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.
From sightings of wolves and moose to brown recluses and mountain lions, people in CT have made some wild (pun intended) claims about what animals they’ve spotted.
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
Booth DEEP and local authorities around Connecticut have confirmed that the majority of mountain lion sightings in the state turn out to be sightings of bobcats.
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.
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 only types of lynx that are indigenous to New England are the Canada Lynx and the Lynx rufus (bobcat).
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.
Sunday 19th of March 2023
Many years ago there was a mountain lion that stayed in a wood pile in my mother's back yard. It would come regularly during its yearly migration. Everyone thought my family was crazy until it crossed the road into the "Strong Elementary School" play yard during recess with small children playing. At that point, they realized my family was not crazy and it was identified as a cougar and it was about 100 lbs. I believe that was about 10 years ago. I am 58 years old and another cougar was identified when I was much younger by the Deep in Meriden. The police shoot of Cougars behind the police Academy when they get over populated. Thus, the name of the mountain where Castle Craig sits.. nicknamed "Cat Hole Mountain!" They do not want to alarm the public. How much wild life is out there? Only Ignorance would believe that something that once know to be - no longer is... Just because you don't see it, doesn't mean it is not there. Especially, when they do migrate across country. Don't be a fool and be caught off guard by believing they don't exist in Connecticut.
Friday 10th of March 2023
We had a mountain lion go thru my property was about 125 lbs left his paw prints in the mug, which were a bigger than my hand and have pictures of it we also had bobcats come through. His mountain lion was over twice the size of the bobcat which the bobcat had killed half my flock of chickens. One has been spotted on our street for the last four or five years. Also, there has been a rash of cats and dogs gone missing out of here with the DP‘s. Says that there’s no mountain lions in Connecticut they are full of it
Thursday 19th of January 2023
Wait a minute--there was a sighting in New London County a few years back, and my wife read an article about a mountain lion or cougar being struck by a vehicle in Milford a few years back. I might also add that I notified the State wildlife division about evidence of a bear in my neighborhood in Windham County and never received even an acknowledgement. I frankly have lost faith in some government institutions for this very reason. Somebody needs to take charge of this outfit and do something about the interactions with the citizenry. We have had five coyotes crossing through our yard in the past few weeks, and one even lingers around our property and the neighbors. They are very bold. Yet we see nothing about what is being planned except how to scare them away if one sees them.
Friday 20th of January 2023
We're not aware of any more confirmed mountain lion sightings other than the one that was hit by the car many years back. New London would be the last place I'd expect to see a mountain lion in CT.
Wednesday 9th of November 2022
My sister is on 9 acres in Harwinton and watched a mountain lion cross the driveway which is about a quarter mile surrounded by woods and unpaved. This was maybe a decade ago. She said the size made her do a double take and indeed she seen it had a very long tail
Saturday 5th of November 2022
Bullsh** Grandson of an old swamp Yankee, trapped, hunted , fished my whole life. I know the difference between bobcats, lynx, & mt lions. I saw one cross the rd ( rt 63) in Wtn @ 5 yrs ago
Sunday 6th of November 2022
@Craig, As I said previously, I agree…I am a person with very good knowledge of animals and know the distinct differences between closely related species in some cases… When we lived in Suffield, we had MANY Mountain Lion sightings….probably 4-5 sightings (which qualifies as many to me) and they were definitely not Bobcats…
Mary Ann Lally
Sunday 6th of November 2022
@Craig, what town is Wtn? Tandmlally@yahoo.com