Sunday, March 07, 2010

NY Cougar Research

Some information in the news about cougar sightings in Allegany County, NY.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cougar News

A New Hampshire Fish and Wildlife employee reported seeing a mountain lion. (News source.)

A cougar was struck by a car and killed, near Bemidji, Minnesota. (News source.)

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Georgia Panther was from Florida

The young panther killed in Georgia last year was originally from the Florida panther population, according to its DNA. (News source.)

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cougars on Camera

An Arkansas man claims to have caught a cougar on a game trail camera. No image is shown, so I can't make any comments on the identity. (News source.)

A Virginia man also got a pic of a big cat on the Isle of Wight. For once, I think someone got it right -- it is distinctly a cougar profile. Assuming it's a real image, it looks like the real deal. (News source.)

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

WV Cougar Allegations

A West Virginia family thinks a cougar attacked and killed one of their horses. (News source.)

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cat Sightings

Strange felines recorded in North Carolina and Virginia here.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

More Mississippi "Cougar"

Another "cougar" sighting from Natchez, MS. Still no photos. (News source.)

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Mississippi Cougar Sighting

Another sighting of an alleged cougar from the Natchez region of Mississippi, here.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Lots of Felines in the News

Big black "feline" sightings continue in Australia. (News source.)

Mountain lion sightings alleged in Virginia, North Carolina, and Ohio (see image). [I tracked sightings of a probable released cougar in that same area of Ohio, Warren County, a number of years ago. Not a great area for an actual population, though there is farmland game.]

A mountain lion killed in Louisiana is being tested genetically to see if it is a Texas wanderer.

A black feline is reported from New York.

A tiger escaped from a West Virginia exotic game farm was killed after it tried to ambush its owner in the woods. (News source.)

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Cougar Controversy in Minnesota

The sighting of two "cougars" eating from their downed deer by a pair of hunters is being denied by MN DNR. They don't see any evidence of predation beyond some holes in the throat. (News source.)

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cougar Killed in Georgia

A deer hunter killed a cougar near West Point Lake, in Georgia. GA DNR thinks it was a released captive. (News source.)

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

"Cougar" Sightings All Over the Place

Minnesota letter to editor here.

Virginia sighting here. ("Lion" may have been a bobcat.)

A Canadian sighting here. (North Bay)

And, more evidence against a cougar attack in Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania, here.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More Cougar Folklore

A New Brunswick story is making the rounds: hunters supposedly shot an eastern cougar, but no body has been offered as proof. (News source.)

And yet more on the alleged (probably false) cougar attack in Lancaster County, PA.

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New York Cougar Sighting

Witnesses report seeing a mountain lion in the Southold, NY, area. (News source.)

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Monday, October 20, 2008

"Cougar" Attack Called Hoax

The PA Game Commission has, after testing the evidence, been unable to find anything that points to a cougar as the animal that allegedly jumped a Lancaster County man. They think it is a hoax.

Now, it may be a hoax, or it may be misidentification/exaggeration by fear. This never did sound like a cougar incident to me, but I am concerned about the hoax charge (and the statement that they may file charges against the man) -- if it was not a deliberate hoax, this may create further impediment for future potential witnesses. (
News source.)

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Friday, October 17, 2008

New Brunswick Cougar Sighting

A large feline jumped in front of a motorist in New Brunswick. (News source.)

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lancaster Co., PA, "Cougars"

Frankly, there's nothing at all in this story that sounds like there are cougars here in Lancaster County, PA. Maybe some exotic felines, but I wouldn't rule out large feral housecats. I've heard quite a few stories of "mountain lions" here, which were patently not based on actual cougar sightings. (News source.)

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

OH Cougar Sighting

A hunter and his son saw a large feline they think was a mountain lion... (News source.)

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Cougar Debate Continues

One group say that cougar sightings in the midwest are rising. (News source.)

Michigan DNR continues to dispute sightings, while the MI Wildlife Conservancy disagrees. (News source.)

Michigan DNR says a cougar didn't attack a horse, but a veterinarian says that a cougar was responsible. (News source.)

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mountain Lions

Brief articles on cougar sightings in Illinois and Maryland.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Feline News

The NSW (Australia) premier wants to investigate the ongoing big cat sightings there. (News source.)

Blackstone, Virginia, and its newspaper, the Courier-Record, are investigating sightings of the eastern cougar. (News source.)

A loose tiger is one of the concerns in Galveston County, post-Hurricane Ike. (News source.)

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Connecticut Mountain Lions?

Another article here on the controversy over whether cougar are in New England.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Virginia Cat Stories

Cougar sightings continue in Scott County, Virginia. (News source.)

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cougar in Kentucky

An article here notes a recent sighting of an alleged mountain lion in Kentucky, as well as several previous sightings by conservation officers.

