Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 24th, 2007
Today’s commentary has the classic framework of beginning and ending paragraphs, which in typical journalistic style, are used to bring balance into the tone of the article:
For an animal that’s supposed to be extinct in the eastern United States, mountain lions have sure been getting around the Maine woods….So if you think you’ve seen a mountain lion, you aren’t crazy. You may not even be wrong. And you certainly are not alone.John Richardson
But let’s examine the middle. In between, the tension between some eyewitnesses and officialdom is revealed:
….The couple did some research and believe what they saw [in August 2006] was a cougar, so Patricia called the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife thinking the experts would be as excited as she was. “The woman who answered the phone … laughed at me and said, ‘Well, it’s fine and we’ll have somebody call,’” Patricia [Estabrook of Belfast] said. “Nobody’s called so far and it’s March.”
State officials say they don’t approve of anyone laughing off a mountain lion report and that they routinely follow up and record details. Sometimes, they go out and look. “We certainly would be interested if we were able to confirm a cougar sighting,” said Wally Jakubas, mammal specialist with the Maine IF&W.
But at the same time, he said, such a sighting would not resolve a whole lot. There already is scientific evidence that cougars occasionally roam the East. For one thing, federal records describe mountain lion carcasses found in rural New York, Pennsylvania and Quebec in the past 40 years. But those animals are believed to have been captive cats that escaped or were released. And confirmed sightings of live cats are presumed to be wayward pets, too. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, while not denying that individuals in the agency have been dismissive in the past, insists it is conducting the current review with an open, scientific mind.John Richardson
Okay, then why do officials on the state level in several Eastern states continue to laugh and ignore eastern mountain lion eyewitnesses?