Mountain Lion In Kentucky: Everything You Need To Know

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Amin Tawar

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

In 2014, a state officer killed a mountain lion in Bourbon County. The officer worked for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. While the officer did kill the mountain lion as per the rules, some conservationists still think that it could have or should have been saved. 

Note that this has been the first sighting of a mountain lion in almost a century. While once present across the state, mountain lions were eradicated from Kentucky in the early 1900s. 

But does this sighting suggest that the apex predators are coming back? Below I’ve explained all the things you need to know about their presence in the state.

Do Mountain Lions Live in Kentucky?

No, Mountain lions currently don’t live in Kentucky. Historically, Kentucky was home to mountain lions but was eradicated after European settlement in the state due to extensive hunting, habitat loss, and prey scarcity. 

While mountain lions stay away from humans, in the past people feared these creatures due to their wild appearance, and were considered a nuisance and killed off. In fact, the last valid record of mountain lions in the state goes back to 1899.

These mountain lions have been migrating from the western region of the state into the eastern range. While there have been few sightings of them, these are either the living members in the nearby states or these are cases of misidentification.

Are There Black Mountain Lions in Kentucky?

Currently, there is no established breeding population of mountain lions in Kentucky. The eastern cougar, a subspecies of mountain lion was declared extinct by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011. 

However, there haven’t been any mountain lion subspecies with black fur in Kentucky in the past or present. If you mean the black cougars, you can find them in South America.

How Big Are Mountain Lions in Kentucky?

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

Also known as Cougars, pumas, and mountain lions are large and powerful apex predators belonging to the cat family. While any wild animal’s size depends on its environment, prey, and genetics, mountain lions that lived in Kentucky has size similar to mountain lions in other states.

While adult male lions weigh between 130 to 220 pounds, adult female lions weigh anywhere between 65 to 140 pounds making them smaller than their counterpart. Similarly, in terms of height too, adult males measure about 7-8 feet in length, whereas adult females only measure between 6-7 feet in length. 

Also Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions IN US

Mountain Lion Sightings in Kentucky?

While mountain lions have been extirpated from Kentucky, there have occasionally been a few sightings of these magnificent creatures in the state.

It is important to note that a state is declared to have certain wild animals only when a breeding female is spotted inside the state. A mountain lion just simply migrating/dispersing from nearby states will not be considered as a mountain lion population of Kentucky.

The sporadic reports sent by localities are difficult to confirm. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife is responsible to track, maintain and conserve wildlife populations including mountain lions. 

The authority has noticed that, unlike in the past, the mountains are now moving into states in the east from the west.

Is It Legal to Kill a Mountain Lion in Kentucky?

No, it is not legal to kill a mountain lion in Kentucky. As per the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, Mountain lions are protected within the late and it is therefore illegal to kill them in the wild except when your life is on the line. 

Additionally, among the sighted mountain lions in the state, most of the mountain lions belong to the nearby state’s population.

While at one time, the Mississippi River acted as a barrier protecting the East from the West, and therefore there were only a few numbers of mountain lions in the East. However, as these mountain lions have been dispersing through the state and around us, their numbers are increased. 

Even if you find a mountain lion disturbing humans in the area, contact the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. The authorities from the department will take necessary action for your safety.

What Kind of Wild Cats Are in Kentucky?

Other than mountain lions, the state also inhabits bobcats across its dense forests and other landscapes. These feline creatures are smaller than cougars weighing anywhere from 30 to 40 pounds. These big cats are currently thriving across the state so much that most of them have been misidentified as Mountain lions. 

It is important to note that, unlike mountain lions, bobcats have been confirmed to inhabit Kentucky. As the wildlife population varies from time to time, it is always important to stay in touch with or follow the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife for confirmed up-to-date information.

Also Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions In Iowa


And that was everything you need to know about the mountain lions in Kentucky. I hope this article answered all your queries.

Thank You For Reading!

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