Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Cougar In Crown Point? You Be The Judge

CougarA trail camera recently captured video of an animal that may be a cougar sauntering through a backyard in Crown Point near Lake Champlain.

Cara Cowan posted the video on her Facebook page this week. The video was taken a little after noon on March 20, according to its time stamp.

The 18-second clip shows a long-tailed tawny animal walking and then trotting through the yard before it disappears while descending into a large bowl-like swale.

John Laundre, a wildlife biologist and author of a book on cougars, said the animal’s coloring, shape, gait, and long tail are consistent with a cougar, but he added that it’s impossible to judge how big the animal is from the video.

“It walks like a cougar; it looks like one. The big question is the size,” said Laundre, who authored a cougar study in 2012 that concluded that the Adirondack Park has enough habitat to support a population of cougars.

If the animal is not a cougar, he said, it’s a housecat.

Curt Stager, a professor of natural sciences at Paul Smith’s College, also reviewed the video. “Looks like a video of a cougar to me,” he told the Almanack.

Cowan said officials from the state Department of Environmental Conservation watched the video and visited the scene on Tuesday. “They said it is a mountain lion,” she said. “They took a copy of the video and are doing measurements.” She added that DEC “wanted to confirm the place in the video was behind my house and not someplace out west. ”

Given the distance from the camera to the area where the animal appears, Cowan said, “there is no way it could be a house cat. A house cat would have been a lot smaller in the video if that was the case.”

However, DEC spokesman David Winchell said the department has yet to determine what kind of animal it is.

“DEC wildlife biologists have viewed the video and are investigating the matter to determine if the animal in the video is a mountain lion or not,” Winchell said. “At this time DEC can neither confirm nor deny that it is a mountain lion.”

Cougar photos and videos are sometimes posted on the Internet as hoaxes. Christopher Spatz, president of the Cougar Rewilding Foundation, which among other things monitors claims of cougar sightings, said he hasn’t seen the Crown Point video before.

The video posted on Facebook appears grainy at times, because it actually is a video of the video. Cowan told the Almanack in a Facebook message that her husband uploaded the original video into a laptop computer and then used a phone to take a video of the clip as it played on the laptop. He did this so he could send the clip to his wife.

Cougars (also known as mountain lions or panthers) once roamed the Adirondacks, but most biologists say they vanished in the nineteenth century, due to overhunting and loss of habitat. Nevertheless, people frequently report sightings of the big cats.

DEC contends that most sightings are cases of mistaken identity. If a real cougar is seen in the Adirondacks, it’s most likely a pet that escaped or was released, according to DEC. One exception was a wild cougar that passed through the Lake George region in 2010. It migrated from South Dakota and was killed by a car in Connecticut in 2011.

Here is the video:

Top photo from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Phil Brown

Since 1999, Phil Brown has been Editor of the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack.

Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing.

He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.

Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.




104 Responses

  1. Darlene Gregson says:

    Over the last 15 years I have had two different people talk of seeing a large cat and it was black. Each time they were with someone else that confirmed this sighting.

    • Bruce says:

      Darlene,

      According to experts, no cases of black cougars have ever been documented. Black-phase leopards and jaguars are known and have been documented many times, however. Even at that, if you look closely, their spots are still visible.

      • Craig. says:

        I have talked to multiple people who claimed to hasve seen a ‘black panther”. The problem is they do not and never have existed. The only wild cat in the Americas that is found in a black coloring is a jagaur. Jagaurs are old found in South and Central America though recently one has been spotted in Arizona.One guy I work with told me about when he was a kid there was a “black panther” outside his rural home. They head it and his father went out at night with a gun and shot the black panther. The only problem with his story is ,there is no such thing,it was dark out and he shot at sound and it had to be a black panther because “he couldn’t see it in the dark” . Several other people I have known have said they say a cougar and in every story it was black. Some of them claim to have video or pictures which when asked to show them to me ,never happened.I even know a guy who every year would tell 6th graders while at a YMCA camp in the Catskills about how the Natives Americans would catch fish in the area where the camp was and while walking with packs full of fish the “Catskill Black Panthers” would attack them. There are very few black phase jagaurs in the wild. In North America they exist in zoos ect for show and are “made” in zoos through breeding.

