Several months ago, I confessed here on Adirondack Almanack that I once saw a cougar—or thought I did. I say “confessed,” because if you tell people you saw a cougar in the Adirondacks, some of them will look at you funny.
Others will tell you about their own cougar sighting.
I’m bringing up cougars again because the Adirondack Explorer recently received an interesting letter from Don Leadley, a longtime outdoorsman from Lake Pleasant. Leadley responded to an Explorer column written by our publisher, Tom Woodman, discussing our endless fascination with the possibility that cougars may be living in our midst.
In 2008, Leadley says, he followed cougar tracks for over a mile on Otter Mountain near his home. He took photos of the tracks and made plaster casts (shown above).
Years earlier, as part of the Adirondack Coyote Forum, he sent out a questionnaire to Adirondack hunters and received eighty-six replies.
“Eighteen percent said they saw cougar tracks and 13 percent said they saw a cougar, and 13 percent said they saw a timber/gray wolf,” Leadley tells us. “I now have a list of nineteen-plus local people I personally interviewed who have seen a cougar or tracks.”
The state Department of Environmental Conservation insists that the big cats are not living in the Adirondacks, though agency officials concede that cougars once kept as pets might be seen on rare occasions.
As to the numerous sightings, DEC says nearly all of them are cases of mistaken identity. That may have been the case with my sighting.
What do you think? Do cougars still live in the Adirondacks? Have you ever seen one?
Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.