Outdoors

Quail hunters find dead female mountain lion with missing paw in western Kansas

Quail hunters found a dead female mountain lion more than 100 miles from the Colorado border, the first confirmed mountain lion in the state since 2016.

The hunters found the big cat on Thursday in Rooks County, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism confirmed on its Facebook page late Thursday night. Rooks County is more than 100 miles from the Colorado border and 30 miles from Nebraska.

There is no breeding population of mountain lions in Kansas, biologists have said. Although there have been thousands of sightings reported, the first confirmed mountain lion in Kansas in modern times was 2007 in Barber County. Before that, the last documented mountain lion in the state was in 1904, the state’s wildlife department says on its website.

In recent years, more than a dozen mountain lion sightings have been confirmed in the state, usually in southwest Kansas close to the Colorado border.

State biologists, who decide if sightings are legitimate, say most of the big cats moving through plains have been young males likely looking for mates and their own territory.

The young male cats usually pass through in search of a mate that isn’t there.

The mountain lion that was found Thursday appears to be a mature female.

Biologists don’t know yet how the mountain lion got here, where it came from or why it was killed.

A Facebook post by a hunter claiming to have found the cat says he didn’t shoot the cat and alerted game wardens. He said it appears the cat was shot roughly a week ago with a shotgun. The cat’s front-left paw was missing and appeared to be sawed off, the man said.

There is no hunting season for mountain lions in Kansas, and they aren’t to be killed “without reason,” according to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism website.

Game wardens are investigating the big cat’s death.

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