Home / Predator / Cougars Taking Over Colorado

Cougars Taking Over Colorado

In some areas, nearly half of Colorado deer and elk hunters reported seeing mountain lions or tracks while they hunted last year. One CPW supervisor told me an outfitter with 18 camps said that every camp reported seeing lions or lion tracks.

When hunters are seeing mountain lions, there are way, way too many lions. The problem is that it is not politically feasible for CPW to hire professionals to cull the lions and so they have to rely on hunters to do it but they are not seeing the harvest of lions they want to see. The result? Many areas with big reputations are not keeping their older deer class high enough to justify the points. 

For example, Unit 44 is one of the areas where seeing a lion is a real possibility. It takes a lot of points to draw 3rd and 4th season but the decline in trophy bucks in 44 has been much greater than people realize. The culprit seems to be too many lions, with bears not far behind. 

The official mountain lion estimate is 4,000 – 5,000 mountain lions in Colorado with a density of one lion for every 10 square miles (a square 3.16 miles long and wide). Not only is that probably low, but you can bet that the number in good habitat is much higher and if you glassed a mile or two in every direction, there were probably two lions in that circle.

The deer predator problem is so bad that the State dropped its nonresident bear license to $100 last year so that hunters would buy it as an add-on tag just in case. The pickup in bear tags sold was very strong. I told CPW recently that they need to do the same with lion tags, which are currently $350. Don’t be surprised if you see a price drop on them next year. They should also start the lion season much earlier than the current mid-November date.

I like houndsmen tracking down these lions and I wish them all the business they can get, but if I can put a lion on my wall myself while I’m hunting deer or elk I am all for that. I plan to buy a bear tag this fall but I’m hunting too early for a lion license. I hope you’ll buy one. It is probably the only way we are going to put a dent in the out-of-control predator problem in Colorado. And now they are voting on introducing wolves, crazy?1?



About Dave Hoshour

Check Also

Attacked by a Coyote

You might have a similar reaction to mine, a soft chuckle and… come-on, really, a …

Colorado: Lions Kill 15 Dogs

“[It] was like a dragon took him out of the sky and then leapt 20 …


  1. CA is right there to to many lions

  2. I live in GMU 44. I’ve heard there are too many bears and lions. I’m originally from CA where it has been illegal to hunt lions for decades and there are way too many and for example the desert big horn sheep numbers have been decreasing for a long time. I saw lions 3 times in very urban areas when living in CA. So far in CO I’ve seen one deer carcass from a lion kill nearby. There are plenty of sightings around here, often near homes at night. Recently there was an article in the local paper saying that the elk population in our area is dropping and they blame it on hikers etc in the backcountry. But from my experience, once one has hiked more than 3 miles from a trail head, you pretty much have the wilderness to yourself.

  3. When I was young you could buy a sportsmans license in Colorado for the same price as an Elk and Deer license cost but it allowed you to shoot a bear and a mountain lion with that license, as well as your elk and Deer. Even if it cost a few extra bucks most hunters would be glad to do it so when their hunting the could help cut down on these two species and it would cost nothing or make money for the CPW. There’s ways to help curb these so we have some game left to hunt. There are to many Bears and Mountain Lion now and nubers are suffering because of it.

  4. The decline in trophy deer and elk is no doubt somewhat do to the increase in populations of predators in Colorado. I think the largest contributor to the degradation of deer and elk is the overwhelming amount of people who have moved here in the last five years. It is disheartening to draw a tag only to go out and find the backwoods looking like downtown Denver. Everyone wants to come to Colorado and hunt elk. Unless things change in Colorado, I fear that a long hunting tradition may soon be lost to future generations.

  5. They need to drop the price resident and non resident price “tax” down to about oregon levels and make the season year round.

  6. Very simple solution for this.

    Change the lion season to year round, and allow tag holders to harvest two per year.

    Unfortunately, CPW is already over complicating their solution for 2022. We’ve had a dozen meetings all over the state and people are still scratching their heads.

  7. Not sure all you say is accurate cw disease is high all over the west I go out not as much now but I haven’t seen or seen. Lion tracks for while and u just use a unit as location is that one by Thornton?

  8. Finally someone agrees with me! I have hunted area 55 for 25 years and the elk numbers have dropped dramatically! We have lots of lions in our area. I have seen lions down low by the houses, found numerous kills. Their numbers are way too high!

    Rick Barr

  9. Andrew G Stratton

    What is your primary source material for lion density’s at 1 per 10sq miles? Just curious.

  10. I don’t know where you got the 350 for a lion tag tho it’s actually only 50 bucks for a lion tag and no limit for a hunter to go get as many lions as they want they only limit the quota of lions per unit. Too many articles being written with misinformation and it really doesn’t help. We just need to allow hounds for bears and add a spring bear season then possibly extend the lion season for houndsmen and make it a year round hunt for those who don’t have hounds or something like that. I don’t think we have a lion problem yet as I don’t see very much sign of them but am very concerned about the upcoming wolf problem we’ll be dealing with here in Colorado.

  11. The tree huggers want wolves and lions and bears. And they don’t want hunting.

  12. Oregon is having the same problem with lions diminishing the elk and deer population. Oh, and the do-gooders at ODFW gave us wolves too because there weren’t enough apex predators.

    The unfortunate reality is that our voices are being overrun by government representatives whose agenda is to eliminate hunting all together. Just see what happened to Oregon logging towns when the spotted owl hoax was dreamt up by a bunch of left-leaning tree huggers. The economic impact was disastrous but they didn’t care and they got their way. Same thing with predators killing off our game animals. Most of the hunters I know are avid conservationists and respect the areas they hunt. We love hunting and want to conserve it for us and generations to come. Unfortunately, the government doesn’t agree.

  13. I really like the idea of having a lion tag while hunting during regular elk and deer seasons. Here in 41/42/421 the outfitters take most, if not all of the lions in the quota before many get a chance to get out and hunt. I’m not against the outfitter, it would just be nice if the quota were higher and we had more opportunities without the 8-10k hunt cost…

    We can tell when a lion or lions are around as the deer and elk vanish for up to 2 weeks. Trail cam’s are proof they are around, and getting more pictures each year, so we are not keeping up.

  14. Talea Ebrahem

    I hunt Colorado every year for elk.in the past few years I have been seeing a lot of mountain lion tracks. But I haven’t seen one yet, I hunt the second rifle season, I would love to spend a little bit more money to get Cougar tag for that time when I’m there. But the season not open for the lion’s at that time. which I think it’s wrong they should open the season with elk all the way to the End of rifle season.

  15. They should allow the use of electronic calls for lions. We’re littered with them here in middle park and the quota has remained the same for years. We could take more of them if we could use a call.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.