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Paw prints on road has local man asking..Pa 8/1/07

 
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2007 7:59 pm    Post subject: Paw prints on road has local man asking..Pa 8/1/07 Reply with quote

Paw prints on road has local man asking: Could cougars be here?

By PATRICK DONLIN pdonlin@sungazette.com



Recently, Leonard Sacavage of Loyalsock Township has been seeing suspicious footprints near his Walters Road home, a few miles from Montoursville.

For the past month, he and his wife, Violet, have seen the prints on Starr Road every morning when they walk; most recently on Monday.

“I don’t know if they’re cougar tracks or not,” Sacavage said Monday night. “I think they are.”

The most recent tracks consist of mud on the paved road. Each print is roughly 3 inches long by 2 inches wide. From the back of the hind paw to the front of the lead paw, there’s a separation of about 21 inches. The tracks run east to west, from one cornfield to another.

The answer may be as elusive as the animal itself, but residents question if mountain lions could be in the area.

The mountain lion, known by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as the eastern cougar, once roamed the eastern United States. For years, the animal was believed to be extinct, but was placed on the list of endangered and threatened wildlife in 1973.

Sacavage is used to seeing wildlife near his rural home. In about 30 years of living there, he’s seen lots of deer, turkey, skunks and occasional foxes and bears. As of this past year, Sacavage thinks he can add big cats to the list.

In February, Sacavage reported to the Sun-Gazette that he believed he saw a mountain lion across the road from his home. He said it was a little more than knee high, was running and had a long tail.

In a report released subsequent to Sacavage’s February sighting, the state Game Commission said the animal was a bobcat.

“Don’t tell me it’s a bobcat,” Sacavage said. “I know better than that.”

Dennis Wydra of Elysburg studies mountain lions and has been recording alleged sightings for about two years when he is contacted.

“I do believe we have a lot of cats in Pennsylvania,” Wydra said. If cougars are found here, they could be former captives, he added.

“I have had reports of people seeing mountain lions in Lycoming County, including this area,” Wydra said. He clarified “this area” as the Williamsport area.

Photos of the Starr Road tracks were e-mailed to Wydra Tuesday morning. He intends to review the prints with other researchers and return an opinion. The final opinion was not returned as of press time, but Wydra said there is a possibility the prints could show a mountain lion.

“I won’t rule one way or another until I consult with the others,” he said.

Loretta Fredin of Warrensville said in a Monday telephone interview that she saw a cougar locally during the fall of 2006. She was driving from Williamsport to her home when she saw a big cat on Warrensville Road.

Fredin said the animal she saw had a long tail, was slightly larger than a Labrador retriever and had spots. According to Wydra, young mountain lions can have spots for up to a year.

Fredin was so close to the animal that she had to slam her vehicle brakes to avoid hitting it. After she did this, the animal stared at her. Fredin conducted Internet research to compare cougars to the animal she saw.

“I definitely think it was a cougar,” Fredin said.

Wydra has received three reports of Warrensville Road mountain lion sightings in the past two years. This count does not include the Fredin sighting.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has been conducting an eastern cougar study, Diana Weaver, a department spokeswoman, said.

Weaver said the fish and wildlife service announced it would begin collecting data during late February and do so until a “cut-off” date of late March. However, the department will continue to collect information on eastern cougars, as it would for any endangered species.

Those who have scientific data to submit can e-mail EasternCougar@fws.gov. Those who have non-scientific data can send it to CougarStories@fws.gov. Weaver said hair analysis, carcasses or quality footprint photos could be considered scientific evidence. Non-scientific evidence pertains to “I saw a cougar” stories.

According to Weaver, the fish and wildlife service has received a lot of eastern cougar information for the purpose of the study. A considerable amount of it came from Pennsylvania.

“We are in the process of analyzing this and should have results at the end of the year,” she said.

The department is striving to determine if there is a continuous population of eastern cougars. If the population is non-continuous, cougars found in the east could have been transplanted. For example, cougars of South American origin could have got to the eastern United States somehow, Weaver said.

A voice mail left for Rick Macklem, a spokesman at the state Game Commission’s northcentral region office, was not returned

http://www.sungazette.com/News/articles.asp?articleID=20979
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2007 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have viewed the tracks they are canine...


