Mountain lions in Virginia?

First posted on Feb. 28, 2007

The cougar has not been confirmed in Virginia since 1882, but there are increasing signs they have returned to the state. Motion-sensitive infrared cameras have been deployed near  Appalachian Trail to try to determine whether cougars are back.

Thursday, April 21, 2005. Mountain Lions are back, maybe. By Bill Cochran. The Roanoke Times.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008. Mountain Lions in Virginia: How They’re Here and Why It’s Denied. The Locavore Hunter

Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries web site on the eastern cougar.

Note: this article expired, but a lot of people want to comment on this thread, so I kept it active, and updated it for quite a while. Comments have now closed permanently, however. Ralph Maughan, webmaster.





  1. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Having myself grown up in western North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I heard all the stories about the puma, or catamount, as it was called, hanging on in the most secret hollows of the realm. But I never saw one, or tracks, and I spent a lot of time in the woods. So this is good news–the cat is back, surely.

  2. Will Boyd Avatar
    Will Boyd

    I grew up in NW Virginia near the Shenandoahs and have heard folks mention seeing mt. lions in the area for years. I haven’t seen them, but I have worked with folks there at the Smithsonian’s Conservation Research Center in Front Royal including Bill McShea. I expect they will confirm puma presence. I would guess that the overbundance of whitetail deer could have contributed to the “return?” of the puma.

  3. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    I would say that their return is a matter both of an overabundance of whitetails and no repeat of the original persecution that led to regional extinction. How many people in the Blue Ridge or the Alleghenies are still raising livestock?


  4. Beowulf Avatar

    Hello This evening (15May 07) I think I chased up a cougar. It was about 18+ inches tall at shoulder, about 24 inches from hip to neck. Cat like head and ears and face, long tail (about 20+ inches), bristly fur, grayish-brown in color, rather thin overall.

    I was dragging some stuff behind my ATV down a old farm road in Appomattox Virginia, when this fellow bounced out in front of me about 50 yards ahead. It ran down the road for a bit. I put on the speed and got within about 30 years before it jumped off into the brush. I couldn’t find any paw prints. And I am not sure it was a cougar. Definitely not a dog, too big for a cat. Not a bob cat (it most certainly had a long bushy tail). Could it be?

  5. John A. Lutz Avatar

    In August 2004, a cougar was captured on film near Craigsville, Virginia and identified by professional wildlife biologists of the Eastern Puma Research Network. (We use a copy of the original picture in lectures across Virginia).
    In October, 1987, a cougar & cub was seen by a U.S. Forest Service crew in western Shenadoah County. Tracks found near the sighting was confirmed by a retired wildlife biologist with the Smithsonian….
    Tracks found near Holy Cross Monestery in Clarke Co, Va have been identified as a cougar by a USDA zoologist.

  6. Beowulf Avatar

    Since my reported sighting of a ‘perhaps’ cougar several local farmers have told me of similiar beasts they have seen. One on a Farm just a bit out of Town. I sometimes doubt local farmer’s reports. Seems in these parts every snake they see is a copperhead (even the black with white belly ones). They could be making a similiar mistake about the cougar sightings. I haven’t seen it or signs of it since my 15 May report.

    Mr. Lutz do you have internet picture of the Virginia cougar that you show arround? I would like to add it to my collection if possible. Thanks, Beowulf

  7. D. Racey Avatar
    D. Racey

    I am looking for someone in the Frederick county/Clarke county area to confirm a “track/print” I took a picture of. I was looking out our 2nd story window yesterday evening when a very large “cat” looking animal came out of a thicket behind the house to get a drink in the pond. This animal is about 4-5 ft long not including about a 30 inch tail. The graceful animal was golden brown in color. We went out there today to look for tracks. I found one which I took a picture of. This animal did not have a long snout like a dog or a fox. The print is about 3 1/2 x 4 inches with 4 distinct toes no “nails”. I am concerned since that pond is a source of water for my horse. The animal looks to be a “mountain lion” I havent contacted the Animal control people yet unless it takes up residence here. I know they are on the “endangered species ” list, but I can’t help cut be concerned about the horse.
    So, if anyone knows who I can contact please let me know.
    Any information would be greatly appreciated.

  8. David Steber Avatar
    David Steber

    Add my name to the list of people who have seen mountain lions in the wild. I saw one near my home in Floyd County. It was about 100 pounds with a tail about 3 feet long.

  9. danny lee Avatar
    danny lee

    I remember seeing very large cat tracks(not a normal bobcat track) while hunting the GWNF sw of harrisonburg,va in the mid to late 1980’s. soon after, a report appeared in the wash. post about a squirrel-hunting ranger/game warden who spotted 2 pumas. shortly after this, it was reported in the article, a puma was killed by a sheep rancher in an adjoining W.VA county. it’s mate was said to have been heard wailing, for a time, in the distance. who knows? i would love their return to our wilds

  10. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    You can also count Randolph, Upshur, and Webster countys in W.VA. My dad, his dad, and myself can vouch for those three. They are very ellusive cats. While hiking in the winter after a good snowfall I came across huge cat tracks that were fresh. Definitely not “bobbies”….
    There are certainly plenty of remote areas for them in VA and W.VA. Places that will never see any kind of development.

  11. Linda Hunter Avatar
    Linda Hunter

    Beowolf the key to your sighting is the tail . . the cougar tail almost sweeps the ground and might have some markings on the tip of gray/white, the rest of the tail looks like short hair and is not bushy. Whenever I see a big cat I look for tail characteristics for a sighting confirmation. . like when you see a “wolf” look at the paws for positive ID. D. Racey I don’t think you have to worry about your horse at all. Many places in the west horses and mountain lions or cougars coexist. . a cougar is not going to risk attacking a horse as they are a somewhat delicate animal which I have seen killed by an elk if they choose the wrong one.. horses are too substaintial unless there are no deer at all around, but in your case I think if there are cats there it is because their food is ther.

  12. Beowulf Avatar

    About a month ago I was visiting a local sheep farmer (more gentleman farmer than actual make-money-farming farmer). We were standing near the barn about 10 AM when we observed a disturbance about 400-600 yards off in a field near the tree line. He told me that he was having a problem with coyotes killing his sheep. (we have more of both in these parts of Virginia, lots more sheep and lots more coyotes.) We didn’t know what it was, but later walking in the field we found lots of turkey feathers but no specific sign of coyote or lion. Could have been either I guess.

    I think the increase in goat and sheep farming in Appomattox County is attracting more predators.

  13. Rush Avatar

    I was hiking in Western North Carolina this weekend, north from Carvers Gap at Roan Mountain, on the Appalachian Trail. It was just after dark and I didnt think there were supposed to be any mountain lions in that part of the country. I was wrestles camping (alone) and decided to hike over Big Hump Mountain to the next campsite. I got into the bald on Big Hump and I heard an odd noise, like a quick screaching bird and something ran off. After that two sets of very large eyes started following me. Sometimes relatively together and sometimes on opposite sides of the trail. I made deep, loud noises and threw my hands up and used my flashlight to look large. After passing the long horn pasture over the summit I thought I was clear, hadnt seen eyes at any distance in a while. I came out of the pasture and one was less than 20 feet. It was the first time I could see it clearly. It was, without question, a mountain lion. Terrified, I took a step toward it, held up my vest yelled and everything and it dissapeared quickly. Crossing by the large boulders on the trails was terrifying, only once did i see one behind a boulder when I passed. I couldnt see their relative sizes, as they were not close together until right before I entered the woods, and one was very low in the grass, could only see its eyes reflected. In daylight I am sure I would have thought it was only one cat. But I got into the woods, kept my arms high in the air, and kept making loud noises until I came upon a group of kids hiking with two adults at about 2 am. I felt bad because I told them what had happened before I could see them and didnt knwo they were so young. I must have terrified them. I kept hiking and went all the way to HWY 19E where I slept in a shelter half a mile from the road. Some of the Forest Service questioned whether or not it was just a wild cat. I have helped skin and mount wild cats before and definitely know the difference.

  14. Neal Cabaniss Avatar
    Neal Cabaniss

    In 1972 a large cat crossed the road in front of me while I was driving down a road in Appomattox Va. Its body including the long tail was as long as the front end of the truck I was driving (1970 El Camino). It was approx 3 ft high (estimation). It was tan and had short ears. Very fast and gracefull. I stopped the truck and did the “did I see what I think I saw” routine.

  15. Falkus Avatar

    I think I may have seen a fully jet black cougar around 2230 just by the cement plant north of Roanoke Va but I’m not sure. I was only able to see from just behind the shoulders down but it was about 16 – 20 inchs tall and I would guess that it weight a little over 120 pounds if not more. At first I thought it might be a big black dog like a mastiff or something but I saw the tail and it was just like a bigger version of my house cats tail. The tail was furry but with short hair like the rest of the body that I saw and was round kind of curving down and out like my house cats tail when he hunts birds. It was just on the side of the road walking into the long grass, it didn’t even seem to be starlted by a loud car so close. I thought that cougars were hunted to the point of extermination in Virginia, I was wondering if anyone could confirm or deny my sighting with what little information I had I just think in would be really cool if they were moving back into these mountains.

