|A mountain lion was found and terminated at a Bourbon County farm Monday evening. Note: The mountain lion shown here is not the same that was found on Monday.|
The first wild mountain lion Kentucky has seen since before the Civil War was discovered in a tree on a Bourbon County farm before it was shot and killed by a Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife officer Monday night.
Mark Marraccini, of the DFW, confirmed that the farmer discovered the cat up in a tree and alerted the department, which dispatched an officer to the scene.
Marraccini also said the officer made "the right call" in shooting the animal on sight, given potential public safety concerns. "If that cat had left that tree, it would have disappeared into the brush, and it was a fairly populated area," he was quoted in Louisville's Courier-Journal.
Marraccini added that using a tranquilizer was not a practical option in this case, since the time of day -- around 5:30 p.m. -- meant it would have been dark for several hours before any chance of tracking and catching the animal.
The mountain lion, also known as the cougar, puma, panther, and catamount, used to be indigenous to the state of Kentucky, but were killed off more than a century ago.
Now, the apex predators live primarily in western states, but are advancing east officials say.
The Courier-Journal reported on possible sightings of the mountain lion around Mammoth Cave National Park as early as November 2013, but Monday's is the first confirmed mountain lion to be seen in the state since before the Civil War.
Officials are awaiting a necropsy and DNA testing to determine whether the animal killed Monday was born wild or released from captivity.
According to the C-J's report, however, not everyone agrees the agency's decision to terminate the animal was the right one, consulting biologists from the Mountain Lion Foundation, who say the animals might pose a threat to other wildlife in the area, but not really to humans.
"If you're a deer, they're a little dangerous. If you're a human, not so much," one biologist said. "Attacks on people are not that common. There have only been 22 deaths in the last 120 years."
Still, Marraccini doubts residents and lawmakers in Kentucky would allow for the repopulation of mountain lions in the Commonwealth.
"When you have a population essentially that has had generations and generations and generations that have not had top-line predators, you think about it. You going to let your kids wait for the school bus in the dark?" he said.
For more information, check out the Courier-Journal's full report.