Search for mountain lion in Broken Arrow continues

Wednesday, November 16th 2005, 10:16 am
By: News On 6

Broken Arrow officials continue to watch for a large animal. The animal has been reported in at least four locations near Ray Harral Nature Park, but if it is a cougar on the prowl, it's capable of covering a lot of ground.

News on 6 anchor Tami Marler explains. Officials are taking the sightings so seriously; they've closed down a city park and asked area schools to take precautions.

Even though the professionals haven't yet seen it, others are sure they have. "We just saw a cat from about, almost a block away, run across the road and jump the fence." Buck Reeves is sure he saw a cougar, like the ones at Safari's Wildlife Sanctuary in Broken Arrow. All of theirs are accounted for, but they let us get acquainted with the big cats, mostly pets that didn't work out.

"They don't make good pets at all. You're talking about a cat that's not your normal lap size pet. The cougar can get anywhere up to 175 lbs." Frank Gaddy says cougars are also transient, they typically move from place to place looking for food.

Last year, Noble County officials found a cougar killed by a train. A radio-controlled collar showed that it had traveled nearly 700 miles, from South Dakota in nine months. "They're always looking for new homes, new habitat, new food source. As man moves into areas, it takes away their food source and their shelter, so they'll move on."

There could be a mountain lion somewhere in the Broken Arrow area. Officials say if you see it, don't turn and run away. Raise your hands in the air. Make yourself appear larger than you really are. Back away slowly, raise your voice loudly, and talk as though you're not afraid of the animal. If you think you can climb up a tree to get away, check this out. Frank Gaddy: “Their natural instinct is to sneak up behind something; its prey and jump on it pounce on it, and tackle it and take it down with its mouth."

Their powerful mouths chew through meat and bones effortlessly, but they do leave behind a mess, something the experts have not found in the Broken Arrow nature park.

Broken Arrow officials plan to keep Harral Park closed until the wildlife experts are satisfied it's safe for the public, but they say small children and animals should not go unsupervised in that area.