Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 26th, 2007
There’s news of another recent Maine mountain lion sighting.
Please click on the image of the Sidney, Maine, photograph, above, for a larger version.
Kennebunkport [Maine] — It was May 30 and a hint of summer was in the air. Holly Cook had finished up work for the day and she and her husband were driving home along Goose Rocks Road near the Seashore Trolley Museum with the top down on their convertible when they saw something that stopped them in their tracks.
“It was a big animal crossing the road,” she recalls. A deer? A coyote? they wondered. They drove a little closer. “It was a big cat, brown, with a long tail.”
The Cooks looked up the animal on the Internet when they got home. It was a mountain lion.
“We asked each other, kidding, ‘Is there a circus in town?’” Holly says.
Her next step was to call the police department.
“I got the response I expected,” she says. “They laughed at me.”
Next she called the state Game Warden Service.
“They downplayed it,” she says. “They said there hadn’t been any recent evidence of mountain lions.”
Things might be different now, though.
In June and July the Service was presented with evidence of at least two sightings in the state — one in Sidney, where a man was able to snap a picture, and another in Oakland, where a man actually submitted a piece of fur for testing.
The lab hasn’t finished its analysis on the fur yet, says Game Warden Service spokesman Mark Latti. But it’s not out of the question that it’s from a mountain lion. Nor is it that unusual to find them far south in the state. After all, there was a confirmed sighting in Cape Elizabeth about 15 years ago and another in Brunswick around 2001. But folks shouldn’t think that means the mountain lion has returned to Maine.
“They are most likely escaped or released animals,” Latti says, adding that the animals were most likely kept as pets or part of small zoos. “We have yet to see evidence of a native population here or anywhere in New England.”
That hasn’t stopped the sightings. Latti says there are between half a dozen and a dozen reported each year. But so far, he says, there have been no repeat sightings and no cats found as roadkill. That would be the case if a native population was present.
Experts say the mountain lion, also known as the panther, catamount, and cougar, was hunted out in the 19th century in Maine. The last confirmed killing of one in the wild in the state was in 1938.
Still, sightings abound and discussions surrounding the big cats in Maine can be found around the Internet.
According to the non-profit Mountain Lion Foundation, the cats “live solitary lives within a system of mutual avoidance.” Males can weigh up to 180 pounds, with females weighing less. They’re most active at dusk, night, or early in the morning.
The Cooks say they saw their mountain lion around 6:30 in the evening — and weeks before the spate of sightings made news in the state. They knew it wasn’t a house cat – they have one of those themselves. And as a licensed animal technician and former owner of a biotechnology company, Holly Cook says she wouldn’t be easily fooled. But despite the fact that she wasn’t taken entirely seriously by officials, Cook says she’s still thrilled by seeing the big cat.
“I think it’s great,” she says. “If the mountain lion is back, it must mean things are better.” By Laura Dolce, here“Mountain lion sighting in Kennebunkport,” July 26, 2007, Portsmouth Herald News – Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA.
Another recent Mystery Cat encounter gets the expected response. Isn’t it about time this stop, from all officials?