By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

HERINGTON -- How to deal with mountain lions in Kansas was a topic of discussion for the Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commission.

But there wasn't any action taken at the end of the discussion.

The lions were an agenda item because of legislative efforts, primarily by Rep. Mitch Holmes, R-St. John, to either entice or mandate the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks declare an open season on mountain lions.

KDWP furbearer biologist Matt Peek said he thinks existing laws go far enough already, in that lions can be killed to protect person or property. He also said lions can be killed if they are simply found in a building or within a city.

Audubon of Kansas executive director Ron Klataske didn't like that idea, suggesting instead that KDWP exercise restraint if the animal isn't a threat.

"I think we need to develop a protocol that there needs to be a compelling reason to kill the animals," he said, rather than "just because an animal is near a house, near livestock or near a community. If at all possible, they should be captured, collared and then released."

Doing so, Klataske said, would offer the opportunity for the agency to receive valuable scientific information.

His suggestion didn't prompt any action.

For the most part, Peek said the state's current regulations already cover how to deal with the lions, but don't allow anyone who shoots a lion to keep the carcass.

That's something Holmes has sought, making it something of an incentive for landowners killing a lion.

Peek said there are frequent reports of lion sightings, but only three have been confirmed. Some have been unconfirmed, but most are found to be something other than lions.

There have been a few damage reports, but none have been confirmed.

"We take a scientific approach," he said, he said of looking for such things as drag marks. "They usually kill for food. They don't kill for the thrill of the chase like a pack of dogs."