"Someone, a credible source who did not wish to be named, had seen what he was certain was a mountain lion near the Wabash River, which is as specific as I intend to get about the place it was allegedly seen.
"Actually this farmer was sure he'd seen two different cats, one of about 120 pounds with a four-foot tail and another one a couple days later in the same area of about 80 pounds and a shorter tail."

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Ontario Cougar Sightings Continue

More stories here on cougar-like sightings from Ontario.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tennessee Cougar?

Here's a column on cougar sightings on the grounds at the Oak Ridge reservation.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Ontario Cougar Sightings

Cougar sightings continue in the Brantford region.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Feline Sightings Worldwide

A UK fisherman reported seeing "a dark grey animal the size of a fox, with a long thick tail," on the other side of a Snodland lake. (News source.)

A Crawton (UK) woman saw a 3-foot-long dark colored feline about to attack a neighbor's cat. The locals call the creature "The Beast of the Mearns." (News source.)

The Chicago Tribune has an article on cougar sightings in the US.

Washington County, IL, may be home to a cougar, according to some residents. (News source.)

More "black cat" sightings from Australia. (News source.)

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Iowa Cougar Photo Debate

Offhand, I don't recall if I've seen the pic, but there's some debate between the photographer/witnesses and the Iowa DNR over whether a photographed feline was a housecat or a cougar. I've seen a number of photos of domestic cats or bobcats that the photographers were convinced were cougars, so that's certainly a possibility. But, without seeing the photo, can't personally say it's one way or the other. (News source.)

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Cougar in South Carolina?

Big feline sightings coming from South Carolina:

"When Dee Field read in the newspaper that at least two Clemson University security officers saw an animal on campus that was described as a panther or cougar she thought that it could have been the same animal she saw bound across her back yard." ...
"Ms. Field said before she and her husband David left for Maine in late May, they were sitting on their deck, which overlooks a gentle sloping back yard leading to a large wooded area in Heritage Oaks.
"'It was huge,' Ms. Field said. 'It weighed at least 70 pounds and came across our property. I know what I saw. I had such a great look at it. It was right beneath me. I saw the full length. It had the longest tail. It was as long as its body.'"

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

NY Cougar Sightings

A brief article here on cougar sightings in Chautauqua County, NY.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Now You See It...

Someone reported a dead "mountain lion" along a Connecticut highway, but by the time officials got there, it had been picked up by someone and was long gone. (News source.)

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Rumors and Big Cats

Stories and rumors in Southern Illinois have government helicopters dropping cougars into woodlands to take the deer population down. What's the farm-country counterpart to an urban legend; a rural myth? (News source.)

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cougar Tales

A Shelton, CT, woman and son were waiting for the school bus when they spotted a large golden-brown feline that ran off into the woods. (News source.)

An Algoma, WI, high school biology teacher and others have reported seeing a mountain lion in that area. (News source.)

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Catlike Beasts

A couple recent media items:

Westford, CT, police have issued a warning to the public following a "credible" sighting of a mountain lion-like feline. (
News source.)

A "mystery beast" is prowling around Camden, New York. Claw marks on trees have been noted. (
News source.)

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

NC: Cougar Sighting

Two Morganton, NC, men reported seeing "a four-foot, fawn-colored cat, its long tail down and curled at the tip, cross N.C. 181 as they came down the mountain on motorcycles Monday. They were near the Barkhouse Picnic Area between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m." A wildlife technician who was interviewed was skeptical; another wildlife biologist claimed she had found cougar scat in West Virginia, so not as skeptical. (News source, via Chip Ashley)

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Feline Fur was Fox

A fur sample collected by a witness in Maine turned out to be red fox, not mountain lion. The witness is still adamant that the animal he saw was feline. (News source.)

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

"Cougar" Print was Canine

The Pennsylvania "mountain lion" track recently in the news turned out to be canine, game officials and eastern cougar enthusiasts agreed. The farmer still wasn't certain. (News source.)

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Penn Cougar?

The Williamsport Sun-Gazette notes the finding of some large paw prints (as yet unidentified, so could be canine, no photo of the tracks is included online) a few miles from Montoursville, PA:

"The most recent tracks consist of mud on the paved road. Each print is roughly 3 inches long by 2 inches wide. From the back of the hind paw to the front of the lead paw, thereís a separation of about 21 inches. The tracks run east to west, from one cornfield to another."

A few other sightings are noted in the article.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

CT Cougar

Sightings of a "large animal, about 75 to 80 pounds, with a very, very long tail" have been reported from a nature preserve near a Colchester, Connecticut, neighborhood. (News source.)

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Various Cougar Sightings

Cougar sightings have recently hit the news:

New Jersey: "Welch said her neighbor last week saw a mountain lion, also called a cougar, puma or panther, sitting on a rock in a grove of trees at the center of the circular street and notified the authorities. While the sighting was being investigated, word made its way around the local area. At least one nearby preschool kept its young students inside for a day as a precaution."

