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A mighty, yet elusive hunter whose population spans a wide range, the cougar is a magnificent creature.

Puma concolor

Cougar. Photo: WDFW
Cougar. Photo: WDFW

The cougar (also known as mountain lion or puma) is the largest wildcat native to North America, and a regular resident of Washington state. It is a key predator and part of the predatory-prey cycle. Cougars' elusiveness has made them something of an enigma to people, who have hunted them partially out of fear and misconceptions about their perceived hostility.

More on cougars from WDFW

Heavy trapping and hunting of cougars and loss of habitat to development has reduced close kin of cougars to the brink of extinction worldwide. Three subspecies of the cougar (the Eastern cougar, Florida panther, and Costa Rican cougar) were listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. 

As predators and regulators of wildlife populations, cougars are important to the health of our ecosystems. Obligate carnivores, cougars eat porcupine in addition to deer, skunk, badger, rabbits and many other animals.

Conservation Northwest supports science-based wildlife management of cougars. We're not anti-hunting, but we object to levels of hunting that imperil cougar populations or diminish their critical ecological role.

Click here to see some awesome cougar footage from our Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Program!

About cougars

  • A solitary, elusive hunter with wide ranging habitat from Canada to Costa Rica, the cougar, or mountain lion, is territorial and largely avoids contact with humankind.
  • The cougar has very close genetic ties to the domestic cat.
    Cougar kitten. Photo: WDFW
    Cougar kitten. Photo: WDFW
  • Cougars produce a variety of sounds but are incapable of roaring like a lion. They are known to mew, hiss, and growl, and females emit a long, piercing scream, especially during mating season.
  • Cougars are highly adaptable and dwell in a variety of habitats, from forests to mountains to swampland.
  • Puma, catamount, mountain lion and ghost cat are just a couple of names for the cougar.
  • Female cougars are dedicated mothers, and are either pregnant or raising dependent cubs for the majority of their lives.
  • Knowing mountain lion behavior provides the best protection when adventuring in the wild.
  • Trail camera catches unique view of cougars
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