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Topic: big cats...

Well i've heard a lot of stories about cougars and such in Arkansas and Missouri. In fact I know someone in Southwestern Missouri with 100 and something acres. His neighbor's goats or calves have been attacked. finds paw prints and has even followed drag marks to find carcasses buried in leaves. All very typical of a big cat like that..  Anyway, I don't have anything like that in my yard but something.  We have 5 acres just outside of town and see deer all the time, and deer tracks of course. Well this morning I went out to see if any deer had been in the yard over night and I find some other tracks that I had not seen before.  I'm not great at tracking but I seriously have to guess it's a cat of some sort. Most likely a bobcat though none of the tracks had all the details to give a positive id. 
I examined every track out there, compared them with tracks online and I still have to say bobcat or some cat. None of the tracks were narrow enough to be coyote but none of the prints showed enough detail in the pads to see the lobes.  I kept examining, there were tracks everywhere, well, quite a few anyway. Most of them were walking, very light, but there were a few that were deeper and it was obviously running or pouncing. Only two or three, the ones that were deeper and more disturbed, had any sign of claws and the claws did not extend out from the toes but down into the dirt. Also, right where those tracks were there was some frantic deer tracks. It looks very much like whatever it was tried to take down some deer right outside my house.  Pretty interesting to say the least.  I really need to get a game camera out there.
Anyway, thought I'd share that. if anyone has thoughts on what I saw, feel free to share them... or if you have your own "big cat" story feel free to post it...

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About three or four weeks ago me and anja saw DOR bob cat on 270 between hotsprings and Malvern. sad


millipede wrote:

Well i've heard a lot of stories about cougars and such in Arkansas and Missouri. In fact I know someone in Southwestern Missouri with 100 and something acres. His neighbor's goats or calves have been attacked. finds paw prints and has even followed drag marks to find carcasses buried in leaves. All very typical of a big cat like that..  Anyway, I don't have anything like that in my yard but something.  We have 5 acres just outside of town and see deer all the time, and deer tracks of course. Well this morning I went out to see if any deer had been in the yard over night and I find some other tracks that I had not seen before.  I'm not great at tracking but I seriously have to guess it's a cat of some sort. Most likely a bobcat though none of the tracks had all the details to give a positive id. 
I examined every track out there, compared them with tracks online and I still have to say bobcat or some cat. None of the tracks were narrow enough to be coyote but none of the prints showed enough detail in the pads to see the lobes.  I kept examining, there were tracks everywhere, well, quite a few anyway. Most of them were walking, very light, but there were a few that were deeper and it was obviously running or pouncing. Only two or three, the ones that were deeper and more disturbed, had any sign of claws and the claws did not extend out from the toes but down into the dirt. Also, right where those tracks were there was some frantic deer tracks. It looks very much like whatever it was tried to take down some deer right outside my house.  Pretty interesting to say the least.  I really need to get a game camera out there.
Anyway, thought I'd share that. if anyone has thoughts on what I saw, feel free to share them... or if you have your own "big cat" story feel free to post it...

William P. Taylor

"You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone...They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot..."

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Re: big cats...

That's very interesting to hear Millipede. Bobcats aren't a very common sight in the wild here, not for me anyway. Will, that sucks to hear about the DOR. I've seen a few sprint across roads, and they're usually pretty quick to get out of your way. I wouldn't be too terribly surprised if someone did it intentionally.

Millipede, it might be fruitful to go ahead and get a game camera and see if you can get one of the episodes on film.  They certainly would be fascinating pictures.

The pictures below are of my Isis. She's no wild bobcat, but a bobcat nonetheless. I got her as a 5 week old kitten from a wild cat breeder in Mena. She's now over 3.5 yrs old. Enjoy.

http://gallery.pethobbyist.com/data/41019bobcat7-med.JPG

http://gallery.pethobbyist.com/data/41019S_IMG_0097-med.JPG

http://gallery.pethobbyist.com/data/41019S_IMG_0088-med.JPG

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Re: big cats...

