You know how in Africa you can just take a safari and find an entire pride of lions casually roaming around the wilds? That’s not quite the case with their American cousins. Those cats are so shy that some states don’t even know whether they live there or not. But do they reside in Oklahoma? Let’s find out!
Are There Mountain Lions In Oklahoma?
Even the Oklahoma Wildlife Department is confused about whether there are mountain lions in Oklahoma or not. The big cats are so elusive and shy that they might be hiding away in some corner of the state without anyone being any wiser.
Officially, the officials are saying that there haven’t been any mountain lions in Oklahoma since the 1850s. But unofficially, mountain lions, both alive and dead, do turn up in the state from time to time.
Individual lions have been sighted and these sightings confirmed several times in the last two decades. But until there is evidence that the mountain lions are breeding in Oklahoma, they do not exist.
Mountain Lion Population In Oklahoma
There have been 52 confirmed sightings of mountain lions in Oklahoma between 2002 and 2022 but we shouldn’t take this to mean that there are 52 mountain lions living there. We might be just seeing the same lion over and over again.
With no breeding population, sadly we have to accept that the mountain lion population in Oklahoma is zero. The ones that we have spotted might just have been visitors from Texas, Colorado, or some other neighboring state.
It’ll be thrilling if mountain lions begin to repopulate Oklahoma again because it’ll lead to a much healthier ecosystem. After all, we can’t just have deer roaming around without any predators in sight. They’ll destroy the vegetation.
Where Are Mountain Lions Found In Oklahoma?
Mountain lions love rocky terrains and dense vegetation. If you were to compare a mountain lion to a runner, they’d be a sprinter rather than a marathon runner. Not much stamina. They take their prey in ambush attacks, not long chases. Wide open spaces, bare lands, and human habitation are their biggest nightmares. You’d starve if you couldn’t catch your food, right?
Oklahoma is home to more than one mountain range and also has large populations of deer. This means that it actually has decent habitats for mountain lions. The reason mountain lions went extinct wasn’t a lack of habitat but because of overhunting. So we can say that mountain lions aren’t really found in Oklahoma at present but it’s got plenty of good terrain to support the big cats.
Mountain Lion Sighting In Oklahoma
The Wildlife Department of Oklahoma keeps a very careful count of all mountain lion sightings in Oklahoma and makes sure that every sighting is legit. After all, couldn’t anyone just claim to see a mountain lion and then leak pictures of some mountain lion taken out west? It’s a common prank. But there’ve been over 50 confirmed sightings in the last twenty years.
Most sightings of mountain lions are caught on trail cameras but we also have scratch marks, paw prints, and DNA samples like fur to back these up. Photographs are pretty unreliable. We know people have mistaken bobcats for mountain lions in photographs before. The most definite proof, of course, is a physical body. Unfortunately, a physical body equals a dead cougar so we really shouldn’t wish for that.
Also, Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions In the U.S.
Can You Shoot a Mountain Lion In Oklahoma?
Yes, actually, you can shoot a mountain lion in Oklahoma. But only during a particular season. Mountain lions are considered ‘game’ in Oklahoma which means there’s an open season for them. Are we the only ones who think it’s weird that an animal that doesn’t even live in Oklahoma qualifies as a ‘game’ in the state?
The Wildlife officials also say that you can kill a mountain lion at any other time of the year but only if it’s been preying on your livestock. And you better call an official as soon as possible if you don’t want to get in trouble. The mountain lion has certain protections in Oklahoma and all dead bodies have to be turned in to the Wildlife Department.
What To Do If You See a Mountain Lion In Oklahoma?
Now, after having said all of that about the reclusiveness of the big cats, what if you do come across one? Yes, the chances are very slim but what if it did happen? Panicking wouldn’t be useful, right?
The most important thing is to not try to run away because the mountain lion will take that as a sign to chase you down. And it’s much faster than you. Did you know that most wild animals fear humans more than humans fear them? Stand tall and maintain eye contact and you’ll likely scare it away. One of the funnier tricks is to hold a jacket or coat above your head so you seem even bigger than you are.
If you’re out hiking, loud noises are your friend because they warn the animals to stay away from the chaotic humans. And if push comes to shove and the animal attacks, remember that humans have fought and defeated mountain lions before so you should definitely fight back.
What Big Cats Are In Oklahoma?
Unfortunately, not even one. Oklahoma is home to a lot of wild animals, including bison, bears, and elk. But jaguars and cougars don’t make the cut. The only wild cat you’ll find in Oklahoma is the small bobcat that many people confuse with the mountain lion.
These cats are not only smaller than mountain lions, but they’ve also got those short (or bobbed) tails that give them their names and distinguish them from their bigger relatives.
Also, Read About Mountain Lions in Ohio
And that was everything about the Mountain Lion In Oklahoma. I hope this article answers all your questions.