Photo of Monticello.


Help ensure a future for mountain lions in Virginia.

Though mountain lions once roamed the hills and forests of Virginia, 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 Virginia.

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. For more data on
                  habitat use, check out our various Science tabs.

  • Return to the portal page for Virginia.

  • The status of Puma concolor in Virginia.

  • State law and regulations affecting cougars.

  • The history of cougars in Virginia.

  • Ecosystems and habitat in Virginia.

  • Cougar science and research in Virginia.

  • Our library of media, research and reports.

  • How you can take action to help!

Virginia Lion Habitat and Population

Before European settlement, mountain lions roamed throughout Virginia 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 Virginia to local extinction.

Virginia Cougar Habitat
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Click on map to enlarge.

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. A study by Michelle LaRue (2007) estimates that there are 128,608 square kilometers of highly suitable habitat across the Midwest. Additional habitat certainly exists throughout the South and East Coast as well. A viable population in Virginia would help provide potential dispersing individuals to help repopulate neighboring states where mountain lions once thrived.

Establishing mountain lion-friendly legislation and management practices will likely need to play a role in allowing this top carnivore to return to the great state of Virginia. Check out our Action Tab to see what you can do to help!

Click here to open a new window and visit the agency's website...

Robert "Bob" Duncan, Executive Director

Director's Office
Virginia Department of Game
and Inland Fisheries
P.O. Box 90778
Henrico, VA 23228
(505) 476-8000

Please write to the director and express your concern for lions in VA.

Thank the agency when they take steps to protect our state's cougars. When they fall short of expectations, politely ask for policy reform and more officer training.