Mountain Lions

April, 2011 by Ray Bendici
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The Damned Story: Eastern mountain lions, or pumas or cougars, were last officially seen in Connecticut near the end of the 19th century. A threat to livestock, they were hunted out of the state and driven to parts more wild. With land cleared for farms and factories (nearly the entire state was deforested at the turn of the 20th century), there was no place for big cats to hide and nothing for them to feed on, so they disappeared not only from the Connecticut landscape, but from the Northeastern U.S. in general.

For nearly a century, there were no cats bigger than overfed tabbies in the region. But as farms disappeared and land reverted to forest, habitats for larger mammals grew. Deer (i.e. "food") were among the first to come back, followed by the predators. According to the state Department of Environmental Protection, bobcats, coyotes and black bear now again roam the woods (and suburbs) of Connecticut, but mountain lions and cougars have yet to return.

Or have they?

In April 2005, Connecticut Magazine ran a story called "Seeing Ghosts," written by Brigitte Ruthman. In the article, Ruthman, an avid hunter and outdoorswoman, claims that she has seen Eastern mountain lions in the woods of the Litchfield Hills, as have many others in the state. When the story was posted online, it generated a very busy comments section which had dozens of reported cougar sightings. Sadly, this article wasn't transferred to the magazine's new site.

After years of alleged sightings, the DEP still does not believe in the possibility that there may be big cats again on the prowl here, suggesting that they were either misidentified bobcats or coyotes, and that there are absolutely no cougars in Connecticut (aside from those hanging out at the casinos looking for young boy toys). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a little bit more open about the subject as the Northeast Region office has established a good website on the subject, welcoming eyewitness reports and other evidence to conclusively prove the return of these elusive creatures.

Of course, like with many mystery creatures, until an actual specimen is caught digging through garbage cans behind the Capitol in Hartford, the debate will continue. In the meantime, keep an eye out for the big cats!

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Update: In March of 2011 while on assignment for Connecticut Magazine, I got to discuss mountain lions with Connecticut Environmental Conservation Police Officer Paul Hilli, a 16-year veteran of the force whose area of assignment is the Northwest Corner of the state, including the Litchfield Hills. He has an interesting and informed take on the issue.

With all due respect to people who claim to have seen a mountain lion, Officier Hilli says he does not think there are breeding pairs of mountain lions in the state because there is just no physical evidence. He points out that in states like Florida where they are known to be, authorities will regularly find a carcass of a mountain lion hit by a car on a road at least once a month -- there hasn't been one single carcass recovered here yet. He also says there's been no other evidence found: no bones, no fur, no scat.

Officer Hilli says that if someone thinks that they have seen a mountain lion, he suggests that they clear out a section of woods, set up a bunch of trail cameras, put out some bait and wait to see if they get any actual footage or images of a mountain lion. If they do get a good picture or legitimate video, he recommends then contacting the EnCon police.

As for what people have seen, he thinks people either mistake bobcats or coyotes for mountain lions. He mentioned that once while on patrol, he thought he had seen mountain lion cross the road in front of him. When he stopped to investigate, however, he discovered it had only been coyote. Other than that, in all his years in the woods and forests of Connecticut, he has never seen one.

If an experienced outdoorsman and veteran officer (who is a trained observer) like Officer Hilli can misidentify a creature from a quick look like that, then it's very possible that an untrained observer might also make a similar mistake.

Officer Hilli says that it's always possible that someone might see an actual mountain lion in the state, but if they do, he thinks it's most likely to be an escaped one -- apparently, the idea of keeping large exotic cats is not crazy to some people, and when they tire of them, they just let set them free in the woods. He mentioned having to hunt down an ocelot one time.

For conspiracy theorists, Officer Hilli says that he has nothing to gain by denying or hiding the existence of mountain lions -- Connecticut is already home to other large predators including black bears, fishers and coyotes.

Comments

Submitted by shirley (not verified) on
For an interesting cougar story check out the articles from the Hartford Courant (iCONN) from 12/27/57 to 9/25/60. It tells the story of sitings of a blank panther in Granby, Simsbury, and Barhamsted. The sitings and nearly 30 news articles set off a general panic in the area, but no one mentions it today. Read the articles and decide for yourself - real or imaginary?

