Residents urged to carry pepper spray in park after mountain lion kills deer

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WIMBERLEY, Texas (KXAN) — A deer found in Blue Hole Regional Park in Wimberley on Monday was killed by a mountain lion, Hays County Constable for Precinct 3 Ray Helm said in a Facebook post.

A deputy called to the park confirmed a mountain lion was behind the kill, which comes a week after another report of a deer killed by a mountain lion on Flight Acres, just across Flite Acres Road from the Blanco River — and about a mile away from Blue Hole Park.

“He has been working with wildlife his whole life and recognized the way this deer was killed, that it was a cat,” Constable Helm said. In the kill last week, the animal returned the next night and finished its meal.

The constable says trail cams have been placed in the Blue Hole Park to get a look at the mountain lion.

While Helm said mountain lions are not going after humans thanks to plentiful deer in the area — and said the lions will avoid people they come across — he recommended people carry pepper spray while walking the parks. The constable says the animals cover a big area, up to 60 miles. He said there have been previous mountain lion sightings in the Woodcreek area, a community next to Jacob’s Well, a popular swimming hole.

If you see a mountain lion, you can report the sighting to the constable at 512-847-5532. “We will not harm these cats unless they become an immediate threat,” Helm said. “If we start seeing an increase of sightings and issues I will contact Texas Parks and Wildlife for a trapper.”

According to Texas Parks and Wildlife’s page on mountain lions, sightings and kill reports indicate the animals are now in more counties than they were 10 years ago, and appear to be expanding their range into Central Texas.

Mountain lions, also known as pumas, cougars and panthers, can weigh up to 170 pounds and are active in the mornings, evenings and at night. If you come across one, Texas Parks’ online guide says to pick up any small children and slowly back away while maintaining eye contact with the mountain lion. Do not run or turn your back, the guide says. If the animal is aggressive, you should throw rocks or sticks and speak loudly.

And if worst comes to worst, “do not play dead,” Texas Parks says. “Even children have successfully driven off a mountain lion by fighting back.”

Mountain lion attacks on humans are rare. A 6-year-old Leander boy visiting the Chisos Basin in Big Bend National Park with his family in February 2012 was attacked by a mountain lion.

His father was able to fight off the animal by stabbing it with a pocket knife. The boy had non-life threatening injuries.

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