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.