Archive for Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cougar sighting reported

June 13, 2007

A Kansas City, Kan., man said he saw a mountain lion crossing U.S. Highway 24-40 late Thursday night.

The man, who didn't want his name used, said he was driving on the road Friday at about 2:45 a.m. when the animal crossed the highway heading south just west of Stranger Creek.

He's certain it was a mountain lion, and not a bobcat.

"It had the longest tail, with the black tip on the tail," he said.

"It was going really fast. I couldn't believe how fast it was going," he said.

The man said he went to look for the tracks the next day and found some near a field on the north side of the road. There were two sets of prints, he said, a larger set and a smaller set. The clearest print was about 3 3/4 inches across, and he figured the other set of prints was a cub. There were also deer prints, he said.

"It looked like it was mountain lion following the deer," he said. "It might have got a deer there for all I know."

Mountain lions are members of the large cat family and are also known as cougars, pumas or panthers.

Brandon Dowell, an administrative assistant at the Lenexa office of the Kansas Department off Wildlife and Parks, said about one or two mountain lion sightings a month are reported to the office.

There has been no confirmed sighting of a mountain lion, Dowell said.

Confirmation requires an actual animal, either dead or alive, Dowell said.

"A print wouldn't do," he said.

"A lot of the time they turn out to be bobcats," he said. "The pelt on a dead deer kind of looks like a mountain lion."

The closest site where proof of a cougar was found is Lawrence, where DNA analysis of scat left on the west campus of Kansas University confirmed it to be a mountain lion, though the test didn't identify whether the animal was wild or a pet cougar that had been released.

"At one point there were as many as 15 people selling them as pets," said Roger Wolfe, regional fisheries and wildlife supervisor for the Department of Wildlife and Parks' Topeka office.

Wolfe said his office gets "probably an average of a call a week" for cougar sightings.

"There's no reason to think there's not something out there," Wolfe said.

However, that doesn't mean all sightings are the real thing.

"A dog print can be confused," Wolfe said. "Just because of its size doesn't mean it couldn't be a Lab or someone's Great Dane."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.