Archive for Friday, June 25, 2010

Biologists track mountain lion in western Kansas

June 25, 2010


— A mountain lion from Colorado took a quick stroll through Kansas this spring, basically covering the state from north to south in March.

It is the third confirmed mountain lion in Kansas in the past 106 years, and all three instances have occurred since 2007.

One was shot in Barber County in 2007 and the other was photographed by an archery deer hunter in Trego County last fall.

Thursday in Herington, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks biologist Matt Peek told the Wildlife and Parks Commission about the third mountain lion.

The young male, weighing about 90 pounds, had been trapped and collared by Colorado game officials and released near Estes Park on Oct. 20 of last year.

The cat's GPS-collar transmits its location every three hours. Biologists download the information about once a month.

Peek said Colorado authorities alerted Wildlife and Parks officials here when it appeared the cat was headed into Kansas. Wildlife and Parks officials didn't know the cat's location when it was in the state.

Several biologists, including Peek, later checked sites where several GPS coordinates were transmitted from a small area in western Kansas.

Peek said while the mountain lion spent some time along river bottoms, it spent much of its time trekking southward across agricultural and ranching areas with little traditional wildlife habitat. The cats are known to be reclusive and contact with humans is rare.

It appears the cat entered Kansas in Cheyenne County — in the northwest corner of the state — and stayed within the western two tiers of counties. It was in Kansas from March 5-25.

Peek said that about 30 percent of the time when the mountain lion was stopped, it was around some sort of structure, such as abandoned or inhabited houses.

"As you drive across places in western Kansas, if you were looking for cover, that's where you'd have went," Peek said.

Peek said he talked with one Morton County homeowner who produced a clear photo of a track near her home. She said she never felt threatened.

Though it was near livestock several times, biologists found no evidence that the mountain lion had attacked any.

Evidence indicated the mountain lion fed on house cats, raccoons, porcupines and a deer while in Kansas. In Colorado, it ate several coyotes, large birds and midsize mammals, but not deer.

Since leaving Kansas, the mountain lion traveled back to Colorado and then through Oklahoma and Texas before heading into New Mexico. Colorado biologist says it probably has traveled more than 1,000 miles.

Through the years, Peek and other Kansas biologists have traveled even farther while investigating possible sightings or signs of mountain lions. Reports of big cats in Kansas have been made since the last one was killed in the western part of the state in 1904, but none was confirmed until 2007.

"It was nice putting a foot on ground where we knew one had been in the past couple of weeks," Peek said.


bearded_gnome 7 years, 11 months ago

Colorado mountain lion, ... or hopped up lemur? enquiring minds want to know.

and did this thingy from colorado come to kansas for a reason? tired of supporting the Rockies? escaping an ex-wife with child support demands?

or, in colorado they took away his exercise equipment?

Clark Coan 7 years, 11 months ago

Who does a mt. lion eat a porcupine? Very carefully!!!

Chris Scafe 7 years, 11 months ago

I saw a mountain lion right here in Lawrence once. It was back in the '90s and I was working at the West Lawrence turnpike interchange. It was in a place where I used to see deer emerge from the woods between the turnpike's maintenance yard and a soybean field just east of the interchange. When I called Wildlife and Parks to report it, they told me that mountain lions didn't officially exist in Kansas because they hadn't been confirmed by biologists or law enforcement officers. (I guess law enforcement gets pretty heavy biology training at the academy?) Over the next few months a number of people told me they had seen a mountain lion in the area, but I never saw it again.

workinghard 7 years, 11 months ago

Saw one near Desoto, it was right in front of my car.

Jock Navels 7 years, 11 months ago

back in the early 90s i saw a mountain lion along the turnpike west of lawrence also...when i called wildlife, they said there were no mountain lions in kansas.

Jessie Stoltenow 7 years, 11 months ago

Pretty sure we had one at our place several months ago. Kinda nerve racking!!

mrbig 7 years, 11 months ago

I saw one by the KU soccer fields a few years ago? Are these not common?

50YearResident 7 years, 11 months ago

I bet there are hundreds of them in Kansas. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks will not admit it. I saw one several years ago at Melvern Lake near one of the camp sites durning the middle of the day. I didn't have my camera because I was in a boat fishing.

