IDAHO FISH AND GAME SAYS DEFORMED MOUNTAIN LION PHOTO IS NOT A FAKE

Mountain LionAn abnormal growth of teeth, hair and whiskers on the forehead of a yearling mountain lion has some local biologists intrigued and others skeptical.

“A hunter brought it in, and there was something extra,” Idaho Fish and Game Region 5 spokeswoman Jennifer Jackson told EastIdahoNews.com. “We haven’t seen anything like this in our region.”

The young male was killed Dec. 30 in Franklin County, about 8 miles southwest of Preston by an Idaho hunter. As per state law, the hunter brought his kill to IDFG to be checked. IDFG officers are required to remove a tooth from harvested mountain lions to gather data on their ages, Jackson said.

“In the process of harvesting the animal we had an officer check it, and we determined something really interesting was going on,” Jackson said.

The Preston conservation officer described the abnormality as a growth of muscle and dense tissue with several teeth, hair and whiskers growing out of it. He photographed the animal, and the hunter took the carcass home, apparently to be taken to a taxidermist, Jackson said.

EastIdahoNews.com sent the photo to several biologists at east Idaho universities who suggested the photo might be a fake. However, IDFG officials confirmed the animal had been physically handled and examined by the conservation officer.

But the animal was not examined by veterinarians or biologists. Regional IDFG biologists said it’s impossible to determine the exact cause of the deformity based solely on visual observations of a photo.

But the biologists do have some theories.

Jackson said the mass of teeth, hair and whiskers could be a conjoined twin that stopped developing and embedded itself on the lion while in the womb.

Another theory, which officials say is more likely, is that the growth is a teratoma — a rare tumor that contains extremities like teeth and hair.

EastIdahoNews.com reached out to the Wildlife Health Forensic Laboratory in Boise for more information about the condition.

The state wildlife veterinarian was unavailable, but laboratory staffers told EastIdahoNews.com that when animals are developing in utero, an identical twin can fuse to a body and create a mass of cells. That mass of cells — the teratoma — can sometimes develop teeth, hair, bone and skin. As animals get older, the mass typically gets larger.

Biologists are attempting to contact the hunter so they can take a closer look at the carcass.

“Our biologists didn’t get to examine it, and we’re interested in looking at this one a bit closer,” Jackson said.

8  Updated at 4:45 pm, January 7th, 2016 By: Nate Sunderland, EastIdahoNews.com

http://www.eastidahonews.com/2016/01/idaho-fish-and-game-says-deformed-mountain-lion-photo-is-not-a-fake/

 

The following is a news release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game would like to share a few facts and some additional information regarding the harvest of this mountain lion and its unusual deformity.

  • A young male mountain lion was legally harvested last week in the Weston area about 8 miles southwest of Preston, Idaho.
  • On December 30, 2015, the mountain lion was observed attacking a dog on a landowner’s property in the rural Weston area. The mountain lion ran off and its tracks were followed through other properties and eventually to a place where the cat had retreated to the hills. Within three hours of the attack, the hunter began tracking the mountain lion with the use of hounds and harvested the cat legally that same day. The dog involved in the attack survived.
  • The mountain lion had an unusual deformity—fully-formed teeth and what appears to be small whiskers were growing out of hard fur-covered tissue on the left side of the animal’s forehead.
  • Idaho Fish and Game cannot definitively explain why this abnormality developed on this mountain lion. It is possible that the teeth could be the remnants of a conjoined twin that died in the womb and was absorbed into the other fetus. It is also possible that deformity was a teratoma tumor. These kinds of tumors are composed of tissue from which teeth, hair, and even fingers and toes can develop. They are rare in humans and animals. Biologists from the southeast region of Idaho Fish and Game have never seen anything like this particular deformity before.
  • As required by law, the hunter reported the harvest of the mountain lion to Fish and Game, and a conservation officer checked the mountain lion– a process that includes verifying the hunter has a valid hunting license and tag, recording information about the harvest location and method of take, recording information about the animal itself, and pulling a tooth for age analysis. The hunter is not required to turn the animal over to Fish and Game for further analysis.
  • Mountain lions are common in Idaho and a native game species. Because of their elusiveness and wariness, human encounters with mountain lions are rare. During the winter, deer , turkeys, and other prey species move to lower elevations to escape colder temperatures and deeper snow, often gathering where urban or rural communities interface with the surrounding wildlands. These prey species attract predators like mountain lions. When that happens, conflicts with people, livestock, and pets can occasionally occur.
  • Mountain lions can be legally hunted in Idaho. Mountain lions are classified as a big game animal like elk and mule deer. That means that they can only be pursued during set seasons in areas open to hunting with the appropriate license and tag. In general, only one mountain lion can be harvested by a hunter in any given year. Dogs can be legally used to assist a hunter with the pursuit of mountain lions with the appropriate hound hunter permit.

General Mountain Lion Facts

Mountain lions are large cats, tawny to grayish in color, weighing 80 to 200 lbs. The tail, which can range in length from 2 ½ to 3 feet, is rope-like in appearance (not bushy) and has a black tip.

Mountain lions have large home ranges (50 to 150 square miles).

Source: EastIdahoNews.com

 

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