New Mountain Lion Sighting in Brown County

Killer cat on the loose?

Mountain Lion" (CC BY-ND 2.0) by Lil Rose

Monday, March 11th, was a day not unlike most others for Brown County resident James Halcomb until a frantic call from his daughter changed everything. James had ventured into Nashville to run an errand for another family member when his phone rang.

Upon answering the call, Halcomb was immediately greeted by screams of terror and nearly unintelligible cries. Through the cries, James could barely make out that a big cat was killing his daughter’s pet housecat. James made his way home from Nashville with extreme haste. As he neared the house, he swung in to action to protect his own.

“I ran and grabbed a muzzleloader,” Halcomb said, “that I knew was loaded and took off toward the back yard where my daughter was still crying.” He assumed the culprit was one of the area’s many bobcats. “I set out looking for a bobcat. When I caught up with it, it was only about 25 yards away from me in some beech saplings with our cat in its mouth,” James recounted. “I was overwhelmed with what I had just came upon, it was definitely not a bobcat! I realized I was looking at a cat well over one hundred pounds. Very scary, really!”

Responding police officers search for the alleged mountain lion near James Halcomb’s property on Monday, March 11, 2019. Photo credit: James Halcomb

James and the family dog pursued the cat a short distance as the animal continued to carry the now-dead family cat. A moment later the big cat dropped its prey to take a failed swipe at the family’s dog, which was barking at — quite obvious to Halcomb — a mountain lion. James did manage to tree the cat briefly but was unable to get a clear shot before it jumped down and made its way onto nearby state property.

At this point, James heard the voices of local law enforcement officers calling for him as family members had also called 911. Conservation officers from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and officers from the Brown County Sheriff’s Department responded. Mr. Halcomb informed WildIndiana.com that the officers he spoke with seemed to think the intruder was most likely a bobcat, despite his insistence otherwise — at least until a call came over the police radio that the cat was sighted a short distance away by other officers, moving across a field where it soon disappeared into the woods. The pet cat’s body was recovered from the woods and taken by the IDNR for examination.

The Cat

James discribes the cat as, “Waist tall, thick in the chest with golden colored hair and a long, thick tail the size of a baseball bat. It had big eyes, was super fast, and flat-out put me in awe!” During our interview he mentioned several times it was “bigger than a German shepherd, the size of a doe deer, but much sturdier in build.”

Neither the IDNR, nor the Brown Co. Sheriff Department returned calls requesting comment. In a follow-up interview on Tuesday, March 12, Halcomb said he had spoken with an officer from the IDNR who told him that without pictures the department was inclined to believe it was a large bobcat, despite the radio traffic from Sheriff’s deputies stating otherwise.

Halcomb remains confident in his belief a mountain lion killed his family cat. “I really thought any cat, of any kind, would be gone in the roughly ten minutes it took me to get home,” stated James. “My daughter said it sat there shaking her cat for what seemed like five minutes with the dog barking at it and her screaming.”

“I’ve got little girls who play in my yard and get on the bus at 6:30 a.m. while it’s still dark. I’ve lived on this road pretty much all my life and I’ve never seen anything like this. I really feel uneasy about my children being outside there now,” added Halcomb.

If you see one

In the unlikely even you come across a large cat in the Yellowwood State Forest, (or anywhere for that matter) it is best to keep a safe distance from the animal and get away as quickly as possible without running, as fast movement can trigger a cat’s chase instinct. Do not crouch or bend down and try to appear a large as possible.

Mountain lions will usually try to avoid confrontation if possiblem, but if you are attacked, fight back.

Mountain Lions — or cougars, as they are sometimes called — are protected in Indiana. There is no hunting season and any sighting should be reported to the DNR; it is unlawful to kill a mountain lion in the state.

See also:

Sometimes you get the bear

Indiana DNR Mountain Lion page

Don Cranfill
A native Hoosier, and son of a tournament fisherman, Don literally grew up on the water. Early in life he developed a passion for two things, paddling and fly fishing. Don can often be found stalking the limestone creeks of southern Indiana for Smallmouth Bass, while the off seasons are spent crafting custom hardwood canoe and kayak paddles, making figured-wood fly tying bases and developing the ultimate fly. Contact: HoosierFlyDaddy@gmail.com or at SmallWaterAngler.net

50 COMMENTS

    • If you use common sense precautions, you’re not likely to find yourself in that position.

      Good clarification of thr law by Dwight Scifres. Good idea to memorize that.

  1. Don perhaps some clarification is in order in regards to the legality of killing a mountain lion in the state of Indiana. Here is a quote from the INDNR page you linked to: ” State law allows a resident landowner or tenant to kill a mountain lion while it is causing damage to property owned or leased by the landowner or tenant.”

