Cougars are beautiful animals, but they are also skilled predators. They used to roam all over the United States (and other parts of the Americas). Today, however, there are far fewer mountain lions roaming the wilderness.
So, if they’re not as common as we’ve been led to believe, where do they live? One of the states with a large population of big cats is Texas. However, it’s helpful to learn more about felines before delving into that particular group. Below we provide a brief overview of what cougars are and the types of habitats they frequent. Then we dig into the cougars in Texas.
What is a Mountain Lion?
Cougar (cougar) is one of the largest land mammals in the Western Hemisphere. They are relatively slender and usually weigh between 70-170 pounds, but they can grow up to 225 pounds. Beautiful pussy is also very long. Their bodies average 3-4 feet in length and their tails can be up to 3 feet long. However, they can grow up to 9 feet long (including their tails).
Conversations about mountain lions can be confusing because they have so many different names. You know cougars by name depending on which part of the country or world you live in. They are commonly referred to as panthers, cougars, cougars, and pumas.
mountain lion habitat
Big cats have a very wide range of habitats. They are primarily concerned with the nature and abundance of food available. Cougars prefer to chase larger prey, such as deer. But they also hunt smaller animals when needed. Some of the smaller prey for cougars include coyotes, javelins, rabbits and raccoons. While they don’t usually hunt livestock or pets, they won’t hesitate to kill unprotected animals.
Cougars live in forests, wetlands, deserts and mountains. You might spot these amazing animals wandering rocky outcrops at sea level, or hiding behind boulders as high as 10,000 feet. They prefer areas with bushes, trees, or rocks, as these are all easy to hide from stealthy hunters.
These felines are primarily solitary animals. They come together to mate, and the females nurse their young until they are old enough to venture away. Their territories are fairly large, with males covering more territory than females. Adult males have been known to roam up to 100 square miles. Females, however, insist on a stricter territory. Their range is between 20 and 60 square miles.
Where do cougars live around the world?
Cougars are the most widespread of all animals in the West. Historically, they roamed throughout the Americas. Cougars are found as far north as the Yukon. as far south as Chile. Currently, pumas live in Central, South and North America.
In the United States, mountain lion populations declined rapidly in the 1800s due to habitat destruction and heavy hunting. Today, the cat is only found in about 15 states, one of which is Texas.
mountain lions in texas
These gorgeous cats are native to Texas. The population was large when the influx of settlers began in the early 1800s. They hunt cougars relentlessly. The settlers considered the animals a threat to livestock. As a result, the animal is on the brink of extinction.
However, they weren’t hunted just because they posed a threat. Many people also value a cat’s fur. It was a common and popular commodity during the heyday of the Texas fur trade in the mid-1800’s.
The population slowly began to recover in the mid-1900s. Officials believe it has returned to a relatively stable and healthy level.
Today, Texas is one of the few states in the United States with a healthy and stable mountain lion population. Their primary home is in the Hill Country, Trans-Pecos, and parts of the South Texas scrubland. Additionally, big cats have been found in some areas of northern Texas.
The Mountain Lion Foundation estimates that Texas has vast open spaces that could safely support as many as 6,000 cats. However, experts don’t think Texas has as much. There is no official estimate of how many mountain lions call Texas home.
Currently, cougars have no legal protection in Texas. It is legal to trap or kill a mountain lion that threatens your home or livestock. However, they are not yet broken down by game. So no tags were issued and there was no mountain lion hunting season in Texas.
How to Avoid Being Attacked by a Mountain Lion in Texas
Since Texas has a sizable population of mountain lions, knowing proper safety measures is imperative. State or local officials will alert hikers and residents when such conditions are observed in areas with trails or parks. The Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife works hard to track all mountain lion encounters. So it’s best to visit their website before heading out.
The chances of being attacked by a mountain lion in Texas are extremely low. Since 1980, state officials have recorded just four incidents of mountain lion attacks on humans. All four incidents took place in remote West Texas.
However, it’s best to be aware of your surroundings just in case. So when you venture into mountain lion territory, avoid the early mornings and late evenings. These times are ideal hunting times for predators because of the low light.
Keep any children or small pets near you and don’t let them off the trail. Cougars are stealthy and unless they want you to see them, you may never see them.
If you come across a cougar, hug smaller companions to make them appear larger. You also want to look as big as possible. Do it by raising your arms in the air. Walk back slowly, away from the mountain lion, and remain as calm as possible. Never turn your back on a cougar. Never run away, as this action triggers its predatory instincts. In the rare and unfortunate event of an attack, always fight back as best you can.
- Does bear spray work on mountain lions?
- 11 Incredible Mountain Lion Facts
- Mountain Lion Size Comparison: How Do They Compare to Humans?
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.
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