One of the big cat species indigenous to North America is the mountain lion, sometimes referred to as the cougar, panther, or puma. It is a fearsome, nimble predator that has successfully adapted to various habitats. Mountains, coniferous woods, grasslands, marshes, and arid shrublands are all habitats for mountain lions.
Although the biting force of mountain lions is weaker compared to that of lions at only about 400 PSI, it is still extremely powerful. That is almost 2.5 times stronger than an adult human. So, even though they are smaller, mountain lions can kill you. But if you’re living in Indiana, do you still need to worry about mountain lions? This article discusses everything you need to know about mountain lions in Indiana.
Are There Mountain Lions in Indiana?
To answer simply, no native mountain lions live in Indiana today. Mountain lions previously roamed most of the eastern United States, but by the late 1800s, they had disappeared from Indiana completely. Additionally, there are no breeding mountain lions in Indiana.
Mountain lions, however, appear to be spreading beyond their typical Western habitat, according to data gathered by the Cougar Network and other states during the previous ten years. This could be due to rising mountain lion populations in Western states. Typically, young, roving male cougars are discovered outside of their Western range.
While there are still a few thousand mountain lions roaming free, their numbers have drastically dropped compared to historical levels because of irresponsible shooting practices, habitat loss, and conflicts with cattle.
Mountain Lion Sightings in Indiana
A system for receiving, storing, and reviewing reports about mountain lion sightings is used by the DNR to keep track of sightings. The sole reports of mountain lions that were later confirmed occurred in spring 2010 in northern Greene County and southern Clay County in fall 2009. Although it is unknown if the animal described in these tales was the same, it is possible, given its vicinity. Through this method, the DNR receives many reports about mountain lions. The majority of sightings, however, are either inconclusive, are not of a mountain lion, or are the result of an internet hoax.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources was notified of a potential mountain lion sighting in Benton County in 2019, according to Fowler Police. Just one week before the alleged encounter, the DNR looked into another reported sighting of a mountain lion near Veedersburg, Fountain County. However, this report was later confirmed as a domestic house cat.
“I saw something over here in the corner running, and I dropped the limb, and I was watching it, and it was chasing a cat,” a Benton County witness said.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources looked into a trail camera image from a farm in Johnson County the year before. According to the DNR, reports of mountain lion sightings are common. But throughout the years, only two have been confirmed and might have been just lone individuals passing by.
Are Mountain Lions Common in the United States?
Previously widespread from coast to coast, mountain lions are now mostly restricted to 14 western states, except for a small endangered population in Florida. In the 1980s and 1990s, five extremely small settlements regained a shaky foothold just east of the Rockies, but their future is dubious.
Since humans arrived in the Americas 40,000 years ago through the land bridge from Asia, mountain lions have roamed all of North and South America. The African cheetah and the American jaguarundi all descended from the same common ancestor as the big cats.
Where Do Mountain Lions Live in the Americas?
Mountain lions were the most common mammal in the Americas and had a large range. But decades of intensive hunting in the United States have pushed their population into a drastic fall. Mountain lions could reclaim some of their former ranges because of hunting prohibitions and conservation initiatives. Although there are no resident populations in the eastern United States, these states can occasionally see passing cats.
An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 mountain lions live in the United States. Since mountain lions are solitary and nomadic, it is challenging to estimate their exact numbers. While some migrate across great distances in search of their prey, others remain and breed in certain locations. They are also nocturnal, stealthy, and quite good at avoiding humans.
Are Mountain Lions Dangerous?
Because they can kill animals that are bigger than themselves, mountain lions are extremely dangerous beasts. They have sharp claws, powerful fangs, and excellent hunting senses that aid in spotting prey. Both prey animals and people can die from a single mountain lion bite to the throat. The main danger posed by a mountain lion comes from its capacity to ambush prey covertly. An approaching mountain lion may not be visible to a human until it is just a few feet away, and they are already in danger by that point.
What to Do if You Encounter a Mountain Lion
While rare, if contact with a mountain lion does occur, heed the advice of Western state authorities:
- Never get close to a mountain lion. Instead, give it space to let it escape.
- Use large sticks, stones, or other tools to defend yourself in case of an attack.
- Open your shirt or jacket and raise your arms. Slowly wave your arms and make a firm, loud sound.
- Never try to run from a mountain lion. Face the animal while standing and establish eye contact.
- Keep your kids and pets close by.
Many people are alarmed by the idea of mountain lions, although Indiana is unlikely to have any sightings. Since these are solitary creatures, the same applies even in Western states with breeding populations. Large cities, communities, and other places where there are humans have a low possibility of seeing this species.
The Featured Image
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.
- Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Available here: https://www.in.gov/dnr/fish-and-wildlife/wildlife-resources/animals/mountain-lion/#:~:text=They%20were%20extirpated%20from%20Indiana,2010%20in%20northern%20Greene%20County
- Mountain Lion Foundation, Available here: https://mountainlion.org/about-mountain-lions/frequently-asked-questions/#:~:text=Mountain%20lions%20used%20to%20occupy,but%20their%20future%20is%20uncertain