According to the Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation, the cougar ranks among the most elusive and discussed of all of Oklahoma’s wildlife species. Sightings and evidence of cougars have been documented back to 1852, where two cougars were killed in southwest Oklahoma. Accounts continued into 1953 when an Oklahoma State University mammalogist documented tracks of a mountain lion southeast of Canton Lake in northwest Oklahoma. Further reportings continued into September of 1984, where the refuge manager observed a mountain lion on the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
The best habitat and area for current day sightings pertaining to the cougar could be the Rolling Red Plains ecoregion, located in far western Oklahoma. This region is made up of 60 percent rangeland (large blocks of private land holdings with a low human population density), ideal for mountain lion habitat. They may move into and out of the state along major waterways from New Mexico, Colorado, and the Texas panhandle. Cougars may even have home ranges that cover 200 square miles, and most wild cougars entering Oklahoma are young males searching out new territories.
In 1957, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation listed the mountain lion as a game species with a closed season. Agency personnel have not conducted population surveys or assessed habitat availability, making it impossible to issue clear statements about the abundance of wild mountain lions. ODWC has never stocked, relocated or released any mountain lions in the state of Oklahoma. Furthermore the agency has no plans to do so.