Elusive Mountain Lion Spotted On Pawnee County Land
PAWNEE COUNTY, Oklahoma - The very elusive mountain lion has been spotted twice in Green Country this fall.
Both sightings - one in Mayes County, the other near Cleveland - came from clear trail camera pictures, confirmed by the Wildlife Department.
The Wildlife Department says about 90 percent of the reports it gets on mountain lion sightings are cases of mistaken identity - dogs, bobcats, even big house cats - but there was no mistaking the animal that showed up on a Pawnee County game camera on October 17.
“I just thought it was really neat to see one on camera,” said Pawnee County hunter Grant Krotzer.
Krotzer has been hunting his family's private property near Cleveland since he was a kid.
Tucked away between the oak and cedar trees on that land is Krotzer's trail camera, to help him get an idea of what's out here.
“So I know what to hunt, see if I want to hunt out here or not,” he said.
Krotzer has seen a little bit of everything, always hoping for a big buck, but never expecting a mountain lion.
“And then, then the mountain lion's there,” said Krotzer.
Proof is rare in Oklahoma and because of the bright, shining eyes in Krotzer's picture, he said there were some non-believers.
“That's why I think a lot of people thought it was fake, because its eyes were glowing so much,” he said.
A biologist with the Oklahoma State Department of Wildlife Conservation confirmed that nothing about the picture was photo-shopped.
It's one of only 13 documented cases in Oklahoma since 2004.
“We do not have a lot of mountain lions in the state of Oklahoma,” ODWC Information and Education Specialist, Mike McAllister said. “I think the odds of us in Oklahoma actually seeing a mountain lion are rare, and if you do happen to see one, I'd say, 'man, you should buy a lottery ticket.'”
McAllister said mountain lions were hunted to extinction in Oklahoma before statehood.
He did say, however, there are still very few resident mountain lions in the state, most are just meandering through - to or from places like the Dakotas, Colorado, Nebraska or New Mexico.
“They probably are going to follow the river systems, where they have some cover, and also where they can find their favorite food source, which is gonna be deer,” McAllister said.
The ODWC said it has no documentation of a breeding population of mountain lions.
“I just don't think the habitat here in Oklahoma would be conducive to a large population of resident mountain lions,” McAllister said.
The department is also very adamant it has never released a cougar into the wild and has no plans to do so.
“We are not stocking mountain lions. Deer licenses are our number one revenue source, so why would we want to stock an animal that's going to compete with deer hunters,” McAllister said.
A good meal is likely what the mountain lion on Krotzer's land was after; three does were caught on the same camera just 15 minutes before the big cat showed up.
“Well, I was really going for Big Foot, but I got the mountain lion,” Krotzer said.
The Wildlife Department said it is illegal to kill a mountain lion, unless it's threatening you, your family, your livestock or your pets.