On Nov. 16, Dave Adams of Newnan was deer hunting with a muzzleloader on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property along West Point Lake when he shot and killed a male cougar that weighed 140 pounds. The property was south of Hwy 109 near the Abbottsford community west of LaGrange.
According to DNR, the cat was likely pen-reared illegally and either escaped or was released.
“Researchers determined the cougar had a very low parasite level and that the pads on all four feet were scuffed. These findings are consistent with a captive-reared cougar, not a wild specimen,” a DNR release stated.
WRD Region Supervisor Kevin Kramer said a pen-reared cougar is likely a western cougar, which is considered a non-protected exotic in Georgia. Eastern cougars, thought to be extinct, and Florida panthers, are federally protected subspecies, and Kevin cautioned hunters that although a native cougar in Georgia is highly unlikely, shooting an eastern or Florida could bring heavy fines.
“They’re doing genetic testing. Those results should be back in a week to 10 days,” Kevin said.
The cat had no tattoos, tags or a collar, and it had not been declawed, which are signs of captivity, and no one in the area is permitted to have a captive cougar, which leads DNR to believe it was illegally owned.
A cougar was the last thing Dave Adams expected to see.
“I got in before daylight and got up a tree in my climber like any other morning,” Dave said.
A little past 9 a.m., Dave heard something walking.
“It was coming behind me, and it was close, so I couldn’t turn around. Then I leaned forward and looked down through the grate of the stand, and there’s this friggin’ mountain lion.”
Dave has lived in Oregon and knew immediately what he was looking at as the animal moved to his left.
“I immediately came up and shot it. My son called me and said, ‘What have you got?’ I said, ‘Dude, I have shot a mountain lion.’”
A regular hunter on the corps property, Dave had never seen tracks or heard rumors of a cougar in that area. However, there was talk on a big cat to the south in Harris County. Jim Harper, a member of the GON Hunt Advisor Team, sent a trail-camera photo taken Nov. 2 of what appears to be a large cat with a long tail.
“As the crow flies, it’s approximately 20 or 25 miles from where the one was killed. Probably the same animal,” Jim said.