A 28-year-old man found dead in a wooded area in rural Texas was killed by a wild animal, possibly a mountain lion, according to local county officials.
The Hood county sheriff’s office said on Saturday that deputies found Christopher Allen Whiteley’s body on Thursday, a day after he went missing near Lipan, located 50 miles (80km) south-west of Fort Worth.
The sheriff’s office said the Tarrant county medical examiner’s office conducted an autopsy and issued a preliminary finding that an animal attacked and killed Whiteley.
Sheriff’s office deputies, Texas game wardens and a US department of agriculture trapper with expertise in “tracking and removing” mountain lions were trying to locate the animal.
Authorities warned residents in the area to be mindful of their surroundings and keep children and animals inside at night, which is when mountain lions primarily hunt.
There are rarely confirmed sightings of mountain lions in north Texas but the state’s parks and wildlife department on Tuesday said its biologists had verified a sighting on private property in the Dallas suburb of Rowlett, which is more than 100 miles (160km) from where Whiteley was killed.
A department spokeswoman, Megan Radke, said on Sunday that it was not connecting the sighting in Rowlett to the man’s death.