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View Full Version : cougars returning to northern NH?



solo_hiker
05-21-2005, 09:27 AM
has anyone heard of cougar sightings recently in the northern Whites or beyond? a ranger told my hiking partner over the winter that cougars are making a comeback, and since I'm planning on the Cohos Trail next fall I thought I'd ask.

thanks Solo

NewHampshire
05-21-2005, 10:25 AM
This is a very difficult thing to answer. Many state Fish and Game departments refuse to believe that cougers/mountain Lions are pushing their way into their boarders. Its like a problem they think they can fix by ignoring. There hasnt been any recent reports Ive read about, and they usually get some kind of press around here. Do I believe they are in New Hampshire? Not yet, but soon maybe. Either way I would bet that right now your more likely to run into a peeved mama bear with cubs than you are a hungry mountain lion.
Brian

Gris
05-21-2005, 12:00 PM
Simple answer - extremely rare, but they're around. My wife & I ran into one up close and personal on Glen Boulder Trail Dec. 2001 after big snow storm. Very scarey. :eek:

Chip
05-21-2005, 12:37 PM
this is a map of confirmed sightings, which is body, dna, etc., no UFO type sightings make this list. As you can see they appear all around, so chances are high populations will increase. This is basically a result of the increase in the deer populations here. This is a great sight if you're interested. (http://www.easterncougarnet.org/northeast.html)



http://www.easterncougarnet.org/_derived/northeast.html_txt_northeast+can3.gif

carole
05-21-2005, 01:03 PM
I searched for this older thread (http://www.vftt.org/forums/showthread.php?t=2623). The evidence is there but will I ever see one while hiking in the Ossipees? Maybe :eek: :cool:

RGF1
05-21-2005, 04:14 PM
I have seen one a a good sistane maybe 200 yards out west . i would love to see one here. They probably are back in the NE in very small numbers.
I have feeling the F&G folks in the respective states are not going to publicly come out and say it due to the contorversy and unfounded fear it would provoke. I also think the Timber Wolf is back i have never seen a wold i would love ot see one while hing just about any where. Onceagain there is controvesy about them so the F&G guys are not going ot say yes they are back. there is some who do not want either back call it competion . But I would welcome them back .

J&A
05-21-2005, 04:28 PM
I think another reason people are reluctant to confirm the presence of mountain lions to the public is due to a fear of poaching, at least that's the case here in Virginia. Policymakers and environmentalists are afraid that there are more than a handful who would quickly capitolize on the opportunity to bag one of these things. If they started publicly commenting on locations of recurring sightings, that might become the case. In particular in VA, a lot of hiking areas become hunting areas in the fall :(

Chip
05-21-2005, 06:54 PM
J&A, poaching is illegal, hunting is not. The DEP attempts to control excess populations with bag limits and seasons.
No normal hunter would EVER poach an illegal species. Hunters basically "work" for the DEP.
It's hikers responsibility to know hunting seasons and what lands are legal to hunt on.
It's never a bad idea to incorporate some blaze orange into your hiking gear.

J&A
05-21-2005, 07:02 PM
Right, I wasn't implying any hunter would indiscriminately shoot a cougar. Simply that it wouldn't be too uncommon to see someone with a gun in an area where hunting is permitted and so a poacher might not draw attention to himself that way. All I'm saying is that even if cougars are only reported by hikers on hikes, poachers could enter those areas at certain times of the area to shoot a cougar without drawing any attention to themselves.

Waumbek
05-21-2005, 09:33 PM
It's a controversial subject that apparently raises very strong feelings on both sides of the question. NH Fish & Game agrees that they have been sighted in NH but questions whether there is a breeding population (http://www4.citizen.com/april_2005/04.09.05/news/laconia_040905f.asp) in NH.

Here's the gist of it:
"Jakubas, along with his counterparts at the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game, don’t deny that there are likely real cougar sightings in Northern New England.
There is just very little proof.
"We get lots of sightings every year, but we have never been able to substantiate a sighting here in New Hampshire. That doesn’t mean they’re not out there, but there is no reproducing population," Wendy Virville said Wednesday. Virville is the administrative secretary of wildlife for the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game.
Virville said she was aware of confirmed sightings in Maine, but said no conclusive proof, such as scat or a hair sample, has been recovered by New Hampshire Fish and Game in the last 150 years.
Jakubas and Gagne both remain skeptical that genetic samples found in Hampden, Maine, in 2001, Monmouth, Maine, in 2000, and those in Canada in New Brunswick and Fundy National Park originate from wild animals."
-----
I've seen lots of bobcats in the last 6-8 years but no cougars (aka mountain lions, catamounts).

Agreed, solohiker, you're far more likely to see bears (and lots of mud!) on the CT than cougars.

solo_hiker
05-22-2005, 08:12 AM
thanks for all the replies! I agree with funkyfreddy's post in the old thread: if they are out there, cougars are unlikely to be hungry in the North Woods. but do they hunt for sport? I'm 5'11" 190lbs carrying a big internal frame pack which may offer some protection from the rear.

speaking of protection then:

assuming I'd get the chance to use it which is better, gun or mace? I don't know if it's legal for hikers to arm themselves on the CT, particularly in the WMNF section, and I don't own a gun. mace is about 9oz, a Verney-Carron .410 about 3lbs, and a Remington 870 12ga about 6.5lbs. considering the point above and their tiny numbers, I wonder whether it's worth the weight. kinda like the old cell phone argument: 99.9% of the time it's extra weight you won't need, but if you do it could make the difference. btw, I don't think cells work on most of the CT, so help is not readily available.

