Arkansas Mountain Lion Sightings

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Recent reports of alleged sightings have brought to light the issue of mountain lions in Arkansas. During the monthly meeting of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, chairman Sheffield Nelson responded to those reports, pointing out that people can defend themselves if they feel they are in eminent danger from an animal.

Nelson said that people shouldn't be afraid to go out into the wilds of Arkansas for fear of being attacked by a mountain lion. "People should know that if they feel that they are in danger, they can kill an animal to protect themselves," he said. "I don't want people to be afraid to deer hunt because someone has released an animal into the wild," he added.

Mountain lions were historically present throughout Arkansas until their apparent eradication, which occurred by about 1920. Since that time efforts have been made to determine the existence of this animal in Arkansas.

There is no evidence that there is a wild, reproducing population of mountain lions in Arkansas, but it is probable that there are a few free-ranging mountain lions that are most likely either escaped or released pets rather than remnants of the state's original mountain lion population. In order to reduce the chance of escapes happening in the future, the Commission passed regulations last year requiring owners of pet mountain lions to obtain permits and meet minimum caging standards in order to keep their animals.