    • I understand. That part of my article was trimmed in editing. First rule of being a writer is, once it leaves your hands it is out of your control. My original script included a statement that included the self defense clause. Thank you for your comment. I do appreciate the feedback.
      Don

  2. I think what the article is referring to is that you cannot go shoot it for fun, or because you feel like it. Defending yourself from being attacked by a dangerous wild animal is a completely different story. You should defend yourself accordingly if you’re being attacked, obviously.

  3. Sounds like he had reported….

    They aren’t saying where …
    Only 10 minutes from Nashville!

    Yes…this is very concerning.

  4. Calling this beautiful creature a “killer cat” is fear mongering at its worst. Shame on you! Someone in your position should be fostering respect, not spreading panic.

    Judi Stevenson

    • I agree 100%. This article is the kind of propaganda that starts hysterics.

      It’s up to people who ar e knowledgeable to counterbalance the fear mongering.

    • I didn’t call it a “killer cat”. I reported that it killed a cat. No fear mongering, just reporting a story as it happened. It was truly a frightful experience for those involved, i can assure you that much.

  5. Why I carry all the time especially in the woods. Been sightings over the years though. Wouldn’t doubt DNR has released some, though if they did they would never admit it. Be nice if they kill off the coyotes, but killing cats its awesome. Cats do way too much harm killing rabbits and birds, millions of birds every year and just for fun. Keep your cats inside.

    • Your comment shows an ignorance about wildlife and ecology.

      Wild predators are an integral part of a healthy ecosystem. People whine when there are “too many” rabbits, deer, rodents… tehn when the natural predators of tehse prey animals show up, the the “kill em” crowd gets their panties in a bundle.

  6. The one outside our cabin three years ago in Brown county was taller than our 140lb Akita. There are in Indiana. Next will be black bears.

  7. There are lots my lions in Indiana I know one place were six to eight reside there is many scattered around state I’ve seen them alot

  8. I know of three bear Cubs born Indiana two around trafalger eastern brown co I ran into male last year while mushroom hunting there there was sign everywhere

  9. I saw a cougar in Yellowwood State Forest on March 17, 2015. Awesome sight indeed. The mountain lion I saw was not inclined to engage and disappeared up a hill rather quickly.

    • What a great sighting! Your calm observation is what most people notice – the cats would rather not engage with humans.
      Seeing the return of cougars and black bears is such a relief. Now, if the DNR will stop selling off our forests as if they’re a tree farm, Indiana wild places might actually come back intothriving balance.

  10. First off that picture is not in March in Indiana 2nd I had to laugh when he said he grabbed his black powder gun..you seriously rely on black powder to defend your family. Sounds like BS to me

    • Joe,
      First if you actually read the story you will notice that there was no photograph taken of the cat, hence the lack of confirmation from the IDNR. That is what is called a “stock photo”, often used in journalism for examples.
      Second, he was in a hurry as he scrambled through the house and grabbed it because he knew it was loaded. He mostly just wanted it to be able to defend himself if needed and remebered it was at the ready.
      Don

  11. Seriously have doubts the animal was a mountain lion. No pic , i had an argument on fb with a load of people that had a pic of what was obvious to me a bobcat and none of them, wold have any other opinion allowed to be spoken. Very rarely do mountain lions find their home in our state. Until i see proof i wont believe it.

  12. I seen same cat few days before between trafalgar and Morgantown i told my wife about it then this happen few days later.

  13. We had mountain lion on our property in fort wayne about year ago. Dnr told me they release them to control deer population and that it would most likely move on. It did. Their hunting grounds are about 250 miles if i remember correctly daw

  14. How can something that does not exist be illegal to harvest? I mean, every report gets shot down by law enforcement, must have been a big coyote, or an extra large bobcat with a large tail? Until someone with some credible knowledge comes out and admits or denies the reports of yes there is, or no there are not, cougars in the Central part of this state. It doesn’t matter.

    • DNR captured a photo of one on their trail cam- I think it was in 2013. So I guess there’s not an official denial of existence after all.

  15. Stop trying to kill wild animals for being wild animals. This is part of the risks involved with living in a rural wooded area. If you don’t like those risks, then move to the city. We’re not gonna have any animals left with this kill everything mentality.

    • love this comment. I grew up in the country. you learn to be vigilant, cautious. It’s called wild for a reason. The correct way is to learn to respect boundries of thw wild life and learn how to share or coexist in the country

  16. When this area became “settled” over a hundred years ago, it ceased being “wild”. Deal with it!! Anything trying to attack me or mine is fair game !!THis protect wild animals at any cost is why wild animals are losing their fear of humans and changing their habits. So many of these protected animals are becoming nuisances killing pets,livestock and people.