Submitted by Steve Frank (not verified) on
Thanks Shirley, i'm going to try to find this and get it on the page. Thanks for the iCONN listing, this is a great site that I was not aware of. Steve

It's not that the DEP doesn't know there here, we do. It's just the fact they need proof of their residence through a dated photograph, trail cam pic, or even a carcass,before it can be made known to the public that they are around.

Submitted by Michael (not verified) on
There are still mountain lions in Litchfeild county

Submitted by nick (not verified) on
Thanks Wayne. Why is that fact so effin hard for people to understand? You want people and the dep to announce cougars are in connecticut,.........bring in a pic at least!! Look at Utube. Under cougar in connecticut. This is EXACTLY why the DEP doubts ALL accounts. Pic, please. Body, maybe?? How about tracks? All these sightings and NOT ONE TRACK? NOT ONE????? What were all the sightings during a drought? How about the scat supposedly found by more than one poster? Uhhmmmmm maybe you scoop up a sample....MAYBE? Me, I thing there are cougars here. But wanting the dep to believe it just because YOU'RE POSITIVE you saw one is just stupid. KODAK.

Submitted by Jim (not verified) on
I for one know the Granby Panther stories are true. I lived in Granby from 1954 to 1966. I lived about 1000 feet from what we called "The big lake" Lake Manatuck and my best friend Randy lived at the other end of the lake, across from waht was then Edgerton's. if I recall correctly, it was in 1960. Randy called me one morning, all excited. The police were at his house. Most likely Shariff Hotchkiss or it might have been Don Algren. He was investigating an attempted break-in at Randy's house. Randy's dad worked second shift. He had a habit of cooking his own dinner when he got home late, as was the case most nights. Being summer, his dad kept the door & windows open, not wanting to stink up the house with his cooking. Since the door and windows had screens he wasn't concerned.His ususual dinner was bacon & eggs. After eating he went to bed. About an hour or so after going to bed, his collie dog "Duke" started whining & barking and then crawled under the bed. Randy's dad got up, put his pants on, & got the 12 ga. double out of the closet. As he walked into the kitchen he caugt site of a black animal with it's head part way through the screen door to the kitchen. As he described it, it was more like a mountain lion than a dog, and was pretty sure it wasn't no dog! Dad flipped on the lights as the animal was pulling out backward. He went back to bed about an hour later, sure that whatever it was wasn't coming back. In the morning, Randy's dad called the police. They found long scratches on the wood frame of the screen door, and the screen had been torn all to hell. They searched out in the back yard and found two cat-like prints about the size of a small person hand, in the mud right along side of the fence that separated the lawn from the tobacco fields. Now, if Paul Johnson was still alive, you could ask him about the investigation. He said he had found a written report of the incident shortly after being hired as a police officer in Granby.

Submitted by noone (not verified) on
There hhhhheeeeeeerrrrrrrreeeeee!!!!!!!!!!! But i will not tell where cause i do not want the cat to be killed or taken away. If you think you see one the easy way to tell is the tremendous muscle structure they have compared to there cats and the tail is long They are fast and can hide 10ft away and will not see them

Submitted by Ray (not verified) on
I was living in Granby last year on Manitook Lake and one night in the middle of winter I was sitting in my car and saw something walking on the opposite side of the road, it looked like a really big cat. I mentioned it to my step-father thinking maybe there was something living in the area like fisher cats or something and he told me it was probably a coyote but I told him it was too big to be a coyote and the tail was wrong(it was too skinny) I was certain that it wasn't a dog(the head wasn't right and it didn't move like any dog that I know of) and it wasn't a bear. So maybe...? But I didn't get out of my car for quite a while until I was sure that it was gone(a little freaked out seeing something possibly wild and large). I mentioned it to someone who had been living in the area and she said that she had seen mountain lions or large creatures(not bears and bigger than coyotes) before but I don't know anymore about it. I know that there is a pack of coyotes living on the other side of the lake but they stay there(you can always hear them at night). Has anybody else ever seen anything like that?