        • Running George says:

          My mother used to talk about “panthers” in the area. That was in the Turin area which is part of Tug Hill. People are still talking of cougars in the area.

  2. Pete Nelson Pete Nelson says:

    Cougar! If that’s a house cat I’m the Prime Minister of Sweden. Doesn’t mean they’re here, and the location does need to be verified. but I say “Cool!”

  3. Marc Wanner says:

    “If it’s not a cougar, he said, it’s a housecat.”

    Wow! The guy may be an expert on Cougars, but he clearly needs to consult with an expert on house cats!

  4. Vernon Brewer II says:

    Lynx

  5. Paul says:

    Why don’t they post the actual video? You can see the reflection of the guys.

    • Phil Brown Phil Brown says:

      She was sharing on Facebook a video her husband took with his cell phone. It was easy to share with her friends. Evidently, DEC now has a copy of the original video.

  6. Phil Brown Phil Brown says:

    Just added a comment from Professor Curt Stager at Paul Smith’s College. He reviewed the video and thinks it’s a cougar.

    • Pete Nelson Pete Nelson says:

      Phil:

      I’m sure you’re already trying this, but you should attempt to acquire the original video. It might be reasonably simple to verify the location as well.

      Pete

  7. Boreas says:

    I am no expert, but I would lean toward cougar. Housecat’s tails are typically not long enough to drag on the ground. This cat and cougars have tails that can easily touch the ground. When it breaks into a little trot, the pace looks a little like a house cat, but this would be very variable, and it could just be a smaller cougar.

  8. Charlie S says:

    Over the years in my travels in New York,specifically through the Hudson Valley,I have heard from handful’s of people that they swear they saw a big cat,a cougar,a mountain lion on this or that acreage. My father swears he saw one in Indian Lake going over the road 15 to 20 years ago. I’ve never had proof but I’ve seen what appeared to be cat-like animals larger than large house cat’s.A passenger in my car swears he saw a cougar go into the woods on Old Schuylerville Road near Saratoga as I was driving in the early morning darkness a few years ago.

    On March 1 I was headed up to Blue Mountain Lake on the Northway at 430 in the morning when a large light brown cat-like animal went dashing over the road east to west between exit’s 12 & 13. My headlights revealed it’s shape and color and it was creeping low as it ran quick-like over the road into tall grass in the median. I was too far away to confirm what it was but my headlights revealed what I describe. Cars were southbound in the other lanes and the median was wide in this area with lots of low growth. My first thoughts were I hoped it made it across the other lanes. At the very least it appeared to be an extra large house cat but the first thing that came to mind was a cougar.

  9. Ed Burke says:

    Hard to be positive seeing the video. Trots like a house cat at end but that could be result of foreshortening because of perspective. I did speak to former DEC officer about cats the other day who said people can buy them in the Appalachians and have been known to turn them loose. He said one was captured near Wilton years ago that had no teeth or claws.

  10. John A. Lutz says:

    After viewing the short video, there is NO doubt in my mind, the mammal is anything but a “free-roving, wild puma-cougar-mountain lion”, which is NOT that rare a sighting for the Adirondacks National Park area. As Director of the Eastern Puma Research Network in Grant County, West Virginia, we have received at least a dozen other sightings of similar “eastern cougars”, within or in close proximity of the Adirondacks since 1965……

    • John Ouillette says:

      I concur!

    • NoTrace says:

      John,

      Your credibility was shot years ago when you peddled “black panthers” right and left, high and low, with nary the blink of an eye. About as much “research in EPRN as there is in the Trump campaign.

    • Dean says:

      “Adirondacks National Park area”???? Less than stellar geography coming from a wildlife association Director.

    • Bruce says:

      John A. Lutz,

      Why do you show a picture of a black leopard on your site? The animal’s spots are clearly visible. Oh BTW, there is no “Adirondack National Park.”

      Many years ago, there was a leopard wandering around the central part of North Carolina. Turned out it was an escapee from a nearby and licensed big cat researcher’s property.