  16. Jeff Avatar

    I’ve seen a few cougars in the wild, I don’t believe the black phase has ever been confirmed in any mountain lion/cougar/catamount/puma. Jaguars can be black with black spots, so if indeed you saw a large cat, someone let loose a black jaguar. Also 16-20″ at the shoulder seems short for 120lbs. My 70lb lab is 24″ at the shoulder for comparison.

  17. Kathy Avatar

    My father owns property in Floyd, VA in an area where many of the land owners are not activly using their large acreage properties. There is an abundent population of squirl, deer and turkey. During one of our walks last weekend my sister spotted a very !large! cat with a !very long! tail, gray to tan in color. It was moving through the woods twards a water source but not in the open. It moved with grace and without sound. It stoped for a moment and watched us and then moved on through the woods. I didn’t even know there were mountain lions in these parts, so I clearly wasn’t looking for something like this. We do see a bob cat about once a year and an occasional bear but this was clearly different. I would love to get a photo of it. Is a mountain lion like a bear? Does it make a circle on a set time period or does it travel randomly? Does it follow a path through the woods like a deer sometimes does?? Does anyone realy know???

  18. sandra gray Avatar
    sandra gray

    My parents were having their Sunday drive today (9-2-07) in an area called Mabe, near Duffield, Virginia and saw a mountain lion. Everyone we have spoken with today said it couldn’t be true but my dad (a hunter all his life) and mom both saw it’s full near silhouette (nearing dusk) in the curve of a road just ahead of them before it disappeared and said it was the size, maybe just a tad bit smaller than my golden retriever (80 lbs) and it’s tail was as long as it’s body was and made a point to say it was a “cat’s tail” in shape, curving down at the base & up in a slope. I know mom & dad said they saw it & I do believe them… but why, if they are, people denying them being here? Where are they coming from? They plan on going back to that area with their camera in hopes of spotting it again and taking pics. We are just amazed to have found one.

    There was another report of someone (much less credible) who spotted one near Midway (outside Gate City) about 5 years ago. No one has since today, reported seeing one.

    Any info would be greatly appreciated,
    Sandra Gray

  19. Jordan Koepke Avatar

    My father a retired Secret Service agent who used to shoot alot with Regan spotted a mountain lion on the side of rt. 211 just north of Warrenton VA. It was slinking off up a hill after crossing the road, he said it was 100 + lbs. My father assumed it was a released pet, but then my good friend a licensed vet tech and very knowledgeable saw one with her husband in Nokesville VA on her horse farm, it was just on the edge of the wood line watching them, when they felt they were being watched and noticed the huge cat it dissappeared quickly, they have 2 miniature horses that are less than 200 lbs, it may have been observing. I raise miniature horses and am quite concerned as we are surrounded by woods in Warrenton.

  20. Janie Morris Avatar
    Janie Morris

    Last night, 9/26/07, at around 7:30 PM, my husband and I were driving home from the store on Page Valley Road in Luray , Va. This is a stones throw from Skyline Drive and backs up to a mountain where we live. The road in paved, but long(14 miles+) winding and has very few streets that are off it back here. So about three blocks from my turn onto our road I spotted Eye shine crossing in front of our car. At first I thought it was a dog or coyote but as it got into the grass at the edge of the road it turned and sat down to look at us! It was a juvenile mountain lion. My husband saw it too. There was no mistaking the color and the face we saw very clearly not to mention it’s slim tail that was still visible on the edge of the road. I was so shocked that I could even stop the car in time to see it again. A huge buck jumo out in front of us right then so we assumed it had smelled “cat” or that the cub’s mother was hunting. Like I said we never saw the mother just the young cat but I would guess it was somewhere between midway and three quarters fully grown. I called my neighbor as soon as we got home and told her the tale and she responded” Yeah, I have heard several people say they have seen them up here.” Which shocked me even more that she wasn’t surprised! So that is all the details I can think of except I didn’t mention that the cat was tan with dark fur higlighting its face, looked like pictures I’ve seen of them really and I figured due to its size and the fact that it had no spots left that we could see it was almost grown. But I don’t know enought to really judge it’s age. My husband and I got a real good look at it though and there was no doubt a mountain lion in Page County Virginia!

  21. Beowulf Avatar

    Its been dry. Not much rain in these parts since early August. The creek still has running water. The deer have been congregating down there. Lots of fawns this year. Plenty of squirrel and turkey too. Good Cat food.

    Last week in a dusty spot I found what I thought might be catamount signs. Cat scratching (claw marks) in a 60 deg arc, drawing back to a point about 2.5 – 3 feet from the edge of the 4 foot arc. One large paw print about 3.5 to 4 inches wide, three distinct inch+ pads (no claw marks). A large heel pad larger than the others but blurred. No feces.

    Today I found large ‘cat’ hair ball with grass and guts and hair in the area of the cat scratchin’s.

    I keep a compost heap in the edge of the woods which attracts possums and other small critters. I think the eating is good around here for a mountain lion. I haven’t seen anything like one since back in May.

  22. Meklit Avatar

    Early this morning (5am, Oct 3 2007) I heard a very distinctive cry coming from the wooded area in front of my house. At first I thought it was human screams. But it was very odd because the scream wouldnt quite finish and then it would start again. I quickly realized it couldnt be human. I’ve seen plenty of foxes in the woods around here and I thought maybe it was a fox in pain. But the sound again didn’t seem characterstic of a fox, it wasn’t a barking or a yelping, it was a scream/cry. It persisted for about 3 minutes. I was looking out my window but couldn’t see anything. A neighbor’s cat was outside and I could see that she was visibly frightened and crouching under a car. The sound finally drifted off and I decided to do some internet investigating to describe the sound I heard. The closest description I could find was the cry of the cougar or the mountain lion. I also found a recording online of a cougar cry and it was EXACTLY the sound I heard. Do you think what I heard may have been a cougar or a mountain lion? I live in Fairfax County, Northern Virginia and the area is pretty urban, although there are woods adjacent to my home and I have seen plenty of deer and fox.

  23. Ryan G Avatar
    Ryan G

    Rockingham Co., va
    Hellol. My name is ryan and I am from dayton va. On Oct 3d, I was playing music w/ a friend near the union springs dam. As my friends wife was leaving, she looked out the window and said that saw what she thought to be dear. At a second glance, we knew that it couldn’t be deer. At a distance of about 350 yards, we looked out to the distant field w/ a pair of binoculars and noticed that it wasn’t deer, but infact a few larger cats. Speculating that they were mountain lions, we drove to a distance of about 250 yards away to take a second glace. A little more certain, I took a kodak camera along and started taking pictures. A few came out decent, but I still wasn’t convinced. I walked w/n 40 yards and took one more photo. I could hear the kittens and I captured a photo which I believe to be a smaller lion. If anyone is interested, you may write me at I am not 100% certain but I would like it if someone could identify the cats for me. There has been speculation of the cougars being in Rockingham county so I am very excited to hear from the commmunity on any other possible sightings. I stress that this is not a joke so please write it anyone knows how to reduce the distortion of the photos.

    dayton va

  24. Leigh Bolick Avatar
    Leigh Bolick

    My husband and I just saw a cougar (mountain lion) while having coffee on our back deck. We live in Oak Hill, Virginia, in a neighborhood. This is between Fairfax and Reston. I am wondering if there is anyone who is tracking these sightings and wants to know more…It was clearly a cougar. Look forward to talking more.

  25. Jeff Avatar

    The Cougar Network is monitoring all reports of the expansion of cougars to the East.

  26. GARY Avatar


  27. catbestland Avatar


    Don’t know if you have any cougar there, but it sure sounds like a good place for wolves. I believe that area was once habitat for the red wolf. I think there have been reintroduction programs in some areas. Kentucky and N. Carolina. You could check with the Dept. of Wildlife. There used to be cougar there, and with that large a prey base, its possible. I grew up in North Georgia. When I was young they killed a cougar at Stone Mountain. (sad)


  28. GARY Avatar


  29. Sharon Avatar

    My son and I definitely saw a mountain lion today while I was taking him back to college this morning on I-81 near Buckhannon in Virginia near the Blue Ridge Parkway exit; unfortunately, it had been killed by a car before we saw it. It wasn’t a very old cat, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t fully grown. The good news is that because it was right beside the road, others undoubtedly saw it, too, leaving no doubt that it was indeed a mountain lion because it was much too good a view for there to be any doubt of its species. I hope the person who struck it hears its cries in his or her nightmares / dreams for a very long time to come.

  30. Jean Pitt Avatar
    Jean Pitt

    Our family moved to the Manassas National Battlefield area in 1983. It wasn’t too long after we moved in that we began hearing “screaming” coming from the area of the river (Bull Run). We couldn’t figure out what it was so we did a little research and felt the sounds couldn’t be anything other than a cougar.

