Snowy mountains in Colorado with blooming wild flowers at the base.
State of Colorado: Closeup of Mountan Lion


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

From 1881 until 1965, Colorado's state wildlife agency classified mountain lions as a bountied predator and paid residents to kill them. For fear that these high harvest rates could cause the state to lose its last remaining top carnivore, public pressure caused Colorado's state wildlife agency to abolish mountain lion bounty and reclassify Colorado's mountain lions as big game species. The protection offered by being listed as a game species safeguards mountain lion populations only as long as hunting quotas are set at reasonable levels and other sources of mortality are low enough to keep the lion population viable. Help us ensure that CPW set biologically-meaningful harvest rates to keep the population healthy!

  • Return to the portal page for Colorado State.

  • The status of puma concolor in Colorado.

  • State law and regulations affecting cougars.

  • The history of cougars in Colorado.

  • Ecosystems and habitat in Colorado.

  • Mountan Lion science and research in Colorado.

  • Our library of media, research and reports.

  • How you can take action to help!

SUMMARY: Cougars in the State of Colorado

For more detail you can explore using the links below.

The status of puma concolor.

Since 1917 at least 11,130 mountain lions have been reported killed by humans in the state. Eighty-four percent of these deaths occurred after mountain lions were classified as Big Game animals in 1965. Colorado's 2009-10 mountain lion hunting quota was set at 598, and hunters were allowed to kill one lion per season of either sex. The Colorado Wildlife Commission appears unwilling to protect female mountain lions or significantly reduce overall hunting quotas.

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Mountan Lion law in Colorado State.

Like most western states, mountain lions were once a bountied predator. Today, the species is managed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife as a game animal. Lions are killed for sport, for research, and in the hopes of protecting livestock.

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The history of cougars in the state.

From 1881 until 1965 mountain lions we classified as a bountied predator. As public attitudes shifted, so did management policies. For fear of "the careless extermination of an animal as interesting and graceful as the mountain lion," public pressure caused Colorado's state wildlife agency to abolish the bounty and reclassify mountain lions as big game species. Hunting regulations set limits on the number, spatial distribution, and demographics of the pumas that could be killed.

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Mountan Lion habitat in Colorado.

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.

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The science of cougars in the state.

Mountain lion research in Colorado is generally conducted by researchers out of Colorado State University, Fort Collins or Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Research papers under strict copyright protection may only list their abstracts on our website. But if you would like a personal copy of the full paper to read, please contact MLF.

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Take action for cougars.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is attempting to approve a controversial "study" that would involve significantly increasing mountain lion harvest to see whether this predator reduction will increase the mule deer population so that humans can hunt more deer. This "study" is unnecessary and ill-informed, as previous research has already shown that killing mountain lions to bolster ungulate numbers is not an effective tool.

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Click here to view our Activist Guide...

Becoming a Mountain Lion Activist

There are lots of opportunities to take action!

Are you new to mountain lion activism? You want to change your local environment to improve it for cougars... but you don't know how to start. You may feel like you are all alone... but it takes just one person to change the attitudes and lifestyles of hundreds of others. You don't need to belong to a group. It doesn't take special skills or superhuman abilities. You just need to care enough about cougars to want to help them survive. You've already done the hard part, now let us help you with the next step.