If you follow local news outlets and local social media pages, you’ll notice a common theme when it comes to wildlife sightings – people often mistake one type of animal for another. What about mountain lions, though? Are there any mountain lions in CT?
You’ll get the answer to this question in this article.
We’ll also go over what types of wild cats can be found in Connecticut.
What’s fact and what’s fiction, though?
When it comes to mountain lions, (also called cougars, pumas, or panthers) is there really a chance you will come across one in the wild, or will you need to visit a zoo to see one of these magnificent animals in real life?
Are there mountain lions in CT?
No, there are no mountain lions in CT, and there haven’t been for quite some time.
Mountain lions were hunted to extinction near the end of the 19th century.
Almost daily, there are claims of mountain lion sightings in CT, though.
Why is this?
Mountain lions vs bobcats: a case of mistaken identity
Seeing a wild cat can be both frightening and exciting, and it’s common for people to make mistakes in identification, as all most people are used to seeing is the common housecat.
Certainly, bobcats are much larger than housecats, but they are not nearly the size of cougars.
Here are some physical differences between mountain lions and bobcats:
- Over 7 ft in length
- Over 100 lbs
- Uniform tan color
- Long tails
- Under 3ft in length
- Under 50lbs
- Dark spots
- Tufts of fur in ears
These 2 big cats also behave differently. Bobcats don’t shy away from human habitats, while mountain lions tend to only be found in very isolated areas.
Bobcats, also, only hunt small prey. Due to mountain lions’ large size, they require larger meals.
In cities, smaller towns, and even sparsely inhabited areas, there is simply not enough large prey for mountain lions to survive on.
So, now we know what DEEP says about mountain lions in the state and we know that many people mistakenly believe they’ve sighted one – but it’s still possible there are some in CT, right?
Where is the proof that there are no mountain lions in CT?
According to wildlife biologist Jason Hawley, the lack of evidence of mountain lions in Connecticut is the evidence.
According to Hawley, if mountain lions were present in the state, there would be evidence and not just unconfirmed sightings.
Hawley says that they would be finding carcasses of mountain lion prey and mountain lion tracks if these animals had recolonized the state, and this simply isn’t happening.
The last confirmed sighting of a mountain lion in CT was in 2011 when a driver struck and killed one on the Merrit Parkway.
This might serve as proof to some that there, in fact, might still be mountain lions in CT.
It was found, though, that this particular big cat had traveled all the way from South Dakota – a distance of 1,500 miles.
Have there been recent sightings of Mountain Lions reported in CT?
In May of 2023, a Willington, CT man spotted what he and many others believe to be a mountain lion.
As you can see below, a large animal appears to be carrying a smaller animal in its mouth.
Some on social media say the animal has more fox-like or coyote-like features, however.
What do you think? (Leave a comment below!)
What kind of wild cats live in CT?
So, now that you’ve got the answer on whether or not mountain lions can be found in CT, let’s talk about which wild cats are more likely to be seen here.
According to one internet source, there are 3 types of wild cats that can be found in Connecticut – mountain lions, bobcats, and lynxes.
The Canada Lynx’s geographic territory in New England only extends as far south as northern New Hampshire and parts of Maine, though.
Bobcats, of course, can be found all over the state.
As far as the claim that mountain lions live in CT, as we address in the previous section, that has been debunked.
According to DEEP the bobcat is the only confirmed species of wild cat in CT as of 2022.
So, there you have it – an answer to the question of whether or not there are mountain lions in CT.
Sometimes in our shock and excitement at seeing wildlife we see what we want to see.
It certainly would be a spectacular sight to witness a cat as large as a mountain lion out in the wild, but, for now, in Connecticut, it’s not in the cards.