AGFC biologists received the DNA results this week from the Wildlife Genetics Laboratory in Missoula, Montana. The DNA revealed that the mountain lion most likely originated in the Black Hills breeding population of Wyoming and South Dakota, according to the lab results. “The mountain lion traveled from Marion County to Bradley County in about six weeks before it was killed. That shows you how far a mountain lion can travel in a short period,” AGFC Large Carnivore Biologist Myron Means explained.
The lab investigated the potential origin for the mountain lion using the lab’s database which includes mountain lion samples from populations in South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Oregon and Florida.
The profile obtained from the Bradley County tissue sample matched the hair sample collected from the mountain lion hair found on private land in southern Marion County. The distance between the two areas is about 180 miles. The male mountain lion is a new individual to the lab’s DNA database.
The Bradley County hunter was on private property when he shot the mountain lion and reported the incident to wildlife officers. It was the first time a mountain lion has been killed in Arkansas since 1975 in Logan County.
Mountain lions – also known as pumas and cougars – lived throughout Arkansas until about 1920. The AGFC offered bounties and hired trappers to control predators during 1927-29. At least 255 wolves and 523 bobcats were killed, but no mountain lions were taken.
Nine sightings of mountain lions in Arkansas have been confirmed in the last five years, although a breeding population has not been verified. A number of mountain lion sightings in Missouri, Oklahoma and Louisiana also have been confirmed in recent years.
A mountain lion was killed in Montgomery County in 1949 and another in Ashley County in 1969. In late 1998, a team from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock observed tracks, feces and a deer kill from a free-ranging mountain lion across Hot Spring, Garland and Pulaski counties.
To see a map of confirmed mountain lion sightings in Arkansas go to: http://www.agfc.com/newsDocs/ConfirmedSightings.pdf.