    Our daughters were in a 4H group across the park on Bull Run Post Office Road and each week they’d ride their horses across the battlefield to a farn where they practiced Vaulting (circus riding) with their 4H group. Several times they’d reported seeing strange animals crossing their path in the woods. The girls were young and weren’t sure what they’d seen. Once they described an animal that was nearly the same color as a deer but knew it couldn’t be because it had a long tail. They wondered if it was a kind of dog or even a cat. On another ride our oldest daughter described a cat that was smaller but she said the color was different – it had spots. I knew we a small population of bobcats in this area and asked her if it could have been that. But she knew what one of those looked like, said it wasn’t and added that it had a long tail. Could this have been a young cougar? We guessed it could have been but have no proof. As the summer progressed she got a couple glances at the animal but still no proof.

    One night our mules and horses had broken through the fence. We gathered the kids and went to retrieve them. We were walking back into the yard leading our pony mule, Andy, when all of a sudden there was a cougar scream which sounded like it was coming from the pond at the back of our pasture! Our youngest daughter was hysterical thinking that her mule would be attacked. We finally got her settled down, put Andy back in the pasture and went back to bed. Our sleep was disturbed any more that night.

    Several years later one of our neighbors was awakened by a commotion in the barn. He got up and armed with only a flashlight he ventured outside to see why the horses were so restless and upset. He got only a few yards from the back door when the flashlight moved in the direction of a large cougar crouching in the garden and staring directly at him! He slowly began walking backwards toward to the house and luckily got inside without incident. He never saw the cat again but never went out at night without a gun. Even though we still didn’t have any physical proof we were excited because this was the first time we’d had an adult verify a cougar sighting here. I’m guessing it was about 1987 but can’t be sure.

    It was probably a year later that those people sold their house to another couple with horses. One of the first things we asked was if they’d heard screaming sounds. When they said they had we advised them of the origin and told them about the cougar incident on their property. I’m not sure if they really believed us but a few years ago the lady and her friend rode their horses off into the battlefield trails which begin in a field directly across from our front door. Upon her return she stopped by to tell us that they’d followed what was apparently an old or injured cougar! She was certain of the species but said it moved very slowly and appeared to be thin and weak. Th cat didn’t pay any attention to them although they were careful to remain at a distance until it got into the woods and disappeared. They then took the trail that went in the opposite direction of the animal.

    It was last June that my husband and brother in law were traveling on rt 66 where it goes into rt 81 (somewhere between Front Royal and Strasburg) and saw a cougar dead on the side of the highway! The traffic was moving quickly but he had no doubt that it was a cougar. He would have doubled back to get a closer look but they were in a hurry to get to their destination and his brother nixed the idea. However, my husband couldn’t contain his excitement and called me immediately to tell me he had his own personal proof of the existance of cougars in Virginia! Still no pictures though.

    We still hear these screams from time to time but most recently (Dec 26, 2006) our grand daughter spotted a coyote digging in our manure pile for varmits! We do have pictures of that! It was less than a year before that my daughter said she came across a litter of cute puppies while riding her mule in the park. She got quite close to them while on Jake but as soon as she began to dismount they scattered. I didn’t think any more of it until we had our coyote visitor but now she’s certain what she saw was a little of coyote pups. Unfortunately, we lost our big barn cat to these predators and continue to see and hear them on a regular basis.

  31. Rick Freer Avatar
    Rick Freer

    Montross, VA . My wife, dog, and I were walking on a dead end street – no houses – in Stratford Habour this morning (11/8/07). We disturbed something that ran off into the woods. I bearly got a glimpse, thought at first it was a deer. However it was way too fast, too quiet, and did not move like a deer. We then came upon a very recent deer kill within 20 yards of the sighting. The left rare flank was eaten and the entrails were gone. Found no prints, unfortunately. I have photo’s of the kill.

  32. mike Avatar

    They’re out there – I’m still amazed at the VDGIF not publicly admitting that they’re back in the state. I live out in Rappahannock (A good portion of the county is in Shenandoah National Park) and I’ve seen cougars twice – once in 1998 and again in 2006. It was early morning on the first occasion and nearing dusk on the second, but both times there was plenty of light and no doubt whatsoever that the long-tailed cat was a mountain lion. Pretty exciting. I have chickens, belgian mules (not worried about them) and a herd of miniature donkeys – but I’m far more concerned about marauding bears than a mountain lion. There’s just too few of them. Bears on the other hand, are a dime a dozen and we see them every year. I’m just waiting for ANY government agency to admit there are mountain lions in the state before someone shoots one and says Ooops – I didn’t know they were endagered

  33. Bill Powell Avatar
    Bill Powell


    Spotted a lion last night around 7:30 pm. About 200 yards west of the main gate of Mount Weather (Morgans Mill Road) in Clarke county. It jumpped across the dirt road and into the woods headed north.

  34. zachary F Avatar

    Hey me and my friends go hunting in virginia and theres been some times where we have been hunting and we would here her but it sounds like a female screaming bloody murder and its one of those sounds that makes your hair stand up and if you are tired it will wake you up i personaly know i was hunting in a stand and i saw the hole body but the head it scared the living crap out of me

  35. Jeff Urquhart Avatar
    Jeff Urquhart

    I grew up in Lynchburg, VA. In 1994 a friend and I were driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway on our way to Panther Hollow. About 5 miles before we got to the Hollow, a large blond cat crossed the parkway. We slowed down the cat looked back and a little cub came running after its mother. My friend and I couldnt believe what we had just witnessed. So yes, there are mountain lions in the Blue Ridge. Long may they thrive.

  36. J. Trotta Avatar
    J. Trotta

    While driving down a winding mountain road in Madison County (Northwest, VA), I witnessed a large cat trotting up the road toward me. At first I wondered if it was a bob cat, however, the feline was far too large, and lacked the bushier tail commonly associated with a bob (especially given that it was still early February). As I slowed the cat took notice and turned. Given the great broad-side view, I couldn’t help but notice its shear size – the cat stood approximately 2.5-3 feet in height, and was approximately 4-5 feet in length. I would estimate that it must have been at least 60 pounds if not more. The fur was short and the common light red-brown hue of a cougar. Soon the large cat disappeared from sight, leaping up an 85 degree, 12-14’, road-side ridge in two bounds, and with the very same physical pattern that is so common among all cats.

    While fishing the nearby native trout streams (most notably the Rapidan) in the surrounding mountains, I have not seen another. Be that as it may, I have happened upon a number of large feline tracks similar to those of the cougar, and while rerunning the indelible images of my sighting, can only deduce that the animal I saw was just that. I truly look forward to a repeat performance, but highly doubt I will happen upon such a circumstance of chance with the enigmatic creature.

  37. Ben Shrader Avatar

    I saw a cougar take down a deer in Bedford County, Virginia a number of years ago. Since then I have involved myself by volunteering for the AT Camera project and joining Eastern Cougar Foundation (ECF). The AT Camera survey did not get a photo of a cougar during 2007.
    I have been compiling reported cougar sightings around the Bedford, Virginia area and will be manning a booth for them on March 8, 2008 Outdoors Show at the Bedford Armory. I have compiled descriptions of over 25 sightings in the surrounding area but none of them have produced real evidence in the form of a photo, footprint casting, body part, or scat sample from Virginia. ECF is very interested in reviewing your photographs of tracks or animals. We would also be very interested in recovering any remains. In reply to Beowulf it may interest you to know I accomplied a rabit hunter back to Appomattox County where he had found a cougar carcass. We searched for bones, but we had waited too long and could not find anything. In reply to D. Racey we would like to review your photo of the track. In reply to Sharon if you can give more details on date of kill and on the location of the road kill at Buchannan, Virginia I would look for remains or inquire if VDOT made any report of it as they may have picked it up off the road. For anyone that has seen a cougar in the East or would like to support or be involved in their return then jointing ECF is only logical. The web site has emails for officers and members to communicate with along with membership applications and links to a whole world of information on cougars. Ben Shrader Bedford, Virginia

  38. Michael D. and Kathleen Makepeace Avatar
    Michael D. and Kathleen Makepeace

    October 2007, Patrick County, VA. Spotted a large cat – we think- on Squirrel Spur Road – the new section about 8-10 miles south of Meadows of Dan. Broad daylight, it crossed the road approx. 150 yards in front of us travelling east. I wish I had the moment over. We were too busy looking at each other asking, “Did you see that?” We should have ben focusing on details. There’s lots of “legends” around here, but I have heard from one very reputable source about a recent (within the last year) sighting in the vicinity of the “Lover’s Leap” turnout on Route 58 about 6-7 miles east of Meadows of Dan. This was a night time sighting. I was also told of a large cat sighting just north of Eden, NC.

  39. Paul S Avatar
    Paul S

    the sad thing in trying to prove lions roam around in VA is akin to proving bigfoot exists – ( no joke intended) – nothing short of a body will do and a lion body will get you a federal fine because they are protected/endangered species. I’ve heard stories of forest rangers at Apple Orchard Falls BRPkway and Potts Mountain, Craig Co being relocated for taking pics of mountain lions – is there anyway to confirm such? I doubt it. The sad thing is people I know who say they’ve seen mtn lions in Botetourt and/or Bedford County, especially raccoon hunters who say their dogs treed a lion, would never come out publicly with such a statement. My uncle always swore he saw a mtn lion on the family farm in Montvale in the early 1990’s sitting at the treeline across a field watching him as he worked with his pigs. He always said it sat there for just a moment and then slipped into the woods and was gone. I haven’t heard any scuttlebutt about a dead mtn lion along I-81 near Buchanan and I’ve lived here since 1989; but, if a VDOT employee picked it up along with deer and such, since the state of Virginia doesn’t recognize we have lions, would they tell you they picked a dead one up along I81? – doubtful. Good luck, I think and hope they’re here, its interesting to consider. Are there presentations planned anywhere that one could attend?

