Are There Mountain Lions In Oregon? Everything You Need To Know

Mountain Lions In Oregon

Mountain lions are the second largest cats in America. These slender cats are also called pumas, panthers, cougars, or catamounts. They are secretive and solitary animals that are rarely seen in the wild. They prefer to roam and hunt alone and tend to stay away from humans as much as possible. They’re incredible hunters that use ambush tactics to trap their prey.

But do they reside in Oregon? Let’s Find Out

Are There Mountain Lions In Oregon?

According to Oregon wildlife experts, there are native mountain lions living in the state of Oregon. 

North America and South America have housed mountain lions for centuries. As native cats, they were once free to roam throughout the United States as well. 

Today, they still have the largest territorial range of any land mammal (apart from humans). However, their story has seen some ups and downs. In the early 20th century, many cougars were hunted to extinction in a majority of the county.

Oregon is one of the few states that still has a natural population of cougars. 

How Many Mountain Lions Live In Oregon?

Historically, cougars have always lived in Oregon. They are native to the state and had a steady population for many years. Things were fine for them until humans began expanding their societies. 

Early Oregon settlers saw mountain lions as a threat to their lives and lifestyle. They introduced bounties for hunting them. Mountain lions were also hunted for their fur. All the excessive hunting and killing reduced their population to the double digits. Fortunately, in 1967, they became classified as “game animals,” which regulated their hunting to some extent. This helped the population bounce back.

Today, Oregon has one of the highest cougar counts in the entire country. Recent numbers estimate that there are around 6,000 mountain lions scattered across the state.

Where Can You See Mountain Lions In Oregon?

Mountain Lions In Oregon

When it comes to habitat choices, mountain lions are special animals. They are not picky with landscapes and can adapt to any kind of environment. They can withstand different temperatures by growing more fur when it gets colder and shedding that fur on sunnier days.

Even in Oregon, cougars are found in different parts of the state. In the southwest region, they are found in the Cascade Mountains. If you look more eastward, they can be spotted in the Blue Mountains, Ochoco Mountains, Wallowa Mountains, and in the high desert. Lately, their populations are increasing in the northwestern parts as well as in and around Portland. 

Also, Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions In the U.S.

How common are Mountain Lions in Oregon?

Oregon has a thriving population of more than 6,000 mountain lions. Compared to the other dozen or so states that have cougars, this is one of the highest numbers. 

However, this figure is controversial and many do not accept it. That’s because Oregon, unlike other states, includes mountain lion babies (called kittens) in its estimate. The higher the number of mountain lions, the higher the targets set by the state during hunting season. This ultimately leads to the killing of more cats. 

Despite these challenges, many experts believe that the cougar population in Oregon is on an upward trajectory. This means that sightings and encounters may become more common in the future.

What Do Mountain Lions Eat In Oregon?

As the sun sets and everything gets dark, cougars come out to hunt. These apex predators hide behind trees or rocks, stalk their prey, and then launch a surprise attack on them. Most of the time, their poor prey wouldn’t have even seen it coming.

Mountain lions in Oregon use similar ambush tactics to hunt for their favorite food- deer. When deer aren’t available, they settle for raccoons, bighorn sheep, and small birds and mammals. Domesticated pets like dogs and rabbits are very similar to their natural prey, which is why pet owners in Oregon are advised to be wary at all times. 

Once mountain lions are finished with a meal, they hide the leftover carcasses to safeguard them from scavenging animals.

How Big Are Mountain Lions In Oregon?

Mountain Lions In Oregon

Mountain lions are the biggest wild cats in Oregon. They would be the biggest in the United States, but that title belongs to the Jaguars.

In Oregon, you can identify a mountain lion by its sheer size. Most of them range from 6 to 8 feet in length. When they’re on all fours, they are around 24 to 35 inches tall.

Female mountain lions weigh 75-100 pounds, while males can weigh up to 200 pounds. Mountain lions have powerful hind legs, which help them jump distances as far as 40 feet horizontally.

Can You Shoot A Mountain Lion In Oregon?

Ever since humans have occupied Oregon, they have been hunting cougars. In the earlier days, the killings were much more frequent and were motivated by financial and security needs.

Now, Oregon classifies mountain lions as a “game species.” This means that legally, people are allowed to hunt and shoot them. They can be hunted throughout the year but with limitations. Oregon is divided into zones, and each zone has its own cap for how many cougars can be hunted within its boundary limits. Moreover, to hunt, you will need to obtain the required tags and permits.  

What To Do If You See A Mountain Lion In Oregon?

Cougars are aplenty in Oregon, so the chance of running into one is very likely for some people. Mountain lions are wild animals, but they do not hunt humans. So, if you run into one, you will be fine if you follow these safety tips-

Despite their size and hunting abilities, cougars are scared of humans. If you give them a chance to escape, they will most likely take it. 

However, if one does not retreat, don’t panic. Stay calm and grounded. Maintain direct eye contact while you slowly back away from it. Whatever you do, do not turn your back and run away. 

This will trigger its instinct to chase and attack you. Instead, try to scare it off by raising your voice and waving your arms around. If it still looks like it will attack, grab whatever you can that’s around you and use it to fight back.

What Other Big Cats Live In Oregon?

Oregon is home to three species of wild kitties- the mountain lion, the bobcat, and the Canadian lynx.

Bobcats are the smallest of all three. They’re only twice the size of regular house cats. They have compact bodies and short tails. Their paws are also quite small- making it difficult for them to walk through snow. This could be one of the reasons they avoid activity during winter, and instead choose to spend time hiding in caves or hollow logs.

The Canadian lynx is slightly bigger than the bobcat. They are native to Oregon but are extremely rare sights in the state. Currently, there is no resident population in Oregon. However, if they do ever return for good, they too will probably live in the Blue Mountains or the Cascade Range.

Also, Read About Mountain Lions In Oklahoma


And that was everything about the Mountain Lions in Oregon. I hope this article answers all your questions.

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