Be Aware › Cougars
Welcome to Cougar Country
Some things you should know about Cougars
Please take care to prevent cougars from becoming nuisance animals by not feeding wildlife on your property and keeping your pets indoors.
The cougar, Puma concolor, is known as the mountain lion, puma, catamount, screamer or panther.
Cougars live all across Utah, from the High Uintas wilderness to the dry southern deserts. In Utah, cougars prefer pinyon-juniper and pine-oak brush areas. Within these habitat types, they prefer areas where there are rocky cliffs, ledges and tall trees or brush that can be used for cover.
They are easily recognized by their tawny color, white muzzle and long tail.
Adults typically weigh 90–200 lbs. Males and females pair briefly for breeding, but the female raises the kittens alone. Kittens stay with the female until they are about a year and a half old, at which time they disperse to find their own territories. Cougars are solitary animals. They usually hunt alone at dawn and dusk.
The main prey of cougars is deer, so they will be found wherever deer are. They will also eat elk, antelope, small mammals and birds.
After making a kill, a cougar will often take the carcass to the base of a tree and cover it with soil, leaves or snow, saving it to feed on later.
Cougar kittens, or cubs, have blackish-brown spots on their body and dark rings on their tails that fade as they get older. Cougar tracks lack nail prints because they have retractable nails. The size is approximately 2½ to 3¼ inches long. Scat may include bone and hair.
The cougar has been a protected wildlife species in Utah since 1967. There is an annual statewide limited-entry hunting season on cougars in Utah.
Remove wildlife attractants from your property, including pet food, water sources, bird feeders and fallen fruit. If your property and landscaping are attractive to deer and other wildlife, cougars may follow the wildlife into your property while searching for prey.
- Do not leave children outside unattended, especially at dawn and dusk.
- As a deterrent, install outside and motion sensitive lighting around your property.
- Trim vegetation and remove woodpiles to reduce hiding places for wildlife.
- Bring pets and livestock inside at night or secure them in a barn or kennel with a top.
- Provide secure shelter for hobby farm animals such as poultry, rabbits and goats.
Ask your neighbors to follow these tips too!
Preventing Conflicts While Recreating
- Do not hike or jog alone.
- Travel in groups and keep everyone together including children and dogs.
- Make noise while hiking to alert cougars of your presence.
- Leave the area if you find a dead animal, especially deer or elk, it could be a cougar kill. The cougar may return and defend its food.
- Keep a clean camp. Store food and garbage in an odor-free, locked container or hung between two trees where cougars (and bears) cannot get it.
If You Encounter a Cougar
- Stop. Never run from a cougar. Do not approach the cougar.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Pick up children and pets or keep them very close.
- Stand up tall.
- Do not crouch or squat.
- Make yourself look bigger by raising and waving your arms or jacket above your head.
- Talk firmly in a loud voice, back away slowly and leave the area.
- Fight back if you are attacked! Protect your head and neck.
- If you are aggressive enough the cougar will probably flee.
If you have an encounter with aggressive wildlife, please alert the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources office near you. If the encounter or sighting occurs after hours or on the weekend, please call your local police department or county sheriff’s office, who can contact a conservation officer to handle the situation.