Category Archives: Cougars

Cougar Attack Or Not?

Last week, officials with the Hood County Sheriff’s Department reported they believed a Lipan man was killed by a cougar (mountain lion).

We reported on that here.

At the time of the report officials with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) were tracking the animal.

Photo by Chester Moore

Now, TPWD according to Sheriff’s Department officials have said they do not believe a mountain lion was the killer.

Here’s the TPWD statement.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is aware of this tragic loss of life and has provided assistance to the sheriff’s office in evaluating the circumstances and information available.Texas Game Wardens, TPWD biologists, and subject matter experts conducted an inspection of the scene. There is not any evidence of a predatory attack by a mountain lion at the location where the victim was found. A USDA Wildlife Services trapper also evaluated the evidence and came to the same conclusion as our staff.

Fatal mountain lion attacks on people are extremely rare. In the past 100 years, there are fewer than 30 confirmed deaths due to mountain lion attacks nationwide. TPWD has no records of a confirmed fatal attack on a person by a mountain lion in Texas. Texas Parks and Wildlife also has no confirmed records of a mountain lion from Hood County. The recent confirmed sighing from Rowlett in Dallas County was nearly 100 miles away and is considered unrelated to the event.

Sheriff’s Department officials responded with the following statement.

It appears we have two conflicting reports from two agencies that are experts in their field.We stand behind the preliminary findings of the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office, that rule out a suicide and a homicide on the death in question.The investigation continues and we continue to gather pictures and statements from locals that have seen and capture on film images of mountain lions.

The point of my article was to report the event and to note the response to it would be controversial.

It has proven to be just that.

We will not know the exact story until the investigation is completed but I want to point out a few things here.

TPWD is correct in the assertion that cougar attacks are rare and fatal attacks are even rarer but there have been documented attacks in Texas.

TPWD’s official cougar brochure affirms there have been four non-fatal attacks since 1980.

Since the investigation is ongoing details are sketchy as to why TPWD’s findings were different from Sheriff’s Department officials but that’s not really the point here.

The most important issue is someone died. Human loss always comes first.

Something that I have seen growing and predicted would come with this as listed in the first entry in this series is the following.

A. People blaming other animals. (Dogs, feral hogs in this case)

B. People blaming humans.

C. Denying of cougars being in this area. (We’ll get to the cougar’s range in another post.)

When we reported on the tragic death of an Anahuac woman from a feral hog attack last year people defended the hogs saying it was really dogs. Now people in social media are saying this isn’t a cougar it’s a hog killing, a dog killing or a murder.

Maybe it was not a cougar. We will see.

But if the conclusion were to change for example to another animal people would be defending that one too.

Human populations are growing. And populations of many predators are growing.

Grizzly numbers are growing in the Yellowstone region. Wolf numbers in the Lower 48 are growing. Feral hog numbers are skyrocketing. And in some areas cougar numbers are growing.

Photo by Chester Moore

There will be more attacks on humans. There will be even be more predation on humans. It’s inevitable.

Will it be common? I hope not, but that is irrelevant for someone being mauled by a bear in their backyard.

This is why we have to call a predator a predator.

I am all for the conservation and population sustainability of wildlife, including predators. I am also for the management of those animals and the honest discussion of what they are.

It will save lives.

Hogs can be predators and they sometimes kill. (Photo by Chester Moore)

I’ve read posts regarding to my first story saying things about the alleged attack like ,” Good, they’re finally taking back their land.”

Another said, “I’m all for animals killing more people.”

Are they really?

Would they be happy with a mountain lion or a feral hog killing their child or spouse?

And if they are we have an even deeper problem.

We should get some conclusion to this tragic story soon but this discussion on apologizing for animal attacks needs to continue.

To move forward with true conservation we have to consider animals and people and if that means taking out a bear or cougar stalking kids on a playground, then so be it.

If those who always defend the predator in these scenarios would put a little energy and finance into helping wild tigers from being slaughtered for their parts in Asia or fighting pollution impacting polar bears for example I would stand with them-on those issues.

Sadly, the only thing they typically stand on is voicing their opinions on social media about how much they hate people and pretend to love wildlife.

True love requires action and that means going beyond pontificating the propensity of animals to attack.

Chester Moore

Cougar Reportedly Kills TX Man

A cougar (mountain lion) has reportedly killed a man from Hood County, TX.

According to the Hood County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were told Christopher Allen Whiteley (age 28) was missing and last seen on 12-2-20 in the early morning hours.

Photo by Chester Moore

Deputies checked a wooded area nearby and eventually found Whiteley, who was found deceased.

Whiteley’s body was sent to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.  The preliminary findings say he died from a wild animal attack, possibly a mountain lion.

Sherriff’s Office officials said they contacted a Governmental Trapper with the USDA, who specializes in tracking and removing mountain lions.

The Hood County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Game Wardens, and the Governmental Trapper are working on locating the mountain lion.

Animal attacks bring out many responses from the public and various animal interests. Undoubtedly there will be controversy surrounding this so I want to address the following points.

  1. Cougars are native to the region-despite what some will report. Although not common in Hood County, cougars are known to dwell there and it’s part of their native range. In fact, officials with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department verified on Dec. 1 a cougar sighting near Rowlett which is 111 miles to the northeast of the attack.
  2. Someone will blame a cat sanctuary. In every single instance of cougar attacks I have seen outside of deep wilderness, naysayers claim it is the result of someone keeping a cougar as a pet and escaping or an escapee from a small zoo or sanctuary. I will go out on a limb here and say this was a wild cat, not an escaped captive.
  3. Someone will blame the victim. Cougars kill people It’s not often but tell that to the man who lost his life here and his family. People will say the man shouldn’t have been in the woods, cougars were here first and similar pathetic excuses for the fact they do kill. Cougars are awesome. I believe in their conservation but blaming humans for every animal attack has got to go.
  4. Blame another animal. Last year we reported on a fatal hog attack near Anahuac, TX and people defended hogs saying a person or perhaps dogs killed the woman, not hogs. A cougar attack has specific evidence that is hard to miss. It is most likely a cougar.

Sherriff’s Dept. officials said the public in the Lipan area are urged to be mindful of their surroundings and keep young children and animals inside at night.

“The safety of Hood County Citizens are my priority one, but please don’t interfere with the process of locating the animal and stay clear of the area being actively worked by officials,” said Sheriff Roger Deeds

According to Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) officials there have been four cougar attacks on people since 1980 in Texas, all of them in the Trans Pecos region.

The author has been interested in cougars since childhood. Here he gets an up close look at a baby cougar on a Texas Parks & Wildlife Department radio-collaring mission in 1997. He got to accompany for a special story on cougars.

This is the first modern era attack I have reported on outside of the Trans Pecos.

Seeing a cougar is a great thrill.

But these are potentially dangerous animals.

Perhaps it’s time for more cougar education in Texas as game cameras and this recent attack along with the aforementioned TPWD-verified sightings are showing these great cats in areas people don’t expect to encounter them.

We should certainly manage these great animals for population viability but keep in mind that means managing cougars around people and people around cougars.

Chester Moore