Mountain lions are wild cats with a shy side. Known for their ability to adapt anywhere, these animals are found throughout North and South America. They are apex predators in most areas. They use their powerful bodies and cat-like tactics to hunt deer that’s even bigger than them. Despite their wide-ranging territories, they are highly evasive. That’s why only a handful of people can spot one these days.
But can you find them in Nevada? Let’s find out!
Are There Mountain Lions In Nevada?
According to the Nevada wildlife experts, there are native mountain lions living in the state of Nevada.
In fact, they have lived there since before our great-great ancestors did! Mountain lions are native to the United States, and once occupied the entire country. Their range extended all the way up to Canada in the north and Chile in the south. There were plenty of subspecies as well. However, many of them went extinct when humans started regularly hunting these animals.
In Nevada, mountain lions were killed for their fur. They also had bounties on their heads. Only in 1965 did the state classify the cougar as a game animal. This helped regulate the number of killings, and the population began to stabilize.
How Many Mountain Lions Live In Nevada?
The Nevada Department of Wildlife is responsible for estimating the state’s mountain lion population. Earlier, the guess was around 2,000 lions in the state. However, they recently commissioned a third party to help with a population reconstruction model. These efforts brought the estimate to around 3,400 mountain lions.
This figure relies on data gathered from harvesting, which some people argue is not entirely accurate. In general, mountain lions are difficult critters to count. Their habitat preferences and solitary nature make the process more complicated than it is for other common animals.
Where Do Mountain Lions Live In Nevada?
Nevada has just over 100,000 square miles of land. Experts believe that roughly 45% of this land is suitable for mountain lions to live. Mountain lions are not too choosy when it comes to their habitat. They prefer areas with rocks and trees but can adapt to more open spaces as well.
Nevada has many mountain ranges, like the Toiyabe Range and the Snake Range. Mountain lions are found in all of Nevada’s ranges. They are also found in forests filled with pinyon-juniper, mountain mahogany, pine, and brush.
Mountain Lion Sightings In Nevada
Nevada has seen a few mountain lion sightings in the recent past. One of the latest was in June 2023, when a Douglas County resident shot a mountain lion that was roaming in front of their house. According to reports, the individual shot it in self-defense, because it looked like it was about to attack him and his two dogs.
In 2021, there were around seven reports of seeing a mountain lion in Las Vegas alone. It was believed to be sightings of the same animal in different parts of the city. This mountain lion too, was unfortunately shot in self-defense.
Nevada’s urban development has been ever-expanding, which has led to humans getting closer and closer to cougar habitats. This may have caused the recent rise in sighting reports.
Also, Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions In the U.S.
Mountain lion in Attacks in Nevada?
Nevada has never had a fatal mountain lion attack. However, there have been instances of mountain lions pouncing on people, but they have managed to make it out alive.
In 2022, a mountain lion attacked a teenager in South Reno, when she was walking her dog. She escaped with just a few minor puncture wounds on her legs. The animal was later euthanized in the name of public safety.
To prevent mountain lion attacks, experts advise people to not keep open water sources like ponds near their houses. It is also wise to not allow deer into your backyard, since they are a cougar’s primary prey. If you have pets or children that like to play outside, do not let them out before dawn or after dusk.
Can You Shoot A Mountain Lion In Nevada?
Yes, you can shoot mountain lions in Nevada. There have been many instances where these animals have been fired at by residents who saw them on their property. You can shoot a mountain lion to protect yourself or your property.
You can also hunt mountain lions in Nevada. They are considered a game species and can be hunted all year round. Using hounds to hunt is also allowed. However, you cannot hunt or shoot mountain lion kittens, or female mothers accompanying their kittens.
What To Do If You See A Mountain Lion In Nevada?
Seeing a mountain lion can be very scary. However, if you follow the proper guidelines, you should be able to stay safe. Don’t go too close to the cougar. If it locks eyes on you, keep maintaining eye contact as you slowly move away. Don’t panic and make any sudden movements. As you back away, make yourself look bigger by raising your arms and standing tall. This may scare it enough to leave you alone.
Sometimes, you can do everything right, and a mountain lion may still attack. In that case, you should fight it off with anything you find around you.
What Other big cats are in Nevada?
Mountain lions share Nevada with one other cat species- the bobcat. Bobcats are mid-sized cats found in different natural terrains. Their fur can either be reddish-brown, or closer to dull gray. They are known for their long face fur and short “bobbed” tails.
Bobcats are prevalent not only in Nevada but throughout the United States. These animals are just as shy and solitary as their cougar counterparts, so only infrequent sightings occur. Bobcats eat smaller animals like rodents and hares, but can sometimes ambitiously hunt deer too!
Also, Read About Mountain Lions in Nebraska
And that was everything about the Mountain lions in Nevada. I hope this article answers all your questions.