Mountain Lions | Steve Forest

Get ready EWA members!! The Mountain Lion is on the comeback and headed your way. When I moved out to west Texas, I didn’t have much experience with lions, but sad to say I’ve gained lots of experience. The first lion I took was an intriguing novelty, but now after number 45 and counting it rates the same as a coyote, a nuisance predator. Let’s get through some myths that surround lions. First, I’ve never seen a black lion. Sometimes the kittens are dark and have spots, but most are a reddish tan color. Second, lions eat what they kill; this is false.  Lions will kill until they get tired and then rest and kill again; sometimes never taking a bite of any victim.  I’ve seen 58 domestic sheep killed in one night by a lioness and young with none eaten. Third, most of a lion’s kill are not weak or the sick of the herd. Nine out of ten lion kills will be mature bucks, whitetail or mule deer. The last myth is that a deer proof fence will keep them out, lions can climb and big males can jump 8ft fence. They also use coyote digs and javalina crawls.

How do you tell the difference between a coyote kill and a lion kill? Coyotes will usually kill and eat in a somewhat open place or scattered brush. A coyote will chew the ends of the rib cage, whereas a lion will carry an animal into a tangle and eat the ribs and sometimes the backbone. Even on adult male deer, another giveaway is tooth size. Skin the neck out and examine the tooth size as both coyotes and lions kill by biting the neck. On tracks, coyotes have toenails which will leave a definite imprint. Lions can retract their claws and leave pug marks; an adult lion’s front foot will be the size of a clenched fist and back feet the size of your hand.

If you think you have a lion there are several ways to go about killing or capturing:

  • Calling – Foxpro makes a call with a mountain lion recording.  This works.  Alternate between the lioness and the whistle.  I recommend calling in the evening before dark.  If a lion is within earshot he will come in.  Don’t miss!
  • Snare your fence – make your loops slightly larger than normal.
  • Set traps – there is only one trap strong enough to hold an adult male lion.  It is manufactured in Alpine, TX – the Livestock Protection Trap 4 ½ with teeth. The setup costs over $200 with chain and drag.  You can bait your traps with lion urine from F and T Fur Traders. I also use catnip oil to stop the lion and bring them into the trap. If you have a bluff or rough creek bank, set your trap close to a trail at the bottom of a bluff or rocky rough area.

Dogs – most of the old time houndsmen are long gone but it you can find a houndsman they can usually tree a lion when you find a fresh kill.

Lions are not that intelligent, but are endowed with super strength.  If you capture a lion in a certain area, the next lion will come to the same area, same trail.  They have their favorite places.