NEW LEXINGTON — Perry County Sheriff Randy Barker said a report of a lion roaming the county has not been confirmed.
Barker said Andrea Morris called the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on Friday stating her own lions had been acting up the previous night .
Morris, who lives on Township Road 106 in Mount Perry, has four lions — two males and two females — along with four bears.
“She said she heard what she called a lion roaring in the wooded area near her home,” Barker said.
ODNR sent investigators to the area and spent two days and nights trying to track any lion or other big cat that might have been in the area.
“But they didn’t find any,” Barker said. “They checked this area, Perry County and even went into Muskingum County. We found no evidence of any lion activity, and no other neighbors reported hearing anything.”
But just three days later, Barker said a resident in Hopewell Township reported seeing what could be a mountain lion.
“She really didn’t have the exact coloring down,” Barker said. “But again, we’ve checked and haven’t found any evidence of a big cat.”
Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz said he is confident that if there is an exotic cat in Perry County, it’s not one from the farm of Terry Thompson.
Thompson released 56 of his exotic animals just before killing himself Oct. 18 at his Kopchak Road home. Most of the animals were killed by sheriff’s officials, but six of the remaining animals are being kept in quarantine at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. No date has been set when testing for those animals will take place. Tests were scheduled for this past week but were canceled by zoo officials.
Barker said he is cautioning residents that if they spot a mountain lion or other large cat, to stay away from it and immediately call authorities.
“This may have been someone’s pet, and it could think it can get up close to a human,” Barker said. “But these animals are really big and really fast with a lot of strength. I don’t want to see someone hurt.”
Barker said anyone who sees such an animal should call the sheriff’s office or ODNR and stay in your home or vehicle.
Call the sheriff’s office, call (740) 342-4123 or ODNR is (855) 392-6446.
kthompson@zanesvilletimes recorder.com; (740) 450-6753