Search continues for a ' big cat' in Broken Arrow

Tuesday, November 15th 2005, 10:05 am
By: News On 6

A big cat is stalking a Broken Arrow park and neighborhood. Some people are concerned it may be a mountain lion on the prowl. Everyone's talking about it, but very few people have actually seen it with their own eyes.

News on 6 anchor Tami Marler says trapper Billy Minter tells the News on 6, he's surprised a mountain lion would stick around one area for three weeks, but he has his traps set, just in case. "We've got some foothold snares setup and then we have a large live trap that we're using some live bait and then also some deer meat."

Billy Minter of Mission Wildlife says one of his traps uses a chicken to lure the big cat into a trap. "Yes it's penned up. Something to lure it in. Something that's going to make some noise to attract it in to it."

Officials from the State Department of Wildlife Conservation are in the park to check out what others have reported to Minter. Those large, cat-like paw prints? State experts say they belong to a dog. Still, the City of Broken Arrow is taking precautions.

Scott Esmond with the Broken Arrow Parks Department: "Well actually the game warden contacted us and they actually wanted to get involved and check out the area, check out the trapper and follow up on that. They want to really do some research and of course they're very knowledgeable in this. This is the state game warden. So we're happy they're here."

Billy Minter: "Like I say I haven't personally seen it but everyone I've talked to, they've made great descriptions of it, so I'm pretty sure it is what they're saying it is. There's some large tracks out there of a cat. Thinking it might be a female. There's a possibility that she might have a couple of young cubs somewhere that aren't ready to move on yet."

With all of the trees and hills and ravines, this area of Broken Arrow is the perfect place for a cougar to raise her cubs. It's also a beautiful place to build a new home. That's where Billy Minter says Broken Arrow may be running into problems. Minter says developments like the Lakes at Indian Springs, once lush with trees and brush, might have been a wildlife haven, and if there is a cougar wandering around out there, it may simply be looking for a new home.

Broken Arrow parks officials say that Oklahoma game officials have "not" found anything that would indicate a large cat living in the area, although they did find the large dog prints earlier Tuesday afternoon. They will continue their search Wednesday.