Atchison, Kansas Nov. 17, 2011 — A deer hunter was in for a surprise last week when he checked his trail camera and found what he believed to be a slightly blurry image of a mountain lion. After searching the area and finding large tracks, he contacted the local Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) natural resource officer (NRO).
On Thursday, Nov. 10, the NRO and a biologist investigated the site and found additional tracks, confirming the presence of a mountain lion. By measuring vegetation at the scene, they were able to estimate the size of the animal at 25 inches tall and 4.5 feet long. This is the sixth mountain lion verified in Kansas by KDWPT since 2007, and the third photographed by a deer hunter’s trail camera.
The hunter did not wish to have the specific location disclosed but did notify neighboring residents of the mountain lion’s presence. KDWPT staff believe this animal probably dispersed from a western state and is not likely to stay in one area for more than a few days.
According to ongoing research by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, dispersing mountain lions, which are primarily young males, mostly feed 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 in search of the opposite sex and an area in which to establish a permanent home range. It is believed these dispersing mountain lions continue to travel until they are killed or they find a mate. In June, DNA tests indicated that a young male mountain lion killed in Connecticut originated in the Black Hills of South Dakota, more than 1,800 straight-line miles away.