Mountain Lion vs Bear: Who Would Win in a Fight?

puma vs mountain lion
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Written by Kyle Glatz

Updated: March 1, 2023

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America is home to incredibly large and deadly mammals. Among them are the mountain lion and various species of bear. These creatures are highly adept at killing prey, and they are each apex predators in their own right. Whenever we have two such deadly animals that live in the same range, we have to wonder what would happen if they came to blows. In this case, how would a mountain lion vs bear fight end? We will break down the statistics about these animals and show you what would happen. For fairness, we will use information about a grizzly bear and data for a large mountain lion. Let’s get to it!

Comparing a Mountain Lion and a Bear

The bear has strong bite power and very long claws.
Mountain LionBear
SizeWeight: 60lbs-130lbs  
Length: 5ft-8ft
Height: 2ft-3ft at the shoulder
Weight: 400lbs-700lbs
Length: 7ft-10ft
Height: 3ft-4ft at the shoulder
Speed and Movement Type– 30 mph– 35 mph
Defenses– High speed
– Large size
– Good senses
– Thick skin
– Large size
– Stands on hind paws for threat display
Offensive Capabilities– Powerful biting force, but not as strong
–  Very powerful jaws
–  Long teeth
– 2.5-inch claws
975 PSI bite
– 42 teeth that measure about 1 inch in length
– Strong bites, vicious shaking attacks
– 4-inch claws
– Powerful swipe attacks
Predatory Behavior– Ambush predator that wraps its forelegs around prey and takes them to the ground
– Very quiet hunters that stalk potential prey before attacking
– Opportunistic predators
– Scavengers

What Are Key Differences Between a Mountain Lion and a Bear?

What do grizzly bears eat - leaves

The grizzly bear is a powerful killer with a size advantage.

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The greatest differences between a mountain lion and a bear are their size, morphology, and predatory behavior. Mountain lions are quadrupedal felines that can weigh up to 130 lbs and measure 8ft long and use predatory ambush techniques. Bears are semi-quadrupedal mammals that can stand on two feet, weigh 700 lbs and grow 10ft long, and are opportunistic predators.

These differences will provide us with a baseline to examine the creatures. We’ll need to explore other factors to get a better idea of which animal has enough advantages to win a battle against the other.  

What Are the Key Factors in a Fight Between a Mountain Lion and a Bear?

puma vs Mountain lion

Mountain lions are apex predators in their range with strong agility.

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The key factors in a fight between a mountain lion and a bear include typical traits like size and speed. Yet, we also have to consider the offensive prowess of each creature. We’re going to look at several factors for each creature, decide which ones have advantages over the others, and make an educated guess about the fight’s victor!

Mountain Lion vs Bear: Size

A bear is larger than a mountain lion. The average mountain lion will grow up to 130 lbs, between 5ft and 8ft long, and about 2ft and 3ft at the shoulder. This pales in comparison with a bear. A bear regularly reaches 400 lbs in weight, 10ft in length, and between 3ft and 4ft at the shoulder.

Bears have the size advantage over the mountain lions.

Mountain Lion vs Bear: Speed and Movement

Bears are faster than mountain lions. The average speed for bears in the Americas is about 25-35 mph. The mountain lion only reaches speeds of about 30 mph. In terms of agility, the mountain lion is superior.

The bear has the advantage in speed.  

Mountain Lion vs Bear: Defenses

Bears have better defenses than mountain lions. This comes in the form of speed, the ability to stand on two legs to tower over threats, and thick skin. All these benefits make it a tough animal to approach.

Mountain lions have a terrifying scream, aggressiveness, a large size relative to most mammals, and speed to keep them safe. Although these are great defenses, they are not as profound as a bear’s defenses.

The bears have the advantage in terms of defenses.

Mountain Lion vs Bear: Offensive Capabilities

Bears are powerful creatures that can easily kill their foes. These mammals have a bite force of 975 PSI, more than enough to break bones. They use their long teeth to grab prey, their paws to deliver powerful blows, and their 4-inch claws cut deeply into enemies. Their mauling attacks can quickly spell the end of animals, stunning them long enough for the bear to inflict massive damage.

The mountain lion also has a strong bite, but it’s not nearly as strong as a grizzly bear. It relies on using its 2.5-inch claws to dig into prey and hold them while the mountain lion goes for a killing strike on the neck or head. In fact, mountain lions will often wrap their forelegs around prey, pin them, and savagely bite them to death.

Both animals are very powerful hunters, but the bear has more power behind its attacks.

Mountain Lion vs Bear: Predatory Behavior

Bears are opportunistic predators and scavengers. They are not ambush predators that lie in wait. They find prey in their range and then attack it to significant effect.  

Mountain lions are ambush predators. They will stalk their prey and study them before pouncing. Once they do pounce, they’ll try to drag the enemy to the ground with their weight and power while delivering deadly bites.

Mountain lions are more skillful predators but not necessarily more successful. Still, they get the advantage in this case.

Who Would Win in a Fight Between a Mountain Lion and a Bear?

Kamchatka Brown Bear

The weight and power of a bear would prove critical in this fight.

©Marie Dirgova/Shutterstock.com

A bear would beat a mountain lion in a fight. These creatures have no venom or special attacks, so this fight is not likely to be over in a single blow. Thus, it’s a knock-down, drag-out fight where the bigger, stronger, and deadlier creature wins. The bear fits the bill better than the mountain lion.

The best-case scenario for the mountain lion is that it takes the bear by surprise. Even if it did, the bear’s frame is too massive and well-protected to take down with a single bite to the neck, the preferred method of execution for the mountain lion. The dense fur, thick skin, and layer of fat would provide enough protection from the mountain lion.

Moreover, it’s hard to sneak up on a creature with such great senses as a bear. Once the initial attack is over, or if the animals started on even ground, the bear would probably stand and tower over the mountain lion. When the animal finally attacks, the bear would bring down its weight and overwhelm the hapless mountain lion. The fight would be bloody and probably last for several minutes. In the end, the bear is going to be injured but alive. The mountain lion will be dinner.  

Could a Grizzly Beat a Siberian Tiger?

All big cats have superior hunting styles and skills when compared to bears, but the grizzly outsized the mountain lion by too great a margin. How would a grizzly do against a big cat closer to its size, say, a Siberian Tiger?

The Siberian tiger is similar in size to the average grizzly bear. They can weigh up to 770 lbs, measure up to 11 ft long and stand 3.5 ft tall. The grizzly may be a little bigger – but would it be enough to clobber the cat?

Siberian tigers are much faster than grizzlies – who are pretty fast with speeds of up to 35 mph on land. Siberian tigers can reach top speeds of 40 – 50 mph and leap over 20 feet when launching their attack. This is shaping up to be a pretty fair fight!

Grizzly bears are just unbelievably powerful with bites that measure 975 PSI, long, strong arms, and sharp claws that can rip their prey apart. Siberian tigers, on the other hand, are born to kill. They are skilled stalkers and hunters with 1,000 PSI bite power, huge 3-inch canines, and 4-inch claws. Their powerful bite instinctively clamps down on their prey’s neck and they don’t let go until suffocation is complete.

In a fight against a Siberian tiger – the big grizzly probably wouldn’t know what hit him. The powerful cat is an ambush predator that attacks with precision and power. It would most likely deliver a blow that the bear couldn’t counter. Even if the grizzly could put up a fight – the cat’s ability to go for the throat to deliver the kill shot would be the end of the bear.


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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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