The American Mountain lion – you can also call them cougars, pumas, or one of their other dozen names – can be found up the length and breadth of North and South America. The mountain lion is the wild cat that is most widespread in the Americas. But throw a dart at the map of the US and you can only find them in half the states. But Does it live in Texas? Let’s find out
Are There Mountain Lions In Texas?
Mountain lions are native to Texas and still live there. Unfortunately, you’ll find them in very few numbers. You would think that the massive state of Texas would support large numbers of these beautiful animals.
They’ve got great weather and climate conditions for mountain lions. But shooting the big cats is a free-for-all in this state. So yes, there are mountain lions in Texas. But there would be more if shooting them wasn’t a common activity.
How Many Mountain Lions In Texas?
Texas doesn’t have an official estimate of the number of mountain lions living in the state. Since Texas has so much open land, experts say that up to 6,000 mountain lions could live here. If that were true, Texas would be the state with the highest population of lions. But the number is just an over-optimistic estimate.
Texas Parks and Wildlife tries to keep track of the mountain lions living in the state. They depend on sightings and mortalities. They use the number of dead mountain lions they can find to estimate the percentage of living ones. Of course, this isn’t a very reliable technique, especially since sightings of living mountain lions are very rare.
Where Do Mountain Lions Live in Texas?
Mountain lions are mostly found in the south and west of Texas. The Trans-Pecos is the home base for most of the big predators. You can call this puma county (‘puma’ is the Spanish name for the mountain lion). The south Texas brushlands and Hill Country also have mountain lion populations.
Texas Parks and Wildlife have reported sightings of mountain lions in every county in Texas. But as we have already seen, their data is not very dependable. We humans have privatized large pieces of land, using them for agriculture and as oil fields. This has reduced mountain lion territory. The big predators now have very little area to roam and little prey to eat.
How Common Are Mountain Lions in Texas?
The answer to that is probably ‘not as common as they could have been.’ Texas Parks and Wildlife have reported mountain lion sightings in all 254 Texas counties. But people do not always know when they see a mountain lion. They can mistake other kinds of wildlife, like coyotes, bobcats, and big house cats, for mountain lions. These sightings usually cannot be confirmed.
Mortalities are more definite since there is physical proof. Mountain lion mortalities have been confirmed in 67 counties, mostly in the south and west. You can then say that mountain lions are common in the western half of the state but do not live in the east.
Are Mountain Lions A Problem In Texas?
A lot of people think that mountain lions are dangerous and they regularly attack humans. This isn’t true at all. A mountain lion doesn’t usually attack a human. These animals are very shy and they don’t like the limelight. Since 1980, there have only been four recorded mountain lion attacks in Texas. All of them took place in western Texas, in isolated areas.
But if you do come across a mountain lion in the wild, you should always be loud and firm. If you make yourself seem bigger in size, you can scare it off by waving your arms and throwing sticks. Whatever you do, don’t turn your back on the lion or try to run away from it. Don’t go hiking alone, always go with friends. Coming across a mountain lion by yourself can be dangerous.
The biggest problem that mountain lions pose in Texas is actually the threat to livestock. They do carry away sheep and goats at times when they can’t find deer to hunt. That’s why it’s legal to hunt and trap mountain lions in this state.
Also, Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions In the U.S.
How Big are Mountain Lions in Texas?
Mountain lions are not the biggest of the big cats. But they can still reach impressive sizes. Male lions in Texas can weigh as much as 150 pounds. Females are smaller and reach up to 100 pounds. There are bigger mountain lions in the US and Canada but they’re found further north. They have extra fur and fat to protect them from the cold.
Can You Shoot a Mountain Lion in Texas?
Texas is the only US state where mountain lions do not have a protected status. Many Texans still hold on to their ancestors’ habits of killing any wild animal that they encounter. They’ve finished off their wolf and bison populations and would not mind doing the same to the mountain lions.
Mountain lions are not classified as ‘game’ in Texas. There is no official hunting season for them. Texans are free to hunt and shoot mountain lions at any time. And many do. Some of it’s for sport, some of it’s to protect their livestock. You do not need any kind of permit to shoot a mountain lion in Texas.
The mountain lion population in Texas almost went extinct in the 1800s. People were killing the animals right, left, and center for their fur. In the 1900s, this stopped and the population began recovering. Some mountain lions also travel over the border from Mexico and New Mexico into Texas. So their numbers remain stable.
Also, Read About Mountain Lions In Tennessee
Can You Own a Mountain Lion in Texas?
It is legal to own a mountain lion in Texas. Texan laws are very strict about such matters, however, and you must have a registration certificate in order to own exotic species like mountain lions.
And that was everything about the Mountain Lions In Texas. I hope this article answers all your questions.