  11. Charlie S says:

    “He said one was captured near Wilton years ago that had no teeth or claws.”

    No teeth or claws. Declawed and let loose which is not hard to imagine with this shallow society. But no teeth. Explain that one please.

  12. Charlie S says:

    The Adirondacks is not a national park thank the powers that be. There’d be concession stands all over the place if it was,it would be way over-crowded if it was.

  13. M.P. Heller says:

    Escaped pets are a reality. That being said this animal has a tail that it in form and posture consistent with a Mountain Lion. Ed brings up a good point about perspective because we have no real reference points. The gait is more consistent with a domestic feline.

    Maybe a cougar. Maybe a house cat with very poor perspective. Maybe too one too many at The Carillion. Not a lynx. Not a bobcat. That’s my final analysis.

  14. John says:

    It’s a cougar, mountain lion, puma, whatever you want to call it. It’s not a house cat.

  15. Tim Rowland says:

    Couldn’t tell from the video, it was either a Great White or a sardine.

  16. JR says:

    Um, did it leave tracks in some loose dirt or mud within a one hundred yard radius of the site?
    Seems so simple.
    Why would you not go video a track along side an object for reference?

    • Phil Brown says:

      Not sure when they first checked the trail camera, but it was likely days after the fact. It was taken on March 20 but not posted on Facebook until March 28.

  17. Bruce says:

    The tail looks “heavy” for the body, which might indicate a cougar, as opposed to a house cat. Other than that, it’s very difficult to tell. Maybe the experts will find some scat, so a DNA analysis can be made and put this to bed.

  18. Diane O'Connor says:

    About a year ago, around 10 p.m., while driving south on Route 9N near the Gunnison Orchard, a large animal that was clearly NOT a coyote ran across the road in front of us. We have always felt it was a cougar.

  19. rc says:

    I’ve never had a cougar but I HAVE had numerous house cats.

    I have never seen a house cats’ tail held in the manner shown in the video. It’s held low, the way a true predator would hold it.
    My opinion.

  20. Boreas says:

    One could take a domestic cat to the same site and see how it looks for comparison. It may not be big enough to even trigger the camera at that distance.

    • Boreas says:

      Probably my imagination, but the color pattern – white spots on back of the ears – seems consistent with a cougar. But it could be lighting or wishful thinking. Perhaps the original video would show this field mark better. But I think the tail thickness and posture are the key.

  21. Debbie Boomhower says:

    It certainly looks like a cougar.

  22. Tim-Brunswick says:

    I’m an experienced outdoorsman and have better than ten trail cameras, which are often in “video” mode and I have footage of many kinds of animals………..to me it looks and walks/trots exactly like a house cat………sorry!

  23. Dave says:

    Stay skeptical, friends.

  24. fredbertram says:

    Do trail cameras pan like that? Or are they fixed on one location?

    • John Warren John Warren says:

      From the article above:

      “The video posted on Facebook appears grainy at times, because it actually is a video of the video. Cowan told the Almanack in a Facebook message that her husband uploaded the original video into a laptop computer and then used a phone to take a video of the clip as it played on the laptop. He did this so he could send the clip to his wife.”

  25. Paul says:

    What did the tracks look like?

    Need something with relative size to look at.

  26. Paul says:

    The other video will be more interesting. Where this one starts there must be video prior to the start. At that point I think it is too far away to have tripped the motion sensor on the game camera. There must be footage of the animal closer to the camera when it was tripped. It is going away from the camera when this footage starts. That is strange?

    • Phil Brown Phil Brown says:

      I don’t know how trail cameras work. Maybe motion has to be detected over a short period of time so every passing leaf doesn’t set it off. Maybe there is a time lag between the sensor picking up motion and the start of filming. Or maybe this is not the entire video.

      • Boreas says:

        Trail cams are kinda sketchy. They trigger well when something crosses in front of it, but when something passes from the side going away from them, they often don’t trigger until the critter is directly in the center of the sensor. And of course, every manufacturer is different WRT sensitivity and trigger distances. The manufacturer of mine says it shouldn’t trigger with anything smaller than a turkey, but as I have it set pointing slightly downward toward a stream, it picks up squirrels and anything larger.

