Friday, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) confirmed the ninth sighting of a mountain lion within the state of Kansas in modern times. The sighting was originally made sometime in October on a remote trail camera by a deer hunter in Stafford County, Kansas. An investigating KDWPT biologist visited the site and confirmed the photo's validity. This is the first verifiable mountain lion report in the state since tracks of a mountain lion were found near the Nebraska border in Washington County last January. Authorities did not report as to whether both sightings were of the same animal.
Kansas' original mountain lion population was extirpated sometime around 1904. The Stafford County lion is only the ninth to be officially confirmed by KDWPT since the first sighting in 2007. While many lion sightings have been reported in recent years, KDWPT only investigates if evidence, such as tracks, a photo, or cached kill, is present. The use of remote, motion-triggered cameras by deer hunters have been responsible for five of the nine confirmed Kansas mountain lion sightings.
There is no evidence that Kansas currently has a resident population of mountain lions. According to researchers, the mountain lions now making their appearance are dispersing, sub-adults. These animals are primarily young males between the ages of two to three years old and are most likely to have originated in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. They are searching for suitable habitat and a mate to establish a permanent territory.