Panthera Puma Director Stands for Texas Mountain Lions

By Ross Rosenthal
Marketing and Communications Specialist

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In Texas, mountain lions face unregulated trapping and hunting, putting them in an imperiled state. Texans for Mountain Lions, a group which Panthera supports, has submitted a petition to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to impose a series of measures and regulations to improve the wellbeing of Texas' mountain lion population. Panthera Puma Program Director Dr. Mark Elbroch recently sat down with The Dallas Observer to discuss this. The interview is featured here.

Just how dire is the mountain lion trapping situation in Texas? 

Texas is the only state that allows the trapping of mountain lions. In general, states do not allow trapping of mountain lions because trapping is indiscriminate (e.g., it catches mountain lions and other species, and mountain lions of any age and sex — for example a trap is just as likely to catch a kitten as an adult), and therefore difficult to monitor within the framework of a conservation management plan for the species. Trapping in West Texas is the leading cause of mortality for all mountain lions studied to date, and the mortality rates are all well beyond thresholds biologists have determined for maintaining sustainable mountain lion populations. Many suspect the only reason mountain lions have been able to hang on in the Trans-Pecos region is because enough animals are moving into Texas from Mexico and New Mexico to augment the population. Should those connections with other populations disappear or be compromised in some way, the Trans-Pecos population will wither fast. Without question, trapping rates are unsustainable and undermine the TPWD’s ability to maintain mountain lions in the state to the benefit of all Texans. 

Are there any misconceptions surrounding mountain lions that you'd like to see cleared up? 


  • Mountain lions are all the same. It’s not the case; they are individuals that exhibit different prey preferences, levels of sociality and different strategies in raising young.
  • We need to regulate their numbers to protect people and livestock. Not true, as there is little evidence that controlling mountain lions increases human or livestock safety.
  • Mountain lions will eat all the deer, if we let them. Not true: deer numbers are primarily influenced by weather and moisture that drives the growth of forage, and secondarily, in most places by human harvest. Mountain lions generally do not impact deer significantly enough to impact their abundance, except where deer are already in trouble for other reasons (disease, etc.).
  • Mountain lions are antisocial, robotic, killing machines. Not true, they are individuals that maintain social relations with their neighbors. On average females spend 84% of their lives with kittens in family units.
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Why should everyday Texans care about mountain lion conservation efforts? 

Because Texans value their natural heritage, and mountain lions are clearly part of Texas’s rich conservation history — look at all the high school mascots that are cougars, wild cats and other names for this charismatic species. 

Because science shows that mountain lions support biodiversity and ecological resilience, which in turn supports healthier human communities. In other words, by their very presence, they support Texans and the natural heritage they so love and enjoy.

Because mountain lions provide all sorts of measurable benefits to people. For example, there is growing evidence that mountain lions can help limit chronic wasting disease, which is a debilitating disease costing the hunting and wildlife management industries millions of dollars every year.

Have you heard anything from TPWD yet regarding the petition/putting it on the upcoming agenda?

They have received the petition and are giving it careful consideration. Now is the time for people to call and write the TPWD to share their own opinions about mountain lions. Please visit

For more about mountain lions, click here. Learn more about the status of this petition, now denied.