BY WILLIAM PATRICK

reporter@palestineherald.com

When James Johnson told friends Monday morning of the mountain lion his security cameras caught on video Sunday, many assumed it was an April Fool's Day prank.

It wasn’t.

Johnson, owner of J&B Security in Palestine, said he was as surprised as anyone when he viewed the footage of the animal, wandering near his Anderson County home, roughly six miles west of Palestine.

“I’ve seen bobcats, wild hogs, and coyotes,” Johnson told the Herald-Press Monday.  “I’ve never seen a mountain lion before.”

Anderson County Game Warden Brandon Thacker isn't totally convinced. Sightings of the big cats are rare in East Texas, he said, and far more common in the South and West.

“I’ve never encountered one in East Texas,” Thacker, a warden of three years said.  “I’m not saying it’s impossible; it’s just uncommon.”

Mountain lions are considered a non-game animal; they are legal to hunt in Texas, with a valid hunting license.

Mountain lions are strong, fast, fierce hunters.  An adult male can weigh more than 200 pounds; a female can reach nearly 150 pounds. Attacks on humans, however, are rare.

Experts say mountain lions typically hunt alone from dusk to dawn.  They primarily hunt deer, and will kill, on average, one deer a week.

Mountain lions also dine on coyotes, raccoons, rodents, elk, feral hogs, and even porcupines.  Having no natural drive to hunt humans, however, mountain lions will usually avoid such encounters.

Mountainlion.org, an online mountain lion database, estimates humans are more likely to drown in their own bathtubs, get killed by their house-pets or struck by lightning, than they are to be attacked by a mountain lion.

 Thacker said he needs to go to the area of the sighting, and collect the camera footage to determine if the animal in question was a mountain lion.  Still, however, he said it wouldn’t be a bad idea for area residents to take some basic precautions.

“If you have pets, like small dogs, or cats, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring them in at night,” he said.  “I would still like to verify the sighting, though.”

 For more information about mountain lions, visit:

http://mountainlion.org

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