Mountain Lion

Southern Ute Indian Tribe

Mountain Lion Hunting

Jeremy Wade Shockley | Southern Ute Drum

Division of Wildlife Resource Management

Wildlife Division Head

Steve Whiteman
(970) 563-0130

Following an extended mountain lion hunt closure started in 1996, the Tribe recently opened mountain lion hunting on the reservation for Southern Ute Tribal members only. The extended hunt closure afforded the Tribe a valuable opportunity to partner with the University of Wyoming in researching lion population levels and movement patterns on the reservation. The research has provided critically-needed information to wildlife managers who are responsible for establishing and regulating sustainable big game hunting programs.

Provided here are important guidelines that Tribal member hunters must keep in mind when pursuing lions on the Southern Ute Reservation.

For the purposes of mountain lion hunting, the Division of Wildlife Resource Management divides the reservation into east and west hunt units separated by the Los Pinos River. The mountain lion season is regulated by a quota system whereby if the quota for a unit is filled, the season ends for that unit regardless of the date. The east hunt unit has a quota of four lions total or two female lions. The west unit quota is 3 lions total or two female lions. It is the hunter’s responsibility to know where the harvest quota stands immediately before engaging in a lion hunt. Hunters should contact the Southern Ute lion quota information line, announced seasonally by the Division, for quota updates. Also, it is unlawful to harvest females with kittens or kittens themselves. Hunters must be able to distinguish between male and female and kitten and adult lions.

Confusing a female lion for a male lion, or a kitten for an adult, is an easy mistake to make and can result in serious wildlife offenses and fines. Therefore, the ability to make these distinctions is a critical skill for lion hunters to know and use in the field. Below is a general guide for identifying different sex and age classes in mountain lions.

Differentiating Male and Female Mountain Lions in the Field

Female Lion
A female mountain lion can be identified by a genital spot no more than about 1 inch from the anus.
Male Lion
A male mountain lion has a genital spot 4-5 inches from the anus.

Aging Mountain Lions in the Field

Lion Kitten
A mountain lion kitten can be identified first by its small size and secondly by the barring and spotting of its underbelly fur.
Lion Kitten
A mountain lion kitten will often have faint spots on its forelegs, as well.
Juvenile Lion
A juvenile mountain lion (1.5 – 2 yrs) will retain its leg barring and some light spotting.
Young Adult Lion
A young adult mountain lion (2.5 – 4 yrs) may still retain leg barring; however, underbelly spotting will now be much lighter than a juvenile.
Adult Lion
An adult mountain lion will normally have very little leg barring and no spotting evident on white under-fur.

Lion Guide courtesy:
Anderson, C.R., Jr., and F.G. Lindzey.  2000.
A photographic guide to estimating mountain lion age classes.
WY Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Resource Unit, Laramie.

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