Regular cougar sighting in North Carolina

by Ryan Rachman
(North Carolina)

I live in the state of North Carolina approximately 430 meters from the Peedee river. I own 68 acres of land right next to wildlife.

I have been seeing a rather large cat species in my yard almost every night for the past 3 weeks. It looks like a lion has a tail around 3 to 4 foot long it is a sandy blondish red color and has darker colors around the mouth and ear areas.

I’ve been as close as 10 feet away from this cat eye to eye and to my surprise was not threatened by any means. The cat probably weighs about 200 pounds and is getting rather comfortable on my property what should I do??

I do not want to kill it but I’m a father of two kids and would die if something happened to my children.

Ryan –

Hi Ryan.. thanks for visiting. The first thing to note is that I live in London, England. My answer is based on common sense principles and knowledge acquired.

North Carolina is eastern USA – obviously. The cougar (Puma) has been officially declared extinct in the wild in eastern USA by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Please read Eastern Cougar Extinct March 2011.

You are suggesting that a cougar is coming onto your land.

On the basis that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are correct (and there is debate about that) then the cat that you are seeing, which sounds as if it is a cougar, is either a domesticated one that has escaped or one of the last wild cougars in eastern USA. People domestic cougars in the USA.

If it is the latter is is very rare. If it is the former the cat belongs to someone. The cat sounds as if it is domesticated to me being unperturbed by your presence.

In either case it should not be shot and I am very pleased to read that you agree this.

I also agree that your children’s safety is paramount. Children should be supervised in the presence of a cougar – common sense I guess. Cougars can be chased off by adults – Mountain Lion Attack. Your children shouldn’t go out unsupervised until the matter is dealt with.

My best advise is to contact the authorities (not the police) and ask for help. The only trouble with that is I have read that “the authorities” tend to like to shoot large cats. Well, that is the impression I get. So strict instructions should be given to say that no one is treated or endangered and that you are concerned for the cat as much as yourself and family.

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission promotes conservation “and provides assistance for landowners wishing to manage wildlife on their lands..” They might be a good starting point. But keep your mind open. Some people have closed dogmatic minds and tend to respond in a formulaic manner (shoot and ask later). Their contact details are: 1-800-662-7137 (this is for “wildlife violations” which is not really appropriate but the best number that I can find).

You no doubt have a better idea as to who to contact but never the police please! They often do more harm than good.

The cat should be caught and “re-homed” somewhere safe. It is the cat that is more in danger than the people in actual fact.

If the children go out you should accompany them and if the cougar (presuming the cat is a cougar) appears follow the instructions that I have listed on the Mountain Lion Attack page.

If anyone has a better idea please leave a comment asap – thank you.

Michael Avatar

Regular cougar sighting in North Carolina to Wild Cat Species

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Regular cougar sighting in North Carolina

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Mar 25, 2012 cougars in nc NEW
by: Brian

Two years ago, a friend and myself were deer hunting in Rutherford County NC, and I saw a cougar. I had been sitting at the base of an oak tree for about an hour, and I decided to get up and move around a little. I had been standing for about ten minutes when I happened to turn around and look behind me. All of the sudden, I spotted what at first I thougght was a deer trotting towards me a about 50 yards away. Naturally, I got my deer rifle ready so I could shoot. As it got closer, I thought to myself, that is not a deer. As the animal got closer, I noticed that it had a broad head, was tan in color, and was not moving like a deer at all. When the animal got within about 30 feet of my location, it turned and went behind a laurel thicket. By this point, I knew that this was a cougar. It appeared to weigh anywhere from 150 to 175 lbs. and it had a long bushy tail. After the cougar ran behind the laurel thicket, I lost visual contact for about 5 seconds. When the cougar came out from around the other side of the thicket, it jumped a shallow ravine that was about ten feet wide, and ran up the ridge away from me. The thing that still stands out in my memory is the fact that I never heard a sound. This occured in late fall, so there was plenty of leaves on the ground, however, when the cougar passed by, there was complete silence. Something that I will never forget to say the least. I never fired a shot because I was in shock over what I was seeing.

