An unprotected pet was recently killed in Mississippi. While domestic dogs and coyotes account for drastically more kills than cougars, locals are saying they think a large cat is responsible. Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks officers are now on the hunt for what they believe may be a Florida panther. Whether it's a released pet cougar or a far-dispersing panther (at least a 750 mile trek if he took a straight route along western Interstate-10), it is not clear if a mountain lion of any origin would be protected in Mississippi. Florida panthers are federally protected, but MS may not recognize them as a native species since they were extirpated so long ago (as we saw with the panther killed by a hunter in Georgia in 2008). There is also a chance it dispersed from Texas, or of course the most likely conclusion: not a lion at all and simply a case of mistaken identity. But if Florida panthers are ever to recover from being endangered, southern states will need to get their policies in order ahead of time. Perhaps this could be a wake-up call.