View Full Version : Tracker hired to determine if cougar is stalking
03-12-2003, 07:48 PM
Pro searching for cougar
HOT SPRINGS (AP) - The state has hired a pro to find out once and for all if a mountain lion has been stalking the east side of Hot Springs.
Roy McBride, who has tracked big cats in Texas, Florida, and South America, began looking for signs of the big cat Saturday after he was hired by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to investigate reports from city residents that a cougar was wandering their neighborhood.
McBride, who is based in Florida, set out with a tracking dog. State wildlife officers also participated in the search.
Donny Harris, a commission wildlife supervisor, said their plan was to resume the effort Sunday.
He said searchers failed to locate the animal Saturday in a 9 square mile search area and planed to move the search south on Sunday.
Harris said if the animal is found, they will tranquilize it, cage it and decide whether to destroy it or move it to another location.
He said he doubted a cougar lived in the area, though, based on a previous search by wildlife officers. But if one does, it most likely was a pet that was released to the wild, he said.
Eastern mountain lions, also known as cougars, were native to Arkansas and can get up to 200 pounds. They were killed off by settlers or left the state in the early 1900s with the loss of populations of white-tail deer, one of the cat's favorite foods.
Today, Eastern mountain lions are protected by law, but Western mountain lions can be taken from the wild, Harris said.
Residents of about three-square miles northeast of the Hot Springs Country Club began reporting sightings of a big cat Dec. 6. They say at least two dogs were mauled by an animal in the area. One died and the other, an 80-pound Labrador retriever, recovered after receiving $1,800 worth of medical care.
03-13-2003, 03:21 AM
No evidence of Hot Springs mountain lion found
Arkansas Outdoors News
HOT SPRINGS - Despite the best efforts of Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologists and a mountain lion expert, there has been no evidence of a big cat in Hot Springs.
Residents of an area near the Hot Springs Country Club have reported seeing some type of big cat in the area over the past few months. The sightings began after two dogs were found mauled and eventually died from the wounds. AGFC biologists have said that the bite marks on the dogs appeared to be from another dog.
Professional mountain lion tracker Roy McBride of Florida was hired by the AGFC to search the area around the Deanwood and Eastgate subdivisions to determine if a mountain lion is living in the area. "This is a lot like police work. I go to the area and look for evidence," McBride said. "I go by what I find, not by what people see," he added.
After spending the weekend with his tracking dog and AGFC biologist Wade Walker in the woods where the unidentified animal has been reported, McBride said that he saw various tracks, including coyote, but "predominately dog tracks" in the area.
AGFC wildlife management chief Donny Harris said that he agrees with McBride's findings that the dogs that were attacked late last year were attacked by other dogs. "Mountain lions are pretty efficient. If they decide they want to kill something, they do it swiftly and there's no mess about it. Even if we determine there is a mountain lion in there, I still don't believe it is responsible for the pet attacks," Harris said.
Although no signs of the mountain lion were found, Harris said he still wanted people to contact the Hot Springs AGFC office with any reported sightings. "We want people to contact us within 24 hours so we can check out the report as quickly as possible," Harris said.
The Florida panther also known as a mountain lion, puma or cougar was historically present throughout Arkansas but was exterminated by about 1920. From 1927 to 1929, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission offered bounties and hired several trappers as part of a predator control program. Although an intense effort resulted in the deaths of at least 255 wolves and 523 bobcats, no mountain lions were killed.
03-25-2003, 07:06 PM
Personally I think it is hogwash. There are, and have allways been mountain lions in that area. I spend at least one week every year in Hot Springs. I go there to hunt with my father who lives there. I also have 4 uncles and a bunch of cousins there who hunt. With all the time spent in those woods I have seen cats on three different occasions. There are also black bears there, and not to far from town. I think this artical may have been written to ease the concerns of local residents. I also spent this last year there working and every weekend in the woods scouting for deer season. The sign are there, if you look harn enough. It is spring there and with that comes rain and plant growth that can make it difficult to track any animal. Maybe i should go back and show them where I saw the cats...
