There are two distinct and fairly isolated populations dispersals for juvenile females. Adult male Some signs of mountain lion presence include large within the United States, one is in the Florida territories will rarely overlap another male's territory tracks (3-5 inches wide) without claw marks; food Everglades, i.e., the Florida Panther (puma concolor but may overlap several female territories. caches, where a kill has been partially eaten and coryi) and the other is located throughout the Adult female territories may overlap to some extent then covered with brush and dirt; scrapes in soft dirt mountain west. and adult females may be accompanied by kittens or leaf litter, and claw marked trees & logs. but normally female lions do not associate with In the 48 contiguous states, 27 states have had other adult animals except for mating purposes. physical evidence of mountain lions in the past 18 years and 16 states now have established The mountain lion does not require a cave to raise a populations. While mountain lions are usually litter. The average litter size is two kittens, but, absent from areas heavily impacted by human litter sizes of three, four and as large as six have development, urban sprawl and shrinking habitat are been found. Kittens are born yellowish brown with increasing the number of conflicts between humans irregular rows of black spots. Mountain lions may and mountain lions. Although there is little physical breed at any time of the year and consequently evidence of mountain lions in states east of the litters may be born in any month although summer Missouri river other than Florida, it is believed that is considered the peak period of kitten births. Young mountain lions are increasing in population and are remain with the mother for 15 to 22 months Older Lion print Cell photo courtesy Matthew once again returning to their historic territories. learning the skills necessary for survival. Lucas
Mountain lions are well adapted to a wide range of Mountain lions are often just passing through, but Lion Prints from the Nebraska Pine Ridge 2008 environments, mostly rugged, and among those are may visit an area to get food, water, or shelter and (Hand width @ base of fingers: 3.5 inches) coniferous or deciduous forests, deserts, mountains, may return repeatedly if these items are available. If badlands, rain forest, and swamp areas. To survive food, water, and shelter are not available, mountain cougars have three main requirements: cover; lions generally move on to other areas more quickly. Physical Characteristics enough large prey (most commonly deer), and space. If these are not available, mountain lions The mountain lion diet consists primarily of deer generally move on to other areas quickly. Lions will (both whitetail deer and/or mule deer), but their • COLOR: Tan or reddish brown to dusky or slate gray coat use washes, draws, and river/creek drainages to natural diet will also include a wide variety of other Mountain Lion track graphic courtesy of Nebraska TAIL LENGTH: 24- to 36-inch tail, or move through populated areas to more remote animals, including elk and bighorn sheep, and Game and Parks Commission website: • about 2/3 of body length, white underneath areas and occasionally may even venture onto the smaller wildlife species such as rabbit, turkey, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/wildlife/mountainlion with a dark brown or black tip plains. Such movements are necessary to prevent raccoon and porcupine. WEIGHT: 60-180 pounds (males usually problems with inbreeding and local extinction Note: The 3-lobed heel pad print is visible in the • up to 40% larger than females) associated with habitat fragmentation. An example Lion Kill Characteristics track below of an isolated population would be the Florida • HEIGHT: 25-32 inches tall at the shoulder
Panther. (similar to a German shepherd dog) Mountain lions kill large prey species with regularity, • LENGTH: 5 1/2 to more than 8 feet long usually one deer-sized animal is killed every six to As very specialized top predators, these animals • LIFE SPAN: Live up to 13 years in the 12 days. Considerable skill to stalk and kill prey is consequently do not normally exist in high wild, and up to 20 years in captivity required to avoid debilitating injury to the lion. concentrations and are usually solitary, unless it is a • Can jump 20 feet vertically and 40 feet female with young. Territorially they maintain horizontally in a single bound. Walking A lion kill will often have puncture wounds on the spatial separation between each other, thereby speed 10 mph, running speed 50 mph back of the neck or head, where the lion frequently assuring each individual has the resources necessary • Rarely make vocal noises, unless during bites the animal. There may also be other puncture to survive. If these separations are not maintained, breeding season or when threatened injuries to the neck and jugular areas. Lions do not mountain lions will kill each other, the natural • Territory sizes range from 25 to 700 square chew ears off a carcass and will begin eating in the method of population regulation for undisturbed miles; males range more widely than stomach area directly behind the ribs. Lions will try populations. females to pluck or trim the hair from around the area where • In general, the distribution of mountain they first start to feed. The cryptic system of boundary marking employed lions corresponds with the distribution of its by resident mountain lions serves to provide for major prey species, deer (both whitetail Mountain lions often attempt to cover the uneaten mutual avoidance and survival. The cryptic system deer and/or mule deer). This is not true for portion of a kill with leaves, sticks, dirt, snow or utilizes one, some, or all of the following actions the eastern half of the US where mountain other debris. An entire deer can be consumed in two Young Lion print Cell photo courtesy Matthew usually done repeatedly over time within a territory: lions have been eliminated. Lion natural nights. A lion with a large territory to defend may Lucas scrapes, urination, defecation, or rubbing (which is diets will also include a wide variety of make several kills as it travels from one area to the done with the face and/or flank) on an object. other animals, such as elk, bighorn sheep, next while patrolling and defending his territory. A rabbit, turkey, raccoon and porcupine. conscientious observer is usually able to detect the Essentially solitary animals, as juveniles, males tend presence of mountain lion in an area through the to disperse longer distances searching for new Although considered predators capable of seriously presence of tracks, scrapes, scat, kills, or other sign. territory as compared to the relatively short injuring or killing humans, mountain lion attacks on humans are extremely rare but do occasionally • Report all mountain lion attacks to 911. Report Remember, It is important to occur. Normally shy and elusive, people don’t often all mountain lion encounters, attacks, plus Mountain Lions see them, but, conflicts can happen when a sightings in urban areas, to both local keep wildlife wild: live in the mountain lion has become accustomed to people, authorities and game management. Also call such as when a lion hunts near where people live or game management authorities if severe Nebraska Panhandle recreate, and when lions kill livestock or other property damage has occurred or if there is • Remove whatever will attract domestic animals. possession of a live mountain lion. mountain lions.
