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

Are There Mountain Lions in Pennsylvania?

Mountain Lions In Pennsylvania

Mountain lions are the most widely distributed large mammal found in the Western Hemisphere. However, they are actually not found in Pennsylvania or any of the East Coast states in the United States of America. The eastern states saw this species of wild cat dying out in the 1870s. If a mountain lion does somehow find its way to Pennsylvania, it is inadvisable to harm it.

In the nineteenth century, the mountain lion was one of the most common predators in Pennsylvania. Gradually, the loss of habitat, a lack of prey, and hunting caused the eastern mountain lion or cougar to die out entirely. 

People hunted them to extinction, afraid that they would hunt down and kill their livestock and pets. This fear was not backed by reason since recent studies have shown that the number of mountain lion attacks over the last century has been negligible.

At any rate, there have been no wild mountain lions in Pennsylvania since the 1870s. The last wild mountain lion born on the East Coast died in the 1930s. At present, there are no wild mountain lions living in the eastern states at all. 

There are mountain lions kept in captivity. But mountain lions are large, strong, swift animals that require large territories and do not thrive in captivity. There have been incidents where some have escaped but they are always recaptured.

How Many Mountain Lions Are in Pennsylvania?

The official count would say that there are zero wild mountain lions in Pennsylvania. However, over time, stories have crept up of people spotting the wild cats in Pennsylvania. 

When Was the Last Sighting of a Mountain Lion in Pennsylvania?

As recently as a few weeks ago, cameras in York County picked up footage of two large cats in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Game Commission studied the photographs and stated that they were probably not mountain lions. But people continued to speculate on what the mysterious creatures could be. 

Over the years, there have been reports of people sighting wild mountain lions from time to time. Research has proved that the animals in question were either coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, or big domestic cats. It is often difficult to make out the size and scale in grainy video footage and photographs. The much smaller creatures could easily have been confused with the big cats. Captive mountain lions that escaped and were recaptured is another possibility.

In the 1930s, the mountain lion was declared extinct in all areas east of Mississippi. Since then, there have not been any confirmed mountain lion sightings in Pennsylvania. Scatological and DNA evidence and pug marks have not indicated the presence of mountain lions in the state. 

If a couple of mountain lions have indeed made their way east, that would be very exciting news. It isn’t unheard of for a juvenile male or female to make their way to new territories since so much of the West is already occupied. There was a case in 2011 where a wild mountain lion traveled from South Dakota to Connecticut. Thus, it is possible for them to make long journeys east.

Are There Any Big Cats in Pennsylvania?

Mountain Lions In Pennsylvania

Are there any big cats in Pennsylvania at all? No, Apart from the mountain lions found in captivity, the only other kind of wild cat in Pennsylvania are bobcats. Neither the jaguar nor the cougar (the only two types of big cats found in North America) live in Pennsylvania. 

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

Can You Shoot/Hunt Mountain Lions in Pennsylvania?

Is it possible to hunt something that does not exist? Since mountain lions have officially been declared extinct on the East Coast, hunting them would not only be unwise but impossible. 

The mountain lion is a protected species in many of the states where it lives. Thus, if a mountain lion were to somehow make its way to Pennsylvania, it would be quite appalling if anyone were to hunt it down.

This does not mean accidents do not occur. Mountain lions have routinely died from collisions with cars on highways. Even the adventurous South Dakota cat mentioned above met its untimely end when a car hit it. 

The main reason that it would be difficult for a juvenile lion to make its way to Pennsylvania would be the number of urban areas and highways it would have to cross.

Which US State Has the Most Mountain Lions?

The exact numbers for these animals are difficult to determine. They are constantly on the move and are good at avoiding human beings. Scientists have had to work with estimates and guesses. As of September 2023, there are about 30,000 mountain lions living in the United States in total. 

It is even more difficult to assign the number of mountain lions per state. After all, they don’t observe state borders the way humans do. They frequently cross state lines and may just be passing through at a particular time. There are no ID cards or license plates to tell us which state a mountain lion belongs to.

However, research seems to say that Colorado and Oregon might be the states with the most number of mountain lions. The former has anywhere between 3000 and 7000 mountain lions while the latter has over 6000. The other US states trail these two, ranging anywhere from 2000 to zero.

Also, Read About Mountain Lions In Oregon


And that was everything about the Mountain Lion In Pennsylvania. I hope this article served you well.

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