A mountain lion found dead just south of the Kansas state line
last week is making news for two reasons.
Only 40 miles south of Arkansas City, it's the first wild
mountain lion confirmed in this area in 100 years.
And, thanks to a tracking collar, it's known to have traveled a
long distance in a short time.
The mountain lion -- found near Red Rock, Okla. --was last
tracked via its collar in the northwestern part of the Black Hills
of Wyoming on Sept. 3, 2003, said Jonathan Jenks, a wildlife
professor at South Dakota State University.
"Then it shows up in Oklahoma. That's 667 straight-line miles,"
Jenks said. That's twice as far as any collared mountain lion has
been known to travel.
Jenks, supervisor of a mountain lion research project in the
Black Hills of western South Dakota, said the cat was treed with
hounds, tranquilized and fitted with a tracking collar on Feb. 24,
By Sept. 3, it had moved 58 miles northwest into Wyoming's Black
On May 27, while inspecting a section of railroad track, Bruce
Endorf of Arkansas City saw the mountain lion lying dead 2 ¼ miles
south of Red Rock. It apparently was struck by a train.
The next day, Endorf e-mailed pictures to Tracy Daniel, a game
warden with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
"I was skeptical," Daniel said. "It seems like we get a mountain
lion report every day but they never pan out.
"But it was laying right there where he said it was. It was an
impressive looking cat."
The male cat was taken to a research facility at Oklahoma State
University. Officials said it weighed 114 pounds and was thought to
be 2 ½ years old.
Jenks said the mountain lion was from a thriving population of
about 145 in the Black Hills.
Oklahoma has a very small mountain lion population in the rugged
country that makes up the far western tip of the state's Panhandle.
Daniel said last week's animal is the state's only confirmed wild
mountain lion east of that region.
Nebraska and Missouri have had confirmed wild mountain lions
within the last year. All have been young males thought to be
looking for a home territory.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks said the last
confirmed wild Kansas mountain lion was killed in Ellis County in
1904. Department biologists have long said it's possible a mountain
lion could wander into Kansas.
Jenks said it's highly probable.
"Judging from where it was found, compared to where it came from,
it would have had a difficult time not going through Kansas," Jenks
He said male mountain lions often follow rivers as they wander.
The Arkansas River passes within a few miles of where the animal