Kansas seeing more mountain lions, black bears, elk

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Some wildlife species that were previously absent or rare in Kansas are appearing more often now, including a mountain lion that was caught on video last month roaming through an alley in Wichita.

The mountain lion sighting continues a trend in recent decades that has brought an increased presence of wildlife, including elk, black bears, river otters and armadillos, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Some animal populations that been reduced significantly by hunting have also gone from “very rare to very abundant” in Kansas, said Matt Peek, an Emporia-based wildlife research biologist for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. Those animals include wild turkey, Canada goose and deer populations.

Some of the comebacks involved are great success stories in terms of modern wildlife management, Peek said. Most of the species involved saw their populations decline as a result of subsistence living and “associated unregulated harvest for food or livestock protection,” he said.

Kansas went 103 years, from 1904 to 2007, without any confirmed sightings of mountain lions. But the state has since seen 36, including 12 last year and three this year, according to the wildlife, parks and tourism agency.