This is not to say there are not mountain lions in this area. Idea Idea

The sighting reports are very high in Pa. Exclamation Exclamation

It's only a matter of time before we see more than a track or photo Wink

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2007 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to add though that if there were as many "escaped pets" as they say there are one out of 10 of your neighbors would have to be keeping a kitty Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes

Somehow I just think you would know if they were......
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2007 5:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From the article, the size of the print is too small for an adult cougar and the length of stride is also too short. Plus, cougars avoid mud when they are walking so to get clear prints in mud is unusual. From the description of the findings I would guess they are finding coyote tracks. Also Eastern coyotes come in many colors so one could be the exact same color as a cougar to further confuse an observer. They are also larger than western coyotes so have larger foot prints.

Oh about ten or fifteen years ago a neighbor was supposed to be keeping a cougar as a pet but they moved and Left it behind Shocked Shocked I heard this from a local animal control officer. He told us so if we saw it we would shoot it. I never heard that it was shot. But the sightings around here went up Exclamation

You just don't know what your neighbors are Really up to. Especially when you can't see their property from the road......
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2007 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, true, but the majority of us don't live on properties that large and the authorities say that no matter where a cat is sighted.

I still think it impossible for that many cats to be escapees.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2007 8:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Yes, true, but the majority of us don't live on properties that large"

Ah, but I live in a less populated area than NJ. I am ten miles from my state capital and the wildlife here is very thick. It is amasing how close wildlife lives to humans, Very Happy Lots of critters will multiply and disperse LONG distances. Not that NJ is very far away........
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2007 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't doubt it, Bloodhounds. I just doubt it being logical that every sighting is an escapee as is always said by the officials.

In a recent article the state people even discounted sightings by police officers. Since the Pope probably won't take a stand on it anytime soon, then who would be a credible witness?

Their certainly not going to believe me and I saw one.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2007 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But just think how many can be "RELEASED" Idea
Idea Idea Idea

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2007 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Releases, yes. Now theres something I can believe Exclamation Exclamation

The state of NJ released at least one pair of mountain lions. It was in the newspaper. It was some time ago. I read it and I remember it. If I had
access to the news archives I probably could find it.

I remember thinking " how nuts is this?" Why would you want to release cougars? Well, then this is NJ.....
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2007 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bbones wrote:
Releases, yes. Now theres something I can believe Exclamation Exclamation

The state of NJ released at least one pair of mountain lions. It was in the newspaper. It was some time ago. I read it and I remember it. If I had
access to the news archives I probably could find it.

I remember thinking " how nuts is this?" Why would you want to release cougars? Well, then this is NJ.....
Rolling Eyes Rolling Eyes


Geee..I think you should look for that article Very Happy Very Happy
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2007 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part 2

http://www.sungazette.com/news/articles.asp?articleID=21015

Officials: Canine made paw prints

By PATRICK DONLIN pdonlin@sungazette.com



The experts agree — paw prints found on a Loyalsock Township road were not made by a mountain lion.

State Game Commission officials and mountain lion “experts” formed a consensus that a canine made the tracks on Starr Road, a few miles from Montoursville.

Rick Macklem, information education supervisor at the state Game Commission’s northcentral region office, said he and Tony Ross, wildlife management supervisor-regional biologist, looked at pictures of the tracks.

“Both of us are in agreement it’s definitely not a cougar or mountain lion,” Macklem said. “It’s in the canine family.”

The tracks could have been from a coyote or someone’s pet dog, he said.

The tracks showed a considerable amount of openness between the toes and main pad, which is consistent with a canine track, Macklem said. For a cat, the space is much tighter.

Macklem’s office receives calls throughout the year from people who believe they have mountain lion evidence, such as suspicious tracks or droppings. Officials who inspect the evidence conclude it actually is from any of a large range of animals, but not mountain lions.

Some people even present photos of alleged mountain lions, Macklem said, but they actually depict bobcats.

“A lot of people have never seen a bobcat in the wild and that’s understandable,” he said.

Dennis Wydra of Elysburg is a retired Mansfield University teacher education professor with an interest in mountain lions. For the past two years, he has recorded alleged mountain lion sightings from throughout Pennsylvania.

Wydra and two other consultants reviewed the photos of the Starr Road tracks.