Solo

Chip
05-22-2005, 11:42 AM
As a MA resident your chances of getting a concealed carry permit for a pistol are slim to none and even then you wouldn't be able to carry legally in other states. The idea of a rifle or shotgun is highly impractical. The chances of successfully drawing a stored weapon or even mace in the face of an attack are low. The chances of actually being attacked are even lower. Rabies is a much more common "animal attack" problem and how often have you been approached by a rabid animal ? I have been once.

NewHampshire
05-22-2005, 12:30 PM
speaking of protection then:

assuming I'd get the chance to use it which is better, gun or mace? I don't know if it's legal for hikers to arm themselves on the CT, particularly in the WMNF section, and I don't own a gun. mace is about 9oz, a Verney-Carron .410 about 3lbs, and a Remington 870 12ga about 6.5lbs. considering the point above and their tiny numbers, I wonder whether it's worth the weight. kinda like the old cell phone argument: 99.9% of the time it's extra weight you won't need, but if you do it could make the difference. btw, I don't think cells work on most of the CT, so help is not readily available.

Solo

Ive thought quite hard and long about arming oneself on the trails. Ive seen that this debate pops up from time to time on these sites. After all that the best advice I can give ANYONE (be it hiker, fisherman, woodsbum etc) is rather ironic. Im a life member of the NRA, liscenced to carry concealed in this state, and my weapon of choice would be.........a nice stout fixed blade sheath knife. Firearms are gonna be either too heavy or, to impracticle overall. Mace is not 100% effective. At least a fixed blade knife gives you something to stab with as a last defense, plus it can provide some other utility on the trail. If you have a mountain lion, or mama bear on you, at least you have a 50/50 chance.

As to the origional topic, Id say it is very possible MANY types of non native critters have been here. When the ice freezes the lakes and rivers many animals get to crossing boarders (to which they are not bound like we are.) But as has been stated they tend to be nomadic wanderers. BUT, again, you can probably count on ML being here at some point in the future.
Brian

DougPaul
05-22-2005, 12:34 PM
It would be very difficult to use a weapon in many (most?) cougar attacks--they tend to sneak up on or ambush their prey for a surprise attack. You may not even have time to pull a weapon before it is too late.

Doug

solo_hiker
05-22-2005, 03:25 PM
ok, you've convinced me. I'll go with the Spyderco I keep on my shoulder strap. Chip, the only rabid animal I've ever seen was a skunk in my backyard. :-)

thanks to everyone Solo

Chip
05-22-2005, 06:38 PM
mine was a racoon that approached me while I was fishing, staggering up behind me, scared the - you know what - out of me.

sapblatt
05-22-2005, 07:25 PM
Seeing that they are almost never seen it seems incredibly unlikely that anyone would b attacked. There is smaller and easier prey than humans I would think.

dougb
05-22-2005, 07:30 PM
Apparently, cougar attacks aren't that unusual. Not that they're common, either. Just do a search on them. While in California recently, I was hiking near dusk & another hiker asked me to speed up because there'd been an attack there recently. This was near Sacramento. Most of the attacks seem to be joggers or bikers, which apparently trigger a response.

Chip
05-23-2005, 06:58 AM
Lions and Tigers and Bears !
To throw another preditor into the mix, wolves are also said to be on the rebound.
The bear population increase is a good thing in that it will force hikers into better habits before the actual preditors arrive.

newjeep123
05-23-2005, 07:11 AM
speaking of cougars, check this out:
http://www.velodeanimas.com/2004/cougar.htm

Maddy
05-23-2005, 07:42 AM
NEWJEEP,
Excellent article and recommendations for what to do if attacked or confronted by a lion. I am absolutely convinced that they are here in the Northeast. There have been too many "reliable" sitings by knowledgeable people. There is an enormous difference between a bobcat, a lion and a golden retriever.
There is an excellent book out if you are interested "The Beast in the Garden".
You'll want to stay up at night reading it and you will gain much knowledge about people living in denial, lions and behaviors.

RGF1
05-23-2005, 10:02 AM
NEWJEEP,
Excellent article and recommendations for what to do if attacked or confronted by a lion. I am absolutely convinced that they are here in the Northeast. There have been too many "reliable" sitings by knowledgeable people. There is an enormous difference between a bobcat, a lion and a golden retriever.
There is an excellent book out if you are interested "The Beast in the Garden".
You'll want to stay up at night reading it and you will gain much knowledge about people living in denial, lions and behaviors.
Maddy that is a good one, the only time I might mistake a Loin if I saw one for a big Golden would be if I did not have my glasses on ., being near sighted. . It is also hard ard to mistake a loin 's paw print for any thing but what it is unless the print is a few days old. .
They are very stealthy . I hike out west a lot and I have seen paw prints not far from where i was either camped or even just sitting .I did see one at a good distance , I tried to get closer to take what would have beren a incredible photo the cougar lept up and vanished as soon as it saw me move towards it . They are also very wary creatures.
From what I understand the hiker or jogger in a way imitates their favorite prey deer. They do prefer to attack from behind and go for the prey's throat to kill it quickly as they almost always hunt alone and are sometimes smaller than their prey. A wildlife biologist has told me they will take a black bear on rare occasion ! Thats one tough cat!

sierra
05-23-2005, 07:05 PM
yesterday I was bushwacking on the backside of Pikes Peak and I was following a game path, that was covered in Cougar tracks, I was amazed at the size of the print and to be honest, they felt fresh and I was a little concerned. I changed my direction as to not infringe upon the cougar's terretory. :eek: