AR-News: (OK - US) Mountain lion travels 700 miles to OK, gets hit by a train

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Sun Jun 6 11:04:14 EDT 2004


>From the Tulsa World

Mountain lion hit, killed by train 
By Staff Reports 
6/5/2004 

View in Print (PDF) Format 

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A mountain lion that was given a radio collar in South 
Dakota covered nearly 700 miles and crossed several states in less than nine 
months before being hit by a train and killed in Oklahoma. 

The 114-pound animal was found May 27 by a railroad worker near Red Rock 
about 80 miles north of Oklahoma City, Alan Peoples, wildlife chief for the 
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said Friday. 

A railroad worker inspecting a section of track found the animal near the 
tracks and alerted wildlife officials. State game warden supervisor Tracy Daniel 
went to investigate and spotted the animal near the track embankment. 

"I was surprised," Daniel said. "All I can relate it to is I've run over two 
bobcats on state highways and one on a county road. They just jumped down at 
the last moment." 

The mountain lion was last tracked via its collar in the northwestern part of 
the  

Black Hills of Wyoming on Sept. 3, said Jonathan Jenks, a wildlife professor 
at South Dakota State University. He is running a research project in the 
Black Hills of western South Dakota in which this mountain lion and 34 others have 
been collared. 

He was stunned that the animal was able to cover 667 miles since Sept. 3, 
about twice as far as this type of cat has been documented to travel. 

"We're happy we found him," Jenks said. "It's such a good scientific finding 
that it overwhelms the fact that he was dead when he was found." 

The mountain lion was about a year old and weighed 80 pounds when it was 
treed with hounds, tranquilized and fitted with a tracking collar Feb. 24, 2003. 
By Sept. 3, it had moved 58 miles northwest into Wyo ming's Black Hills. 

It's possible that it then followed river systems to Oklahoma. Its body was 
found not far from the Arkansas River. 

It's not unusual for wild animals to be hit by trains, perhaps while chasing 
prey, Jenks said. 

A small population of mountain lions lives in Cimarron County in the Oklahoma 
Panhandle, but confirmed sightings of the animal elsewhere in the state are 
rare. They are legally protected and cannot be harmed. 

Jenks said he doesn't think a poacher killed the mountain lion. The cat was 
still wearing its radio collar, and its stomach contained deer parts. 

Jenks' study is aimed at documenting home ranges of the animal, its 
population size, survival rate and dispersal patterns. He is studying a population of 
145 of the big cats in the Black Hills. 



 
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