Feb 10, 2012 Georgia has big cats too. NEW
by: Anonymous

I live in Georgia. We too have sighted a mountain lion, in fact a neighbor has him on DVD. The cat has killed every chicken and duck we had. We called fish and game; same old story: mountain lions don’t live in Georgia. Well, this one sure does. Why is it so impossible to believe that Mountain Lions can exist in pretty much every state. Some people call them Florida Panthers, well look at any map and see the approximate distance(or lack thereof) from GA or NC to FL. All the people who have sighted these cats can’t be wrong.

Jan 05, 2012 Cougars in Randolph County, NC
by: Anonymous

We have Mountain Lions in Randolph County, NC. I saw my first one in the late ’70s. Broad shoulders and camel colored, it circled road kill as my headlights came around a curve at 2am and it circled back off the road. A few years ago one was killed in the road around the Sandy Creek area. A very large cat between 100-200 pounds. Several years before this I was walking into an overgrown field along an adjoining creek and thought I had jumped a deer. Something big hit the ground but I didn’t hear a deer trotting away. Looking around I saw the backside of a large camel colored cat silently slipping out of the field and into the thick woods. He was travelling away from a lone tree that overlooked the down-slope of the field towards the creek. The large tree had its first forking limbs about twenty feet off the ground.
I would not want to face one of these cats in a foul mood but I guess the good news is that they are territorial to one another and one pair will occupy 100 square miles or roughly a 10 mile by 10 mile area.

Nov 21, 2011 hud
by: Anonymous

i live in hudson nc . i was feeding my dog one morning who stays in a chain link dogs tail was tucked between her legs. it was just at dawn.i saw to my left about 30 yards away a cougar.i stood still.then i stomped the ground. he looked at me. and looked staight ahead.then turned and ran back into the woods. my dog never tucks her tail.she usually barks at anything stange.later i learned that
a mans german shepherd dog was killed by a cougar
less than a mile away from my house.COUGARS ARE IN NC!!THERE IS NO DOUBT. I SAW IT FOR MYSELF.

Sep 08, 2011 cougar sightings in Davidson, NC
by: Anonymous

We have now had two cougar sightings in our subdivision, Bailey Springs, near Hough High School, in Davidson, NC. We border a nature preserve and the Davidson Greenway where a lot of deer are seen. After what I have read online, I find this pretty frightening. My guess is the cougar is about 100 pounds.

Mar 13, 2011 Cougars are in NC
by: Anonymous

For sure, we hear their unmistakable cry every night.

We live in 28904 zip code where also live many white tailed deer.

The government again demonstrates its incompetence when it concludes there are no longer any mountain lions here, and to claim those that we hear and see (tracks and the animals)are from escaped pets is just nuts, there are hundreds of sightings in our area alone, even more in the Blue Ridge Mountains at large. These ain’t UFOs, you know it when you hear them. In fact Fish and Game ignorance is a big joke to all of us who live around here.

We have also heard these animals have been introduced to our area to control our huge deer population by the government, too. Apparently they don’t want us to know this plan.

If you doubt it, just come on up to Warne and ask somebody. Then wait until dark and listen for all the dogs to start barking…and then you’ll hear that shriek like a women screaming, an unmistakable sign of the mountain lion, the Eastern Cougar, alive and well in North Carolina.