  40. Sandra Avatar

    Ok, me again. We have reports of mountain lions being seen in the area of High Nob/ Fort Blackmore Virginia. My dad found tracks… and no, not bear, but cat, on our farm in that area and residents have reported seening a pair crossing just a few miles from where dad saw tracks.

  41. Jewelia Nickerson Avatar
    Jewelia Nickerson

    I used to vacation on Smith Mountain Lake Virginia, Good View, and I can definatly confirm cougar in this area. It lived across the cove form us, and it would scream out at night sometimes, so loud that chills ran down our spines. We would sit on our back porch and listen awe struck. She was never spotted, but that sound is something that you never can forget or confuse for anything else. We had a secluded cabin off of cedar key road, private property (no hunting/trespassing) that ran for acres and acres, as well as a private and protected cove, as bass spawn there, no wake, no loud noises, no people. We have spotted a mother black bear and cub over by the damn while hiking, scary sight but very awsome. We had tons of deer, albino too! It’s been about ten years since then and Smith Mountain Lake has become a vacation spot for every northern virginian there is so the mountain lion probably found a more secluded area, there is a ton of it out there, to hunt and live. I just want to confirm that, yes, they’re back and I hope they stay around!

  42. marie Avatar

    About 2 months ago, I seen a very large black cat with yellow eyes, on the side of the road eating what looked like a deer, here in the catawba Va area. About a week later I seen a documentary on black mountian lions, and that is exactly what I had seen, same size and coloring. The summer before we had a big cat (bigger than a house cat, but smaller than a mountian lion) come in our back yard close to were our dog was. It Had a very long tail, and had a light brown coloring with black spots. It was not afraid of the dog at all, it walked back up in the woods and paced back in forth on a log. The dog was close enough I could open the door and bring her in. Never have seen the cat again.

  43. Rob Avatar

    Subject: Mountain Lion in VA

    Mountain Lion (near Wise, VA)

    This lion was hit between Cherry Reservoir Road and High Knob area
    (near Wise, VA) by a car. Game and Fish had to come and put him down.
    He charged at the Fish and Game guy in the process. Look at his PAWS!.

    Bill Shaeffer and Frank Womack helped with the capture

    If any would like to see the pictures that was with this E-mail. that i recieved ,send me your request to this area is located on the Scott and Wise county line in SW Virginia…..I wonder if the VDGIF will continue to refuse the truth . Or try to cover it up.Afraid it will cause panic.

  44. Beowulf Avatar

    Above post by Rob about a Lion in Wise virginia is a hoax!

  45. Gregg Kowski Avatar
    Gregg Kowski

    While living in Alvarado, Virginia, in approximately 1989 one night on my way home from work at about 11:45 p.m., I saw a big cat in my driveway about 80 yards from the house. My house was in a very wooded area and driveway led off into those woods about 1/2 mile from the main road (which was a dirt/gravel road about 1 mile from a paved road). This area is on the Abingdon end of South Holston Lake. When rounding the corner in the driveway, my headlights illuminated a light reddish brown cat in a sitting position looking toward my house. Upon seeing the lights, he turned around and ran into the woods. I saw the cat’s long tail as he ran into the woods. The next day, my neighbor said that he and his fishing partner had seen a cat similar to the one I described as they were going fishing one morning around 3:00 a.m. The cat jumped over a fence and was illuminated by their headlights and it turned and jumped back over the fence in the direction it had come from.

    I now live on the Tennessee end of South Holston Lake and while driving near Friendship Boatdock near Rte. 421, I watched a black cat come from under a concrete bridge and jump into the woods when it saw me. I was about 100 yards away from the cat and watched it jump up a bank and into a patch of woods that had been logged. The cat was totally black with a long tail. It looked to be about 90 to 100 pounds. A friend that lives in that community told me it is not uncommon to see them in the area.

  46. Bonita Pierce Avatar
    Bonita Pierce

    In October & November of 2007, my dogs got to barking. I looked outside & about 300 ft. behind my house was a panther. It was approximately 5 ft. long & 2 ft. high. He was licking his coat. He then went to our pond & disappeared into the woods. I saw them 11 times within 3 weeks. There were 4 different sizes, the smallest was about 2 ft. long. The last one seen was last summer. They were all shiny black with long tails. We have for several years seen small ones around. I called the game warden, but they told me they didn’t exist in this area. We know what we saw. Ihad only one game warden to believe me. I got a couple of pictures of paw prints. I live in Spout Spring. VA.

  47. John T Avatar
    John T

    In August 2007 on my way to work from the Meadowview Virginia area , between Meadowview and Abingdon there was a Mountain Lion crossed the road in frount of me, So people can say what they want , there are big cats in the area.

  48. Doug Avatar

    Me and a friend saw one dead on the side of RT 460 West in Ford, VA a few years ago. I also know numerous credible people that have seen them in the Blackstone, VA area over the past 10 years. Anyone with info local to south central VA, email me at

  49. amy roberson Avatar

    any sightings in Roanoke Co.? My horse just disappeared- we live adjascent to Havens Wildlife Preserve.

  50. paul Avatar

    It seems common knowledge of all the cats that roam the mountains along the Potomac River in West Virginia. Nobody even thinks anything of it because of it’s regularity. We camp along the Potomac on float trips and always see and especially hear them at night. Mountain lions and yes black cats. Our last trip we had a mountain lion stalk us outside our tent. He circled and hissed right up against the tent. Needless to say, our guns were ready and we were as still as we could be. Anyone who wants to put this mystery to rest should just spend a few days in those mountains…case would be closed for sure on big black cats.

  51. Bruce Avatar

    I just saw a photograph of one today that is EASILY 150-200 lbs. It was hit by a log truck in Buckingham Co. near Dillwyn in early spring. Its paw was as big as a man’s face, & its head with the ears was as wide as his body. The game warden cut open the animal and it had 2 walker hounds in its stomach.

    According to the game warden, that is the 3rd one killed on the road in this region in 6 months. This particular animal was chasing a dog across the road when hit.

    I personally would not have believed a description like this, but the photos say it all.

    I know another person in Albemarle Co. who sees them sunning regularly there and has for years. I have seen photos of these as well. When the game wardens in this area are called they often do not investigate b/c the sightings have become so frequent.

  52. Dan Olsen Avatar
    Dan Olsen

    Has anyone seen a wolf in Virginia?

  53. Dan Olsen Avatar
    Dan Olsen

    I recently sent a comment asking if anyone has seen a wolf in Virginia. I should have said that I think I may have seen one myself. It was on Rt. 29 and crossed the highway. I work with someone who says that on his family’s farm in Virginia (not sure exactly where, but can find out) he said there are wolves.

  54. Jeff Avatar

    If you have any copies of these Virginia cats, you should post them or at least the links. However, once you start talking about black cats the credibility of the reports goes down signigiciantly.

  55. jeremy Avatar

    I can definetely say that there are mountain lions in Shenandoah National Park. I was backpacking on the tuscarours trail and set up camp right after the overall run connector. I was looking for a litle solitude so i ventured about a 1/4 mile off the trail and set up camp by a little stream. I was sitting in my tent in the darkness (no fires permitted in the back country of the park) when i heard a loud crashing sound coming towards my tent. I had my food hanging ten feet in the air so i thought it was a bear. I started yelling and making as much noise as i could and heard the sounds of claws running up a tree. I aimed my light in the direction and it was a huge cat halfway up the tree staring at me. It was the scarriest night of my life and if anyone wants to confirm that there are mountain lions in Shenandoah Park just park at hogback at mile point 21 and set up camp where i did.

  56. Diane Avatar

    Loudoun County Off of Woods road almost every single night we hear a mountain lion , no doubt at all this is what it is. Its near a nature preserve so noone ever calls to report it .

  57. jony davis Avatar
    jony davis

    oct, 20-07 amherst va near big mount pleasent. me and a budy were spotlitting for deer [no guns i might add we were coming down off cold mountin fields saw two solid black cats run up some rocks both were about 60 to 70 pounds aim sure it was cougars i hut these mountains all of my life bear hunt coon hunt deer and evret thing eles but i thing its a small population and they move around travling from parts of amherst nelson trew shandoua park and west va beleive me or not i also told peple thre were coyotes in these mountain 26 year ago and peple thout i was crazy

  58. dbaileyhill Avatar

    jony davis,

    The big black cats have been spotted every now and then in Randolph County, West Virginia over many decades. I agree that the ‘cat’ populations are small, but i wonder if there are more than we think because they are very stealth. It certainly is rare to get more than just a glimpse of them.