Maine: "The Cooks say they saw their mountain lion around 6:30 in the evening ó and weeks before the spate of sightings made news in the state. They knew it wasn't a house cat - they have one of those themselves. And as a licensed animal technician and former owner of a biotechnology company, Holly Cook says she wouldn't be easily fooled. But despite the fact that she wasn't taken entirely seriously by officials, Cook says she's still thrilled by seeing the big cat."

Ontario: "Wednesday, Quinte West OPP were called by a resident living in the area of the Oak Hills Golf Course along Highway 33 reporting a possible cougar sighting. Officers visited the area and while the sighting wasnít confirmed by the officers who attended, the information was passed along the animal control officers."

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Mountain Lions (or Something Else)

A few "big cat" reports have been in the news recently. First, an Oakland, Maine, resident has turned over some fur for DNA testing to state biologists. From the news:

"He said a big cat shed the fur while grooming itself on a snowy rock in his wooded backyard in April.
"'I'm not 100 percent sure it was a mountain lion, but it was a big cat, believe me,' Higgins said, pacing across the mown grass and peering off into the nearby undergrowth.
"Higgins' lawn extends a little more than 30 yards from his back porch, from which he said he spotted the cat at the edge of the woods." ...

"Higgins said the cat's body and tail each were about 4 feet long, and he estimated its weight at around 100 pounds.
"Higgins later collected a pinch of fur from the rock, but didn't turn it in to biologists until reading a Morning Sentinel account last week about a possible sighting in Sidney."


And, from Grand Island, New York:

"In the past month there have been three sightings in a woodded area on Baseline and Bush roads of what could be a mountain lion." ...
"The State DEC tells 2 On Your Side, they investigated the calls about two weeks ago but, their search has stopped because they couldn't find any proof there was a mountain lion. They looked for any type of evidence including: paw marks, scratch markes or even dead prey."

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Monday, June 25, 2007

NC Feline

A North Carolina couple heard strange sounds in their backyard and investigated. From the news:

"So Bourne bought a spotlight, and on the next night, June 12, it helped solved the mystery ó sort of. At first, the light illuminated a raccoon.
"'We were relieved until we caught sight of two more eyes and then a huge paw,' Bourne said. 'We angled the light and were dumbstruck to be looking at an enormous cat. A cat much, much larger than the raccoon.'
"Bourne said the cat had paws the size of a manís hand, and a smooth tan coat. Later, she looked up pictures of mountain lions and bobcats, which people sometimes confuse. She thinks this animal was no bobcat."

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Nova Scotia Cougar Sighting

From the NovaNewsNow site:

"Eastern cougar sightings in the Atlantic Provinces are similar to the ghost stories and legends you hear while sitting around the campfire at night.
"Or so Iím told. I wish I had known the rarity of the species yesterday afternoon while driving home from work.
"As Iím cruising along the highway, towards Sable River, thinking about all the great purchases I had just made at Frenchyís I saw a flash of movement off to the left.
"I quickly tapped my brakes and slowed to a complete stop, expecting to see a deer dart out onto the road in front of me, but I was wrong.
"My eyes widened and my mouth dropped as a very, very large cat sauntered sleekly about 20 ft in front of my car and across the highway to the other side.
"My brain took a few seconds to register what it was I was actually seeing.
"Flat and square face with short rounded ears, a long, thick body fraught with muscle under a coat that lay flat and bore the single colour of wheat. I eyeballed its height to be level with the hood of my Honda Fit.
"I stared, with a fleeting thought to my camera in the seat beside me, before I could make any move it had reached the other side and was gone from sight. I scurried into action and yanked on my wheel until I was on the gravel shoulder where the animal had disappeared, my eyes darting in every direction seeking a glimpse, a twitch of itís long tail, anything that would show me where it had gone.
"My eyes found nothing but the long wheat-like grass spread over the ground and retreating into trees." ...
"I didnít know the name for what I had seen and figured it to be a bobcat until the next day when I described it to my editor.
"He told me it sounded like a cougar but they were only a myth in Nova Scotia, a ghost.
"He then showed me various pictures of large cats and I knew when I saw the pictures of the cougar that it was the animal I had seen."

