Southern Ute Tribal Seal

Mountain Lion Hunting

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 mountain lion identification

A female mountain lion can be identified by a genital spot no more than about 1 inch from the anus

Male mountain lion identification

A male mountain lion has a genital spot 4-5 inches from the anus

Aging Mountain Lions in the Field

Mountain lion kitten identification

A mountain lion kitten can be identified first by its small size and secondly by the barring and spotting of its underbelly fur

Mountain lion kitten identification

A mountain lion kitten will often have faint spots on its forelegs as well

Juvenile mountain lion identification

A juvenile mountain lion (1.5 – 2 yrs) will retain its leg barring and some light spotting

Young adult mountain lion identification

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 mountain lion identification

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.