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PC,

 I imagine we'll see it again in a couple years with a new town and state/ province.  Maybe Sayreville, NJ.

My brother who lives in Monroe Township tells me a black bear was spotted there. That's hard to believe too. I'm a product of Newark/Elizabeth.

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PartridgeCartridge

The black bear stories are, for the most part, true. We've got some big ones in urban areas now down here. Even had one on the beach last year. I'm not kidding.

In fact, NJ probably has the next B&C record if we ever get a season back. My mom regularly has 21" bears on her back porch eating suet.

Attempt to shoot a 21" black in SE Alaska and you may hunt for a decade just trying.

No big cats here though. I've been looking for years now in the best places too.

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Mighty big chip on that shoulder PC.  

Most bio's develop a show me attitude after a few wild goose chases.  The advent of digital camera's and trail cam's has been a real help--largely as a means to quickly settle most all of the reports.  People insist up and down they have seen something, claim to know the difference--but get it very wrong, very often.  

One of the better pics I have seen was of a supposed mt. lion--standing a few inches taller than the street curb along the street it was walking down.  Killer tabby maybe, but no lion--and yet the observer was insistent they knew the difference and knew what they saw.    

Lynx tracks are very similar to lion, most would not be able to tell them apart just from a track or two, and few have lived in areas where both live with any frequency to get good at it.  

When a real lion sighting occurs where they are scarce  it comes down to a tame or wild question--there are a surprising number of tame lions let loose.  Usually by the idiots that think they'd make a good pet.  When the little cute kitty isn't little anymore and gets a bit scary, they find they can't find someone to take them--so they get dumped.  Some of them seem to be able to learn to survive in the wild.  Some of them do a poor job of it and end up getting killed.

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drummer's stump
I really doubt there are any large cats in the northeast, I think there should be, I would like to see them release brown bears and some good Russian stock tigers in nyc. It would give me a good laugh. Where I grew up in Pa people are always saying they saw a lion, with the number of deer hunter someone would have shot one if they where there, one would have been hit by a car.
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PartridgeCartridge

Mighty big chip on that shoulder PC.  

What?

Please explain that rather harsh comment. I guess since I've never had a lynx or a bobber or a puma in my arms I don't have an educated opinion?

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This was in the paper this past weekend

Animal sightings beg some questions

Sunday, Sep. 20, 2009          

THE SIGN of the cougar hits home.

Well, despite suggestions from editors and readers that I stay away from the subject of cougars -- or mountain lions -- for a while because of repetitiveness, it just doesn't seem possible. What do you do when a guy comes up to you at the hardware store and tells you that he's just seen a huge mountain lion bound across the road just up from your house?

It was an uncanny encounter. This English guy, whom I now delight in calling "That Limy guy up off the Chet Noyes Road," was lining up with me to check out our latest purchases at Hicks Hardware in Colebrook, and said, "Have you seen the cougar near your place?"

Now, this made me take a step back, as in "Huh?" Others, it turns out, have seen this animal, too.

It was just up the road from my barnyard driveway, he said. Just past what we call Ancestors' Field, where my parents' and brother's ashes help the grass grow. Right near Phil Lambert's survey stick on the south side of the road. Right where, the Limy said, you can't take your eyes off the road for too long because so much traffic these days is coming hell-bent for leather.

"This was one big animal, with a very long tail," he said. "It cleared the road in two bounds." (This is a two-rod road, meaning two times 16.5 feet, or 33 feet.)

And here comes the uncanny part. As Cindy Hicks, at the counter, was taking all this in, I reached into my back pocket and said, "I just so happen to have a copy of the Burgess photo with me," and produced a folded image of a mystery animal taken by an automatic trail-side camera 16 feet from a bait-pile near the town of Sharon, in southwestern New Hampshire. It shows a tawny, very cat-like (to me) animal about the size of a very big German shepherd. The tail, unfortunately, is not definite (to me it looks as if it just swished to the left, and thus doubled over).

"This is incredible," said Cindy, scrutinizing the image but actually remarking on the coincidence. I mean, here's this guy with his story, and I just happen to have this picture.

Conversation turned to my "Cougar Crossing" front-lawn sign, a cherished item that was stolen around Christmas several years ago by someone who, with an accomplice waiting in a running vehicle, waded through 2 feet of snow to unbolt it from its pinnings. It is in someone's camp up the road, I'm convinced -- someone who has no clue as to whose it was or how much it meant.

All of which brings the questions:

We are definitely seeing big cat-like animals out there, with long tails, and there could be no other creatures like that out there but mountain lions; where are they coming from?

And where is my sign?

John Harrigan's "Woods, Water & Wildlife" column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. He can be reached at Box 39, Colebrook, NH 03576 and hooligan@ncia.net.

