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Cougar Sitings

Oregon is home to more than 5,000 cougars, or mountain lions. While cougar sightings and encounters are rare, it is wise to educate yourself about the big cats. 

Native to Oregon, cougars range throughout the state, the highest densities occur in the Blue Mountains in the northeastern part of the state and in the southwestern Cascade Mountains . Their primarily food source is deer, but they will also consume elk, raccoons, bighorn sheep, and other mammals and birds. Cougars are territorial animals and maintain home ranges of up to 100 miles. Most active at dawn and dusk, cougars are lone hunters. They are generally solitary animals, except for mothers who remain with kittens for about two years.  While actual cougar sightings have increased, coyotes, bobcats and dogs are often mistaken for cougars. A cougar can be identified by its large size, cat-like appearance, consistent tan or tawny body color, and long tail. An adult cougar's tail is nearly three feet long and a third to a half of its total length. Cougar tracks can be differentiated from dog tracks by paying attention to detail. 

Report any cougar sighting or encounter to a local ODFW office or Oregon State Police office. 


Track Comparison



















  • Tracks do not generally include claw marks because cougars have retractable claws. 

  • The heel pad has three distinct lobes at the base of the heel pad, forming an "M" shape. 

  • Tracks will usually include claw marks. 

  • Tracks of dogs' rear pads are more rounded. 

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