A couple of years ago we built on to our house and had a sand pile in the front yard. Some of the biggest cat tracks were seen in that sand pile and my brother-in-law who has hunted all his life said he thought I had a cougar passing through. I’ve given you my opinion on why the Arkansas Fish and Game won’t admit there are wild cougars or mountain lions in the state because if they did, they’d have to count and protect them since the eastern cougar is an endangered species. That would cost millions of dollars and they won’t bite on the bait.

There have been wild cougars in Arkansas since the 1960s, that I know of, when one jumped out of tree on our ranch down by Devils Den and killed a weaning colt. The cougar broke his neck, then drug him off and covered it with leaves to eat later.  We tried to catch him coming back but after a few nights we froze out.
Several folks I know have perfect foot print impressions of them. A lady who lives down at White River asked me one time what a large cat with long tail was. It was mountain lion. Despite the attempt to put a damper on this deal so they don’t have to account for them – too many sober people see them.

Jaguars have been in Arizona long before this century. Arizona Fish and Game ended up having to do a lot of work on the species in the state.  They have their animals radio tagged and can tell where they are. Arizona has spent millions following their small population of big spotted cats. Much like the Arkansas elk that was tagged that a man illegally shot, then hauled it home and law enforcement followed him with a helicopter. Cost him $12,000 and his hunting license.   

I was busy typing last week when my wife came and said “be quiet.” Out at my bird feeder station checking out things was a large dark colored bobcat with white spots on the back of his ears. He weighted 30 or 40 pounds. He was sleek and very soft moving and finally went on. But neither his or his kin made those tracks in the sand pile.

We finally saw her a few years ago.  She came through my hillside yard twice for us to observe her.  She weighed 70 to 80 pounds and had huge paws. Acted like she owned the place and for my part, she could have had it. She had made the tracks I saw in the sand pile. Also she was nursing kittens somewhere both times. I never saw him either nor her offspring. She had a short tail and long hair on her alert ears – she had a dull tan coat. She was a lynx.  Much more rare they tell me than bobcats and much more powerful.

I have tried to get her on a game camera but so far she’s too smart or I am too dumb to operate it.  If I ever catch her I’ll share it. So far armadillo herds are on it. Plus two grey foxes, a red fox, plenty of deer, a possum, a skunk and a 13-stripe chipmunk that live here; so I will set it again. May God bless America,
Western novelist Dusty Richards and his wife Pat live on Beaver Lake in northwest Arkansas. For more information about his books you can email Dusty by visiting ozarksfn.com and clicking on ‘Contact Us’ or call 1-866-532-1960.     


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