Weatherford Democrat

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March 29, 2013

Suspected mountain lion sightings reported in county

(Continued)

He has fielded a few reports in the last year or two, including a couple from the area near the Mikus Road exit.

The sighting reports vary, from about 30 minutes before dark to after dark, some at a distance, others in the caller’s backyard, Oetgen said. 

Though, they’ve not been able to find any verifying evidence of mountain lions in the area recently, a mountain lion sighting is not out of the question, Oetgen said.

Even in mountainous areas of the state known to have substantial mountain lion populations, the cats are very nomadic and males can travel long distances, Oetgen said, adding that tracking of the animals shows they may be several months making their rounds through their territory.

They aren’t sure what mountain lion territory looks like in urban areas.

A mountain lion moving through small wooded corridors may never return to the area again.

It is possible that if a mountain lion found a food source, such as goats, that it may stay in the area and continue to take as many of the animals as it wanted, according to Oetgen.

He said he wouldn’t dismiss a mountain lion sighting but would want to identify exactly what it was. 

Feral dogs and coyotes can also similarly kill livestock.

He recommends that farmers and ranchers suspecting a possible mountain lion buy a game camera to see if they can get photo evidence of the livestock predator.

In addition to seeking photographic evidence, they can also look for other evidence such as footprints.

There is an obvious difference between dog tracks and cat tracks, Oetgen said.

Typically, a mountain lion is also going to leave other signs behind, as well.

Mountain lions usually drag their prey to an area, cover it with leaves and cache it, according to Oetgen. They may look for those drag marks and the cache.

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