Michael Pearce

Wildlife official nixes mountain lion report

Charlie Cope, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism district biologist for the Wichita area, denies that his agency had confirmed any mountain lions in Pawnee Prairie Park in western Wichita. A widely shared Facebook posting from earlier in the week stated there was a female and “aggressive” male mountain lion in that area and that people should keep a close watch on their pets and children.

“What was posted carried some red flags,too,” said Cope. “The fact that they’re saying there’s an aggressive male and, if you read it, you see they didn’t use the right name for the state agency. They said wildlife, parks and game.” Even in areas of high mountain lion populations, the animals are extremely secretive and aggression towards humans has only been documented a few times over the past 50 years.

Though highly improbable the big cats are in Wichita, it’s not totally impossible. Cope said after an absence of more than 100 years, the state’s first modern wild mountain lion was documented in 2007. Since, less than 10 have been documented. Most have shown up on remote trail cameras set up by hunters to get photos of deer. Nearly all of the animals seen in Kansas and other Midwestern states are believed to be young male cats that were pushed from areas with high populations. The juveniles are wandering, looking for good mountain lion habitat to set up their territory. Even though it has a ready food supply of deer and small game, most biologists say Kansas is some of the poorest mountain lion habitat in America.

Cope doubts the state will ever have a true mountain lion population or many female cats, especially with kittens.

“I think northwestern Nebraska was documenting mountain lions for about 10 years before they documented their first female and first kitten,” said Cope. “We know (mountain lions) are here in Kansas sometimes. We don’t know how many there are, but always suspect they’re just moving through.”

Many of the mountain lions found roving the Midwest have come from a growing population in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

More updates

Sadly a week ago we lost a member of the Eagle’s Outdoors team. Carol Sorenson died at her home in Valley Center of an apparent heart attack. She had done our fishing reports for many years. Before working with us as a freelancer, she had worked in the local Wildlife and Parks office for about 10 years. She did a good job and was great to talk to. We’re still trying to decide how we want to proceed with the weekly fishing reports.

A reminder that the Kansas Rack and Reel Show is going through this weekend at Kansas Star Arena, at the casino near Mulvane. For more details to to www.kansasrackandreelshow.com. Fishing reports are mixed, but as the weather begins to get more stable people are doing better on wipers, walleye and most other species. A lot of fishermen are impressed with the numbers small fish, from this year’s spawning, that they’ve been seeing.

Reports still are coming in of good things as per pheasant and quail hatches for this year. The young quail are now getting old enough to get out and about more so sightings should increase. No doubt there are plenty of grasshoppers out there to help them grow.

This week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service came out with the annual forecast for the upcoming duck seasons. The news is pretty good, with a total North American population of 49.5 million ducks. That’s almost identical to last year. Mallard numbers are up about seven percent and green-winged teal up 19 percent. The only sizable decline is with shovelers, which are down 17 percent.

Upcoming coverage

Saturday’s Eagle should have a feature about the annual communal gathering of purple martins in Wichita, just before they start migrations to South America. This year’s roost is in Old Town, between First and Second streets, just west of Washington Ave. There were about 15,000 birds there on Tuesday, but that number has probably increased as migrants arrive.

Sunday’s Outdoors page feature is on a catfisherman up at Marion Reservoir. Through his 60 year fishing career he’s used a wide variety of baits with enough foul stench to gag about anyone. Now, he makes his own bait that smells just fine and most of the ingredients can be found in most kitchens. Note that I said most, and not all.

I’m also wanting to write a column about the Minnesota dentist who shot the controversial lion in Africa. My angle will largely be how surprised I’ve been by some of the reactions by the media and the general public. It’s been difficult to even figure out what actually happened because so many different stories and scenarios have been reported.

Down the road I’ll have a preview of what the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism has in mind for possibly raising hunting and fishing fees in the state. Some haven’t been increased for more than 10 years. Their proposals will be discussed at the Aug.20 commission meeting in Great Bend, then voted on in October.

Michael’s world

Some of you may have seen me afield or afloat in my favorite fishing shirt through the years. It is light yellow, thin fabricate, long sleeved and has those covered vents which are really good for allowing air to circulate around my body.

Well, now air has a couple of other holes about the size of volleyballs to circulate through. Cade, our soon to be four-month-old Lab puppy, was my tailor for the alterations. I’m the person who didn’t make sure the latch was fastened on his crate so he eventually got out in the middle of the night. Hey, the shirt smelled like me so it figures that’s what he’d want to play with. (Hopefully he wasn’t trying to get even from some difference of opinions we had over food or training.)

An interesting thing is that I must have gotten up in the middle of the night, which happens a lot once you’re past 50, found the shirt on the floor, half-folded it and put it back on top of the pants I’d be wearing fishing the next day. So, Wednesday morning I got up early and half asleep began to put on a shirt that’s literally full of holes. Puppies chew and play, you just have to accept it.

As I’ve said before, and will again, I’m so fortunate to have a wife who loves puppies even more than I do. Kathy’s very patient and loving with Cade, even after he goes tearing through her flowers or takes off across the living room with some sock or shoe.

Oh, last Sunday Cade accomplished his lifelong goal.( I know, it hasn’t been a very long life.) He was able to get a pretty good section of our garden hose into our breakfast area.

Since the first few hours after I brought him home when he was seven weeks old, he has liked to tug and shake our garden hoses. He chews on them a bit, but it’s mostly more like a tug of war. Of course, all really cool things found in the yard - rocks, leaves, five-foot-long sticks, get taken through the pet door and into our house.

The hose was a challenge because he had to make two 90-degree turns to get it even up on our deck. Well, he eventually figured out to drag it well out into the yard so it creates a lot of slack, then head for the house. So far the hose hasn’t been on when it came inside.

The pup’s a thinker.

By the way, when you read Sunday’s article about catfishing at Marion, you might enjoy knowing that it was possibly the worst demonstration of fishing skills and experience I’ve ever shown. My host caught a dozen channel cats. I was fishing maybe two yards away and got totally blanked. I had one fish hooked for about five seconds and that was it. I was getting hits but couldn’t get the hook set into a fish.

Oh well, the important thing is that I got a good story and photos from the morning and a bag of fillets. I used the jalapeno potato chip recipe from our cookbook for dinner that night with homegrown tomatoes and grilled veggies. Just as good as it was last year.


Michael Pearce