Arizona's Kofa Wildlife Refuge
Photo of landsacape.


Help close "open hunting" in which an unlimited number of mountain lions can be killed during hunting season.

Trophy hunters are allowed to kill more than 350 mountain lions in Arizona during the 2019-2020 hunting season, which lasts nine months. While the Arizona Game and Fish Department acknowledges that it's difficult to get an accurate estimate of the state's lion population, the department guesses there are 2,000 - 2,700 lions in the state. The true population is likely lower than that.

  • Return to the portal page for Arizona.

  • The status of Puma concolor in Arizona.

  • State law and regulations affecting cougars.

  • The history of cougars in Arizona.

  • Ecosystems and habitat in Arizona.

  • Cougar science and research in Arizona.

  • Our library of media, research and reports.

  • How you can take action to help!

SUMMARY: Cougars in the State of Arizona

For more detail you can explore using the links below.

The status of Puma concolor.

In an ideal world, Arizona Game and Fish Department would census mountain lion populations each year before setting hunting quotas. Instead, wildlife managers use a combination of population models and stakeholder desires in order to set their hunting quotas. Unfortunately, AZGFD has not used data from local researchers to inform their own mountain lion population estimates, which makes the Mountain Lion Foundation question whether AZGFD is managing the public's wildlife for sustainability or for the benefit of small stakeholder groups.

Click here to learn more about status

Mountain lion law in Arizona.

Mountain lions are currently listed as a big game species and hunted year round. Arizona's hunting regulations allows unlimited tags with a bag limit of one mountain lion per hunter per year. Bag limits are occasionally increased for management purposes.

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The history of lions in the state.

As was the case in many states, Arizona's mountain lions were persecuted as vermin by early European settlers. From 1919 until 1970 mountain lions in Arizona were listed as a bountied predator. While Arizona reclassified mountain lions as "big game" animals in 1970, the bounty law remained on the books as a non-funded program until its repeal in 1990. During this time at least 7,723 mountain lions were reported killed and turned over to government agents.

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Lion habitat in Arizona.

Nearly two thirds of the state is considered mountain lion habitat. The adaptable felines are able to survive in most of the juniper, mesic, aspen and conifer dominated forested regions of the higher mountains and plateaus.

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The science of lions in the state.

Mountain lion research in Arizona is generally conducted by researchers out of the University of Arizona, USGS, Arizona Department of Game and Fish, and the National Park Service.

Click here to learn more about science

Take action for lions.

Mountain Lions in Arizona are losing their habitat to human development resulting in increased stress, competition, and human/lion contact. Arizona allows an unlimited number of hunting tags for mountain lions and every hunter is allowed one mountain lion take per year. On top of this the Arizona Game and Fish Department has killed at least seven mountain lions for instinctually preying on big horn sheep being reintroduced into the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson.

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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 Arizona. Carter discusses the often ridiculous lengths the Arizona 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 Arizona and incorporate the best science into management has turned into a game of one step forward, two steps back.