Mountain Lion In US: Everything You Need To Know About Them

Last Updated on December 21, 2023 by Amin Tawar

Are There Mountain Lions In the USA?

Mountain Lion In US
Mountain Lion In US: Everything You Need To Know About Them

Yes, there are Mountain Lions in the U.S. Historically mountain lion was found all over North America. The species even had multiple subspecies that differed founded on location.

In the 1800s, residents feared them as they were a risk to livestock and thus they were maliciously hunted to almost eradication from the eastern US. Many conservation efforts were taken but their population kept decreasing due to unsustainable hunting, conflicts with livestock, and habitat destruction. Mountain Lion Presence in the USA

How Many Mountain Lions Are In The USA?

The population of mountain lions in the US is calculated to be 40,000 lions. However, it is quite difficult to state the exact number of the population as these cats are very nomadic and isolated.  

A few breed and stay in specific regions, but other cats move long distances to discover food. They are very nocturnal, secretive, and fantastic at dodging humans. A state can be categorized as maintaining a species only when it has a breeding, active, and self-sustaining population of mountain lions. They can be spotted in a few states, but they are moving in the state looking for prey. Estimated Mountain Lion Population in the USA

Where Are Mountain Lions In The Us?

Mountain lions have spread all over the USA, from the Canadian Border in the north to the Mexican border in the south. It is one of the greatest ranges of any living animal in the USA. 

Mountain lions occupy a vast spectrum of ecosystems, making their habitat anywhere there is food and shelter, including forests, mountains, wetlands, and deserts. They are very territorial and have inherently low inhabitants densities, which indicates the species needs large swaths of wildlife habitat to flourish.

What Is The Biggest Mountain Lion Killed In the USA?

Mountain Lion In US
Mountain Lion In US: Everything You Need To Know About Them

The biggest mountain lion caught is documented as weighed at 276 pounds. It was recorded that its skull measured at 16 4/16; the cat was killed in British Columbia, in the year 1979. Douglas E. Schuk shot the animal, with his .308 rifle. Boone and Crockett proved that the mountain lion is the record-breaking animal ever caught. 

Can I Buy A Mountain Lion In the USA?

Yes! Mountain lions can be kept as pets in the US, but there are specific legalities that must be followed. Also, they are not legal to be owned in all the states in the US. Every state has various laws about the ownership of exotic animals as pets. 21 states currently prohibit the ownership of exotic animals as pets, but Alabama, Wisconsin, and Nevada have no limitations. Mountain Lion Ownership Laws in the USA

Can you Hunt A Mountain Lion In the USA?

Not all states in the US allow the hunting of mountain lions. Every state has its own regulations about how permits are issued and the hunting season period. A few states that allow the hunting of mountain lions are Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington. 

A few states in which hunting of mountain lions is not allowed is California, Alaska, Connecticut, and Georgia. This is because these states do not have a breeding population of mountain lions in the state. 

The hunting seasons of mountain lions are different for every state and a few sometimes even by region in each state. A few states limit the number and close the hunting season when the quota is filled. States like South Dakota and Arizona have an open hunting season all year round. Mountain Lion Hunting Regulations in the USA

Mountain Lion Population In Us By State?

Arkansas, Alaska, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Missouri have a few confirmed sightings of the animals passing through the state but they do not have an established population living. Here are a few states that have an established population of mountain lions.

  • Arizona

In Arizona, there is a stable population and they live in forested regions and rocky hills. There is even controlled hunting but females with kittens cannot be killed. The Arizona Department of Game and Fish has stated the population is steady and is increasing in different regions of the state.

  • California

California has the biggest population of mountain lions in the US, initially in 1972 the species were classed as endangered animals, and banned hunting of mountain lions. Conservation groups along with the California government focused on the efforts to ensure their survival of them in the state. Today there are around 6,000 mountain lions living in the state.

