Mountain lions are the most widely distributed big cats in the United States but trying to see them in the eastern states is like trying to spot unicorns or a UFO. Overhunting and loss of habitat years ago had made these predators restricted to the western side of the country alone. But Can we see them in Vermont? Let’s find out.
Are There Mountain Lions In Vermont?
According to Vermont wildlife experts, there are no native mountain lion species living in the state of Vermont.
Mountain lions prowl around the westernmost states of the US but rarely venture east. What about all the sightings that get regularly reported then? Well, Vermont is pretty close to Canada and we know that Canada has mountain lions. So they might be traveling from there. After all, mountain lions don’t recognize state or national boundaries.
We shouldn’t include visiting mountain lions in a state’s official count. A solitary mountain lion (most of them young males searching for mates) often goes wandering far from their home territories. But it doesn’t make them a citizen of the state any more than an American visiting Italy becomes a citizen of Italy.
Mountain lions are kind of famously extinct in Vermont. The last example of them is displayed in stuffed form at Montpelier. Killed in 1881 by a hunter named Alexander Crowell, there’s even a black-and-white photograph of the dead animal lying beside his killer.
Where Can You See Mountain Lions In Vermont?
Mountain lions have been declared extinct in Vermont since 2018 but people still report sightings from time to time. If there are mountain lions in Vermont, where do they live?
Vermont’s got a lot of forest cover, which makes for a great mountain lion hideout. These animals capture their prey by ambush and don’t do well with open ground.
There have been reports of sightings from many of the Vermont counties, especially towards the north. In 2022, residents of Waterbury were convinced a mountain lion had passed through the town (which lies on a natural wildlife corridor). The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department are big skeptics though. They say they’ve seen no signs of the big cats.
Mountain Lion Sightings In Vermont
The wildlife department says they get reports of 50 to 75 sightings every year. Officials then become detectives as they try to figure out what these sightings were really about. Most of the time, people are just seeing the bobcat, the Canada lynx, a coyote, a fox, or a light-colored domestic dog. Yes, they’re much smaller than the mountain lion but size is difficult to make out on blurry photographs. It’s an easy mistake.
There haven’t been any confirmed sightings in Vermont in a very, very long time. If the big cats were roaming around the state, they’d leave tracks, hair and scat samples, carcasses, and even their mortal remains.
But they don’t. Sadly, we can conclude that there haven’t been any mountain lion sightings in Vermont in decades. If you think you’ve seen a mountain lion, your eyes might just be tricking you.
How Big Are Mountain Lions In Vermont?
Mountain lions can get pretty big in size. They’re some of the biggest predators in the Americas, with adult males weighing around 150 pounds and adult females 100 pounds. They can be about two meters long.
But don’t worry, half of that is just their super long tails. Their shoulders stand at almost 1 meter in height. It doesn’t sound like you want to come face-to-face with one all of a sudden, does it? These creatures are both powerful and agile and also very, very quiet.
Also, Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions In the U.S.
Can You Shoot a Mountain Lion In Vermont?
Mountain lions are considered a protected animal in most of the US states. You shouldn’t shoot a mountain lion if you come across one. They’re an endangered species, after all (mostly due to indiscriminate hunting). And they don’t generally attack humans or livestock so you’d be shooting them for no reason.
In extreme cases where a lion is preying on your animals, you’re permitted to shoot them. But wildlife officials don’t condone that. There are other ways of protecting your cattle and keeping mountain lions away.
What To Do If You See a Mountain Lion In Vermont?
First and foremost, leave it alone. A wild mountain lion probably doesn’t want to disturb you or even interact with you. They’re scared of humans and tend to stay away from urban areas.
If you see one crossing your property, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience. Just keep your distance and enjoy it. The Fish and Wildlife Department likes physical evidence so take a picture to show it to them.
Panicking and trying to run from a mountain lion isn’t a smart idea (it’s much faster than you). If you encounter one face-to-face, it’s probably just as surprised as you are. Your tactic should be to scare it away instead of running yourself. Stand your ground, keep eye contact, and be loud and the animal’s likely to quickly slink away.
What Other Big Cats Live In Vermont?
That leads to the question, what exactly are big cats? Most people agree it’s the five that belong to the Panthera genus – lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, and snow leopards – along with cheetahs and cougars. If so, there’s an easy answer to the first question. None of the big cats live in Vermont.
The wild cats that do live in Vermont (and that people mistake for big cats) are the bobcat and the Canada lynx. They’re much smaller in size, and have flatter faces and shorter tails but in a moment of excitement, you might not realize it. They’re also pretty shy so they don’t stick around for you to verify it.
Also, Read About Mountain Lions In Utah
And that was everything about the mountain lion in Vermont. I hope this article answers all your questions.