Are There Mountain Lions In South Carolina? Everything You Need To Know

Mountain Lions In South Carolina

Wildlife enthusiasts living in North and South America may have heard of the mountain lion. These cats go by different names- panther, puma, cougar, catamount, and even ghost cat. They are the second biggest wild cat species in the US, growing up to 6-8 feet horizontally. They weigh anywhere between 90-200 pounds, depending on their gender and age. 

Are There Mountain Lions In South Carolina?

According to South Carolina wildlife experts, there are no native mountain lion species living in the state of South Carolina. 

Mountain lions have dug their roots into American soil for thousands of years. Until the 19th century, they were found throughout the country, in almost all types of terrains. When the European settlement began, these cats started to become feline targets. Overhunting and deforestation led to the disappearance of cougars living in the east. The Eastern cougar is now found only in Florida and is known as the Florida panther.

South Carolina also lost its cougar population, which hasn’t been restored to date. There are occasional sightings of the wild cat, but none of them are native to the state.

Where Do Mountain Lions Live In South Carolina?

Mountain Lions In South Carolina

There are no mountain lions living in South Carolina. Years ago, they were found throughout the state. Mountain lions are known for their adaptability. If you lead one to a forest, mountain, swamp, prairie, or even desert, they’ll manage to make a home out of it. 

They are comfortable as long as they have enough space and enough deer to hunt. That’s how they have managed to spread their population so widely- all the way from Canada up to the tip of South America.

South Carolina is an eastern state, so it was once home to the eastern cougar. Now, while some mountain lions have been seen, they haven’t permanently settled there yet. 

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

Mountain Lion Sightings In South Carolina?

In a refreshing trend, mountain lions have begun making headlines for being spotted in states that had declared them extinct. Many people welcome such news because it means that mountain lions are slowly reclaiming what was once theirs. Something similar almost happened in South Carolina. 

In June 2023, a South Carolina woman captured what appeared to be a large cat on her phone’s camera. Experts who reviewed the footage could not confirm that it was a mountain lion based on just that. However, many residents are optimistic that the animal was indeed a cougar.

South Carolina hasn’t had any verified cougar sightings for over 100 years. However, there is an itsy-bitsy chance that eventually, a western cougar could decide to step foot into the state.

Mountain lion in Attacks in South Carolina?

Very rarely does a mountain lion pounce on a human. In the past century, there have been around 120 attacks. Only 1/6th of these have been fatal. If you’re ever attacked by a mountain lion, it is possible to fight back and escape. In the past, people have used rocks, garden tools, sticks, guns, and even their bare hands to defend themselves.

South Carolina neither has cougars, nor any incidents of cougar attacks. The closest native population to the state is found in Florida- where the eastern panther lives hidden in the Everglades. There are a few cougars that are kept illegally, and sometimes they escape or get released. However, there have been no instances of them attacking humans.

Can you kill a mountain lion in South Carolina?

Mountain Lions In South Carolina

Unlike eastern states, many western states have a thriving population of mountain lions. These states consider them “game animals,” and allow people to hunt them. Since they are either extinct or extremely rare in the East, most states do not condone hunting cougars.

There are no cougars left to kill in South Carolina. They were driven out of the state by hunters in the 19th and 20th centuries. Only if and when you are attacked by a cougar in SC, are you allowed to kill it. Similarly, if it is damaging your property or attacking your pets, you are allowed to kill it too. 

What To Do If You See A Mountain Lion In South Carolina?

Mountain lions can be distinguished from other big cats by their tails. The tails are usually 2-3 feet long and have black extremities. The rest of the mountain lion’s coat is mostly tan, with the occasional white on its underbelly. If you’re standing close enough to one, you can see white patches on its chin as well.

Seeing a mountain lion in South Carolina would be completely out of the ordinary. However, just like Boy Scouts, you should always be prepared. To keep yourself out of danger, and always maintain a safe distance from it. 

If it sets its eyes on you, make sure you maintain eye contact. Slowly back away without turning your back to the cat. Do not shriek or run away in panic. Instead, try to scare it off by being as scary-looking as you can. Stand up tall, raise your arms, and remove your jacket. Usually, mountain lions do not like confrontation. So, they’ll most likely retreat. 

Also, Read About Mountain Lions In Rhode Island

What Other Big Cats Are In South Carolina?

Only one wild cat dominates South Carolina’s landscape- the bobcat. Bobcats are common in nearly all states. 

In South Carolina, they are found in and around the state’s coastal plains. They have a mostly stable population, despite being hunted for sport. They are also killed for their fur- which is usually grayish or reddish-brown. 

Due to their shy and solitary nature, they normally go unnoticed. As lone hunters, they prey on mice, rats, fish, birds, rabbits, and occasionally- deer. 


And that was everything about the mountain lion in South Carolina. I hope this article answers all your questions.

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