Update on Eastern Mountain Lions in Virginia

March 11, 2011

Eastern Cougars Extinct?

On March 2, 2011, the U.S. Government released a report saying the eastern mountain lion is extinct. [Note: Eastern panthers, painters, pumas, mountain lions, and cougars all describe the same animal]:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) conducted a formal review of the available information and, in a report issued today, concludes the eastern cougar is extinct and recommends the subspecies be removed from the endangered species list…

Reports of cougars observed in the wild examined during the review process described cougars of other subspecies, often South American subspecies, that had been held in captivity and had escaped or been released to the wild, as well as wild cougars of the western United States subspecies that had migrated eastward to the Midwest…

Recent Mountain Lion Sightings in Virginia Continue

Despite the government report, I am unconvinced that there are not small numbers of a remaining breeding population of eastern mountain lions in Virginia. My wife and I both believe we saw one in 2006.

More recently when we had our dryer repaired earlier this year, the repairman mentioned he heard of a recent sighting near Amissville, Virginia (Rappahannock County).

Additionally “Sheepherder,” a commentator on the Capital Weather Gang blog, recently commented:

There is another mountain lion or three out here in zip codes 20185, 20184, 20117 and 20118.

Those zip codes correspond to Fauquier County.

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66 Responses to Update on Eastern Mountain Lions in Virginia

  1. Eric
    March 12, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    A guy I rode the bus with (when I used to catch it at Linden) saw one in 2007. He lived 10 minutes from the park and ride there. He had also seen some deer carcasses before that. Seems like a mountain lion would have plenty to eat around here…

  2. admin
    March 12, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I found a dead buck in the woods that didn’t appear to be very old… cause of death unknown.

  3. L. Winston
    April 6, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    I was out in the woods taking pictures today and heard a screaming that we have always believed to be a bobcat. A few hours later, while driving down the road about a mile from my house in Spotsylvania County, a very large cat that was tan in color with a long tail (that I believe was a mountain lion) crossed the road in front of my car! We have heard this cat numerous times over the past few years, never would I have guessed it was a mountain lion.

  4. admin
    April 6, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    L. Winston, that sounds similar to what I saw about three years ago. I’ve never heard the scream though…

    Thank you very much for posting your comment

  5. Jamie
    August 30, 2011 at 12:15 am

    I live in a very small community in Southwest Virginia. We have seen a cougar/mountain lion in our small town on numberous occasions. The latest sighting was just 2 weeks ago.

  6. admin
    August 31, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Thanks Jamie for the mountain lion report. Very interesting!

  7. mark deel
    October 21, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    I live in dickenson co. We have had a lot of sightings around here by numerous people,starting around 1998. Bears and coyoties are plentyful. I work at the breaks park and talk to a lot of people and have seen the bears and coyoties myself,not just at the park but all around the county

  8. admin
    October 22, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Mark, thanks a lot for the report. I have yet to see a coyote myself, but know they are out there. Have a great fall weekend!

  9. A. Cooper
    January 24, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    I saw a cougar in the mountains west of Woodstock (Zepp area) in the fall of 2010…glad I had a gun! Makes you think twice about being in the woods without a gun….knowing “they” could be stalking “you”!!

  10. admin
    January 27, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Thanks a lot for the report, A. Cooper.

  11. John Jamieson
    February 16, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    I used to drive Rt.33 over the Mt. Over a 4 yr period. I have seen several Bears and yes I have see 2 My Lions.It crossed right in front of my car.I don’t what the government report says,I have spent over 30 yrs camping and hiking in and around those Mts. I know what I saw. They are back in Virginia!!

  12. admin
    February 23, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Thank you Mr. Jamieson for your comment and sighting report!

  13. Amanda and Brittany
    April 7, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    we went out walking and seen what we believe to be a panther a while later we went to the woods and found black hair caught in a barbwire fence then we heard something growling in the woods in Dickenson County VA

  14. Nan and Lan
    April 11, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    We just visited family in Northern Virginia (near Pohick Park) and saw a Mountain Lion cub along side of the road. Yes, he was alive, and feeding on something along side of Gunston Road, right past Pohick Park. He looked up at us as we drove by. After researching the web, I am sure he was a mountain lion cub.