Submitted by wc (not verified) on
Facts: I have an advanced degree of forestry management I placed first in state of ct forestry contest in high school i placed second at the big e in college for forestry management practices i was awarded a bronze medal at the FFA national convention in kansas city kansas in college Forestry management covers, well, anything to do with the management, consevation of wildlife, aquatic life, plant life forestry, and land management principles. I can legally teach any one of the courses that the DEP run throughout connecticut. I happen also to be a licenced hunter as well. I have extensive background in plant and animal identification. I can i dentify every tree and mamal species in conn. O.K. Enough about me. My point is that i have been told by the state DEP that there are no mountain lions in ct. BS. Just this am on nettleton hollow road on the woodbury/roxbury line in a large field half way up the hill, something caught my eye. I stopped and looked as there are usually deer there at 6am. This time is was a little different. It was a mountain lion, absolutely zero question in my mind. It was approx 100 feet away, just on the edge of the woods/field where i usually see the deer. It was sitting looking at me and then back and forth to the field. Didnt seem to care i was there(i was in my truck) Golden color with flecks, dark tipped ears clear as day golden eyes, and as i opened my truck door it jumped about 10 feet in the air as i startled it. It darted off with its long cylindrical tail(3 feet long) waving behind it..........Yea some bobcat i know!!!!! But that what the dep said i saw. I go by here everyday atleast 3 times. Dawn and dusk. I will get that picture, i promise you that and i will hand deliver it to white memorial.

Submitted by Gem615 (not verified) on
Well, someone needs to rethink that. I have several pics of a MOUNTAIN LION taken on a friend's back deck in SHARON, CT from this past winter (only a few months ago - late winter 2009), that was looking pretty comfortable lying out there sunning itself. This was no small animal either and absolutely CANNOT BE MISTAKEN for anything else - IT IS A HUGE MOUNTAIN LION. Pics have been sent to CT DEP already - so anyone over there denying it can eat their words. Would upload the pics here, if there were a way to do so - ???

Submitted by Karen Belotti (not verified) on
Can you please email me the photographs? I will be the happiest ct resident there is.

Submitted by Jack (not verified) on
In 2006 while going down Sarah Sanford Road in Bridgewater I watched a mountain lion cross the road very casually at about 630AM. It was about 150 feet in front of me and 100% guaranteed to be a mountain lion.

Submitted by nck (not verified) on
Ok. That guy with the degrees and awards. I admit, if YOU say you saw one, I would give it more credence. But, now, since you are obviously, NOT a joe blow, tell me............You don't think its a BIT funny, with ALL THE STORIES OF PEOPLE CONVINCED THEY SAW SOMETHING, not ONE footprinty, not ONE scat, NOT ONE PHOTO.????????????????????????????????????????? Now, the next post said he had photos. OK, print them, show us. ....................................What do you think the odds are that any pics get posted? And if they do, that these aren't the same pics that show up on the net, with the location ranging in any one of 50 states? I WANT ML to be in CT. BUT, you NEED proof IF you want others to believe you.

Submitted by Steve Frank on
Pic or it didnt happen!

Submitted by doc (not verified) on
Stumbled across this site while looking for more MT lions reports. Some are hoax and some appear real enough. Look - the DEP are in charge of managing the wildlife in CT. They are not responsible for managing released or escaped pets - intentional or unintential. Those animals fall under the pet catagory as the true MT lion has been long gone from the east coast. They view what is reported as nothing more than that and this is the reason they will not declare there are mt lions in CT regardless if you show up with a track or picture of the animal. Again this animal has been wiped out and what you see or hear for reports is related to released animals. I am sure if a carcass turns up you will see some excitement and they will test its DNA but most likely it will will come back as having some west coast gene's in it. Still exciting never the less to read about them. But again don't expect the DEP to acknowledge them - my two cents.

