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 –

Update: Please see the extensive list of comments on this page as there are many from other citizens of N. Carolina who have seen a cougar and/or evidence of one. Judging by the large number of sightings recorded in the comments it seems to me that the puma is not extinct in the East. Below I allude to the possibility that the Ryan’s sighting was of a domesticated puma but that assessment may well be wrong 😊.

Puma at night
Puma at night. Photo in public domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

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.

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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 thought 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 being 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 partially hanging in trees. Even a mangled-up cow close to my house about a mile away. There is a highway coming through in the next 1 to 2 years and I believe maybe logging and grading companies are pushing it closer this way

160 thoughts on “Regular cougar sighting in North Carolina”

  1. In 1999 about a week after hurricane Floyd had passed through eastern NC I was driving to work one morning on Highway 55 about six miles west of New Bern when a cougar crossed the road in front of me. It was a sunny, cloudless morning and the big cat was moving at a trot so I got a good look. It had the classic long tail, short tawny fur and was moving with a clearly feline gait. Several friends who were avid hunters told me that they had seen cougars in the same general area on multiple occasions.

  2. I live in Hayesville NC and yesterday evening (Sept.3, 2023) I was sitting on my back porch just at dusk and I looked over to the adjoining property my neighbor has between us, it’s about an acre with some trees but pretty much open, and I saw something standing there about maybe 75-80 or so feet from me. I thought to myself what in the world is that? It wasn’t a dog and it was too big to be any of my neighbor’s cats. I grabbed my little binoculars I have sitting on my side table that I use to watch the deer that are always out there grazing, and as soon as I looked at it I started yelling for my Husband to come and see it. So I only got a few seconds of looking at it through the binoculars, and again it was dusk. But I saw that it was about 2 feet tall and it’s body length was long but I’m not sure of the length, and a tannish color. My Husband was on the front porch looking at the deer that was in my other neighbors yard, and by the time he got around to me he just got a glimpse of it as it took off down the hill ( or so we thought ). I walked over and looked down the hill but saw nothing. At first I thought it was a Bobcat, because that is the only thing I could think it could have been. So I was yelling there’s a Bobcat, but then it dawned on me, no it couldn’t be a Bobcat because it’s tail ( and you could see this plainly when it took off ) was almost as long as it’s body. A couple of our neighbors were also outside and heard me yelling so they came over to see what all the commotion was about. As we stood talking about it, one of my neighbors said oh I just saw something jump out of the tree. It was dark by then so he didn’t get a good look at it and it was fast. So it didn’t run down the hill but must of jumped up into the tree. I came across this site when I was searching to find out what it could of been, and after reading how they sound like a woman screaming I am 100% certain now that what I saw was a cougar, and this is why…about 4-5 months ago I had gone to bed, it was a nice night so my windows were open, and after awhile I heard what sounded like someone screaming. I listened and thought that is not cats fighting/mating, I’ve heard that plenty of times and know what that sounds like. It sounded like screams, so I got up and looked out my windows to see if I could see what it was. I didn’t see anything but the screams continued a few more times and then quit. The next morning I told my Husband about what I heard, he had still been up watching tv. I just listened on the internet to what a cougar sounds like and wow that is exactly what I had heard!

    • Thanks, Kim, for a nice story. And yes, this very much looks like you have spotted a mountain lion. At 2 feet to the shoulder this must have been a subadult. Perhaps a young mountain lion that had just become independent and had found its ‘home range’ and perhaps a female. Adult mountain lions are up to 3 feet at the shoulder. Perhaps the deet had attracted the cat to the place where you live which sounds great to me. What I like is that you were all so interested in the sighting. It is good that people like mountain lions to ensure that they are protected.

  3. When we lived in the NC foothills, my wife and I saw a cougar cross the road in front of our car. My wife, a restaurant general manager, often worked nights, so we were used to seeing bobcats in our headlights, and this was no bobcat. It was much larger, tan, like a deer, in coat color, and had a long tail. That night, our headlights shined right on it as it crossed the road in front of our Jeep. Once across the road, it turned its head about and looked directly back at us. This was no bobcat, and if ever before domesticated, it had gone feral, for it looked wild and mean.

    • You don’t get a better sighting of a mountain lion. So close. Thanks for sharing your experience, Anthony. I think the experts are wrong about mountain lions in N. Carolina. They are there judging by these comments.


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