The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has yet to make an official statement regarding a photo of what appears to be a mountain lion taken by a trail camera on private land in West Tennessee near the Kentucky border.
An October 6 press release from the agency reported the photo was taken September 20 by a trail camera on private land in Obion County, though the camera date incorrectly indicated it was taken September 19. The agency said an investigation to solidly confirm the sighting is ongoing, although a TWRA official was unable to recover any tracks, hair or other physical evidence at the scene.
The nearest states to Tennessee with confirmed breeding populations of western mountain lions include Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Texas.
In recent years there have been documented sightings in Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Connecticut, and Kansas. Biologists believe those sightings involved young males leaving home ranges in search of new territory.
The TWRA press release indicated a confirmed cougar sighting could be attributed to a transient young male or an illegal release of a captive animal.
Earlier this year, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife announced that a mountain lion killed by a game officer in late 2014 was released or escaped from captivity, and did not find its way to The Bluegrass State on its own. That determination was met with some criticism from other biologists and cougar researchers, who said the animal was more likely a dispersed male from a Western state with an established population.
What do you think? Is this photo a mountain lion? And do you think it found its way to West Tennessee, traveling hundreds of miles from a Western state?