Greenbrier County officials are scouring the woods near Cold Knob after receiving multiple reports that a lion — an African lion, not the mountain variety — is on the loose.
“We’re treating this pretty seriously,” said Robert McClung, the county’s senior animal-control officer. “Right now, we’re trying to confirm the initial report. Once we do that, we’ll figure out what we’re going to do about it.”
A local hunter, 72-year-old Jim Shortridge of Frankfort, was bowhunting for deer Oct. 17 when the lion reportedly approached him.
“I watched it for more than 40 minutes,” said Shortridge, who owns the parcel of land he was hunting on. “I watched it from my vehicle and from my hunting blind.”
Shortridge first saw the creature as he carried a cooler and his lunch from a vehicle to the 6-by-8 foot wooden blind.
“When I first saw [the lion], I thought it was a deer,” Shortridge said. “Then it growled at me.”
The cat ran away after Shortridge yelled at it. Convinced that the potential threat had disappeared, the slightly shaken hunter returned to his vehicle and retrieved his bow. Shortly after he began hunting, the creature came back.
“It paced back and forth, in front of the blind, about 10 yards away,” Shortridge recalled. “I sat and watched him. I kept shining my light into his eyes. The more I put the light on him, the louder he growled.”
Shortridge remains convinced that the animal was a male African lion. He estimated its weight at 250 to 350 pounds.
“It had a mane, so I could tell it was a male. And I’m sure it wasn’t a bear. Bears are all over Cold Knob. I see six to eight of them every time I go hunting, and I can tell the difference. Bears don’t shake me up at all. This lion made me pretty nervous,” he said.
27 Oct 2007