Submitted by steve colley (not verified) on
OK. Here's one hard to believe. But true... Yesterday (July 28, 2010) around 3 PM, my 18 yr old son and I were driving on Wolfpit Road in Wilton, nearly to the New Canaan border, when an animal ran out of the woods right in front of my car. Loping across the street - from the left (passenger side of the car) to the woods on my left. I was driving - and if I didn't slam on my brakes, I'd have likely hit it. It was very, very close. And though it was moving quickly, I got a good look at it from above, as did my son. The animal had all the appearances of being a feline cub. Not a mature animal. Paws too big for the body, body a more compact than adult felines. It's coat was very short hair, but clearly dense, colored a spectacular golden brown, with a hint of a reddish cast. Tawny. The side of the face had some black stripe-like markings, possibly with some white mixed in. We did not get a good look at the tale. But the most striking thing about this animal was how sturdy it was. Clearly densely muscled. Very densely muscled. From chest to rump, I'd estimate between 26" and 32" long. Height at the shoulder - a bit harder to guess as we saw it from above - but I'd say about 16" to 20". But it was stocky. I've got a good size house cat that weights about 15 lbs. So if my cat is 15 lbs, I'd have to estimate this to be 55 lbs if it was an ounce. My son's guess was 60+ lbs. Mountain lion cub? Hard to say. We didn't get a good look at the tail. You'd think we'd have clearly seen a big long tail. So that originally had me thinking bobcat or lynx. But every picture I can find of either of those, adult or juvenile, have some form of spotting, however subtle. We got a real good look at the very broad back and flanks of this animal, and there were no spots. None. Likewise in every picture of bobcat or lynx that I can find, their hair is not short and dense, but instead more like a medium haired cat. This animal's fur was very dense, and short. And finally, you'd have to have seen how stocky this animal was. Not fat. Stocky.Built like a long furry brick on legs. Mountain lion cub? You be the judge. But from all the pictures I've been able to find on-line, it looks like a dead ringer to me. I'll leave my email address - [email protected] - just because I'm very happy to stand behind this story. I know what I saw.

Submitted by paula (not verified) on
Ok went out this morning to take my 2 small dogs out,, I was walking around the yard and came across a very large Scat in the grass. I know we have Coyote's here and Fisher Cats, But this was very BIG POOP, It Is shaped like dog poop rounded at the edges,, It does have hair in it. Called the DEP and they told me it is most likely coyote scat,, well if it is he's got to be very big,, i took pictures of it,,with a ruler next to it,, There are 3 pieces one piece measures 6" long and about 11/4 in. in diameter,, the other one is 6' long same diameter and the 3rd piece is like 4' long..If anyone can help me with this i would appreciate it.... Branford,CT

Submitted by Kerry (not verified) on
I still am having a hard time believing this myself because it is West Hartford (The Simsbury side) however I saw a cat in my backyard a couple days ago that was about the size of a boxer. I grew up in Litchfield County and have seen both Bobcats and Coyotes. It definitely was not a coyote and the color and body profile was all wrong for a bobcat. My wife and I watched this cat from my son’s bedroom window as it prowled along the edge of the bushes in my back lawn. Like I said above it appeared to be about the size of a boxer (if I had to take a guess I would say 60 lbs). It was a tan color with a deep chest and the ears had black tips and a really long tail probably about the length of the cat. It was about 8:00 pm and slowly crept along the line of bushes that runs along the back of several houses. It reminded me of watching one of the cats I grew up with stalking something. By the time I got working batteries in my camera it was about two houses down and I couldn't get a picture that wasn't blurry in low light zoomed in with my camera. Based on the couple bobcat sightings I have had and pictures of bobcats and mountain lions on the internet I don't see what else it could have been other than a small mountain lion.

Submitted by Gretchen (not verified) on
I ride my bike home from work on the trail from Simsbury to Farmington frequently. On Friday, August 6, I saw a large, reddish animal with a long tail step out onto the trail. At first, I thought it was a dog and I expected to see a person step out onto the trail behind it. It stood there for a second or two and looked down the trail where a man was walking towards it (and me). It swished a long tail, crouched and then leaped up onto the opposite side of the trail in a motion that could be only be described as feline. This was near the Nod Brook Wildlife Area at about the 7.5 mile mark on the trail. Every one I have described it to has had the same reaction: mountain lion. My brother suggested I report it to the DEP but I get the impression they wouldn't believe me.