        This camera seems to be pointed fairly level, which means it will likely take a larger animal to trigger it, especially at distance. Lighting and temperature also impacts what will trigger them and at what distance. The best test would be what I mentioned above – take a domestic cat and try to have it follow the same path – or at least hold it in the area where the ‘cougar’ walked and get a shoulder height comparison. But good luck herding a cat….

        • Paul says:

          This one looks well positioned in that it has very little brush around to set it off when the wind blows etc. Usually it is triggered by a fairly close motion. It can be set up with a delay. If it were designed to be triggered by distant motion they would be pretty useless since they would be set off all the time. In this video there clearly would have been motion close to the camera prior to what is on this video. The animal didn’t just appear already moving away from the camera like in the clip.

          • Boreas says:

            Paul,
            On mine, there is a delay setting, but it is a delay between shots, not a delay to start every shot (There wouldn’t be a lot of point to that.). In other words, it will take a shot, wait 30 seconds, then take another. If this is the case, the prior shot would show something closer, but I feel in this case it was just one shot triggered late when it finally satisfied the sensor.

            • Paul says:

              Maybe. But I think it looks like the animal just appears in motion right in direct line with the camera. It seems a little weird that it didn’t trigger with the motion when the animal was closer to the camera. With the cameras I have I think the movement has to be something like less than 40 feet away to trigger the shot. If it is closer (like where the animal is coming from in this video) it would trigger it no problem. Don’t get me wrong this looks like a real shot I just think maybe there is more before this?

      • Boreas says:

        Yet another point about cats and trail cams. Domestic and feral cats will set up a territory and mark them regularly. If you have a cat on your game cam route, you will see it virtually every day doing the same thing, spraying the same places. Otherwise, it would be a cat without a territory just moving through, as seems to be the case here.

  27. Lindy says:

    I hope it’s not a red fox…or a coyote. Really hard to tell in this video. If you are thinking it’s a mountain lion it does look like one, but….

  28. frank carbone jr. says:

    I haven’t read all 43 comments.
    it seems the approximate size of the cat can be determined by driving wooden stakes into the ground at a height reference height of 2 feet where the animal was seen in the video.
    , , frank

  29. Phil Brown Phil Brown says:

    DEC spokesman David Winchell has responded to the video, and I have added his comment to the article:

    “DEC wildlife biologists have viewed the video and are investigating the matter to determine if the animal in video is a mountain lion or not. At this time DEC can neither confirm nor deny that it is a mountain lion in the video.”

  30. Randy says:

    The video reminds me of Bigfoot “sightings” but it was a copy off the computer screen, so I’ll remain skeptical until something more definitive comes out of the original video. Sure looks like a big cat, not a housecat, Great Dane or otherwise, to me. It seems plausible that this is a cougar, given the migration of one from South Dakota, through NY to CT, where it was struck by a car (I think). Could be climate this year and habitat change has encouraged young Cougars to wander farther than their normal territory in search of mates.

    • AG says:

      Yeah they claim that cougar that died in CT was the first. But that is bullocks. It’s just they first they tracked and recorded (the DEC knew it was in Lake George weeks before it got hit in CT and didn’t say anything). There are a lot of things scientists don’t know yet. They always claim females stick close to their home range – yet in just this past year – 4 females in the US and Canada have been tracked as travelling as far as 600 miles. Sadly – only one is still alive. The other 3 were shot by “hunters”.
      Now I don’t think they are breeding in NY… But I have no doubt they pass through. Some I’m sure lived and never found a mate – kind of like the one that lives in Griffith Park in LA – but just deep in the forest. They probably got old and died and were finished off by scavengers with no scientist knowing.

  31. […] If the animal is not a cougar, he said, it’s a housecat. (Source: The Adirondack Almanack) […]

  32. Steve Hall Steve Hall says:

    Certainly looks like a cougar, but the question is not whether we occasionally see cougars, but whether there is a breeding population. In other words, males may wander through the area, wanting to set up territories, but prospective territories must include not only prey, but the smaller territories of female cougars. The smoking gun of persistent cougar residence, will be when they discover a female, better still a female with cubs. It is possible to get DNA information from paw prints, which would identify species and gender. This has been done with polar bears. Don’t know whether that has been tried, and I assume the sample would have to be real fresh..

