by WES FERGUSON
A local husband and wife say they spotted a mountain lion while driving near Onion Creek in Buda earlier this month.
Marisela Romero Rodriguez said she and her husband were driving with their 4-year-old grandson on the afternoon of April 11 when they crossed Onion Creek near City Park, then pulled into an entrance to turn around and saw the wild animal.
“When I focused I realized it was too big to be a bobcat,” Rodriguez reported. Unlike a bobcat, however, it had a long tail. “It was tawny colored. It looked at us, then turned to the right and started walking into the bush.”
Though Rodriguez and her husband did not photograph the big cat, they’re in good company among Kyle and Buda folks who have reported sightings in recent times. Mountain lions, also known as cougars, panthers and pumas, are said to be spreading out from the mountainous areas of Far West Texas and moving back into the Hill Country, where they had been killed off by about 1960.
Rodriguez, writing in a Facebook post, said she was concerned for workers and children playing at a nearby park. Buda Police Chief Bo Kidd also said he alerted his animal control officer to the possibility of a panther on the prowl, but he added that it might be long gone by now.
“We haven’t had any reports of injured animals or missing livestock,” Kidd said. “With cats like that, their range can be two or three counties. They have such a large area that trapping them is nearly impossible.
“If we do have one roaming in this area I’m not quite sure how we’ll address it. Just wait and see, and if there’s any indication we have a problem we’ll try to formulate a plan to deal with it.”
The mountain lion has the widest distribution of any wild cat, from Canada to South America, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. In Texas, mountain lions now occur in more counties than they did 10 years ago and appear to be expanding their range into Central Texas from the Trans-Pecos and South Texas brushlands.
Despite reports of mountain lion attacks on people in California, mountain lion attacks are rare, TPWD adds. Only four attacks on humans in Texas have been reported since 1980, all of them in remote areas of West Texas.
WES FERGUSON is editor of the Hays Free Press where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Free Press and the San Marcos Mercury.