Mountain Lion In Virginia: Everything You Need To Know

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Amin Tawar

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

Virginia state is known for its variety of habitats. From the Enchanting forests to coastal delights, Virginia’s wide range of landscapes inhabits various terrestrial and marine life. What about the mountain lions? 

Mountain lions are one of the most secretive and solitary wild creatures found in North America. But are there in Virginia? 

Below I’ve explained all the things you need to know about the presence of mountain lions in the state of Virginia, the legalities of mountain lion ownership, and a few information on the presence of other big cats in the state.

Are There Any Mountain Lions in Virginia?

Once known to roam the wild landscapes of Virginia, mountain lions are currently not found in the state. As in most other states of the U.S., mountain lions were eradicated from Virginia by the late 1800s due to loss of habitat, constant hunting, and bounties including unavailability of prey in the wild.

While there have been occasional sightings of these beasts in the wild, none of these sights confirm a breeding/ established population of mountain lions in the state. These reports are believed to be due to mountain lions dispersing from nearby states in search of mates. 

Though about 121 reports have been made, these could easily consist of repeated sightings of the same mountain lion. Additionally, these mountain lions could also have escaped from captivity. 

Although you can no longer observe these resilient creatures in the wild landscapes of Virginia, the future may have something else in store. As various states have begun reintroduction of these creatures, Virginia could soon be one of these.

Can You Own a Mountain Lion in Virginia?

No, you cannot own a mountain lion in Virginia. Cougars are native to the state and due to their rapid decline in the past, the creature is designated as protected under Virginia law. 

It is therefore prohibited to possess a mountain lion and other exotic/wild animals in the state without a valid license or permit. In fact, these permits and licenses are issued only to zoos, wildlife sanctuaries, or research institutes for educational and research purposes. 

Private owners may have to submit an extensive list of proofs and may still not get a permit.

In addition to Virginia laws, it is also not safe to own mountain lions or any wild creature as a pet. While these creatures may be controllable during captivity, these creatures are known to revert back to their evolutionary behaviors and are therefore unpredictable. 

While mountain lions try to avoid human contact, they do prey on livestock and small domesticated dogs and cats which may bring them in conflict with people.

Therefore, instead of trying to own a mountain lion, observe them in the wild through wildlife sanctuaries, zoos, etc., where you can have nearby contact at a safe distance.

Can You Kill a Mountain Lion in Virginia?

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

No, you cannot kill a mountain lion in Virginia without the necessary permits and licenses. 

As mountain lions are categorized as protected in the state, it is illegal to kill/harm or hurt the creatures intentionally in the state except as an act of self-defense or as a defense for others when life is under threat from these fierce wild creatures. 

You can breathe a sigh of relief due to their lack of presence in the state However, mountain lions are apex predators who keep their ecosystem in balance and therefore might be reintroduced in the future. 

Due to these conservation efforts, chances are you may encounter a few of mountain lions nearby. If they seem to be habituated to your surrounding or exhibit potentially dangerous behaviors, report the incident to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources so that necessary actions can be taken up by the team.

Also Check Our Guide On Mountain Lions IN US

What State Has the Most Mountain Lions?

The state of California is a prime example of how when public and state authorities come together for wildlife conservation, the initiatives are successful. 

Currently, while many states like Montana, and Colorado have few population mountain lions, California has the largest number of these creatures ranging from 4000 to 6000 individuals.

Due to California’s wide variety of landscapes and availability of prey population, the mountain lions in the state continue to grow and thrive. Due to public pressure, the state has taken various measures to improve and maintain the mountain lion population. This also includes specific conservation programs and regulations.

Are There Any Big Cats in Virginia?

With stubby tails and their characteristic tufts, bobcats are the only species of big cats currently residing in the state. Weighing between 9 to 33 pounds, these creatures are smaller than mountain lions however are known to take down prey about 8 times their size which makes them extremely good hunters. 

In general, these creatures’ diet includes rabbits, squirrels, and sometimes even deer when there is a scarcity of other prey. Similar to mountain lions, bobcats prefer secluded habitats away from the human population like Great Dismal Swamp and the mountains. 

Also Check Our Guide On Mountain Lion In Texas


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

Thank You For reading!

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