That’s right. It’s called mountain lion, cougar, wildcat, panther, or puma – depending on local terminology. Although they are not an endangered species, mountain lions are rarely seen here in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
They range throughout much of the mountain west, Canada and South America. The western mountain lion can weigh up to 200 pounds, with a massive set of front and rear legs and claws. Their bodies stretch up to 9 feet from nose to tail tip. They mate in spring, and kittens will stay with their mother for up to two years, at which time mom will have taught them how to hunt and survive the harsh Wyoming climate.
From there, the mother will then start a new family. Given the family obligations, a female can have a territory covering 10 square miles or more. Males cover a much larger territory, up to 30 square miles here in Wyoming.
These cats are generally reclusive, and highly adaptable to human activity. They probably see us much more than we see them! Mountain lions prey primarily on ungulates (moose, elk, deer, bison, and sheep), but will prey upon rodents as well.
Around Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 2018, there were 4 confirmed sightings of a mother cat and her kits feeding on an elk in the National Elk Refuge. There was also a mountain lion feeding on a vehicle-killed mule deer right across the street from a popular grocery store! The Elk Refuge sighting is one of natural cat / predator behavior. The other is not, as mountain lions generally only consume what they capture.
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