Monday, January 25, 2010

Mountain Lions - in Montgomery County?

I am a Cougar fan (UofH that is). Therefore I have had an interest in this animal as a UofH alumni for years. Cougars are known to be a dominant carnivore on our continent. I have never heard of anyone spotting an actual Cougar in our parts lately, but that does not mean they are not here. A few years ago one was sighted in Sam Houston National Forest in our county. Another was reported neat the national forest some 20 years ago. The animal is reclusive and tends to be nocturnal, consistent with its primary prey, the deer.

In fact, this cat which weighs between 70 and 150 pounds has been sighted and confirmed as a resident of this county sometime in the past. Could we see one in The Woodlands? Anything is possible, but I seriously doubt we will ever see one here. The reclusive Mountain Lion is not a huge threat to humans and coexist among humans from the tip of South America to the more northern reaches of our continent.  Almost every county in Texas has a confirmed sighting of at least one, including ours. Where deer live, the Cougar is also a candidate to live there. The Cougar is the top of the food chain, with the Coyote sharing that fame secondary. Due to its size, the Cougar is the most feared adversary of the Texas deer.

Similar to the Coyote, this animal is beginning to learn  how to hunt and avoid man as open land becomes more scarce. Ranchette-type subdivisions of 10-20 acres can expect to see this animal at times. There is an excellent field guide produced by the Texas Parks and Wildlife on this animal if you get the time to read a full explanation of its habits, threat, how to react if you are confronted by one, footprints and life style.

A Field Guide to Texas Mountain Lions

The Cougar is considered a dangerous animal if raised in enclosures and kept as domestic animals. There are county laws related to this. Those laws do not apply to free animals in the wild. All "kept" wild animals must be registered with the county. Therefore, if you see or know of the presence of a  Cougar, the animal could be the registered property of someone else. The proper thing to do is to report the sighting to the Sheriff's office or animal control.

Montgomery County Wild and Dangerous Animal Regulation

1. Texas Parks and Wildlife website - Nuisance Animals : Mountain Lions
2. Montgomery County Wild and Dangerous Animal Regulations