I have personally seen 3 Panthers here in AR. On while riding horses in the Ozark Nat'l Forest some years ago near the Buffalo river. It was stalking from a long bluff line above us as we rode. Another was while I was working on a ranch my senior year of high school,it ran across the pasture one night during a storm while we were checking some downed fence,that one was the classic yellow,and my sister and brother in law who live near Lone Rock in the Nat'l Forest(boonies folks) had one that would come up in their yard almost on a nightly basis and eat the table scraps and get into their trash. A few weeks ago some friends of our saw one cross HWY 65 between Harrison and the MO line. I have also heard them while on the Buffalo,and let me tell you ya'll there is no other sound like it on Earth,other than a woman screaming.It will send 10 different kinds of shivers up your spine!!!

I have seen many,many bobcats while out and about in the woods,and none of them showed any kind of aggressive behavior,even those with little ones,in fact they were kind of fun to watch,especially the little ones,very similar to domesticated housecats. In fact I saw one one our Dogpatch adventure last year.

On the subject of the Game cameras,I seem to recall this last year a guy I work with,who is a member of a local hunting club,mentioned that someone brought some pictures to one of thier meetings of a Panther jumping a deer at one of his feeders that he had a camera set up,and that could be consistant to the panther that AGFC was trying to trap near Lakeview this last year. I'll try to do some heavy duty prying around and see if I can get a copy of the picture.

Braithre Thar Gach Ni

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While looking up pictures of tracks I found several sites that stated there were no mountain lions in arkansas. They mentioned many, many sightings, but no proof. They even said some professional mountain lion tracker came out and didn't find anything.  I sure wont say I don't believe you though.  There's way too much wilderness in arkansas for someone to say they know what is and isn't here for sure.  By the size of the tracks I found in my yard I'm certain it was a bobcat but last year I found a print or two in my friends yard, that lives even closer to town, and it was a bit bigger if I remember correctly.  At that time I had even less of a clue as to how to indentify such tracks but I still have a picture of it... you can't judge size from the picture but you can tell it was a cat. If it wasn't a small mountain lion then it was a big bobcat... Just the same they're not seen very often around here. 
I really do want some sort of game cam but I have a big list of other needs and wants that our tax money is going to.  I considered(though not entirely seriously) sitting up on the roof all night and perhaps leave something to bait it... I haven't seen any sign of it since then but I read they don't travel more than a few miles range... who knows... I'm sure it's not the last I'll see of it though.

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Re: big cats...

AGFC has denied for quite some time that there are none,but it's a felony to kill one in the wild(Their rules). I'm gonna try to find the article about the one they were trying to trap around here,that had numerous sightings,and quite possibly the one caught on that camera. A few years ago Missouri said the same thing,but some lady sent them rolls of film and a video of one eating a downed deer in her yard. Now that I'm (way!!!) older and somewhat brighter I normally carry a camera around with me so I hope to see another one and get a few good pics of 'em!!!

Braithre Thar Gach Ni

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Re: big cats...

I definately saw a cougar crossing 64 highway.It was just a few years ago,It was the middle of the day twelve O'clock I beleve.It acted dased and confused,it ran in to the road,looked around, and ran back into the woods.This was no bobcat, it looked like it weighed about 140 pounds,I even looked the animal in the eye.I dont under stand why the fish & game comision denys that cougars are in arkansas.Mabe they beleve telling the truth will spooke the public.

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I too agree that cougars can be found here in Arkansas. It's a great possibility though that some of these could very well be someone's escaped 'pet.' A cougar keeper that used to live near here had her cats get out on occasion. They usually shot and killed them before "anything bad could happen" (doesn't that just irk you?), but it's definitely feasible that an escaped one could survive.

On the subject of panthers...and this is by no means a shot at you Glenn (I realize you were referring to cougars), but something that has bugged me for a long time...there are no black panthers in existance!!!...unless you cound the black pride group of course wink That's probably one of the biggest wildlife myths in the US, next to cottonmouths and water moccasins and skunks and polecats being different species of course, but it just annoys the heck out of me. The "black panthers" you see on movies are melanistic jaguars. The only real panther in the world is a small subspecies of cougar located in FL that's very near extinction. Bah, anyway, I just wanted to vent a bit I guess, so thanks for listening smile

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Re: big cats...

i know 100% for sure that there are mountain lions here in Arkansas.  In fact, there are many around Little Rock. 

