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For Sure It’s a Cougar in Kansas–Let the Cougar Hysteria Begin

A century after the cougar officially disappeared from Kansas, an alert hunter on a tree stand got several photos that for the first time since 1904 prove there’s a live mountain lion in the state since 1904. This may set off another round of what Jeff Beringer, a biologist with the state of Missouri, told the Wall Street Journal was “cougar hysteria.” As the population of mountain lions grows in the west and expands east, biologists at the Cougar Network are mapping the stunning number of confirmed sightings that now hit every state west of the Mississippi and eight states east of it, including Illinois, New York and Maine.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks made the confirmation just through the photo–they didn’t find any scat, hair, tracks or other traces. The hunter snapped seven pictures in the brief moments the cat examined bait corn–moments in which most big cat witnesses don’t think clearly enough to grab their camera. A Department spokesman Mark Shoup says the cougar never stopped walking and left the area after he looked up at the hunter. According to McClatchy newspapers, the hunter took the pictures on Oct. 12 in northwest WaKeeney in Trego County.

Many cougars have been seen by people in Kansas in the last couple decades, even though the closest established population is in Colorado, hundreds of miles away. Audubon of Kansas has been keeping track of all the potential mountain lion sightings and rumored shootings. One big cat was confirmed (legally) killed a couple years ago. But one dead cougar doesn’t mean that there are any left in the population. Especially since bachelor cats are known to roam hundreds of miles looking for a female.

Other states are sure to get more of these successful sightings as years go by. Kansans have been so firmly convinced that they had mountain lions already, they’re probably not going to go cougar hysterical about it.

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