A deer hunter who was using a remote trail camera to scout for deer in Stafford County was surprised recently when he plugged the SD card in and found the image of a mountain lion. He hadn’t checked the camera for several weeks, and the photo was taken in October, but there was no doubt about the identification. A Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism wildlife biologist visited the site Nov. 16 and confirmed the photo’s validity. This is the first report documented in Kansas since last January when tracks of a mountain lion were found in Washington County.
The Stafford County lion is the ninth to be officially confirmed in Kansas since 2007. While there have been many sightings reported, KDWPT staff investigate if evidence, such as tracks, a photo, or cached kill, is present. According to ongoing research by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, dispersing mountain lions, which are primarily young males, feed mostly on medium-sized animals such as raccoons, raptors, coyotes, and turkeys. They feed on deer less frequently, which take days to consume and likely hinder their movement across the landscape as they search of the opposite sex and an area in which to establish a permanent home range. There is no evidence of a resident population of mountain lions in Kansas.
The use of remote, motion-triggered cameras by deer hunters to monitor deer in their hunting areas has become common in recent years. These cameras have been responsible for five of the nine Kansas mountain lion confirmations.
Image courtesy Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism