Outdoors

Photo confirms mountain lion in Labette County

A Labette County hunter found this image from a trail camera. Wildlife and Parks officials confirmed the authenticity of the photo after visiting the site.
A Labette County hunter found this image from a trail camera. Wildlife and Parks officials confirmed the authenticity of the photo after visiting the site. Courtesy photo

State wildlife officials have confirmed the presence of a mountain lion in southeast Kansas late last month.

Matt Peek, furbearer biologist for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, said the animal was photographed in Labette County by a motion-triggered trail camera placed by a deer hunter. Peek examined the photo and the scene where the photo was taken to judge the size of the animal.

Peek said this is the 10th documented mountain lion in Kansas since 2007. That big cat, shot by a landowner near Medicine Lodge who feared it might hurt his livestock or family, was the first documented in Kansas for more than 100 years. No damage done to livestock by mountain lions was documented in those years, either.

Last month’s mountain lion is the first documented in Kansas in the past two years. Most have been documented when their images were recorded on trail cameras. Another was photographed in western Kansas as it passed a hunter in a tree stand.

Biologists think most mountain lions seen in Kansas are young males, moving from saturated populations in the Rocky Mountains or South Dakota’s Black Hills regions. Most appear to be wandering, looking for good habitat. Some have wandered as far as the East Coast.

About a decade ago, a mountain lion wearing a non-working tracking collar attached in the Black Hills was found dead in Oklahoma, about 40 miles south of Arkansas City. About three years ago, a mountain lion wearing a GPS collar fitted in the mountains of Colorado traveled from northwest to southwest Kansas, where it left the state in less than four weeks.

To date, there has been no evidence of a reproducing population in Kansas, or any states east, for more than 100 years. Nor have their been any confirmed cases of mountain lions attacking livestock in Kansas.

Even where mountain lions are common, attacks on humans are considered extremely rare.

Reach Michael Pearce at 316-268-6382 or mpearce@wichitaeagle.com.

  Comments