Snowy mountains in Colorado with blooming wild flowers at the base.
Photo of Loveland Pass in Colorado.


Mule deer studies are planning to kill hundreds of mountain lions.

Nearly 60 percent of Colorado is considered suitable mountain lion habitat. The adaptable felines are able to survive in a variety of habitats found in Colorado; from high desert to alpine forests.

Keep in mind that although cougars are physically capable of living in these places (based on geographical, vegetative and prey species characteristics), it does not mean they necessarily do. Fragmentation, sport hunting practices, and intolerant communities can wipe out cougars from any area. For more information about where cougar populations actually live, check out our Science tab.

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Cougar Habitat and Population in Colorado

The state of Colorado encompasses 103,717 square miles of land. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) estimates that 58,822 square miles, roughly 57 percent of the state is suitable mountain lion habitat. This habitat is found essentially from the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains westward to the Utah border, and in parts of the southeast corner of the state.

Map showing mountain lion habitat in large areas in the western half of the state.

Click on map to enlarge.

A 2003 Colorado Parks and Wildlife report notes that "Colorado does not regularly estimate puma populations because no reliable, cost effective sample based population estimation technique currently exist." Instead, CPW developed its official estimate of 3,000 to 7,000 mountain lions by first extrapolating population projection models provided by studies completed in other states, and then by using information provided annually from "Hunter harvest, non-hunter mortality, game damage conflicts, and human-lion conflicts . . . for crude indicators of population change." While CPW officials may use these broad numbers in explaining mountain lion management policies and hunting quotas, the Department's status report also stated that a range of 3,500 to 4,500 mountain lions was more probable.

ON AIR: Marc Bekoff on Culling Lions

11/10/15 An Audio Interview with Julie West, MLF Broadcaster

In this edition of our audio podcast ON AIR, MLF Volunteer Broadcaster Julie West interviews Marc Bekoff. Marc discusses Colorado's unscientific plan to hunt more mountain lions in the hopes it will increase deer and elk herds. The conversation goes beyond wildlife management to take a deeper look at how we view, value and treat all other animals who share this planet. Perhaps it's time we all stop and analyze the killing of animals from an ethical perspective.

Killing Mountain Lions to Grow Mule Deer

10/01/15 Guest Commentary by Marc Bekoff

Animal expert and biology professor Marc Bekoff discusses Colorado's misguided plan to kill mountain lions in the hope it will increase deer populations. Though it may seem like less predators would yield more prey, there is no science to back the state's plan. In fact, killing large numbers of mountain lions causes chaos and increases ecological problems. Please contact the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission and urge them to vote against this plan which would cause significant and widespread collateral damage.

Click here to open a new window and visit the agency's website...

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Commonly abbreviated as: CPW

Bob Broscheid, Parks and Wildlife Director

Main Office:
1313 Sherman Street, 6th Floor
Denver, CO 80203

Carnivore Coordinator
Jerry Apker
0722 South Rd 1East
Monte Vista CO 81144

Please write to the director and express your concern for cougars in Colorados.

Thank CPW when they take steps to protect our state's cougars. Politely ask for policy reform and more officer training when they fall short of expectations.