Cougar Sightings in Kentucky

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on January 10th, 2007

Mountain Lion Sightings In Northern Kentucky
Last Update: 1/9/2007 7:36:43 AM
Local 12 WKRC-TV Cincinnati

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A mountain lion is spotted running loose near a local neighborhood.

In the past three weeks, six people reported seeing the big cat.

It was first seen near Camp Springs, just off the AA Highway in Campbell County. More recently, the cougar has been seen much closer to Cincinnati.

Kentucky Cougar Sightings

Local 12’s Shawn Ley even spotted the cat and has more.

Call it a Campbell County small dog leash alert. If little guys like these two were to get loose, they’d be mere snacks for a new neighbor moving in to the Wilder-Highland Heights area.

Friday night, right along the guardrail on westbound, I-275 approaching the AA Highway, my jaw dropped when I saw a big, healthy looking mountain lion.

Kentucky Cougar Sightings

That’s right, cougar, mountain lion, catamount, whatever you want to call it, it’s here and others have spotted it.

"Like the back was about that high and about that long," said Cathy Rust, spotted mountain lion. "And had the real long tail that dragged the ground."

Cathy Rust saw a mountain lion three weeks ago, about seven miles south off the AA Highway in Camp Springs. She saw it outside the Saddle Club. The cat was across the street, prowling outside the Campbell County Animal Shelter. She made sure the five others in the club got a look at it and reported it. "Yeah, that’s why I was glad and called them," said Rust. "So people wouldn’t think I was nuts!"

Kentucky Cougar Sightings

"I’m not as surprised as I would have been years ago," said John Dinon, Cincinnati Zoo’s Conservation Program.

In fact, John Dinon, the head of the Cincinnati Zoo’s Conservation Program, says there is so much wildlife in the area he’s not surprised a mountain lion would migrate in just for the food. Or if one escaped captivity, like the cougar on the run from a preserve west of Indianapolis.

"If you see a mountain lion, I’d suggest number one, steer clear of it," said Dinon. "Inform your neighbors and also call the Department of Natural Resources."

They’re elusive, and the lion like this may not surface again, but you and your dog should be aware he’s out there, no matter how ferocious your pet is.

A man in Villa Hills Monday night sent Local 12 an email asking if a mountain lion was loose, thinking he heard one.

Again, call the Department of Natural Resources to report if you see the cat, although they won’t act unless pets start disappearing.

It’s rare, but there were other mountain lion sightings in Kentucky last year. A man outside of Louisville had a cougar on his front lawn.

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.

15 Responses to “Cougar Sightings in Kentucky”

  1. raisinsofwrath responds:

    I am actually concerned about this cat and others as they get in and around populated areas. They are much more susceptible to being hit by a car or shot by some nut.

    Interestingly enough, I just saw a thing on animal planet last night about North American cats. According to their map, mountain lions are in many areas of the US including those which have been denied by most state agencies. Although I think most here agree that these beautiful animals do exist in the NE US for example.

  2. kittenz responds:

    I have no doubt whatsoever that there are pumas, truly wild pumas as well as escaped or abandoned captives, in Kentucky. I had the great good fortune to see a wild puma near Cave Run Lake in eastern Kentucky years ago. There are many credible reports from reliable witnesses of pumas, especially in the Appalachian Mountains and foothills.

    I believe that most pumas such as this one, which are seen in multiple sightings near populated areas, are probably captives that have been abandoned by their former owners. Most wild pumas go to great lengths to avoid being seen by people, and a puma that hangs around people is most likely trying to find its way back home. People often abandon animals near animal shelters with the misguided notion that they will be found and taken in by the shelter; this one was seen by several people near a shelter. It may have been abandoned there.

    It is illegal now to own pumas in Kentucky without a permit and permits are hard to obtain. Maybe someone did not want to get caught with an illegal pet.

