New Mexico path through Tent Rocks.
 
Photo of lion kitten about to pounce off log with sleeping mother in background.

MOUNTAIN LIONS IN THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO

New Mexico still allows trapping on much of its public lands.

Like most states, New Mexico's first lion management plan took the form of paying a bounty for every lion killed. In 1971 the species became a game animal and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish initiated recreational hunting of lions. New Mexico is believed to have a population of roughly 2,500 lions. While sport hunting threatens the future of lions in New Mexico, the recent authorization of trapping has exacerbated wildlife mortality and set the state back decades in terms of management attitudes and the public's trust in the agency.

    USE THE TABS TO THE LEFT TO EXPLORE:
  • Return to the portal page for New Mexico.

  • The status of puma concolor in New Mexico.

  • State law and regulations affecting cougars.

  • The history of cougars in New Mexico.

  • Ecosystems and habitat in New Mexico.

  • Cougar science and research in New Mexico.

  • Our library of media, research and reports.

  • How you can take action to help!

SUMMARY: Cougars in the State of New Mexico

For more detail you can explore using the links below.

The status of puma concolor.

Since 1971, when they became a "protected" species in New Mexico, more than 6,630 mountain lions have been reported killed by humans. About 90 percent of the total deaths are a result of recreational hunting.

Population estimates are unreliable and habitat loss is fragmenting population segments. And now, trapping threatens the lives of even more lions, wildlife, and domestic animals.

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Mountain lion law in New Mexico.

Like most states, New Mexico's first lion management plan took the form of paying a bounty for every lion killed. In 1971 the species became a game animal and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish initiated recreational hunting of lions.

Lions continue to be heavily persecuted in New Mexico by ever-increasing sport hunting quotas, intolerance by ranchers, habitat loss, and now trappers.

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The history of lions in the state.

Like most states, New Mexico's first lion management plan took the form of paying a bounty for every lion killed. In 1971 the species became a game animal and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish initiated sport hunting of lions. Since then, thousands of lions have been killed by recreational and trophy hunters. More recently, trapping has been authorized and continues to be a highly controversial topic.

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Lion habitat in New Mexico.

Approximately one-third of New Mexico is suitable lion habitat. The rest of the state lacks critical resources to house a stable breeding population of resident lions, but may be used for dispersal between core habitat regions. Keep in mind that although lions are physically capable of living in certain places, it does not mean they necessarily do. New Mexico is believed to have a population of roughly 2,500 lions.

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The science of lions in the state.

Always a work in progress, this page is a collection of all the cougar-related scientific publications and articles we have complied through the years. Lion research in New Mexico has been largely focused on interactions with Bighorn sheep and other prized game ungulates, in partnership with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. But most notably, Ken Logan and Linda Sweanor's extensive study from 10 years of monitoring lions in the San Andres Mountains created the foundation of modern cougar reseach in the U.S. and the 2001 book Desert Puma.

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Take action for lions.

While sport hunting threatens the future of lions in New Mexico, the recent authorization of trapping has exacerbated wildlife mortality and set the state back decades in terms of management attitudes. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Commission voted unanimously to allow the use of steel-jawed leghold traps and snares throughout the state, including in Mexican wolf and jaguar habitat. Cougar trapping in these areas presents a mortal and unlawful threat to these endangered animals because they will inevitably be caught in traps set for cougars.

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ON AIR: Phil Carter - One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

03/19/13 An Audio Interview with Julie West, MLF Broadcaster

In this edition of our audio podcast ON AIR, MLF Volunteer Julie West interviews mountain lion program manager Phil Carter of Animal Protection of New Mexico. Carter discusses the often ridiculous lengths the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish will go to to disregard the public, bury scientific research, and ignore all common sense. Trying to protect mountain lions in New Mexico and incorporate the best science into management has turned into a game of one step forward, two steps back.

SIGN THE GROUP COMMENT LETTER ON THE US FOREST SERVICE PLAN FOR THE SANTA FE NATIONAL FOREST

08/05/16

The U.S. Forest Service is revising its plan for the Santa Fe National Forest. The Mountain Lion Foundation and our partners in New Mexico want to take this opportunity to request that the Forest Service prohibit trapping in the Caja del Rio and other areas of Santa Fe National Forest that are used by recreationalists.

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