One morning in my microbiology lab at UALR the professor went to open the freezer with our cultures and all of a sudden he screamed and jumped back.  There was a dead mountain lion lying on the floor of the freezer.  The mammalogy class had gone out the night before to pinnacle mountain to catch bats and come across a dead mountain lion on the road and brought it back for disection.

As far as chasing deer, here's a cool story:  I worked for 2 weeks on the Buffalo River working on a fish survey.  One day we were surveying a tributary and we suddenly see a baby deer bolt across the stream.  We all think thats cool and turn back to surveying only to hear splashing again.  We turn around and two coyotes are running through the stream in persuit of the deer.  They chase the fawn out into a field where they take it down.  We quickly got in our trucks and waited for them to leave before continuing.

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Re: big cats...

When I had my nuisance wildlife company in Hot SPrings I was shown a casting of a cougar track made by the local game and fish officers. Also about two months ago one of the guys at work found signs on his place just south of the MO line. A friend of ours horse was attacked north of Hot Springs Village. They had seen the cougar sunning itself in a deadfall by their pond. Game and fish collected hair samples then told them they'd be in serious trouble if they shot what ever it was, but claimed that  it wasn't a cougar.

What I want to know about is the Hyena. I've spoken to three people who claim to have seen one here in Arkansas. These reports were unsolicited and from locations whithin 40 miles of Flippin.

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Cold X3 thats pretty wild!!! I have seen similar behavior in coyotes. I friend of mine was charged by one last year in Central OK while he was turkey hunting,it came at him so fast that he was able to get his gun up and shoot it at 3 yards from where he was sitting. He said it was as big as a German Shepard,really scared him.............................................................................................................Now............A Hyena?!?!?! Hook me up with one of these folks Rich. I'm VERY interested in this.

Braithre Thar Gach Ni

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One of the guys works on day shift. Will talk to him on Monday when I go into work. He lives out in Promise Land.

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Re: big cats...

Cougars (aka mountain lions, panthers) Felis concolor may indeed be in the process of recolonizing their former habitats east of the Rockies.  A group of wildlife biologists have formed The Cougar Network http://www.easterncougarnet.org/ to study this phenomenon and try to verify sightings with hard evidence such as tracks, hair, scat, photographs or cougar killed prey or the body of the cougar itself.

Since 1996, the Network has verified 10 cougars in Arkansas, six in Oklahoma, seven in Missouri, two in Illinois, seven in Iowa, and sixteen in Minnesota.  Texas, Colorado and South Dakota have viable, growing populations of cougars.  As carrying capacity is reached, the young cougars will be pushed out by older adults to seek territories of their own.  A cougar may travel up to 50 miles per day.  Once it establishes a territory, a male cougar will range over a 150 square mile area, the females slightly less. 

The theory is that cougars are following the river systems from the West towards the East.  Of course deer, the primary prey of cougars are now more abundant in the Midwest and South than at any time in the past 100 years (Has the grill of your car or truck proven that?)  Not to mention the improvement in forest management and restoration that has occurred in the past 60 years.  The Ozarks, Boston and Ouachita Mountains now present prime cougar habitat and why not?  The bears there doing quite well. 

Check out the Cougar Network site.  They have maps of individual states and explain each of the recorded sightings and the evidence to back them up.  Some of these cougars may be escaped captives or released animals, but a substantial number clearly were not.  Always remember that cougars are usually very secretive animals.  For every "verified" sighting of an animal, potentially there could be a several animals that are completely  unnoticed.

Here is a cougar that was photographed by a game trail camera in Perry County Arkansas in 2003, courtesy the Cougar Network site:
http://www.easterncougarnet.org/cougar_cam_sm.jpg

Check your back when you walk in the woods  wink

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Re: big cats...

I'm a wildlife biologist for a Nature park in SW Missouri and we have had one here in the park for a couple of years now. It is very secretive, but occasionally gets seen. I personally got the chance to see a Female with 2 kittens in the wild about a mile from the park. My sister seen the cats the next week at 11 in the morning in the same area. Then, my dad and brother-in-law also seen them in the road there one evening about 3 weeks later. In order for the female to have kittens...that means there's a male somewhere around there. There is no doubt that they were mountain lions. I've seen and killed bobcats, and these were no bobcats.