    • Paul says:

      The question here is – is this a cougar? There is no evidence of any breeding population here. One cat on a video isn’t anything but that – one cat on a video.

    • AG says:

      I was just saying the same thing. Evidence has been found in Eastern Canada as well. There is no doubt males travel and travel and travel. Some like the Griffith Park cougar in LA never find a mate because there are no females around. That said – several females have been tracked far from their home ranges recently in Canada and in Kentucky/Tennessee. I doubt any females have made it this far though… They are too quick to get shot. Many have been trying to move north in Florida too – but most of them get hit by cars.

  33. Ray says:

    Looks like a pussy cat to me. It is much closer to the camera than the background and that makes it look bigger than it actually is.

  34. Bruce says:

    The more I look at that video, the more I see a large, feral housecat. We have a couple of feral cats living on our property, one in the barn. When they move about, their tails are carried low, just like in the video. One is so large, the first time I saw it sitting and facing the house, my first thought was a bobcat, which are fairly common here. That’s not to say it isn’t a cougar, because I don’t believe positive identification can be made based on what we’re seeing here.

  35. Paul Schroeder says:

    That would be a mountain lion.

  36. Kyle says:

    If there are cougars in New Jersey, and they definitely are, there most definitely are cougars in the Adirondacks. Not transient, in either case, breeding populations. Been seen by people with considerable experience way, way too many times to be otherwise. Been bodies picked up off the side of I-80 through NW Jersey several times. Interestingly, I just recently found out why there is such vehement denial by Fish & Game on the subject. Turns out, if cougars have a confirmed population in New Jersey, the state has to have a ***funded*** conservation program for them. Always comes down to the almighty dollar. Somehow I doubt it is any different in NY.

    • Bruce says:

      Way, way too many experienced people have seen bigfoot and aliens too. My favorite line is, “I know what I saw, are you calling me a liar?”

      I’m not saying they aren’t in New Jersey, New York or anywhere else, but actual verification is what the wildlife people are looking for, not covering up some sort of conspiracy theory. The one that passed through the Adirondacks and was killed in CT was verified by DNA and the actual carcass.

      Please provide documentation for your assertions that cougars were killed along I-80 in NJ, and that breeding populations exist.

  37. Jim S. says:

    It appears to be headed to the Chapman museum for the whisker contest.

  38. Ed Burke says:

    The video with Moire lines is pretty bad. FYI, feral cat pics here http://con102.blogspot.com/2012/07/feral-cat-on-camera-trap.html

  39. Brian says:

    Why does the video start with the animal in the middle of the screen and walking away at that? Did it just magically appear in the middle of the picture? The video should have started well before that point. That doesn’t add up in my mind, I would say that part was intentionally omitted.

    • Paul says:

      The video does have kind of a Zupruder quality to it? Is that a grassy Knoll is the background?

    • Boreas says:

      Brian,

      It is quite common for game cameras to act like that – the triggers are not based on what you see on the screen. The trigger algorithms must balance a lot of variables such as ambient light, color, size, height, direction of travel, speed, background movement, etc., just to name a few. .On my cameras, probably 80-90% trigger after the animal is more centered it the frame – not at the edge. It all depends on the design of the camera and how you have it set up. There is more discussion about trail cameras above

  40. NoTrace says:

    DEC can also neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons in New York State.

  41. NoTrace says:

    Stating the oh-so-obvious: Why can’t we see the original video that was made, instead of the second-hand copy that the guy took with his cellphone and uploaded? Is there some reason I/we are not entitled/privileged to see that, which would presumably cast a clearer, more definitive eye on this frustratingly fuzzy picture?

    • Boreas says:

      NoTrace,

      Frankly, I don’t think a perfectly clear video would be of any help. You would have a perfectly clear video of an ambiguous sighting. I feel the cat is fairly clear. Without landmarks to indicate size or without physical evidence such as scat or tracks it is not likely we will get a 100% certain identification of this kitty.

