Big cats, small cats, wild cats, tame cats. The cat family is extremely diverse, from the cheetahs and lions to the tiny tabbies and Persians. Let’s talk about one cat in particular- the mountain lion.
Mountain lions are wild cats indigenous to the Americas. You can also call them pumas, cougars, panthers, catamounts, or ghost cats. They are nocturnal hunters that love to eat deer. They hunt in and roam around forests, mountains, swamps, and even prairies.
Let’s find out if they reside in the state of Wyoming!
Are There Mountain Lions In Wyoming?
According to Wyoming wildlife experts, there are native mountain lions living in the state of Wyoming.
Mountain lions were once commonly seen throughout the United States. Nearly every state had a native population until humans came along. Mountain lions would wander into human settlements and attack their livestock. This caused humans to retaliate by hunting them for bounty, game, and for fur. The killing became so out of control that many states lost their mountain lion population.
Wyoming is one of the few states that still has a mountain lion population. Other states include Utah, Montana, and Idaho. Florida is the only eastern state that has retained its eastern cougars population- the Florida panthers.
How Many Mountain Lions Live In Wyoming?
Wyoming has a pretty decent number of cougars. Approximately 2,000 cougars are found in different parts of the state. We say approximately because it’s almost impossible to calculate the exact numbers.
Mountain lions are very difficult to track down. Firstly, they are solitary and never move around in groups, except for mothers and their kittens. Secondly, they steer clear of humans as much as possible. They opt for isolated regions to expand their territories.
The entire country has about 20,000 to 40,000 cougars (again, a large difference owing to the difficulty of tracking them). More than 90% of these cougars are found in the western parts of the country.
Where Do Mountain Lions Live In Wyoming?
Although they are rare to spot, mountain lions are widespread throughout the state. Mountain lions, in general, prefer rocky, forested areas with cliffs or steep slopes. However, they have no issue adapting to other environments.
Wyoming has many mountain ranges and national parks. Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park are known to house a few cougars. They are also found in the Black Hills, situated in the northeastern part of the state.
In the south, they are concentrated in the pinyon-juniper woodlands. Recently, they have started exploring some of the marginal areas as well- where wilderness meets suburban life. This had led to an increase in sightings in and around human habitation.
How Common Are Mountain Lions In Wyoming?
Wyoming is a large state, and has a proportionate size of mountain lions as well. The 2,000 or so cougars that live there are spread across the state. Recent studies have shown that there are an estimated 1.7 lions per 38 square miles (100 square kilometers).
Although they are common, seeing them isn’t. Mountain lion sightings are rare in any state, due to the cat’s very nature. However, Wyoming has had quite a few of them. There have been numerous sightings in 2023, in places like Gilette, Cheyenne, and Natrona County.
Also, Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions In the U.S.
How Big Are Mountain Lions In Wyoming?
An interesting fact about mountain lions is that their size varies depending on where they’re found! Cougars that live near the equator are often smaller than cougars that are found up north and down south.
In the United States, including Wyoming, the average size of males is around 6-8 feet, with a weight of around 120-140 pounds. Females are slightly shorter and lighter, usually weighing around 100-120 pounds.
The puma’s scientific name (puma concolor) comes from the fact that pumas have a single colored coat- usually tan or tawny. Concolor is Latin for “of the same color.” Their underbellies are whitish, and the tips of their tails may be black.
Can You Shoot A Mountain Lion In Wyoming?
Yes, you can shoot a mountain lion in Wyoming. While most states classify mountain lions as endangered, Wyoming has deemed them “trophy game animals.” This means that mountain lions can be hunted during the season- which is usually from September to March. Hunters can use any legal firearm or archery equipment. Hound hunting is also permitted.
Mountain lions that attack a landowner’s property can also be killed by said owner. In case of public and personal safety, you can shoot a mountain lion if it attacks you or someone in your vicinity.
What Other Big Cats Live In Wyoming?
Wyoming has the infamous Yellowstone National Park, among other beautiful natural landscapes. It is home to numerous wild animals, including three different wild cats. One of these is the mountain lion, while the other two are the bobcats and the Canada Lynx.
Canada lynx have evolved to thrive in snow-covered areas. Their paws almost act like snowshoes- and help them hunt for their prey- the snowshoe hare. Lynx have lived in Wyoming for a very long time, especially in Yellowstone National Park, the Sierra Madres, and Snowy Range. However, they are more elusive than their cougar friends, and haven’t been spotted for many years.
Bobcats are found throughout Wyoming. They hunt prey ranging from tiny rats to mid-sized deer. Bobcats and related to the Canada lynx, and share many physical similarities.
Also, Read About Mountain Lions In West Virginia
And that was everything about the Mountain Lions in Wyoming. I hope this article answers all your questions.