An investigation into a reported mountain lion sighting near Malcolm did not turn up confirming evidence.
Two women saw what they believe was a big cat Aug. 4 in a pasture two miles west of Malcolm. A state conservation officer found hair in a nearby barbed wire fence but could not find other evidence of a mountain lion.
The hairs were examined and found not to be feline in origin, said Jeff Hoffman, an assistant administrator for wildlife with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
The commission sent the hairs to the Wyoming Game and Fish forensic laboratory, where scientists have more experience with large predators, Hoffman said. An examination revealed none of the hallmarks of mountain lion hair.
"We're not saying the animal they saw was definitely not a feline, just that the hair was definitely not feline," Hoffman said.
The agency did not have the hairs tested for DNA to determine what animal they came from, Hoffman said, because such testing is expensive and was unnecessary in this case.
Mountain lions are considered uncommon in Nebraska, but there have been 46 confirmed sightings or encounters since 1991. The confirmed sighting closest to Lincoln involved a dead mountain lion found in 2005 along Interstate 80 in Sarpy County.
The commission investigates reported sightings, but will confirm them only when they find clear, objective evidence, such as a track.
Reach Joe Duggan at 473-7239 or email@example.com.