Preliminary finding of mountain lion attack disputed by TPWD

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By RUSSELL HUFFMAN
TheFlashToday.com
December 7, 2020

A preliminary finding by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled out suicide or homicide. Still, officials are at odds as to whether or not a mountain lion attack was the cause of a 28-year-old Lipan man’s death.
Initial reports from the examiner’s office indicated that Christopher Alan Whiteley died after being attacked by an animal, possibly a mountain lion. Whiteley’s body was found in a wooded area near his Lipan home.
Biologists with the Texas Parks and Wild Life Department and a United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services trapper are disputing a mountain lion attack’s preliminary finding.
There are less than 30 confirmed deaths caused by mountain lion attacks in the past century, and none have occurred in Texas.
A Hood County Sherriff’s Department press release says the “Texas Parks and Wildlife have no confirmed records of a mountain lion from Hood County.”
The TPWD’s lack of a “confirmed record” is bound to draw some dispute from Hood County residents and their nearby neighbors with a mountain lion being killed after being hit by a car just outside Mineral Wells in Palo Pinto County and another near Chalk Mountain in Erath County.
Officials in Hood County are now awaiting a final autopsy report to decide what possibly happened to Whiteley.
One theory being floated is the man had a possible medical episode and perished. Animals (coyotes, hogs, vultures, bobcats) then happened upon the scene.
Investigators at the scene would have looked for tracks, bite marks, and other types of scavenger signs, which could have been mistaken in the preliminary findings for the man being attacked by a larger predator such as a mountain lion.
Mountain lions are not known for scavenging the kills of other animals or dead animals they find but will reportedly do so if starving.
The release from the Hood County Sherriff’s Department stated:
It appears we have two conflicting reports from two agencies that are experts in their field.
We stand behind the preliminary findings of the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office, that rule out a suicide and a homicide on the death in question.
The investigation continues and we continue to gather pictures and statements from locals that have seen and capture on film images of mountain lions.
We will wait for the final autopsy report from the TCME Office.
Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds always airs on the side of caution when it comes to the safety and well-being of the citizens of Hood County and will continue to alert them of any safety issue that may affect them.
Public Information Officer
Lt. Johnny Rose
Hood County Sheriff’s Office

The complete release is below

News Release 12-6-20

Lipan death investigation continues

On 12-6-20 the Hood County Sheriff’s Office received the statement and findings below from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which states the following:

“Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is aware of this tragic loss of life and has provided assistance to the sheriff’s office in evaluating the circumstances and information available.

Texas Game Wardens, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists, and subject matter experts conducted an inspection of the scene. There is not any evidence of a predatory attack by a mountain lion at the location where the victim was found.

A Unites States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services trapper also evaluated the evidence and came to the same conclusion as our staff.

Fatal mountain lion attacks on people are extremely rare. In the past 100 years, there are fewer than 30 confirmed deaths due to mountain lion attacks nationwide. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has no records of a confirmed fatal attack on a person by a mountain lion in Texas. Texas Parks and Wildlife also has no confirmed records of a mountain lion from Hood County.

The recent confirmed sighing from Rowlett in Dallas County was nearly 100 miles away and is considered

unrelated to this event.”

End of TPWD statement.

It appears we have two conflicting reports from two agencies that are experts in their field.

We stand behind the preliminary findings of the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office, that rule out a suicide and a homicide on the death in question.

The investigation continues and we continue to gather pictures and statements from locals that have seen and capture on film images of mountain lions.

We will wait for the final autopsy report from the TCME Office.

Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds always airs on the side of caution when it comes to the safety and well-being of the citizens of Hood County and will continue to alert them of any safety issue that may affect them.

Public Information Officer

Lt. Johnny Rose

Hood County Sheriff’s Office

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