For larger ranching operations, see our section on protecting livestock.
The best protection measure against mountain lions and other predators is to bring pets indoors at night, and place livestock into fully enclosed barns, pens, or sheds. Unsecured openings, such as windows, doors, or large gaps, could provide access for highly curious or desperate predators.
Be sure to place all new livestock enclosures, both covered and open, away from any trees or brush that lions might climb or hide within.
Obviously, the easiest and most cost effective way to secure your animals is to use a preexisting structure. Any obstacle between a lion and your animals will make the lion more likely to avoid the hassle and find dinner elsewhere. So if you've got some spare materials laying around like boards and chicken wire, get creative and make your animals that much more secure. See examples of what people have done to protect their animals, or place your enclosure story or comments on our Pen Build Scrap Book page.
If you do not currently have a facility to house your animals safely, or fixing up an old structure would be more work than it's worth, consider building a new quick and easy lion-proof small livestock enclosure, such as the one MLF designed, over the weekend. Modifications can easily be made to fit your specific needs. See examples of some of the pens we have built throughout the country. Also, integrating various predator aversion techniques including frightening devices, fences, and guard animals, can help keep mountain lions away from your pen.
We recommend using wood and/or chain link fencing to build an enclosure. Make sure the roof is strong enough to support a snow load or the weight of a lion if one should decide to jump on top and test your carpentry skills.
If you have a problem with coyotes or other animals that dig, create an apron around the perimeter by placing fencing material along the ground that extends out a few feet from the fence. Attach it to the fence, stake it down, and bury it 6 to 8 inches from the surface. This makes it difficult for predators to get in since their instinct is to dig at the base of the wall. More fencing options.
If your barn or shed is built from wood, make sure all boards are in sturdy condition. Replace or reinforce any broken pieces. Board up any openings that wild animals can fit through. If there are too many openings between boards, consider reinforcing the walls with chain link. Make sure all windows are closable with glass or latched shutters, or board them up. Be sure to consider proper ventilation for the health of your animals, but be aware that predators can enter through large openings.
The walls of your enclosure should extend all the way to the ground, and ideally buried at least a foot. As mentioned above, an apron is a great way to keep out digging predators.
The entrance should have a sturdy door that closes and latches. If you have bears in the area you will need a more complicated lock than if you are only concerned about lions and/or coyotes. Double check that there are no large openings around the frame.
Lions can jump more than fifteen feet so a sturdy roof is mandatory to insure your livestock is safe. If it snows or storms heavily in the winter, MLF recommends a wooden roof that can handle a snow load. Close off large gaps to keep your furry ones safe and dry inside. Consider installing mesh or a screen over openings in the eves to keep out small rodents.
The Mountain Lion Foundation has designed and built two styles of lion-proof small livestock enclosures. One is designed for snow loads, while the other works in warmer climates and can be moved. The permanent enclosure can be built for less than $1,500 and the mobile enclosure for less than $500.