When the eyes don’t have it

It was obvious what it was as it crossed the gravel road a week or so ago. It was about three feet long, probably 20 to 30 pounds, dark chocolate-colored and had a long, thick tail.

I’d finally seen a wild river otter in Kansas.

Or so I thought.

It’s not secret I’ve become a pretty big skeptic when it comes to Kansas mountain lion stories. Yes, I believe we have a few and will probably get more as populations expand in other states.

But if every report I hear were true we probably wouldn’t have a deer or calf in the state.

A lot of the reports are first-hand sightings. Several co-workers said they’ve seen them. I certainly think they think they saw one.

Sometimes it seems we see what our mind is wanting to see. It’s like we so want and want to get a look at something, usually something mysterious, that we’re fooled into seeing it.

A Kansas river otter is such a critter to me. I’ve seen about everything else in the wilds of Kansas, at least things larger than a rat. I recently talked to an expert who told me otters are fairly common in eastern Kansas.

Since I’ve been looking extra hard in that part of the state.

I wasn’t thinking of otters when the animal crossed the road near Stranger Creek but my mind registered otter as I watched the dark brown flash quickly cross the road.

I hurried to the spot where it disappeared in the weeds and there, crouched low in the brush, was a dark gray domestic cat. It was nowhere near 20 to 30 pounds. The tail wasn’t as long or thick as I thought I’d seen.

A stickler for accuracy I wouldn’t have gone home saying I’d seen an otter after that first brief glance. But I’d said I might have seen one had I not found the cat in the ditch.

I’m guessing so it’s probably going with a lot of mountain lion sightings.

But there’s a good chance some who have told me they’ve seen mountain lions really did.

You can bet I’ll be looking long and hard, though, when I finally see a river otter in Kansas.