Warning: Graphic photo.
After an Idaho hunter killed a mountain lion, he was in for a strange surprise.
First, the Idaho Fish and Game confirmed that the rare, deformed mountain lion photo wasn’t a fake, according to the East Idaho News.
The Idaho State Journal reported that the hunter, Tyler Olson, said the mountain lion was attacking his dog near his front porch in Western Canyon. A group of hunters then congregated at the scene after the attack, which left his dog injured. The cougar was later tracked in the area before it was killed by another hunter, who was not named.
“A hunter brought it in, and there was something extra,” Idaho Fish and Game Region 5 spokeswoman Jennifer Jackson said. “We haven’t seen anything like this in our region.”
The growth included teeth, hair, and whiskers on its forehead.
The hunter brought the lion into the Idaho Fish and Game to be viewed, as per state law.
“In the process of harvesting the animal we had an officer check it, and we determined something really interesting was going on,” Jackson said.
The officer took a photo of the animal, and the hunter took it home, according to the news outlet.
“We had people contacting us all the way from California to France,” Jackson told the State Journal. “I lost track of how many interviews I did and how many emails I responded to in the days following the discovery.”
Other biologists suggested that the photo might be a fake, but the agency insisted that it wasn’t. Idaho Fish and Game biologists told the outlet that it will be impossible to determine the cause of the deformity based on looking at a photo.
Jackson added that the hair, teeth, and whiskers could have been a conjoined twin that stopped growing in the womb.
The growth could have also been a rare tumor known as a teratoma, which can include teeth and hair.
“Our biologists didn’t get to examine it, and we’re interested in looking at this one a bit closer,” Jackson said, adding that they had tried to contact the hunter.
“It has all of us scratching our heads,” said regional wildlife biologist Zach Lockyer, according to the Idaho State Journal. “It’s a bizarre situation and a bizarre photo.”
The teeth grew from hard tissue on the left side of the animal’s head, and it’s something Fish and Game biologists have never seen.
According to the report, the deformed cat has drawn a considerable amount of online interest over the years, including conspiracy theories.
“On YouTube, there are multiple videos blaming radiation from the Idaho National Laboratory, which is well over 100 miles away, for the abnormality,” the report says. “Other online commenters took some jest in the situation. One person said the mountain lion was the legendary chupacabra creature, while others jokingly blamed either Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama for the deformity.”
There also were reports saying the cat was taxidermied and is sitting in someone’s home somewhere. However, that has never been confirmed.