Cougar Killed In Louisiana

Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 2nd, 2008

Another report of a not-so-mysterious cat being shot surfaced over the weekend. The dispatching of out-of-place felids appears to be epidemic across the USA in the last couple of weeks. Here is another story.

State wildlife agents said they had no choice but to kill a cougar in a Bossier City neighborhood after a tranquilizer dart didn’t work fast enough, reported KTBS of Shreveport, Louisiana.

The cougar was spotted in a tree Sunday afternoon, November 30, 2008, on Whittington Street. Police cordoned off a one-block area around the location and kept residents in their homes as a precaution in the event the cougar came out of the tree, then called in wildlife agents.

Two tranquilizer darts fired from a rifle sent the animal falling to the ground. But it was still aggressive, so a wildlife biologist told police to shoot it to keep it from running off into the neighborhood.

“Unfortunately when we darted it, the cat made moves that it was going to come down the tree and come out into the neighborhood and we thought it was a public risk, so we had Bossier P.D. take it out,” said Wildlife and Fisheries agent Steve Hebert.

Charles Colgin first spotted the cougar in the tree and called police. He supported what agents did.

“I have a 6-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter and I was very concerned. I’m glad it was taken care of; I’d rather see him dead than one of my children dead,” he said.

Susan and Mike Hilburn had hoped agents could save the cougar and return it to the wild.

Wildlife agents are trying to determine where the cat had been before he got into the neighborhood.

Thanks to Alligator for the heads up.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.


22 Responses to “Cougar Killed In Louisiana”

  1. youcantryreachingme responds:

    It’s sad really, isn’t it? I mean – I understand being fearful for the safety of your children but it’s such a shame that so many cats have been put down in recent weeks on the grounds of being unable to find a workable solution for relocating them.

    Is there a standard protocol or set of guidelines that police departments or other response teams should be made aware of regarding controlling out-of-place big cats?

    I know that’s a big ask for maybe just 4 or 5 cats per year, but seriously these creatures will be extinct before long and every last animal counts. Apart from the classic “these animals should be here for our children and grandchildren to enjoy” there is also the rationale that without the top-order predator, most ecosystems go haywire and result in far greater negative impact to humankind than simply having apex predators do their job.

    (I realise in this case there were attempts to dart the animal first.)

  2. whiteriverfisherman responds:

    I lived in southern Louisiana from 79-87 and big cat reports were common back then. The only difference is that the sightings back then were always described as a large black cat. I reside in Indiana now and there are the same types of sightings here as well. I think the black ones are there I just hope one doesn’t have to be killed to prove it. I think their existence will be proven within the next 5 or 10 years, probably less.

  3. coelacanth1938 responds:

    It’s going to get worse. For some reason in parts of North America, oaks aren’t making any acorns and that means the food chain will be seriously disrupted. A lot of hungry animals are going to be wandeing into backyards looking for food.

  4. hudgeliberal responds:

    Why kill the cat? This is why as time goes on I start to lean towards hoping that we never prove the existence of our hairy friends in the woods. Humans…what a selfish species we are. Bloodthirsty people…leave the cats alone.

  5. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    OK. I just need to weigh in on these big cat sightings after a couple of the commenters have knocked hunters in general (the Georgia big cat story) or wildlife officials (this post) for taking actions that lead to the deaths of these beautiful creatures. From what I am able to understand, in both instances lethal action was only taken as last resort. From what I understand of the Georgia case, the hunter felt threatened (and who wouldn’t with 100 lbs of claws, teeth and muscle staring you down). In this Louisiana case it was up a tree in a residential area! Officers only put it down after tranquilizing the cat was unsuccesful (did some folks not read the post before commenting?)

    As far as “youcantryreachingme”, the cougar is most definitely not endangered. Their numbers have grown dramatically in recent years, especially in areas where hunting bans have been enacted, and in California there are even groups who want to look at repealing the hunting ban for various reasons.
    I’m not coming down on the side of trophy hunting. I’ve been a meat hunter for a long time, but killing anything you don’t have any intention of eating has always rubbed me the wrong way. That said, the efforts of individuals and police organizations, to protect themselves, their families, and their communities on the occassion that one of these cats wanders into an urban area, or threatens a human in the wild, should not be demonized. We are, after all, animals too and part of animal instinct is self preservation.
    I also have some trouble with the idea of cougars being characterized as “out of place”. In the case of servals in Kansas and Pennsylvania, we are definitely looking at OOP big cats. But cougars in their ancestral range of Georgia and Louisianna (cougars that I’m sure some of the locals would tell you never died out) are not “out of place”. It’s my opinion that they are simply reclaiming their old range and filling an open predatory niche, much in the same way the coyote has rapidly spread east of the Mississippi over the last couple of decades.
    If these are proven to be wild born, rather than released, cougars, I would take it as an encouraging sign that the populations have grown large enough that they are more than just “squalls in the night” that the old folks identify as cats for the young’uns on the porch, and are actually plentiful enough to be spotted.
    As anyone who has been around big cats can tell you, you may know they are there, but you are pretty lucky to see one, especially if they don’t want to be seen.

