Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 13th, 2008
Port Jeff Panther!
Cat or Cougar? in Port Jefferson, NY…
Tuesday Nov 11, 2008
Veterans Day evening. Pulling into my driveway around 11:30 pm while opening the automatic garage door via remote from the car, I witnessed a large animal spring from the right front side of car onto the grass in an instant. I observed what appeared to be a large cat, tan/grayish in color, rear hindquarters with a long bushy tail with a darkish tip. It must have been startled when I pulled into the driveway. It jumped / sprang to the height to the top of the hood of the car around waist height, approx. 3.5 feet. It had a distinctive cat-like prance. It took a moment for my brain to register what I had witnessed in the moonlight. It was too big to be a house cat. No canine or dog moves like this. It was distinctive cat movement! It was the size of a full sized domestic dog and did not appear to be a fox. It appeared to be a large cat 3 too 4.5 feet in length, which resembled a mountain lion.
Lighting: It was a clear night with a full/quarter moon, meaning no reference to werewolves. Along with the moon light the post and porch light were on. The interior dim garage door light and car headlights were also on. The animal I observed was in the driveway that sprang off onto the lawn speedily! I jumped out of the car to go after whatever it was. It took me a moment for my brain to conceive what I potentially just seen, even though it was nighttime I have a keen eye and photographic memory. In that instance I jumped out of the car and replayed that scenario over in my head 3 to 4 times in a 5 second span. In my head I knew what I witnessed, but I didn’t believe it. So I chased after it. It ran into a lightly wooded area across the street on my neighbor’s property. I scanned the neighbor’s property listening for movement within the leaves, and I honed in on two dots staring back at me with a slight outline of a head and ears. They were six inches apart, nickel/quarter sized in diameter. The reason why I saw them staring back at me was due to the reflection from the post light. If you’ve ever seen deer’s eyes caught in the headlights, that’s what it looked like. The eyes staring back at me were not close to the ground like a typical house cat, they were a foot and a half too two feet from the ground, the height typically of a full sized domestic dog. I was intrigued by what I had witnessed on my neighbor’s property at 11:30 pm at night. I moved and then heard the animal’s footstep crunching in the leaves, but it did not have a scamper of a domestic cat or cadence of a domestic dog. It had a walking pattern of a larger heavier big pawed animal with a large gate like that of a human walking while walking on leaves. I couldn’t believe my ears and eyes so I sprinted in the house to get a high powered flashlight, and then ran to the center of the street and scanned my neighbor’s front property but didn’t see anything with the flashlight. I then heard the creature walking across my neighbor’s property and driveway, and then into the adjacent neighbors backyard, which took about 5 minutes or so. I did not want to pursue the animal in my neighbor’s backyard so not to startle any neighbors so close to midnight.
My observation of this animal / wildlife is that it was very stealthy and had big cat behaviors and movements. Definitely not a domestic cat or dog, fox, or deer. Being a cat lover myself and owing a domestic cat for 16 years and as someone who understands feline behaviors and movements. And someone who just came back from a Halloween weekend trip, wile visiting a zoo down in Cape May, South-New Jersey. While at the Cape May Zoo I observed big cats like cheetahs, snow leopard, lion and an ocelot. From what I saw and witnessed from that brief moment of sight and audio, was that this was close to a North American mountain lion, also known as the cougar or panther. This all took place in Port Jefferson, NY a suburb of Long Island on the north shore. My intention is not to startle or alarm anyone, but to make the US Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region and the local area residence aware that I witnessed a 3 too 4.5 foot big cat in Port Jefferson Village, and that wildlife exists even in suburbia! The animal was startled by my car and myself in my driveway the other night.
My conclusion as to why the animal was on the property, is because there is a running water fountain on the front property for it too potentially get a drink of fresh water from, and note there was no garbage out that evening for morning pick up. I am completely intrigued by this brief encounter. To the contraire this is NO monster or strange unknown creature, but I feel it is a North American Mountain Lion, AKA: Eastern Cougar that some how with its lack of habitat is rooming suburbia either due to getting lost or is trying to find his or her way back home ware ever that is?
Note to fellow long Islanders I DID NOT feel threatened by it, if anything it was threatened by me, if you ever see it I suggest making some noise like clapping your hands, and calling the local US Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region, so it may be relocated to better suited habitat, this just reaffirms to me that we need more local conservation of wild lands. I am in the process of contacting US Fish and Wildlife Services to report what I witnessed in detail. (Although generally presumed extinct in the wild, eastern cougars remain protected by the Endangered Species Act. )
The eastern cougar (Puma concolor cougar) once roamed the eastern United States from Maine to South Carolina and west from Michigan to Tennessee. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has for years presumed the eastern cougar was extinct, having no verifiable evidence, such as DNA, to the contrary.
Although generally presumed extinct in the wild, eastern cougars remain protected by the Endangered Species Act. Eastern cougars historically ranged from Michigan, southern Ontario, eastern Canada and Maine south to South Carolina and west across Tennessee. At one time, they lived in every eastern state in a variety of habitats including coastal marshes, mountains and forests.
submitted by G. F. Casy