For the First Time in Nearly A Decade, Wildlife Officials Found the Remains of a Mountain Lion in Arkansas

Wildlife officials in Arkansas say they are examining the carcass of a mountain lion that someone found in the state last week. The discovery is Arkansas’ first official cougar sighting in nearly a decade.

The state’s Game and Fish Commission broke the news with a social media post. Finding a cougar in the state is significant as the state hasn’t had a breeding population of mountain lions for more than a century.

According to the post, a worker for the U.S. Forest Service found the animal’s remains in the Sylamore Wildlife Management Area. That’s in the northern part of the state.

A wildlife veterinarian analyzed the cougar’s carcass and said there was no evidence that the animal was shot or hit by a car. There’s no official word on what may have killed it.

“An adult, male mountain lion weighing 118 pounds and measuring approximately 85 inches in length was examined Thursday at the AGFC Calico Rock regional office,” said Jenn Ballard, a wildlife veterinarian who works for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. “The carcass was moderately decomposed and was extremely thin. It had severely worn, broken and missing teeth, and the stomach was empty.”

They plan to test it for viruses and other toxins.

In November 2014, a deer hunter shot and killed a mountain lion in the state. Officials believed it had traveled all the way from Wyoming or South Dakota. 

Mountain Lions in Arkansas recently spoke with a wildlife biologist focused on mountain lions, and they said the species can go hundreds of miles from where it was born in search of a mate. In Arkansas’ case, the nearest state with a proven breeding population of cougars is Texas. 

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) officials say the animal existed throughout the state until about 1920. Like many other parts of the U.S., the number of mountain lions decreased due to the destruction of habitats and hunting.

However, the proximity to a state like Texas means seeing a mountain lion isn’t out of the question. In fact, since 2010, AGFC has only 23 confirmed sightings. 

Anyone who believes they saw a cougar in the wild can report it to state officials. 

Here’s what you need to do if you come face-to-face with a mountain lion while hiking in the woods. 

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