Hmmmm ... maybe there really is a mountain lion loose in NH
Posted by David Brooks | Friday, June 29, 2012
When it comes to reports of mountain lions (pumas, cougars - it's all the same) roaming in New Hampshire, I am very dubious. It would be cool to have them here and we all want to see one, but people are such awful eye-witnesses that the default assumption from a report has to be wishful thinking. It's easy to mis-identify a bobcat (which are much bigger than many of us think) or coyote or even housecat/dog as a cougar when it darts in front of your pickup on a back road.
Without hard evidence - spoor, good pawprints, DNA from hair caught on a wire fence, etc. - I assume that the reports which come in, probably one or two a month around the state, are mistaken. NH Fish & Game feels the same.
But a report in the Coos County Democrat newspaper of a daytime sighting way up by Lancaster, made by an esperienced professor and outdoors research, is enough to shake my dubious-ness. Read the whole story here.
"The 'Felis concolor,' also known as a puma or catamount, crossed the road in front of my truck on a cloudless day," Chace said in an e-mail alert sent to retired USFS forester Dave Govatski of Jefferson. "It was "close enough to see clearly, but far enough away that I didn't need to tap my brakes at 50 m.p.h. I've seen lions before in Arizona (four times) and Florida (once)"
Even if true, this doesn't mean we have a breeding population - alas. A single male traveled all the way from S. Daktoa to Connecticut last year before being killed by a vehicle, so this could be a well-traveled outlier.
And even if the animal is real, it's not an eastern cougar, the subspecies which once lived here. They're exinct, as I reported last year.