View Full Version : Today's NY Times Adirondack Cougar Article

02-23-2004, 09:39 PM
NY Times page B1. today, February 23, the question of the existence of NY State cougars makes the paper of record.

The main point is not whether they exist but is it a sustainable population? Although, with all the sightings by respected witnesses, evidence of cat kills is lacking. Knowledgeable people feel the genetic stock has been altered by released animals (which may be what people are seeing.) Talk about strangers in the night...

Mohamed Ellozy
02-24-2004, 06:10 AM
Stalking the Elusive Cougar...if There Is One to Stalk (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/23/nyregion/23cougar.html)

Doc McPeak
02-24-2004, 01:56 PM
Great article.

I saw one in 1992 in Northville walk across my backyard about twenty feet in front of us as our car pulled in. It could have been a release, but it was definitely a catamount. I didn't call to report it because the DEC had trapped and killed the beavers that were living in a pond behind our house. I used to spend evenings walking down to the pond with my tea to watch them play and build, and of course whack the water with their tails if I sneezed or got too curious ... but I wasn't about to let them know about the mountain lion so they could run up and take a whack at that.

Funny, before it came through I would spend the mornings drinking coffee and watching herds of deer wander through the apple trees foraging for breakfast. After the lion, a deer never set foot in the yard again.

So, I was one who never reported my sighting, and I lived in the last house on a seven mile dead end road with hundreds of square miles of wilderness behind the house. Perfect hunting and hiding grounds for a large cat. I hope he's still there, keeping the six hundred pound black bear we saw company.

02-24-2004, 02:06 PM
Sounds like an awesome sighting Doc McPeak. Sorry to hear about the beavers. What reason did they give for killing them?

I think the controversy about cougars in our state will continue until we see them more regularly. But either way, for those who don't want deer eating everything in their backyards, maybe that's the answer - just spray some cougar scent around.

BTW, if I remember right, wasn't it your birthday yesterday Doc McPeak? Happy birthday.

Doc McPeak
02-24-2004, 02:38 PM
They do sell Mountain Lion urine to farmers for that exact purpose... don't want to know how they collect it, though. :eek:

The beavers were supposed to be trapped and moved, for my pond was above the watershed for the drinking source (which still got treated?) They ripped open the dam and set traps where the beavers would try to repair the damage. Then they left the traps during a prolonged rain and two beavers were snagged and ended up drowning when the waters rose over the traps! I happened to go down to walk my dog in the rain and found them. I dragged them out of the water and forced the traps open but both were already gone. I even tried a little psuedo CPR on them, pumping one of their stomachs but to no avail. I didn't dive into any mouth to mouth resuciatation attempts (no jokes, now). I was civilly disobient though by springing the traps every day for about a week before, while also complaining that they were depriving me of a family of backyard friends. Again to no avail. It was a pretty awful thing to witness.

And thanks for the birthday wishes, mommabear! I think I'm going to dive into another slice of decadent belgian chocolate double mousse cake with some coffee right after this sentence. :)

02-24-2004, 03:47 PM
I definitely think that there are cougars in the Catskills and the Adirondacks. Maybe even Lynx. Even though there are few if any sightings by officials, the locals are the ones who know the mountains the best and know what is there.
In the general backcountry section of this forum there is a thread titled "Recent Mountain Lion Sightings", there is lots of talk and links about cougars.

Daniel Eagan
02-26-2004, 11:24 AM
Originally posted by mink319
I definitely think that there are cougars in the Catskills and the Adirondacks. Maybe even Lynx.

My understanding of the lynx situation is that they released twenty pair with radio collars back around 1995. They had been trapped in Canada. All but nine were killed by cars. The batteries on the survivors' collars ran out soon after that. Two college naturalists were back up by Bartlett Ridge looking for lynx I think in 1998. They spent most of the summer there and found no evidence of lynx anywhere.

Of course that doesn't mean they're not there.

Mark Schaefer
02-26-2004, 07:26 PM
This may be a bit off topic, but in a similar vein a wolverine was sighted this week not far from where I grew up in Michigan. Link here. (http://www.freep.com/news/mich/wolv26_20040226.htm) Although known as the wolverine state, there has never a confirmed sighting until now. Fortunately the DNR (DEC equivalent) officials got called in quickly. They took pictures to confirm the sighting. There is a photo on the newspaper's home page, (http://www.freep.com/) but it will probably be gone by Friday.

If I had a choice I would rather be face to face with a cougar. Wolverines have a reputation for being fierce fighters.

02-26-2004, 07:55 PM
Wolverines are natural to northern Michingan and Minnesota, and much of the northeast such as the Catskills, Adirondacks, western Massachusets, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Northern Maine. They are even more vicious than cougars so that is animal that I dont think I want back here. Since they were trapped and killed in the 1800's they now live in places much further north such as central Canada.

