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3-6-09

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips on confirming
mountain lion sightings


View Larger Map

To hear what a mountain lion sounds like go to the Missouri Department of Conservation's website here.

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

Local residents continue to recount their stories of encounters with possible mountain lions in the Platte County area.

Most recently county resident Alice Montgomery said she heard a strange noise near her home. Montgomery lives near Bee Creek and Highway 45 near the Weston Bend State Park.

According to Montgomery, about two years ago she heard a “high pitched scream” come from near Bee Creek along her property. She heard the sound in the fall around dusk.

“I had never heard anything like it,” said Montgomery. “It didn't sound like a bird and there was no low growling.”

Montgomery said it lasted a few minutes and she went back inside her home and got her daughter. Her daughter looked on Encarta and what she thought it matched was the sound of a mountain lion.

“It didn't sound like a bobcat, and it was much louder than a rabbit squeal,” said Montgomery. “It was pretty creepy.”

To hear what a mountain lion sounds like, visit The Landmark’s website at www.plattecountylandmark.com

Another person who reported a mountain lion sighting to The Landmark was Kathaleen Shoemaker, Clay County resident.

According to Shoemaker, her husband and two sons were quail hunting in the spring of 1981 in the area of Hoover Heights when they saw a mountain lion with two cubs.

Shoemaker said the animals were about 500 feet away and slowly went into the woods when they saw the hunters.

Shoemaker also said that in 1993 her family and neighbors were roasting hot dogs around a camp fire at her home near 152 Highway and Maple Woods Community College when they heard a “scream sounding like a woman screaming.”

After several stories from residents about mountain lions, the local Missouri Conservation Department (MDC) agents have also contacted The Landmark.

Aaron Post, MDC agent, wrote a letter to The Landmark concerning the recent reported sightings.

“Recently, there have been several articles written in local newspapers detailing unconfirmed sightings of mountain lions in Platte County. It is entirely possible there have been sightings. There have been 10 confirmed mountain lions in Missouri since 1994. It is important to note that all of the confirmations have come from a photograph, confirmed tracks, or the actual animal (dead),” wrote Post.

In a phone interview, Post said he has not been able to confirm any sightings in Platte County.

“Usually it is too degraded of a track to confirm,” said Post. “Just because I can't confirm a sighting, I'm not going to tell a person they didn't see a mountain lion.”

Post said the majority of the calls he gets about mountain lion sightings are usually near the Missouri River on the west side of the county. The calls range from as far south as Parkville and Riverside all the way up to Iatan.

While the majority of sightings reported to the MDC are along the river, there are a number of possible locations in Platte County where mountain lions may be able to hide.

The largest area owned by the MDC is the Platte Falls Conservation area east of Platte City. The conservation area consists of 2,366 acres of woodland and marsh area along the Platte River, according to the MDC website.

The next largest area is Weston Bend State Park south of Weston. The park along the Missouri River consists of 1,133 acres.

The Kendzora Wildlife Area near Edgerton consists of 746 acres. The Guy B. Park Conservation Area north of Platte City along 371 Highway consists of 380 acres. The Parma Woods Shooting Range and Training Center is located along Interstate 435 near the Missouri River in Parkville and has 188 acres.

The Prairie Creek Greenway south of Platte City consists of 119 acres owned by the Platte County Parks Department. Also in Parkville is an area to be developed into the Brush Creek Trails on the east side of Interstate 435 near the Missouri River and consists of 207 acres.

However, one of the largest natural areas is currently owned by the City of Kansas City. According to Joe McBride, manager of marketing and communications for Kansas City International Airport, Kansas City owns more than 10,000 acres at the airport and only 3,000 of the area is developed as the airport.

That leaves around 7,000 acres which is open fields and forested areas owned by the city. Also directly south of the airport property is Tiffany Springs Park, which has 727 acres of property.

Separately, in Buchanan County is the Bluffwoods Conservation Area on the bluffs of the Missouri River. The conservation area owned by the MDC is nearly 2,400 acres.

To view a map of the conservation areas and parks in Platte County check out The Landmark's website.

In Post's letter he states how a resident can help the MDC confirm a mountain lion sighting.

“Here is how you can help confirm a sighting. Sightings are confirmed with physical evidence. The types of physical evidence most commonly used to verify mountain lions are photographs and tracks. The saying, 'A picture is worth a thousand words,' is definitely appropriate when it comes to confirming mountain lions. It is difficult to dispute a picture taken by you of an animal. If you spot a mountain lion but do not have a camera handy, mark the last place you saw the animal and attempt to locate a track. If you find a track, take a picture of it and cover the track with a bucket to preserve it. If you cannot locate a track, call anyway and we will attempt to locate it with you. The important thing is to call your local conservation agent as soon as possible.”

Post continues his letter:

“The Department of Conservation takes reports of mountain lions seriously. The fact is individual mountain lions have been confirmed in Missouri. However, there has been no evidence discovered to indicate there is a breeding population here. In 1996, the Department set up a special task force called the Mountain Lion Response Team, which is made up of experts in the field.

“If you have seen a mountain lion, please don't hesitate to call. You can contact me at (816) 431-6266. You can also contact Agent Doug Yeager at (816)858-5516 or Todd Meese, Wildlife Damage Biologist, at (816) 759-7305, x2229.”

For more information about mountain lions visit The Landmark website at plattecountylandmark.com or visit the MDC's website on mountain lions at mdc.mo.gov/nathis/mammals/mlion/index.htm

 
 

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