Mountain Lion In New Hampshire: Everything You Need To Know

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Amin Tawar

Mountain Lion In New Hampshire

From black bears to coyotes, New Hampshire is home to a number of distinct mammals. The list also includes a few big cats like Bobcats and Canadian Lynx. But what about the majestic and mysterious mountain lions? 

Below I’ve explained all the things you need to know about the mountain lion’s existence in the state, including legalities related to their ownership and hunting.

Are There Mountain Lion In New Hampshire?

No, there are no established breeding population of mountain lions in the state. 

Also widely referred to as cougars or puma, mountain lions once roamed the state of New Hampshire unperturbed. However, soon after Europeans came and settled in North America, most of the mountain lions disappeared or migrated to nearby states. 

While there have been several sightings of these creatures, the official statement from the state is that there are no mountain lions left in the state. It is worthwhile to note that although there are no mountain lions currently, they may come back to the state in the future. 

When Was the Last Mountain Lion Killed In New Hampshire?

While it is difficult to precisely say when the last mountain was killed, as per New Hampshire Fish and game authority, the last mountain lion was killed in 1853. It is displayed at the Woodman Museum in Dover.

These shy and resilient creatures were exterminated from the state in the late 1800s. Since the last few decades, mountain lions have been occasionally seen in a few regions of New Hampshire. 

However, it is believed that these are new individuals migrating from nearby western states in search of food and mate. While they may have been seen in the state, they are not from New Hampshire.

Mountain Lion Sightings In New Hampshire?

Mountain Lion In New Hampshire

Yes, there have been a few mountain lion sightings reported by the public in New Hampshire. However, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department haven’t confirmed any sightings due to the unavailability of valid evidence. 

The department heavily depends on physical evidence which includes verifiable pictures, Scat, and fur specimens to confirm the sightings and presence of mountain lions. However, till now there hasn’t been any valid physical evidence provided to the departments. 

Although some pictures were provided, they were of bobcats, house cats or in the worst cases, pictures of mountain lions downloaded from the internet. Additionally, even fur specimens provided turned out to be of bobcats, coyotes, house dogs and racoons. 

While the department can’t ignore the reports without physical evidence, these sightings cannot however be confirmed and remain in the large file of unverified sightings.

So, if you do see a mountain lion, first go as far as possible, try to collect photographic evidence and report it to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.

Also Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions IN US

Can You Own a Mountain Lion In New Hampshire?

Under state and federal laws, mountain lions are designated as wild exotic animals and therefore cannot be owned. While as explained in previous sections, mountain lions are currently not found in the state, these creatures if brought from other states too cannot be owned in New Hampshire. Overall, it is illegal to own, transfer or possess mountain lions in the state.

Exceptions to this include zoos, wildlife sanctuaries, educational institutes and research facilities which are allowed to possess mountain lions for education purposes with permit and licence.

While mountain lions are shy and avoid humans, when in captive these animals may exhibit dangerous behaviours which may be dangerous not only to owners and their pets but also to neighbours. 

Additionally, while you may be curious to own a mountain lion, it is always safer to observe them in wildlife sanctuaries and zoos where you can look closer at them by maintaining a safe distance.

Can You Shoot a Mountain Lion In New Hampshire?

No, you cannot shoot a mountain lion in New Hampshire. As there are no available population of these creatures in the state, no hunting or gaming seasons are organized. Additionally, due to this no permits or licenses are issued to hunt a mountain lion in New Hampshire.

While you can’t kill them as a sport, you can shoot them if your or your pet’s life is in danger. Also, such killings must be immediately reported to the Fish and Game Department of NH.

Are There Any Big Cats In New Hampshire?

While there are no big cats like lions, tigers, or leopards, in New Hampshire, there have been occasional sightings of big cats which have escaped from captivity. 

It is important to note that it is forbidden to own big cats in the state as pets. Private ownership of such creatures is heavily regulated and requires special permits and licences.

There are, however, populations of bobcats and Canadian Lynx in the state. These are medium-sized cats and are sometimes not referred to big cats in a few states. While they are much smaller than mountain lions, they do resemble them. 

Bobcats are also one of the reasons for the various mountain lion sightings as they are sometimes mistaken for mountain lions. While bobcats weigh only 30 pounds on average, mountain lions are much bigger weighing an average of 200 pounds.

Canadian Lynx are much rarer and smaller than bobcats. Their main differences are in their tales – bobcats have squarish tales and lynxes have shorter tails with a solid black tip at the end.

Also Check Our Guide On Mountain Lion In Michigan


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

Thank You For Reading!

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