    The folks living in those areas, at least in WV, mostly keep to themselves and most of those folks do not have computers. So, i think that there are sightings that no one ever hears about.

    Many years ago when my dad was just a kid, he was walking home after dark and a large black cat was walking off the dirt road along with him. In that area the roads have never been paved.

  59. Beverly McQuary Avatar
    Beverly McQuary

    June 21, 2008 About two weeks ago I was traveling on Rt 15 from Farmville to Dillwyn in Buckinham county. Something ran across the road in front of my car at a high rate of speed. At first I thought it was a bob cat but it was larger and the color was not right. It was a brownish tan in color and was at least as large as my yellow lab. I have since seen a picture of a lion spotted in Buckingham co. and realize that was the animal I saw. It was in the early evening but well before dark. B. McQuary

  60. Moved West Avatar
    Moved West

    Way back in 1977 I was firebossing a mine in McDowell Co WVa. It was extremely cold out, maybe -20°F and we had just come out of the portal against the strong winds of the ventilation fans. The wind chill was absolutely tremendous in the portal and the -20 outside felt balmy in comparison. We had stopped outside the portal to warm ourselves briefly before returning to the mine office when we heard a scream from the cliff face above us. It was one of the scariest sounds I have ever heard. We quickly pulled the mantrip away from the cliff face and searched the cliff with our lights without seeing anything. Don’t know what it was, but I have always wondered if it was a big cat or not.

    I see cats and cat signs pretty regularly where I live now, but have never heard this sound again. Did hear some weird crying up in the hills yesterday though, kind of a cross between a calf and a human baby. Ideas? Anyone know where to find a recording of cat sounds?

  61. Cabin Paul Avatar
    Cabin Paul

    I have a house about 3 miles from Orlean, VA in Fauquier County. This Saturday I saw what looked like a mountain lion running up the fence line of my neighbor’s property towards my woods. It was light brown and was definitely a cat, and it had a long tail. It was about the size of a friend’s dog, which is about 15″ tall and 2 1/2 feet long.

  62. Judi Avatar

    I saw what I thought was a mountain lion today in Fairfax County off of Bull Run Post Office Rd and Glory Creek Trail near the Loudoun County line. Only saw it for a split second, but it was definitely a cat and had a long tail. It was headed north. Could this be possible??

  63. Ron Avatar

    Yep, The big cats have been in Virginia for a good while.

    Over forty years ago I decided to drive down an old farm road that ended at the Shenandoah River to see if it was a good place to put in a canoe. It was about 11:30 PM and I was driving an Austin Healy Bugeyed Sprite. As I inched my way down the road I saw the tall grass to my left move as if something was approaching the road. I stopped thinking I would see a deer cross the old farm road. To my suprise, twenty feet ahead of me a LARGE cat emerged from the grass. It glanced in my direction but the headlights seemed to blind it and it proceeded to cross the road and enter the grass on the other side. This animal was a good thirty inches at the shoulder and must have weighted 150 pounds. It almost took the tail of the cat as long to pass from my view and did the body.
    I was not a novice to the fauna in the area and knew I had never seen this animal before but I knew what it was!

    I told everyone the next day what I had seen and I was told there no big cats here any more. They said I must have seen a bob cat. Well, I knew the difference.

    Flash to present day. I saw a friend while out to dinner two weeks ago and he came up and said,” You will never believe what I saw last evening at my place.” I said, ” What did you see”? He said, ” I went out at about dusk and I was looking around my property and at the edge of the woods I saw a mountain lion with a half dead groundhog in it’s mouth and it was tossing it into the air and catching it.”

    I told him I had no doubt that he had seen a mountain lion.

    He said he had called the county animal control and they told him he must have seen a bob cat as no mountain lions were still in our area.

    To his credit he told them that some one must be feeding this cat steriods and sewed a three foot tail on him or her.

    They are back folks here in North Western Virginia, if they ever totally went away at all.

  64. John Ballard Avatar
    John Ballard

    Four of us in Gladstone, VA (central Virginia between Lynchburg and Charlottesville) have seen black mountain lions (cougar, panther, whatever…) on 4 seperate occasions. I, a CPA, saw one 15 years ago. My farm helper saw one at approximately the same location yesterday. He was concerned that the animal was, not only not affraid of him, but watched him for some time before running off.
    For an interview on these animals, that don’t exist, please call me (John Ballard) at (434) 946-0486.

  65. leen Avatar

    John, This is interesting as authorities keep saying the big black cats don’t exist unless they are transplants or escaped pets, etc??? Wonder why so many big black cats ae spotted all over the country then?? I myself saw 2 big black cats with a tawny one run out of an abandoned barn back in the late 1970’s in upstate NY. Others saw those cats too; so it was not my mistaking them for anything else! The ones I saw sure would have no problem taking down a deer, or person for that matter! I quit taking my solo walks in the woods after that!!!!!Leen

  66. Ritch Avatar

    This evening my husband and I were driving up our country lane in western Amherst county when a large, dark brown (black?) cat ran across the road in front of our truck. It had a long bushy tail and appeared to weigh about 70 or 80 pounds. We’ve been searching the internet to identify it, but after reading these messages it sounds as though we’ve seen a cougar.

  67. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Hi Ritch,

    I read your comment.

    I don’t know what you saw, but cougars are never black. I’m not doubting that people see black cat like animals, although true size is often hard to tell.

    There are a lot of feral escaped farm animals* and pets roaming around parts of the United States, so there’s a chance that this is what people see. They might even been reproducing. Florida seems to be the number one place for non-native “wildlife.”
    – – – – –
    I’m not suggesting this a farm animal.

  68. Bill Worden Avatar
    Bill Worden

    Was on a guided hunt in Bath county Virginia in November of 06. Upon leaving the woods one morning another hunter in the group said he had seen a cougar on the mountain that morning. A few minutes later another hunter came down from his stand on the same mountain and said, hey you’ll never guess what I saw this morning. At which point we all said “a cougar” and he said how did you know.

  69. beowulf Avatar

    Saturday 27 Sept 08 I found a large paw print in the mud from the recent rains. No claw marks. Four very distinct toes and a large pad. Overall about 3 1/2 inches wide by about 3 inches front to back. Near the paw print I found tracks of a small deer moving very fast (tracks far apart and just the point of the hoof.) The deer seemed to jump into some brush to the side of the path and the paw print seemed to be following. Given my report in spring of 07 of a lion sighting could this be a return of the catamount?

    This Spring we had few deer and fewer fawns, but lately (since mid August) I have seen plenty of deer sign. Interestingly, the does seem to have very new fawns (twins generally). This seems strange for late in the summer. Could it be because the lion got the spring fawns? and the does mated again?

    Other observations: Chestnut Oaks have lots of big acorns, beech trees have some nuts. Hickories and pecans seem sparse this year. Rabbits everywhere. few turkeys this spring and summer.

    I think the nuts are attracting game, and a lion is preying.

  70. Hunter Avatar

    Today is Sept. 29, 2008. I live in Southwest, VA. In a small town called Coeburn. A MOUNTAIN LION did in fact attack one of our horses early this morning, just before daylight. She has really bad gashes on her front leg, she’s lame. We got a glimpse of the cat early this morning, as it paced back and forth, squaling every breathe, on the other side of our riding ring. Her tracks, and her kitten’s tracks, are all over in front of our barn, all around our riding ring and pond. I have pictures of the tracks and of the mares injuries. THERE ARE MOUNTAIN LIONS IN VIRGINIA, I HAVE PROOF. Want to see the pics? Email me.

  71. Kathleen Avatar

    On Saturday, Sept 28, 2008, at 7:20am, I was on my way to Warrenton from Midland (7 miles southeast of Warrenton). It was misty, and had rained the night before. No other vehicles were immediately around me. A large, darkish animal approximately the height of a retriever/setter, long tail that curved at the very end, large cat-like head, and very close, prominent shoulders, that I still can see moving up and down when I think about it crossing Meetze Road.

  72. beowulf Avatar

    21 years ago Nancy Hugo published an article in Virginia Wildlife Feb 1987. Pretty much the same thing as we read here. Not much evidence but plenty of stories. So the tail of the catamount continues.

  73. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    Is this thread for real? I lived on the border of the Great Smoky Mt Nat’l Park for 7 years. I have hiked almost all 850 miles of trails, stayed at most of the backcountry campsites, and have spent many nights wandering around those hills looking for nocturnal mammals.

    Everyone knows that the panthers that are seen in the East are former pets released. In fact, they found an African Lion skull in the Blue Ridge mts not too long back.

    Does anyone want to speculate about the Appalachians being populated by African Lions? Get real.

    If you know anything about mt lions, you know there is a lot of sign if there is a breeding population. This is because they are very territorial and mark their territory with scat and claw marks.

    Yet, this evidence has never been documented by biologists. Why?

    Because they are lone animals that are not breeding. If there was a breeding population, we would know.

    But there isn’t.

    I am sorry, but some of the comments are incredible, and border on the hilarious. All these so-called “sightings”…… yet no evidence of a breeding population, despite all the research done by biologists and the states?

    Wow, those sure are sneaky and stealthy cats out there……..maybe they received covert training from the CIA.