    • My friend saw one in Clark County Maybe 4 miles east of Wilson elementary school. I trust her observational skills. She said it had a long tail that draped down onto the ground. That’s no bobcat. She knows what she saw.

  17. Wasn’t there an actual trail cam pic of a mountain lion in Crane a few yrs back? As well as that there has been other documentation; an officer spotted one on a rock ledge in Lawrence Co. Private land owners also have trail cam footage; hunters have photos;etc so, why does DNR all too often in news articles, report that mountain lions are NOT in Indiana? –when there is repeated proof? Wasn’t there a recent attack on a horse in Owen Co ? As I recall, the news article said, “Landowner in search of large cat after attacking his horse.” I don’t think there is any doubt that these predators are in Indiana.
    Our family unexpectedly saw a mnt lion in Martin Co sev yrs ago on a late summer’s day; it loped across the road in front of our vehicle; from a wooded area into a corn field on the other side of the road. It wasn’t small like a bobcat; nor shaped like a bobcat; we knew what it was. Before we could speak, it had went into the tall corn.It was a bit of a shock and very unexpected; but it was very much real. We are not the only residents that have seen mountain lions in this area. Several property owners in Orange, Greene, Lawrence and Martin Counties have also seen & reported their sightings, and now Brown Co as well.
    These animals are most likely here to feed on the large population of deer and other plentiful wildlife. Sadly, it seems they are also feasting on our pets. We don’t exactly have fences up that would hold them off or keep them out. It’s not a total surprise, but it is a new predator to this generation.

  18. My husband & I were walking along Pleasant Run Parkway west of Meridian across from Holy cross cemetery, when we spotted a creature that was tan in color,& definitely had round ears. It was approximately a block away. It came out of green space next to creek, stopped and was looking sideways toward us. I felt intimidated, like I could be prey. Difficult to assess its weight from that distance, but my initial impression was that it was big, bigger than our 50lb. dog. It gazed at us for about a minute & turned and slowly walked around trees, shrubs out of sight. I’m not sure what we saw, but am wondering. I have seen deer shoot out of there before, there’s not much traffic, just creek, green space, Pleasant Run Parkway then the old cemetery on the other side of street. Any ideas on what the animal is?

  19. Me and my wife TONIGHT just witnessed a MT Lion in our back yard. 100% was. No one will tell us different. We seen it our eyes and a 12×50 binoculars. Long tail between knees and waist tall. It was there for a few minutes so yes we really seen it. In Monroe County.

  20. I can attest that back in 2009 I was on patrol in S. Clay county and watched a fully grown mountain lion run across state road 59 in front of me. The dash cam wasn’t much help due to the speed of it’s crossing my path, but I’m 100% it was a cougar.

  21. These cougars have been in Indiana for 50 years that I know of. We had a black in color one behind my grandfathers farm in the woods 50 years ago. I’ve seen it personally two times and heard it once. Not something you want to here again. Very terrifying! My dad and mom saw two tan in color running beside their house back to the woods another year. I’m 58 and saw the first one when I was 8 years old. The second time I was around 18. Several of my family members have seen them. We lived in Boone county Indiana.

  22. Most counrty people in the county of Posey, has seen large cats. Bob cats are seen the most. I have list count of the bob cats I have seen. The big cats are of a light color, very long tail. The black cats we are seeing have to weigh 100 lbs and more. If you live in the country in Sourhern Indiana, you will eventuality see one. If the ciry people refuse to believe we dont have big cats, so be it. I guess they don’t dare venture in to the bottoms. They sure like to run there mouths about something they don’t know anythng about. If you think you can get a snap shot of something so fast and elusive, pretty much impossible. You try staying on a horse when encountering one of these big ass cats jumping out in front of you.

  23. I have bobcats on my trail camera often and they come through my back yard near a small creek. Mountain lions travel great distances and one that was tagged out west traveled all the way to the northeast. Back in 1958 there were 200 armed men and a sheriff looking for a “black panther” that was seen by several people, including farmers that see wild animals all the time. They never found it but some years later it was caught on film. I became an outdoor writer in 1993 and published a chapter from my book “Life Along Little Pigeon Creek” about “The Panther”. After the newspaper article came out, a neighbor that lived near me when I was a child called and told me of the film. It was not a photo but a moving film of the cat. The lady saw it near the woods in her back yard and grabbed her movie camera. Her husband and I measured the distance to where the cat was (she still lived in the same house those many years later). I then took the film to an expert photographer. He said that the cat on the film, at the distance it was, weighed approximately 150 pounds! So, I believe I proved there really was a black panther. I even know where it had to have come from. It was a black leopard that escaped from a traveling carnival that traveled through a small town on the other side of Little Pigeon Creek.

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