Don't be so sure about cougars being extinct. In 1958, a boyhood friend of mine was visiting East Rock Park outside New Haven. This kid was a trapper, well acquainted with bobcats and all CT wildlife. He swears he saw a cougar in the woods right off the road...I believe him. We questioned him closely: he was 18, not just a kid, and said is was definitely NOT a bobcat, which were common in our neck of the woods. (Mt. Carmel hills outside Hamden.) We didn't give it much thought at the time; why would cougars be extinct? Most of the farmers were long gone, and farms had reverted to woods. Very few people hunted anymore, either...

Submitted by doc (not verified) on
Remember our land was cleared and burned way back at some time. Even the whitetail was down to an estimated less than 20 individuals. The mountain lion was hunted and killed up and down the east coast. All eastern states reported it gone. Whitetail came back, bear came back and turkey came back due to remnanate populations in neighboring states. For mountain lions there are no remnant populations nearby. You have to go to Florida. Thats based on scientific fact. What did Brad Yaegers friend see in 58 - possible a mountain lion but not an eastern mountain lion. Back then there were a lot of side shows or traveling circus. It is speculated they may have let loose a cat or one escaped. I followed up a friends report of one several years ago and collected a picture of a track. People are seeing animals because there are some around but again they are not the ones native of the area and yes that does make a differenct to the DEP and yes they will tell you they are extinct because they are. Still call in your report but don't expect the green trucks with the dogs to show up and don't expect the great fan fair over the phone from the DEP. The cats have a history of roaming very large areas and don't stay still long. I would encourage you if you did see a cat to report it also to some of the cougar sites dedicated to those reports found on the internet. (I can't help wonder though if they might not have knowledge of how these cats came to be loose in the wild in the first place!)

Submitted by Ann (not verified) on
I grew up in the BOW area (Bethany, Orange and Woodbridge) and I have seen twice a cat the size of a large dog that was a tannish color. Might of been a bobcat? I just remember the huge tail and big paws!

Submitted by Mike (not verified) on
September 7, 2010 - Burlington, CT My wife and I both saw what was unmistakably a mountain lion walking apx. 100 yards from our back deck. It was close enough that you could see it's long tail and muscular build as it walked along the edge of a beaver pond in our back yard...possibly hunting the beaver family that resides there. I don't believe that was a bobcat, coyote, dog, deer, fox, bear, or any other animal that we have seen before in the back yard. This was a VERY large cat with huge muscles walking slowly along the water's edge. I wish I had a camera nearby, but of course I didn't at the time, and the cat was only visible for about 30 seconds before it disappeared into the brush.

Submitted by Mike (not verified) on
Correction - that last reported sighting was on September 4, 2010, not the 7th.

Submitted by Jim (not verified) on
doc, I think you are a little too extreme in pointing us toward Florida for the nearest big cat. I'm also wondering where that count of 20 whitetail came from. Who did the counting and did they look everywhere? In every single wodded area of CT or were there no trees whatsoever in the entire state so it was quite plain to see there were only 20? Eastern cougars were never hunted to a number of zero just like whitetail didn't go down to 20. If so I would like to speak to the person who proved that beyond a doubt and find out the scientific method and theory they used to come to that conclusion. People see things all the time that they don't report for one reason or another. Who on earth can actually predict or claim extinsion with only a couple of centuries past unless its an animal the size of an elephant. Animal habituation is not like human citizenship. All wild animals inhabit areas and move in to new areas over the course of several years. From Maryland to Maine there have been several sightings recently and going back to when they were supposedly extinct. Point is that wild animals don't need passports to cross borders. They don't turn around when they realize they have just stepped in to Georgia. As for the people demanding evidence - try to get someone who has accidently shot or run over one of these things to come forward. The last guy that did a few years ago in Wisconsin (where they are also not supposed to exist) was almost prosecuted. I hope they are here and I hope poeple don't give too much of an exact location unless it is close to where children gather. I'm not saying they are here in CT but anyone who thinks that an animal that can travel 40 miles plus per day for several days at a time to stake their own area cannot end up in this state is very mistaken.

Submitted by Jim (not verified) on
To finsh my point you can't prove beyond doubt that any animal in any area with a decent sized landscape is extinct until several centuries have passed. The tasmanian tiger in Australia is a good example of that. You also can't pinpoint down to a particular number of a species left either. Unless you blindly believe what the authorities tell you. It just doesn't make sense. You can make a good guess by studying what increases in the food chain below that animal but you can never be exact.

