Nevada scientist captures mountain lion's 'Where's Waldo' moment

Can YOU spot the mountain lion lurking among the rocks? Nevada wildlife scientist captures big cat’s ‘Where’s Waldo’ moment

  • The US Fish and Wildlife Service posted a scene shot asking people to see if they could spot a mountain lion
  • The lion was caught resting in the wilderness in Washoe County, Nevada, by a conservation scientist
  • Mountain lions in the state can grow up to eight feet from nose to tail and average 137 pounds 

Mountain lions are known for being stealthy predators, but they’re also good at escaping detection while at rest – most of the time. 

The US Fish and Wildlife Service posted a peaceful-looking image of boulders in the grass Tuesday on Facebook and captioned it: ‘Where’s Waldo: Mountain lion in Washoe County, Nevada edition.’

The image was credited to John Tull, a Nevada Science Coordinator, Science Applications, Pacific Southwest Region for USFWS.

A wildlife conservation scientist in Nevada took this picture in Washoe County, prompting the US Fish and Wildlife Service to ask people to see if their eyes were sharp enough to spot the hidden mountain lion

Given the animal’s tawny coat, its easy to assume that the mountain lion must be hiding somewhere on top of the rocks, where the yellowed grass and weeds are surrounding it. 

But, upon closer look, it turns out the animal is actually staying out of the sun and hiding under the boulder. 

Its body is hidden in the shadows, so only its face is visible toward the left side of the image. 

USFWS Facebook visitors had a ball trying to spot the hidden mountain lion. 

‘That little stinker is hiding… in the little cave,’ wrote one Facebook user. 

‘That cute face was hard to miss! What amazing animals they are,’ wrote another who spotted the hidden mountain lion. 

A mountain lion, also known as a cougar or a puma, is seen running through the snow. Its distinctive facial markings helped reveal its location in the Where’s Waldo image (file image)

Facebook users were quick to spot the hidden mountain lion in the shadows under the boulders, but some admitted they never would’ve seen the animal if they hadn’t known to look for it

But not everyone found it so easy to find the hidden big cat in the wild. 

‘I would be in big trouble, because I can’t see the Mountain Lyon [sic]…’ one Facebook user lamented.

‘He is well hidden. I would have probably walked right up on top of him,’ wrote another Facebook user.  

‘I thought it was a New England style stone wall so I missed it at first. Those rocks are HUGE,’ a Facebook user admitted. 

‘You led us to the water and told us it was wet. How many of us would have spotted the cat without prompting?’ wondered another cat spotter.  

Male mountain lions can grow to be as long as eight feet from nose to tail, with shoulders as wide as 30 inches, while females tend to between three-to-four inches shorter in height and 12 inches shorter in length, the Nevada Department of Wildlife says.  

An average male mountain lion in Nevada is said to weigh about 137 pounds, while a female weights 98 pounds. Mountain lions have been found to weigh up to 180 pounds, although its rare, the wildlife agency said. 

The agency noted that mountain lions ‘prefer dense cover or rocky, rugged terrain, but also occur in desert areas’ and that ‘Two of the most important components of lion habitat are a source of meat and cover for hunting.’  

In a pamphlet, the agency noted that ‘People rarely get more than a brief glimpse of a mountain lion in the wild’ and that it’s rare for the solitary animals to attack people. 

There have been ‘fewer than a dozen fatalities in North America in more than 100 years’ involving attacks by mountain lions, often young lions forced to hunt on their own without living in an established area. 

People hiking where mountain lions live are urged to make lots of noise to avoid startling the creatures, not to approach them and to back away slowly, rather than run, which could trigger a chase.  

If the mountain lion approaches, people shouldn’t crouch or bend down, but instead try to appear bigger and throw things at them. Small children should also be picked up off the ground and, if necessary, people should fight back while remaining upright, as mountain lions have been known to be scared away by prey that way. 

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