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

Mountain Lions In Tennessee

Mountain lions are large, carnivorous wild cats. People call them by many names- puma, panther, cougar, and catamount, to name a few. Whatever you choose to call it, you should know that these cats have a rich background, especially in America.

They are the second largest cats in the United States- only slightly smaller than jaguars. They’ve lived on American soil for hundreds and hundreds of years. Today, their numbers have shrunk, but some of them continue to thrive in western parts of the country.

Are There Mountain Lions In Tennessee?

Mountain lions were once found all throughout the mainland of the U.S. Sadly, the current scenario is very different. 2/3rd of the country no longer has any mountain lions. They are extinct in states that they once thrived in, including Tennessee.

Before the 20th century, Tennessee had an abundant population of mountain lions. However, once more and more people started moving into the state, the mountain lion numbers started decreasing. People feared that mountain lions would eat their livestock, so these cats were over-hunted and killed excessively. In the early 1900s, they became extinct in Tennessee.

There are still no mountain lions currently native to Tennessee. However, in recent years, there have been many confirmed sightings. This could mean that soon enough, mountain lions will return and may once again live in Tennessee.

Where in Tennessee do mountain lions live?

There are no mountain lions that currently inhabit Tennessee. On the bright side, there is a big chance that they could reclaim the state, someday. Mountain lions are solitary animals, which also means that they love to travel solo. There have been many instances of lone mountain lions traveling hundreds of miles to look for new territories, and sometimes, they end up in Tennessee.

Mountain lions, despite their name, don’t just live in the mountains. They choose to live in almost any kind of habitat- forests, swamps, deserts, prairies, you name it! As long as there’s an ample amount of delicious deer for them to hunt, they don’t care what the land looks like.

Mountain Lion Sighting In Tennessee

Mountain Lions In Tennessee

Tennessee may have lost its original mountain lion population, but not all hope is lost. There have been a few recent sightings in different parts of the state. Better yet, these are sightings that were confirmed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Before 2015, there were many mountain lion incidents reported, but none of them could be confirmed. However, 2015 saw six confirmed sightings in Obion County, Carroll County, and Humphreys County. Most of them were caught on the trail cameras of private landowners. But interestingly, the mountain lion in Carroll County was confirmed by a hair sample- which led officials to discover that it was a female mountain lion who was probably from South Dakota.

2016 had four more confirmed sightings. All of these were verified by trail camera footage as well. From 2017 onward, there haven’t been any confirmed sightings. People still report that they’ve seen mountain lions in and around the state, but these usually turn out to be hoaxes or similar-looking animals.

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

Can you kill a mountain lion in Tennessee?

No, you cannot kill mountain lions in Tennessee. Even if you wanted to, it’s almost impossible to find any, so it’s quite moot.

All animals without an official hunting season are protected by Tennessee law. Mountain lions fall under this category, so they can’t be hunted for sport. But, if you’re ever in Tennessee and you get attacked by a mountain lion (which is, again, highly unlikely), you are allowed to kill it in self-defense. Additionally, Tennessee landowners are allowed to kill wildlife that threatens their livestock or property.

What to do if you see a Mountain Lion in Tennessee?

It’s been quite a long time since anyone in Tennessee has seen a mountain lion. The chances of running into one are very slim. You’re more likely to encounter a bobcat or a black bear than a mountain lion.

If, however, you do find yourself face-to-face with a mountain lion, here’s what you should do. For starters, no matter how much you want to, don’t panic. Mountain lions don’t consider humans as prey, so as long as you don’t anger them, you should be fine. 

Next, try to show the mountain lion who’s boss. Stand up tall, raise your arms, and do everything in your power to look scary. If this doesn’t work and it decides to attack, fight it off as best you can. Remain standing, and use whatever you can find around you to throw at it. 

What Big Cats are in Tennessee?

Mountain Lions In Tennessee

Tennessee may not have mountain lions, but they have plenty of their smaller cousins- the bobcat. Bobcats are smaller than the average mountain lion but bigger than the average house cat.

Bobcats have comfortably made Tennessee their home. They are found throughout the state, mostly in the hills and rocky terrains. They could live in the Smoky Mountains if they choose to, but perhaps, they want to leave that area to the mountain lions.  

Also, Read About Mountain Lions In South Dakota


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

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