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

USFWS Review of the Eastern Cougar

Finally, the USFWS is beginning an investigation into the eastern cougar phenomenon. Maybe. We'll see how it pans out. I've seen my fair share of housecat and bobcat pictures, taken by people convinced they've seen a mountain lion, and I'm unconvinced that the "black panther" sightings have anything to do with any possible remaining eastern cougar, but I am, frankly, highly doubtful that the average state game warden has enough experience with big cats (or, say, tracking) to truly determine the presence or absence of a cougar. I'm basing this on a) having listened to several game officers consistently make inaccurate scientific statements about species with which they have little day-to-day contact, and b) knowing that their training is primarily law enforcement, not biology. The few actual non-game researchers an eastern state might hire are usually focused on rare woodrats or the like; they don't have time for "phantom cats." Most investigations I've seen take place have had serious methodological flaws (length of investigation, scope of investigation, late occurance of investigation, etc.). And, most start with a bias that may be difficult to overcome scientifically. Can, for example, modern DNA techniques accurately distinguish a true "eastern" cougar, from a "western" cougar? I know the South American subspecies can be determined, but some studies seem to indicate that there is little differentiation between North American populations. (Then again, the Texas strain can apparently be distinguished from the true "Florida panther," so I'd like to see what the current concensus is.) I suspect this is mostly a paper investigation, with little chance of legitimate field studies. (Imagine the cost...) For now, here is part of the press release put out by the PA Game Commission on behalf of the Federal project:

"Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe today announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is beginning a review of scientific and commercial information to determine the status of the endangered eastern cougar, the first review the Service has done since publishing a recovery plan in 1982.
"As part of the process, the USFWS has requested that anyone wishing to submit information regarding the eastern cougar may do so by writing to: Eastern Cougar, Northeast Regional Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, MA 01035. Comments also may be submitted via e-mail to EasternCougar@fws.gov.
"Information must be received for the state review by the USFWS by March 30, although the Service will continue to accept new information about eastern cougars at any time.
"The USFWS placed the eastern cougar on the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in 1973. The last known Pennsylvania native mountain lion was killed in Berks County in 1874." ...
"As part of the review, the USFWS is seeking information on the status of the eastern cougar in the 21 states -- from Maine to South Carolina and westward from Michigan to Tennessee -- where the Endangered Species Act protects it. Lacking definitive evidence of the species' existence, the Service has presumed the eastern cougar to be extinct. According to the USFWS, it is improbable that a small cougar population persisted in the eastern states for over a century. Most of the confirmed cougar records since 1950 (animals killed, good quality photos/videos, genetic evidence) are known to be escapes of captive origin. There may be thousands of captive cougars in the eastern United States.
"'An important part of the Service's review will be to compile the best available scientific evidence and objectively assess whether the eastern cougar is truly extinct,' said Mark McCollough, endangered species biologist in the Service's Northeast Region. McCollough and other Service staff will prepare the status review.
"The Service announced the eastern cougar status review in the 'Federal Register' on Jan. 29. To assist with the review, the Service contacted state fish and wildlife agencies in states and Canadian provinces where the cougar is thought to have lived and requested information related to cougar status, protection, threats, laws about captivity, and habitats where cougars could persist.
"The Endangered Species Act requires a review every five years of all protected species. However, limited resources and higher priorities have postponed the review for the Eastern cougar until now.
"For additional information on the eastern cougar, see http://www.fws.gov/northeast/ECougar.
"Information on the USFWS' endangered species program may be found at http://www.fws.gov/endangered.
"To be certain, Roe stressed that this review process is not an effort to introduce mountain lions into Pennsylvania.
"'The Game Commission has long been opposed to any initiative -- public or private -- to reintroduce mountain lions into the Commonwealth,' Roe said. 'Such a reintroduction effort would not be feasible in the state, and would not be something acceptable to most citizens, given that there are few areas of the Commonwealth without established communities. Also, such introductions, given the human population density, would not be in the best interest of the animals released.
"'However, over the years, mountain lion sightings have been reported throughout the state. The overwhelming majority of cases we investigate are proven to be mistaken identity based on examination of tracks, photos or other physical evidence,' Roe said. 'Some cases are inconclusive.
"'And, while some believe mountain lions exist in the wilds of Pennsylvania, we have no conclusive evidence to support such views. However, if someone does encounter a mountain lion, the most logical explanation would be that the animal escaped from or was released by someone who either legally or illegally brought the animal into Pennsylvania.'
"To demonstrate his point, Roe noted that the agency has prosecuted individuals for illegal possession on mountain lions and other exotic wildlife in recent years. In 2002, a 24-year-old Dauphin County resident, was found guilty of illegally possessing a western cougar, and was ordered to pay a $300 fine." ...
"'While state law permits Pennsylvanians to possess certain exotic animals, the law also requires that such individuals adhere to specific permit and caging regulations established by the Game Commission in order to ensure public health and safety, as well as the animal's health and welfare.' Roe noted that the agency also has received reports of other exotic animals being found throughout Pennsylvania, such as a binturong found on a Beaver County family's porch in 2002; an African serval, resembling a small cheetah, which had been illegally possessed and escaped from its Pittsburgh owner several times before being confiscated in 2001; and two wallabies that escaped from their owners in Ambler in 2001."

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