Sunrise over farm in Texas Hill Country.
  Photo Courtesy of:
  Jim Nix / Nomadic Pursuits
 
Photo of landsacape.

THE STATUS OF LIONS IN TEXAS

Texas allows year round unlimited mountain lion take.

Though mountain lions once roamed throughout Texas, persecution at the hands of humans has driven them locally extinct in the eastern portion of the state. Fear and misinformation, as well as overhunting and habitat fragmentation were the main forces driving this extirpation. But attitudes have changed since the early 1900s and there's hope for the future.

If we support mountain lion-friendly legislation, open space conservation, and preserve corridors connecting potential habitat, we could reverse this situation and bring mountain lions back home to all of Texas.

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  • The status of puma concolor in Texas.

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Texas's Mountain Lion Management


Texas is home to the southern and eastern extent of the U. S. mountain lion population. Mountain lions continue to survive, despite unlimited hunting, habitat loss, and no legal protections. In fact, mountain lions may be hunted or trapped at any time using any legal method in Texas. Though the survive in the western portion of the state, habitat loss and fragmentation, extreme reductions in prey populations, and unregulated hunting and trapping, have led to its extirpation from the eastern portion of the state by the early 1900's.

Starting in the 90s, mountain lions started recolonizing East Texas. It's possible that mountain lions could use habitat in East Texas to recolonize previously occupied habitat in Arkansas and Louisiana, though it is unlikely given Texas's current policies towards mountain lions and expanding human development. Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists predict that human development in East Texas will continue increase, further fragmenting already imperiled habitat.

 
Graph of human-caused lion mortality in TX.


Texas Parks and Wildlife do not attempt to create a population estimate. They rely on sightings to determine mountain lion population status. The state claims that, against all odds, the population of mountain lions in Texas is increasing. You can decide for yourself whether you think they have adequate data to make that claim.

In 1973, Congress passes the Endangered Species Act, designed to protect critically imperiled species from extinction as a 'consequence of economic growth and development untendered by adequate concern and conservation.' Unfortunately, these protections don't apply to mountain lions in Texas.


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