Photo shows ‘proof’ of mountain lion on KU campus

A Kansas University faculty member said today he has “photographic proof” about recent reports of a mountain lion roaming on KU’s West Campus.

Mark Jakubauskas told World Online today that a motion detection camera he set up on campus recently captured what appears to be a mountain lion.

This photo was shot Oct. 1 by a motion detector camera set up on Kansas University's West Campus by a KU faculty member. There have been several reports of mountain lion sightings in the area in the last year and Mark Jakubauskas, who set up the automatic camera, thinks this photo is proof.

Jakubauskas is a research assistant professor in the Kansas Applied Remote Sensing Program of the Kansas Biological Survey.

“We tried all the possibilities: cat, dog, deer, bobcat. And given the size and the characteristics, we still keep coming up with mountain lion,” he said. “So far we can’t say that it’s not a mountain lion. And all indications are suggesting that it is.”

He set up the camera in mid August in a wooded area on West Campus following reports in the Journal-World, 6News and World Online that a large cat has been seen by several people in that area in the last year.

Jakubauskas had been checking the camera every week or so and found the photo of the big cat on film he checked this week. He thinks the image was shot on Oct. 1.

He said he has e-mailed the photo to several people to get their opinion, including a a friend who is a vertebrate ecologist and mammalogist, Michael Shaughnessy, Department of Biology, Morehead State University.

Shaughnessy gave this professional opinion:

“That is almost certainly the mountain lion. The giveaway is the size (in comparison to the grasses). Notice particularly how the belly clears the 20 – 30 cm grasses. That puts the animal higher than a bobcat.

“Additionally, the tail with the dark tip is diagnostic of mountain lions. The relative size puts it above house cats (compared to the grasses) and on the off chance you had a Canada lynx (you don’t) – the lynx has a stub of a tail (and is spotted). It isn’t a dog – the tail is too vermiform.”

Jakubauskus has also sent the image to others to see what their opinion might be.

For more on this story, see the 6News report at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. and pick up a copy of Wednesday’s Journal-World.