Wild Cats in Utah, but Elusive

Utah has three species of native cats, the mountain lion, or cougar; the lynx; and the bobcat, a cousin to the lynx.

Utah has three species of native cats, the mountain lion, or cougar; the lynx; and the bobcat, a cousin to the lynx. All are solitary, secretive creatures that feed on small rodents, rabbits and other animals. The lynx can be found in forested areas, but the bobcat and cougar can be found throughout Utah, particularly in mountainous regions. The bobcat roams from Mexico to Canada and is fairly common throughout Utah, although rarely spotted as it is most active after dark.

A loner except when breeding, the bobcat shelters in hollow logs; small protective rock outcroppings and trees within various habitats including deserts, mountains and areas in between. In extremely rare cases you might catch a glimpse of a bobcat family, the male, female and litter of up to seven kittens. Together the parents feed the young until the kittens are ready to leave the den. The mother continues nurturing her brood until fall.

It isn't unusual for the mountain lion to bring down a deer, bighorn sheep or elk. Numerous enough to merit the dubious honor of being hunted for sport, the cougar was once the most wide-ranging animal in the Americas. Cougar tags (the permit to shoot one animal) are highly sought after by hunters, but even rarer is the photograph of this magnificent creature in its native land.

The Canada lynx, on the other hand, is listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and only live in deep forests. If you see one, make sure you report it. Lynx sightings in Utah over the past twenty years are almost nonexistent. In fact, the Forest Service was thrilled in 2002 when it found lynx hair in the Mani-La Sal National Forest. Nonetheless, Utah is considered within the lynx' range, which extends from Canada to Maine and the Rocky Mountains. Most comfortable in coniferous forests, its habitat continues to decline as logging, clearing and road construction encroach into more isolated areas. The lynx can be distinguished from a bobcat by its conspicuous ear tufts, long legs and over sized feet suitable for trekking through deep snow.



Chipmunks, Beaver, and Porcupines in Utah

Forty percent of all Utah mammals are rodents. You can distinguish rodents by the way they eat.


Pikas and Jackrabbits in Utah

The fertile grasslands, woodsy forests and lots of streams in Utah allow the jackrabbit, pika and cottontail to flourish.


Coyotes in Utah

No one who has heard the eerie cry of a coyote during its hunt in Zion can ever forget it. The high-pitched yip, yip and howl are just plain spooky.

A lizard in Zion National Park. Photo by Elisabeth Kwak

Reptiles in Southern Utah

Lizards and snakes flourish in Zion Canyon. Chances are, as you walk the many trails, you'll see one of the 16 species of lizards or 13 snake species.

Pronghorn antelope in Utah

Pronghorn Antelope in Utah

The popular big game animal known as the "pronghorn" frequents southern Utah.


Mountain Lions in Zion Canyon

Zion National Park gets almost three million visitors annually -- most in Zion Canyon -- and mountain lions stay far away from such crowds.

Bat flying in the sky

Bats in Utah

Look to the sky at dusk and those small birds you see may actually be bats. You can distinguish bats from birds by their flight patterns.

A Black-Footed Ferret in Coyote Basin, Utah

Ferrets and Pine Martens in Utah

The black-footed ferret (the French word for "thief") was once considered the rarest land mammal in North America.

Blonde-colored Black Bear

Black Bears in Utah

Unlike the grizzly, the black bear is still fairly common in the large forested areas of Utah. Rarely black, instead they can be blonde or chocolate brown.