(KATV) Many have claimed to have mountain lion encounters over the years and much to their dismay were told it was probably another cat or something else. But now the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission says mountain lions are in Arkansas. But the biggest controversy with is no longer if mountain lions are here, but if they are reproducing.
David Goad, who represents the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, says they know mountain lions are in Arkansas
"We've had another confirmed sighting or two around the last couple of months, so we believe they're here," Goad said.
The issue with the Arkansas Game and Fish is not whether mountain lions are in Arkansas, but if they are actually breeding.
"There's just no evidence of it. We don't get pictures of cubs. We do have people say they've seen cubs," Goad said.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission contracted with experts out of Texas several years ago, who brought dogs to search for evidence of breeding.
"They essentially wrote a report and it said there's no evidence of a breeding population. So, but that doesn't mean there's not mountain lions here and in fact we know there are," Goad said.
Tanya Smith, the president of the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Sanctuary, which houses many mountain lions says in her opinion there's no way these cats aren't breeding.
"Well if there are wild mountain lions, it does make sense to me they would be connecting because when the female goes into heat, it's very loud and vocal and they're going to find each other if there's a female anywhere around," Smith said.
George Butler of Eureka Springs says he and his wife have seen a female mountain lion and a cub.
"We sat here and watched it and watched the young one come and raised up out of the grass and go so far and come back down. And it was following its mamma because we had just seen the mamma go out of the grass," Butler said.
But the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission insists that they need photographic or other proof.
"It's just like anything else, we're biologists, I'm a biologist and good scientist is going to try to figure out if the breeding is for sure taking place," Goad said. "Until we get evidence of cubs and reproduction, our stance is going to be the same that they are here, but there is not a breeding population."