August 30, 2011
Gone are the days of thinking mountain lions/cougars/pumas are big cats that stick to the mountain ranges of the great wide west of our country. From Connecticut to Missouri to Kansas to even Chicago, cougar sightings are popping up more and more frequently.
Louisiana is not thought of as a place that's rife with cougars, but a trail camera image from Vernon Parish (southeast part of the state) recently captured an image that Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has confirmed is a big cat.
LDWF has documented several occurrences since 2002. The first cougar sighting was in 2002 by an employee at Lake Fausse Point State Park. That sighting was later confirmed with DNA analysis from scat found at the site. Three trail camera photos were taken of a cougar in Winn, Vernon and Allen parishes in 2008. Subsequently on Nov. 30, 2008, a cougar was shot and killed in a neighborhood by Bossier City Police Department.
LDWF does not believe there's a breeding population of cougars in Louisiana. Ranges for toms can be massive. Through the use of tracking collars, there have been several cougars tracked in the Dakotas and in Texas that have covered up to 300 square miles. An expanding population in Texas could be where this cougar roamed in from, though officials aren't certain if this cougar is a wild, free-ranging predator or an escaped "pet."
If you saw a cougar image on one of your trail cameras, would it have an impact on your trips to the deer woods?