Sunday, October 2, 2011

Official Mountain Lion Sighting - Sort Of

It made the front page in the Topeka Capital Journal. Mountain Lion Sighting Confirmed in Rossville, although there are some strange quotes included in the newstory: “At first she thought it was a deer,” said Rossville Police Chief Jason Connell. “But then it moved away from her, stopped, laid down and its long tail nearly hit it in the face. That’s the kind of tail a mountain lion has."

(A wild mountain lion would lay down so close to a human being on main street? And right by a church, too! A tail that hits its owner in the face? What?)

"A ranger from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism later that morning found paw prints in a populated area on the south edge of Rossville. "He was 85 percent sure they were made by a mountain lion,” Connell said."

What animal could have been responsible for the 15% of doubt? Big Foot? The Aflac Duck wearing tiger paw slippers?

The article also states a farmer in western Shawnee County sighted a mountain lion earlier.

Maybe there is something to it this time.

For years people have claimed to have seen mountain lions in Kansas. Some of them surely were truthful people who knew what they were talking about. There is a ready supply of animals, wild and domestic, for mountain lions to eat. The experts claim there is not sufficient habitat for the big cats to settle and breed in Kansas, so as far as they are concerned, any reported sightings are either:

made by liars - though the official denial is far more diplomatic

misidentified - big dog, bob cat, weather balloon

a pet lion released from captivity

maybe (million to one odds) a young male passing through.

Well, no disrespect to our Kansas rangers, but I think there are only about a dozen of them. They have so much rangering to do that the governor dumped tourism on them, too. So few cannot possibly cover every square inch of Kansas and flag down tourists on I-70, too. If I were to walk out my front door heading straight north, I could walk almost four miles where the only sign of human beings in my path would be two or three barbed wire fences. Before I reached the interstate, I would cross a quarter section of farmland where about 50 deer congregate into a herd in cold weather. If I were to go south, I could cross miles and miles before running directly into a farm. I think the rangers are wrong when they say there is not sufficient habitat for mountain lions to settle in Kansas. They are not hunted here yet so they would have no reason to fear buildings. There are plenty of feral cats around any town (or farm) for a quick snack. Often the sightings are around populated areas (because that is where the people are to see a cougar in the first place). Almost any species can acclimate to human activity.

I do not know if there is a mountain lion in Rossville, less than 20 miles from my place as the crow flies. People I trust have spotted mountain lions just a couple of miles from my house. I would hate to think I might end up as cougar food some night when I am wandering in the dark. It would be better to be killed by a big cat than to waste away in an old folks home, though.

1 comment:

cyberkit said...

Obviously, the Aflac duck was wearing a pair of Puma athletic shoes! A quick google showed me that the historic range of cougars covers the entire country.

Even with the current known range, Kansas isn't far fetched for a male to be wandering. If I remember my Smother's Brothers correctly (and I assure you that I do), if there's a crevasse, then there are Pumas in those crevasses.