Submitted by Jim (not verified) on
Doc, I very much respect your comments and point of view. I just don't buy the escaped pets theory to explain everything though. Go a little further west - the mountain lions shot and killed in the last 5 years in Illinois, PA, Ohio have all been proved to not be domesticated. In fact the one shot in north Chicago suburbs was tracked via DNA to have travelled down from Wisconsin over the course of 18 months. I don't think we can predict or deny how much further east they have travelled. I don't think they have existed here over all that time doc. I think they are coming back in to the area from the North and North West. Thanks for pointing to that book and will definetly get me a copy to learn more. What can you recommend on Old New England especially focusing on Connecticut? Jim

Submitted by Lu (not verified) on
My husband saw, what he swears up and down was a Mountain Lion crossing a road in Windsor, CT. He was getting onto 91 North, and it crossed the road right in front of him, jumped the guard rail and went down into a corn field. He said it was definitely not a Bobcat, he said it had massive paws and a long tail. He said it looked like a female lion - which is what a Mountain would look like. He went into work and was talking to someone he works with that is a real nature/animal person and even he agreed, that it was probably a Mountain Lion. I'm sure they exist, why not ? You can't tell me that they only exist in FL and there are none whatsoever that have not migrated back north again, especially with all the building, I'm sure they are being shuffled out of ther natural habitats and looking for new places.

Submitted by doc (not verified) on
Jim I understand when you look out your window of your car and see vast woodlands and deer in the meadows its hard pressed to believe that they would ever reach a number such as 20. I should point out that the number 20 was assigned as a population estimate of the time (see Hammerson, Geoffrey, Connecticut Wildlife: Biodiversity, Natural History, and Conservation, University Press of New England: Hanover, New Hampshire, and London, 2004, ISBN 1-58465-369-8, Chapter 21: "Mammals", pp 379–404 for more information). Again the land you see was not that way at the turn of the century. Deer were hunted commercially for food and clothing without any regard for there preservation pushing them to near extinction from straight out killing and the lost of substainable habitat. Land was cleared for sheep grazing and to create charcoal. Deer habitat requires more than a simple patch of trees here and there. Very little old growth exists to this day in CT and I would encourage you to read aboult old new england to get a better understanding of this. Mountain lions as well were hunted to extinction because they were considered a threat much like bear and wolves. To exist over all that time requies a population of animals with fresh introduction of dna. An isolated couple of cougars would breed themselves out from inbreeding meaning the gene pool would become too damaged over time to sustain a population without new dna. The florida panthers as numerous as they appear ran into that problem because they are an isolated population of animals and the wildlife biologist had to inport new dna into the system by introducing western animals much to dismay of some. So the science is in a nutshell that the only remnant population of cougars on the east coast exists in florida. The animals people have seen are from escaped pets or released western cats and no DEP had nothing to do with that. Again they are/were poplular in the pet trade but imagine feeding an animal seven pounds of meat a day. So I don't doubt Lu's husband saw a Mountain Lion in Windsor but it falls under the escaped pet / released animal catagory. Historically Jim people have moved animals around with good intentions. Look at Corbin Park in NH where they had a population of buffalo, elk, wild boar and other odd animals even cougars introduced as part of a hobby animal park. This park still exists as a private hunt club although they only have elk and wild boar as the two exotics remaining. There was one similiar one in western mass back in the late 1800's that failed.

Submitted by InSherman (not verified) on
We must have a resident one here on the Sherman/New Fairfield line Rte. 37. Back in July (2010), some members of a DOT road crew warned my neighbor to mind any pets or children because they saw a very large black cat with a very long tail cross the road and head up the rocky slope behind her house. Well, she mentioned it to me and we both thought, must've been a grey fox or black lab or something, mountain lions aren't black. But when I looked it up, it says they can be black. Hmm. . .Doubt was erased a few days ago (9/14/10) when my wife said she had a very exciting drive home from work. About 1/2 mile south of our house also crossing 37 towards NY she witnessed a really large black cat with long tail, which she said was way too large to be a housecat and it didn't walk or trot across the road but took a few bounds.

