By Carol Mowdy Bond
A big cat may be on the prowl around Piedmont, and area residents have voiced concerns on recent social media posts.
Posts on the Piedmont Rants and Raves Facebook page are related to recent purported sightings of at least one mountain lion, a cat also known as a cougar, puma, panther, painter, or catamount.
The sightings are causing concern among livestock and farm animal owners, as well as pet owners, in Piedmont’s rural areas.
The encounters have been way too close for comfort, residents say. The animal has been very close to people and livestock, and is causing serious problems with some locally-owned animals.
Residents who were contacted wish to remain anonymous.
Micah Holmes, who is the assistant chief for the information and education division of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation at 1801 N. Lincoln in Oklahoma City, mountain lions are uncommon in Oklahoma.
They primarily live in western, mountainous states. However, they are known to move through the Oklahoma area. Holmes said mountain lions are large animals, sometimes weighing about 200 pounds.
The Oklahoma Wildlife Department says that since 2002, they’ve had over 30 confirmed mountain lion sightings in Oklahoma. The department considers them a transient species in Oklahoma, which means, to date, they have no established territory or breeding population in the state that the department knows of. The females, and small males, tend to be about 55 inches long, about 30 plus inches tall at the shoulder, and have a 31 inch long tail.
A motorist struck and killed a mountain lion in 2011 near Union City in Grady County, according to reports.
In comparison, the department says a bobcat is about 30 inches long, about 19 inches tall, and has a 4 inch long bobbed tail. As well, the bobcat is spotted, and weighs an average of 20 pounds.
The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture asks that anyone having issues with any kind of wild animals, that are bothering or killing livestock, contact the department. And those who sight mountain lions are asked to fill out an online form at http://www.wildlifedepartment.com, so that the department may track the sightings.