Mountain lions are also called cougars, pumas, and panthers. Their body coloration varies from tan to gray, and they can weigh from 150 to 300 pounds. They are primarily nocturnal, meaning that they come out at night to hunt and sleep through most of the day. People rarely see these large cats, as they are usually secretive and shy. Mountain lions very rarely attack humans, but they will attack to protect their young. If you see a mountain lion, do not approach it, as they will usually run away from you. There is a far greater risk, for example, of being killed in an automobile accident with a deer than of being attacked by a mountain lion.
Mountain lions are protected throughout the United States, as they have been overhunted for their pelts, because they compete with humans for deer, elk, and other ungulate (hoofed) animals, and for their ability to attack livestock. But, these beautiful cats are important predators in the food chain and help maintain a natural balance in Idaho’s many ecosystems.
Habitat: Mountain lions range from sea level to 10,000 feet. Typical habitat is steep, rocky canyon country, or mountainous terrain. Many areas of BLM lands are prime habitat for mountain lions.
Food: Mountain lions are carnivorous, meaning that they only eat meat. They prey on most other animals in their habitat, including pronghorn, hares, badgers, porcupines, skunks, coyotes, deer, bighorn sheep, fish, and rodents.
Fun Facts: These big cats hunt by stalking their prey, usually within a few yards, until they pounce. They have great speed for short distances and can leap 20 to 23 feet from a standstill.