Mar 09, 2011 Arnold schwartzakitTy
by: Ryan bachman

I don’t think the cat was domesticated. The reason beeing is I run along te rivers edge and follow trails around about 5 to 10 mile spans quite often. I have seen rabbits birds even cayotes remains partialy hanging in trees. Even a mangled up cow close to my house about a mile away. There us a highway coming through in the next 1 to 2 years and I believe maybe logging and gradding companies are pushing it closer this way


Regular cougar sighting in North Carolina — 51 Comments

  1. Northern Iredell County near the town of Harmony. My family saw a very large cat on Tuesday March 19, 2013 at just after 6:00 PM. It was walking slowly along the edge of a field that we can see from our kitchen window. I saw it first and called the others (3) who also saw it. We often see deer in the same spot so I have a good reference for size perspective. I would say about six feet long. It was solid black in color. I had never heard of such an animal in North America so I figured it had to be an escaped exotic animal. When I told about it I was surprised to hear of the same kind of animal being seen in Yadkin county just North of here recently. I work with a girl from Yadkin so I asked her to talk to people she knows to find out more. She surprised me by telling of her uncle who has seen these “Black panthers” several times and has been trying to trap one.

  2. I was staying in Union Mills,NC which is in Rutherford County in 2007 and I saw a cougar. I was sitting on the front porch, and it crossed the road in front of me. Beautiful cat!

  3. July, 4th 2013: We are sitting outside right now after seeing a large sleek cat with a distinctively long tail trotting down the private lane we live on in Richlands, NC…Onslow County. If leaped across the ditch into the field across from our house, and we can still hear sounds moving throughout the plants. Until we researched wildcats in NC, we didn’t know much about them, but we were shocked to find that they sound much like a women screaming. Since we’ve lived here, there have been several nights when the livestock around us have gone nuts, and we thought we heard a women screaming. We have been tempted to social services thinking we were hearing a domestic situation! But, that would not really explain the animals running and in a state of chaos! We had the sheriff out a few times to see if they could figure out what was going on, but they never figured out what we were hearing or why. Maybe this explains it all? If we catch a picture, we’ll definitely report it to wildlife!

  4. I caught this cat earlier this year on a trail camera about 250 yds behind my house in Eastern NC, Pender County approx 7 miles from I-40.

    • Forgive me (I am European) but on checking that location is near the coast. Basically that is as far east in the USA as you can get where there should be no pumas. So, what do you think? Are there wild pumas (cougars) in this area and along the east of the USA or is this an escaped “pet”?

      Thanks for commenting by the way.

      • Some people talk about the “Carolina Cougar” from years ago but havent been seen is these parts for many years. Some say it us just a big bobcat but it looks more like a cougar or mountain lion to me with the round ears and powerful hind quarters. I hear reports of a large black cat 30 miles to my East also. The forest around here is very dense with a very high white tail deer population so it is definately possible for cats of this size to thrive.

        • One troubling aspect for me is the tail. The cougar tail is long and quite thick. This tail looks like a standard domestic cat tail. I think too that this cat is too small. Here is a picture of a puma in Brazil by Photo by Greg S. Garrett……

  5. Attn. Ryan Rachman
    I live on the Richmond county side of the peedee river. Actually quite a distance away by road, but not so far through the woods. Our property connects with “the gamelands”. I have read that cougars will travel 20 miles or more and consider that area their territory. For the past few months, mainly at night, I have heard what sounded like recordings of a cougar on the Internet. For the past two evenings just before sunset, I have seen what looks exactly like pictures of a cougar. I never would have seen it if we didn’t have a large, loud dog that alerted me. Both times I quickly took my dog and house cat inside for the night. I was wondering if the cougar is still on your property and who if anyone you called. The cougar on our property is quite large. He has orange/redish/ fur. It’s hard to describe the color. He is beautiful. I would like to see him safely relocated to another area. We also have a bobcat with two cubs in the area. I have not seen them on my property, but within a mile. We also have a pack of coyotes and see redtailed and gray fox that travel around the edges of our property. I had no idea that these animals would come so close to humans or that I would have to be on guard if outside when we moved here. I grew up in Richmond county, out in the country surrounded by woods, played outside and in the woods from sunrise to sunset and I never saw any of these animals. I guess all of the people moving to our state are uprooting these animals from their homes. Carthage/Vass area has black bears around this time every year and in Harnett County there have been hundreds of reports of a black panther being sighted. Anyway, it’s possible that we are seeing the same cougar if the one on your property is still visiting you. Good luck to you and be careful.