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Mighty big chip on that shoulder PC.  

What?

Please explain that rather harsh comment. I guess since I've never had a lynx or a bobber or a puma in my arms I don't have an educated opinion?

Not saying that.  You started with "dipshit" and "effin moron" and went on from there.

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PartridgeCartridge

Hmmm. Well that because he WAS a dipshit and worse. A DEP officer, overweight and with a bad comb over, unable to follow me because of his lardass just a few hundred yards up a very steep drainage to look at some hot tracks.

So I found where the cat crossed the road so he could drag his fat keister out of the truck and walk the twenty feet to see it.

The ignorant, donut eating peckerhead even admitted he'd never seen a wild puma.

Then this cherub has the unmitigated balls to tell me that those were bobcat tracks. Its not a chip there Windy, its pure ignorance, laziness, beaurocratic sloth and Agency denial of the existence of large cats in their ancestral range.

Ancestral Range.

Management requires manpower and money and denial is a cost effective way to keep it contained until a big cat eviscerates some Senator's kid. Or his drunk wife plows into one and dies with the cat on her lap in a pile of glass.

In this case all they had to do was put a few good lion dogs on the ground and I would have caught that cat. It might have taken a few days and a few cold nights in the woods with no gear or sleep, but this female was very catchable. She was bleeding for chrissakes. A barely decent cathound could sniff her out.

I would have taken the dogs myself and left the fatguy in the dust just to do it.

It was that simple, and yet they refused to catch it.

The Catskills were an historical central biosphere for these critters. Prime habitat, good eats and plenty of space still up there.

And cut the crap about lynx trax. Any competent cat person can sniff that bullshit right out.

Ever had a lynx on your lap there Windy?

Been there.

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Having lived in the heart of some of the best mountain lion country in the US (northern AZ) for much of my life I have a couple of observations about them.  

The first is that mountain lions can live very close to civilization.  When I was young we had a big tom walk right through our backyard one snowy night - and this was in a rugged but well populated part of town.  We've also had numerous sightings in Flagstaff over the years, including some mountain lions at various times that sat in trees overlooking elementary schools in broad daylight (game and fish relocated them).  

The second is that even though I lived in an area with a mountain lion density as high as anywhere in the US - in more than thirty years I don't think I saw mountain lions in the wild more than six times.  I saw far more tracks of mountain lions that skedaddled.   These are very elusive animals which is why they use hounds to trail and tree them.  The fact that a few mountain lions haven't been spotted more often in forested country doesn't surprise me.  

Finally, I'd note that despite hunter reports for decades about jaguar sightings in Southern AZ, all of the professionals said there weren't any wild jaguars in AZ.  That's until a lion hunter treed one with his dogs and took a picture of it about twenty years ago.   Since then they've identified more than a half dozen.  

Sometimes the hunters are right and the official line is wrong.  That's why the best professionals always keep an open mind -and it's best to say "isn't likely" instead of "impossible."

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PartridgeCartridge

I have spoken with Warner Glenn and saw his dogs in '99. I assume you know who that is is Dave.

He was a hardcore dry ground cat hunter and was responsible for the first Jag catches. A gentle, rugged rancher that loved to catch cats.

We were on a Jag in the Florida Range in southern NM for two days, dry ground, and lost the cat. I was dissapointed, tired, full of cactus, covered in mulesweat/hair and thirsty for days after that hunt.

It was one of those hunts that I really wished had panned out.

I hope to see or catch one before I can't hunt any more.

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Windy, I learned years ago about 50 of them, that language skills are going down hill in this Country.  I am always amazed how educated people can use words and think it is the only way to express themselves.  I cringe at the language I hear coming from young ladies and gentlemen now a days.  Would even make a Marine blush.
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bosco mctavitch
I have had two people who worked for the New York State dept of Environmental Conservation tell me that they think there is "under the table official DEC policy" to deny and dismiss cat sightings because they don't want to manage them as they would then be required to do so.  I've never seen one, but know of several people very familiar with bobcats and lynxes who have seen mountain lions at pretty close range in the foothills of the Adirondacks.  Heck, my neighbor told me he saw one in has backyard kill two of his guinea hens this past summer--he said it was "the size of a deer, same color, with a tail as long as its body"...he came over to warn us.  A local trapper that has set up trail cams on his traps has photographed one  at night--he claims in Vermont although i don't know for sure.  Another local person said they found tracks in the snow in my backyard last winter that supposedly a VT fish and game biologist ID'd as a mtn lion...I have not recieved any substantiation of that but I DO believe they are here.  What's in question is if there are enough to breed and how they got here.  Plenty of deer around for them to eat and certainly as much room as you'd find in many of the places they already live, that's for sure.
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