Pennsylvania Mountain Lions

Mountain Lion
Mountain Lion (see video)
mountain lion kill
mountain lion kill (see video)







Pa. Mountain Lions:
Mountain Lion Treed
Mountain Lion Treed (see video)

Do Pennsylvania mountain lions exist? Well the debate rages on. I am sure the Pennsylvania Game Commission will deny this at all costs. My thoughts? Why not! As elusive as these cats are, why couldn’t we at least consider that they are. There is plenty of mountains and wooded area within this state that could hold small cat populations. Especially up north around Potter County and surrounding counties. Just look at the coyote population, as many coyotes that are in the state (some say as many as 40,000). Yet they are rarely seen. I think it is very feasable that there could mountain lions within our state and beyond. It is my goal in this post to present as much evidence as possible to the reader that this is a very very real possibility. I will also provide links to articles so you can research and form your own opinion regarding this topic.

Mountain lion Yellowstone
Mountain lion Yellowstone (see video)
Mountain Lion Collared
Mountain Lion Collared (see video)
Pennsylvania Cougar Sightings:

Hunters and farmers pretty much decimated the cougar population here in Pennsylvania and other neighboring states by the late 1800’s. Soon the mountain lion was gone in pretty much all of the eastern United States. The last remaining stronghold for these cats was pretty much confined to the Rocky Mountains out west. However, many believe these cats have been migrating east from the Rockies and south out of Canada. Here is a link of a reported lion kill near Altoona, Pa. It was apparently killed by a truck. I am sure mountain lion hoaxes are rampant at times. That same link I just presented to you has also been reported as a lion kill from Arizona in 2007. Here is a link to a forum debating the existence of Pennsylvania cougars. I would strongly encourage any reader who has seen a Pa. mountain lion or knows anyone who has to please respond by leaving a comment below. Here is an article dating back to 2014 and seems much more credible than a lot of articles I have seen. At least in this article we have the Pennsylvania Game Commission as quoting “anything is possible” Here is another link. This link is from a Penn State article regarding The Eastern Cougar Foundation, a clearinghouse for cougar sightings. This article clearly states that they have DNA proof that mountain lions do indeed exist in Maryland and West Virginia. Both these states border Pennsylvania. Considering the wide range of territory that these cats cover, it would not be to hard to conceive that these cats are crossing into Pennsylvania.

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Pa. Cougars:

There is also evidence thru the The Cougar Network that cougars are making there way eastward from the Rocky Mountains. They have verified cougar existance in New York, Maine, Massachusetts and even Connecticut, where a young male lion with DNA originating in South Dakota’s Black Hills ended up as suburban road-kill in 2011. This is very interesting, another state bordering Pennsylvania. The link to that article as well is included here. In 2008 a cougar was spotted by by some construction workers who tried to contain it but eventually ended up killing it in Downingtown, Pa. Read this article here. There are even stories of The Pa Game Commission releasing mountain lions in the state. This I do not believe. The next link dates back to 2011 and has several pictures of cougars. You be the judge. The first very large picture is very interesting. This cat in this picture somewhat resembles a house cat. But take a close look at that tail! I am somewhat bothered by this pic. The image of a mountain lion strolling over the snow covered ground is very intriguing also. This has to be an undeniable picture of a mountain lion! What is your opinion? I would really like to know! I just came across a Youtube video where a deer hunter in his stand videos a so called black mountain lion. Watch the video and tell me what you think! My opinion? A black house cat for sure!

Conclusion:

In my opinion I believe there is a population of cougars in the state of Pennsylvania. But again I stated earlier the debate rages on. I am very interested in what you think. I would love to hear your opinion and would love to hear if you or a person you know may have had a personal sighting of your own. Please do so by leaving your comments in the comment box below.

 



 

8 thoughts on “Pennsylvania Mountain Lions


  1. I am 99% sure there are Mountain Lions here in SW PA. My dad and his friends have seen them, and i’ve saw one cross the road in front of me one night. Its tail alone reached from the center lines to the median line. Enjoying the site, keep it up.


