The state's third documented cougar sighting in three months was witnessed by neighbors in Bossier City, as well as law enforcement officers, state biologists and news media representatives. The cougar was discovered in the same neighborhood where a black bear was treed three years ago. That incident resulted in capture and relocation of the bear.
"This neighborhood is situated close to the Red River," said Maria Davidson, LDWF Wildlife Division. "Animals will utilize forested corridors along rivers and streams to cover great distances between forest woodlots."
LDWF staff worked with the BPPD to secure the area for the public's safety in advance of biologists' efforts to tranquilize the animal. When the 125-pound cat was hit with the tranquilizer dart, it was startled and began to move within the tree where it was situated. BPPD officers then shot the cougar out of concern for public safety.
"Our standard procedure is to tranquilize the animal in a situation such as this and relocate it to ensure public safety as well as the welfare of the animal," said Davidson. "It simply did not work in this situation."
Dr. Jim Lacour, LDWF veterinarian, performed a necropsy on Monday to take DNA samples and uncover any clues to help determine if the cougar was a wild animal or possibly an animal that had been kept as a pet and then released.
"Currently, all indications are that this cougar was a wild, free ranging animal," Davidson reported. "A three- to four-year-old male cougar is within the most common age class to roam long distances in search of a new home range."
Photographic evidence submitted to LDWF in September verified the presence of cougars in the state. A Sept. 4 photo from Natchitoches Parish and an Allen Parish photo on Sept. 29, both from citizens utilizing trail cameras, may have captured the same cougar's image. It has not been determined whether or not the Bossier City cougar is that same animal.
Anyone holding a captive cougar in Louisiana must have a permit issued by LDWF, as captive cougars may compromise public safety. LDWF may issue permits to existing owners in the state in order to reduce difficulties associated with determining the validity of reported cougar sightings.
The mountain lion, cougar, panther or puma are names that all refer to the same animal. Their color ranges from lighter tan to brownish grey.
Cougars in Louisiana are protected under state and federal law. Penalties for taking a cougar in Louisiana may include up to one year in jail and/or a $100,000 fine. Anyone with any information regarding the taking of a cougar should call LA Operation Game Thief, inc. at 1-800-442-2511. Callers may remain anonymous and may receive a cash reward.
To report verifiable sightings of cougars containing physical evidence such as photos, tracks and/or scat please call Maria Davidson at 337-948-0255 or the nearest LDWF Region office at:
Lake Charles 337-491-2575
Baton Rouge 225-765-2360