Submitted by Beth (not verified) on
I live in Colchester, CT. My neighbor was driving down my street yesterday morning about 7:30 when he saw about 20 feet in front of him what looked like a "big cat, greyish to tannish in color, with a cat looking face and a very long slithery tail cross the street in front of him. He said this animal was definitely not a coyote, fisher cat or a bobcat. He said it was pretty big and muscular. It came from the front yard of my next door neighbor and crossed the street and went into an open lot that has alot of heavy brush. This is not the first time one of my neighbors has seen this animal and they both agree that it lokked like a Mountain lion.

Submitted by HR (not verified) on
I listened to a show about mountain lions on WILI out of Willimantic the other day, and it reminded me of when my mother saw one way back in 2004 in Mansfield. She was driving home from my house around 10:00 at night on Mt. Hope Road. She said that it was half as tall as the fence near the road (this is near a farm) and had a tail "almost as long as its body". It was definitely a large cat. She was an intelligent woman, not given to fanciful imaginings, and in fact I don't think she even realized that pumas could possibly be in CT. When she got home, she said to my Dad, who is a wildlife enthusiast, "I just saw a strange animal". She described it and they realized it had to be a mountain lion. Long tail, a large cat, light in color. My mom passed away, unfortunately, but one of the things I would love to talk to her about again is that mountain lion! I think that one reason there is so little evidence is that the lions like it that way! They are after all "the ghosts of the forest" and it's pretty hard to snap a picture of one if you aren't expecting to see one. Which my mother definitely wasn't. Really wish someone could get a pic, though, and prove it. I don't think so many people could be wrong year after year. The way people describe it, you just know they are telling the truth. And most of us in rural areas are very familiar with deer, coyotes, etc. and can sure tell the difference!

Submitted by doc (not verified) on
Jim, I have a couple of books I need to locate and will let you know. Regarding cougars migrating from the north there are no current populations north of here even in that part of Canada bordering ME, NH, VT. Granted there has been news of animals coming from out west migrating east such as that Chicago cat shot by the police but CT and even RI where animals are seen as well are just to far for that western line to have traveled. What the wildlife people will tell you is that people are funny and want animals as pets and these animals escape and those people don't tell anybody because they were not suppose to have them in the first place. Currently in NH they are dealing with three hybrid wolves that escaped causing school lockdowns and concern in the community. What we need around here is a collection of an animal and testing to conclusively prove what people are seeing. Scat collected in the Quabbin in Mass proved to the Mass DEP that there existed a cougar at that location - however they felt it was a feral pet and left it at that.

Submitted by Steve Frank on
Jon send the pic to [email protected] please.

Submitted by Ron (not verified) on
Jon, You work for Mark? Please send picture to [email protected] Thanks. Research shows an Aug. 5th sighting in Plainville also. I'm his cousin Ron.

Submitted by Amber (not verified) on
I live in Westchester, CT and know that we also have mountain lions in this area. I live in a very secluded area where there are probably only 15 house in a 500 acre area. Last year I saw a mountain lion going through my quad trail 20yards from my house. I know it was no other animal because we have seen them all here; fisher cats, bobcats, wild dogs, and coyotes. And this was much too large to be any other animal.

Submitted by fritz (not verified) on
last fall i was riding my bike up by Winchester center .a large tan cat, the size of a German shepherd, popped out of the woods onto the road about 100 ft in front of me. i stopped and got off my bike and watched it for about 20 seconds. it then hopped back into the woods. i mounted my bike and went in the opposite direction.

Submitted by tina (not verified) on
On January 1st 2011 , my best friend and I were driving home (also not saying where to protect the animal's well being)..we took a turn and there was an animal so we slowed down and put the high beams on. What we saw was a large dark colored cat with a very long tail, I don't think it was black, but possibly just dirty. However, this was the size of a mountain lion and had stubby ears. At first my friend says "Is that a bobcat?" And I said "Did you see a long tail...because I saw a looooong tail" She confirmed...so that pretty much rules out the bobcat theory considering the long tail and it was far too big to be a bobcat. I'm positive that it was a mountain lion. It was dark outside and it slinked back into the woods pretty quick, I can see how nobody can produce a photograph, they're very hard to capture on film. This is proof for myself though, because I've had my suspicions for quite some time, as have many, and have been told "NO WAY!". But now I've finally seen one with my own eyes and thats enough proof for me any day! I hope someone can come up with some proof for these people so we can start safety implications for them as well as conservation/management efforts for the sake of coexisting peacefully with these beautiful big cats.