  • Colorado

Colorado has the ideal habitat for these agile hunters as the state is home to dense forests, abundant wildlife, and rocky terrain that offer hiding places and prey. There are about 4,000 animals in the Colorado, the species living there are the prime mountain lion in the country.

  • Florida

Florida is home to the Florida Panther, a subspecies of mountain lion. Florida is the only state in the east that is home to a breeding population. It is also the official animal of the state. They are a threatened species, and there are about over 200 species living in the state currently.

  • Montana

Mountain lions are located throughout the state. The Montana Department of Wildlife has estimated a population of over 4,500 as more than half the state has the perfect habitat for mountain lions. This is especially in the central and western regions. 

  • Oregon

Oregon is home to over 6,000 mountain lions and their population is increasing. The mountain lion population in Oregon is very healthy and is at sustainable levels. 

  • Wyoming

The mountain lion population has been steady for years, in Wyoming, with over 2000 inhabitants living in the state. 

Check Out All the States With Mountain Lion In US

Mountain Lion Safety Tips: Protecting Yourself and Wildlife

When it comes to bumping into mountain lions out there, it ain’t an everyday thing, but it’s smart to be on your A-game just in case. Here’s the lowdown on keepin’ both you and the big cats chill, backed up by some legit sources:


  1. Stay Alert: Whether you’re hiking or camping in their hood, keep your eyes peeled. Dawn, dusk, and nighttime are like happy hour for mountain lions, so be on your toes.
  2. Make Noise: Bring along a noisemaker – like a whistle or air horn – to throw off any lurking mountain lions. Make a ruckus every now and then, especially where visibility’s as clear as mud.
  3. Travel in Groups: If you can swing it, roll with a crew. Mountain lions are less likely to roll up on a posse.
  4. Watch the Lil’ Ones: Keep a hawk-eye on the kiddos; don’t let ’em outta your sight.
  5. Avoid the Jungle: Stick to well-kept trails, skip the thick brush. Visibility’s key, my friend.

What to Do When You Cross Paths: Encounter Tips

  1. No Track Star Moves (Don’t Run): If you stumble upon a mountain lion, don’t pull a Usain Bolt. Running’s like ringing the dinner bell. Stand tall, lock eyes.
  2. Make Yourself Look Bigger: Throw your hands up, open that jacket wide, grab some sticks or rocks – anything to make yourself look like the mountain lion’s worst nightmare.
  3. Fight Back If Attacked: If push comes to shove, and a mountain lion’s throwing hands, you throw back. Grab whatever’s around – rocks, sticks, your backpack – and aim for the goods like the face, eyes, and throat.

Extra Nuggets of Wisdom:

  1. Study Up: Know your mountain lions – their habits, haunts, the whole nine. It’s like knowing the playbook; helps you dodge the awkward run-ins and react like a boss when needed.
  2. Report Encounters: If you cross paths with a mountain lion, report it to the wildlife officials. It’s like keeping tabs on the neighbors; helps ’em keep things in check.
  3. Give Respect: Remember, mountain lions are out there doing their wild thing. Show ’em some respect, give ’em space, and don’t be a bother.


And that was everything you need to know about the Mountain Lion In the US. I hope this article answered all your queries.

Thank You For Reading!

Our Sources


  • Beier, P. (1995). Dispersal of juvenile cougars in fragmented habitat. Journal of Wildlife Management, 59(2), 499-508.
  • California Department of Fish and Wildlife. (2023). Mountain lions.
  • Cougar Network. (2023). Mountain lion safety tips.
  • Kertson, B. K., Sweanor, L. L., & Marzluff, J. M. (2023). Cougar space use in relation to habitat and human influence in an urban landscape. Journal of Wildlife Management, 87(1), 181-193.
  • Mountain Lion Foundation. (2023). Mountain lion safety tips.
  • Torres, S. G., Van Deelen, T. R., & Levi, T. (2022). Human-mountain lion encounters: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Biological Conservation, 275, 109803.
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