Archive for Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Teacher latest to report seeing mountain lion

November 7, 2006


A teacher is the latest Lawrence resident to spot a mountain lion in the area.

"I'm reasonably certain I did," said Craig Hershiser, who teaches English at Free State High School. "It kind of took me by surprise."

Hershiser was driving south on South Lawrence Avenue about 7:45 a.m. Sunday when he came to the stop sign at 31st Street.

Looking south of the intersection, he said, he saw an animal walking along in the middle of a field.

"It was moving like a cat, a steady, measured gait," Hershiser said. "It has those kinds of features that made me think it was a mountain lion. It was kind of a buff color, with a long tail."

He couldn't estimate the weight or the length. But it wasn't a bobcat, he said.

"It was bigger than a coyote," he said.

Hershiser watched the cat for 30 to 40 seconds, then it walked into taller brush out of his view.

Roger Wolfe, Kansas Department of Wildlife fisheries and wildlife region supervisor for the Lawrence and Topeka area, said Monday he doesn't doubt Hershiser's sighting.

However, Wolfe said there was still no evidence that mountain lions have a breeding population in Kansas. Those seen could be either a lone cougar that has taken up residence here or a semi-domesticated exotic pet that was released.

"Typically, you don't see these things on a consistent basis," he said.

Last June, Lawrence resident Liz Dobbins reported she was stalked by a mountain lion for about a mile during an early-morning jog along the Kansas River levee trail just east of the city.

Other sightings have been reported in the last few years at the Martin Park area, the Alvamar golf course and on Kansas University's west campus.


carolannfugate 11 years, 7 months ago

Roger Wolfe, Kansas Department of Wildlife fisheries and wildlife region supervisor for the Lawrence and Topeka area, said Monday he doesn't doubt Hershiser's sighting

At least they admit the Lions are out there.

Mark Jakubauskas 11 years, 7 months ago

Hello, I'm the guy who took the photo and found the cougar scat up on West Campus. Thought I'd chime in here.

1) Yes, we took a photo using an automatic game camera of an animal on West campus in October 2003 that some experts have identified as a cougar. It's not 100% sure, since the head can't be see, but the size, shape, color, context, and tail length only fit the description of a cougar.

2) I found the scat and sent it away for DNA testing. It revealed that the scat was indeed cougar, from a male, and the animal had been eating principally rabbits. As to the allegation that "we don't know who put it there" - well, let's just say that there's 400 acres of grassland and forest in West Campus, that no one knew where I had placed the camera, and that if someone planted the scat there to be found they had to have a reasonable expectation that a), I would find it; b), I would collect it; c), I would know where to send it for testing. And no, I didn't plant it there and I'll swear to that in a court of law. So by claiming "someone planted the scat there" - that's applying a far higher standard than we'd apply to a murder case: "Yes, that was my blood and semen at the crime scene and on the victim - BUT WE DON'T KNOW HOW IT GOT THERE!" See ? Doesn't passs the laugh test.

3) As for Wildlife and Parks saying that it could be a sighting of a wild cougar OR an escaped captive, and that there is no evidence of a breeding population in Kansas - That's the absolute truth, they're working off the best scientific evidence we have to date (which isn't much), and I think the response was entirely accurate and appropriate.

4) As for the old chestnut about "Wildlife and Parks introduced cougars to control the deer population..." geez, that's been claimed in every state that has had cougars return, has never been proven, never had any kind of evidence brought forward, and finally, has never passed the laugh test for silliness !

Mark Jakubauskas Kansas Biological Survey.

Lonestar1 11 years, 7 months ago

Coyotes will certainly take cats and they seem to be pretty bold this year. I've seen a couple out in the middle of the day, jus chillin, and we are missing 4 cats. The coyotes are coming a lot closer to the house the last couple of years, and we do have a couple of good size dogs ih the yard also.

