Biologists from the state Wildlife Conservation Department are examining the body of a mountain lion that was struck and killed by a vehicle Tuesday.
The 130-pound male was hit somewhere along State Highway 81 near Minco and was turned in to the department by a passerby.
Wildlife Conservation Department biologist Erik Bartholomew said the animal was probably about 2 years old based on the condition of his teeth, though an exact age cannot be determined until a sample tooth has been fully analyzed.
“We believe he is a sub-adult because he still has some faint spotting on his back legs and belly,” Bartholomew said. “His teeth were in excellent shape. The older these animals get the more worn down their teeth get.”
Biologists will take measurements of the body and head and will also examine fully the contents of the mountain lion's stomach. Bartholomew said early indications are the mountain lion consumed a porcupine because a quill was found in its stomach.
Such sightings are rare in Oklahoma, particularly in areas near large cities. Bartholomew said the most likely place to find one in Oklahoma is in the far western part of the state, though a sighting was confirmed near Sand Springs in the Tulsa area earlier this year.
“We get reports from all over there state,” Bartholomew said. “If you really wanted to see one, Black Mesa out in Cimarron County would probably be the best habitat in the state.”
Bartholomew said there is no way of knowing how many mountain lions are in Oklahoma. He said populations are the densest in the far western states, but because of overpopulation and diminished food supplies, they are pushing east.
Still, there's no reason for people to be concerned about the big cats showing up in their backyard, especially in the city areas.
“Nobody has ever been attacked by one in our state,” Bartholomew said. “You think of all the western states with high-density populations and attacks are very rare.”