Big cat, too close to home?

Shaggz

A strong 7
My wife was outside with our children yesterday and heard a large noise and a growl approximately 15 feet in the woods behind our town home. I just found this on-line today:

Cougars on the prowl in Sparta?
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
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By STEPHEN J. NOVAK

snovak@njherald.com

SPARTA — The last cougar to officially visit Sparta Township was probably the Kittatinny Regional High School's costumed mascot during a sporting event.

But residents of Sparta Commons, a condominium development on Wagon Wheel Road off of Route 517, believe that there may be an uninvited big cat roaming about.

"I've seen deer pass through my yard and bears have come up on my porch, but mountain lions? That's frightening," said Dorothy Welch, a Sparta Commons resident. "Hopefully, it's just passing through. It's a concern for pets and children."

Welch said her neighbor last week saw a mountain lion, also called a cougar, puma or panther, sitting on a rock in a grove of trees at the center of the circular street and notified the authorities. While the sighting was being investigated, word made its way around the local area. At least one nearby preschool kept its young students inside for a day as a precaution.

Local and state officials don't know what the neighbor may have seen but they are fairly confident that it was not a mountain lion. Sparta Police Sgt. Ron Casteel said last Thursday's call was the first of its kind this year. An investigation was not able to find any signs of the visitor.

While similar calls have been made in past years, no definitive evidence of a mountain lion presence has ever been found, Casteel said.

That is because no mountain lions are known to exist in the state, let alone Sparta, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

"There have been no confirmed sightings in New Jersey," said department spokesperson Darlene Yuhas. "To the best of our knowledge, they don't live in this part of the country."

However, local and state agencies receive unconfirmed reports of mountain lions every year. Because calls of supposed mountain lion sightings can go to any number of authorities, from local police and animal control to the state department, Yuhas could not provide an estimate of the number of supposed lion sightings.

"It's certainly not an unprecedented call," she said, "but I wouldn't say it's common."

Even though the calls may be unusual and the outcome fairly certain, investigators do still take them seriously. Yuhas said investigators have searched for evidence of alligators and crocodiles in New Jersey waters. In late April and early May, the department was inundated with calls of a black panther prowling the woods in the southern part of the state. Despite photographs of the alleged cat, it was never confirmed if it was in fact a panther.

Mountain lion calls can be especially frustrating for investigators who must balance what a person saw with the knowledge that the animals do not live here.

"People are hearing or seeing something," Yuhas said, "but what that something is, I really can't say."

Various news outlets around the country have reported suspected mountain lion sightings that have turned out to be large house cats or even dogs. Some sightings may be an escaped cougar from someone's private collection while others are simply mistaken identities of other wild animals.

Mountain lions are tan colored and most recognizable by their long, heavy tails, which can be as long as two-thirds the length of the cat's body. The males weigh between 110 and 180 pounds, the females between 80 and 130 pounds.

The mountain lion is very different from its cousin the bobcat, a much smaller wild feline found around the continent, including New Jersey. Bobcats typically weigh about 22 pounds and can be identified by their spotted coats, pointed ears and short tails.

In the U.S., mountain lions mainly reside in the western states but some populations have spread to isolated areas as farther east, though most do not extend past the Mississippi River, according to information gathered by the Cougar Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to studying the animals. Along the East Coast, Florida is the only state with an established cougar population. The closest confirmed cougar presence is in northern Delaware and evidence of the cats has also been found in upstate New York, but there appears to be nothing in between.

Where they are found, mountain lions are solitary animals, even with each other, and generally shy away from human contact, according to the Web site of the California-based Mountain Lion Foundation. The foundation also reported that there have been 14 fatal cougar attacks in North America in the last 100 years.

Welch admitted she has not seen the cougar herself, but she does not need or want to. She said her neighbor described the cat she saw as the size of a German Shepherd.

"When you talk to some people, they say they do (see mountain lions)," Welch said. "And if my neighbor said she saw it, she saw it."
 
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bonefishjake

Strong like bull, smart like tractor
Team MTBNJ Halter's
there was one in my backyard about three weeks ago. never saw it, but the wife checked the paw prints against my field guide and it was a match. i wish she made a plaster cast of it or covered it but didn't. damn thing dropped a deuce under my picnic table too.
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
there was one in my backyard about three weeks ago. never saw it, but the wife checked the paw prints against my field guide and it was a match. i wish she made a plaster cast of it or covered it but didn't. damn thing dropped a deuce under my picnic table too.

If this is true you really should have kept it and reported it. That's an easy verification for the people who can verify those things.
 

ytc100

New Member
there was one in my backyard about three weeks ago. never saw it, but the wife checked the paw prints against my field guide and it was a match. i wish she made a plaster cast of it or covered it but didn't. damn thing dropped a deuce under my picnic table too.


Well that makes 3 people I know who have seen evidence of big cats in this area. I wonder why there is still not one official piece of evidence.

Man I wish you had saved that turd. Could have been interesting to see what the authorities made of it.

(Let's see how fast this thread derails after that comment). :)
 
D

DANSPANK

Guest
Heythrop and I saw an otter run across the road in front of us last Sunday. It was frightening....
 

bonefishjake

Strong like bull, smart like tractor
Team MTBNJ Halter's
trust me, i said the same things you guys did to my wife: WTF didn't you save the poo! unfortunately it was garbage day and it went out while i was travelling.

she was kinda freaked though...and i considered calling the wildlife folks but i didn't have any solid evidence at all. no track, no poo, nuttin'.
 

Shaggz

A strong 7
well, the njdep's official stance, as told to me by by Carole Kandoth, Pricipal Wildlife Biologist out of the Northern Region Office in Hampton, is that there is a 99% certainty that there are no big cats in the wild in new jersey.

the official stance by the sparta police department is that there are confirmed sitings of them in the area.
 

bonefishjake

Strong like bull, smart like tractor
Team MTBNJ Halter's
sounds like the njdep needs to officially get their collective heads out of the sand.
 

Shaggz

A strong 7
it's mindboggling how smug, indifferent and apathetic this woman was on the phone. she would not even take down which town i lived in, let alone my name or telephone number - that is how certain she was. when i called back to say the sparta pd confirmed my wife's suspicions, she said she would call them to set them straight.
 
J

joanqs

Guest
a friend saw one in wawayanda last year. we called the state park officials who said that they receive sighting calls at least 4 times a year. i spoke with a vernon police officer who said that their is speculation that the cougars sighted in the area did not migrate here that they were released in the wild. they belive (as of June) a collector/seller of exotic animals dumped them around here.
 

SpartaBard

Well-Known Member
Team MTBNJ Halter's
Anrothar has also claimed to see one of the Lackawanna Cutoff. I think Stan Le Cupp has also claimed to see one in MD.

Me... nope :(

I will continue to put the bacon in shaggz' camelbak though. :D
 

Shaggz

A strong 7
brett claims to have seen one at allamuchy, and there is also one rumored to be roaming around the summit off of glenn road in sparta. but, this is all hogwash, according to the njdep - no possible way this could be true, uh uh.
 
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SpartaBard

Well-Known Member
Team MTBNJ Halter's
That one from The Summit in sparta was over a year ago. Apparently some lady saw one jump across the road in front of her in a single leap.
 

Norm

Mayor McCheese
Team MTBNJ Halter's
To be fair to Shimano...err, I mean the various officials. This type of thing happens pretty often and I imagine 99 times out of 100 it turns out to be a false identification. And once you get it out in the public, people kinda go nuts with it. If you're an official, you need some sort of verification on it.

Having said that I have no opinion if you're all nuts or not. Well I mean in this regard.
 
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