Danielle Brunin 11 years, 7 months ago

My husband and I are fairly certain that we saw one last Friday night. We were driving on the road that goes out of town from 11th St. into the country. We are always very vigilant because there are a lot of deer. We saw eyes and thought it was a deer so we slowed down. However, the animal was clearly not a deer. Deer always hold their heads high and are vigilant. This had the gait and body line of a large cat. We were both like, "Uh, was that a mountain lion?" Now, having said that, we can't prove that it was a mountain lion and we certainly weren't going to get out and look for tracks, but there have been several mountain lion sightings in that area. The only bad thing was that it was right next to a farm where people have horses and I know mountain lions have been known to kill horses and livestock. Nonetheless, no one was hurt and I think it was pretty cool! I wish I knew for sure!

Ken Miller 11 years, 7 months ago

Undoubtedly it's time to call Marlon Perkins to get the definitive answer.

Kizzy 11 years, 7 months ago

I saw a mountain lion while walking my dog on the levee trail back in July. It was almost dark, but the cat was no more than 25 feet from me. Luckily my dog didn't notice. The cat slowly slinked away into someone's yard. (Watch out Elm Street!) It was quite a sight! Beautiful animal . . .

Mark Jakubauskas 11 years, 7 months ago


Other things on the menu included pocket gophers and voles, in addition to the rabbits.

Here's an excerpt:

Diet Analysis: Bone Various bone fragments were removed from the scat including jawbones and whole intact appendages from small mammals. It was not possible to determine family or species for the majority of the bone fragments, but most were from small mammals. The jawbones were identified as vole (Microtus) and pocket gopher (Geomys). Small rabbit teeth were also found.

Hair A variety of hair types were found, but most could not be identified due to lack of sources for comparison. A rabbit and cougar were two identifiable organisms (Figure 2). Hair characteristics of many small hairs were consistent with characteristics in small mammal such as mice and voles.

jonas 11 years, 7 months ago

Carol: Of course, to be as clear as some would have liked, or even accepted, it would have had to have been professionally done, from exactly 10 feet away in good light, with Sue Hack standing nearby for proper size verification, and the lion would have to have been holding a sign saying "YES, I AM ACTUALLY A MOUNTAIN LION." The denials of the original series of sightings were so vehement as to be somewhat ludicrous, if you ask me.

kmat 11 years, 7 months ago

For those who doubt there are mt lions in KS, just go talk to rural farmers. My family's farm near Williamsburg has always had them. Everyone in my family that lived and worked on the farm saw them their entire lives (from the 30's 'til recent). I'm sure the population is nothing like it was decades ago, but they do exist and my family doesn't believe (based on the years and #'s of cats they've seen) that these are just pets that escaped or were set free. Lions also have very large territories, so the fact that every state around us admits to having populations of them is enough proof that they exist here as well. They follow the waterways and prey, that's why we're seeing them in Lawrence. Two rivers, a big lake, lots of wooded and tall grass areas and plenty of deer and small prey.

carolannfugate 11 years, 7 months ago

Funny Guy you are compmd.

Seriously, Mountain Lions do exist here and have for some time. Their territories were simply pushed back and they remained for the most part in the confines of their habitat. It is only due to the building and new development that sightings are picking up within the City. We are the invaders here. Keep your pets in at night and share the land.

tweetybird2 11 years, 7 months ago

I have heard people say they were turned loose to help control the deer population. Anyone know if this is a fact?

common_cents 11 years, 7 months ago

They left out my sighting earlier this year just south of 6th and Iowa running into that park area.

It could have been a large bobcat, but it seemed a bit large to be one. Had to swerve to miss hitting it.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 7 months ago

"Better not bring your kids!" - Dave Chappelle

monkeyspunk 11 years, 7 months ago

I am rooting for the Mountain lions. I hope they kill all the deer in the state, who cares if they take a few cows with 'em. I am sure the gov't can institute some kind of refund policy like they do with wolf kills of livestock in the Northern states.

Deer are a menace! Down with Bambi!

compmd 11 years, 7 months ago

"Last June, Lawrence resident Liz Dobbins reported she was stalked by a mountain lion..."

