Sleek and elegant, cougars (Puma concolor) are secretive loners rarely seen in the wild. Also known as mountain lions, pumas or cougars are famous for their strength, agility, and amazing jump capacity. Their truly powerful legs allow them to leap 30 feet from a standing position or leap 15 feet straight into a cliff.
A puma body strength and strong jaws enable it to trip and drag prey larger than itself. Cougars belong to the largest members of the cat family in North America. Adult males weigh 140 pounds, but in a perfect situation, they can weigh up to 180 pounds and be 78 feet long from nose to tail tip. Adult males stand at about 30 inches at the shoulder. Adult female cougars are on average 25 percent smaller than males. Pumas’ color ranges from reddish-brown to tawny (deerlike) to gray, with a black tip on their long tail.
Cougars can be found throughout the whole of Washington where there is dense cover and abundant prey. The cougar population for 2002 was estimated at between 2,400 and 3,500 individuals. Nationwide, the puma population is declining. The Department of Fish and Wildlife has nine administrative zones throughout the state designed to maintain or reduce and regulate harvest levels accordingly. Wildlife bureaus across the state receive hundreds of calls each year about sightings, attacks on livestock and pets, and confrontations between cougars and humans. Our growing human population and dwindling puma habitat may create more opportunities for such encounters.