I am a broker and owner of a real estate company in Ct. Mt client has picrures of a mountain lion sitting next to his bard on Duncaster Road In Bloomfield

Submitted by Gene (not verified) on
My wife and I were going to dinner one evening to a restaurant at the airport in Oxford CT. There is a long winding road that leads to the airport itself. My wife pointed and asked what the heck was this creature lurking the wood line. It was as black as night and crept in stealth like motion through the underbrush. I am an avid hunter and I know the difference between a dog and a bobcat to anything else one may clam that I saw. I have a hard time saying that what I saw was a black panther but that was what it was. CRAZY!

Submitted by doc (not verified) on
Greg Anychance you can get a copy of that picture? Doc

Submitted by D Smith (not verified) on
This is a good site about eastern mountain lions. It also helps you to confirm if you have had a sighting. http://eprn.homestead.com/ also some good articles here on mountain lions found where they shouldn't have been since long ago. My opinion is just because someone official claimed they were all gone proves nothing and I don't think they are all escaped pets. Some for sure but not all. I'm new to SE CT but have already started to hear stories from neighbors about our local one that has been around for 10 plus years. Like doc I would be very interested in pictures. http://www.cryptomundo.com/index.php?s=cougar

Submitted by doc (not verified) on
Greg, Looking forward to see what he's got. Sound really interesting. doc

Doc; I contacted my client who's is also named Greg and left him a message I know he lives in Windsor Ct now. I will post as soon as I recieve the picture. You will not believe it.

Submitted by Roach (not verified) on
The DEP is afraid people will go out and shoot them.

Submitted by doc (not verified) on
Paul Thats a pretty good observation in line with Gregs comment and you say that a local farmer has seen it as well. Chances on seeing it again are remote but in the event try to get a picture of the track. Rain probably washed it away. Having this farmer confirm it is pretty good. He probably spends a great deal of time outside. Don't know if you have a connection with him but even if he could let you know if he sees it again maybe you can look for tracks yourself. Don't expect confirmation of your sighting from DEP and don't take offense if they try to direct your observation as that of a coyote. They also will not come out and check it out. Thanks for reporting it here and post any followup you have.

Submitted by mark (not verified) on
I have seen one a few times in a area late at night. It ran out in front of my car one night , and there was no mistaking the muscles, shorter hair, and square face. No way it was a bobcat. I have seen bobcats many times at or family's cabin in vermont and this was not even close. I am going to order a trail camera and try to capture a pic of it. I know i can, ive seen it more than once and observed it licking its paw for close to 3 minutes one evening. Theres a problem though. How can i prove the picture is from connecticut if i get one?? I mean its kinda in the middle of no where. There no land markers just woods, and fields. I was thinking about scraping something into a tree that the camera would pic up in the picture but what are the chances. Im gonna have to move the camera around a lot to get one im sure. Any ideas would be appreciated. I just dont know how to prove its a CT cat. Sorry im not going to give out the location for the cats protection, and the land the cat has been seen on is private farm land and the owner asked me not to tell the location. Kinda cool he knew about it as well. He told me it walked right in front of him one day!

Submitted by Kurt (not verified) on
I saw a cougar this morning on Pinebrook Rd in Colchester. It was walking right down the road as I was driving to work. It hopped a large snow bank and ran into a field as our car approached. My wife and kids also in the car saw it too. No pics, but Im certain there are tracks that are probably now gone with the fresh snowfall.

Submitted by Bruce (not verified) on
I have seen them on a few different occasions out by black rock state park in litchfield toward leatherman's cave as well as in the winsted area by the dam. The first time I was quite surprised, I had only seen them in patagonia and Colorado previously.

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