Missing mountain lion report faked, Aiken police say

Sunday, Aug 10, 2014 1:12 PM
Last updated Monday, Aug 11, 2014 5:53 PM
  • Follow Latest News

Aiken County authorities searched for a missing mountain lion for most of the day Sunday, but there was one problem: It apparently didn’t exist in the first place.

Map View

Javascript is required to view this map.

Travis Highfield
Reporter
Twitter: @tbhighfield
E-mail | 706-823-3339

About 5:30 p.m., the Aiken De­partment of Public Safety called off a search for a black, domesticated mountain lion that had been reported missing from Aquarium Pets at 1018 Richland Ave. W., saying the story had been fabricated.

Now, the case has turned into a criminal investigation in reference to filing a false police report.

According to an incident report, Billy Lunsford, the purported owner of the animal, told police early Sunday that someone had forced their way through the metal side of the building and stole the mountain lion, valued at more than $35,000.

Lunsford said the lion was last seen about 7 p.m. Sat­ur­day and had been left to wander around the back room of the building.

The reporting officer noticed that part of the siding was missing at least 15 screws, none of which were found, and had been pried open with a PVC pipe. Luns­ford said he believed the mountain lion, described as being about 3 feet tall and weighing about 100 pounds, was pulled through a six-inch gap in the wall.

Lt. Jake Mahoney said that Luns­ford’s connection to the business is unclear, but that he is not the store’s owner.

The search for the big cat involved Aiken Public Safety, the South Carolina Depart­ment of Natural Resources, Aiken County Animal Con­trol and the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office.

After news of the missing animal made its rounds on social media and residents began to call in, Mahoney said, the department was able to dig deeper into the details of incident.

“We were put in contact with a source that could provide more detail,” Mahoney said. “We’ll be interviewing everyone involved.”

Even Mahoney’s son called into question the purported color of the animal’s fur, as he had never heard of a black mountain lion.

According to Aiken’s code of ordinances, a kennel license must be obtained for “any location which houses an exotic animal, vicious animal or an identified hybrid.” The license costs $25 per year and expires June 30 annually. It’s unknown whether the business had this particular license.

A call to Aquarium Pets was not immediately returned Sunday.

Comments (13) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
TrulyWorried
20891
Points
TrulyWorried 08/10/14 - 01:29 pm
8
1
Mountain lion missing

and is trying to tell the world that he wants to be free and not caged up by humans. Being declawed though he does not have much of a chance in the wilderness. What a shame!

KSL
174286
Points
KSL 08/10/14 - 01:57 pm
3
2
This is in my neck of the

This is in my neck of the woods.

KSL
174286
Points
KSL 08/10/14 - 01:57 pm
2
2
This is in my neck of the

This is in my neck of the woods.

KSL
174286
Points
KSL 08/10/14 - 02:01 pm
5
1
Hope they get it back safely.

Hope they get it back safely.

Gage Creed
21742
Points
Gage Creed 08/10/14 - 04:19 pm
2
1
BOLO

Anyone seen Mowgli or Baloo?

Rob Pavey
561
Points
Rob Pavey 08/10/14 - 08:09 pm
9
1
no such thing as a black mountain lion, anyway....

There has never been an authenticated black panther (aka mountain lion or puma) anywhere - but both the leopard from Africa and the Jaguar from South America are known to have a melanistic (black) variant, and both are frequently kept as so-called domesticated pets. This case was hokey from the start because anyone with the energy to own a big cat would know it wasn't a panther.

Dixieman
21433
Points
Dixieman 08/10/14 - 08:31 pm
13
0
Fooled me

Somebody needs to be fined for wasting law enforcement's time.

Gage Creed
21742
Points
Gage Creed 08/10/14 - 09:46 pm
5
1
Jerry Clower....

The first time I saw that dog I thought he was a lion

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUaiNAabX80

CobaltGeorge
213864
Points
CobaltGeorge 08/11/14 - 06:34 am
1
3
GC

That is really funny!

CobaltGeorge
213864
Points
CobaltGeorge 08/11/14 - 06:34 am
1
3
GC

That is really funny!

scooter2762
31416
Points
scooter2762 08/12/14 - 03:24 pm
0
2
If I remember right the

If I remember right the store's owners name is Robert. I've been in there many times.

Bizkit
44131
Points
Bizkit 08/11/14 - 10:08 am
0
2
Here is a youtube video of a

Here is a youtube video of a father daughter deer hunting in Alabama and a large black cat stalking a buck. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOHFT9RUW3I
Just because science hasn't bona fide the existence doesn't mean it don't exists-the mountain gorilla was a myth for over a hundred years before science recognized it.

Bizkit
44131
Points
Bizkit 08/11/14 - 10:14 am
0
2
Course I'm not saying the

Course I'm not saying the story is bull, but I've seen both a black and normal colored cougar in South Georgia. I've hunted cougars in Colorado and they were the same size-which makes me think they weren't the smaller Florida panther. The fact the genetic trait exists in other species from Africa and South America would support the genetic possibility of North America cougars. It could also be epigenetic from environment too-the Florida turkey which is darker than the easter turkey was thought a separate species-but I think the last study indicates they are just darker eastern turkeys and not a separate species.

Back to Top
loading...
Search Augusta jobs