  74. Ed Avatar

    I am not sure we should base the existence of mountain lions in VA. and TN on the opinions of a few biologists. Reason being: If mountain lions are show to exist east of the Mississippi River, the states game departments may be liable for livestock damages. That would be earth shattering for the depts. And add to that the fact that someone may have actually been wrong.

    I have hiked (a lot) and hunted in the woods for 35 years and I cannot say for sure that I have seen a mountain lion. I saw one questionable critter a few years ago but I can’t say 100% it was a lion. I have neighbors that say they have seen them. I see no reason to question them. How many people have actually saw a bobcat in the wild? 100% sure? Not many I bet, and there are thousands of those out there.

    Guess we will never know the truth unless there is a fantastic picture with know location shown also. Or the actual carcass of one. But then again, no one would come forward if they killed one because it’s illegal to kill an endangered species.

    The quest continues.

  75. xpedition Avatar

    For those who don’t believe in the sightings or tales of the eastern cougar, it is a misjudgment to criticize others for their experiences. First, the nature of the mountain lion is to be elusive. Many people live their entire lives in mountain lion country, and never see or know the cats are around. Does this mean they do not exist? No, its one person’s opinion of the world around them as they exist in it.

    Yes, most sightings, if not all of them have to be taken on 100% trust in the person who has it. Thats not to say they are made up. People believe that Bigfoot and Nessie exist, which I am not saying they don’t. But we are talking about an actual animal which has a possibility of existing in localized population in some areas of the east.

    If the cougars are released pets they still will have the survival instincts which make them difficult to have as pets. If they escape, who is to say that they will not do what is natural and find a mate?
    Until you have seen everything, it is naive to assume that your opinion is the correct answer.

  76. Bella Avatar

    While I was on vacation last summer, 2007, in Sandbridge Beach, Virginia, outside Virginia Beach, I encountered a big black cat. I went out to get something from my car, and about five to ten yards away I see a huge black cat slowly cross the street, pause, look around and go into the surrounding woods. The whole encounter lasted about thirty seconds, certainly long enough to know what I saw in broad daylight. It was as big or bigger than a german sheppard, but most definitely a cat. My first thought was it was a panther that escaped from a nearby zoo. However, the area is surrounded by a wildlife refuge and is also known for wild horses. It was a shame no one was with me because no one believed what a I saw, but I know that is was a black cougar or panther. Reading these stories and seeing a documentry (Monsterquest) only confirms that there is definitely something out there.

  77. david kelly Avatar
    david kelly

    i recently moved to Martinsville from Ct. My folks have lived in Stuart for the past 11 years. On thursday October 16,2008 at 5:30/5:45 pm, my folks wanted to show me the Blue Ridge Parkways scenic fall views. As we were approaching the Mabry Mill area, my daughter said excitedly “hey dad, look, a bullmastiff” (we bred them in Ct, and still have 2 adult males as pets). I looked out the passenger side window just as my mom noticed it out her window. It was undoubtedly a full grown male mountain lion. We were going about 40 mph, crystal clear day, about 30 yards away. As we came to a stop, it calmly walked away crossing a short grass field, into the woods. We got a clear enough look at it to even distinguish what appeared to be some some kind of scarring, or maybe it was just dirt streaks, on its upper right hind leg. It didnt appear to be hunting, or have any kind of agenda, just comfortable in its surroundings. Everyone in the car was amazed at what we saw, and have since gone back hoping to see it again. These are truly beautiful creatures, so powerful but graceful. My e-mail address is & would be more than willing to give anyone any info as to what & where I saw. I was glad i was in a car, as Im sure it would have been terrified had we been on foot.

  78. Vicki Taylor Avatar
    Vicki Taylor

    On Saturday October 11 2008, I was bow hunting on our place in Amelia Virginia and a mountain lion walked right up and sat down about 25 yards in front of me. My neighbor has a grandson that is almost 3 years old, they were outside and he was crying (nothing was wrong) it was more of a “I want my way kind of cry”, but it seemed to go on for a long time. Long enough I was wishing he would be quiet so that I could hear if any deer were coming. When very quietly without any noise I saw movement coming out of a clearing. It was shocking to see something so unexpected! His body was very long and had a beautiful face. His tail looked a couple of feet long! I was going to let him walk on by obviously, when suddenly he sat down about 25 yards right in front of me, not facing me, I had a beautiful side view of him. I believe he sat to hear where that cry was coming from…possibly. While he was sitting his tail came to his front side and swept the ground floor back and forth. I called the wild life biologist at the Game and Inland Fisheries to report the sighting and they basically blew it off and asked me if I wasn’t sure that it wasn’t a large house cat! Interesting enough on October 28 just over two weeks later it was reported on the local news that two women had seen a mountain lion in Bon Air.

  79. Jane Avatar

    We got a phone call last night that one of our neighbors (in Midlothian, VA) saw a lion in the back yard. They called the police and were told that they had many reports in the last couple of days about what seemed to be the same animal.

  80. Salle Avatar

    And then again,

    Remember “Ligertown”? Perhaps some of thes animals came from the private sector and they were simply let loose by their owners…


    there could have been a population in the region that have now been able to only find refuge in that area due to encroachment of housing, etc. into the places they were often in but not noticed until recently.


    they may have migrated there by way of fractured habitat that has forced them into the area due to encroachment.

    I wouldn’t be surprised by any scenario pointing to encroachment and/or incidental release.

  81. vickif Avatar

    Look how long it took scientists to find the okapi. Certainly there is a chance that cougars can be in VA. How could we possibley know there are none, and be certain. We can’t even find criminals when we know where to look, let alone a cougar who;s very existence depends on it’s ability to remain hidden.

  82. Jennifer Avatar

    My mother lives in Orange, and has seen a mountain lion in the past couple of weeks, as well as several years ago. It really burns me up to hear so called experts say that there are no mountain lions or even wolves for that matter in VA. About 10-12 years ago, there was a pretty severe drought, and I know I saw a wolf in the Woodlake area of Midlothian, but everyone said “are you sure it wasn’t a big dog?” If you see a wolf, you know it’s not a dog.

  83. Joe Bailey Avatar
    Joe Bailey

    About 1987 I lived across the river from Holy Cross Monastery. While bringing wood into the house I saw a cat like animal behind the wood pile squat down then run into the woods. The next morning I found a large track in soft dirt. I took an impression of the track (which I still have) and have showed it to many, some knowledgeable which identified it as a mountain lion

  84. Janet Scott Avatar
    Janet Scott

    I live in Chilesburg, Caroline county. In Dec, 1981 my husband, sons and I were out in the woods on our property target shooting with bows. The boys and dogs went back to the old beaver pond. I was leaning against a tree w/my parka hood blocking the wind, when I saw a grown cougar walking straight toward me. It saw my movement, froze and growled. We made eye contact. My dogs heard it and came running. The cougar hesitated and then left the path. We never saw it again.

  85. Diane Avatar

    Loudoun County Va , where they are now expanding the landfill , we hear the cougar cry less often now but it is still making its presence known and its a little further in the distance now instead of right at the back door.
    FYI: I have reasearched wild animal sounds to the point now that I could be an expert. FYI: for those who dont know… HOW A COUGAR CRY AND BOB CAT CRY DIFFER: Even thou the cougar is a much bigger ,more powerful fearsom cat than the bobcat , the cries differ this way: COUGAR: the scream is more of a stronger “from the bottom pit of the stomach frantic yell”(like a 14 yr old thats been tramatized) and it repeats itself over and over and moves rather quickly from one place to the next. Sometimes you may hear it end in an agonizing high pitche scream. This is beacause the scream is that of the prey that he has just killed.(usualy a rabbit)… as it tapers off not to be heard again until “the next night”. THE BOBCAT: on the other hand actualy has a more shrill high pitched terrified scream that sounds like a woman being murdered much like on a horror film or somethng like the screams at that halloween fright night you may have been to. Even thou it is a much smaller cat , its scream is much scarier ! Unless of course you already know this and are relieved to know that it is not that of the great puma .

  86. Danette Avatar

    Last year I was outside with my lab and I heard that scream that sent my dog running frantically away and stopped me in my tracks. I never had heard anything like it before. I saw more recently something very large and stocky going into the tall grass, only saw the back end of it and that was at least 3 feet long with a long tail. Can’t say what it was and hope to never see again. There have been some hunters around who swear there are mt lions in bedford county.

  87. Lynn Avatar

    I don’t know how realistic they are, but here are calls:

    Bobcat, cougar/mountain lion/puma/painter, whatever the name is in your area.

    My grandparents lived most of their lives near Summersville, WV, in Nicholas County. They said mountain lions had always been there, although you didn’t hear them often.


