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
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
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
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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