03-26-2003, 07:02 PM
I agree, but don't tell um. Would probibly scare the devel out of um.
04-12-2003, 09:08 AM
Publication:Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Date:Saturday, April 12, 2003 ; Section:Home & Garden; Page:45
OTUS THE HEAD CAT
Vicious two-toed sloth terrorizing Hot Springs
"We were barking up the wrong tree. Literally."
That was Hot Springs City Manager Kent Myers’ explanation of the most recent futile search for the alleged cougar that has been terrorizing the city in recent months.
Since December, the city’s Deanwood subdivision northeast of the Hot Springs Country Club has been the site of dog maulings, big-cat sightings and, in one bizarre case, a man arrested for criminal impersonation of a sasquatch.
The bigfooted miscreant, Rick Bellamy, had his charges reduced to second-degree civil roguery. He was fined $100 plus court costs and sentenced to 50 hours of community service cleaning bathhouses in Gulpha Gorge Campground.
Hot Springs has spared almost no expense to discover what has been prowling the hills and ravines of the city’s rugged eastern areas.
"We haven’t caught anything yet but a ’possum," Myers said Thursday. "Granted, it was one heckuva big ’possum, but hardly big enough to maul any dogs."
Hot Springs animal control has set out numerous snares, and city officials have brought in professional trappers and other experts — all to no avail.
About a half-dozen residents have reported seeing or hearing a possible cougar in the area. Mountain lions, thought to be extinct in Arkansas, can grow to be 200 pounds.
Now, thanks to an alert resident of the Deanwood area, officials have their first break in the case.
"We were barking up the wrong tree," Myers said, "because we weren’t looking in the trees anyway."
Officials now have photographic evidence that the creature they’re looking for is a rare, but vicious, two-toed sloth. The much more docile three-toed sloth has three toes on its forelimbs.
"How a two-toed sloth, which normally lives in Central and South America, got to Hot Springs is anybody’s guess," Myers said. "But our experts tell me this is one of the particularly nasty megalonychidae choloepus variety."
Myers said this species of sloth "can gut you like a fish" with its wickedly curved, 6-inch, razor-sharp claws.
The normally arboreal creature can grow to 6 feet long and weigh more than 180 pounds.
"I wouldn’t want to encounter one in a dark alley," Myers said. Local veterinarians Bobby Ward and Brian Peters said they had never treated a sloth at their clinics, but have spoken with Central American colleagues who have.
"You don’t go near one of those rascals unless it’s heavily sedated," Peters said. "They can gut you like a fish."
"Like a big fish," Ward agreed. According to Little Rock Zoo director Mike Blakely, the twotoed sloth may be slow, but can be vicious when provoked.
"They pounce upon their prey from the trees," Blakely said. "They’ve been known to remain nearly motionless for up to two months, then plop down upon a passing coati-mundi, tapir or kinkajou."
Unfortunately, the sloth’s victims also include hapless humans.
"It’s usually a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time," Blakely said. "Humans are not the sloth’s normal prey, but its eyesight is notoriously poor. If it senses movement, it’ll pounce first and ask questions later."
Blakely paused and added ominously, "And it can gut you ... like ... a ... fish."
The resident who took the creature’s photo asked to remain anonymous, but he has given authorities the general direction it was slowly traveling.
Officials do not want to alarm the public, but have asked Deanwood residents to keep indoors through this weekend while a massive search is conducted.
Meanwhile, if you are in the Hot Springs area and spot a large two-toed sloth, do notattempt to apprehend it yourself. Call the Hot Springs Sloth Hotline at (501) 954-9994.
Until next time, Kalaka reminds you they can gut you like a fish.
Disclaimer: Fayetteville-born Otus the Head Cat’s column of humorous fabrication appears every Saturday. Email his Owner at: michael_ firstname.lastname@example.org
Hot Springs authorities say this vicious two-toed sloth may be behind recent cougar sightings in the city’s Deanwood subdivision.
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