Oklahomans report cougar sightings

? Residents are spotting cougars around town, and they don’t mean mascots at football games.

Wildlife specialists say they are certain cougars roam in and around Ada, and there have been several spottings during the past few years as proof.

David Vogt, a retired police officer, recently got a rare daylight glimpse of a cougar walking across his neighbor’s lawn.

“We just looked at one another eye-to-eye for a minute or so,” he said.

Another resident, Edwina Lowery, said she saw a cougar a couple of years ago in the Chickasaw Hills area. And Ken Gee with the Noble Foundation at Ardmore said three people saw a cougar around Ardmore about five years ago.

Mark Hill, another Ada resident, saw a cougar four years ago on the side of the road.

“That’s something you’ll never forget,” he said.

Wildlife biologists have long known that cougars are in western Oklahoma. Mike Shaw, a biologist with the state Wildlife Department, estimates there are about 50 wild cougars in the western part of the state.

Cougars are secretive hunters that feed primarily on white-tailed deer but will also eat rabbits, mice and even insects when food supplies are limited, wildlife experts said.

The animals were eliminated from most of eastern North America by 1900 because of habitat destruction, a decline in deer population and uncontrolled hunting.