  15. firesteve828
    April 24, 2012 at 8:59 am

    i have a friend that has a picture of a big mountain lion that was hit by a car in Blackstone on 4/23/12

  16. Kathleen
    August 26, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    I have seen mountain lions in both Fauquier and Loudon counties. More recently was the sighting in Fauquier – and when I mentioned to others, they were not surprised, as some had seen or knew someone who had seen a cougar down this way. Live near Germantown Lake – lots of undeveloped areas/woods/farms and a large deer population.

  17. hemlock
    August 29, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    I saw one jump a fence at a community dump in Amherst county back in 1997. I had been sitting in my truck looking at maps for 20 minutes or so when it happened.

  18. jpl
    September 4, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    neighbor saw a mountain lion chasing a deer thru their back yard this past weekend in north western Fauquier Co. We also have a momma bear walking around with 5 (yes five) cubs. Love living here !!

  19. Lynne
    October 6, 2012 at 10:17 am

    While walking my dog in Manassas Battlefield Park at @10 in the morning 2 weeks ago, I saw a Mountain Lion cub emerge from a stand of trees, going away from us. It was only 100 or so feet away, and the grass had just been mowed for the Fall so it was in plain sight..I made a sound, and it turned around and looked at me, then kept going the way it had been, over a hill and out of sight. It was light brown w gray/black marks on its legs and shoulders. Gorgeous dark markings on its face. My dog is 70 lbs, and I’d guess the cub was over 40 pounds, as a rough estimate. We kept going to the car while I wondered where its mother was. This occurred almost across the street from the parking area at Hazel Plain. There were several cars parked there and people sprinkled around the park jogging, hking, etc. but no one else was nearby when we saw the cub. It was the first time that we hadn’t seen deer or wild turkeys…perhaps this is why!

  20. Brian
    November 29, 2012 at 2:14 am

    Mount Jackson paw print

    [IMG]http://i1105.photobucket.com/albums/h356/brianbbs67/weird%20stuff/b12365bdaa5f8448f291bc62539993ce.jpg[/IMG]

    [IMG]http://i1105.photobucket.com/albums/h356/brianbbs67/weird%20stuff/7a84c247d7038ca7922e606e729c59c5.jpg[/IMG]

    [IMG]http://i1105.photobucket.com/albums/h356/brianbbs67/weird%20stuff/71ce7cef3412af7bfb518f4fe0255958.jpg[/IMG]

    [IMG]http://i1105.photobucket.com/albums/h356/brianbbs67/weird%20stuff/cff9e8f26c6f2db2f53545dc403ee21f.jpg[/IMG]

  21. R. Rocheleau
    December 3, 2012 at 9:16 am

    While driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the middle of the night in 1995 with a couple of friends a very large cat ran across the road right in front of us. My friend in the passenger seat and I got a pretty good look at it for all of 3 seconds before it disappeared into the forest after crossing. I remember thinking that it was approaching tiger size. It was of a tannish coloring and had very large bushy paws.

  22. D.Clark
    December 23, 2012 at 2:50 am

    There is a mountain lion caught on a game cam dragging a 8 point buck in mendotta, Va. Personally seen

  23. D.Clark
    December 23, 2012 at 3:00 am

    the same mountain lion was later seen forging a river

  24. K. Amos
    December 29, 2012 at 10:33 am

    In mid-Dec. 2012 we heard frightening cats screams in our woods, like nothing we have ever heard before. Our house cats were terrified. Yesterday my husband saw the paw prints and are having them analyzed. Powhatan, Va.

