First Mountain Lion Seen In Kentucky Since Civil War, Wildlife Department Promptly Kills It

Tara West - Author
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Dec. 17 2014, Updated 12:06 p.m. ET

A mountain lion was seen for the first time in Kentucky since the Civil War. Though the mountain lion was in a tree when police responded to the scene, the animal was quickly shot and killed.

According to USA Today, a Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife officer was the one who responded to the scene. A farmer had called the department after he saw a large cat. When the wildlife officer arrived, the report claims he decided it would be best to “dispatch it.” In other words, kill it. The reason for the swift death of the large cat was fear. Mark Marraccini, a spokesman for the Department of Fish and Wildlife says that the officer made the right call noting that if the mountain lion had escaped it could have threatened people in a nearby town.

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“If that cat had left that tree, it would have disappeared into the brush and it was a fairly populated area. That’s [shooting the cat is] the way the officers deemed to handle it and I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be handled that way.”

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When asked why they didn’t opt to tranquilize and move the cat instead, Marraccini noted that it would have taken the state veterinarian a couple hours before she could have retrieved the tranquilizer from her safe. The officers feared the large cat might make its way out of the tree and into the populated town of Paris before the veterinarian could get them the tranquilizer.

However, staff at the Mountain Lion Foundation think the fear was unwarranted. Amy Rodrigues, a staff biologist for the Mountain Lion Foundation, says attacks on people are not common noting just 22 deaths from mountain lions in the last 120 years.

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“If you’re a deer, they’re a little dangerous. If you’re a human, not so much. Attacks on people are not that common. There have only been 22 deaths in the last 120 years.”

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In fact, you are more likely to be killed by bee stings or a lightening strike than be killed by a mountain lion.

Marraccini says that the state will most likely not allow mountain lions to recolonize the state like states west of the Mississippi river have allowed. He claims that there is no specific policy regarding how to handle a mountain lion sighting and that the department will look at each cat on a case-by-case basis.

What do you think about the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Department officer killing the first mountain lion in the state since the Civil War? Did the officer make the right call?

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