    1. What county do you live in Bob? I have had friends tell me about siteings in Venango County. I do not understand why the Pa. Game Commision refuses to admit that there are still lions in the state. Please stop back back would love to hear anything your have heard about on this topic. Thanks Mike


  2. I am not surprised people didn’t comment because most are embarrassed to say what they experienced. Especially after reporting to PA Game Commission, not taken seriously, belittled, and they make you second guess your own vision. Then your told not to say anything to anyone because we wouldn’t want to cause panic. Really? Because I almost crapped my pants! I wouldn’t want anyone to experience what I have experienced. I have always been a skeptic and if anyone else would have told me they saw a mountain lion……I would have laughed my butt off. I would have said, I have lived in rural PA my whole life. I have spent lots of time in the woods, in various areas, and NEVER saw a mountain lion. Now, I can’t say those words with conviction. I won’t go around telling everyone what I saw but I am almost certain of what I saw. If someone mentions sighting a mountain lion now, I will say, yes, I believe you.
    My concern is that these animals could go undetected for many years until the population increases. Is that why the sightings are becoming more frequent? Population has already increased. Then, I think, maybe it is just social media spreading the word more. If even a small percentage of sightings are real, then people need to be informed.
    All possible sightings should be taken seriously. I wish I was more aware of the possibility of mountain lions in PA. I would not have walked that exact trail, at that time of day, with my children, and without my husband. I would have educated myself on what to do if encountering a mountain lion. I know what to do with other native PA wildlife. I was clueless to the capabilities of a mountain lion and how they hunt/attack, preferred habitat, and prey. Knowing all that information now, I definitely know, the trail (surrounding vegetation), and time of day was ideal for a mountain lion. Prey is also abundant and moving during those hours and weather. This is why people should be aware of the possibility of mountain lions in PA even if you are an extreme skeptic. My thought now is : Animals won’t come to a stop at PA borders and think, I am not supposed to be in Pennsylvania so I better turn around.
    I love all animals our beautiful state may(or may not) inhabit. I just want to be aware of what may be lurking in the woods. I want to be prepared and respectful of what I may encounter. I also don’t want to become a statistic either. Education and awareness is why people should know of the possibility of mountain lions in PA. Even if you are an extreme skeptic, think about this thought. Animals won’t come to a stop at PA borders and think, Nope, I am not supposed to be in Pennsylvania so I better turn around. Always be prepared because you never know.


    1. Hi Heather, thank you for the comment and I apologize to you for the delay in getting back to you, as I got a little side tracked the past month. But any ways, one of the reasons I posted this is because I wanted to bring more awareness to the community about the possibility of mountain lions in our state. i myself have never spotted a cougar, but have heard so many reports of sightings over the years. You would think the Pa Game Commission would want to raise awareness as well. After all there are plenty of black bears in our state and nobody is freaking out. So it should be with the mountain lions in my opinion. Unfortunately you did not share your experience, only that you had one. Would you please be kind enough to share your story? I am sure the readers here would be excited to hear about it!!! Thanks Mike


