Camera traps have captured some insanely large mountain lions, including a “gargantuan tom cougar” dubbed Chuck Norris in Texas.
Mountain lions are large, tan cats native to the Americas. Also known as the cougar, puma, panther, and catamount, the large cats can exceed 200 pounds in some regions.
These guys are crafty predators, and silently sneak up on prey before pouncing on them from behind. The cats will then deliver a lethal bite to the neck, severing the spine. Ouch!
Mountain lions are highly adaptable and have the largest range of any land animal in the Americas. The cats thrive in a variety of habitats as far north as the Yukon Territory in Canada all the way south to the Andes. Despite their adaptability, the cats were wiped out from the entire eastern half of North America after Europeans arrived. People were afraid of the animals and feared that they would attack their livestock, so they hunted them relentlessly for nearly a century. Because of this, the eastern cougar (a subspecies of mountain lion) was declared extinct by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011.
Today, despite protections, mountain lions continue to face threats of habitat loss and fragmentation, loss of prey, and human conflict.
Conservationists consider mountain lions to be a vitally important “umbrella species” because such vast amounts of land are required for them to thrive. By preserving large swaths of habitat for the cats, countless other species will benefit.
You can contribute to the conservation of America’s lion by supporting the Mountain Lion Foundation, which serves to protect the animals and their habitat.