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Dec The Mountain Lion goes by many different names, cougar, puma, panther, painter, catamount. All of these are just different ways to refer to the same big cat—Puma concolor, the lion of one color. Puma concolor, the lion of one color. Picture courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Mountain Lions are native to Texas, and there is no question that we do have a healthy population of these big cats living in some parts of the state. The answer to that question is a slightly complicated, Yes, No, and Maybe.
The subject of Mountain Lions comes up frequently in the discussions I have about wildlife in metroplex. Almost everyone I have spoken to has a Mountain Lion story to share.
Many claim to have seen one, heard one, or to know someone who has. If all the accounts were true, then we would likely be up to our ears in urban Mountain Lions!
There appears to be a interesting psychology at work here. Mountain Lions are arguably the most exotic animal that could conceivably be observed in this part of North America. They are big, powerful, and beautiful animals.
The appeal is natural and obvious. I have had Mountain Lions on my wish list for a number of year now, and there is probably no one who would like to find them here in DFW more than I would. Still, I recognize the need for skepticism and hard evidence. Unfortunately, irrefutable proof has been lacking.
Furthermore, the ubiquitousness of cameras in the hands of the public make the absence of clear and unambiguous photographs a real problem. I typically get several reported Mountain Lion sightings each year, and I make a real effort to check out every report that seems even remotely plausible.
The map below shows a number of the reported sightings that I have followed up on over the years. This map should not be interpreted to show a concentration of sightings in a particularly area. Instead, it only illustrates sightings that are close to where I live or near areas I frequent.
Proximity certainly makes it more likely that I will be able to find the time to stop by and investigate. A sampling of reported Mountain Lion sightings from around the metroplex. The reports I have received over years the have been an odd mix of the possible and the improbable. Some have come from quality observers, but have been in unlikely location.
Others have been made in high quality habitats, but the details of behavior or size do not add up. Some of these reports have been very compelling, but to date, none have produced conclusive or incontrovertible evidence. Most are probably best explained as misidentified Bobcats or some other medium-sized mammal like a Coyote or a deer.
Under the right conditions a Bobcat, like the one in this photograph, can be mistaken for a Mountain Lion Mountain Lions are as big as people. If you see one, it will be unmistakable. It is well documented that people are notoriously bad witnesses by our very nature. We all have a propensity to see what we expect to see, and to remember details in a way that is influenced by our life experiences and prejudices.
It is not hard to imagine other native animals—particularly when viewed fleetingly through brush or in poor light—being misidentified as something much more exotic and exciting.
Below is a little questionnaire I use as a way to broach the particulars with some of the people who report sightings to me. Did you really see a Mountain Lion? Another interesting aspect of the Mountain Lion question in North Texas—and all across the country for that matter—are the large numbers of Black Panther sighting that are reported each year.
This is a fascinating phenomenon because Black Panthers simply do not exist in the United States. There is no native animal that fits the description of a Black Panther.
Black Panthers—where they do exits—are actually the rare melanistic forms of Jaguars and Leopards. These big cats can be dark enough that their spots become hard to notice at first glance.As America's most fearless purveyor of "truthiness," Stephen Colbert shines a light on ego-driven punditry, moral hypocrisy and government .
Mountain Lions are native to Texas, and there is no question that we do have a healthy population of these big cats living in some parts of the state.
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Nebraska, Eastern. Nebraska, Southeast. Nebraska, Southeast region, Douglas County (Omaha).. MaryGrace, licensed home wildlife rehabilitator (WRR). As America's most fearless purveyor of "truthiness," Stephen Colbert shines a light on ego-driven punditry, moral hypocrisy and government incompetence, raising the bar for political satire.
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