Alberta Mountain Lion Hunting: All It’s Cracked Up To Be
The mountain lion, also known as mountain lion, puma, or panther, is North America's largest member of the cat family. This alert, secretive animal is rarely seen, which makes mountain lion hunting – especially in the vast wilds of Alberta – a real challenge. Mountain lion hunting in Alberta is a rugged adventure, and a unique hunting experience. Growing up to ten feet long and weighing in at close to 200 pounds, the mountain lion gives the hunter an opportunity to harvest a real trophy.
The mountain lion lives in ragged, forested areas, canyons, and dense swamps at altitudes as high as 13,000 feet. In Alberta, a hunter will usually find mountain lions primarily in southern mountains and foothills, but occasionally they may be seen in other areas of Alberta, as well. Mountain lion hunting is regulated in Alberta – an effort to preserve these cats for the future population.
Alberta mountain lion hunting begins the first of December and continues through the end of February. Mountain lion seasons are quota seasons that close early for resident hunters if the quota is reached in any given zone. The Alberta mountain lion population has been very well managed, which allows for better hunting opportunities.
The best way to mountain lion hunt is to use hounds. The hounds will follow the giant feline’s tracks, and with a lot of hard work (and a little luck), you will find a treed mountain lion at the end of the trail. The dogs will corner them up trees and hold the mountain lion there. This gives the hunter an opportunity to get a good look at the animal, and decide whether or not to let it go. This method gives the hunter an excellent chance of taking home a trophy mountain lion.
Although widely distributed in southern and western Alberta during early exploration and settlement, mountain lion numbers were reduced by the turn of this century. Such scarcity may have been related to the observed decline in large mammal populations, which in turn was related to the unregulated hunting and severe winter weather of that period. Mountain lion numbers increased during the first half of the 1900s, following the recovery of prey populations.
Bounty payments between 1937 and 1964 imply that, in the mountains and foothills of Alberta, north of the Bow River, mountain lion populations increased, which probably reflected greater mammalian numbers than at the present time. The mountain lion occupies a similar distribution in Alberta in the 1900s as in historic times. The population in Alberta is estimated at 685 mountain lions, of which about 640 occur on provincial lands (excluding national parks). For more information on hunting mountain lions in Alberta, or to acquire a mountain lion-hunting license, please visit their website at http://www.albertaregulations.ca/huntingregs/.