HONDO, Texas –
Over the past few months residents in Hondo and the surrounding area have been reporting sightings of a mountain lion.
Some thought the sightings were a just case of mistaken identity until a security camera captured an image of a mountain lion near a city owned nature trail and park last month.
On Wednesday night, a ranch manager killed a mountain lion at a popular deer hunting ranch, confirming the big cats are indeed roaming the area.
“I saw this object running in front of me and thought it was a baby deer and when it turned, I realized it was a mountain lion,” said Misti Foster, a cook at the Nooner Ranch.
Foster said the large mountain lion was standing in the middle of a dirt road on the ranch. She immediately called ranch manager Gene Naquin and told him to bring his gun.
“I could tell when she called me that what she said she was seeing she was actually seeing,” Naquin said.
Naquin never doubted Foster and within five minutes, he was staring down the big cat that was now cornered between the ranch gate and two tall fences.
“It was running up and down along the high fence,” Naquin said. “I took just one shot and that was it.”
Naquin hit the cat just behind the shoulder, killing it.
It is believed to be a 2-year-old male weighing 90 pounds.
Naquin said state wildlife officials have been notified and are planning to come out and take DNA samples in an effort to determine where it came from.
“They are just trying to figure out whether they’re south Texas cats or west Texas cats.” Naquin said. “They want to figure out their migration pattern and everything.”
Mountain lions are known to live in the area but are a uncommon sight. Naquin said he has been told this is only the third one ever killed in Medina County. The big cat may also be the same one spotted by residents in recent months.
“There were some sightings here in Hondo,” Naquin said. “They said that some people seen it on a nature trail and they put out a scouting camera and actually got some pictures of it.”
Wildlife officials say it’s hard to say if it’s the same lion. Because it’s so young, it is possible there could be more family members around.
Naquin is just glad he got to the cat before he caused any damage on the ranch.
“To know that was walking around with some of the trophy bucks we have on the ranch it’s satisfaction to me to know that that cat is not roaming the ranch anymore,” Naquin said.
Once state officials are done examining the animal, Naquin plans to have it mounted. It will now be a permanent fixture at the Nooner Ranch lodge.