Confirmed mountain lion sightings have been on the rise in Kansas for the past decade.
From 1990 until 2005, there were no confirmed reports of mountain lions in Kansas, according to Cougarnet.org, though one had been confirmed near the Missouri side of Kansas City. Between 2005 and 2010, however, the number of confirmed spottings in Kansas rose to six. Since 2010, there have been 10 more confirmations, with the 16th and most recent confirmed spotting in late September 2016 in Rawlins County.
“We don’t keep precise stats on cases that aren’t mountain lions anymore, but in cases where evidence is present, that is cases where we can make a definitive ID or at least definitively exclude mountain lion, the vast majority are still mistaken identity,” said Peek. “Somewhere in the vicinity of 95 percent or higher.”
Peek said that even though the number of confirmed spottings had risen, they still pale in comparison to states where residential lions had settled down.
“We do get reports of ‘one ran across the road in front of me’ or ‘there was one in my yard’ where no evidence is present from which to make a determination,” Peek said. “While we don’t know for certain which of these may be valid, we would expect the error rate of accurately identifying a moving animal to be at least as high as it is by those looking at a stationary photo.”
Many of the mountain lions that wander into this part of the state are coming from the Black Hills, the Badlands and northwestern Nebraska. Nebraska implemented a mountain lion hunting season in 2014, but decided against having a season the past two years. During the 2014 season, five mountain lions were killed by hunters while another 11 were killed as a result of illegal hunting, traps or being hit by vehicles. Ten of the 16 killed mountain lions were females, which influenced the decision.
Colorado also has a large mountain lion population, though mostly on the western side of the state.