Cougar. Mountain lion. Panther.
Whatever you call it, it's a big cat, and Ken and Glenda Kerbo believe they have spotted one twice near their home, which is not far from Grove School.
Cougar. Mountain lion. Panther.
Whatever you call it, it’s a big cat, and Ken and Glenda Kerbo believe they have spotted one twice near their home, which is not far from Grove School.
The couple resides on Briarwood, which is off Bryan Street, with their property backing up to a large parcel of dense, wooded land.
What began as a quiet May evening in their backyard turned into more of an adventure.
First, they heard a lot of birds squawking in the trees behind their home, followed by what Ken described as a “high-pitch” crying.
“We both just looked at each other,” Glenda said.
A few minutes later, a large cat emerged and they went inside to get their binoculars to better see the cat, which was less than 50 yards away.
Mesmerized, they watched her as she walked along the back of the property, with the birds “having a fit” as she walked along, Glenda said.
As she got further away, they decided to follow her, Glenda said, but walked a safe distance behind her until the cat — with a noticeably long 20-inch tail — disappeared into the dense woods.
“We lost her at that point,” Ken said. “She looked the size of a Labrador — she was huge,” he said. Of course neither of them had a phone, or camera.
But Glenda did capture photos of a smaller mountain lion in their yard in June of last year, and the couple feels certain this could be the same cat, she’s just a year old and a bit bigger.
“Our gut feeling is it’s the same…the colors were pretty much the same,” he said.
Glenda, who said she grew up in the country, wasn’t scared of the mountain lion, but instead said she was amazed by it.
“It didn’t scare us…most animals like that are more scared of me than I am of them,” she said, although Glenda said she is concerned for her neighbors and any pets, fearing any pets running loose in the area could fall prey to the cougar.
The backyard experience wasn’t the last time Glenda would see her. While on a walk along Bryan Street, just a few days ago, Glenda saw the cat run across the road, where she narrowly missed getting hit by a car. The puma crossed in a low-lying area between MacArthur and 45th, the same area where deer and turkey are often seen.
The sighting last year prompted the couple to seek input from a wildlife official, Glenda said, with them learning it was likely a young cat then. Glenda also has done her own research, and now believes that high-pitched scream was the cougar looking for a mate.
Each year, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife investigates dozens of mountain lion reports, according to its website.
“Although hundreds of recorded sightings have been reported, only 11 have yielded enough physical evidence to clearly confirm the presence of a mountain lion,” the ODWC reports.
Wildlife officials report that mountain lions prefer dense cover or rocky, rugged terrain, generally in areas of low human habitation, or regions of dense swamps. The size of the home range is typically 50 to 75 square miles for females and 90 to several hundred square miles for males.
“Mountain lions are generally nocturnal and are active near dawn and dusk. They feed on deer and other medium-sized and large mammals. On average, a typical adult lion kills and consumes about one deer per week,” the site shows.
With many raising cattle in the state, the site shows there have been concerns about the mountain lion population growing here.
“There have been no verified reports of mountain lions attacking people in Oklahoma, and no evidence of attacks on cattle, horses or pets,” the site reads, although there was one confirmed case in Cimarron County where a mountain lion was killed while attacking a landowner’s goat.
There are some codes regarding the big cats.
“Our Wildlife Code continues to protect mountain lions from indiscriminant shooting, but also allows citizens to protect themselves and their property…mountain lions can be taken year-round when committing or about to commit depredation on any domesticated animal or when deemed an immediate safety hazard,” the site reads.
Individuals who kill a mountain lion must immediately call a game warden or other Department employee so the carcass case be examined within 24 hours for biological data collection.
For more information, call the Wildlife Department at 521-3851 or go to: http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/hunting/mlion.htm