  25. L. Kudla
    December 30, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    I live outside of the village of Orlean, Virginia on 10 acres which is a very small homesite in this rural area. About 9pm on December 14th, I was walking my dogs behind my house at the edge of woods when I heard something I had only heard on TV. It sounded like a VERY large cat but I wasn’t sure. My husband played several calls on his computer for me to identify. About the fifth one, he played the exact call that I heard. Only then did he tell me I had identified a couger.

  26. Zak
    January 10, 2013 at 7:56 am

    Reports of Mountain Lion in Grundy, Va

  27. Michelle NataleMichellecnatale
    January 28, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    A mountain lion was spotted recently in Cross Junction, VA. I did not see it…but the news was reported in our community newsletter.

  28. Nathan S.
    January 31, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    I have not seen a big cat but I certainly heard what I believe to have been a cougar in August 2012 in the woods behind my house. I have a hard time believing it could have been anything but a big cat.

    I live in southern Franklin County, VA and frequently see coyotes and recently had a very large black bear walk out of the woods and right up my driveway. So, the predators, and prey, are plentiful. No doubt a cougar could be fat and happy around here.

  29. Laurie P.
    February 3, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I saw a mountain lion along hwy. 7 near Bluemont, VA in Nov. 2012. I was on my way to the Obama/Clinton/Dave Matthews rally. At first, I thought it was a dear, but as I approached, could see that it was a mountain lion. It was crouching underneath the guard rail. I’m assuming there may have been some road kill there. I could see the muscles in it’s shoulders.

  30. Cat Buchanan
    February 27, 2013 at 8:28 am

    My husband saw one in the back of our field in 2007 in Jeffersonton – which is not very far from Amissville. I firmly believe that we are in a mountain lion’s territory and that they exist here in Northern Culpeper/Fauquier/Rappahannock county. I don’t believe what the Wildlife officials state in dismissing the existence of Mountain Lions/Cougars/Panthers in our Commonwealth. They deny the existence because they would then qualify for endangered species status and would need habitat to be maintained.

    I think that the re-introduction of elk and wolves into the Commonwealth points to the knowledge that Wildlife officials have of Mountain Lions in our area. Wolves and bears are two of the only “predators” of the mountain lion. Also, they never caught the mountain lion and black panther that were sighted outside of Andrews AFB years ago so we may have black panther DNA reintroduced into the area as well.

  31. Richard Crenshaw
    February 28, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Sorry, but I respectfully don’t believe it. I do suppose there could be the occassional released or escaped pet, but not a population. Cougars are treed by dogs. Its how they are hunted.
    with the number of dogs running and treeing animals in Virginia in the hunting seasons, don’t we suppose at least one in the past 30 years would have been treed? Eyes play tricks.

  32. Luke
    March 3, 2013 at 12:34 am

    I’m from abingdon va and do a lot of fishing around tumbling creek. Me and a friend was wading up the river and the fish was bitting good in one area so we stopped for an hour or so and there was a tree that fell in the river about ten yards from me when I saw what I kno was a mt lion jump up on the tree walk down to the water got a drink and walked back up in the woods. Very scary.

  33. Luke
    March 3, 2013 at 12:37 am

    I also work with a man who coon hunts and he said his two dogs treed a big cat

  34. Sarah
    March 16, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    I was at my father-n-law’s in Dickenson County and sitting on the porch one night and a very large black cat what I consider a Panther walked right around the front of the porch sneaking around to the side. The very next day the dogs were going crazy and it was screaming up in the woods behind the house.

  35. KC
    March 30, 2013 at 10:36 am

    In July 2012, I saw what I believe to be some sort of mountain lion-type animal at Wigwam Falls on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was shortly before sunset and I was photographing the falls when movement at the top of the falls caught my eye. It was light brown; I originally thought it was a deer. It was standing near the top of the falls and then lowered its head and it was then clear that it was not a deer.

