Mountain Lions Making A Comeback Across The US

Mountain lions are experiencing a resurgence across the United States, spreading faster and farther than many realize. These adaptable predators, once driven to near extinction by hunting and habitat loss, now have an estimated population between 20,000 and 40,000 according to state game agencies. The Mountain Lion Foundation suggests the number is closer to 30,000, highlighting their recovery.

Primarily found in the western states, mountain lions inhabit a range of environments from the dense forests of the Pacific Northwest to the deserts of the Southwest. States like California, Colorado, and Arizona have notable populations, supported by conservation efforts aimed at reducing human-wildlife conflicts and preserving habitats.

Interestingly, sightings are not limited to the West. Eastern states such as Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Tennessee, and Wisconsin have reported confirmed mountain lion sightings. These instances suggest that breeding populations may exist east of the Mississippi River, indicating a broader distribution than previously thought.

Mountain lions are highly adaptable, thriving in various habitats, from rainforests to arid regions. In California, hunting bans have led to decreased fear of humans among these big cats, resulting in more frequent sightings near human dwellings. This lack of fear can lead to dangerous encounters.

Understanding how to respond to mountain lion encounters is crucial for safety. Making oneself appear larger and more intimidating by raising arms and shouting can deter an attack. If armed, firing a warning shot into the ground can often scare the animal away, though readiness to use the weapon if necessary is wise. Awareness of one’s surroundings and acknowledging that humans are part of the natural ecosystem are essential to avoiding negative interactions.

The return of mountain lions to their historical ranges is a positive sign for biodiversity. However, it requires humans to adapt and learn how to coexist safely with these predators. Mountain lions, along with other wildlife like coyotes and black bears, are reclaiming their habitats, reminding us of the importance of living in harmony with nature.