Cheyne

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The cougar network is a really interesting site!

I have a question: why would the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission deny that mountain lions exist in Arkansas?

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I think the reason is because of the lack of evidence that there is a WILD, BREEDING population; not just escapees.

Kory Roberts: Email | Facebook | Flickr | YouTube

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The article mentioned earlier was in the AG&F quarterly magazine.  The animal they were looking for a could not find back then was the Carolina Panther, the Eastern Mountain Lion, that was originally native to our state.  They are indeed, very rare, although people I have known for years and have never known to stretch the truth have told me of clearly seeing one as far back as 35 years ago.    Friends in Eastern Oklahoma and Kansas tell me they are starting to see American Cougars, Western Mountain Lions, with some frequency as their deer heards continue to grow and the lions expand their range eastward.  These lions are probably the ones we are starting to see now.   I hope to be lucky enough to see one someday.

William Benefiel
Texarkana

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Mtn Lions DO exsist in AR. I know a old man that has coon hunted all his life and he is probably mid 70's or so and he swears they still exist and clams to see them all the time. Now he claims the reason that the AGFC doesn't claim that we have them is because they just don't want to get out and look for them. I believe this man very much, he knows what he is talking about when it comes to stuff like this. Now the reason the AGFC doesn't admit that there are any left in AR is not because they don't want to get out and look for them. It is because there is so few of them that they don't believe they can sustain a population in AR, they don't believe that there are enough breeding pairs in AR. This is coming from a game warden from over here around Batesville. He started out saying that there where no lions in AR and after futher discussion he admited that the AGFC knew there where lions in AR but that their fear was that there was not enough breeding pairs to keep the population up and they think that if they say there is none in AR that people won't get out looking for them and tring to kill them so for those reasons they say the do not exist in AR. The AGFC does know that Mtn Lions DO exist in AR but are denying it for reason I think most of us can understand. Now as far as a Black Mtn Lion I for one can say that they do exist. My dad and grandpa use to see one all the time that was black. I think it is kinda like a Black Bear, there are several different actual colors of Black Bears, not just black. Another thing they claim no long exist in AR is Wolves. Now I am not for sure if there are still any wolves in AR or not. The game warden says that it is one thing that he honestly believes no longer exists in AR and I don't know anyone that has seen one in years.

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Re: big cats...

Back in 2001 I lived on 6 1/2 miles of dirt road out of Pineville Missouri..just off Sugar Creek.

I had taken the 4wheeler up to the top of a hill late one night to burn some old brush around January and had 2 German Shepherds with me..(I was bored, what can I say?)

Well, the dogs started going BONKERS at something on the other side of the fire, but just out of sight.  I made my way back to the 4 wheeler and to the safety of the house.  Not knowing what was up there, I grabbed the 38 and went back up the hill..Halfway up the hill the Jack Russell Terrorists from next door started going crazy too, and I followed them..

They took off up the hill, and I figured they had cornered a stray cat or armadillo.  I had to walk to the bluffs where they were, and by this time my friend had the truck and rolled up with a spotlight, all we could see is a pair of glowing eyes reflecting in the light.  It appeared to be wrapped in black shadow..But with a spotilight there was no mistaking the color of the cat.

My friend said it was a black dog at first, but Ive seen the way a dog moves, and its different from a cat.  A cat moves like liquid..LOL for lack of a better description.  Very fluid and graceful..This was NO dog.

I was less than 10 ft directly below the cat, so I didnt  want to move.
It paced and stared at us for a few minutes and then turned its head and it was gone.

Thats my only encounter with something like that, and I will never forget it.

I'm about to have an abruptly.

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theoutsider wrote:

The cougar network is a really interesting site!

I have a question: why would the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission deny that mountain lions exist in Arkansas?

Possibly because it might effect the current White-tail deer management strategy for the state...???? The cougar would be the only other primary predator, besides humans of course...
They are found in practically all other states surrounding AR, so SURE they are here!!  It is a wierd phenomenon; the AGFC and the Cougar... Who knows!!

