In order to properly identify and decide whether or not to harvest a cougar, hunters must be able to determine the sex of the animal in question. The following is the ESRD’s description of a cougar’s appearance, diet, habitat and status.



  • The cougar (also known as the mountain lion) is the largest of North America’s wild cats. From nose to tip of tail, a large cougar may be as long as three metres (10 feet).
  • Average weight of adult males ranges from 60 to 70 kilograms (130 to 160 pounds).
  • Average weight of adult females ranges from 40 to 50 kilograms (90 to 110 pounds).


  • Adults grade in colour from yellow through reddish brown to grey, with a light belly, chin and throat.
  • Other distinguishing traits include short black ears and a long rounded tail tipped with black.
  • Kittens are yellowish, spotted with brown.


  • The cougar occurs in the mountain and foothill regions. Occasional sightings have been reported along river valleys east of these zones.


  • Favoured habitat includes remote, wooded, rocky areas.


  • Deer are the cougar’s main food, but it also takes other large game animals, as well as small rodents, hares and birds.

Breeding Behaviour

  • Cougars do not have a specific breeding season. Although most kittens are born in late winter or midsummer, young can be produced at any time.
  • Two to four kittens are born in a well-hidden den, commonly a cave.
  • The female alone raises her young, the kittens remaining with her for about a year.


  • The cougar is classified as Secure in the current General Status of Alberta Wild Species report.

For more information on cougars, visit the Alberta Environment and Parks website:

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