    Also, does anyone have any corroboration that the acorn crops are failing and can they post a link? Where is this occurring? I’ve been tromping through woods all up and down the east Texas border this fall, from Oklahoma to Louisiana, and I’ve seen plenty of acorns on the ground. I’ve also carried around a pet theory that we would see rebounds in the small eastern panther populations, or a bigger push of western panthers into historical eastern territory, because of the relatively abundant deer populations this part of the country enjoys. My totally unsubstantiated and untested theory is that because the whitetail deer have not only adapted to the changes humans have made to the eastern landscape, but have in fact thrived and become our most numerous big game animal, the abundant “meat on the hoof” would eventually have a, for lack of a better term, trickle down effect on the food chain, serving as a protein source, and eastward draw, for the slower to recover pinnacle predators, like cougars, as they move back into an area.
    Servals aside, if these two cougars both prove to be wildborn, I’ll rest happy in the knowledge that their deaths were not in vain, as they corroborated a range for a creature previously unrecognized and maybe even set the stage for further habitat protection and conservation.

  6. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    They killed the cat, h-l, because the tranqulizers were ineffective and it presented a danger in a residential area. It’s really just that simple. Cat in the woods, not around people = no problem. Pinnacle predator and small children / pets = big problem.
    No matter how you stand on animal rights and hunting, common sense tells you that when a cougar is in a residential area with children, you have to take some action to move it out.
    It really seems to me that the death of this cougar was the action of last resort.

  7. corrick responds:

    whiteriverfisherman
    Think you’re going to have to wait much longer than 5 or 10 years for definitive proof of big black cats in the USA.
    Understand, while melanism is relatively common among leopards and not that infrequent among jaguars, it is apparently absent among mountain lions. A truly melanistic mountain lion has never ever been officially recorded, Doesn’t mean reports of big black cats are all feral domesticated dogs, cats or even melanistic bobcats which do exist.
    Personal anecdote (lowest form scientific of proof).
    Recently looked out my window and saw a black feral cat walking in the shade under trees in the middle of the day.
    However when it emerged in the sunlight, I realized it was really colored brown and gray. Dusk, dawn, shade, shadows etc, they can all fool the eye.
    So there might be mountain lions in Indiana and Louisiana. But they’re not black.

  8. Loren Coleman responds:

    The acorn news was in this morning’s Washington Post in an article entitled “Acorn Watchers Wonder What Happened to Crop.”

    Reportedly, they are not showing up in some locales.

  9. Loren Coleman responds:

    Also, if an animal is officially not sanctioned, verified, or said to be a probably escapee, it would usually be called “out-of-place.”

    Except for the small population of Florida panthers, all reports and dead pumas East of the Mississippi River, no doubt, would be filed as “out-of-place” by members of the state wildlife departments, their agents, and members of the media reporting on the event, not to mention by many people here.

  10. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    I guess I didn’t clarify that OOP statement well enough (one of the issues with typing on the fly in the office during your lunch break and not editing your statement before posting). While I understand the official use of the phrase, in my opinion if there were the “four to five” incidents or sightings a year, that would, in my opinion, be sufficient to characterize the cat as a part of the local fauna.
    I know what the official word is. But I also know that I hear plenty of reports of “long tailed cats” when investigating other cryptids, or reading others reports, and they are reported as an accepted part of the local fauna. (i.e. something along the lines of “We see bobcats and coyote and long-tailed cats around here pretty regular, but this was different.”)
    Again, I understand the official and accepted use of “out of place”. I just have a semantic problem with the phrase having talked to numerous individuals who have lived in an area most of their lives and accept cougars as a part of their local ecosystem, no matter how rarely seen.

  11. cryptidsrus responds:

    Ultimately, a lot of these killings would reduce in number if law enforcement officials would be given heavey training on how to deal with “out-of-place” wildlife or stray animals, period.
    I DO understand that these particular cases were different and the people here thought they were acting in the right manner.

