A 28-year-old man found dead in a wooded area of rural Texas in the US may have been killed by a wild animal – possibly a mountain lion, authorities have said.
Christopher Allen Whiteley’s body was found by officers on Thursday – a day after he went missing near Lipan, 50 miles (80km) southwest of Fort Worth.
Preliminary findings from a post-mortem indicate that an animal attacked and killed Mr Whiteley.
But this has been disputed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, who said its experts had inspected the scene and didn’t find any evidence of a mountain lion attack.
Amid the conflicting reports, Hook County Sheriff’s Office said it will wait for the final autopsy report to conclude the cause of death.
Nevertheless, its investigation is continuing – and investigators are gathering pictures and statements from locals who have captured images of mountain lions.
Authorities were warning residents to be mindful of their surroundings and keep children and animals inside at night, when mountain lions primarily hunt.
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Confirmed sightings of mountain lions in North Texas are rare – but biologists recently verified a sighting on private property in the suburban city of Rowlett, which is more than 100 miles (160km) from where Mr Whiteley was killed.
State wildlife officials say that sighting is not believed to be related to Mr Whiteley’s death.