You may have heard of the African lion or the Asiatic lion, but have you heard of their smaller, American cousin? The mountain lion is a cat species native to North and South America. These apex predators go by different names – panther, puma, catamount, and cougar. If you’re confused about what to call it, don’t fret! All of these names are interchangeable. But do they reside in Ohio? Let’s Find Out!
Are There Mountain Lions In Ohio?
Mountain lions put the “wild” in “wild, wild west,” as most of them live in that part of the U.S. Others are found across Western Canada, all the way down to South America. They’ve inhabited the Americas for centuries, even before the early European settlers. However, most of the eastern parts of America lost their mountain lion population in the early 20th century.
Ohio, also known as the Buckeye State, isn’t known for its mountain lion population. Ironically, the state mammal of Ohio is the white-tailed deer- one of the mountain lion’s favorite snacks. There are plenty of deer in Ohio, but even they aren’t enough to bring the mountain lions back.
So no, Ohio hasn’t housed mountain lions in decades. But they aren’t entirely absent from the state.
Mountain Lion Sighting In Ohio?
During the 20th century, people lost hope of the mountain lion returning to Ohio. However, in the past few years, there have been claims of this cat making a comeback.
Ohio has had its fair share of mountain lion sightings. Most of the time, they turn out to be the mountain lion’s doppelganger- the bobcat. Other times, they are actual mountain lions that are only in Ohio on a flying visit.
In 2014, a Shawnee State Park officer spotted a mountain lion within the park limits. He quickly photographed it, and officials soon discovered that this cat was from the western part of the country.
In 2015, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources inspected a set of mysterious-looking paw prints at Clay’s Park Sand. They were 5.5-6 inches in diameter, which was big enough for them to suspect its origins. It could have been left by a mountain lion, or it could’ve been left by an abnormally large dog. Who’s to say?
Can You Shoot A Mountain Lion In Ohio?
To shoot a mountain lion in Ohio, you must first complete the impossible task of finding one within the state. Mountain lions could live anywhere- mountains, deserts, woods, and even wetlands- if they wanted to. If and when they ever repopulate the whole of the United States, the laws regarding their protection might change.
For now, in most states, mountain lions are a protected species. In Ohio, they can only be killed if they are a threat to the lives of people, pets, or livestock. In states like Oregon or Colorado, their numbers are not threatened. There, people not only shoot mountain lions but can actively hunt them down during hunting season.
Hunting mountain lions is what caused them to disappear in the first place. These stealthy cats avoid humans as much as possible, but sometimes conflict is inevitable. When cougars started encroaching on human settlements in search of food, they were killed by residents who feared for their lives.
Also, Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions In the U.S.
What To Do If You See A Mountain Lion In Ohio?
Ohio hasn’t seen any mountain lions for a long time. However, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Here’s what you should do, should you ever encounter a mountain lion in Ohio.
Experts say you should never approach a mountain lion. If you see one before it sees you, slowly back away. If it happens to see you, remember to stay calm. Don’t ever run away from them, because this might trigger their instinct to chase.
Instead, face the animal and show it who’s boss. Stand up taller and do whatever you can to look intimidating. When the mountain lion realizes that you are not prey, it will move away from you.
After your encounter, the best thing to do is to report the mountain lion sighting to your local authorities. In this case, that’s the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. They will assess the situation and take appropriate action.
What Other Big Cats Are In Ohio?
There are six species of wild cats that are native to North America. Only one of these lives in Ohio- the bobcat. Bobcats are the mountain lion’s slightly smaller cousins.
Bobcats and mountain lions once roamed Ohio together. However, there was a period of time when bobcats disappeared from the state, just like the mountain lions did.
From 1850, for about a century, there were no bobcats in Ohio. They were killed off due to excessive hunting, and the chances of them returning were slim to none.
Somehow, against all odds, bobcats have managed to repopulate Ohio. It’s extremely rare for a once-extinct species to come back to a particular state, so it’s definitely a reason for all Ohioans to celebrate.
Now, bobcats are among the top predators in Ohio- along with coyotes, bald eagles, and red-tailed hawks. Who knows, maybe soon we can say the same thing about mountain lions as well. Fingers crossed!
Also, Read About Mountain Lions in North Carolina
And that was everything about the Mountain Lion In Ohio. I hope this article answers all your questions.