  6. i live in havelock,n.c. about 8 miles outside the city of havelock on ferry rd. and i saw a cougar about 6 years ago cross the road and walk about 40 feet from me and go into the forest. i know there are cougar here in this area.

  7. I was just looking at all the sightings of cougars in NC and thought I’d add those I know of in Surry and Stokes Co. also. As far back as 2010 my youngest son and I saw one crossing a field in broad day light. Without question, it was a cougar with a tail of three feet and weight of about 125 to 150 pounds and easily took strides of ten feet ( Stokes Co. ). My oldest son had to stop to keep from hitting one just two weeks later about three miles from the one I saw ( Stokes Co.), maybe the same cat. Last year a school bus driver in Pilot Mountain had to slam on the brakes to miss one early in the morning on the way to pick up kids and gave the same description as others ( Surry Co.) and just today 10/21/2013 a report of a sighting in the Madison area which is Rockingham Co. After doing a little research I’ve learned that a ten year study ended three years ago and concluded that there was not a breedable population of eastern cougars which placed them on the extent list whereby federal money has been pumped in to repopulate the eastern United States with yet another unwelcome predator. It would be nice if our local government would ask us how we feel before wasting our tax dollars. Cougars most certianly have a place and purpose just not in heavily populated areas.

    • i see you said the government is pumping money into another unwanted predator, I assume you are talking about the red wolf. Red wolves are very timid and scared of humans, just like cougars! they are vitale in the ecosystem. Without them deer and other populations of animals will continue to grow and whent hey get to large these animals will statrve and spread disease, Thats why both red wolves and cougars are vitale. You need to remember that both these animals were here way before me or you, we are the reason they arent here anymore. we are the ones responsible for taking away their habitat. if you dont like living with them then I suggest you move!

      • Well said Brian. The key is that the cougar was in America before the rampant human and it is the human who occupies cougar land. A little respect for the cougar is in order. And no bloody hunting of cougars with dogs please. I hate it.

  8. While traveling west in Pamlico County from the Florence community two eastern cougars crossed the highway in front of me.These cats were within 50 yards of me and were running nose to tail of one another and were headed in the atlas trac land.

  9. I live in eastern NC in Brunswick County close to Oak Island. My neighbor came over this week excited over the photo he had gotten on his trail camera he uses for deer hunting. I was amazed at the size of the Black Panthers photo he was lucky enough to get. Perfect close up shot of the entire animal. This cat I feel sure would have no problem taking down a full grown whitetail deer. I observed a full grown Cougar several years ago in Bladen County and my Dad had 2 Black Panthers cross in front of him not 1/2 mile from where I saw my big cat. With the deer and turkey population being so plentiful they sure have plenty to eat. They are very elusive animals and to actually see one is a great experience!

    • Wow. Black cougars are pretty rare. I’d love to see that picture. If he can upload it with a comment that would be great and thanks for telling us about your sightings.

      • He is having problems with his PC at this time. I still have not received a copy either and just asked him about it only a few minutes ago. He owns a Bull Mastif and the cat is every bit as big or bigger than this huge dog. He has a great photo.

  10. My aunt lives in Hyde County and has been seeing cougars there for about 30-years. They live in a rural area with plenty of farms and deer, plus they back to a large hunt club. Plenty of food and dense forest for them to hide.

  11. I live in Charlotte, NC. No lions here, as we would probably run them over. But, in our mountains? I know there used to be cougars up there, but now they are supposedly extinct. When I went to Florida and saw a Florida Panther, I was talking to a someone down there. Now I am not sure if this is true. But they said that the panthers in the NC mountains today are really the same Florida Panthers. They have tried to reintroduce the panther in the smokey mountains. He also stated there are some slight difference between the Florida panther and the NC panther from the past. I think something about color and the Florida panther being a little bit smaller.