  12. MattBille responds:

    Training to handle animals is generally not on a police department’s priority list. That leads to some sad situations, but it may be too much to ask most departments to put serious time into the topic.
    There was a young black bear that wandered into my neighborhood in Colorado Springs a few years ago. I and some others followed at a distance trying to keep people from interfering with it while we called around to find out what state or local authority would take action about the bear on a Saturday (the apparent answer: no one.)
    It finally headed north toward the wooded Black Forest area, and I assumed it had probably come down that way and had its bearings now. It didn’t get to the woods, though. Kids gathered around it in an “en route” neighborhood, and when the scrawny little fellow “looked threatening” to people who should not have been near it in the first place, a city police officer shot it. On Monday, we learned the one authority we had never thought to try, the county sheriff’s department, had jurisdiction.
    The moral: everyone in areas where wildlife can wander should know who to call for what kinds of problems. It might save an innocent animal’s life.

  13. EvoSchandor responds:

    I understand black mountain lions have never been verified and there supposedly has never been one killed or caught. But I do know that a couple of years ago while delivering newspapers in northern Indiana early one morning, a large black (and I mean jet-black – not dark brown, not dark gray) feline walked slowly across the road in front of my car. It was at least 4 ft. long (not counting the tail, which was at least another 3.5 or 4 ft) I was on a dirt road running through a large swampy area and wasn’t driving very fast. When I saw it, I immediately stopped and watched it cross not more than 30 feet from the front of my car. I had a chance to watch it for at least 5 seconds (it seemed much longer) and it was definitely a feline and, as I said, it was BLACK. I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind but I also know what I saw.

  14. corrick responds:

    EvoSchandor
    I don’t doubt for one moment that you think you saw a large BLACK cat. Nor do I doubt you wouldn’t pass any lie detector test on that subject. However, eyes are not cameras and the brain is not a video recorder, which is why “eyewitness testimony” ranks at the bottom of the scientific proof food chain.
    Think it’s worth noting your sighting took place “while delivering newspapers in northern Indiana early one morning.” As I mentioned earlier, dawn and dusk are particularly tricky times for accuracy in sightings.
    Again, I don’t doubt you sincerely believe you saw a large black cat that morning. Melanistic bobcat? Escaped melanistic leopard? Large feral black dog? Giant black housecat? Something unknown? No one will ever know for certain. However, all existing scientific proof we have indicates with about 99.99% accuracy that what you did NOT see was a BLACK Puma concolor.

  15. whiteriverfisherman responds:

    corrick, They are there (whatever they are) and they are most definitely black. Perhaps my prediction is off but the frequency of eye witness reports from very reliable sources seems to suggest it will be sooner than later. Not trying cause any tension here but there are big black cats alive and well in North America. I never said they were mountain lions

  16. hudgeliberal responds:

    I dont believe for a minute that killing this cat was a last resort,notice the guy proudly posing with the animal in the back of the truck,I bet the guys is still on a high. If the tranq gun didnt work,then someone obviously doesnt know how to do their job right. I have a sneaky feeling that instead of last option..killing this animal was the first. I can understand the fear of kids being around and such but answer me this..where are these animals supposed to go when we destroy their habitat by pouring concrete over every inch of land we can? We humans deserve what is coming to us. We have destroyed this once beautiful world and in doing so are limiting our time on this earth. Only one question. Why is that so hard for some to see? Are we just that heartless and greedy? I guess so….

  17. EvoSchandor responds:

    corrick –
    That’s why I specifically said “feline” and not cougar or mountain lion. Did it look like a cougar? Yes, but I’m smart enough to realize that doesn’t mean it was one. Melanistic leopard? Possibly, and if I had to narrow it down to “known” animals, that would be my first choice (or possibly jaguar) but it wouldn’t accurately describe what I saw. Bobcat? No chance – I’ve seen plenty of bobcat and they don’t look anything like a cougar in size or appearance at all. Dog? No again – this wasn’t a quick, corner-of-the-eye glimpse – I had a good look at this animal and it was a feline. Giant housecat? I suppose it could be but, in my opinion, 8′ long Giant Housecats are even less believable than black cougars. As for being “dawn or dusk”, this was at least an hour or so before dawn – the only light was from my high-beam headlights. At the range this animal was at, that’s the equivalent of shining two powerful spotlights on it – that doesn’t hinder or confuse observation, it helps. As for being mistaken about the color – I see deer (which have a very similiar color range to cougars) almost every time I’m out driving at night, sometimes in the fields along the roads sometimes crossing the road. Not once, in 40 plus years, have I ever thought I saw a black deer. I’ve seen tan, reddish tan, greyish tan, darker, lighter, you name it – but not black. Regardless, what I saw may not “technically” or “scientifically” be a black cougar but that’s exactly what it looked like. And that’s all I’m claiming – not what is was, but what it looked like.

