Photo of Alaksa wilderness.
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Safeguard a future for mountain lions in Alaska

Alaska is mostly too far north and outside of mountain lion distribution. As such, there isn't much of a resident population aside from a few cats that live in the southeastern edge of the state adjacent to populations living in British Columbia.

Climate change may be increasing the habitat available to mountain lions, only time will tell.

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Alaska's Mountain Lion Management

Alaska is north of mountain lions distribution for the most part, and cougars are rare in neighboring northern British Columbia. In southern B.C., biologists estimate the population to be about 3,500 individuals. Some of these cats may disperse to the north and to Alaska, but the likelihood of there being a breeding population within the state is very low.

There have been other reported sightings over the years, but there are only two documented accounts of mountain lions being killed in Alaska in modern times. The first was in 1989 when a mountain lion was shot near Wrangell. The second was in 1998 when a wolf trapper reportedly snared a mountain lion on South Kupreanof Island.

It is likely that some reported sightings are lynx or other animals. Lynx are found throughout the state and could easily be mistake for mountain lions.

Looking to the Future

On average, climate change is occurring much faster in polar regions than over the rest of the planet. This will almost certainly move the permafrost line north, with large implications for plant community composition and species distributions. As plant species shift, as do herbivores, such as deer. Mountain lions have been climactically limited in Alaska, but this warming trends and changes in resource availability may change that.



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