Mountain Lion In California: Everything You Need To Know

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Amin Tawar

Mountain Lion In California
Mountain Lion In California: Everything You Need To Know

With the wide variety of habitats deserts, mountains, forests, and wetlands, the state of California paints a beautiful picture of nature’s wonders. The state is therefore also home to a wide range of unique wildlife ranging from Gray wolves to California Condor.

So, it’s no surprise that the state also has a number of Mountain lions in the wild. Their presence across the state makes it significant for people to have at least some information on these resilient creatures. 

Knowing about these creatures’ role in their ecosystem, their typical characteristics, and their number in the state helps us to follow precautions but also pushes us to support the States’ conservation efforts.

Below I’ve explained all the things you need to know about Mountain lions in California.

Are There Any Mountain Lions in California?

Yes, there is a good population of mountain lions across the state of California. 

Though there is no precise population count of mountain lions, as per the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the subadult population of these creatures ranges from 4000 to 6000 individuals. 

These estimates have been made through scientific models, and data collected from numerous studies that include tracking, and camera traps. 

While these numbers can vary and the actual number of mountain lions may be difficult to confirm with certainty, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife continues to study and monitor the lion populations to ensure their conservation.

Where Do Mountain Lions Live in California?

Mountain Lion In California
Mountain Lion In California: Everything You Need To Know

Mountain lions in California occupy most of their historical range that includes a range of habitats like forests and even suburban fringes near wilderness. 

Regions, where these creatures can be found, include the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Coastal Mountain ranges of central and southern coasts, mountains of southern California, Deserts in the southeast part of the state, and even near urban areas.

As mountain lions in general are elusive and avoid human encounters, it is always safer and better to try observing them in the wild via national parks, wildlife preserves, and other protected areas where they are confirmed to inhabit.

Also Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions IN US

California Mountain Lion Size?

It’s important to note that similar to other animals, mountain lions from one region vary from those in other regions due to numerous factors. 

For example, panthers in Florida are smaller than those in California due to differences in the subspecies of panthers in each location. Other factors include availability and type of habitat, type, and availability of prey, and genetics. 

In California, these apex predators, exhibit size befitting their name. The adult male weighs from 120 to 200 pounds while adult females weigh from 80 to 130 pounds. 

In terms of length, similar to weight, females are smaller and shorter measuring 6 to 7 feet in length, while their male counterparts measure 7 to 9 feet in length. 

Are Mountain Lions A Problem in California?

Mountain lions have an especially significant role in the ecosystem of California as Apex predators, Though, they aren’t a problem inherently, there can be occasional conflicts between humans and these creatures in human-dominated areas.

Due to the increase in urbanization, there are now more chances to see these mountain lions due to habitat loss. Some mountain lions also get used to human presence around them and prefer to hunt in residential areas preying on livestock like cattle and cows. 

This brings them into conflict with people in the locality. Moreover, when preys are scarce in their habitat, these wild creatures may also pose a threat to the humans living around the areas, especially small children. 

However, it is important to note that these cases are exceedingly rare and since 1890, only a few attacks on people have been reported with 6 of them resulting in fatality. 

While mountain lions avoid human contact, it is always safer to follow precautions especially if you live in or near mountain lion habitats. Precautions include removing dense vegetation from around the home and deer-proofing the landscape.

Can You Hunt Mountain Lions in California?

No, you cannot hunt mountain lions in California without valid permits and licenses. As per the California Wildlife Protection Act 1990, mountain lions in California are designated “specially protected mammals” thereby making it illegal to hunt/ kill mountain lions in the state. 

However, exceptions to this include when a depredation permit is issued to take a lion that has killed a livestock/pet, to improve and maintain public safety, and to protect listed bighorn sheep. It is important to note that even under these exemptions, the hunt can be done only by government/state agents and not by the public.

Can You Own Mountain Lions in California?

No, we cannot possess or own a mountain lion in California. Similar to laws in other states, it’s illegal to possess wild and exotic animals like mountain lions without valid permits and licenses in the state of California. 

Exceptions include possession in Zoos, wildlife sanctuaries, rescue shelters, education institutes, and research institutes. 

While even private owners can own them if they agree to go through the exhaustive selection process, it is not safe and worth owning a mountain lion as a pet. 

These wild creatures are dangerous, unpredictable and require extensive special care. 

Moreover, even with training in captivity, these resilient creatures retain many of their evolutionary features and are potentially a threat to owners, their pets, and their neighborhood.

Also Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions In LA


And that was everything you need to know about the Mountain Lion in California. I hope this article was informative enough and your queries were answered.

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