Agency confirms mountain lion sighting in south Arkansas

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has confirmed a mountain lion sighting near Amity in Clark County. The sighting was reported by a hunter who captured the animal on a game camera.

Game and Fish biologists investigated the sighting and determined it is credible.

Mountain lions, also known as pumas and cougars, lived throughout Arkansas until about 1920. Over the years, several sightings have been reported in other parts of the state. There have been 23 confirmed mountain lion sightings in Arkansas since 2010. Mountain lions are solitary cats native to North America. They are typically shy and reclusive. They rarely attack humans.

In November 2014, a deer hunter shot and killed a 148-pound male mountain lion east of Hermitage in Bradley County. It was the first time a mountain lion had been killed in Arkansas since 1975. A DNA sample from that animal revealed that it almost certainly came from a mountain lion sighted in September 2014 in southern Marion County.

According to lab results, the mountain lion killed in 2014 most likely originated in the Black Hills breeding population of Wyoming and South Dakota.

"The mountain lion traveled from Marion County to Bradley County in about six weeks before it was killed. That shows you how far a mountain lion can travel in a short period," said Myron Means, large carnivore biologist with Game and Fish.

"Mountain lions are not game animals. Just like with other animals that do not have a recognized hunting season, they are illegal to kill. A limited "self-defense" exception exists in regulation when a person acts "under a good faith belief that he was protecting himself or other persons from imminent bodily harm or serious injury," he added.

The public is encouraged to contact their nearest Game and Fish office with any sightings of mountain lions with verifiable evidence.