Mountain lion forces Valley Center officials to cancel outdoor recess at one school

Mountain Lion

VALLEY CENTER, Kan. (KSNW) – Valley Center school officials have canceled outdoor recess after another report of a mountain lion.

The report came from an employee of New Hope Services. New Hope Service is next to the Valley Center West Elementary School.

“We got the call from the (New Hope) employee, and we alerted the school right away,” says Valley Center Police Chief Mark Hephner.

Hephner went with officers to the wooded area to the west of New Hope and the school to search. They did not find anything.

“We kind of walked the area back there,” explains Hephner. “Just to make sure, not expecting to see it or anything, but basically making sure it’s gone from the area.”

The school says it’s taking the possible mountain lion in the area very seriously. School officials contacted parents to say recess would be inside at least for today.

Parents were notified of the recess cancellation on the district’s messaging system

“Yeah, it was a big-time concern so of course in 20 years in this business I’ve never encountered this type of concern,” says Valley Center West Elementary Principal Peter Bastian. “But we kind of dealt with it as a threat as we would any other threat and so I immediately canceled outside recess because I didn’t want any kids outside.”

Parents in the area are concerned. Some say they’ve seen this before.

“I’m definitely not surprised, I’ll tell you that,” says Shannon, a Valley Center parent. “Because I feel that I’ve seen them myself in the area where I live right outside of town.”

Shannon said her child will be playing indoors today, just as a precaution.

And, while there are no pictures of the mountain lion, the search continues to see if the animal could be found.

The area is heavily wooded acreage that sits between housing developments in Valley Center and the school.

Citizens that live along the river or living in heavily wooded areas should remain vigilant, says Chief Hephner.

Mountain lions are known to travel through Kansas. Remember if you see one, don’t approach it and call 911.