Take the panther pollPosted on August 4th, 2010 8 comments Add a comment >>
Earlier this week, I posted on Adirondack Almanack an article about mountain lions. It includes a photo of a plaster cast of a paw print sent me by Don Leadley, a veteran outdoorsman. Leadley says he tracked the beast for about a mile near his home in Lake Pleasant.
Do mountain lions exist in the Adirondacks? That’s the question raised by the article.
It’s also the question raised in a new website created by the Wild Center in Tupper Lake.
The Wild Center’s site, which goes live today, includes video from two motorists who saw a mountain lion in Russell, just north of the Park, and from Ken Kogut, a state wildlife biologist who pooh-poohs the idea that the big cats are living in the Adirondacks.
Kogut does not mention in the video that he himself once saw a mountain lion bounding across a road. The state Department of Environmental Conservation, however, insists that any mountain lion seen in the region must have been a former pet that was released by or escaped from its owner. Yet DEC says the vast majority of “sightings” are cases of mistaken identity.
Mountain lions—also known as cougars, pumas, or panthers—supposedly were extirpated from the Adirondacks a century ago, but rumors persist that a remnant population remains here.
The Wild Center’s website contains several other cool features, including a map showing reported cougar sightings in the Park, by decade; photos and descriptions of cougar sign; and audio of the cat’s sounds.
It also contains a reader poll.
Do you think mountain lions exist in the Adirondacks? Now you can register your opinion.
Camping along the fihsing trail to Big Eddy on the West Branch 2 weeks ago- awoke to something rubbing on my tent but no animal sound, very quite. Then had to get up to go to the bathroom. Stuck my head out fo my tent to find a set of green eyes shining back at me from about 50 feet away in the edge of the woods. Eyes seemed to be pretty far apart for a bobcat, about 6 to 8 inches. Animal remained out fo the view of my light but was not frightened by my apearence or even my voice as I explained to him that I would be going to the other side of camp to pee. It was pitch black so all I saw was the reflection of his eyes. About 2-1/2 to 3 feet off the ground and about 6 to 8 inches apart. When I spoke to him he sniffed the ground, I heard nothing but saw the eyes go towards the ground. There were no tracks in the morning but the ground was covvered with leaves etc and I’m no tracker. First thought was a bobcat but cougar would be more interesting story. Note that we had a deer visit us earlier in the evening- he had walked right near my tent on the side where the animal was rubbing the side of my tent as I awoke. I am keeping a camera with strong flash at my side as I sleep in my tent from now on. Any thoughts?
In areas where there is a “known” small population of this animal how often are they seen? As I understand it there are panthers in the Florida Everglades, how often are they seen, hit by cars, etc.
The fact that some of these recent “sightings” have been proven to be hoaxes it is hard to deal with this logically. For example last fall someone forwarded a photo to me that was supposedly a cat seen in the Adirondacks (this had circulated from some pretty smart folks). It took me about 1 minute on Google to find the photo that had been shot many years ago in Oklahoma (or someplace out west) that had been cropped and doctored.
I’m no tracker, by any stretch, but if it were a bear front foot, wouldn’t you expect the claw imprints to be visible? At least, some of them? And with bear prints, the “big toe” tends to be the longest, largest toe, with the other toes smaller, meaning they decline in size moving away from the inside “big toe.” Cat tracks tend to be more rounded, with the middle toe protruding farther than the toes around it.
It is unlikely that any track in the wild will be perfect, and the claws could have landed on dry dirt or stone. Also, it does look like there could have been two tracks, one overlaying the other (which could be another argument for a cat). But the picture just isn’t a convincing bear track to me.
And just my point of view – if there are “released” mountain lions in the ADK park, there are mountain lions in the ADK park. Discussion as to whether it is a self-sustaining community, or whether it came about by reintroduction (natural or assisted), is a different discussion. Certainly the map of panther sightings shows a growing number of sitings over the years, across a greater range of territory.
If I had come across the tracks shown in Mr. Leadley’s photo I wouldn’t have thought twice about it… bear, front foot. Just doesn’t look right for a big (very big if those are inches on the ruler) cat.
To many reputable people seeing things that they say are panthers(Mt Lions) for all of them to be mistaken. Some of these people have lived in the Adirondack Mts. all their lives and know the different animals that live here.
My brother lives in Cranberry Lake. A few years ago he claims to have seen a mountain lion there. He too has a plaster cast of the print.
Just like the Timber wolf, the Mountain Lion is a mis-identification. Those lions that people have seen, taking plaster casts of tracks of, will eventually (one day) be shot, or killed by a car, and will end up being confirmed (by DNA) as released cats that someone no longer wanted. There is no way for a mountain lion to re-introduce itself to the ADK park. The timber wolf on the other hand has a great chance. With the Moose now back in the territory, and the wolf population just across the river, it wont be long before the wolf self-reintroduces (hopefully). If there were a viable population of cats here now, we would know about it!
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