Mountain Lions in Big Bend
Big Bend is Mountain Lion Country!
Encountering a mountain lion, however, can lead to conflicts in maintaining the balance between natural processes and visitor enjoyment and safety. Since the 1950s, there have been more than 2,700 sightings of mountain lions by visitors. Each year, over 150 lion sightings are reported by park visitors. While over 90 percent of these sightings were along park roadways, encounters along trails have also occurred. Since 1984, four lion and human encounters have resulted in attacks on people. In both cases, those attacked recovered from their injuries and the aggressive lions were killed, preventing them from playing out their important natural roles. The more we know about lions, and the less we seek an encounter, the better able we will be to make life easier for them and for us.
How much do you really know about this powerful and wild cat? Mountain lions live throughout the park, including the Chisos Mountains where they prefer to use trails. Your chances of encountering an aggressive lion are remote. What can you do to minimize the consequences of an encounter? Avoid hiking alone or at dusk or dawn. Watch children closely; never let them run ahead of you.
Like all predators, the mountain lion’s role is a part of the health and welfare of the entire ecosystem. Research and further human understanding of the cat’s habits pave the way for conservation efforts in its behalf. As we discover more about the lion, we fear it less and appreciate it more. For many visitors, just seeing a track—or just knowing lions are out there—will be reward enough.
Did You Know?
There are two trails that provide access to "The Window." in the Chisos Basin of Big Bend National Park. The Window Trail is a strenuous five mile round-trip to the base of The Window, and the The Window View Trail is a .3 mile loop that provides excellent views of the Basin. More...