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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.