    Of course, the cat could be a truly wild puma. But I think that is not as likely as an abandoned former pet, in this case. Quite a few people in Kentucky have captive big cats. Those who had these “pets” before the laws changed in mid-2005 were grandfathered in, so long as their facilities and conditions meet state law. A couple of years ago there was a big to-do when a snow leopard was loose in northern Kentucky. It had escaped from its private owner and was loose for about two weeks. It never hurt anyone nor attacked any pets or livestock (no attacks were reported anyway), and it was eventually recaptured hanging around a rabbit breeder’s hutches.

    I hope that if this puma is a released pet its owner will be responsible enough to step forward and say so, so that it can be recaptured and taken to a sanctuary. Very few big cats raised in captivity can learn to survive on their own in the wild. Most of them begin preying on pets or livestock sooner or later, because they were never taught to hunt wild prey. If this were spring instead of midwinter a released captive might be able to capture enough whitetail fawns and woodchucks to survive until it can teach itself to hunt.

    One option would be to chase it away from populated areas with trained hounds. If it is truly a wild puma, that would deter it from hanging around people and becoming dangerous.

    Pumas are wonderful creatures. I love them almost to the point of worship. I am so glad they are making a comeback in Kentucky. But they are big, strong, fast and intelligent predators, and if an individual becomes dangerous to people, nobody wins – least of all the cat.

  3. Fyre responds:

    I saw one myself just the next county west of this sighting about 20 years ago, while riding my horse through the woods. I couldn’t get anyone to believe me, even though there were more than enough deer and smaller game to keep several cougars happy.

    I’m glad this sighting is being taken seriously.

  4. hammerhead responds:

    I live 5 miles from the sanctuary in Indiana where the cougar escaped, they failed to mention the african lion that got loose a few years back, only us locals found out that time, they tried to cover that one up. We been seeing big cats for years, my mother grew up here and it was commonplace knowledge, but we’re just stupid bumpkins here you know.

  5. vet72 responds:

    Thanks kittenz. As always your knowledge of these beautiful big cats is very informative and greatly appreciated. The only time I had experienced seeing a live puma was when I was hiking with some friends in the Santa Monica Mountains in Southern California many years ago. I wish I had a camera with me that day. At least I have the memory of this rare encounter.

  6. DWA responds:

    It’s only a matter of time given the scientific revisionism going on here before people start wondering whether the sasquatch is really THAT far-fetched an idea.

    Sure there’s a lot more evidence in the case of the puma. But I’m willing to bet that it’s

    (1) more numerous than the sas and

    (2) not nearly so smart.

    The East is better puma habitat than the West, and it’s more forested now than it was at the time of the Revolution. Many more deer too. What self-respecting predator wouldn’t come back, given the chance?

  7. Cindyloo responds:

    While walking around Doe Run Lake in Kenton County about 3 weeks ago, my daughter and I spotted what looked like huge cat tracks. The water level was very low so we were walking in the lake bed itself and the tracks appeared very fresh. We have two big dogs, a German Shepard and a husky mix and their tracks were dwarfed by the larger tracks. Interesting to find the report about the cougar sightings just a few miles away.

  8. Rillo777 responds:

    I would be willing to bet that if one cougar has been seen there are likely more that haven’t been. The populations may be greater than expected. It makes sense though, the deer populations are through the roof here in the midwest and where there is ample food supply, predators won’t be far behind. I wonder when wolves will start showing up?

  9. CASReaves responds:

    It would be good if the wolves showed up in the midwest. Have you heard what they propose to do in MN and ID if the Fed delists them? Both states intend to wipe out more than 60% of their populations – and to sell permits to do it. Heaven help the cougars if they get populous. The idiots would do the same to them.

  10. kittenz responds:

    Yeah that’s sad about the wolves, CASReaves.

    You’d think that the officials in those states would have sense enough to realize that wild wolves could be a tremenduous tourist attraction. The potential revenue from tourists on camera safaris would be much greater than the revenue from hunting permits to shoot wolves.

    You can shoot the same animal with a camera thousands of times. You can only kill it once.

