Trail camera near Atoka snaps a mountain lion

BY ED GODFREY Modified: January 5, 2010 at 2:02 pm •  Published: January 5, 2010
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photo - This mountain lion was captured on Ryan Ritter’s trail camera near Atoka in southeastern Oklahoma. PHOTO PROVIDED
This mountain lion was captured on Ryan Ritter’s trail camera near Atoka in southeastern Oklahoma. PHOTO PROVIDED

/> Only one time could it be confirmed that a mountain lion was indeed the culprit. That was in 2006 when a mountain lion killed a goat in Cimarron County.

Never has there been a reported mountain lion attack on a person in Oklahoma, Peoples said.

But there have been documented cases of mountain lions in Oklahoma in recent years, he said.

A Dewey County rancher once found the remains of a dead mountain lion, and a cougar was killed by a motorist at the Purcell exit on Interstate 35 several years ago, Peoples said.

Many years ago, a mountain lion was killed on the Black Kettle National Grasslands. That cat is on display in a museum in Roger Mills County, Peoples said. In 2004, a mountain lion was struck by a train in Noble County near Red Rock.

That mountain lion had a radio collar around its neck that had been attached by researchers in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The cougar had traveled 661 miles. State wildlife officials think most mountain lions in Oklahoma are transients.

It used to be illegal to kill a mountain lion in Oklahoma, but 2½ years ago that law was changed. It is now legal to shoot a mountain lion in Oklahoma if the animal is deemed to be a threat to humans or livestock.

The law requires the carcass to be brought to the Wildlife Department, but no one has checked in a dead cougar yet. Peoples said he thinks if mountain lions were common in Oklahoma, a hunter would have shot one by now.

Meanwhile, Ritter’s trail camera photos are the talk of Atoka. After capturing a rare photo of a mountain lion in southeastern Oklahoma, could the legendary Bigfoot be next?

"I don’t think so,” Ritter said. "I am a realist.”

But Ritter said he will be more cautious now when he takes his 6-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter to the woods with him.

"I am already looking for a dog with a good sense of smell,” he said.

Know It: Outdoor/Recreation Out There: Oklahoma mountain lion sighting worth monitoring