    Again, I cannot verify any of this.

      • Please do check that out, Michael.
        I haven’t seen a panther in the wild here, only in captivity.
        I so wish I would see one in my travels through the wilderness.
        They are our state animal and magnificent.

  12. Forgive me if I seem ignorant; but, what I really want to see is the Florida black panther that I understand may not really be a panther but, rather a puma or whatever.
    The typical brown/tabby/whatever is beautiful ofcourse. But, the black one would be such a thrill to see that I may pee my pants (SORRY, MICHAEL, but it’s true).

  13. I live in eastern NC, in a rural farming community, Last night my wildlife cam shot a picture of a large cougar, in the swamp. He is beautiful, and at least 180 lbs. So they are here, alive and well!!!!

  14. I was told by my neighbor that someone found a dead Cougar next to the road near our development. I don’t know the details, but she said that everyone that looked at it knew it was a Cougar. The animal control came by and picked it up. I live near Greensboro, NC and did not think they were in this area. I remember years ago them being in Virginia and the Western part of the state, but had no idea that they roamed this area.

  15. We live in Fairfield Harbour, a housing plan in Craven County on the border of Pamlico County in Eastern North Carolina. My husband saw a cougar this morning around 8 am while walking our dog on the golf cart path of an overgrown golf course. It left the path and crossed a street near houses on a cul-de-sac. It was about the size of a deer, straw-colored, with a long tail.

    • Wow. That interests me because the mountain lion is wandering around urban areas and across golf courses. I suppose that the mountain lion in Eastern North Carolina is quite habituated to the presence of people and I’m wondering whether this is dangerous for the mountain lion as he or she wanders into urban areas frightening some people who might retaliate by killing him/her. Thank you very much for commenting Judy.

  16. I have one that was around my house in Cameron north Carolina last year, That’s to close for me, There are a lot of kids in the neighborhood ,They are attacking people now, They are infected by raccoons, I say kill them before they kill us.

    • Hi Mary. Thanks for visiting and commenting. You live there and you know what it is like and of course you have a right to your own opinion but I disagree with you. I disagree because the mountain lion was there before you. The mountain lion was there hundreds of thousands of years before you and therefore they have a right to be respected. Your idea about how to treat them, namely, to kill them is not respectful of this magnificent wild cat species.

      In addition, only about 18 people have been killed in the USA by the cougar in the past 100 years and most of those killings are of children who were unsupervised. Domestic dogs are far more lethal. Would you kill them too? It would help if you read a little bit about this wild cat. If you did you might change your opinion.

  17. I need to add my two cents or rather my two sightings. I live in the south eastern corner of Wilkes county on 70 acres close to Yadkin county and Iredell county.
    Two years ago I saw a mountain lion that weighed about 175 pounds and about 6 foot including the tail in the daylight! After the first sighting, by about a mouth, I was with a local county official and saw the second one at about the same place on the top of our mountain. The second one was about 1/2 the size of the first. They do exist!

  18. Our cougars in Craven County, NC are not pets released into the wild. Two pairs have been sighted recently in Fairfield Harbour, a housing community with about 3,000 residents. A foursome playing golf spotted two cougar cubs watching them from the edge of the 12th fairway. They have joined the local wildlife we all enjoy: bears, foxes,wildcats, geese, ducks,possums, raccoons,beavers, otters,and deer.

  19. We are on vacation right now in the blue ridge mountains just east of lake lure. We are renting a house fairly isolated in the mountains. Today my daughter told us she saw something large with a long tail sprint 10 feet within the house. Ten minutes later 2 dogs are snooping around barking and sniffing in the bushes.We tell her she probably saw a large dog. An hour later I go out for something and as I am coming back up the mountain, I see a cougar at least 150 pounds flying up the hillside close to another house. In the last 3 days on this mountain we have seen a flock of turkeys and many deer. So the food source is there. I decided to google mountain lions in north Carolina and I came across this forum. We are from Illinois and North Carolina is a beautiful state. Thanks.

