By Philippe Djegal - email
TYLER, TX (KLTV) - "Scared out of his mind."
That's what one East Texan is telling us after his weekend bike ride ended with an encounter with a very big cat. But new tonight, KLTV 7 found out that these kinds of sightings are not all that rare.
"It ran up to the trail to right about here, because I remember this pine," said Nevada Thomason
Thomason spotted a mountain lion in the park, and in broad daylight.
"I'm back about where I saw him now," said Thomason. "And, I mean it just sent chills down my back. It was crazy and cool all at the same time."
Nevada Thomason says he got as close as 45 feet to the mountain lion.
"His tail was that big. It was a beautiful cat. Rusk colored. Stood about that tall and it was about 5 feet long. I have a hundred pound lab and it just dwarfed my lab," said Thomason
Nevada says he spotted the cat here at the fifth mile on the six mile trail in Tyler's Faulkner Park .
"Once I went by, I just tried to go as fast as I could and I kept looking over my shoulders, thinking it was running up on me," said Thomason. "But, I'm sure it was running just as fast as I was."
Smith County Game Warden Chris Green says "it's unusual to hear that we've got a mountain lion roaming around Faulkner Park - not unlikely."
Green says there are several mountain lion sightings each month. But, he says it's been a long time since one of those reports were confirmed.
"They travel several miles during the day feeding and roaming. So, maybe its one of those incidences of here today, gone tomorrow," said Green.
As for Nevada, he says running into a mountain lion won't keep him from riding the trails.
"It was crazy. It was a once in a lifetime experience. And, I know a lot of people don't get to see a predator that big," said Thomason. "It's a low lying area. It's always moist. That's what hogs and deer like, and I'm sure that's on the dinner plate for the mountain lion. Thankfully I wasn't."
Texas Parks and Wildlife officials tell us there are no reported mountain lion attacks on humans in Texas. They say because of development in South Tyler, some of the wildlife have been displaced, which could explain why this cat showed up.