  11. ceapple responds:

    I’m new to the sight and I have been trying to find a site that can help with any reports on cougar, panther sightings in or around Lee and Estill counties in Kentucky. Two weeks ago I was camping in Kentucky with family and I seen a cat that was around four feet long and his tail was around the same length as his body. It was hard to get the color because of the low sun light and all the shadows. We hear cat screams every once and awhile down there and stories of other family members seeing them and their tracks too. There is a big difference in hearing them and seeing them only 150 yards from children and camp. Thanks for any help. The state says there is no big cats in Kentucky. No Way!!!

  12. woody responds:

    Hearing some claims of mountain lion sightings Muhlenberg and Hopkins Counties in western Ky. Lots of deer and abandoned strip mine territory. I assume most would be released captives.

    Believe it or not a few years ago the phone rang late one evening and an aquaintance asked me to please take an African Lion that had out grown its welcome. I declined. I was the last person on the list so they were going to let it go South of Madisonville. People are nuts.

  13. kapplegate responds:

    I live in Greenup County, KY, and I have seen a cougar along the AA highway right off of US 23.

    I was headed home from an Academic Team meet (I’m not sure of the date) in November 2009 at around 8 or 9 in the evening. I turned off from US 23 in Lloyd, KY onto the AA, and I had only been driving for about a mile along the highway when my headlights flashed on a large, sand colored animal along the edge of the road, heading up into the woods. At first I thought it was a small deer, and then a large coyote, until I drove closer and noticed the animal had a long, thick tail that was hooked at the end, and I realized that the creature was a cougar. I didn’t stop my car because I was already late getting home, but I was a bit shocked by the sighting and posted about it on Facebook. The post received many comments from other residents of Greenup County who had also seen or heard of cougars in the area.

    Before I saw for myself, I was skeptical about the existence of an ABC in Northern Kentucky. But I am absolutely sure of what I saw, since I am an avid viewer of the Discovery Channel’s nature programs and I am currently a pre-veterinary student at the University of Kentucky. I don’t believe I would mistake such a distinctive animal, especially since it is not native to the area.

  14. mmers responds:

    I live in north eastern Fleming Co. I have heard of these “cougars” or “panthers” for years. I am very skeptical or optomistic about the subject. Until this past Saturday.

    My neighbor shot a whitetail doe with her bow Sat morning and waited about 30 minutes to retrieve the animal at which time discovered something else had beat her to her trophy. Apparently some kind of predator had torn into and ate most of one hind quarter of the deer in only 30 minutes. It also left some distingushing claw marks across the back of the deer. There were four distinct claws about 2 inches apart and 6 inches across overall.

    Now it is possible a black bear could have done this. I’m still optimistic thinking it was a mountain lion or a bear. Either way it’s hard to beleive with all the time I spend in the woods to not have seen any evidence of mountain lions and honestly hope I never do in Ky.

    Big cats are the ultimate predator period. They are not afraid of humans. Very few people survive big cat encounters in the US or anywhere else. They are very stealthy and very fast. Imagine a house cat on steroids big enough to eat you. If you are not armed you stand no chance against the ultimate predator the “BIG CAT”.

  15. wagoner9766 responds:

    I live in elliott county kentucky on carterford rd, it is located on top of a cliff line back in the summer in august i was riding my horse down on the creek under the cliffs and a cougar ran across the trail about 80ft in front of me it looked to be around 60pd or so that makes the second time for me seing it. i seen it in march one evening just before dark as i was going up the road to feed my horses i have some neighbors that has seen it also we have also seen another cat about its size around here for years now that is solid black with a longer tail i am 35 and i can remember hearing its screem when i was a young boy for i grew up about 1/2 mile up the road from were i live now i have listen to all my neighbors talk about seing the big black cat for 25 years now we still hear it quiet often more in the summer then winter in the spring it will screem about every night it is a frightening sound and very loud echoing through the cliffs.

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