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Large cat takes deer at Route 66 State Park?

By Jo Schaper

Traveler reader Bryan McAllister was searching the internet on February 3, searching by Rt. 66, when he came across an instagram photo of a large cat print. He saved the photo and sent it in with this note:

“Hi Jo -

I just happened to see this on Instagram a little while ago. May be story worthy or reportable?

Instagram is weird in that I couldn’t easily copy the text of the post so I’m attaching a screen shot of the photo and post text. It was posted earlier this morning.

I only came across it looking for #route66 which I like to do. The catprint caught my attention.

Happy investigating – let me know if anything comes of it.
IGscreenshot

I sent the image along to the superintendent at Rt. 66 State Park, and to MDC’s Mountain Lion Response Team.

Today, I received a response from him:

“Thank you for the information. One of our park staff did see a very large bobcat in the park in the last month or so, but so far no other reports.”

If anyone knows the Instagram photographer, we’d like to know who it is. He or she automatically did what any good scientific photographer should do: put a known-sized object into a photo when part of the information you are recording is size.

We’ll let you know if we hear anything further.

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5 comments to Large cat takes deer at Route 66 State Park?

  • Drake Sloane

    Take a look at the heel pad. Two lobes at the rear (bottom of the photo), one lobe at the front (where the pad meets the toes). The photo shows a heel pad with two rear lobes, and one front lobe.

    Runners at Route 66 State Park probably don’t have to worry about being attacked by a mountain lion, because the animal which made that track probably isn’t a mountain lion. Given its shape, and where it was found, it’s far more likely to be from a domestic dog. A quick Google Image search returns photos and illustrations comparing the two.

    Their is plenty of misinformation and fear regarding mountain lions in this state, I don’t think the Traveler needs to compound that. It is critically important for media outlets to verify their information and do some fact-checking BEFORE that information is published, not the other way around. And the baseless conjecture- the insinuation a dead deer and misidentified tracks means a dangerous wild animal is loose in a popular urban park- it’s simply irresponsible.

  • Jo Schaper Jo Schaper

    Did you read the entire article, Mr. Sloane? We did send the photo to the superintendent at the park and the MDC Mountain Lion response team. We didn’t publish the article until we heard back from the superintendent.

    The size of the print and his explanation seemed consistent…I am an amateur, but even I thought the track a little small for a lion. The track is by no means clear. And the report is cast in the form of a question, not an assertion. To say we were certain what it was would have been irresponsible, but we did not say that.

    Traveler does on occasion publish photos of animals, birds, flowers and other natural phenomenon, seeking reader comment where there is uncertainty just what was captured by the camera. We were “crowdsourcing” long before it was cool. Thanks for your opinion and input! – Sincerely Jo Schaper, assistant editor.

  • Drake Sloane

    I appreciate the response, Jo- and I did read the entire article. I read that the park superintendent thought it may be a bobcat. I read that the information had also been forwarded to MDC’s mountain lion team,who probably know more about mountain lions in this state than anyone. I didn’t read their response.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Without a clear, unambiguous photo, and without expert analysis, perhaps it’s best to err on the side of caution.

  • Gina Moran

    Good information! We used to live in Fenton and would walk there almost weekly. We saw MANY deer. Now we live in the woods approx. 2 hrs. away from Fenton. We see bobcats, coyotes, black bear on occasion and 1 report of a cougar as well. Through experience we have learned tracks. Agreed it was probably canine but ya-never-know! Lol! We visit my parents in Eureka and pass the park. How do you get in there since the bridge is gone? Thanks for a great paper!

  • Jo Schaper Jo Schaper

    Thanks for the post, Gina. With the bridge out, one can get to old “Steiny’s” the park office, by taking I-44 exit 266 headed east or west. To reach the western portion of the park One can exit at I-44 exit 265 headed east. If you are westbound, you need to go down to the Eureka exit, turn left under the highway, get back on the highway and use exit 265. There is a back way to get to to western portion through Eureka, but that requires a local guide. The bridge has been de-decked; efforts to raise money and restore the bridge are still in process.

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