02-26-2004, 08:10 PM
When I was young and living in the Berkshires a knowledgeable local naturalist told me that there was nothing in the forests that could hurt me. As I look back on it I suppose that it was a golden time in some respects. The chestnuts were, and still are, blighted. The forests were third growth and the fields were filling in. But deer was kept in check without top carnivores and lyme disease was not even in the vocabulary. I didn't even know what a tick was and I toiled in the fields all day long. Now lyme is pandemic. Reports of bears sightings were rare and noteworthy. I'm not sure I would have been so comfortable on open land with wolverines roaming about. But I certainly remember black flies. We called them mayflies or shadflies. They helped build character.

02-26-2004, 08:33 PM
While I've heard that wolverines are vicious I've never heard of a wolverine attacking a human before. Have I missed something? I heard plenty of reports about cougars and bears, however. Does anyone have any links about wolverine attacks? Thanks, Fred

Mark Schaefer
02-26-2004, 09:02 PM
Freddy, I did not mean to imply that they had or would attack humans. I have never heard of an attack. As the Detroit Free Press article states they avoid people, and sightings are extremely rare. Their natural habitat is far from any large human populations. However, whenever I have seen film clips of wolverines or their cousins the badgers (admittedly caged or confined) they are viciously snarling and snapping at anything and anybody in sight. They are definitely not an animal you would want to approach or accidentally corner.

02-26-2004, 09:17 PM
My experience is the same as Mark's. Only what I have seen on video footage. It may be bad press but they don't look warm and cuddley.

Explorer Editor
02-27-2004, 11:50 AM
In our March/April issue, which is on its way to subscribers now, we have an article about a recent cougar sighting north of Paul Smiths. The guy had a very good look at the animal and is very credible.

02-28-2004, 04:22 PM
As Mark and Freddy said there are really no reports of wolverines attacking humans. Since wolverines have been killed and trapped so much they now only live in places in the far north where there are virtually no people. I think if someone was to let some go in the northeast there would be problems.

Explorer Editor
03-04-2004, 06:07 PM
Here's the article that appears in our March issue. Sorry I don't have a link.

George Hare has seen just about every kind of furry creature that lives in the Adirondacks, but he was surprised by the big animal he spotted along the highway late last year.
“I rounded a corner, looked ahead and thought I saw a deer,” he said. “I started to slow down. As I got closer it occurred to me that I wasn’t looking at a deer. I thought maybe it was a coyote, but it was too big. I slowed some more. Finally, I got right up with the animal and realized I was looking at a mountain lion.”
Hare, the maintenance supervisor at the state’s Visitor Interpretive Center in Paul Smiths, said he saw the cat on state Route 458 on the afternoon of Nov. 15. An avid hunter, he had been returning from his camp in Parishville, on the northern edge of the Adirondack Park.
Although mountain lions are thought to have vanished from the Adirondacks more than a century ago, Hare is certain about what he saw. He described it as a large, light-brown cat with a long tail. As he passed, he looked the cat in the eyes. “It never moved,” he said. “It was looking over its left shoulder watching me drive by. There was absolutely no doubt in mind what I was looking at.”
Could it have been a fisher, another mammal with a long tail? “No way,” said the 41-year-old Hare. “I spend three solid weeks in the woods in hunting season. I have seen just about everything. I had a male fisher run up within five feet of me this season.”
Hare’s is just one of many credible sightings of panthers in recent years. In fact, state Forest Ranger Keith Bassage says he saw a panther on Route 458 in the mid-1990s. “It crossed the road in front of my truck,” Bassage said. “You could see its head. It had shortish ears, a flat face and a long, slender tail with a black tip. I was in disbelief.”
There is no question that panthers are occasionally seen in the Adirondacks. The debate is over whether there is a breeding population. Al Hicks, a state wildlife biologist, said the lack physical evidence—such as tracks or panther carcasses—debunks the theory that the Adirondacks is home to a viable population. He contends that any panther seen in the region must have been a pet that escaped or was released by its owner.
“Let’s say someone buys a panther from who knows where and it grows to the point where they can’t handle it anymore,” Hicks said. “Are they going to call the state and say, ‘I have this illegal mountain lion. Please come get it’? No, they’re going to put it in their truck and drive it somewhere and release it.”
Hicks also is skeptical of many of the sightings. Last fall, he said, a man reported seeing a black panther in the western Catskills. When a state biologist examined the animal’s tracks, he concluded that they belonged to a housecat. The man then angrily insisted he had seen a panther. So the two followed the tracks until they discovered a black housecat underneath a trailer. “Until it was staring him in the eyes, he was convinced he had seen a black panther,” Hicks said. “That’s why I don’t get excited until I see physical evidence.”
But Peter O’Shea, a veteran tracker, argues that erstwhile pets cannot account for all the panther sightings over the years. He said he has seen panther tracks a half-dozen times, most recently in March 2002 in the Five Ponds Wilderness. He also said a young panther was killed near Speculator in 1993.
O’Shea thinks that panthers never entirely vanished from the Adirondacks. “I believe they hung on by the skin of their teeth and now they’re coming back,” he said. “They’re spread out and wide ranging. If I had to guess, I’d say there are no more than a couple of dozen.”

03-08-2004, 07:18 AM
Hi Phil,

Have you heard anything regarding that development in Jay? :confused: