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Trail camera near Atoka snaps a mountain lion

  • Rating: 5 after 2 votes
‘I am a believer now,’ Atoka man says about mountain lions being in Oklahoma
BY ED GODFREY The Oklahoman
Published: January 5, 2010
http://www.newsok.com/trail-camera-snaps-a-big-cat/article/3429730?...


This mountain lion was captured on Ryan Ritter’s trail camera near Atoka in southeastern Oklahoma.

Ryan Ritter of Atoka couldn’t believe what he was seeing on New Year’s Day when he looked at the photos from his new trail camera.

Not only were there pictures of numerous deer and turkey, but the trail camera also had captured five photos of a mountain lion on two consecutive mornings.

"I was very shocked to see that on my camera,” said Ritter, who admits he always has been skeptical about mountain lion sightings in the past.

"You hear a lot of stories all the time,” said Ritter, owner of Ritter Express Pharmacy in Atoka.

"I am a believer now. Until those pictures I would have argued with anybody we didn’t have any resident mountain lions, but obviously we do.”

The mountain lion photographs were taken between 5 and 6 a.m. on Dec. 22 and 23. State wildlife officials say it’s one of the rare instances of a confirmed sighting of a mountain lion in Oklahoma.

"We know we’ve got them, but we don’t know where they are at or how many,” said Alan Peoples, chief of the wildlife division for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "It’s kind of hard to monitor something so secretive and so rare as a mountain lion.”

Ritter, who is an avid outdoorsman, manages 2,500 acres of family-owned land in southeastern Atoka County near the Muddy Boggy River for hunting and trapping.

He speculates the mountain lion must have been traveling the river bottom and followed deer and turkey scent to his corn feeder, where the trail camera was located.

Ritter, whose father was a state wildlife commissioner in the 1990s, said his family has owned that secluded piece of property since 1993 and never before detected any signs of a mountain lion.

The subject of mountain lions in Oklahoma is a hotly debated topic. The Wildlife Department receives two or three reports of mountain lion sightings every month, but rarely can they be confirmed, Peoples said.

Each year, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry’s wildlife services division investigates between 100 and 150 reported cases of mountain lions killing livestock, said Jack Carson, agency spokesman.

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.

Read more: http://www.newsok.com/trail-camera-snaps-a-big-cat/article/3429730?...

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Wow, that is one healthy looking wild mountain lion. Just look at his muscle tone! Nice!
He's heading for my place, looking for free room and board, his own house to get out of the cold. LOL
It's supposed to get below 0 F. Friday night. I have been in Arkansas 20 years and have never seen below zero temps.

That is a good looking mountain lion though. I saw one a few miles from my house once, but saw no need to report it. It is official here, there are no wild mountain lions, and I didn't want to sound like some sort of crackpot. We are in over a million acres of National Forest, so I'm not sure how they can state so adamantly that they don't exist here.
We hear about big cats in the woods all over Oklahoma. A friend in Sulphur used to send me pics, but I have not heard from him in a while. Hmmmmm. Makes me wonder. :)

LOL He won't come to AR, Catman! We have more than enough caves and rabbits to keep that big guy here. :)

20 below 0 with the wind chill expected here in OK. Going to be a 12 dog couple of nights and I have only 3!
Yeah, Catman, that mountain lion looks well fed, so I don't think he will be leaving his territory for a while!

I don't know why all the G&F agencies deny that mountain lion populations are doign well in many states, I suppose they are jsut afraid that it will make people panic. Arkansas G&F likes to say that any sited mountain lions in our state are released pets. I keep tellign them that if these were hand raised captive born pets, they woudl be sittign on people's porches and there woudl be a lot more human encounters with them since htey woudl associate people with food adn also they woudl nto have a natural fear of humans. But, G&F jsut keeps sayign that.

There is a wild one in my area, cited 2 summers ago with 3 cubs. A neighbor of mine called me and asked me to come trap them because every time she went out her back door, she saw the lion and cubs. She was worried the mother lion would hurt someone while she had those cubs. G&F would not do anything when she called them, so I guess she expected me to do it. I just laughed and laughed about that. I told her to leave them alone and when she went out her back door to just bang on the door before going out to scare them off, and that worked.
With over 1 million acres of National Forest, how can there not be any here?

I saw a couple wolves too, they were in the edge of the woods watching me make rounds feeding. I was told they were coyotes LOL.. We have a bazillion of those, and they are quite a bit bolder than the wolves. They will get quite close. We have some bushes in our side yard. and last spring there was a den of loud little cubs in it. They can get annoying, srsly...
cool !!
Cubs! Awwwww!

Tracy said:
Yeah, Catman, that mountain lion looks well fed, so I don't think he will be leaving his territory for a while!

I don't know why all the G&F agencies deny that mountain lion populations are doign well in many states, I suppose they are jsut afraid that it will make people panic. Arkansas G&F likes to say that any sited mountain lions in our state are released pets. I keep tellign them that if these were hand raised captive born pets, they woudl be sittign on people's porches and there woudl be a lot more human encounters with them since htey woudl associate people with food adn also they woudl nto have a natural fear of humans. But, G&F jsut keeps sayign that.

There is a wild one in my area, cited 2 summers ago with 3 cubs. A neighbor of mine called me and asked me to come trap them because every time she went out her back door, she saw the lion and cubs. She was worried the mother lion would hurt someone while she had those cubs. G&F would not do anything when she called them, so I guess she expected me to do it. I just laughed and laughed about that. I told her to leave them alone and when she went out her back door to just bang on the door before going out to scare them off, and that worked.

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