Are There Mountain Lions In Rhode Island? Everything You Need To Know

Mountain Lions In Rhode Island

The mountain lion’s a rare beast to spot. It’s not like you can go on safari and see them sunning themselves like their African cousins. They’re shy and elusive and they’re more likely to slip away when they sense you coming than confront you. It’s probably a big reason why they’ve survived so long (even though they’re endangered).

But do they reside in Rhode Island? Let’s find out!

Are There Mountain Lions In Rhode Island?

According to the Rhode Island wildlife experts, there are no native mountain lions living in the state of Rhode Island. We all know that mountain lions disappeared from the East Coast more than a hundred years ago. So no, there definitely aren’t any mountain lions in Rhode Island. Rhode Island’s about as east as you can get. How would the mountain lions even get there?

Once upon a time, mountain lions did live on Rhode Island. That came to an end with the coming of the white man, who was eager to kill off all predators and prey around them. 

How big was the original mountain lion population? We don’t know. Rhode Island’s pretty tiny, after all. It doesn’t have room to support a large number of predators. The last resident mountain lion was killed either in 1847 or 1848 by a man from West Greenwich. This mountain lion has lived on in stuffed form ever since.

Some Rhode Islanders are convinced that mountain lions absolutely live in the state and the government is covering them up. Is this the truth or just conspiracy theories? We lean towards the latter. Mountain lions leave evidence when they live somewhere. Scat, fur, kills, tracks, scratch marks. None of these are anywhere to be found in Rhode Island. Nor are there any pictures.

Mountain Lion Sightings In Rhode Island

There haven’t been any confirmed mountain lion sightings in Rhode Island. Not only has no one ever seen a mountain lion with their own eyes, but officials say there’s no sign of tracks or fur either. It’s not a big enough state that mountain lions could roam around without leaving a trace. They’re secretive but not that secretive.

The closest sighting was in Connecticut. The story’s become pretty famous at this point. A mountain lion somehow walked over 1500 miles to Connecticut from South Dakota. It wandered through several US states and Canada along the way. 

Its journey finally came to a tragic end when it was hit by a vehicle on a highway. Maybe this gives people hope that there might be mountain lions hiding out in Rhode Island. But the Connecticut lion left clear signs of its movement throughout, which these fictional Rhode Island lions don’t.

Mountain Lion Attacks In Rhode Island?

Mountain Lions In Rhode Island

Mountain lion attacks are very rare in the first place. There’s been under 30 fatal attacks in the United States total since the 1920s. Mountain lion attacks in a state where they don’t even exist? Unheard of. While there have been some claimed sightings, there’ve been no reports of attacks. You’re more likely to get attacked by a dog.

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

Can You Shoot a Mountain Lion In Rhode Island?

There’s no point in having laws about something that doesn’t exist, right? Mountain lions have been declared extinct in Rhode Island so there’s no question of shooting them. They’re also protected by federal laws all over the US. Some states, like Montana and Texas, allow them to be hunted as a ‘game’. However, there are permits and limitations involved. Rhode Island doesn’t fall into this category.

What To Do If You See a Mountain Lion In Rhode Island?

If you see a mountain lion in Rhode Island, you’ll be the first person in over 150 years to have that honor. You’d better whip out your phone and take pictures first. 

If you report the sighting to wildlife officials, they’re much more likely to take you seriously if there’s evidence. After all, they get calls about sightings all the time and have never confirmed any of them. But we’re obligated to tell you that what you’re seeing probably isn’t a mountain lion at all but a bobcat.

If you do see a mountain lion out alone in the wild, remember not to turn and run since they’ll probably give chase. You should stand your ground, make yourself look taller than you are, and try to scare the cat away by speaking loudly and firmly. Chances are it’s going to slink away. It’s much more keen to avoid you than you are to avoid it.

What Other Big Cats Are In Rhode Island?

Mountain Lions In Rhode Island

That leads to the question ‘What are big cats exactly?’ People can’t seem to agree on this basic definition. Some seem to think only the five in the Panthera genus should qualify – lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, and snow leopards. Others want to include the cheetah and the mountain lion too (even though they don’t have the elongated larynx that allows them to roar).

It doesn’t really matter. By either definition, the answer is ‘none’. The only species of wild cat you’ll find in Rhode Island is the bobcat. It’s often confused with the cougar although it’s much smaller in size and has a very short, ‘bobbed’ tail (hence its name). Neither of the two American big cats (jaguars and mountain lions) is anywhere to be found in Rhode Island.

Also, Read About Mountain Lions In Pennsylvania


And that was everything about the Mountain lion in Rhode Island. I hope this article answers all your questions.

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