A mountain lion has been confirmed in Humphreys County, Tennessee. Though more than eighty percent of reported lion sightings turn out to be other animals, occasionally people do catch a glimpse of these elusive felines.
In states east of their current breeding range, dispersing juvenile males have been known to wander hundreds and even thousands of miles in the hopeless search for a home range with females.
If we can curb sport hunting and other unnecessary killings of lions in the West, there's a chance females will move east and help the species recover their historic range.
To learn more about the recent mountain lion confirmation in Tennessee, check out the following video and news story reposted from Carley Gordon at WBRC Fox 6 news.
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officials said they have video proof of cougars living in Middle Tennessee.
The eastern species of mountain lions used to live in the region, but the last one died a century ago.
For years, the TWRA has received reports and pictures of cougars coming from the west.
The cougar was captured on a trail camera.
"They will be the top predator in the woods, outside of man," said Austin Burton, the owner of the trail camera.
Burton said he checked his camera in Humphreys County two days after Thanksgiving.
"It was actually the first video on the card. I was pretty much speechless," he said.
Burton showed the video to TWRA officers, who were equally blown away.
"It's one of the best videos I've ever seen, as far as trail cameras go," said TWRA spokesman Doug Markham.
The males can get up to 160 pounds. Officers said they are in Middle Tennessee because the area has what they like.
"There's a lot of habitat for them in Tennessee," Markham said. "There's a lot of things for them to eat, like deer and the smaller wildlife that's out there."
Markham said people should not fear what they don't know.
"Don't let this freak you out," he said. "A cougar attack on a human is extremely, extremely rare."
On the rare chance that someone does encounter a cougar, they cannot kill them unless their life is on the line.
"We just don't want folks to decide that they're going to go out and handle an issue and go hunting these cougars, because right now, there's no season on them, and they're protected," Markham said.
The TWRA recently created a verification committee. So far, there have been sightings in Obion, Carroll and Humphreys counties. Markham said there will be more, probably closer to home.
"I don't know how long it will take them, but I do think they will continue to expand," he said. "We're watching them and seeing what they're doing, and I'm sure we'll have something up on our website so you can see what's going on with them."
While the TWRA said a hunting season for the animals is possible, they would first have to be considered a nuisance or there would have to be enough of them to sustain a hunting season.