It is unlikely that the animal reportedly seen near the Lost Trails subdivision just south of La Vernia this past weekend is a mountain lion, despite some reports on Facebook.
They are a rarity in these parts, according to Wilson and Karnes County wildlife biologist Jamie Killian. One reason is the large area required to sustain them -- approximately 90 square miles. Another is their fear of humans.
“It’s very unlikely for there to be a mountain lion in the county,” Killian said. “The closer to an urban area, the more unlikely.”
There are sightings from time to time, and Killian personally investigates each report. In order to confirm a sighting, there must be evidence, such as the cat’s photo, tracks, scat, or a kill. It is almost always a case of mistaken identity, according to Killian, and there hasn’t been a confirmed sighting in Wilson or Karnes counties for years.
“Even if you’re an avid outdoorsman, it’s not uncommon for people to mistake a dog or a deer for a mountain lion,” she said. “They’re very elusive. Very secretive ... The likelihood of seeing a cat is almost zero. Likely, it would try to avoid you at all costs.”
As further illustration, she pointed out that there are warning signs for bears at Yellowstone National Park, but not for mountain lions, despite the fact that they are known to reside there.
Killian did list some possible instances for a sighting. If someone had one as a pet but was no longer able to care for it, they might release it in the area. One might show up if it is young and inexperienced, or injured and looking for an easy meal. It could also be a transient cat, traveling along creeks and rivers, looking for another hunting ground.
“I always tell people, if you see it, try to get a good picture of it, so we can confirm the sighting,” said Wilson County game warden David Nieto. “But that’s easier said than done.”
If you do come across a mountain lion, contact Jamie Killian at 830-480-9043.
If you encounter a mountain lion...
•Pick all children up off the ground immediately.
•Do NOT approach the lion.
•Stay calm. Talk calmly and move slowly.
•Face the lion and remain in an upright position.
•Do not turn your back on the lion. Back away slowly.
•Do NOT run.
•Do all you can to enlarge your image. Do NOT crouch down or try to hide
•If the lion is aggressive, throw rocks, sticks, or anything you can get your hands on.
•If the lion attacks, fight back. Fighting back can drive off lions.
- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department