"Probably the saddest thing you'll ever see is a mosquito sucking on a mummy. Forget it, little friend."  Jack Handy

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Supposedly the only Cougar population in the state consists of captive-bred escapees or released animals.. It would be a responsible action, for any state agency, to ackowledge that we do have "some" Cougars in the state for the safety of the public... The "state agencies" may not want to acknowledge that Cougar populations exist due their concerns that the Cougars will be hunted and possibly extirpated, or concerns from WTdeer hunters in the state worried about the numbers of deer that are allowed to be hunted... Who really knows... But I do maintain my position on taking responsibility and being accountable for the acknowledgment that there might be Cougars in certain areas. Let the public             (hunters, hikers, fisherman, etc) know how to be safe in these areas or avoid them altogether... It would be best to, once again, acknowledge that Cougars are here in order to protect the public and avoid a potential lethal situation... This is something that we discussed and debated for years while I was a Wildlife Bio. undergrad .. Okay, I am finished rambling my thoughts...

"Probably the saddest thing you'll ever see is a mosquito sucking on a mummy. Forget it, little friend."  Jack Handy

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Re: big cats...

I received this news article from a friend of mine today.  Thought you all might be interested.

Panther kills calves near Searcy

Monday, December 18, 2006 6:47 PM CST

Gary Lovitte, who works raising cattle on Bostic Road, surveys the area around the ranch where a panther was seen. The animal or animals have been blamed for the death of two calves.

Game and Fish Commission thinks the cat is a former pet

By Warren Watkins

The Daily Citizen

Two calves have been killed and area residents have been frightened in the past two weeks by what many say is a panther along Foster Chapel Road, four miles northwest of Searcy.

The sightings and incidents have taken place in an area three miles south of Panther Creek.

Gary Lovitte said his daughter, Angela, came face to face with the animal, also called a mountain lion or cougar.

Â?She was outside talking on the phone just after dark and saw a brown cougar sitting in her yard,Â? Lovitte said. Â?It seen her and started after her, and she liked to have killed herself getting in the house.Â?

A few days after that, James Johnson, who lives and raises cattle on Bostic Road in the area, had a close encounter with the animal. One day as Johnson rode his tractor through a pasture to check on his cows, the panther attacked the vehicle, leaving superficial scratch marks.

Johnson thinks the animal was not trying to kill him but attempting to make him leave. His dogs had already left the area before the animal, which had a long tail and was not solid brown, appeared.

Â?It was a good thing his tractor didnÂ?t die,Â? Lovitte said.

Johnson found one of his calves killed under some trees just before the incident. When Lovitte went out to see the calfÂ?s body, it had been moved in broad daylight.

Lovitte said another resident had an experience similar to that of his daughter.

Â?It was just before dusky dark and she had her dog on a leash,Â? Lovitte said. Â?It came down the road and meowed a couple of times, and the dog pulled her back inside. It screamed, and they sound just like a woman screaming.Â?

Another calf, owned by Steve King, was also killed, Lovitte said, and two gas exploration workers recently spooked two panthers from a thicket as they went about their work.

Panthers in Arkansas

Â?We donÂ?t have any proof there are any mountain lions in Arkansas,Â? said Keith Stephens, assistant chief of communications for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Â?There are probably some feral ones, which would have been a domestic animal at one time, someoneÂ?s pet. It mightÂ?ve gotten too wild. When they get them as kittens they are lovable and playful, but when they get to be 100 pounds, they overwhelm a person, and they just release them into the wild.Â?

The commission has never had a relocation program for panthers, Stephens said, and have never released any of them anywhere.

Relocation programs are done for bear and elk, but not panthers.

Â?As best as we can tell, there are a few running around out there,Â? Blake Sasse, non-game mammal program coordinator for the commission, said. Â?There is no evidence we have a population of them. Even states with actual populations of mountain lions like Florida or the upper midwest, they get several killed every year being hit by cars.Â?

Florida has about 100 mountain lions in the entire state, Sasse said.

Â?Here in Arkansas, we havenÂ?t seen anything like that,Â? Sasse said. Â?People would be shooting them, and dead ones would be turning up if there was any real reproducing group out there.Â?

Sasse agrees with Stephens, that what is being seen in Arkansas are mostly released pets.

Â?That could happen anywhere in Arkansas,Â? Sasse said. Â?There was one owned by a drug dealer in Arkansas a few years ago, and he basically let it run free.Â?

