Mountain lion sighted near Valley Falls

by Clarke Davis

Richard Riley, who lives on the south edge of Valley Falls, reports seeing a mountain lion the morning of Dec. 2.

He had just returned from hunting deer and was walking out of his garage when he looked to the east.

“He was 230 yards away walking north to south. He paused, looked at me for a few seconds, and then proceeded on,” Riley said.

Mountain LionThe mountain lion was following close to the old railroad bed and had just come through a clearing when it paused to look at Riley.

Riley was not surprised by the sighting. He said a neighbor, Larry Grollmes, lost two horses last year suspected to have been killed by mountain lion attacks.

This was the third sighting of a mountain lion by Riley in the past 10 to 12 years. In the past he has seen one in the Coal Creek area north of Valley Falls while hunting and one ran across the road in front of him near Denison one night when he was returning from a trip to Holton.

Grollmes, who is a mail carrier, has seen three mountain lions in the past 15 years. One sighting was northwest of Winchester while the others were east of Winchester.

As for the loss of the two horses, Grollmes believes they were killed by a mountain lion but it was never confirmed. He simply has no other explanation.

Grollmes had a Wildlife and Parks game biologist look at the remains and this person neither confirmed nor denied a mountain lion attack.

Grollmes said the first horse, killed last December, was an 800-pound horse and its carcass was pretty well stripped.

“I’m sure it would have taken more than one animal to consume it,” he said. The other horse, killed this spring, was a young colt. Its carcass, too, was well stripped.

The November-December issue of the Kansas Wildlife & Parks magazine has a story on mountain lions. The article states, “Evidence points to occasional transient individuals moving through” in a subhead and ends with this statement: “To date, there has been no evidence of resident mountain lions in Kansas.”

Given the number of sightings, it would lead one to believe there must be a lot of transients. Talking with the two sources for this story led to several other people in the community who have also seen them. Given time the paper could no doubt record scores of sightings over the past decade.

The Wildlife & Parks magazine tells about a cat released in Colorado wearing a GPS transmitter collar. The animal traveled through Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico.

Following its trail, biologists learned that its prey had been coyote, raptors, turkey, pheasant, racoons, a porcupine, deer, and a domestic cat.

The article also tries to arrest the many rumors and falsehoods that seem to follow mountain lion stories. To quote the article:

“There were reports of secret mountain lion stockings by KDWP to control deer populations. As one story goes, KDWP denied stocking mountain lions because of liability concerns. There was a rumor of tiny transmitters imbedded in mountain lion hides. According to the popular story, a person killed a lion, skinned it and hid the hide in his freezer. Several days later, a couple of KDWP officers knocked on his door, following the transmitter’s signal. (I’ll say unequivocally that KDWP neither stocked mountain lions nor placed any tiny transmitters in mountain lions.)”

Mountain lions are defined as nongame wildlife, according to the magazine article. This means that a mountain lion cannot be hunted or killed for its mere presence. However, law allows owners or legal occupants of land to take wildlife found in or near buildings or destroying property. Possession of a lion or its skin killed in Kansas is illegal.

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Posted by on Dec 14 2010. Filed under County News, Featured, The Vindicator. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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