Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Sports columns

March 4, 2012

In nature, seemingly anything is possible

Mountain lions, boars, snowy owl make unexpected visits to Indiana

Lions, boars and bears … oh, my! It’s no secret that rumors can spread quicker than a wind-swept wildfire. But are all supposed sightings of these critters actually rumors?

“We get many calls from people who think they have seen animals that are normally non-existent in our state,” says Bill Bean, north public land supervisor for the DNR.

Notice he did say “normally.” Bean has been a wildlife biologist for 40 years and has heard it all.

It wasn’t that long ago people began talking about wild boars taking up residence in southern Indiana. It actually became the best worst-kept secret. But before you sharpen that pig-sticker and fire up the roaster, understand that for the time being, it is estimated there are less than 75 of the partying pigs roaming a small portion of Warrick County.

It all began when a particular property owner decided it was a good idea to release a few wild boars, purchased from a dealer in the southeastern US. His idea was to have a hog hunt on his property without traveling out of state.

According to my friends at the DNR, the porkers took a liking to Indiana’s landscape and established a breeding population. The DNR is unhappy because feral pigs have the potential to quickly become a problem for native plants and wildlife. Farmers and veterinarians also are unhappy because these free-roaming swine also could spread diseases. But the fact remains — we do now have wild boars in Indiana.

Next it was mountain lions. For years rumors spread about big cats roaming the southern part of the state. They were dispelled as rumors — until several years back.

It was 2010 when reports surfaced of a mountain lion slinking through rural Clay County. A DNR biologist investigating the sighting decided to set up motion-sensitive trail cameras. In less than 24 hours, the camera captured multiple images of the cat’s existence. Where the mountain lion actually came from is anyone’s guess. Some believed the cat had been pen-raised and was on the lam. Interestingly enough, biologists had found a deer carcass that exhibited all the traits of a lion kill, proving the cat knew how to effectively hunt.

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