The lion just didn't understand that she didn't want him around any more. It was over, and there was nothing he could do about it. Maybe he thought they could give it another chance, that he wasn't the lion he used to be, he just wanted to show her. But he went too far and stalked her. Now if he's caught, he'll get his picture up on the internet and the state will have to find somewhere for him to live in an area that will accept him. He'll try to live out a normal life, think about what he did and have to come to terms with it. It was just a little mistake, it was all a misunderstanding. Will he ever shake the stigma of being labeled a stalker? Will he ever be free of the shame?

roger_o_thornhill 11 years, 7 months ago

I am the mountain lion you saw! Ha ha! You fools! I've been living in your midst all along. You'd think I'd have a different name around here though since there ain't no mountains. 'Cept for Mt. Oread. Maybe I'll skulk around there next. (cue: Mancini. exit stage left.)

Bassetlover 11 years, 7 months ago

A mountain lion was spotted on a farm in the southwest part of the county a few weeks ago scoping out some sheep. Thankfully the dog herded them up and got them in the barn/lean-to so they'd be safe. Pretty scary for area farmers knowing a predator like this is out there preying on their livestock.

onehotmomma 11 years, 7 months ago

Does anyone know if there is a Mountain Lion in the 6th and Wak area. Our cat hasn't been seen since late Friday night. Sunday night we heard a pack of coyotes howling. We're hoping the cat is visiting a friend, but I'm starting to think he may have become an appetizer for a hungry wild predator.

terrapin2 11 years, 7 months ago

My husband saw a mountain lion (cougar, puma, or panther) a few weeks ago out on a friend's farm near Linwood. He first saw the glowing eyes in his headlights and saw the long tail. You can just tell the movement of a cat and it was way too big to be a bobcat and it was all one color (hence Felis concolor or "cat of one color"). He did not get out to look, but our friend told us that while out walking on his land he saw a part of a cow carcass in a tree. The ONLY thing that could take the carcass into a tree in Kansas is a mountain lion. I think it is fantastic that we have mountain lions here. Their range used to cover the entire United States and we could certainly use a natural way of keeping the deer population in check. Too many people are hurt or killed by deer on the road, not to mention all the damage done to cars!

Ken Miller 11 years, 7 months ago

Bigger threat to kitty cats in Lawrence: Coyotes, Mountain Lions or Chinese restaurants?

ranger73 11 years, 7 months ago

Maybe KU can get a grant and invest in thousands of dollars capture and confirm the existence of mountain lions, and then study it and see if it can be a viable candidate for city commission...or maybe the existence of it would cause all development west of to cease so as not to destroy it's current habitat or maybe they find out it knows some engineering since it hangs out on west campus so much and has peeked in windows and knows about traffic flows and how to design roads or maybe they find out it was placed there by Wal-Mart opposition leaders to prevent Wal-Mart from buildin...................

sorry-got some bad coffee this am-kinda punchy...

Lonestar1 11 years, 7 months ago

Wasn't there a remote photo and some poop from west campus?

carolannfugate 11 years, 7 months ago

KU did get a photo on west campus and the droppings were tested. Tests indicated the dropping were from a Mountain Lion, but the photo was not as clear as some would have liked.

Shardwurm 11 years, 7 months ago

I think you should be more concerned about the Wildcats that are going to be on campus in a couple of weeks.

overthemoon 11 years, 7 months ago

I saw the big cat...or a big cat...on west campus at about 9:00 pm last week. was driving up crestline just before the turn to the Dole Institute and a very large animal ran in front of my car, about 15-20 yards ahead. It was most definately not a dog or a big tabby cat. It was about the size of labrador, had a distinctly catlike gate (it was loping along at a pretty quick pace) and its tail was very long and dark and bushy at the tip.

Guess I should have reported this?

lilzcoop 11 years, 7 months ago

My husband & I have each seen them. Twice over by the Gardner Lake dam,once over by the caves by Holiday(along KS river in KCK) and twice on Sunflower Ammo. Plant property off Old 10 Hwy. one of which times he & his boss stopped & watched 2 of them running & jumping up on lg. hay bales.

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