DNA analysis of a mountain lion that was struck and killed by a motorist near Minco show the cat journeyed from the Black Hills of South Dakota, state wildlife officials said Thursday.
The 130-pound male mountain lion was killed by a motorist and found dead along SH 81 north of Minco in November.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation collected tissue from the cat for DNA testing.
“The cat’s DNA shows a very close genetic relationship to wild populations in South Dakota,” said Erik Bartholomew, furbearer biologist for the state Wildlife Department. “We can say with a high level of confidence that this male was born in the Black Hills region. Another clue that this animal is wild is the fact that it had porcupine quills in its stomach.
“Apparently mountain lions consider them to be good eating, or maybe they are easy to catch, but many times western states report mountain lions with porcupine quills in their front legs and digestive tract.”
A small tooth from the mountain lion’s jaw also was tested to determine the age of the cat.
Much like the rings on a tree, the root portion of the tooth has rings that can be used by experts to age the animal.
The Minco mountain lion was at least 3-years-old.
“We have no idea the path he used to get to Oklahoma,” Bartholomew said. “However, with him being killed near the South Canadian (River), he likely was following the river where their primary prey, white-tailed deer, would be in high abundance.”
Male mountain lions will sometimes roam great distances.
“Males tend to have very large home ranges at or over 200 square miles,” Bartholomew said. “The Black Hills is a small island of habitat and many times adult males will get in territorial disputes with young males and the loser leaves in search of new territory.”
Other mountain lions captured or killed in Oklahoma also traveled from the Black Hills, such as a female cat captured in the city limits of Tulsa last year and a male cougar killed by a train in Red Rock in 2004.
A male mountain lion shot in 2010 in the Panhandle by a state Department of Agriculture employee tested positive for genetic ties to populations in eastern Colorado.
Another captured in southeastern Oklahoma by game wardens was genetically tied to populations in the Pine Ridge region of northwest New Mexico.
Anyone who sees a mountain lion in Oklahoma is asked to report the sighting to the Wildlife Department either online at www.wildlifedepartment.com or by calling Bartholomew at (405) 385-1791.