Officers searching for more clues on origin of cat
PRATT -- Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) officers are investigating the alleged killing of a mountain lion, also known as a cougar or puma, in southcentral Kansas last fall. Investigators learned of the case the first week in March.

A Barber County landowner reportedly killed the cougar on his property last November, when, while cutting wood, he noticed the cat in some tall grass nearby, retrieved a firearm from his truck, and shot the animal.

Investigators took possession of the lion's pelt and hope to obtain the skull. The animal had been provided to a taxidermist in Texas, and the remainder of the carcass had been disposed of. There is no outward indication the mountain lion had been in captivity, and KDWP personnel hope additional analyses will lead to clues indicating where it came from.

Although sightings are often reported to KDWP, the last wild mountain lion documented in Kansas was killed in Ellis County in 1904. However, mountain lions are known to occur in Colorado within 75 miles of the border of southwest Kansas and have been documented with increasing frequency in recent years in the Panhandle of Oklahoma. Mountain lions have also been dispersing from the Black Hills of South Dakota for more than a decade into several Midwestern states. In anticipation that mountain lions would appear in Kansas as they have in other Midwestern states, KDWP staff completed a plan in July 2004 to guide their response to the presence of mountain lions under various scenarios.

No hunting season for mountain lions has been established in Kansas, and they may not be killed without reason. Landowners are permitted to destroy wildlife, including mountain lions, found in or near buildings on their premises or when destroying property, but they may not possess such animals with intent to use unless authorized. Pending completion of ongoing investigations, the landowner who allegedly killed this mountain lion could be cited for killing and/or possession of the cat. The investigations could take several weeks.

For more information, contact KDWP biologist Matt Peek at 620-342-0658.