In North America, roughly 25 fatalities and 95 • If people regularly see a mountain lion nonfatal attacks have been reported during the past If you live in mountain lion in a particular area, it may mean the 100 years. However, more attacks have been country, around your home – reported in the western United States and Canada animal represents a public safety risk. over the past 20 years than in the previous 80. The DO: • In some cases, the local wildlife risk of a mountain lion attack is small, but real; authorities may remove a mountain children are most at risk. • Make noise when you’re outside. • Avoid feeding wildlife lions might consider a lion that presents an imminent threat If you live or recreate in lion country, remain aware prey species. By feeding deer, elk, turkey or to human safety. of your surroundings and take steps to minimize other wildlife in your yard, you may risks to yourself, your family, and pets. inadvertently attract the mountain lions which prey upon them. If you should have an • Trim landscaping around your home. Remove dense and low-lying vegetation especially encounter with a mountain around children’s play areas as this can provide lion: good hiding places for mountain lions and other predators,
• Closely supervise children whenever they play • Do not approach the animal. Most mountain outdoors, especially in rugged country between lions will try to avoid a confrontation. dusk and dawn and at night. • Give them a way to escape. • Talk with children about mountain lions and • Do not run from a mountain lion. Stand and teach them what to do if they encounter one. face the animal. Running may stimulate the • Keep dogs, cats, poultry, rabbits, rodents and mountain lion’s instinct to chase. other domestic animals indoors in a secure • Make and maintain eye contact and slowly back building or in a secure enclosure with a sturdy away toward a building, vehicle, or busy area. roof. Always walk pets on a leash. Roaming • Stay calm and speak loudly and firmly. pets are easy prey for hungry mountain lions For on-line information on • Remain standing and face the animal. A and other predators. mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or mountain lions in this area you • Do not feed pets outside and keep their food neck. Do not bend over in the presence of a inside; feeding pets outside can attract can visit any of the websites mountain lion. A bent over position makes you raccoons, rabbits, porcupine, and other look more like natural prey. listed below: mountain lion prey. PHOTO: Dean Studnicka, Wildlife Division, • Try to appear larger. Raise your arms. Open • Install outdoor lighting and keep the house your jacket if you are wearing one. Wave your Nebraska Game and Parks Commission perimeter well lit at night, especially along arms slowly. http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/wildlife/mountainlion walkways, to keep any approaching lions visible. The mountain lion (felis puma concolor), is also • Fight back if attacked. Many potential victims • Use of bright lights, flashing white lights, blaring have fought back successfully with rocks, sticks, http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies called cougar, puma, painter, catamount, screamer, music, barking dogs, and changes in the caps, jackets, garden tools, their bare hands, panther, ghost cat, and in addition has many North, placement of motion sensor operated scarecrow and even mountain bikes. Throw stones, http://gfp.sd.gov/wildlife/critters/mammals/mountai Central, and South American native language objects can repel mountain lions. Motion sensor branches, or whatever you can reach without n-lion names. It is the second largest cat native to all the activated sprinklers, lighting, and inflatable crouching or turning your back. The idea is to American continents (the Jaguar is the largest). The scarecrows startle the animals when activated. convince the lion that you are not easy prey and http://gf.state.wy.us/mountainlion mountain lion occurs only in the western • For shelter, mountain lions might make use of that you may be a danger to it. . hemisphere and historically had one of the most cave-like areas beneath sheds, unused extensive ranges of any land mammal, from the • Hike or walk in groups. Always hike with pets http://www.cougarnet.org buildings, and storm drains. Close or patch-up on a leash. Straights of Magellan in South America to the any potential mountain lion shelter. Canadian Yukon. • When hiking always keep children in front of http://www.mountainlion.org Always work with your neighbors for a you on the trail. • consistent solution. The major reduction in mountain lion distribution • Pick small children and pets up (so they don’t panic and run) without bending over or turning has come as a result of elimination from areas of away from the mountain lion. their historic range in the eastern United States and Canada.