By Kayleen Holder
After more than one property owner near the 2200th block of FM 463 reported multiple sheep and goat attacks, the Medina County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement to inform residents about the best way to respond if you do encounter a mountain lion as a precaution.
The advisory was issued to the News this past Thursday, March 16, however there are conflicting thoughts on the culprit of the attacks.
“On Saturday night or Sunday morning, one animal was killed, and the week before is when we had the report of multiple livestock killed,” said Deputy Chief Gilbert Rodriguez.
“One person reported that they a picture of a lion on security cameras, but we are still waiting on that footage before we’ll really know,” Rodriguez added. “In one of the cases we can see where the animal came in under the fence, and so we believe that at least one might have been a pack of dogs.”
Sheriff Randy Brown added, “It happened in the area of the Natalia bus barn. We issued the statement on Thursday about the best way to respond if you do see a lion, but the evidence that was left behind leads me to believe it may have been a pack of dogs, because usually a lion will kill just one, not several, and they only eat certain parts of the animal. If anyone has a picture, I’d like to see it.”
Sheriff Brown noted, there are indeed mountain lions in Medina County just like any rural area though.
“People say cats have moved into their area, and it’s just the opposite. Development has moved into the area where cats have always been. Especially up in northern Medina County where we see the big cats,” Sheriff Brown said.
In response to our post, one local resident Steven Moody posted good game cam footage captured way back in the 90’s of a lion running roaming the Calame Store area, which is not far from the site of the recent livestock killings.
Male mountain lions roam a range from 80-200 square miles, while females have a range up to 100 square miles according to experts at Texas Parks and Wildlife.
The advisory from Sheriff Randy Brown stated, “If you are found to be face-to-face or in close proximity to mountain lions/big cat, hold your ground or back away slowly. Continue facing the mountain lion and maintain eye contact. Speak in a loud voice, do all you can to appear larger; Stand upright, raise your arms, raise your walking stick, open your jacket. If you have small children or pets with you, try to pick them up without turning away or bending over. If the mountain lion/big cat appears to be hurt or wounded do not approach, call Medina County Sheriff’s Office.”
The familiar and unforgettable scream of a Mountain Lion was also reported on the other side of Devine recently, between Devine and Moore near the weigh station area.
“It was about 3 weeks ago when I heard that awful sound. If you heard it once, you remember it forever. They say it’s like a woman screaming, and that’s exactly right,” said Mr. Toalson, who lives in that area.
“We had some cattle run through fences, and I was out late repairing fences when I heard it,” Toalson said. “It’s a very daunting sound. About 15 years ago, we had the same deal happen, where cattle had run through fences and we actually found a carcass that was buried that time way back then. They saw these lions run a big territory, and it always seems like we hear it around this time of year. We are pretty close to the San Miguel Creek so maybe it’s traveling along that territory.”
According to TPWD, it’s size (total length) ranges from about 6 1/2 feet in females to as much as 8 1/2 feet in males. Male cougars weigh between 100–150 pounds, and females weigh between 45–96 pounds. In the wild, cougars live about 10 to 11 years.
Texas Parks and Wildlife has a great guide showing what a lion track looks like in comparison to a dog or coyote in the Field Guide to Mountain Lions by Texas Department of Wildlife.
Ranchers experiencing livestock loss due to mountain lions or other predators may contact the USDA/APHIS/Texas Wildlife Damage Management Services at (210) 4725451, for assistance. Please also alert local authorities and feel free to contact us at The Devine News via Kayleen Holder on Facebook or by calling 830-665-2211.
By Kayleen Holder