  88. Scott Avatar

    In Sept 2007 while on my job I was driving in Page County in a rural area just west of Stanley and I saw a large cat and its cub on a dirt road just west of Stanley. I stopped by a local gas station and 10 minutes later and I was told I was not the first to report seeing the cats. I went back to the area for my job maybe 3 weeks later and saw nothing

  89. Kenneth Van Gorder Avatar

    My wife and I have seen two cougars in Patrick County, VA. I believe it was 2006 or 2007. We saw the first one on route 610 (Busted Rock Road) just southeast of Vesta. A few months later we saw another where route 740 (Sinkhole Road) intersects route 8 a few miles northwest of Stuart, VA. On both occasions it was mid-afternoon and we had a view (from a car) of the animals as they strolled 70 to 80 feet across open spaces. Both went into the woods without any fuss. One glanced at us. The other ignored us. We know they were two different animals because the tail-tips were different. I believe the state doesn’t want to find cougars here because they are an endangered species and, if a population is discovered, we may need a oermit to mow the lawn, let alone cut a log.

  90. Sarah Avatar

    A co-worker and I had a run in with a very large black cat in Floyd, VA in 2002. As we rounded a curve in the road, we saw the cat jump out of a overhanging tree on the left hand side of the road and landed in the middle of the road. In another leap, the cat was up the bank on the right hand side of the road and off into the woods. The cat was black with a tail nearly as long as it’s body. It was big enough to clear the two lane road in two leaps.
    We almost hit it with the car. It was a “state” car. Imagine what a difficult time the authorities would have had explaining that accident!

  91. xpedition Avatar

    As a member of the Eastern cougar foundation, I am very interested in your sighting of the black cougar. I live in Montgomery Co, and was wondering if you could tell me where exactly you saw the cougar in 2002 in Floyd county. I hope that maybe I can find a place I can place a trail camera nearby to search for it. That is if it is still around.

  92. Ben Avatar

    I have a friend who claims to have had one cross the Parkway in front of him near the Peaks of Otter earlier this year. Of course, he has never seen a documented one inthe wild, so I only trust his take so far. However, the nature center at Peaks of Otter did have a framed pic from a deer hunter’s trail camera just off the Parkway in Botetourt county last summer (don’t know if it is still there). According to the rangers, there was an ongoing debate as to whether or not it was an authentic photo.

  93. Danette Avatar

    Just reporting back. My husbands friend hit a mt lion in front of Otter River Elementary School in Bedford county last weekend. Tried to track it with the game warden but never found it. They deny mt lions are here still.

  94. Sarah Avatar

    About 6 years ago my husband and I saw a mountain lion cross directly in front of us on Bobblett’s Gap Rd, in Bedford County. We are not stupid people with time on our hands, just a couple out for a drive. We know what we saw. Period.

  95. xpedition Avatar

    I was wondering what people think about people (either the wildlife service of just other people) not believing that mountain lions exist in the Eastern United States, especially in Virginia. Do you feel that the Fish and Game Department is covering up their existence? What about the fact no roadkill is ever claimed to be found of a cougar? I also am wondering what others think about the fact that so far a documented photo of a cougar in Virginia has not been taken by any of the ECF’s cameras. If they are in Virginia, shouldn’t there be a photo by now from a camera trap?

    I’m not accusing anyone of anything, I myself have certain ideas in all of this, but am wondering what other people think of it.

  96. Lori Avatar

    From a Biologist’s point of view, of COURSE cougars inhabit the Eastern United States..with all the sightings over the last 20 years, that’s a given. The question is “how big is the population.” It does not benefit the DNR, Fish and Game Dept, etc. or the puma to make official statements confirming it’s presence in the Eastern US and in fact might prove harmful to the cougar… spur public fear if such a confirmation were made. Thus the tight lips. That’s my opinion.

  97. Ann Avatar

    Forestry rangers said several ponies killed , others attcked off 811 near Evington, va. Surviving pony has teeth marks at neck. Two ponies still missing. How do we find out about sightings of this mountain lion(s). Forestry rangers say they have spotted several mountain lions in the area.

  98. carole Avatar

    Today I looked outside and in the middle of the yard was a large looking black cat with a long tail, much larger then any cat. It stopped and looked at me for a minute, I didn’t move, and then it went on into the woods where I know a rabbit lives. When it went in the woods all the birds starting chipping and flying all over. What is this. I live in Spotsylvania va in a development but we all live on 5 to 10 acres. I have a 2 year old grandson and a small dog and cat. We have a pool int he yard and are outside all the time. I am scared to go out, the police won’t do anything, the game warden won’t do anything until someone they said got hurt. Is it safe to go out there and will it come back. Do you know what it is? THanks CArole

  99. Matt Avatar

    I just saw one a couple of hourse ago. Approximately 4 feet long near Midlothian. kind of beige, dark grey at tip of tail, white underbelly.

    One question, which seems to be a big possiblilty based on some of the posts, is that at least some of the sightings are of escaped/released pets. Many people keep cougars/pumas/mountain lions as pets. Many of which are kept illegally. I would assume that a large black cat would be that type.

    There are several reasons that government agencies don’t want to admit to the presence of pumas in the area. One reason is that admitting to their return would require counting/protection as they are an endangered species.

  100. everett Avatar

    i just moved to roanoke just wondering are there really mountain lions or any wild animals of size and chances of them attacking people not scrared just try not to invade respect their space and hope they respect mine

  101. Penny Avatar

    We were vacationing near the Shenandoah River. I was out for a morning run on some back roads (in Page County, north of Luray, just west of Route 340.) It was about 8:00 am on Saturday 8/8/09 and I noticed a black animal in a fenced pasture just ahead of me. I initially thought it was a bear, until it ran, jumped a 5 foot pasture fence with ease, and landed about 4 feet from the fence. It then stopped in the road and turned to look at me. I was only about 50 feet away. I was frozen with fear as I realized it wasn’t a bear, but a black mountain lion. It was completely jet black, with a very long tail 3-4 feet long. It looked like it could have easily weighed 100-120 pounds ( I have a 100 pound lab, and this cat was larger than my dog). It stood about 3 feet tall, and had a rounded face with low-set ears. I knew not to run, so I just stood there and waited. It finally took off on the other side of the road into the woods, and I made a U-turn to the nearest farmhouse! If it hadn’t been the last day of our trip, I would have gone back to look for tracks to possibly photograph!

  102. Jennifer Avatar

    Coming home today, August 12, 2009 about 4:00 on Route 210 in Amherst, VA, a large black animal came loping up to the road. I thought it was a bear at first, until I saw its long thick tail. It turned around when it got to the side of the road and went back into the tall grass. There is wide open space there, high cliffs, and an abundance of deer. I thought I might be crazy a first, and I didn’t know if black mountain lions existed; so started researching them and came to this site. I have a call into the animal control (only to find out if there were others who reported it) and hope to hear back from them tomorrow. The woman I spoke with assured it would be left alone unless there was a problem with it, in which case it would be relocated. It is interesting how many sitings there in the area.

  103. Val Avatar

    Well, thought I’d post this.

    In 1996-98 I lived in Catharpin, VA – near Manassas Battlefield. I, on more than one occassion heard the screams of what sounded like a woman who needed help. The first time I heard the screams I went in the direction with a flashlight, fully expecting to find a victim.

    This weekend, had dinner with a new neighbor who mentioned that he had seen a black cat near Carrington Road in Markham, VA

    Just thought I’d ad these experiences.

  104. Jennifer Avatar

    Heard back from Animal Control and VDGIF. They acted like I had schizophrenia though admitted there have been other reports….even though they do not officially exist here. Hmmmm.

  105. Gary Avatar

    I live in historic Jonesborough, TN. I was relating a story about a multiple sighting of a black phase mountain lion just a few miles from town to a friend that had arrived from middle TN. She stated that she had previously spotted one on I 40 while crossing the Cumberland Mtns. From the next room, another person chimmed in ” my neighbors have been seeing one.” This all occured three weeks after I had a full-grown Red Wolf walk up near me while blackberry picking in my mother-in-law’s pasture (in the city limits.) The day after the wolf incident my wife called from her work and advised me not to go in the pasture as a mother bear and cub had been spotted berry gathering there. I used to just worry about snakes while berry picking. More info if you want it…G

  106. JackO Avatar

    OK. 2 Sept about 12:30 maybe 12:45 I was jolted out of a good sleep by what I first thought was 2 cats fighting below my 2nd story bedroom window. I had the windows open because it was a cool night. I was almost back to sleep when it happened again and this time it was no house cat! Whatever it was was big and right under my window. It screeched really loud. Not high pitched like a house cat but low, sounded like whatever it was had some size to it. My dog and all the dogs in the neighborhood were going nuts. It screeched two more times then seemed to move off. Last time I heard it it sounded like it was 30 – 50 yards away and then I heard a dog bark then yelp and one last scream from the animal and then quiet. It took another 3 minutes or so before all the fogs quieted down. My dog is small but the one my neighboor has is a german shepard and I think that’s the one I heard yelp. I went on line and llistened to mountain lions and cougar screams and it sounded exactly like that. I live in Springfield VA in a subdivision, but there are wooded stream areas close by that are often used by deer and other animals to move through the area. Could a mountain lion or cougar be in my area?

  107. Betsy Avatar

    I am in the Linville, NC area and have had several people tell me that they have seen a mountain lion during the past three to four years. Last year I saw a very large cat print left in the snow. Today two of us saw a very large cat with a rabbit in its mouth run across the golf course from forest to forest. It was just too big to be a bobcat nor did it have bobcat coloring. I think I have now seen a mountain lion!