Most of the time when people see panthers, they are usually misidentifying something else, Sasse said.

A pantherÂ?s normal diet is deer, and depending on where theyÂ?re at in Arkansas they may eat some kind of mid-size animals like wild hogs.

Â?If itÂ?s livestock thatÂ?s been killed, itÂ?s usually killed by coyotes,Â? Sasse said. Â?The tracks turn out to be everything but a mountain lion.Â?

A pantherÂ?s range varies, but in Arkansas could be between 50 and 100 square miles, Sasse said.

Reacting to a panther sighting

If a person sees a panther, there is a safe way to react.

Â?They need to yell and make as much noise as they can to scare it off,Â? Sasse said.

Lovitte had different plans.

Â?WeÂ?ve always had panthers come through here this time of year, but they donÂ?t bother anybody,Â? Lovitte said. Â?They say not to shoot it, but if itÂ?s in my yard or on my children, IÂ?m going to shoot it.Â?

Residents are now forewarned, Lovitte said.

Â?AinÂ?t nobody got any business being out after dark,Â? he advised.

It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

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My family used to own a peach orchard in Fouke (SW Arkansas) and we heard and saw a Cougar several times (I have several interesting stories for any interested). I am not sure if it was the same Cougar or if there were several around, but they were there. About a year ago I spotted a large cat looking critter DOR on Hwy 71 where the Sulphur River Crosses. I circled around and it was, in fact, a Cougar. I called the AGFC to come check it out. They picked it up and ID it as a Cougar.

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Howdy..I am new here to the board. i came across it while looking for information on snakes and frogs i seen this topic and went straight to it being that we had and may have once again a big cat problem...about a year ago we had about 70 chickens 30+ ducks-quail and geese well they all started to disaapear at a rapid rate!..it took about 2 months for every chicken to go missing no matter what we did we could not find out what was getting them..then the ducks began to go missing-geese-quail pens ripped wide open..our horse was attacked ripping his back leg wide open...i was in the chicken pen one day with a fw small silkie show chickens i had left...now this is a 7 foot chain link fence they are in and many were already missing..anyways i was feeding my lil silkies when i heard something hit the fence i looked up to see a huge cougar staring me in the face on the other side of the fence...at first i just froze then started screaming for my husband....well by the time my hubby came to my rescue the cougar was gone...i told him what i seen and he said it was a bobcat so i came in and looked up bobcat pictures on the web and told him it was no bobcat!...so looking into bigger cats i came across the pictures of cougars...That is what i seen!...well that same day we were all out in front of the shed putting stuff away from garden work...hubby was on the mower and the cougar runs across the driveway to the pond grabs a duck and takes off again..Hubby myself and son seen it that time...so i know i wasnt crazy!.....well no matter what we did including the game camera we could not get a picture of this cougar...game and fish said pretty much we were crazy!..we even went as far as locating a hunter who hunted bobcats to track this animal down for us..well he seen it but never could trap it....then in january of this year 2007 i was going to the post office and seen a cougar laying dead on highway 71 near lockesburg arkansas not very far from my house...I went ahead to thr post office thinking i would grab my camera when i got back home and go back to take pictures...by the time i got back to where the cougar was it was gone...someone had come and picked it up...so someone has that cougar!..knows it exsist and i wish for the life of me I knew who picked it up......weyerhauser just cleared about 100 acres behind our property and once again we are having animals go missing at a rapid rate we are also finding a very large amount of half eatin animals and bones- dogs-deer-coons-and cats....cougars do exsist in arkansas!...i know this for a fact..the folks across the street at the church think i am crazy ..when i first seen the cougar and relised it was not afraid of people i let the church know that i had seen the cougar and to please not allow the children out on the playground by themselves being it is right next to the woods.......if anyone hears a rumor of someone picking up a dead cougar on highway 71 I can confirm that i myself seen this animal.....had this animal tracked...was within 3 foot of this animal!...and i am worried that more may be around our property...thanks for listening and please if anyone else living around the lockesburg area has seen one i would love to know about it....Dale Anne

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Wow thats an awsome story. I honestly don't think anyone should think you are crazy- stranger things have happened. I would stick with the game camera or set up something to video the cat when its prowling around your animals. Thank you for your story submission!