  20. I and a friend were just watching a special on mountain lions and started talking about the one I saw in 1996 or 1997 in Rutherford county nc so I googled it and was surprised to see two more comments from Rutherford county. I was driving threw a then dirt road{Henson road}that crosses floyds creek. As I crossed the one lane bridge a huge mountain lion jumped off a high bank onto the road about 50 ft in front of me. I was going maybe 5 mph. When it landed I will never forget how much muscle it had in its front shoulder and how big his head and the length and girth of its tail. It kind of walked fast down the road in front of me about a 100 ft then turned down a power line trail as I turned also behind it for about another 200 feet before it went into the brush. I told my friend about seeing it and about 3 years later he had a friend tell him {you will never believe what I saw on Henson road last night!}My friend replied, a mountain lion. We were raised in the woods hunting, training dogs with my father and grandpa, so I know what I saw. I live about 2 miles from there deep in the woods and maybe once a year or two I will hear one screaming and my dogs{germam shepherd,and half Rottweiler} will tuck there tail and slightly growl laying at the steps of my back porch. My uncle also saw one that run across in front of him at dawn on ferry rd 1 mile from the house in 2003. I know there are a few still around and hope they stay.

    • There are some great comments on this page and yours is one of them. I enjoyed reading your comment. There are definitely mountain lions in NC and I hope they stay and thrive and people learn to live with them. According to the regular cougar distribution map (IUCN Red List) they are not meant to be in NC.

      Rutherford County is in Tennessee isn’t it (I live in the UK). Mountain lions are not meant to be there either!

      • Hi Michael, Rutherford county is located in the foothills of NC about 30 miles below Asheville. The upper end of the county is mountainous. I see there has been another post after mine from Chris on vacation in lake lure. Lake lure is located in the upper part of Rutherford county NC.

  21. I know for a fact that we have mountain lions (cougars, pumas, panthers, or whatever you want to call them)in NC. Actually, a friend of mine has one at his house – it is his, and it took him forever to get a license to keep this animal. It wouldn’t take that long for a license, if this animal was extinct in NC.
    But, my neighbor and I also saw 2 mountain lions where we live – by the coast – and one of them was actually a black panther (must have slipped i here from FL). So pumas do exist here in NC, always have and probably always will.

  22. WOW…I just read the comment from the person who said his/her father saw a black panther in Bladen county. I do live in Bladen county, close to Elizabethtown, and that’s where I and my neighbor saw this black panther.It was crossing the street later in the day, around 5 pm, even so it was not dark yet.

  23. I live in Taylors SC, at the base of Paris Mountain. I had just moved into a highly populated neighborhood. I saw this cat that weighed approx. 60 lbs. and could not figure out at that moment what I was looking at. It was about 15 yards from me walking away from me and all I could think about was how thick its tail was, thinking to myself this was not house cat. It was tan in color, as I approached a little closer trying to figure out what this was it had turned around facing me and sat crunching looking at me. I immediately went inside to get my camera as I was sure no one would believe what I was looking at. When I came back it was gone. After researching online, I’m sure I was looking at a Mountain Lion. I’m not sure if this was someone’s exotic pet that had escaped or what. It was beautiful and I did not feel threatened by it at all.

    • Stacey, yours seems to be a genuine sighting because you were so close. Also this cat seemed to be very habituated to humans. Relaxed in your presence. Some mountain lions are dangerously used to being around people in the suburbs. This is where they get trapped and killed. Very sad. Thanks for posting.

  24. there have been quite a few sightings around the Carthage and West End area of Moore County NC. Also there is a black variety commonly sighted on the Lumber River and in the surrounding areas.

    • Thanks Jim. I have heard about the black cougars of NC. These are melanistic cougars. Quite rare but they do exist just like the black jaguar and leopard. They are called black panthers.

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