Bud Stagg 7 years, 11 months ago

There maybe more than we think. The rabbit populations seems to be way up. That means the coyotes are down. what is eating/killing coyotes and foxes?

Richard Gwin 7 years, 11 months ago

I've talked to area old-timer's that have seen them since they were young/ and they were 80 years old, the cats have been here for a long time, and usually out at night, as they have more litters their will be more seen.

Richard Gwin 7 years, 11 months ago

I've talked to area old-timer's that have seen them since they were young/ and they were 80 years old, the cats have been here for a long time, and usually out at night, as they have more litters their will be more seen.

whatadrag 7 years, 11 months ago

I am a mountain lion and I'm currently commuting around northeast kansas

thebigspoon 7 years, 11 months ago

My Grandparents had a farm South of Bromelsick about a mile before Clinton lake went in. They saw mountain lions there from time to time. My Dad was a rural mail carrier in that area until 1971 and he knew people that lived out there that saw them too. He also quail hunted a lot with the game warden at that time and he said they were around then. So confirmed or not they have been in this area for a long time. The place where the house was in in the state park area of Clinton lake now. There is a archery range in one of the campgrounds just about where their house was. You can still see the rock wall that dived their property from the neighbors and where the old driveway was.

whats_going_on 7 years, 11 months ago

Didn't we have one in Lawrence awhile back?

My bf swears up and down he saw one a few days ago on Kasold. He likes to exaggerate though.

puddleglum 7 years, 11 months ago

there was a giant cat-not a housecat-living out by the rc park 2 years ago, I saw it twice in one week. Not sure what the heck it was-but was not wearing purple so obviously wasn't a kittykat.

lounger 7 years, 11 months ago

Ive seen One jr in lawrence (by clinton lake) In 2007, two in wabaunsee county a decade apart and this very paper took a blurry picture of a confirmed mountain lion on west campus a few years back. They are here. We are not plugged into nature so much so we seldom see them ( Thanks goodness). Feels balanced when they are around....

kujayhawk 7 years, 11 months ago

Great, I hope we don't have to provide them free medical care.

BigPrune 7 years, 11 months ago

I swear I saw one years ago running across 15th Street near 15th & Kasold. It was prior to the KU dude finding some of its doo-doo after taking a photo of it on west campus.

lounger 7 years, 11 months ago

YOu really dont have a thing to worry about with the big cats. Wild Boars on the other hand do warrent a bit of worry...

ralphralph 7 years, 11 months ago

I saw one near the Marion/Chase County line about 10 years ago ... no mistaking it for anything else.

kernal 7 years, 11 months ago

Hear tell there's a restaurant in AZ serving up lion burgers earlier this month. Reservations, shirt and shoes required.

Lenette Hamm 7 years, 11 months ago

My son saw one on our property some months ago, but didn't have a camera good enough to photograph it. I know they're out there too - hear them from time to time, especially early spring.

kernal 7 years, 11 months ago

Favorite Lawrence cougar story. In the mid-80's, some folks partying downtown swore they saw a mountain lion at 7th & New Hampshire and called the LPD. Turned out to be a large blond Great Dane. Must have been that bottle of Jagermeister causing their hallucinations.

bearded_gnome 7 years, 11 months ago

Machiavelli_mania (anonymous) says…

Saw a baby one on the patio at the farmstead. Beautiful little thing, unique color. We never reported it.

The lion is my totum. I worship Bastet sometimes.

---very light on top. Machie do you mean "totem?" since you claim to have that faith, please try to spell it correctly.

still have a pathological hatred for athletic supporters?

yankeelady 7 years, 11 months ago

Maybe they can make a dent in the deer population. the deer are thick out in the county, it isn't unusual to see them at all hours of the day. And I think a mountain lion would much rather eat a deer than a horse.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 11 months ago

I've never seen a cougar in Kansas (which is what mountain lions are; no jokes please). I have seen and heard them in Washington state. Their scream is blood curdling; so much so that a cougar scream set off my car alarm once when I was near the banks of the Columbia River. They are NOT aggressive but rather shy. The one I came face to face with was just as startled as I was and ran in the opposite direction. To say there are no cougars in Kansas is foolish. The over breeding deer make great meals for them as well as coyotes. Even if they migrated here from somewhere else it doesn't mean they haven't set up housekeeping here.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.