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5 Mountain Lion Predators: What Eats Mountain Lions?

Mountain lions are strong predators, that are rarely the prey of other animals. They are close to the top of the food chain, but they compete with wolves, bears, coyotes, condors, and even alligators. Mountain lions aren’t usually hunted by other predators, but they can have conflicts with them and they don’t always win.

Mountain lions are some of the largest predators in their environment, which puts them in an advantageous position. They are not completely safe though.

While they are great hunters, they are not always the largest hunter around. Mountain lions are also solitary hunters, so pack hunters can overwhelm them.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the mountain lion’s competition throughout North and South America. We’ll see if they are able to kill a mountain lion by themselves or if they use other tactics to win encounters.

The five main competitors and predators of mountain lions are as follows:

  1. Bears
  2. Wolves
  3. Coyotes
  4. Alligators
  5. Andean Condors

1. Bears

bear face closeup

Bears are large animals, usually the largest in their habitats. They are omnivores, meaning they eat plants and animals to survive. Bears are robust animals with short stocky limbs and muscular bodies. There are three species of bears that can meet mountain lions in the wild: grizzly, black, and spectacled bears.

Bears are found in the same territories as mountain lions in North and South America. They are generally the largest mammals in their environment and able to dominate interactions with others.

Bears are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter to survive. This makes them highly adaptable.

In spite of their large stature, bears are actually fast runners, although just over short distances. They are also good climbers and swimmers.

Mountain lions can encounter three bear species across their range:

  • Grizzly bear in North America
  • Black bear in North America
  • Spectacle bear in South America

Grizzlies and Brown Bears

Eurasian brown bear near the river

The grizzly bear is a subspecies of brown bear. In the US coastal bears are larger and they’re called brown bears. Grizzly bears live inland, further from coastal food sources, and are generally smaller. All brown bears are generally larger than European brown bears.

Grizzlies don’t have any natural predators. Bears are usually apex predators, sitting at the top of the food chain in their environments. 

Their size and power are unmatched, and they are also versatile animals as omnivores.

Here’s a brief comparison of a mountain lion and an average grizzly bear’s size:

TraitMountain LionGrizzly Bear
Height29 inches40 inches
Length7 ft 10 in7 ft 2 in
Weight150 pounds590 pounds

Grizzlies are generally too big for mountain lions to even attempt fighting them, although it does happen sometimes. 

In conflicts, mountain lions usually lose. They either run away or get killed.

Grizzly bears can gain most of the energy they need by scavenging mountain lion kills. In Glacier National Park, bears visit as many of the cougars’ kill sites as they can, stealing around 10% of their kills.[1]

Black Bears

black bears migrating

Black bears compete with mountain lions across North America. The two species are comparable in strength, although black bears can grow larger and stronger than mountain lions.

Black bears aren’t as dominant as grizzlies but are still difficult for mountain lions to deal with. The bear’s size generally represents an advantage:

TraitMountain LionBlack Bear
Height29 inches34 inches
Length7 ft 10 in5 ft 3 in
Weight150 pounds150-300 pounds

The average size of black bears varies a lot depending on the region of different populations.

Rare large black bears have been known to weigh as much as 900 pounds.[2] While they are generally bigger than mountain lions, they can also be smaller. 

Like grizzlies, black bears steal prey that mountain lions killed. Black bears and mountain lions are both capable of killing each other, and mountain lions sometimes emerge victorious from these conflicts.[3]

Spectacled Bear

spectacled bear walking downhill

Spectacled bears aren’t a real threat to mountain lions. This South American bear species is smaller than the North American bears and it consumes less meat as part of its diet.

Here’s the size of a mountain lion compared to a spectacled bear:

TraitMountain LionSpectacled Bear(male)
Height29 inches28 inches
Length7 ft 10 in5 ft 8 in
Weight150 pounds300 pounds

Female spectacled bears are much smaller than the males.

Having a mostly herbivore diet, spectacled bears aren’t real competition for mountain lions. On the other hand mountain lions occasionally hunt spectacled bear cubs.

Related article: Bear vs. Cougar

2. Wolves


Wolves and mountain lions compete for the same types of prey across their shared territories in North America. Wolves are generally smaller than mountain lions and lose most one-on-one confrontations. As they hunt in packs, wolves have a big advantage over lions. Two wolves is enough to overwhelm the feline.

Wolves and mountain lions compete directly for prey. The biggest difference between their hunting behavior is the social elements. Mountain lions are solitary hunters, while wolves are pack hunters. 

Pack hunting gives wolves a great advantage when confronting other predators. While a single wolf can’t take down a mountain lion, a pack can.

Wolves’ individual strength coupled with pack hunting behavior allows them to dominate encounters.[4]

In one-on-one encounters, mountain lions generally have the size advantage:

TraitMountain LionWolf
Height29 inches31 inches
Length7 ft 10 in4 ft 3 in
Weight150 pounds80 pounds

Mountain lions sometimes ambush and kill lone wolves. They are stronger and more efficient predators when solitary than wolves.[5]

3. Coyotes

Coyotes Anatomy

Coyotes are some of the most adaptable predators in North America. They form small packs, usually made up of one coyote family. They are versatile and can hunt prey much larger than them thanks to their cooperation within the pack.

Adult mountain lions generally don’t fear coyotes. The wild dog-like predator is usually smaller than mountain lions and they haven’t been observed hunting them:

TraitMountain LionWolf
Height29 inches24 inches
Length7 ft 10 in3 ft 10 in
Weight150 pounds31 pounds

The coyote’s small size stops it from hunting mountain lions. Coyotes can kill mountain lion cubs, and they do opportunistically prey on them.[6]

4. Alligators


Alligators are large carnivorous reptiles. American alligators are found in the southwestern US and northeastern Mexico. They are powerful predators, and adult alligators are considered the apex predators in their environments. Alligators can ambush and kill almost any other animal that passes by them, mountain lions included.

Adult American alligators are the apex predators in their environment. They are tough creatures. 

There aren’t many animals that can kill a fully grown alligator, except humans. They are also some of the largest animals in their environments:

TraitMountain LionAlligator
Height29 inchesThey stay low to the ground.
Length7 ft 10 in13 ft 0 in
Weight150 pounds800 pounds

Alligators are known to sometimes ambush Florida panthers, a mountain lion population found in Florida. They ambush the feline at the edge of the water and it can’t effectively defend itself.

5. Andean Condors

Andean Condors

Andean condors are the largest flying birds in the world, sometimes preying on mountain lion cubs and carcasses. They live, as their name suggests, around the Andes mountains of South America. They are giant birds with impressive wingspan and can be a truly fearsome sight.

Andean condors are mainly scavengers, preferring to feed on the biggest carcasses they can find.

Andean condors can be up to 4 feet 3 inches in length with a wingspan of up to 10 feet 10 inches. They can also reach a weight of up to 33 pounds.

They compete with mountain lions by harassing them after the lions have killed their prey. South American mountain lions regularly abandon prey due to condor harassment.[7]


Mountain lions are some of the strongest predators in their environments. Only apex predators like bears and alligators can kill mountain lions in one-on-one fights. Pack hunters (like wolves) also kill adult mountain lions while smaller ones (like coyotes) hunt their cubs. Even scavangers like the giant Andean condor harass and steal the mountain lion’s kills.

About Codrin Frunzete

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