Big cats on prowl, East Texans take precautions - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Big cats on prowl, East Texans take precautions

By Courtney Lane - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Cougars, pumas, mountain lions, all different names but the same big cat. Game wardens have said more of them are here in East Texas.

We tracked down some experts at Tiger Creek to share what precautions you may need to take.

William Ward of Mixon took a picture of a bobcat on his game camera. Reklaw resident Chery Luna compared her size 7 foot to a big paw print in her yard. It seems there have been more and more sightings.

Terri Werner at Tiger Creek has taken in several cougars and bobcats. She says because of increased construction and clear-cutting wild cats are moving closer to us.

"You're going to see that with bobcats, cougars even rabbits, deer, whatever," said Werner. "I mean, if we destroy their habitats, they have to go somewhere."

Diana Johnson had her first run-in when she was grilling steaks.

"I had left the top open on the grill and when I came back out, the bobcat was on my grill about to grab a steak," said Johnson.

But now, she is tracking even bigger prints like the one she found that makes her think a cougar is stalking her animals. In fact, one of their baby goats went missing, other animals have been injured, and, now, she is waking up at night determined to catch it.

"I heard the cat," said Johnson. "It was a real raspy growl and I came out with my gun and my flashlight and I guess I scared him off."

"If a ranch has a lot of chickens and it's easy for them to get - especially bobcats - bobcats will come in and take them," said Werner. "Your cougars are going to go for bigger animals."

Game wardens say there are no laws protecting wild cats so you do have the right to protect your property. But, Werner hopes they are not hunted because they play an important role in our ecosystem.

"If we can really live amongst these animals and just take your precautions," said Werner. "They were here many years ago before we were they need to be in the area. Unfortunately, we're taking their habitats. We're destroying their habitats...I would say let's try to find a peaceful co-existence with them first."

She adds they also cut down on our overabundance of wild hogs and deer. If you're having problems, she recommends buying a game camera first, that way you can show game wardens what animal it is, and they will know how to get rid of it.

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