A trail camera photo has lead to the recent confirmation of a mountain lion in Stafford County. A Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism press release said the camera had been set by a deer hunter, who was justifiably surprised to see the cat. No photo was provided with the press release. Biologists visited the scene to check for things like tracks, droppings and to compare the size of the animal in the photo to surround landmarks.
Sources in Stafford County say the photo was obtained a few miles east of St. John.
This is the ninth time a mountain lion has been confirmed in Kansas in modern times. After an absence of about 100 years, one was shot by a rancher in Barber County in 2007. Since, they’ve been verified by tracks, photos taken by a hunter and several times by trail cameras.
Biologists als0 tracked a cat with a GPS collar from Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, to northwest Kansas, down to southwest Kansas and into central New Mexico a few years ago.
Despite rural legend, the state has not been releasing mountain lions to control the deer population for several years, nor has a reproducing population been documented in the midwest, except for the Black Hills of South Dakota and northern Nebraska.
Most mountain lions found in places like Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma are usually young males out searching for their own territory. Such cats from the Black Hills have shown up as far east as Connecticut.
Mountain lion biologists in Colorado, South Dakota and Nebraska have long said the big predators will be easily documented when they do move into Kansas. They estimate about 10 percent of an areas’s population are killed annually as road-kills or have to be destroyed for threatening livestock or moving into towns and cities. They also said the use of thousands of trail cameras placed by deer hunters are also great ways of confirming a visiting mountain lion.
The Cougar Network, a group that studies the expansion of mountain lions eastward from the Rockies, has rated most of Kansas as very poor mountain lion habitat. Though food such as deer, raccoons, dogs and house cats is abundant, they say proper denning areas are extremely rare over most of the state.