It is said that cats have nine lives, but have you heard of a cat with more than nine names? The mountain lion is a wild cat that’s called panther, puma, catamount, cougar, and more.
They are found in the Western Hemisphere- mainly in North America and South America. They can adjust to any kind of habitat- be it thick swamps or scorching deserts. All they need is solitude and a couple of deer to hunt.
But do they reside in Utah? Let’s Find out!
Are There Mountain Lions In Utah?
Cougars were once the top dogs of the American cat world. They were found in every state, and their numbers probably touched millions. They lived in peace for several centuries, until more humans started to encroach on their lands. People hunted them for bounty and killed them in the name of protecting their livestock. Eventually, they were wiped out from 50 percent of the 50 states.
The cougars in the western parts of America were able to survive. Although their population is nowhere near what it once was, it is steadily growing. Utah is one of the few states with natural mountain lion residents.
How many mountain lions live in Utah?
If you’re a cat person, you will know how much cats love to keep to themselves. Mountain lions are a prime example of this. They are highly elusive animals. Even when people live near them, they are difficult to spot. As solitary animals, they don’t often travel in groups. Calculating their exact numbers in a particular area is challenging.
However, wildlife officials use information from harvesting and other methods to determine how many there are. In Utah, it is estimated that there are around 1,900-2,500 wild mountain lions.
Where Are The Most Mountain Lions In Utah?
Utah has plenty of valleys, lakes, and mountains that are purr-fect for mountain lions. These felines are found throughout since they can basically adapt to any habitat. According to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, they are spread across over 35,000 square miles.
In Utah, cougars can live in low-lying valleys, where there are pinions and junipers. They can also be found in areas of higher elevation- like mountains and canyons. Here, they live among the pines and conifer trees.
How Big Are Mountain Lions In Utah?
Mountain lions may look cute and cuddly, but they aren’t cats to be reckoned with. They are the second largest cats in North America and the fourth largest in the world.
Horizontally, they can grow up to 6 feet- the height of an average basketball player. They weigh around 90-180 pounds. Male ones are larger and heavier than females. Mountain lions can be characterized by their long tails. The tails form almost 2/3rd of their entire height.
They look like overgrown house cats, but their sheer size is enough to scare even the bravest hikers!
What Do Mountain Lions Eat In Utah?
Like most carnivores, mountain lions have a diverse diet. Their favorite snack is the mule deer- which forms over 80% of their diet. However, when there is a lack of options, they will eat smaller bites like mice and rabbits. In Utah, they have been known to feast on skunks and porcupines too!
Mountain lions are called ambush hunters because they use skill and tactics to trap their prey. A hungry mountain lion hides behind trees or rocks and patiently waits. When an ignorant animal walks by, they begin to silently stalk them. Then “bam!” A surprise attack from behind. Within seconds, the mountain lion’s lunch is done and dusted.
After they’re done with their meal, mountain lions bury the carcasses of their prey. This keeps the meat safe from scavengers like crows and vultures.
Can You Kill A Mountain Lion In Utah?
Yes, you can kill mountain lions in Utah. Mountain lions were once considered a big game across the country. Many states offered bounties for them. They were killed for money and to protect farms and livestock.
In 2023, the governor of Utah signed a bill that would allow people to kill mountain lions all year long. This law is called HB 469. According to the law, they can be hunted at any time of the year, as long as the hunters have a viable hunting license.
This was passed because many people, including the governor, believe that Utah has too many mountain lions. However, large numbers of wildlife conservationists and big-cat lovers disagree.
Also, Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions In the U.S.
Can You Trap A Mountain Lion In Utah?
Before 2023, Utah had a set hunting season for mountain lions. They could only be hunted during those few months. There was also a limit on how many kills you could have per year. Using traps wasn’t allowed, no matter what.
However, the passing of HB 469 made it legal for hunters to trap mountain lions. As long as they have the required permits, they can use snares, cage traps, or other types. This law is being contested by many wildlife foundations. On the bright side, hunters are not allowed to trap kittens, mothers with kittens, or mountain lions with tracking collars.
What To Do If You See A Mountain Lion In Utah?
Mountain lions freely roam different parts of Utah. If you hike or walk through uninhabited regions, you may cross paths with one.
The first step to staying safe in a cougar area is to recognize signs of their presence. As mentioned before, mountain lions bury the carcasses of their prey. So spotting such a thing would indicate that there could be one nearby. Other signs of a mountain lion include their paw prints.
If you see a mountain lion, there are ways you can scare it off. You need to do everything you can to look like the bigger predator. This includes standing up taller, flailing your arms about, and shouting at the top of your voice. Whatever you do, do not bend down or run away in panic.
This, of course, is if the mountain pays any attention to you in the first place. They want to avoid humans as much as possible. Mostly, if unbothered, they go away on their own.
What Big Cats Are In Utah?
Utah is a paradise for wild cat lovers. There are three species native to the state- mountain lions, bobcats, and the Canadian lynx. Bobcats and mountain lions have made the whole state their home. Lynx, on the other hand, are mostly found in the northern forest areas.
All three of them belong to the loner cat club. They’re solitary, secretive, and share a similar diet. They’re hard to spot since they prefer nighttime to daytime.
Out of the three, the lynx is the rarest sight, since it’s considered an endangered species. Unless you’re a regular camper or hiker, you may not see them. However, for safety purposes, it’s better to know what they look like.
Bobcats and lynx are medium-sized cats. Bobcats have reddish-brownish fur with spots. Their ears are tufted. Unlike mountain lions, they have short tails- barely six inches long. Their “bobbed” tails are what give them their name.
Lynx, specifically the Canadian lynx, are usually tan or brown. They are covered with black spots, just like bobcats. The main difference is that their ears and tails are slightly longer.
Each of these cats has become a feline symbol of Utah. Spotting one in the wild, although scary, would definitely be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Also, Read About Mountain Lions In Texas
And that was everything about the Mountain Lion In Utah. I hope this article answers all your questions.