the other dozens of names you want to call it) isn’t going to make it easy for you at all. The idea of 40,000 mountain lions living in the United States is just a number. Doesn’t mean much when they’re barely visible.
Are There Mountain Lions In Massachusetts?
No, officially there aren’t any mountain lions in Massachusetts, just like all the eastern states of the US. Let’s go back in time to the 1800s, when humans began to build more and more houses on more and more land and decided they had to hunt down all the wildlife in the area.
If you’ve watched movies about bounty hunters then you’ll be interested to know that bounties were offered on mountain lions as well. Thus, the more lions a man captured and killed, the richer he became. And so came to an end the mountain lions of the east.
We should be fair to our ancestors, who were afraid that mountain lions would attack and eat their livestock. We now know that this isn’t true and that mountain lion attacks are extremely rare. But they didn’t have the materials or knowledge in those days to test all of this out.
While there are a bunch of conspiracy theorists who are convinced the wildlife departments are hiding the existence of mountain lions in the northeast from people, it’s probably just that. A lot of insane conspiracy theories. The last mountain lion that was born and raised in Massachusetts died around 1858.
Mountain Lion Sighting In Massachusetts
Since the 1990s, there have been two confirmed sightings of mountain lions in Massachusetts (which is really low compared to some other states). In 1997, a tracker found some scat which was confirmed to come from a mountain lion but the lion itself was never seen.
In 2011, foresters found some fresh tracks in the snow. These might have come from the South Dakota lion that walked all the way to Connecticut before meeting his end there. One of the most famous cougars in US history, no one knows why he trekked 1800 miles by himself when most don’t venture more than 100 miles from their birthplace.
Can You Kill a Mountain Lion In Massachusetts?
In every US state, you can kill a mountain lion if it’s threatening you or your livestock. Since this is rare, it doesn’t usually happen. A more common lion-human conflict is a lion dying on the highway after being hit by a car. Some states that have official mountain lion populations do allow hunting during open season but mountain lions are protected in most states.
Massachusetts doesn’t have any mountain lions so it naturally doesn’t have any laws about killing them. If you have killed a mountain lion, you should probably alert the authorities at once. They need to make note of their presence and you could get in deep trouble for not reporting the body. Don’t do a hit-and-run.
Also, Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions In the U.S.
What To Do If You See a Mountain Lion In Massachusetts?
You’ve read this article and many articles like this and you’re feeling safe in the knowledge that mountain lions don’t come to Massachusetts. And then, bam, you’re on your morning walk and you come face to face with a mountain lion. Of course, you’re scared. What are you going to do now?
First of all, definitely don’t try to run. If you’ve come upon a mountain lion unawares, it’s just as scared of you. These animals tend to avoid human encounters as far as they can because they’re wary of us. Running will only encourage it to go after you.
Keep eye contact with the lion, raise your arms and your jacket (if you’re wearing one) over your head, and make noise. In most cases, the cat will try to retreat from the chaotic and noisy human. They’re too shy and solitary to enjoy the ruckus. If you’ve got a child or a pet with you, pick it up so the lion doesn’t think it’s an easier target.
And once you’re away from the mountain lion, safe and sound, report it to the authorities. They should know if there’s an unidentified lion roaming around an area it shouldn’t be in.
What Big Cats Are In Massachusetts?
This leads to the question, “What are big cats exactly?” It’s a much debated question and different people have different answers. Some would even say that technically mountain lions shouldn’t belong in this category since they don’t belong to the Panthera genus, like lions, tigers, jaguars, snow leopards, and leopards.
Still, we usually give cheetahs and mountain lions (who shamefully cannot roar, unlike the five big cats) honorary membership to this club. Now that we’ve cleared that up, the question seems to be if any of these seven are found in Massachusetts.
The United States as a whole is home to only two of these big cats, the cougar and the jaguar. The latter is actually almost extinct and can be found hiding away in one or two spots in Arizona. So I think it’s safe to say that there are exactly zero big cats in Massachusetts.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any wild cats. The bobcat, a type of lynx, seems to roam all over the United States. So is it any surprise that it can be found in Massachusetts as well?
In fact, a lot of the time, when people think they’re seeing a mountain lion, they’re actually seeing a much smaller bobcat. These wild cats get their cute name from their even cuter ‘bobbed’ tails, unlike the long and fluffy tails of the mountain lions.
Also, Read About Mountain Lions in Maryland
And that was everything about the Mountain Lion In Massachusetts. I hope this article answers all your questions.