  108. George Avatar

    A young man showed me a photograph from his deer camera. It was a large cougar that had an eight point buck by the neck. He said it was from the Mattaponi Trial in Caroline County. When I told another fellow that lives near there, he said he had seen tracks.

  109. Miller Avatar

    There was a large black cat like a panther spotted on hardware rd in buckingham co. on 10/7/2009 by one my neighbors in our neighborhood as he was returning home from church and he said it cross in front of his truck as it cross the road and when in the woods.

  110. Michael Avatar

    I know for a fact that Mountain Lions inhabit my area!
    I am from western North Carolina. I live about five minutes away from the parkway, 30 or so minutes from the Roan and Mount Mitchell, etc. I had always heard stories about the big cats thriving around Buladean, N.C and even closer areas to my home. An elderly man there once told me a story about a black Mountain Lion living in the area back in his “younger days”. I also had the luck to hear them multiple times and catch glimpses of what I thought to be “mountain lions” scurrying into the woods. But I never CLEARLY & TRULY actually encountered one… until a few weeks ago!

    Oftentimes, I camp and merely live “in” the outdoors. Whether it’s via Appalachian Trail or some random place in the woods near my home, I almost always encounter some sort of larger mammal. A litter of bobcat kittens even started living in my friend’s open barn because they were obviously abandoned. So, I had the opportunity to help raise beautiful, and playful ( they acted just like any kitten would!), Bobcat kittens!- They were just thicker-coated & boned kittens with a “bobby” tail and whisky ears for the most part. Though, they grew large quickly, and set themselves apart from the domesticated cat with ease… They eventually returned back to the woods. I have seen fully grown Bobcats up close, and those animals are way bigger than I had previously expected. But anyways, I just completely got off of the Mountain Lion subject.

    ADD at its finest, haha:

    I was on another random Parkway journey, like always. This time is was near 4 A.M. I went to Chestoa, which is an awesome overlook pretty much between Altapass and Linville. I sat, played my guitar for an hour. Then I heard Coyotes doing their eerie little howls. I nearly mastered replicating their calls. So, wanting to get them closer, I called them. They yelled back at me, got a little closer, and seemingly vanished into the valley after I heard the uncanny Mountain Lion yell. I sat there strumming my guitar and didn’t really realize what it was for a while. Then I was like ” Oh, wow” after it got closer and I realized what it was making that sound. I still wasn’t positive though. I walked to my car and turned my lights on. And my car lights revealed a 3-year-old or so male Mountain Lion. It was standing in front of my car. I started to get out and get an even closer look but I decided that probably wasn’t a good idea, so I stayed in my car . Its ribs were showing like it hadn’t been well nourished in a while. But the majesty and strength of the Mountain Lion was still apparent! What’s exciting is the fact that it came up from the deep in the valley, and obviously followed my scent and sounds. It’s actually kind of scary if you think about it. I had NO idea they were so big ! I also had NO idea they lived in that area, so close to my home :).

  111. Michael Avatar

    Oh, I meant to ask:

    Do wolves live on the Appalachian Trail, more specifically on Roan Mountain?

    I was camping up there with some friends and we could have sworn we heard howling!

  112. Cindy Avatar

    Speaking of coyotes, has anyone near the Thaxton, Montvale, Blue Ridge area of Virginia seen them nearby? My husband and I just got home from work about 3 hours ago at 1:30 am. I went outside to feed my cat and in the silence of the night, early morning I heard the eerie sounds of coyotes across the hill. We have heard them up near the edge of the mountains but never this close. I opened the door and told my husband to hurry up and come outside. We stood there listening to them, it sounded like they were answering each other from 3 different places. My husband quickly put our dog into his pen. It was such a chilling sound at 1:30 in the morning. Just wondering if anyone has spotted any coyotes near us in Thaxton?

  113. Linda Oliver Avatar
    Linda Oliver

    George, A friend showed me a picture of a cougar, carrying a deer head. This had Caroline County, on the bottom of the screen. It had been sent to him on his cell phone. Because I was at a B-day party, I had my camera, and took the picture off his phone. I will have to go back, & look to see if it was an eight point deer, but I did see the rack. This picture seemed to have been at night. I just wonder if I have the same picture, & also if it is true. Yes, it is a cougar, but could the picture have been taken somewhere else??? Can they fix it so it looks like it was from Caroline. Mine me, I’m not calling him a lier, but it does happen. If I knew how, I’d post the picture here. Thanks for any help, as plenty claim they are here also. Sissy

  114. Sissy Avatar

    Yes George, it is an eight pointer, & the neck of the deer is dragging between the cougars two front legs. It sure sounds like the same picture. I guess I just don’t want to believe they are here, because we live in the woods. There have been sightings here, & in Nottaway county. I’m thinking they are here though. 🙁 Sissy

  115. Jason Avatar

    3 days back I had positively seen a cougar off of Ingram Dr in Haymarket, Va which is right off of Bull Run Mountain. I tried taking a picture of it with my phone but it jolted away. Next time i go into the woods ill make sure to take my shotgun

  116. Sissy Avatar

    Maybe this is why there are no pictures of cougars. I would think by the time you get your phone/camera on, & ready, the cougars gone. Hmmm, but then we have pictures of bear in the local paper sometimes. Sissy

  117. Sissy Avatar

    Does anyone know the black bear population in Amelia county?

  118. Brad Avatar

    fauquier county Virginia
    Where I hunt in Linden the owners have said to have seen a really big black cat. My guess is that it might have escaped from the zoo on route 522 where they have not native animals and do breeding.
    In Rockingham county virginia, my father, family friend and I go bow hunting for 1 week every year in the GWNF. We were tracking a deer one night and ended up lost for 6 hours and found a small field. When i shined my mag light acrossed it we noticed eyes and it was like nothing else we have seen before. It would disappear and then reappear on the other side of us it did that 3 times. You want to talk about uneasy its almost like it was stalking us. Im not 100% sure but thats what i feel it was a COUGAR. Well we finally made it out of there. Now when I go back towards where that was to hunt I get shivers. Also the Coyotes up there are getting out of hand in my eyes. I got to see 4 coyotes run down a mature doe and brutaly slaughter her. But before all this happened I heard them calling its almost like they were planning the hunt to come. One of the yotes had her by the mouth over her nose and one had her by the throat while the other 2 watched. After she expired 3 of them started to eat and the other took a whole hind quarter back up the ridge. All of this happened just out of bow range and its heart wrenching knowing there is nothing you can do. Its part of mother nature I guess. They didnt waste a bit of meat, it was all consumed in about 1.5 hours and then the buzzards came in to scavenge what they could. If you have any similiar stories let me know please

  119. Allen Avatar

    At the beginning of September there was an article in the “Caroline Progress” about a “large cat” in Caroline county with a picture from a game camera. I would suggest people look that up also. This is not the same picture withe the cat dragging the buck.

  120. Kevin Shuler Avatar
    Kevin Shuler

    I was taking my wife to work eraly Thursday about 4 am..We had just passed the airport on 58 east in Danville, Va. To the right side shoulder of the road there stood some type of cat. I didn’t know if my eyes were playing tricks on me until it decided not to cross the road, and head back to the woods. When it turned around that’s when I saw its long tail almost to the ground. I couldn’t believe it! I was like baby look at that big ole cat! It took off as the car got closer…I have never ever seen anything like that in my life! If some one ask if there are lions in Danville, Va tell them hell yes!

  121. Kevin Shuler Avatar
    Kevin Shuler

    I failed to mention the eyes looking at us! Those eyes I will never forget as the cars lights stunned it for a moment..

  122. Daniel Avatar

    Last night i was driving back to college from home. I saw a large bobcat at around mile 205-203 heading south on I-81. This was kind of cool to me so I was on the lookout for any other animals, also keeping in mind that they might run onto the road. Then 20 miles later at mile 183 at about 2:25 AM I saw a much larger cat on the left side of southbound 81 where there was no guard rail. It was standing next to a large hill in the median and looked at my car as I passed. When my lights shined in its eyes I was pretty sure that what I saw was a mountain lion, but then again I only got a short glimpse of it.

  123. Gerald Avatar

    Me and my wife were on Leesville Rd in Evington just at the Otter River when we saw a large black cat the size of a mountain lion running up the grassyhill by the road. It had a tail just about as large as the body. We coundnt believe what we saw. Has anyone else seen a large cat in the Campbell County area?

  124. raye dillon Avatar
    raye dillon

    i live close to the cement plant in botetourt co and know 4 people personally ( 2 are my sons) who have seen mountain lion near the cement plant. twice in the last 6 months. as for coyotes they are everywhere. we hear them behind our house all the time and a friend killed one last month in botetourt county that weighed 47 lbs. that is huge for a coyote and could easily be mistaken for a wolf.

  125. pennie Avatar

    just wanted to know more about wolves in Virginia. I live in Rockbridge Baths and found a trail of 4″ dog prints in the woods! I do not know of any dogs in the area with feet that big. We have seen a 50 pound bobcat at our pond. He was a beauty!


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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