  36. Carl Hollifield
    April 4, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    4/4 1:40pm heading S-I81 from New Market Va about 6 miles N of Harrisonburg va. I was riding shotgun w/ my family in our van when I was day-dreaming looking out the window ii saw a white flash it was a whitetail running threw small sparsely cedar’s wait then 2,3,4 maybe 5 of all sizes older to younger I wondered what spooked them then I saw it a 2-2 1/2 ft tall brown coulda had a few darker speckles but what gave it away was the 2 ft long tail he was running on the left side of them keeping a some small cedars between it as if choosing one of them then in a flash we were past them I was glad to see this in broad daylight because I have questions myself a couple of times in the past in Culpeper county driving at night near rappahanock Now I no longer have t question my eyesight :-)

  37. Joshua
    April 12, 2013 at 4:56 am

    4/12/13 @ 3am Fairfax County Parkway near NCE. Saw a cougar/mountain lion running across the street into a heavily wooded area. Was going slow enough to clearly make out that it was not a deer or a large dog.

  38. Edie M
    April 13, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    My husband and I were on Rt 664 aprox. 100 yards from the entrance to Wintergreen when a large tan colored cat jumped from the left side of the road to the middle,to the right and over the edge of the embancment (two bounds to cross the road). It was as large as a small Labrador Retreiver with a long thick tail. It’s ears were not sticking up but were back. It reminded me of a Jaguer hood ornament.

  39. Charlene
    April 28, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Not sure what has been seen on the property I live on in Roanoke City off Peters Creek Rd, but 2 years ago the property saw a black, cat-like creature darting into the woods not far from the dumpster that is here. Nothing else was seen until today. Again, the property manager was heading towards the back of the property and saw it in the same area as the one she saw before. She said it was definately bigger than a house cat, was black and had a long tail. When she went to tell someone else that was on the property, he said that he was putting trash in the dumpster when he saw the very same thing. The property I live on consists of 80-some acres, 20-some being developed. There is an abundance of wildlife here. Once when I came home I spotted a herd of 10-12 deer right beside my house. So there’s plenty of food for any big cats roaming around. And yes, again, I live in the city of Roanoke, VA! I wish I had spotted the cat myself so I could give a better description. Perhaps someday soon I’ll see it for myself! But for whatever it’s worth, both of the witness are credible. One being a minister. I have no doubt that if they both said they saw it, they saw it.

  40. ducknest
    May 11, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Last year my wife was driving around a pond in Remington and saw a black cat about the size of a labrador retriever on her way to her accountant. She thought it was a dog at first but as it walked away she said it absolutely was a cat. One of our neighbors in Sumerduck just said he saw a black mountain lion as close as 50-100 ft from him. He was scared. That is why I am looking at this thread right now. Looking for possible ideas.

  41. Joseph Henson
    May 20, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Headed north on 28 centerville rd in northern va, just before westfield blvd exit, open field on right…saw a mt.lion as clear as day…no question about it…wow.

  42. May 28, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Repeated sightings of what could be a “wild, free-roaming cougar”, have been reported to us across northern Culpeper County, between Amissville, Washington & Chester Gap, Virginia, since May 1st.
    Another region of repeated ‘mountain lion sightings” is along U.S. Rte 33, between Rawley Springs, western Rockingham Co, Va and Brandywine in eastern Pendleton Co, WV….just too many sightings by reliable witnesses, to ignore….

  43. Matt B
    June 11, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    We were recently visiting with a college friend of my wife whose family owns about 300 rural acres near Leesburg. She assured me they have seen a mountain lion on the property on multiple occasions.

  44. brandi
    June 12, 2013 at 7:43 am

    In 2009 i was lying in bed at about midnight when i heard tbis scream/ growl from outside my window. At the time i lived in saltville va. it is actually on the other side of the same mountain were a previous post said he saw one in tumbling creek. i lived about 4 miles from there. after hearing the noise getiing closer i woke up my fiance and we went to our bathroom to see if we could see it out the window at that time it let out an awful noise right in front of us and we slammed the window shut. i hate that we didn’t see it. the next morning our neighbor said that his chickens were mssing and all he found in the yard was feathers. Other family members in the area have reported hearing the same noise at different times. a cousin of my fiance also said she heard one and that her dogs were so scared that they hid in the corner of the house crying and peed all over the floor.