  42. Mike says:

    Lots of comments on this one…. folks love to debate about the cougars! Whether this one is or isn’t is moot, it’s a fact they at least come through. Perhaps this one will also end up dead on a highway, and then the DEC will be able to confirm or deny?

  43. Paul says:

    People see more cougars in places where there are not cougars than where we know they are actually living and breeding. That’s gotta tell you something.

    • AG says:

      Well of course not all of them are correct… But some are. My guess would be transients are more easily spotted than a cat in it’s own territory simply because the transient is “exploring”. In fact that happens with other predators too.

      • Paul says:

        It tells me that even in places where there are breeding populations there are so few human cat encounters that in an area where there isn’t a breeding population (even if a stray they are wandering about “exploring”) there basically should be very few if any. Yet we have a ton. This means the people are not seeing what they think they are seeing. And this mistaken identity stuff is bolstered by stories like this one.

        But you can’t prove a negative so there will always be shows like “finding big foot”.

  44. AG says:

    Well there has never been a picture of a wolf anywhere in the wold with a tail like that.
    Aside from that the reality that even the government who is always reluctant to admit it did so – and other evidence was collected…

  45. Housecats United says:

    Ridiculous.

    Come on folks, there are no mountain lions in NY. Time to wake up.

  46. John Walker says:

    So, about a week later, we’re still not seeing that original video posted? Phil, are you going to post it? Looking at this grainy video of a video does not cut it. I’d like to get a better, clear view of the branches in the upper right of the frame. I think I’m seeing deciduous leaves in addition to a pine branch. The leaves don’t look like oak (white oak leaves may remain, dead, on tree in winter), but need to see the original video….so let’s have it!!!

    • John Walker says:

      I now see the video was in fact from Crown Point, NY. Well, at least this one was a cat! Given all the interest these “reports” generate, any posting of a purported cougar detection should provide the original video or original photo from the start. I think it would have been clear to a lot more people that this was a house cat if we had the good video & not the video of a reflective computer screen playing the video. At one point in the posted video, I thought I could see stripes on the back of a leg – not something we’d see on a cougar. Please respect our time and resist the temptation to just post whatever comes your way without getting the original video or image to review. TY

      • Phil Brown says:

        John, we posted the only video available to us. We weren’t forcing anyone to watch it.

      • Boreas says:

        Jeezus John, lighten up! The title itself contained a question mark – that should have been a clue that the article wasn’t trying to be deceptive.

  47. Ken says:

    It must of left it’s tracks that should give you all the info you need.

  48. john goodspeed says:

    Unfortunately DEC there is lions in the Adirondacks stop lying a friend of mine an ECO tracked one on black mtn which was on a moose track

  49. lane.batot@yahoo.com says:

    Looks more like a cougar to me than a housecat, but it IS hard to tell with this vague video. It’s tail DOES look far too long and heavy for a housecat, and the movement is far heavier than a typical housecat–in my opinion. I take care of cougars daily in a zoo, so am quite familiar with their looks and movement. the color is right–though some housecats are tan in color like that, they aren’t as common as other housecat colors. I kept looking for the cougar’s trademark black tail tip, but just not clear enough on this video…. And it LOOKS like typical Eastern forest habitat, so doesn’t look like a hoax taken from out West(this has happened before, of course!). Thing is, if there are NOT cougars this far east yet, there are going to be! It is only a matter of time. Whether they are from western wild populations, or escaped/released captives, it looks inevitable from the actual evidence(get on the “cougar network” and check out their range expansion map). The Appalachian chain is SUPERB cougar habitat, and there are places they COULD be now and no one would know. Heck, out west where they are common, almost the only people that see them are hunters that tree them with hounds! They are INCREDIBLY elusive, normally. In fact, that is how they finally “proved” there were still some “Florida Panthers”– by calling in Roy Mcbride and his hounds from Texas–their presence was heatedly denied for the longest! Might be a way to investigate these sightings–get some “cat trained” hounds from out west, and see if you tree any! Such hounds have been successfully used in cougar research for quite awhile out west…….L.B.