      1. My encounter occurred in Cambria County on National Park Service land near the rural towns of Sidman/South Fork. The trail was designated by the National Park. I took my 3 sons ages 5, 12, and 16 on a day outing. It was mid June 2018. We just finished up with some rainy weather in the previous days. The day of the sighting, it did rain in the morning, but the late afternoon/evening was cloudy, cooler, but no rain. By the time we got to the trail where the sighting occurred; it was evening hours 6-6:30pm. It actually seemed later because it was a cloudy day. The trail went down hill and eventually ended at a creek. The vegetation was dense with lots of trees and there was a large rock area along one side of the trail. The trail was a little muddy due to all the rain. My 16 year old pointed out a paw print in the mud. I grew up in Indiana County on 60+ acres and I am familiar with various paw prints. The print was slightly different than anything I had ever seen before, but I know mud can distort a print. I actually told my son we should probably turn around because I was concerned about a bear with cubs. I was unsure of the print and thought turning around would be best. My 16 year old said, “Oh come on! Lets finish the trail.” I gave in but told them to be on the look out. Explained what to do if we saw a bear and especially if a bear has a cub. We were on alert for a bear. We made a lot of noise while walking. My 5 year old and 12 year old never shut up. We came to an area where the trail curved then narrowed and the vegetation on each side was higher. It was at this point when I said, “This is a little unsafe here and we need to turn back.” I actually had an eerie feeling like we were being watched. I don’t even know how to explain it. My 5 year old and 12 year old were trying to pick up a stick stuck in the weeds/mud. I grabbed it from them since it was covered in moss and threw it on the opposite side of the trail. My oldest son looked that direction as I tossed the stick and so did my 12 yr old. He was mad I threw the stick. It was at that point, we heard movement up in a tree and cracking branches. We looked up in the tree. Large tree branches were still in motion. I was expecting to see a bear. Then we saw what came from the tree and leaped through the weeds, twice right in front of us. It definitely was not a bear! My mind was having trouble processing what exactly I was seeing. It wasn’t a deer because of the ears, muscular structure, legs, and tail. It was too big to be a bobcat and the tail was large/thick in diameter. It was a tan color, short hair, muscular body, had some white on the underside, the ears were not big but were angled back. The tail was very thick in diameter and much longer than any bobcat. Not to mention the size was bigger than a lab. The hind leg/hip area was very muscular. The legs were thicker like a large dog. We were able to see the lateral view of it twice. The stretched out view was quite large. My 16 y.o. and I both said out loud, “What is that?” In that moment, I thought I was looking at the side view of a female lion jumping. My mind was trying to process how that could be possible? Then, it clicked….It could be a Mountain Lion! I am kind of embarrassed on how we reacted because it was everything we shouldn’t have done. We were very lucky that it wasn’t leaping towards us or didn’t want to chase us. I know the deer population is abundant in that area. I am sure it would rather have a deer. We were just so shocked because it wasn’t anything we were expecting. If it would have taken interest, I am sure I would have been the one. I was definitely the slowest after my 16 yr old picked up his 5 yr old brother, made it to the truck, and had to wait for me. I was really feeling old after that trek. I had the truck keys in my hand but my phone fell out of my sweatshirt pocket. I have spent most of my life in the woods. As a child, I played by a small creek in the woods nearly every day often times alone. I love nature. I am respectful but not afraid. However, I was not going to look for my phone that day. My fear came from not expecting to see anything like what I did. If I was in an area where I knew mountain lions could be, I would have been more prepared. I also would not have walked that trail. Especially when considering weather previously, in the present, the time of day, and that the trail ended at a creek. Good place to hunt prey heading to the creek. I have always been a skeptic about previous sightings. I reported this to the Park Service and to the Game Commission. They said, it could be a bobcat…hmmm, no! I have been lucky enough to see bobcats so I know what they look like. Then it was maybe it could have been a deer. I laughed. I definitely know what deer look like in the woods, in a field, in a creek, in a yard, on the road, and dead. So, that is a no! Then it was, well if it was a mountain lion then it was probably released from captivity. Someone brought it here as a pet then let it go. I was thinking…now we are getting somewhere. You are at least acknowledging that I possibly saw a mountain lion…..lol! My concern is the denial especially from the game commission.
        Lets just accept it is possible and prepare people for that possibility. I am no longer the laughing skeptic. I will now be more prepared and more aware when enjoying nature and outdoor activities. I am not afraid because I have educated myself on mountain lions. I plan and prepare before my outings. Just like bear, poisonous snakes, coyote, raccoon, etc never kept me from the woods, neither will a mountain lion. By the way, I did get my cell phone back. The next morning, someone turned it into the park maintenance office and no, they weren’t wearing a mountain lion costume. lol


        1. Heather what an amazing story!!! My readers are absolutely gonna love this story. Especially the people who live in and around South Fork as I do. I am from johnstown and have worked and played in South Fork for nearly 60 years. It still amazes me how the game commission still will not acknowledge the existence of these beautifull animals. The only national park service I can think of in South Fork is the 1889 overlook from the dam that burst back then. Was this the area you are talking about?? From everything you describe about the description seems to be right on the money, and you being a country girl, you seem to have an astute knowledge about wildlife in Pa. I certainly respect your opinion on your sighting for sure. Was this the area you were talking about?? I would love to go out to that area and look for some sign myself, maybe even an actual sighting! That would be just to cool. Please reply back with the actual place that this trail begins. I am so excited that you responded back with your story of this sighting. Thanks again Heather and please reply back asap!!! Mike


          1. Hi Mike,
            Sorry it took so long to respond. You are correct about the location except it is not the well traveled overlook site. The trail is directly across the dam from the more traveled overlook site. The trail, in which the siting occurred, leads down the hill to a creek. It is entirely in the woods. You must walk down a large set of steps before starting the trail. On this side of the dam, there is a second overlook site in which you go up a set of steps to access. When standing on the road looking at both trail entry points, it is the trail on the left. These two trails are on the side of the dam where a picnic area is also located. If you start the trail by heading down steps then it is the correct trail. There is a national park service sign at the bottom of the steps telling you the trail leads to a creek. We made it to the point where the path begins to narrow and bear sharp right then slight grade up hill. Obviously we didn’t make it any further. You are welcome to venture out and take a look. However, after educating myself on mountain lions, I discovered they can travel many miles in their lifetime. If you do take a look, be prepared and be careful. I do not live in that area. However, since my experience, I had two people from that area tell me they had sightings also. Good luck to you!

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