Guidelines for Living In and Visiting Mountain Lion Habitat

Mountain Lion Facts

  • The mountain lion is also known as cougar, panther, or puma.  Body coloration can range from tan to gray and cubs are usually covered with blackish brown spots.
  • Adult males may be more than 8 feet long (from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail), and can weigh between 130 and 150 pounds.  Adult females can be 7 feet long and weigh between 65 and 90 pounds.
  • Generally speaking, mountain lions can be found wherever deer are present.  Usual habitat is steep, rocky canyons or mountainous terrain.  Mountain lions can be found in deserts as well as coastal forests, and from sea level to 10,000-foot elevations.
  • An adult male's home range is typically over 100 square miles and females generally use smaller areas, approximately 20 to 60 square miles.
  • Mountain lion populations in California are estimated to be between 4,000 and 6,000.


Hiking and Camping in Mountain Lion Habitat

  • Do not hike alone.  Go in groups, with adults supervising children.  Avoid dawn and dusk excursions.
  • Keep children close to you.  Animals seem especially drawn to children; keep children within sight at all times.
  • Do not approach a lion.  Most mountain lions will try to avoid confrontation.  Give them a way to escape.
  • Do not run from a lion.  Running may stimulate a mountain lion's instinct to chase.
  • Do not crouch down or bend over.  A human standing does not resemble a mountain lion's natural prey.
  • Do all you can to appear larger.  Raise your arms.  Open jacket if wearing one.  Pick up small children.  Wave arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice.
  • Fight back if attacked.  Mountain lions usually try to bite the head or neck; try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.


Living in Mountain Lion Habitat

People and mountain lions now occupy much of the same geographical areas in California.  If you live in mountain lion habitat, here are some tips to reduce your chances of an encounter:

  • Don't feed wildlife.  Feeding deer, raccoons, or other wildlife in your yard can attract mountain lions, which prey upon them.
  • Deer proof your yard.  Avoid plants that deer prefer to eat.  If your yard attracts deer, mountain lions may be close by.  Read the California Department of Fish and Game brochure, Gardening to Discourage Deer Damage.
  • Landscape for safety.  Dense and low lying vegetation can provide good hiding places for mountain lions.  Avoid this type of vegetation, particularly around children's play areas.  This will make it difficult for mountain lions to approach your yard without being seen.
  • Install outdoor lighting.  The perimeter of your home should be well lit at night, especially along walkways, to help keep lions visible.
  • Secure your pets.  Mountain lions often prey on wandering pets.  Keep pets inside or in a kennel with a secure top.  Don't feed pets outside as this can attract mountain lion prey.
  • Keep livestock secure.  Livestock should be kept in enclosed sheds or barns at night.
  • Keep Children Safe.  Watch your children closely whenever they play outdoors.  Make sure they are inside between dusk and dawn and teach your children what to do if they encounter a Mountain Lion.


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