Though mountain lions once roamed the hills and forests of Tennessee, persecution at the hands of humans drove them locally extinct. If we support open space conservation and preserve corridors connecting potential habitat, we could reverse this situation and bring mountain lions back home to Tennessee.
Although mountain lions may be physically capable of living in an area, human activities and attitudes could keep them from reestablishing a population there.
Fragmentation, sport hunting practices, and intolerant communities can wipe out mountain lions from any area.
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Before European settlement, mountain lions roamed throughout Tennessee and beyond. Perceived conflict with livestock, heavy hunting pressure, conversion of wildlands to agriculture and other forms of habitat loss drove the mountain lions of Tennessee to local extinction.
There hasn't been much, if any, research specifically addressing potential habitat for mountain lions in the state, but there has been work looking at the importance of potential dispersal corridors across the U.S. Though we don't have a direct measurement of potential habitat acreage were mountain lions to return to Tennessee, we can be fairly certain there is ample habitat to re-establish a population there, even if it were a small one. In addition, a viable population in Tennessee would help provide potential dispersing individuals to help repopulate neighboring states across the Midwest, South, and East.There aren't any estimates for the amount of suitable habitat in the Easten or Southern states, but a study by LaRue et al. (2007) estimates that there are 9,902 square kilometers of highly suitable habitat across the Midwest.