  50. […] Adirondackers do see cougars—or what they believe to be cougars, as this March encounter in Crown Point indicates. Cara Cowan’s trail cam photographed a long-tailed tawny feline […]

  51. Michele says:

    I am in the Adirondack park. I have taken many pictures yesterday and today in our sand and in our mud of what are clearly cougar tracks. I also have a trail cam pic that shows his back end and tail. I measured the tracks they are each three inches and the space between steps is 19 inches. Should I send to the DEC? I don’t think they would acknowledge it anyway.

    • John Warren John Warren says:

      Assuming you’ve measured it correctly, you’ve found a bobcat track. The stride of a mountain lion is around three feet, not 20 inches.

      John Warren
      Editor

      • blackhawk says:

        the distance between tracks of any creature can be ‘0’ to its maximum stride and leap and anything in between.
        I once shared a pic of a possible large cat track (~3″) with a former dec employee. the individual agreed it was a cat print but dismissed it being a mountain lion. stating it’s too small to be a mountain lion. they easily forget that mountain lions aren’t born with large paws. they can be any size between birth size and full maturity.

      • blackhawk says:

        the measured stride of any creature can be anything from 0 to its maximum stride or leap.
        saying it’s not a particular creature because the measured stride is shorter than the average stride makes no sense.
        the size of the cat track can vary from small (a young ml) to average size for an adult mountain lion 5″.

    • Boreas says:

      Michele,

      A long, heavy tail would rule out a bobcat, but 19″ between steps is really ambiguous. It would be short for a full cougar’s stride, but it all depends on how the animal is walking. The best measure would be from one foot to the same foot. In other words, right rear foot to right rear foot. If it is between front right and right rear, it doesn’t tell much. A 3″ track would be ambiguous as well – especially in mud. Depends on how well-defined they are.

      Any spots seen on the pix? Long or short tail? Anything CLOSE by that would give an indication of shoulder height?

      It certainly wouldn’t hurt to send it to DEC if a cougar cannot easily be ruled out.

  52. Michele says:

    John and Bores, I had measured front foot to back foot step, actually would be 38 inches from tight foot step to right foot step again. Can I post a pic of the paw print here? The prints are very clear.

    • Boreas says:

      Michele,

      This is basically a comment forum. You would need to correspond with the editors to see about posting pics. Your evidence may even warrant a separate article of its own. Did you contact the DEC yet?

  53. Jean Hoins says:

    If the witness had taken the time to photograph the tracks with a scale item such. As a coin or attempted to retrieve a hair hor DNA testing their would be a much ditto get case.

  54. Jean Hoins says:

    Sorry about the typos! Also, I was unable to view the previous posts. I am interested in seeing the tracks.

  55. Anthony Horton says:

    I grew up in Lake Placid, hunting and fishing in the woods from Star Lake to Keene Valley, listening to stories from my Grandfather, who used to travel with his father via horse and carriage to Keene and back through the Cascades when the road was unimproved and still dirt … As late as the 1920’s, they still had someone ride ‘shotgun’ , because of what he referred to as ‘Black Panthers’ that made leaps onto the horses backs from the cliffs along the road opposite the lakes. He wasn’t a fish story kid of guy … I myself haven’t ‘SEEN’ a big cat, however, I have made note of cougar tracks, once, on Mt.Whitney Rd / Echo Pond area, behind Cherry Patch Pond, and on a trail on Mt. Marcy, where I actually saw the outline of a large cat where it had rolled around in the deep snow before running into the thickets … I was walking my dog at the time and he was going NUTS, the cat may have still been in the vicinity, so I chose to shorten my trip a lil lol. Also, on the mountain behind Connery Pond I heard what sounded like a cougar … It wasn’t a screech owl or a fox , but it did make my hair stand up. I personally think the habitat in the High Peaks is perfect for a population of Mountain Lions, I don’t see why they couldn’t repopulate if there isn’t a ‘bounty’ on their heads. I remember in the late 80’s on the front page of the Lake Placid News, 2 dogs tree’d a Cougar up on Bear Cub Road …The APA and DEC aren’t going to come out in public and say there is a population there, especially with hiking and tourism being a HUGE revenue for the ‘Dacks’

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