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MOUNTAIN LION HABITAT IN MONTANA

Encourage Montana FWP to reduce hunting quotas until they have better mountian lion population estimates.

Approximately half of the state of Montana is considered mountain lion habitat. These highly adaptable felines are able to survive in much of the mountainous and forested regions in the western portion of the state.

Keep in mind that although mountain lions are physically capable of living in these places (based on geographical, vegetative and prey species characteristics), it does not mean they necessarily do. Fragmentation, sport hunting practices, and conflicts with humans can locally eliminate mountian lions from any particular area. For more information about where mountain lion populations currently live, check out our Science tab.

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Mountian Lion Habitat in Montana

The state of Montana encompasses 145,552 square miles of land. Of this the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department (MFWP) estimates that approximately 74,000 square miles, roughly 51 percent of the state, is suitable mountain lion habitat. This habitat estimate might be a little excessive. Using a Gap Habitat Analysis map to ascertain the amount of mountain lion habitat in each of Montana's Hunting Districts, MLF researchers were only able to verify 47,975 square miles.


Montana's mountain lion habitat is distributed primarily in the western and central portions of the state though mountain lions have apparently also begun to return to areas in the east.

Map showing predicted distribution of mountain lions in Montana as of June 1998.

Montana's mountain lion habitat is distributed primarily in the western and central portions of the state though mountain lions have apparently also begun to return to areas in the east.

Mountain lions prefer habitats with brushy understory to open habitat. They tend to spend their time in areas with rugged terrain, such as steep canyons, and thick vegetation in which they can stalk their prey. Since the vast majority of their diet consists of deer, they tend to live in places where deer are abundant. Mountain lions are sensitive to human disturbance and tend to avoid areas with high human activity.

In other western states, a growing number of people are recreating in wild spaces and new housing developments are pushing further into traditional mountain lion habitat, increasing the number of human-mountain lion encounters. However, in Montana human encounters with mountain lions remain rare.

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

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Commonly abbreviated as: MFWP

Sue Daly, Chief of Administration

Main Office:
1420 East 6th Avenue
P.O. Box 200701
Helena, MT 59620-0701
(406) 444-2535
fwpgen@mt.gov


Wildlife Biologist
Bob Inman

Main Office:
1420 East 6th Avenue
P.O. Box 200701
Helena, MT 59620-0701
bobinman@mt.gov
(406) 444-0042

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

Ask them to stop increasing mountain lion hunting quotas.

Thank MFWP when they take steps to protect our state's mountain lions.
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