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Cougar Management, State by State

A habitat generalist and highly-adaptive, the cougar once roamed the entire expanse of the lower forty-eight states in Northern America, up into the Canadian Yukon, and south to Chilean Patagonia in South America.

Washington Oregon California Nevada Idaho Utah Arizona Montana Wyoming Colorado New Mexico North Dakota South Dakota Nebraska Kansas Oklahoma Texas Alaska Hawaii Louisiana Arkansas Missouri Iowa Minnesota Wisconsin Illinois Mississippi Michigan Tennessee Alabama Indiana Kentucky Ohio Florida Georgia South Carolina North Carolina Virginia West Virginia Maryland Pennsylvania Delaware New Jersey New York Connecticut Vermont Rhode Island New Hampshire Massachucetts Maine

Click on the map above or use the drop down below to choose your state.

Cougars once roamed throughout most of the contiguous forty-eight United States. Yet efforts to exterminate cougars, wolves, and other predators that began with European colonization and continued as late as the 1960s resulted in the virtual elimination of cougars from the eastern two-thirds of the United States. Today viable, breeding cougar populations are found in just the sixteen states of Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, North Dakota, Texas, and Florida. In most of these states, cougars are the only species of native large carnivore that survived extermination programs.

Legal protections afforded to cougars vary widely. All western states with surviving cougar populations (except Texas) established limited protections for the cats by the early 1970s. Today cougars are classified as a game species and hunted for sport in the thirteen states of: Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, and North Dakota. In these states, authority for setting and carrying out hunting programs is held by each state's wildlife management agency. Among the western states California has afforded the most protection to the species. In California, cougars are classified as a “specially protected mammal”. As a result of this classification, sport hunting was prohibited by a public referendum in 1990. In contrast, Texas classifies cougars as a “varmint” and permits their killing without restrictions or reporting requirements. Florida’s small population of cougars, known as Florida Panthers (Puma concolor coryii), is classified as an endangered species under federal and state law and is considered one of the most endangered mammals in the world. In all of the United States, cougars can be legally killed for threatening or attacking domestic livestock and pets, or for posing a threat to human safety.

More About The Range of the Cougar

[+ ZOOM] Outside of the United States, Cougars also range throughout Mexico, Central- and South America, although the status of their range is not entirely known.Image of Outside of the United States, Cougars also range throughout Mexico, Central- and South America, although the status of their range is not entirely known.

Puma concolor was historically the largest ranging land mammal in the Western Hemisphere. As a result of the cougar's vast territory, Americans can think about the cougar as the animal we all share most in common, even more than the bald eagle.

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Cougars are legally hunted, almost year-round, in thirteen states: Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. Cougar hunting is regulated by each state's wildlife management agency in all of the above states except for Texas, where the cougar is classified as varmint and may be killed at any time and in any manner, and with no requirement to report cougar kills to Texas wildlife officials.