Wydra, Steve Mohr and Roxanne Tessitore agreed that a canine made the tracks. Mohr is a wild animal farmer in Bainbridge and a retired state game commissioner. Tessitore is a researcher based near Albany, N.Y., who is involved with the www.trackincats.com Web site.

Dirt makes a better surface for track marks to be examined than mud tracks on paved roads do, Wydra said

“The mud stuck to the paw and not the claw mark,” he said, adding that if the tracks had been made on a dirt surface, nails would have likely been found.

According to Tessitore’s Web site, prints left by a dog often show claws, while cats have retractable claws that won’t show in tracks. Most felines have an overall round shape to the paw print.

Each Starr Road print was more elongated — roughly 3 inches long by 2 inches wide.

Wydra believes western mountain lions are present in the state. The ones here are former captives, he said.

Reports of sightings come to Wydra from many counties north of Interstate 80. He also has received as many as 40 accounts in the past two years from residents in Lycoming County.

According to Jerry Feaser, state Game Commission press secretary, no proof exists of mountain lions living in the state. Although he doesn’t believe in the existence of a continuous population, he admits a captive mountain lion could depart from its owner.

The Loyalsock Township man who noticed the Starr Road tracks maintains the possibility that they could have been made by a cougar.

“I don’t agree with them,” Leonard Sacavage said of the naysayers. “They will not admit to cougars being in the state.”

He thinks the tracks were most likely made by either a coyote or cougar
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2007 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Patrick Donlin...it's nice to see these stories printed.

There are mountain lions being spotted, filmed and tracked in every state of the Northeast Exclamation

There have been pets and livestock reported missing, attacked including killed possibly by mountain lions. I say "possibly" only because if we do not catch them in the act to film or DNA, it goes unconfirmed. Sad They eat only meat Arrow unlike the coyote which will eat just about anything including grasshoppers, fruit, berries and your trash. The problems with finding a fresh kill by a mountain lion most Eastern states are saturated with coyotes Exclamation Exclamation They do a very nice job cleaning up anything that is left since they are scavengers.... especially if it is easy..all the better Shocked



Speaking of coyotes, every one needs to take them a lot more serious. Idea They are hunting in families and killing large healthy deer. Sad
The fable that they go for the sick, young and weak is poppy cock Exclamation They are accused of killing calves, dogs, cats and have attacked children. Sad

"These predators are living well in our back yards". Evil or Very Mad

I am happy to read this article, media gets folks thinking. When they are thinking they start talking to their friends and neighbors. The next thing you know, you are told by some one, very close to you who is credible that has seen a mountain lion. Believe them, listen to what they tell you. Ask for a detailed description, including time of day, weather and what the cat was doing. How big was the cat, what color and any specific markings they can remember. Put this on your calendar. I tell all my spotters to report this to the police. I ask they spend time on my web site and others, learn what to do should you come face to face with the animal. This carnivore is beautiful to see, BUT PLEASE do not forget what this animal is capable of doing to you. They do not approach to frighten you like some dogs, they are coming to attack, kill and eat you Exclamation



"These predators are living well in our back yards". Evil or Very Mad


The cats we see today we are told are "Escaped pets or releases", believe this..the reports I have tell us that they were once raised in captivity and are comfortable with humans, meaning we are NO threat to them. If they were totally wild, we would not be seeing them like we do, they would not be showing themselves and exhibiting no FEAR Exclamation

We are loosing our "FREEDOM" to live and enjoy our homes and property. We need to be aware and add some healthy fear to our daily lives. We need to think about our children playing outside.You need to fence and light up mans best friends space. You need to look at the area your farm animals are raised on. You need to think about what you will bring along with you in the woods to pick berries and fruit. We need to adjust our ways for riding our horses on our favorite trails. You need to be prepared should you camp or go fishing. You need to be ready if you are a hunting, enjoying a brisk fall morning out with generations of family members. We have to make all the changes and adjustments. While our government agencies allow these exotics to continue to roam. Evil or Very Mad They do nothing when the population of a predator has exploded to the point it is now a danger to humans Evil or Very Mad . Someone needs to held accountable. Why are we coming in second to wild animals. Question Question Question
Humans should always to be number one...... Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

Cougardaville Wink [/i]

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