Saturday, December 5, 2015

Video, migration suggest mountain lions in MS & TN

Brian Broom, The Clarion-Ledger

Mountain lion caught on video about 100 miles from Mississippi state line as cats continue to migrate toward Mississippi

When it comes to big cats, Mississippi and Tennessee are much alike. There hasn't been a confirmed sighting of a panther in either state in over 100 years — until recently.

According to in Nashville, a video of a mountain lion was recorded Nov. 24 in Humphreys County, Tennessee, which is about 100 miles from the Mississippi line. The video was taken by a game camera that appeared to have been placed near a scrape made by a white-tailed deer.
"It's one of the best videos I've ever seen as far as a trail camera goes," Doug Markham of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency told WSMV.

WSMV also reported that sightings of mountain lions have been confirmed in Tennessee in Carroll and Obion counties. Carroll County is roughly 80 miles from the Mississippi line.

With those confirmations, Tennessee joins two bordering states where big cats have returned. Both Louisiana and Arkansas have had multiple confirmed sightings in recent years.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Florida panther, which is largely confined to southern Florida, once roamed throughout the Southeast, including Mississippi. Now their cousins are moving in from the West, where they are commonly referred to as mountain lions. And, given the distance they have migrated eastward, they could already be in Mississippi.
"I can't say there's not one, two or three roaming around the state," said Richard Rummel, the Exotic Species Program director for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. "They'll probably show up here as they expand eastward.

"We've definitely got the food for them."

On the other hand, Rummel said, there is nothing that says mountain lions are here, but he hopes cameras change that.

Mountain lions prey on a variety of animals, and among them is the white-tailed deer. Given that predators and their prey generally inhabit the same areas, that would put mountain lions in the same areas as deer. In Mississippi, where there are deer, there are often trail cameras.

"There are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of trail cameras in the woods," Rummel said.

In the event someone thinks they have found a mountain lion paw print, Rummel suggests taking a photograph of it with a common object such as a pocket knife or money next to it for size reference. Also, notify MDWFP at (601) 432-2400 if a mountain lion is spotted, sign of one found or video captured.

To see the full report from and video of the Humphreys County mountain lion, click here.

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