  18. sschaper responds:

    The cougars are reexpanding into all of their former range. They wouldn’t be in cities and towns if they weren’t crowded out by other cougars in more remote areas. They aren’t remotely going extinct.

    h-lib, try looking at North America with Google Earth sometime. I have a feeling you might be enlightened.

  19. mystery_man responds:

    Jeremy_Wells- I hadn’t heard of any acorn shortage either, which is pretty weird since I’m usually pretty on top of this kind of stuff. Anyway if you want to read more about it, just Google Acorn Shortage and you might get some idea of what coelacanth1938 was talking about. Pages and pages of articles on it. It seems like a pretty recent phenomena starting from this year so that might be why you haven’t noticed anything.

    The tone of the articles concerning this problem mostly seem a bit alarmist to me. Plants can go through bare cycles and acorn output (any plant for that matter) isn’t static, it can fluctuate depending on a range of factors. If the phenomena continues, I’d worry, but for now it just seems like a bare year.

    Anyway, check it out and see what you think.

  20. mystery_man responds:

    Jeremy_Wells- Also, the acorn shortage seems to be happening on the East Coast, not from Texas to Oklahoma. That might be another reason you haven’t noticed anything in your travels.

  21. Alligator responds:

    We don’t have an abundance of acorns in Missouri this year, but the pecans, walnuts and hickory nuts more than made up for it. We’ve cracked hundreds of pounds of them and there are still plenty to pick up in the yard. Last year we had plenty of acorns and few of the other nuts. Too many people are wanting to assign a trend to this phenomenon. I remember cycles of this since type I was a kid in the 1960s. If you check historical records going back to the late 18th and early 19th century, you find cycles in mast production before any industrialization. Nature just does that. It is not static and sometimes the phraseology “balance of nature” leads people to believe there is perfect equilibrium all the time and that only humans can tip that balance. Hard science shows that is not true. There has always been some fluctuation and variation. And irrespective of current thinking on global climate change, we don’t fully understand why all these things happen when they do. One year an oak will produce huge quantities of acorns, and the next under seemingly the same growing conditions, it won’t. Arborists and botanist make educated guesses about why that happens, but they are not really sure.

    Cougar populations west of the Rockies have reached saturation levels. They are now following the river systems to the only territory open for expansion – the east. There is a pincher movement in cougars. One is from the Black Hills and Badlands of the Dakotas moving towards Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. The other is from the Texas Panhandle and Big Bend region moving across the Big Thicket and into Louisiana and Arkansas. Fish and Game officials outside “recognized” cougar range are simply going to play like the three monkeys “hear no cougar, see no cougar, speak no cougar”.

    One – This way they avoid having to develop a cougar management/recovery plan.

    Two – They keep people from freaking out and organizing cougar hunts to “protect” livestock and the populace.

    Three – They don’t get heat from over reactive politicians who might want to force conservation agencies to do something stupid.

    Just be quiet, sit back and let nature take its course. That’s the operating procedure. Don’t lie, just minimize the probabilities. When it becomes completely undeniable that there is a viable breeding population in the state, then it will be easier to deal with it and gradually more people will have gotten used to the idea of cougars being around.

    I saw the same exact pattern firsthand with black bears in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Arkansas now has about 4,000 animals and a short bear hunting season. The populations in eastern Oklahoma and southern Missouri are clearly growing and expanding their range.

    They are on their way to the woods near you, if they are not already there.

  22. mystery_man responds:

    Alligator- Yes, that’s exactly what I was getting at in my post above yours, thank you for adding some more elaboration. That is totally correct and I was trying to get across the same point, that these things fluctuate and are not static. Ecology can be dynamic and is constantly in flux. It just seems like a bare year for acorns to me at this point, nothing to start worrying about. I agree that the articles on it sound a bit alarmist and that we should not necessarily assign a trend to it at this point in time.

    It is definitely not always clear why some of these things happen or what effects they are likely to have. The dynamics of an ecology’s ability to to demonstrate plasticity and adaptability or lack thereof is very interesting for me. It is not always clear cut. Habitats have bounced back from drastic alterations in ecology, while sometimes a seemingly small change can wreak havoc.

    I think it is much too early to tell what is going on with the acorns of what the effects might be. For now, it just sounds like a natural cycle.




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