It's been a long time since there was a mountain lion shot in Kentucky.
Mountain lions have been pushed west out of the state of Kentucky since about the time of the Civil War. However, at some point during the 1960s, when states began listing mountain lions as a game animals, the big cats started rebounding to their old stomping grounds in great numbers. Until this confirmed encounter by a wildlife officer in Kentucky, there hadn't been an official sighting in more than 100 years.
According to the original press reports, Mark Marraccini, a spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, stated that a farmer in Bourbon County spotted the cat in a tree and called the agency. At that point, an officer was dispatched to the farm, where he found the cat treed by a barking dog. The officer thought it was in the best interest of the safety of the community to put the cat down.
"If that cat had left that tree, it would have disappeared into the brush, and it was a fairly populated area," Marraccini said when asked why the wildlife officer shot the big cat.
He went on to say it would have been well after dark by the time a tranquilizer could have arrived on the scene, if the officer decided to choose that option. Marraccini noted that he thought the the officer made the right call.
"It sounds good but it's pretty impractical," Marraccini said of using a tranquilizer. "That's the way the officers deemed to handle it and I don't see any reason why it shouldn't be handled that way."
The idea that mountain lions may be back in Kentucky after such a long hiatus isn't that far-fetched. Residents have reported sightings throughout Kentucky for years, but had little evidence to back up those sightings.
There have also been multiple mountain lion sightings throughout Indiana and Illinois. And there is a documented population of recolonizing cougars in Missouri.