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Are There Wild Cats In Utah? Everything You Need to Know!

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Cougar walking on stone pebbles

Whether you live in the Basin and Ridge region, Colorado Plateau, or the Rocky Mountains in Utah, you’ve probably seen wild animals in your area. However, some of the state’s creatures are harder to spot unless you venture out at night. The mountain lion, bobcat, and lynx have active populations in Utah, but because they’re elusive, nocturnal, and typically prefer to avoid humans, you’re unlikely to spot one in the middle of the day.

The cats are all solitary predators, but if you enjoy hiking or camping in the widlerness, you might encounter one.. For your own safety and the safety of these wild cats, it’s good to know where they live, what they look like, and some of their behaviors.

Are There Cougars in Utah?

The big cat most people associate with Utah is the cougar, but the cougar is actually just another name for the mountain lion. The cats have a few other common names, such as pumas and panthers, but mountain lion is the term used in the scientific community.

Mountain Lions in Utah

Mountain lion lying on the ground
Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

The mountain lion is the largest wild cat in the state. It has a tan body with black markings on its tails, ears, and snout. Most males  weigh115–220 pounds, and the females weigh around 64–114 pounds.

Cougars are solitary and secretive, but while shy, they’re the wild cat you’re most likely to encounter in Utah. They are relatively widespread and live in mountainous areas in the northern part of the state and the deserts of Southern Utah. However, there aren’t that many of them in the state since their territories cover large areas. Because of their size, cougars can be dangerous to humans, so if you see one, never try to get near it. Luckily, attacks are rare, although not unheard of.

Bobcats in Utah

The bobcat is fairly common in Utah. These cats are active after dark, so it’s rare ever to see one. They are solitary cats that only meet up with other bobcats to reproduce. They are found in many regions in Utah, including mountainous forests and deserts.

Bobcats are brown with tufted ears, black-tipped tails, and white underbellies. They weigh around 13–30 pounds. Bobcats rarely harm humans, but you should never get too close to the cats. Although they’re not aggressive towards humans, bobcats have been known to attack small pets on occasion.

Canadian Lynx in Utah

canadian lynx walking in snow
Image Credit: Felineus, Shuttrstock

The Canada lynx is a rare sight to see in Utah. While they used to be more common in the state, sightings have dwindled in the past 20 years. So, if you see one in Utah, you should report the sighting to Fish and Game officials.

Lynxes are primarily tan or brown with black spots, and they look very similar to bobcats. The main difference is that they have longer ear tufts, which are also black, and a larger, black-tipped tail. The Canada lynx is much smaller than a mountain lion and weighs around 22–44 pounds.

Respecting Wild Cats in Utah

While the wild cats native to Utah are beautiful animals, they are wild and should be left alone. They deserve to thrive in their natural habitats, and it’s not safe for you to get too close. If you happen to see one from afar, try to walk away slowly without drawing attention to yourself.

We hope this information has helped you understand and appreciate Utah’s three wild cat species.


Featured Image Credit: camselo, Pixabay

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