  45. John Canady
    June 17, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Sighting! Buckingham, VA, Saturday June the 15, approximately 4:00pm. West VACO Land Lease property “Doe Track”. My son (14) and I had been running all the trails on the 312 Acres for several hours and for a final run we wanted to make a short run back to the property line on a trail we had explored. As it turned out it was only a 150 yards or so to the property line so my son who was driving the JD Gator made a quick U-Turn and gave me a thrill ride back up the trail to the main road. As we entered the road he made a left to head back to the truck but I was looking to the right when I heard him yell, LOOK! As I turned my head all I caught was a flash of something gliding through the air just above the high grass and bushes on the edge of the road. As flash instantly replayed I saw an image that was leaping through the air like a deer but a dear has no tail? Its body was brownish somewhat like a dear but as its body stretched out into the downward side of the leap a long tail appeared high in the air. Instantly and without a second thought I blurted out, “LION”!

    Although I’ve never seen a Lion in the wild, as my brain connected with the vision and my verbal expression of what I had just see spontaneously followed. All in the same moment may Son stopped the Gator, I questioned him, what was that? He replied, “I thought it was a dog but it had on nose.” I replied in astonishment, “It was a Lion!”, I thought at the same time, it couldn’t have been. I drew my 45 and shouted, go, go! As we passed the spot in the road we looked to the woods for any movement but saw none.

    As we make it back to the truck I was stunned with the thought of a Lion in the woods, but then it clicked, it made perfect sense now as to why we had found virtually no signs of deer in the area. As I stilled questioned what we had seen I asked my Son what he saw just before the yelled for me to look, he explained. “It was lying down in the road, I thought it was a dog at first but it had no nose, its face was flat”. I asked was it a deer, he replied. “If it was its nose was bashed in. I thought, no deer or dog for that matter would have be lying in the road, what then? Just like a cat to crouch down to hide.

    When we left the area I stopped at a local house which backed up the property. There was a young guy there cutting the grass so I approached him to question what we had seen. I was surprised; he didn’t seem too excited when I told him about what we had just experienced. I asked if had heard for any sightings in the area. I replied that there were some rumors floating around but know one, that he knew, had ever seen a Lion.

    I’m still stunned, I’ve asked my son a dozen times, did you see a tail, but no, he doesn’t recall seeing a tail??

    So I’ll leave it at this, we’re not leasing the property! No deer in the area, but there is something there! It leaps like a deer and clearly in my mind’s eye, has a tail like a Lion. It has no snout or nose, not like a dog or a deer. It takes a crouched or lying/position when suddenly startled and first sees potential a danger. So you take it from there, as for me, there is at least one Lion in the State of Virginia, it’s in the wild and it roams the wood lands of northern Buckingham County, VA.

  46. Larry Shamblin
    July 8, 2013 at 10:32 am

    This morning, Mon July 8 @ about ten am my wife Diana and I were talking about nothing in particular when she said “look at that”. She was looking out the window over my shoulder and she had seen an animal running low in the woods. She was discribing the animal when it again appeared retracing its path thru the trees and underbrush. Very excited now she said it was a tan colored cat, almost the same color of our Haflinger ponies. Running in long leaps and very fast..it was out of my line of sight before I could turn to see it. The net query revealed a few pictures and this site and others that confirmed her siteing was not an impossible illusion. We have lived here in Shenandoah County for twenty five years and seen bear, deer inumerable, bobcats, etc. First sighting of a cougar. Along Tumbling Run
    a hundred yards east of I81. Glad to know they are still among us in spite of what the state may believe. As long as they don’t bevelope a taste for horse meat! Hope this info makes someones day.

  47. Scott
    July 23, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    My father saw a black panther near the Humpback vistitor center on the Blue Ridge Parkway on Saturday 20 july 13.

  48. Ricky tingler
    July 31, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Finally got a picture of one on my trail cam

  49. Ricky tingler
    July 31, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    O btw that is in potts creek va

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