Mountain Lions Heading East?

Stories of mountain lions being spotted east of the Great Plains pop up in the news a handful of times each year. Some reveal first-hand accounts of mountain lion sightings, some show trail camera photos of cougars, some discuss evidence of mountain lions — footprints, hair, scat, kills, etc., and others have statements from wildlife officials confirming sightings or distinct evidence of the big cats.

But I can’t remember ever seeing so many stories about mountain lion sightings in a one-week period. Here are the stories I’ve come across in the last week alone:

Add to this confirmed sightings in Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Illinois within the last couple of years and you can see why many suspect cougars are on the move.

State wildlife biologists often warn, however, that sightings alone, especially those by untrained eyes, are not enough to confirm mountain lions are in the area. And when mountain lion sightings have been confirmed, in most cases, the mountain lions were males. Young male mountain lions sometimes roam hundreds of miles in search of territory or a breeding female.

In most of these states, wildlife officials say there is no evidence of breeding mountain lion populations. However, proof of reproduction was discovered in one Midwest state late last year. A trail cam photo in Nebraska revealed mountain lion kittens. It was the first evidence of mountain lion reproduction in the state in 100 years.

I’m no biologist, but I do subscribe to the “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” theory. Mountain lions haven’t called most of the Midwest home for a century, but evidence is beginning to mount that cougars will soon be reclaiming some of this territory, if they haven’t already.

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6 thoughts on “Mountain Lions Heading East?

  1. I wonder if the pushing of wolves have anything to do with the lions heading east. I know they are pushing deer, elk and moose out of the mountains and into areas where they havent been in years. Our prime elk country has become scarce and lifeless while our lower area deer areas are packed with elk. and to top it all off its been an unusual hot year. Im probably way off but just a thought of mine

  2. just reading about your big cats as far east as N.H.,no big deal. as i,m wrighting this line from N.S.it,s well knowing we have been seeing the big cats up here for 30or40 years. get used to them.because there here to stay. long time trapper.yours truly rob-L-245.

  3. Back in the late 1960′s while deer hunting in Hancock County, Illinois I had been followed by a big cat in the morning. When I went back in the afternoon I discovered the tracks where it had been crouched on a fallen log and tracks along and in my boot prints as there was a small amount of snow from the previous night. No one would believe me, but the following Spring there were pictures taken by several different people of a couger dragging off live stock through pastures. A couple of different news papers had the pictures and an article about the CAT!

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