One day you will be walking or driving or riding a bike along a trail and you will see a mountain lion. While these beasts are rare to spot, sightings of mountain lions are rising thanks to the increased trail cameras. Almost everyone today is a fan of walking or biking as the push to lead a healthy lifestyle intensifies. Most of the people who have claimed to see mountain lions are, in most cases, walking or biking along trails.
Cougars, as some people refer to them, are hard to spot that their existence is sometimes doubted. Can these big cats migrate south? The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation tries to confirm sightings but most times the tracks are not easy to find with the rocky grounds along with Lake Hefner and the Bluff Creek.
It is easy to understand why a mountain lion would be spotted in Oklahoma – there is plenty of deer in the area.
Mountain Lions are Rare
Wildlife experts note that it is possible to see mountain lions in Oklahoma and other parts of the country. However, these cats do not stay in one place in a long time and they do not travel in pride. This is why very few reported sightings are ever confirmed.
A mountain lion was seen in central Oklahoma in 2015. Two people managed to photograph it in Logan County and Pottawatomie County respectively. Two years later, someone spotted and photographed two mountain lions in Cimarron County and Custer County. Another one was spotted in McIntosh County in 2017. In the Oklahoma Panhandle, panthers as they are sometimes referred to, have preyed on livestock for a while according to residents.
While people can misidentify cougars when they see bobcats, the increasing reports of sightings point to the presence of these cats in Oklahoma. However, there is not enough data or evidence for biologists to establish their population. When reported, biologists can confirm sightings by looking at videos or photos (if available), talking hair samples, and looking at the paw prints.
Hunters Spot These Cats
A big cat rescue operation, Pumarama San Francisco, run by Leah Aufill in Lincoln County, has verified the sightings of hunters. Leah notes that big cats are common in Oklahoma and she has rescued a few.
Hunters who leave trail cameras have spotted these cats too. The good food supply from the deer and other wildlife make Oklahoma an ideal habitat for the puma.
If anyone sights a mountain lion, they can report on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s website. Afterward, the department will confirm the sighting.
Don’t Run If You Spot One
Animals tend to run after anyone who runs. If you see a mountain lion, therefore, stay calm and walk away slowly. If the lion is not hungry or wounded, it might let you go. If you start running and the cougar runs towards you, there is no way you will run faster than the beast. Mountains lions will likely avoid people and so the risk of an attack is small. Ranch owners and hunters can help get videos and photos of the cougars to either dispel or confirm sightings. Without concrete evidence, like a video or photograph, it is not possible to confirm sightings. Mountain lions come in a wide range and hence the different names including catamount, puma, red tiger, panther, and cougar among others. The cat is the second heaviest after the jaguar – being a big cat makes it unmistakable as you cannot misidentify a domestic dog as a puma.