Nevada rocky cliff over desert landscape.
 
Photo of rock art in Valley of Fire, Nevada.

HISTORY OF LIONS IN NEVADA

Nevada's predator management projects have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars killing lions.

Like most states, mountain lions were persecuted as vermin by early European settlers. Mountain lions were considered unprotected fur animals and $5 bounties were paid for each lion killed. Mortality records date back to 1917. From 1917 until their classification as game animals in 1965, more than 1,700 lions were killed in the state.

Lions continue to be heavily persecuted in Nevada by ever-increasing sport hunting quotas, conflicts with livestock, and habitat loss. Lions are also falsely blamed for declines in ungulate populations.

    USE THE TABS TO THE LEFT TO EXPLORE:
  • Return to the portal page for Nevada.

  • The status of puma concolor in Nevada.

  • State law and regulations affecting cougars.

  • The history of cougars in Nevada.

  • Ecosystems and habitat in Nevada.

  • Cougar science and research in Nevada.

  • Our library of media, research and reports.

  • How you can take action to help!

The History of Cougars in Nevada

Genetic research indicates that the common ancestor of today's Leopardus, Lynx, Puma, Prionailurus, and Felis lineages migrated across the Bering land bridge into the Americas approximately 8 to 8.5 million years ago.

NV Petroglyph - Mesquite Springs
Rock art petroglyph above Mesquite Springs.

What we know as a cougar today became recognizable as a distinct species about 400,000 years ago, and inhabited nearly all of the Americas for hundreds of thousands of years, alongside the giant sloth, the mammoth, the dire wolf and the sabre-toothed lion.

During the Pleistocene ice ages, conditions appear to have become too cold for cougar populations to survive, and paleotologists believe that at the end of the last ice age, the big cats repopulated North America from a southern refugium. Cougars have inhabited Nevada, alongside humans, for more than 40,000 years.

Native people memorialized the cougar in rock carvings, totems, in story and in song. As European settlement expanded in the 1840's, cougar persecution and riding the landscape of dangerous wildlife became more common.

Bounty Period

Mountain lions were considered unprotected fur animals and $5 bounties were paid for each lion killed. Mortality records date back to 1917. From 1917 until their classification as game animals in 1965, at least 1,705 lions were killed in Nevada.

 
Excerpt from USDA Farmer's Belletin 1920 listed lion bounties for $5.

In 1972 a ten-year mountain lion study was initiated to establish mountain lion population estimates, discern basic habitat requirements, and establish a sport hunting management program. Since its publication in 1983, the findings of this study have formed the foundation for most mountain lion management practices in Nevada.

Since the later half of the 1990s, Nevada's mountain lion hunting regulations have become increasingly lax to simplify and increase hunter involvement.


.

ABOUT OUR PEOPLE & HISTORY: